Thursday, November 30, 2006

Abortion: The #1 Global Cause of Death

Cathy_of_Alex, geeky health services librarian (St Catherine of Alexandria, whose feast day we just celebrated is the patron saint of librarians), who blogs at The Recovering Dissident Catholic, pulled out her #2 pencil and her Texas Instruments calculator and did a bit of number crunching the other day. It seems that a death projection study on "Global Mortality and Burden of Disease" between 2002 and 2003 did not include death rates due to abortion.

They don't consider the fetus to be living so they don't count its murder as a death.

Check out Cathy's numbers. Warning! Geeky health abbreviations such as COPD (Google says it has something to do with the lungs) and words like "Ischemic" (Webster says something to do with blood) and "Cerebrovascular" (Webster: "blood vessels in the brain") ahead! Check it Out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bishop Paul Dudley's Funeral was at the Cathedral Today

I heard Bishop Kenney's (of St Cloud) homily on the radio and will attempt to get a copy posted here.

I just discovered that Jeff Cavins who used to be the host of Life on the Rock on EWTN and now is at St Paul's church in Ham Lake and travels lthe country with his Bible History course, attributes to Bishop Dudley his return to the Catholic Church after some years being away as a protestant minister.

Visit Jeff's web page, for his comments and many from Catholics in the Twin Cities area about Bishop Dudley and the effect he had upon them.

Do You Have Your Advent Projects Ready Yet? No? Look-ee Here

Love2LearnMom who homes schools in Wisconsin and blogs at Studeo has some interesting projects that even you artists living alone in a garret might enjoy.

It seems that the most significant aspect of our Advent celebrations is to hold back the tide of music, lights, presents and parties so that we can make a distinction between preparing for and celebrating Christmas. It's so much more enjoyable and special (and less stressful - really!) that way. Here's a little tour of what Advent looks like in our house, with a little room for natural variations from year to year.

Pre-Advent Projects:

Long before Advent starts, we get ready for one of our favorite Christmas projects which, unfortunately, we missed out on this year. Sometime in October, our parish has sign-up sheets for their "giving tree". We sign up a pregnancy help center in Milwaukee (almost) every year for several car seats, several port-a-cribs and a variety of baby clothes, diaper bags, etc. We pick these up the first week of December (they're all wrapped and decorated) and John delivers them to the very grateful volunteers in downtown Milwaukee. This is the first year we've missed it since we started doing it about five years ago. :(

On the other side of things (also before Advent starts) we generally pick an ornament from the giving tree as one of our projects. We generally pick a "food needed" ornament for a family around the size of our own. We do a big shopping trip both at the local grocery store and Sam's Club and let the kids pick out some things (including lots of practical, but also some fun and celebratory foods).

The past two years we've put together the local public Library's "Holiday Tree" too. Though this hasn't been particularly religious in nature, it's still a small bow in the direction of Christmas, it's a worthwhile work of service and it's been an opportunity for some in our community to get to know some homeschoolers. It's also turned into an opportunity to suggest some worthwhile books to the library. [...snip] Read The Rest

Interestingly, Love2LearnMom's sister, Sharon, blogs at Clairity's Place which has just morphed into "Butterfly Net", using the same URL . I believe this is the Northland's only blogging family, at least who are members of St Blog's Parish.

Neverborn, on Duty, Protecting His Holiness on the Turkey Pilgrimage


What Priests Do In Their Spare Time

I am often asked, "What do priests do in their spare time?" My typical response to this is, "What spare time?" It is true that priests are busy people. Father and I, for instance, go to the office around 10:00 AM. We usually return to the rectory for the evening at 10:00 PM. There are short breaks in the day, and it is not the exhausting kind of redundant work that would drive some people to burnout, so it is pleasant work. Nevertheless, one does go to bed knowing that they have done a decent day's work. There are other days that are emotionally exhausting. People worry about asking to see the priest because he might be too busy. In fact, priests are around in order to be bothered by other people's problems. However, some days there are a lot of problems.

But, all of that having been said, there are still down times every so often, and these do get filled in recreational ways. I, for one, need a little time to unwind before going to bed at night. So, Father and I typically drink a cup of tea and watch Law and Order. However, it seems that we have now seen every episode and as a result, have had to find new outlets. So, a couple of nights ago, Father purchased our newest diversion - a Play Station II. With three games and neither of us being particularly adept at these sorts of activities, it should keep us occupied for a while. Fancy that - priests play video games.

We don't spend all of our time in front of the TV. I blog quite a bit, and father like to restore religious art. I also read a lot (usually right before bed). Sometimes we take a stroll around town to see what is happening, and we frequently just sit and tell stories (as Father is especially good a storytelling).

All in all, priests spend their free time the same way that everybody does. They are really not as mysterious as Hollywood might lead us to believe. Tyler - Future Priests of the Third Millenium

It's not just Latinos, Hmong and Somalis who have language problems here; D.I.H. does too!

Desperate of the D.I.H. blog, born east of the Hudson River, runs into language problems as a new resident of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

America is an awfully big country, and language just isn't the same from one place to the next. I have lived in a couple of different places and I should be used to this by now. I was in Mississippi once and it was days before I understood a word anyone was saying. In Massachusetts I thought a neighbor was complaining that his cow was stolen, but when he said they caught it on the Turnpike going 75mph I figured he had to mean "car."

But I have been genuinely shocked by MInnesotans. Twice.

The second time was last Saturday , when a lady giving me a facial said she liked to -- wait, I better start at the beginning. [...Snip] Read the Rest

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Catholic Doctors Oppose Bishops‘ “Talking About Touching” Abuse Prevention Program

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 28, 2006 ( - The Catholic Medical Association has asked the U.S. bishops to stop using controversial sexual abuse education programs, aimed at teaching young children to protect themselves from abusers, in their dioceses.

During the association’s annual conference in Boston last month, the CMA released a 55-page study that condemned programs such as “Talking About Touching” as ineffective, out-of-step with child development, and not in keeping with the Church’s teaching on the appropriate sex education of children, the National Catholic Register reported last week.

The report, entitled To Prevent and to Protect: Report of the Catholic Medical Association Task Force on the Sexual Abuse of Children and Its Prevention, echoes complaints from parents and pro-family groups against the safety programs implemented at the bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Opponents criticized the programs for exposing young children to sexual concepts inappropriate to their age, and for burdening children with the responsibility of protecting themselves against sexual abuse. [...Snip]

MacLaurin Institute Discusses Catholic Stuff at the University of Minnesota - and gets away with it.

The MacLaurin Institute, founded in 1982 by a UofMN physicist who happened to be a Christian, was set up to sponsor lectures by Christian academics, while also helping Christian graduate students and faculty at the University of Minnesota to thoughtfully engage academia from a distinctly Christian vantagepoint. Over the years its program has expanded to include conferences, lectures at Borders Bookshops, most of which are free to attend, and most recently, courses in Christian studies at Twin Cities area universities.

Last January I attended a lecture by Father Robert Spitzer, president of Gonzaga University and a spellbinding speaker, on "Toward a Philosophy of the Pro-Life Movement." (Listen) Right there on the UofMN Campus. Some of their lectures are held in area churches or other Twin Cities area campuses.

A couple of weeks ago, Ralph Wood gave a lecture on "Flannery O'Connor and the Fundamentalist South." (Listen) (Listen to the Q&A).

Other Catholic lecturers whose names I recognized include Father Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak and Peter Kreeft and there no doubt many others.

They have a free newsletter which announces their speakers and events, of which there are many. You can subscribe to it here.

Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw, formerly of Sioux Falls, undergoes Colonectomy

From the Saginaw Catholic Times:
Saginaw Bishop Robert J. Carlson will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to remove a section of his colon. There is no cancer in the area at the present time but there is some unusual cellular activity that could develop in the future. The bishop has chosen to have this preventative surgery done now and hopes to resume a normal schedule sometime in January....

"While there is no cancer, the doctors I have spoken to, for a sceond opinion, have told me it is a real gift to have this knoweldge and to take action before any cancer is present. I see this as a real blessing from God and I go into the surgery very positive," said Bishop Carlson.

Bishop Carlson, 62, asks parishoners in the 11-county Saginaw Diocese for their prayers for a successful surgery and a rapid recovery. Cards may be sent to: Bishop Robert J. Carlson, Diocese of Saginaw, 5800 Weiss St., Saginaw, MI 48063.

Update: More from the Saginaw diocese:
Bishop Robert J. Carlson is recovering from an elective surgery he had this morning to remove a portion of his colon.

While Bishop Carlson has been diagnosed as "cancer free," doctors had recommend recently that he undergo the preventative operation after discovering some "unusual cellular activity" that they feared could have the ability to turn into cancer in the future.

"The surgery was successful and Bishop Carlson is resting comfortably. He remains in good health," Chancellor Nancy J. Werner said. "He has asked me to express his deep gratitude for those of you who have prayed for his well-being. He would appreciate the continued prayers of the faithful and continues to offer his own intentions for the people of the Diocese of Saginaw."

Prior to serving in Sioux Falls, Bishop Carlson was an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St Paul-Minneapolis. Tip O' The Hat to American Papist

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pray Daily for the Safety of Our Holy Father as He Travels in Turkey

The Knights of Columbus

invites you to make

a spiritual pilgrimage with

Pope Benedict XVI

on his apostolic journey to Turkey.

Please join the Knights in praying for

the success of the Holy Father’s pastoral visit.
Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence.

We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Archbishop Harry Flynn's Annual Vocation Retreat

For Men Interested in the Priesthood

December 15-17, 2006
Christ the King Retreat Center
Buffalo, Minnesota

$50 donation; scholarships available.

Call Vocation Office: 651-962-6890
Email: Father Tom Wilson at

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Great Parishes: St Agnes, St Paul, MN

It had been more than a year since I had visited so today I thought it was time to go over and see what the "Youth Movement" was doing to St Agnes in St Paul, the "parish that must be preserved but I don't want to go to a two hour Mass every weekend." Kinda sounds selfish and hedonistic, doesn't it. Because their services in the past have always been great whenever I have been there.

But things are looking pretty good since Father Welzbacher asked for transfer to a smaller parish. Even those two gigantic statues didn't bother me as much as they usually do. Or maybe my prayer life is better.

I don't know how one can tell a Tridentine from a N.O. Latin High Mass. But I didn't hear word one of English, other than the readings (done by a lay adult lector in "cassock and surplice", no less, that is new, I believe) and those prayers after the Creed that I am becoming less resistant too. It depends on how well they are written, I think. Plus the status of my prayer life.

Normally, when I have gone to St Agnes for the High Mass, it has been on a Christmas or Easter and I don't recall hearing the congregation singing some of the Mass Gregorian Chant responses. But they were this morning! I hope this bodes well for the rumored Tridentine Indult if it comes comes down. A Latin Mass with no participation by the congregation is pretty boring and it's easy to get distracted. I speak from experience, being born well before Vatican II.

Actually, to my eye, the only thing that told me that it wasn't a Tridentine Mass was the fact that after the Communion after the celebrant, Father John Ubel, their new pastor and his two deacons (both priests) gave the chalice, properly covered with things the names of which I once knew, to a 12 year old altar boy to place on the credence table (I still remember that

Just touching the chalice in my day as an altar boy would have been grounds for excommunication after much hard penance and severe public humiliation to serve as a warning to others.

I'm no expert in classical (or any other kind of) music but I know what I like and the Mass (op. 87) by Herzogenberger was great. The Kyrie made me feel like I had been to Confession to Padre Pio or the Cure' d'Ars. It also reminded me of a visit to a Romanian Orthodox Church a couple of years ago when the number of "Lord Have Mercy's" must have ran into the hundreds. The Sanctus and the Agnus Dei were also great.

It's harder to appreciate the Gloria and the Credo and the other parts of a sung Latin Mass if you can't follow the sung words unless you were familiar with the music ahead of time. My three years of altar boy service and two years of High School Latin still serve me in good stead.

One pleasant surprise was the appearance of pastor emeritus Monsignor Richard Schuler at the Mass. He is up and about. But he needs quite a bit of assistance. But he was alert and handled his biretta doffing duties admirably. (It was a four-biretta Mass). Msgr Schuler is the man responsible for the sung Latin Mass at St Agnes and the inspiration for many similar ones around the United States.

The battalion of altar boys at a St Agnes Mass always are on top of their jobs. Father Ubel referred in his homily to the pilgrimage to Rome from which he had just returned with a large group of St Agnes altar boys (read: many future priests)!

The music by the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale and the professional musicians was wonderful, as always. My only quibble, and being the "detached critic", I always have one, is the addition of an organ prelude and postlude to the service.

I don't think that the parish received a copy of Cardinal's Arinze's stinging rebuke to English (UK) priests last Winter which reminded them that the music is to accompany the Mass. It is not there for entertainment. St Agnes is the one parish where you can be certain that a sizeable portion of the congregation will arrive early and stay late for prayer. This is greatly hindered when the organ, wonderfuly played to be sure, keeps them from that.

I'll have to get my pal, Mr. Google, to find a copy of the good Cardinal's message and pass it on.

One of the logistical problems at St Agnes is the heaters that are under most pews. If you wear size 12 clodhoppers like I do, you can not kneel in a pew if there is a heater behind you without twisting your feet at least 45 degrees. That can't be done. After the Mass, I did scout out other seating areas and did spy some pews on the Epistle/St. Joseph side of the church that had a few heater-less pews near the front. You'll want to head there if you are overly-endowed, feet-wise.

But the sung Latin Mass at St Agnes is a magnficent experience. You can find the schedule of the Masses and the performance on their web page.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Metro churches link up to lift families out of poverty


By the numbers poverty is not a big problem in Minnesota. The state ranks very low in the number of poor people counted by the U.S. Census. Even so, every night thousands of poor people crowd into Twin Cities shelters. Most of the shelters supply a bed and not much more. One shelter program called Families Moving Forward supplies much more. Besides shelter the Minneapolis based Families Moving Forward program helps the poor find housing, jobs and education. Families Moving Forward does all this with the help of 40 churches which support its work.
Minneapolis, Minn. — Charlotte, who prefers her last name not be used, had a job and roof over her and her teenage son's head. Then she lost the job. To keep her housing and put food on the table she took temporary work.
"I was doing some day labor like lifting more than fifty or sixty pounds," she says.

Meal and reading time
The physical strain, Charlotte says, was too much.
"It made me injure myself worse, and I would be walking down the street and my leg gave out and I fell in rush hour traffic one day and no one was with me. Thank God, I made it out of the middle of the street," she says.
Because of Charlotte's injury, she couldn't work and lost her place to live. She and her 16 year old son were out on the street.
Nevetta Barton says she is the victim of domestic violence and has kept moving herself, to allow her and her four children to escape.
"With the domestic (violence) it's one of the reasons I said in my head I've been jumping from house to house. Because of this hidden fear," she says.

A graduate
When she ran out of places to run, Nevetta and her children were on the street, homeless.
United Way directed both Nevetta and Charlotte to Families Moving Forward. The 15 year old north Minneapolis private, non-profit is a social service agency. It's money comes from a state grant, foundations, individuals and the 40 congregations that support its work.
The shelter part of the program doesn't happen at the organization's Minneapolis headquarters. Instead, every night for a week families are bused to one of the member churches. On a recent night the Families Moving Forward adults and children were guests at Lumen Christi, a Catholic church in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood.
A bus delivers nine family members to the church, where they have their evening meal, sleep, have breakfast the next morning. Then the bus arrives again to take the children to school or daycare and take the adults to classes, to work or to counseling sessions at Families Moving Forward. The next week the families stay at another church. The overnight church stays do not include attempts to convert the families.
Lumen Christi pastor Father John Bauer says typically in other shelters families can't be together. They're split up by gender, sending the father and teenage boys elsewhere.
"Often time there are enough shelter beds but the shelter network can be pretty harsh and in most cases the shelters will not take intact families," he says.
At Lumen Christi men and women sleep in separate but nearby rooms. Volunteers stay with them overnight.
Sixty Lumen Christi members supply meals, activities and companionship for the seven night stints, four times a year. Member Terri Jackson,who helps find volunteers, says the goal of ending poverty is too overwhelming even for volunteers with lots of compassion and free time. Helping families get through seven days is more realistic.
"We know we can do this, we can welcome into them into our homes and treat them as guests and do something for a week and poor our heart into it," she says. Helping people get out of poverty takes time and money. Families Moving Forward staff work intensely with about 60 families a year, about 300 individuals. All of their needs, clothing, laundry, shelter, food, transportation, toothbrushes, are supplied.
Nevetta Barton praises the program but she says she can tell the toll it takes on her children.
"It's not stable first of all to keep moving around, and it may be exciting to them because it's this new thing, but they're too young to be doing so much moving so it's kind of affecting their peace of mind, where they call home. I'm just kind of confusing them right now. I just want to get back on the right path," she says.
Barton says she's finishing her GED. She wants to go to cosmetology school.
Families Moving Forward executive director Leslie Frost says the goal is to get the families out of the program in 45 to 60 days. Frost says every study she's seen shows shelter life is not good for children.
"Homeless children on average will be academically behind, developmentally behind, physically more ill and emotionally more ill and those are all characteristics that if continued lead not to success as an adult possible failure as an adult," she says.
Frost commends state and local efforts to end homelessness. But she says most of the attention goes to single adults. At least as large an issue, Frost says, is the number of families often led by women who are poor.
Advocates for the poor say lack of child care is one reason poor families struggle to escape poverty. They point to the millions of dollars Minnesota has taken out of child care assistance for low income families since 2003, as one contributing factor.
After 14 years of helping people get out of poverty Leslie Frost has few illusions about what it takes. She says many of the families have spent a lifetime making bad financial and educational decisions. Frost says it can take years, maybe a generation, to climb out of the hole they are in.
Key to helping families break the cycle of successive generations of poverty, Frost says, is helping the children. Her personal formula for ending poverty includes pre-natal care for mothers and pre-school education for the kids before they enter kindergarten.
"When the children of families in poverty get to kindergarten they are on an even playing field with children from families of means because if a child starts out behind a child will go through school behind," she says.
Anti-poverty advocate Deborah Schlick, the executive director of the Affirmative Options Coalition, says helping the poor is a smart investment given the projected demand for workers in the next decade.
"When we handed out homesteads in the 19th century, when we created the whole idea of public education in this country, when we made it possible for returning vets to not only buy a home but get a college education we created whole generations of people who were able to move into the middle class," she says.
Moving into the middle class hasn't happened for Thyzena Williams, a 2001 graduate of the Families Moving Forward program. However the outlook for her seven children and her grandchildren is brighter. The agency helped her find housing and work several years ago. All of the children are in school or in jobs and have places to live. Williams says the intense individual attention given to her by Families Moving Forward worked.
"There's a lot of shelters out have the support but not the emotional part of it, it was kind of the paperwork, shuffle you around, you are on your own basically, but here at Families Moving Forward it was a step by step. They were with me every step of the way and still is," she says.
The Families Moving Forward program is small. Compared to public anti poverty programs run by the county or the federal government the non-profit agency's $500,000 a year a budget is a drop in the bucket. The lack of money is made up in part by the work of 4000 volunteers at the member churches.
Families Moving Forward's success rate is not 100 percent. But some advocates think smaller is often better because the poor people get more individual help. Leslie Frost estimates about half the families they serve eventually make it out of poverty. There's not enough money for a formal follow up program, even so, every month Families Moving Forward hosts an alumni dinner. It's a chance to catch up and everyone including the graduates can visit the storeroom and select a donated piece of furniture or some clothing, or a bag of diapers or food to help them get through to the next visit.

Minnesota Public Radio

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Genetic breakthrough that reveals the differences between humans

Scientists hail genetic discovery that will change human understanding

Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind.

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome - the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual " letters" of the genome.

It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.

Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or "book of life", is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.

The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought - which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases.
"I believe this research will change for ever the field of human genetics," said Professor James Lupski, a world authority on medical genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Professor Lupski said the findings superseded the basic principles of human genetics that have been built up since the days of Gregor Mendel, the 19th century "father" of Mendelian genetics, and of Jim Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the DNA double helix in 1953.

"One can no longer consider human traits as resulting primarily from [simple DNA] changes... With all respect to Watson and Crick, many Mendelian and complex traits, as well as sporadic diseases, may indeed result from structural variation of the genome," Professor Lupski said.
But it is also becoming apparent that many diseases appear to be influenced by the number of copies of certain key genes, said Charles Lee, another of the project's leaders at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Many examples of diseases resulting from changes in copy number are emerging. A recent review lists 17 conditions of the nervous system alone, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, that can result from such copy number changes," Professor Lee said. "Indeed, medical research will benefit enormously from this map, which provides new ways for identifying genes involved in common diseases," he said.
There are just under 30,000 genes in the human genome, which consists of about 3 billion "letters" of the DNA code. The scientists found that more than 10 per cent of these genes appear to be multiplied in the 270 people who took part in the study. They do not know why some genes are copied and some are not. One gene, called CCL3L1, which is copied many times in people of African descent, appears to confer resistance to HIV. Another gene involved in making a blood protein is copied many times in people from south-east Asia and seems to help against malaria. Other research has shown that variation in the number of copies of some genes is involved in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Scientists from 13 research centres were involved, including Britain's Sanger Institute in Cambridge, which also took a lead role in deciphering the human genome. The research is published in Nature, Nature Genetics and Genome Research. The Independent (UK)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

O'Connell Family Lawsuit Against All American Bishops For Names of All Clergy Sex Offenders Gets First Positive Response From Delaware

The family of a slain Hudson, Wis., funeral home director has won its first legal battle with U.S. Catholic bishops to get the names of clergy accused of child molestation.
The Diocese of Wilmington, Del., one of 194 Catholic dioceses named in lawsuits filed across the country by the family in August, has agreed to release the names of 20 priests who have admitted sexually abusing minors or been found to have abused them.
"The suit (against the Wilmington Diocese) will be dismissed. They have come clean," Jeff Anderson, the family's St. Paul-based attorney, said Tuesday. The lawsuits are still pending in area dioceses, including Superior and La Crosse, and the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The names and locations of some 5,000 alleged child molesters — not money — are what the family of Dan O'Connell, who authorities say was killed by a Hudson priest in 2002, wanted when they filed the unprecedented lawsuits against the bishops.
The O'Connells filed suit after they became frustrated with what they saw as inaction by the Catholic Church to live up to its recent reforms and ensure that pedophiles can no longer enter or stay in the priesthood.
"The attitude and stubbornness of some of these bishops towards us is unbelievable," said Dan's brother Tom O'Connell Jr. "It makes you wonder what kind of men, what kind of religious men, they are. But it can be done. And one bishop has done it and there is now no excuse for the rest of them."
According to the lawsuit against every member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "The bishops and the USCCB have established a policy of harboring and protecting suspected child molesting agents, thereby endangering numerous children throughout the United States."
The lawsuits seek their names and locations so they can be publicized, which the O'Connells hope will help prevent clergy sex abuse. The Diocese of Wilmington published the names of the 20 priests in the Nov. 16 issue of its diocesan newspaper.
The O'Connells, in a letter sent Tuesday to Wilmington Bishop Michael Saltarelli, thanked him and called for more bishops to comply. [...Snip] Pioneer Press

Ave Maria University To Open Branch in St Paul - Minneapolis This Winter!

Ave Maria University, Naples, FL, plans to open a branch of their Graduate School here in the Twin Cities with the first classes beginning this coming February. They are looking for students right now. Ave Maria is one of the few Catholic institutions of higher learning that have been certified as being in compliance with the Church's "mandatum" requirements certifying that their theology professors are in full communion with the Church and that their theology courses teach authentic Catholic Doctrine and do not conflict with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church.

Adoro, who blogs at Adoro Te Devote, who would love to be in that first class and wants to make sure it happens and has sent the following information:

Thank you for your interest in the Institute for Pastoral Theology of Ave Maria University!

Our graduate program offers a Masters in Theological Studies in a unique format. Our professors travel to sites around the country to offer classes for one intensive weekend each month, ten months out of the year. Provided we have the class-sizes we anticipate, we will be operating in the following sites in the Fall of 2007: Charleston, Green Bay, Janesville (Diocese of Madison), Kansas City, Naples (Diocese of Venice), Phoenix, St. Louis, St. Paul-Minneapolis, and Sanford (Diocese of Orlando).

It sounds as though you are aware of a special opportunity we are offering in the Diocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. We are offering a one credit course on the Writings of Pope John Paul II next semester. The dates are 2/18, 3/11, and 4/15. Students who take that course will have a lighter load in the fall, and the credit applies to the degree just as it would otherwise. In addition to being open to degree-seeking students, the course will also be open to people who have not yet decided whether to enroll in our program, and for those who are sure they will not seek the degree but just want to study John Paul II. So, if you are aware of others who might be looking for such an opportunity, feel free to spread the word!

If you have any other questions or would like to request an application, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely in Christ,

Anna Knier

Institute for Pastoral Theology
Ave Maria University
1025 Commons Circle
Naples FL 34119
(866) 866-1100

Rosebud School And Mission Fight Over $1.5 Million Bequest

The St. Francis Indian School and the religious mission that formerly ran the school are fighting over a $1.5 million bequest from a California woman's estate.
The money left by Dolores Cerro of Bakersfield, Calif., went to the St. Francis Indian School, which runs an elementary school and high school with more than 600 students on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.
But the St. Francis Mission, a Catholic nonprofit organization, has gone to court arguing that it should receive the money.

Both organizations contend Cerro meant to give the money to them. The bequest says the money must be used only for improvements to the school property and for scholarships for students at the school.
A Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court judge has issued a temporary injunction preventing the school from spending any of the money until further evidence can be heard in the case. A hearing is set for Dec. 5, lawyers said.
St. Francis Mission, a Jesuit-controlled Catholic mission, ran the school on the reservation beginning in 1886 but turned it over to a parent-run organization in the early 1970s, according to court documents. The parent-run St. Francis Indian School, also known as Sicangu Oyate Ho Inc., has run the school for more than three decades.
Robert J. Doody, a lawyer for St. Francis Mission, said when the school changed hands in the 1970s, the two organizations signed an agreement that said bequests from the mission's donors would go the mission. Because so many organizations in the area have similar names, donations had previously wound up in the wrong hands, he said.
When a local newspaper article described the bequest to St. Francis Indian School, the mission recognized Cerro as a longtime donor who had given to the mission since 1988, Doody said.
"We believed the intent of the donor was to give the money to us because she was a long-term donor," Doody said. Yankton Press

Father Richard Hogan: NFP is "A Way for Couples to Listen to Their Bodies"

Author Joy Wambeke of St Paul, married to sometime blogger and graduate student, Dan, of Lumen Fidei, interviewed St Paul native, Father Richard Hogan, for the National Catholic Register on Natural Family Planning (NFP):

Father Richard Hogan heard Pope John Paul II in person discussing the theology of the body. Now he champions natural family planning with the Couple to Couple League.

The nation’s bishops in mid-November approved a document promoting natural family planning. Father Hogan has been involved with NFP education and the Couple to Couple League since his ordination in 1981. The priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis serves on the Couple to Couple League’s National Board of Directors. He is also one of the main speakers for Natural Family Planning Outreach, an organization that provides parish missions on natural family planning, and appears regularly on EWTN hosting a show on the theology of the body.
Father Hogan has been tapped to oversee the revamping of the Couple to Couple League’s curriculum that teaches thousands of students worldwide the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning. The new curriculum, set for completion next spring, will use the theology of the body as its theological grounding.

How did you become involved with the Couple to Couple League?

When I was first ordained, I was assigned to a parish in Crystal, Minn., and the natural family planning group that met there was led by a couple who were associated with the Couple to Couple League. I took their courses to see what they had to say, and I enjoyed them very much. I was later appointed to the archdiocesan advisory group on natural family planning as its Couple to Couple League representative.

How did you first become interested in the theology of the body?

I had always been convinced that the Church was right in her teaching against artificial contraception. But I was looking for a pastoral way to help married couples find their families in some way.
Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, my second year in seminary, and shortly after that he began giving his Wednesday audiences on the book of Genesis — what we now refer to as the theology of the body. I had read his writings and talks before, and they initially shocked me because it sounded a little like what I was hearing at the seminary, which was not always in tune with the Church. So, I knew I was missing something. Then, when I began hearing the theology of the body, I figured out what he was doing, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.

Could you explain what you found?

St. Augustine gave us a method to understand God based on Plato; St. Thomas gave us a second way based on Aristotle. But neither one fits our modern culture because we are subjective, inductive and experiential. Pope John Paul II gave us a new and third way that is subjective, inductive and experiential. Yet it is also solid. The entire project [of theology of the body] was grounded in the natural law, which is based on the human person. This is what is called personalism. It made the Church’s teaching on sexuality more palatable. He didn’t change anything; rather, he gave us a new way of saying the same truth. [...Snip] National Catholic Register

Vatican Government Sacks Pope For Wearing Cross In Public Spaces

The Christian world was shocked to its religious roots, today, when the Catholic Church announced that Pope Benedict XVI had been sacked for wearing a cross at work. The Pope had apparently been warned before that the likely consequence of his blatant and outrageous behaviour would result in his dismissal, but he refused to stop wearing his cross on principle.

His holiness had taken his case to an industrial tribunal, but his appeal was rejected on the grounds that the cross was seen as a Christian symbol and as such might give offence to other religious groups.

Senior members of the Vatican announced today that the Pope had been told not to discus the matter with the media and it is thought that his refusal to comply brought about his dismissal.

Supporters of the Pontiff openly expressed their anger today and a vigil was set up. Angry supporters said that it was unfair that other religious leaders were allowed to wear turbans, headscarves and bangles.

The Pope, a devout Christian, said that he would take his case to the European Court for Human Rights, although there seems little hope of success.

A similar case brought about by a British airline check-in operator resulted in her dismissal and at a subsequent trial at the Old Bailey, she was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Pope has made a personal plea to Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, to help him in appealing against the decision. Hat Tip to Joanna

Schedule of Services for Bishop Paul Dudley

A Reviewal Prayer Service will be held Monday, Nov. 27, in Northfield at St Dominic's from 4-8 p.m. followed by an all night vigil beginning at 8 p.m.

A Vigil Mass will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 10:00 St Dominic's Church in Northfield.

A Reviewal Prayer Service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the St Paul Seminary from 4-8 p.m. followed by an all night vigil beginning at 8 p.m.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 10:00 a.m. at the St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul.

A Memorial Mass will be held Thursday, Nov. 30, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord,
And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him;
May His Soul, and All the Souls
of the Faithful Departed,
Through the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.

Beloved former Bishop Paul Dudley dies at 79

Roman Catholics and Protestants are mourning the loss of a church leader described by those who knew him as a true pastor, a holy man and a shepherd.Bishop Paul Dudley, who led the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls from 1978 to 1995 as its sixth bishop, died Monday in St. Paul, nine days before his 80th birthday.Dudley's family said he died of lung disease.

"He was one of the most authentic people I've ever known," said the Rev. Greg Tschakert of St. Mary Parish in Aberdeen. "I would characterize Bishop Dudley as a holy man."Kitty Wilka, a member of St. Lambert Parish in Sioux Falls, called Dudley "a true shepherd."
"He was not the kind of person who was impressed by money," Wilka said. "He treated everyone, I thought, very, very equally in that respect."

Bishop Norman Eitrheim, retired head of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said Dudley reached out to people of all faiths."He was really a leader as far as ecumenical relations were concerned," Eitrheim said. "He was a true pastor in every way. He was always himself, always caring."

Dudley had been ill for much of the spring and summer and was unable to attend the Oct. 26 ordination and installation of the current bishop of the Sioux Falls diocese, Paul Swain."In my short time as bishop here, I can attest to the great love the people of this diocese have for Bishop Dudley," Swain said.

Dudley, a Minnesota native, was ordained into the priesthood in 1951. He spent the first 25 years of his priesthood in pastoral work at Twin Cities-area churches, even though he had hoped to serve a rural parish, where he thought he would feel most comfortable.He became an auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1976 and was ordained as a bishop in 1977. His appointment to the Sioux Falls diocese was one of the first by Pope John Paul II.

When he retired, Dudley returned to the family farm near Northfield but continued to say Mass daily, conduct retreats, fill in for vacationing priests and preside at confirmation Masses.

The day after Dudley's death, Sister Colman Coakley recalled Dudley's love for the elderly as he helped build Prince of Peace retirement community in Sioux Falls."He was a very prayerful man," said the Presentation sister, who lives in Sioux Falls. "He always thought of others before himself."

Mike Bannwarth of Sioux Falls met Dudley in the late 1980s, when Bannwarth and his wife became involved in the Worldwide Marriage Encounter program."Everybody just warmed up when they saw him," Bannwarth said. "It was amazing at how he remembered people and knew you from the first time he met you."Dudley's concern for social justice still can be seen in Sioux Falls. As bishop, he helped develop several ecumenical ministries that serve the poor such as The Banquet feeding ministry and the Good Shepherd Center for the homeless.

"He was one of the moving forces," said Tschakert, who was ordained a priest by Dudley. "He was a real visionary that way."Others echoed that sentiment.

"I was thinking about how he influenced my life," Jerry Klein, chancellor of the Sioux Falls diocese, said Tuesday. "I don't think that was uncommon; he influenced so many lives." Bishop Robert Carlson, Dudley's successor in the Sioux Falls diocese and now leader of the Saginaw, Mich., diocese, said he had known Dudley for almost 50 years, first as a parish priest." I wish to express my deep appreciation for the gift of his life and my thankfulness for the wonderful way he lived out his priesthood," Carlson said.

Dudley's retirement was marred in 2002 when a former altar boy and two women accused him of sexual abuse years earlier in Minnesota. Dudley denied the charges, and a six-month investigation by the Church - which was independently reviewed by a retired judge - cleared him." I will continue to pray for the comfort and healing of the accusers," he said at the time.

One of 10 children, Dudley is survived by one brother, John Dudley, Northfield, and nieces and nephews. His funeral will be Nov. 29 at St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, on what would have been his 80th birthday. A memorial Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls will be 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30. Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bishop Paul Dudley Died Monday Night; Funeral Wednesday Nov 29 at the Cathedral of St Paul

One of the most popular bishops ever to head the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, has died. Paul V. Dudley passed away last night in his hometown of Northfield, Minnesota after a long illness.

Ordained as a priest in 1951, Paul Dudley served in Minneapolis-St.Paul area churches becoming a bishop in 1977 and assigned to Sioux Falls a year later by Pope John Paul II in one of the new pontiff's first appointments.

The new bishop quickly found favor with his flock in eastern South Dakota because of his accessibility and positive outlook on life and people.

Reverend Donald Kettler served the diocese at the same time as Dudley. Kettler, now a bishop himself in Alaska, just happened to be in Sioux Falls when the news of Dudley's death came. “He was just that kind person. There's a tendency sometimes to become a little bit too parental. He never was like that. He was a person that cared for people and treated everyone the same, Kettler says.

In 1988, Keloland news was allowed along as bishops, including Paul Dudley, were invited to the Vatican for a few days for meetings with Pope John Paul II. Then in 1993, we also tagged along as hundreds of young people from the area traveled by bus to Denver and to see the Pope. It was there, Dudley was the only bishop in the country to receive the Heritage award from the pontiff for his work with kids.

Bishop Kettler says, “He would make it so easy for young people to be comfortable with a situation because he was comfortable with that.”

But Bishop Dudley's later years following retirement were marred by old allegations of sexual abuse. Even though the claims were determined to be unfounded, Kettler says the damage was done. “It was extremely difficult for him especially during the time he stepped back and said do the investigation and then when he was exonerated, great relief.”

Donna Cannon, longtime diocese communications director, never lost faith. “I prayed for him the entire time. I knew in the depths of my heart he wasn't guilty. I knew him too well”, she says.

Vernon Brown, who covered the Worldwide Youth Day in Denver for KELOLAND News, remembers Dudley's shining personality. “He is probably the most spiritual man I ever met,” Brown says.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the cathedral in St. Paul on Wednesday November 29th on what would have been Bishop Dudley's 80th birthday. There will be a Memorial mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls at 5:30 on Thursday November 30th. KELOLand TV

Mpls' Basilica of St Mary leaders won't soon forget Tootsie Martin

The words of Yvonne (Tootsie) Martin will linger for years in the hearts of about 60 leaders of the Basilica of St. Mary.
"Don't worry, I've got your back," Martin had told them.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the lay leaders had gathered for a retreat at Ascension Catholic Church, a sister church of the Basilica's on Minneapolis' North Side.
As part of the retreat, the Basilica people had taken a school bus tour of the good, the bad and the hopeful parts of north Minneapolis hosted by City Council Member Don Samuels.
As they boarded the bus, they had been greeted by a driver with a huge smile on her face.
"How you doing, I'm Tootsie," Martin had said, instantly befriending each of the passengers.
As the bus headed into some of the harsher areas of our city, the passengers got a message from Tootsie.
"There are a lot of people who would tell you that you should be afraid in this neighborhood," she had said. "Don't worry, I've got your back."
On Sunday, a huge, diverse crowd gathered at a vigil outside Tootsie's north Minneapolis home. Samuels spoke. Family members spoke. Friends spoke.
Then, Samuels looked over the diverse throng.
"The circle has been expanded," he said as a way of inviting others to step forward.
A man from the Basilica, who had been on the bus tour, stepped forward.
"She told us that she would protect us," the man said. "It's so sad we weren't able to protect her."
Martin, mother, grandmother, pillar of Ascension Church, bus driver, friend of anyone she smiled at -- and she smiled at everyone -- was found shot to death in her north Minneapolis home at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 13. She was 47 years old. No arrests have been made.
Statistically, she became this year's murder victim No. 55. Her murder was reported last week in just four paragraphs in the back of the newspaper's metro section. No arrests have been made.
We're all complex, a mix of good, not-so-good, ups and downs.
But this is the Tootsie that most knew:
She filled Ascension Church.
Every Sunday, she sat in the front row, keeping a handful of her grandchildren in line. At the sign of peace, that moment when people turn and shyly greet each other, Tootsie and her grandkids were at their robust best, joyfully spreading "peace" throughout the church.
She was nominated by her boss at the First Student school bus company, Todd Bauman, for the School Bus AAA Hall of Fame -- not just because she was a safe driver, but "because she made everyone feel good," Bauman said.
Samuels met her just once, on that bus tour.
"An outgoing, endearing character," the council member said. "She was telling people that there are problems and that it can be dangerous in north Minneapolis. But then, she'd say how much she loved it. It was almost as if she made a last vibrant contribution for change in this place she loved. Her death becomes this poignant statement."
Her death came less than 48 hours after she assured her 60 new friends that they shouldn't be concerned, because she had their back. Doug Grow, StarTribune

I Celebrate Christmas

Mitchell here.

Readers of my regular blog are used to my screeds around this time of the year regarding the secularization, if not outright distain, of Christmas. (See here, here and here, for starters.) So I'm happy to pass along the following press release from my friend John Sondag over at the "other" (and better) Catholic paper The Catholic Servant. As I've been saying over and over, we can't just sit here and take it - we have to fight back. Here's one way to do it, quietly but forcefully.


Contact: John Sondag
Cell: 612-275-0431

(MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. November 11, 2006) The Catholic Servant, a monthly publication for evangelization, catechesis and apologetics published out of the Twin Cities, is selling "I Celebrate Christmas" buttons to remind people why we celebrate this holiday and to rebut the increasing secularism of the feast day.

"It's a positive reminder that we can't lose sight of the religious dimensions of our holidays. This is worth celebrating, just as any event which connects God to man," said John Sondag, editor and publisher of The Catholic Servant. "Our Judeo-Christian culture has for centuries expressed these events on public feast days through public prayers and these expressions have spilled over into the "culture" of these believers. Culture indeed is an extension of the deeply-held beliefs of a people in their songs, food, drama, and art. To take away the Divine is to suffocate the spirit that is expressing the joy of encountering this supernatural reality."

"The buttons were created by Mike Rumpza, a resident of St. Paul, Minn., and parishioner at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, who was tired of being wished "Happy Holidays" even at Thanksgiving. He hopes the buttons will help create a personal dialog with people about the significance of Christmas, and give people permission to wish each other a "Merry Christmas."

Sondag said that most holidays in the United States have a religious origin: Easter, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and secularists want to ignore that fact. Abraham Lincoln, in establishing Thanksgiving wrote, "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

"Josef Pieper wrote about feasts in traditional societies in Leisure the Basis of Culture, "There is no such thing as a feast 'without gods' whether it be a carnival or a marriage. That is not a demand, or a requirement; it does not mean that that is how things ought to be. Rather, it is meant as a simple statement of fact: however dim the recollection of the association may have become in men's minds, a feast 'without gods,' and unrelated to worship, is quite simply unknown."

The buttons can be purchased through Rumpza's website,, or at Leaflet Missal Co., 976 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, Minn., 55104.

Non-profit religious groups, schools, churches and individuals can purchase the buttons in bulk at reduced costs, and sell them for profit to raise money for charity, another significant reason to celebrate Christmas.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and a personal testimony regarding her mother, St. Anne


Mary, at the age of three, was brought by her parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, to the Temple, in fulfillment of a vow, there to be educated. It is very probable that the holy prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who witnessed the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as we read in the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 25 ff.) had known His Mother as a little girl in the Temple and observed her truly unique sanctity.

Where, better than in the Temple, could Mary be prepared for Her mission? Twelve years of recollection and prayer, contemplation and sufferings, were the preparation of the chosen one of God. The tender soul of Mary was adorned with the most precious graces and became an object of astonishment and praise for the holy Angels, as well as of the highest complacency for the adorable Trinity. The Father looked upon Her as His beloved Daughter, the Son as One set apart and prepared to become His Mother, and the Holy Ghost as His undefiled Spouse.

Here is how Mary’s day in the Temple was apportioned, according to Saint Jerome. From dawn until nine in the morning, She prayed; from 9:00 until 3:00 She applied Herself to manual work; then She turned again to prayer. She was always the first to undertake night watches, the One most applied to study, the most fervent in the chanting of Psalms, the most zealous in works of charity, the purest among the virgins, Her companions, the most perfect in the practice of every virtue. On this day She appears as the standard-bearer for Christian virginity: after Her will come countless legions of virgins consecrated to the Lord, both in the shadow of the altars or engaged in the charitable occupations of the Church in the world. Mary will be their eternal Model, their dedicated Patroness, their sure guide on the paths of perfection. Magnificat

Ste. Anne has played an important role in the life of my family.

My great grandmother, Mary Ann Laughlin Reidy, perhaps named for St Anne, as "Ann" is not a common name among the Irish, in her middle age developed some kind of terrible cancer on her legs and was crippled and needed to use a wheel chair and crutches. Her leg muscles had deteriorated to the point where you could just about push a finger right through them.

She and some relatives made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Anne de Beaupre in Quebec at the time that the new Shrine had been dedicated as a basilica in 1887.

While she was in the new Basilica, she dropped her crutches. The crowd around her started crying out "It's a miracle." and she kept looking around to see who it had happened to. She didn't realize that she was the one who received the miracle.

When she returned home, without crutches or wheel chair, her husband, Jeremiah Reidy, who had stayed to work and take care of the kids, didn't even recognize her as she stood on the porch in front of him. He burst into tears, thinking that somebody else had come to tell him that Mary Ann was dead. He hadn't seen her standing for a very long time. They said that her legs were as "firm as chicken breasts" when she returned.

Then, about 1934, Mary Ann's six daughters made a Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving for their by then long dead mother back to Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec.

I never heard what the others' asked for as their intention, but my Grandma, Ann Scanlon, the oldest daughter had been dismayed that her two daughters were dating protestant men (my Mom, Clarice, and her older sister, Kathryn).

Grandma asked Ste. Anne that she find them good Catholic men for husbands. By the time Grandma and the others returned home from the Pilgrimage, my Mom and her sister had met two Catholic men (my Dad and his best friend) whom they eventually married.

My Mom and my sister, Joanne, made a pilgrimage to St Anne de Beaupre in the late 70s or early 80s and I have no doubt but that I was in my Mom's intentions. I began my "reversion" to the Church in September of 1981.

So, St Anne is pretty important to me. Sadly, there is nobody named "Ann" in the next generation other than my sister, Joanne, to intercede for us. I'll have to do it myself

Correction: A brother in California, whose wife, Sheryl ANN, wonders why she and my grand-niece, Elizabeth ANN, were forgotten by the family historian when the above post was written. Well, chalk it up to a "senior moment", I guess.

I'm comforted that Elizabeth Ann will be carrying on our family's relationship with the Blessed Mother's Mom, Ste. Anne de Beaupre. ("beaupre" means something like "beautiful prairie", in case you were wondering).

Sundays of Learning, St Joseph's, Grand Rapids, MN

Sister Edith, who blogs at Monastic Musings and teaches Sociology at St Scholastica in Duluth, visited the folks in Grand Rapids the other day.

It's not often that I meet a group of people who are spending their spare time studying The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Nor those who come early to church, or stay late, so that they can listen to someone talk for another hour. But that's exactly who I met this morning at Saint Joseph Catholic Community in Grand Rapids, MN. What a lively and interesting group of people!

Their Sundays of Learning offers a different speaker or program each month, gently organized around a central theme. I was pleased to be invited: I knew this was a vibrant parish from previous visits. So I chose to tackle an oversized topic - The Individual and the Common Good. We explored the biblical roots and foundations of the church's teaching on the common good, and then the many ways in which modern society distracts us from thinking in this way. (I hope to post the notes here, in segments, over the next few weeks.)

Today was the Rite of Welcoming, for people seeking to enter the Church through baptism or come into full communion. Fr. Jerry Weiss greeted several people at the entrance to the Church, asked what they sought from God's Church, and led them in. The first (of many!) blessings these candidates and catechumens will receive was today's blessing of the senses. As always, we too were blessed to recall all these ways in which we encounter Christ.

Receive the cross on your forehead. It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of his love. Learn to know him and follow him.

Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord.

Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God.

Receive the sign of the cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God.

Receive the sign of the cross over your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith.

Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ.

Receive the sign of the cross on your hands, that Christ may be known in the work which you do.

Receive the sign of the cross on your feet, that you may walk in the way of Christ. Monastic Musings

St Paul Seminary Vocation Videos Available


This past year, a camera crew had been following seminarians around in a quest to capture our life here at St. Paul Seminary. In several interviews and much filming of our life they produced a video to promote vocations. The fruits of this work can be seen on our
website here.

This video is only one instantiation of this new form of promoting vocations. The USCCB has a wonderful 18 minute long video,
Fishers of Men, that will undoubtedly spur many men to consider a vocation to the priestly life. If you want a full copy of this video go here.

Another good video is one where
John Paul II talks about his own vocation as a priest.

The last one that I know of is the film produced after the
Blessed Sacrament was processed through the busy streets of New York.
Mike: Future Priests of the Third Millenium

Bishop Nickless impressed with 'vibrant faith' in Sioux City diocese

The Rev. R. Walker Nickless, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, spoke to the Greater Sioux City Press Club over lunch on Friday. It was an informal conversation that ranged widely, from his enjoyment of gardening and yard work to the church's views on human sexuality.
Nickless, the oldest of 10 children, left his native Denver earlier this year and was installed on Jan. 20 as Sioux City's seventh bishop. Prior to that, he served in a number of roles, all in the Archdiocese of Denver, most recently as its vicar general.
Nickless laughed as he remembered his surprise at being named a bishop and at being assigned to Iowa, which he had never visited. "I got three or four packs of long underwear," he confessed, "but I haven't had to use them.
"He said he has visited nearly every school and every corner of the diocese and recently met with all 125 priests for the first time.
Nickless said he has been moved by the "vibrant faith, openness and goodness of the people here" and that he was excited to see the enthusiasm of 800 Catholic youth at a recent gathering in Le Mars. "That, to me, is a real sign of vitality and growth." At the same time, he said, special attention must be given to the elderly faithful.
He said raising up new priests is a real need and noted that the vocation must be suggested to boys who may be hearing the call, but aren't sure about it. The bishop said priests come from healthy Catholic families and that boys "need to see happy priests. We've had so much bad publicity."
Nickless was asked why services in Spanish are not offered regularly in other Sioux City churches, but only at the cathedral, where Hispanics are assigned and make up 41 percent of the congregation. He acknowledged that "people must pray in their own language" and called the Hispanic members "a great asset to the church." The biggest challenge, he said, is finding enough Spainish-speaking priests.
In general remarks, the bishop said he is open to new ideas, new ways of doing things and new faces around him. [...snip] Sioux City Journal

Nigerian-Born, St Thomas Educated, Father Peter Njoku was a parent figure to many

Throughout his life, the Rev. Peter C. Njoku believed child-rearing was a responsibility that reached far beyond the child's parents, and he practiced what he preached.
Njoku took responsibility for six nephews, bringing them from his native Nigeria to Minnesota to be educated. When a young niece's mother died, he adopted the girl as his own. While tending his parish at St. Jerome's Catholic Church in Maplewood, Njoku spent time on the side collecting books and educational materials to be shipped to schoolchildren across Nigeria.
Njoku died shortly after he offered Communion at a Mass Nov. 12, while visiting his hometown of Owerri, in southeastern Nigeria. He was 60.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas University, met Njoku the day after he arrived in the United States from Nigeria, back in 1977.
Njoku served a number of parishes in Minnesota, including St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, St. Michael in Pine Island, St. Mary in Bellechester, St. Paul in Zumbrota and Most Holy Trinity in St. Louis Park.
Njoku was also a co-founder and leader of the Umunne Cultural Association, a St. Paul group that serves as the hub of activities for Nigerians from the Igbo tribe.
Njoku will be buried in Owerri on Friday. A prayer vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. that day at St. Jerome's, 380 Roselawn Av. E., Maplewood. The vigil will end at dawn. Star Tribune

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Dioceses: Grade School Religious Instruction in the Archdioceses of Detroit and St Paul-Minneapolis

Bernie Grutsch likes knowing his three youngest children are learning their Catholic faith according to a defined curriculum that uses a textbook.
“Some of the schools we’ve seen or talked to have a tendency to say they pull a little bit from here, a little bit from there,” Grutsch said. He is the father of third-grade and sixth-grade girls and a fifth-grade boy who attend Holy Family School in St. Louis Park, Minn., in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
“Our concern with that type of approach is that as parents you don’t have the ability to know what is being taught,” Grutsch added.
At Holy Family, Grutsch’s children are learning from Ignatius Press’ Faith and Life series, one of 121 books and series that have been reviewed by the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism and declared to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (A complete list of such texts can be viewed at
Grutsch’s wife, Marilyn, a third-grade catechist in the Holy Family Parish religious education program, which also uses Faith and Life, said the series is “in line with what the Church teaches without being fluffy and watered down. It really gets to the meat of what the Catholic faith is.”
Barb Rumschlag, director of religious education at St. Anne Parish in Monroe, Mich., in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the mother of a sixth grader in the program, feels similarly about Benziger’s Christ Jesus the Way series, which also bears the bishops’ declaration of conformity with the Catechism. “It seems to be very grounded in the Catholic faith,” she said.
The two textbook series and others that have a declaration of conformity with the Catechism are the result of an effort begun in 1996 by the U.S. bishops to improve the quality of religious education by upgrading the nation’s catechetical textbooks so that they are consistent with the Catechism.
A textbook-review process, in which publishers voluntarily submit texts before publication and agree to make changes needed for a declaration of conformity with the Catechism, is aimed at making certain that students in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs are receiving a complete and accurate presentation of the faith based on the Catechism.
In response, some dioceses, including Detroit, which is headed by Cardinal Adam Maida, now mandate that catechists use books bearing the bishops’ declaration of conformity. However, others have no such requirement. For instance, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, led by Archbishop Harry Flynn, merely provides a “recommended list” of six publishers, all of whom have texts and series on the bishops’ conformity listing. Parishes and schools are then free to choose whatever materials they think best suit their students.
John Vitek, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Press in Winona, Minn., has estimated that a third of the dioceses in the country require texts in conformity be used.
As part of an investigation looking at the 20 largest dioceses in the country in terms of elementary population, the Register recently examined the religious-education textbook policies and practices of the archdioceses of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Detroit.
In St. Paul-Minneapolis, the policy on textbook selection reflects the “culture” of the archdiocese, which emphasizes decentralization and helping local leaders serve their parishes and schools, according to Lori Dahlhoss of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education and Formation Ministries.
“The archdiocese at this point has very few what you would call ‘mandates,’” Dahlhoss said.
St. Paul-Minneapolis does have a set of religion standards designed so that no matter what kind of textbook or religious education model is used, schools and parishes can still be held accountable for certain learning expectations, Dahlhoss said. The standards are based on the Catechism, the national and general directories for catechesis, Scripture and human development.
“This allows for the flexibility that has been a part of this diocese for a long time,” Dahlhoss said, “but it’s also calling us to shared responsibility for the handing on of the fullness of the Catholic faith.”
In spite of the archdiocese’s lack of a mandate when it comes to religious education texts, most of the parishes and schools in a random check of 10 by the Register were found to be using books from the bishops’ conformity listing.
The exceptions were St. Joan of Arc Parish in Minneapolis, Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul, and
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Minnetonka.
At St. Joan of Arc, Kathy Itzin, director of grade-school formation, uses the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies, a lectionary-based resource, for Grades 1-6. Because it is not a traditional textbook, the series has not been evaluated by the bishops. Itzin said it does have a scope-and-sequence chart correlating each lesson to the Catechism, however. As a supplement, the parish also uses Living the Good News, another lectionary-based resource from Church Publishing, Inc., which produces materials for Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and other churches.
St. Joan’s program for Grades 7 and 8 uses Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens, published by Upper Room Books, a non-Catholic publisher. Itzin said the St. Joan program emphasizes the Gospels, Christ and social justice, although it does teach other things specific to the Catholic faith, such as the Eucharist.
“If you form people with knowledge of living out of the Scriptures,” she said, “they come out a well-formed Christian.”
At Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul, children in Grades 1-7 learn from texts that have been found in conformity with the Catechism, but eighth graders are enrolled in a mini-course program using two resources that lack the conformity designation. They are Ascension Press’s T-3: The Teen Timeline, a Bible study, and a series on Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body for teens.
Randy Mueller, director of religious education, said he chose those materials because, even though they had not been reviewed by the bishops, he believed them to be consistent with the teaching of the magisterium.
At Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Minnetonka, the junior high program is using Discovering, an older series from St. Mary’s Press that has not been through the bishops’ review process because St. Mary’s Press is only submitting new texts to the bishops’ committee. Grades 1-6 use a series from the bishops’ conformity listing.
Patricia Byrd, parish religious education coordinator, said she wasn’t concerned that the junior high series lacks the conformity declaration since it likely will be changed in the future as the program is revised and new materials are brought in.
Told about the three parishes using nonstandard texts, Dahlhoss said she thinks the use of such materials will be less frequent as the archdiocese moves toward greater awareness and use of its religion standards, which have only been in place about a year. She added that she thinks educators in the archdiocese are trying to be conscientious about using up-to-date materials. “I’ve been exceedingly impressed with the leaders,” she said.
Ronald Pihokker, director of the Archdiocese of Newark catechetical office, has said that by designing programs from several sources parishes run the risk of confusing catechists. Textbooks, he said, are based on programs that have various kinds of ancillary support, including teacher guides.
“So if you don’t buy into the whole series,” he said, “you’re running a number of different risks. You’re losing all that support, losing the continuity of the curriculum as it’s designed for that particular series.”
Pihokker also said that major publishers have gone to great lengths to provide programs that cover all the bases. “The danger is that when we put something together ourselves, something is falling through the cracks,” he said.
[...Snip] National Catholic Register

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pope Benedict: "The Quest for Justice and Peace Without Respect for Life is Only a 'Substitute for Religion.' "

The Church these days seems to be divided between the "horizontal" Catholic Communities whose Gospel concentrates on the "Peace and Justice" mission of the Church as preached in the New Testament and the "vertical", more liturgically based Catholic parishes whose message is the worship of God in the Holy Trinity using the assistance of the Blessed Mother, the Saints and traditional devotions and prayers.

Both of these are valid and necessary paths for attaining our ultimate salvation with Jesus Christ in Heaven.

Pope Benedict XVI warned that the quest for peace and social justice becomes a "substitute for religion" for many people when the sanctity of human life is excluded. The Pope told the Swiss Bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome that the Church must exert itself to ensuring the themes of peace, justice, and respect for the environment are "inseparably united back to the moral teaching of the Church's defense for life."
"Modern society is not simply without morality, but it has, so to speak, 'discovered' and professes a part of morality", the Pope told the Swiss bishops. "These are the great themes of peace, non-violence, justice for all, concern for the poor, and respect for creation."
However, the Pope warned that these "great moral themes" have "become an ethical complex that, precisely as a political force, has great power and constitutes for many the substitute for religion, or its successor."
"It is only if human life is respected from conception to death that the ethics of peace is also possible and credible," concluded the Pope. "It is only then that non-violence can express itself in every direction; only then that we truly welcome creation, and only then that we can arrive at true justice."
The words of Benedict strike directly at the heart of liberal Christian theology, where the rejection of the Church's moral teaching has manifested itself in a sort of "anti-morality" that attempts to profess concern for peace, justice, and the natural way, but rejects the dignity of human life from conception to natural death by embracing anti-life teachings. [...Snip]

Heart Valves Grown From Amniotic Fluid Can Repair Defective Hearts

Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb, offering an approach that may be used to repair defective hearts.
The idea is to create new valves in the laboratory while a pregnancy progresses and have them ready to implant in a baby with heart defects after it is born.
The Swiss experiment follows recent successes at growing bladders and blood vessels and suggests that people may one day be able to grow their own replacement heart parts, in some cases, even before they are born.
It is one of several tissue engineering advances that could lead to homegrown heart valves that are more durable and effective than artificial or cadaver valves.
“This may open a whole new therapy concept to the treatment of congenital heart defects,” said Dr. Simon Hoerstrup of the University of Zurich.
One percent of all newborns, or more than one million babies born worldwide each year, have heart problems. Such defects kill more babies in the United States in the first year of life than any other birth defects, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Defects in heart valves can be detected during pregnancy with ultrasound tests at about 20 weeks. At least one-third of afflicted infants have problems that could be treated with replacement valves, Dr. Hoerstrup said.
Valves made from the patient’s own cells are living tissue and might be able to grow with the patient, said Dr. Hayashida, who is with the National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute in Osaka.
The Swiss procedure has an additional advantage. Using cells the fetus sheds in amniotic fluid avoids controversy because it does not involve destroying embryos to get stem cells.
“This is an ethical advantage,” Dr. Hoerstrup said.
Here is how the experiment worked: Amniotic fluid was obtained through a needle inserted into the womb during amniocentesis, a prenatal test for birth defects. Fetal stem cells were isolated from the fluid, cultured in a laboratory dish, then placed on a mold shaped like a small ink pen and made of biodegradable plastic.
He and his co-researcher, Dorthe Schmidt, called their method “a promising, low-risk approach enabling the prenatal fabrication of heart valves ready to use at birth.”
Dr. Hoerstrup said amniotic stem cells could also be frozen for years and could potentially be used to create replacement parts for aging or diseased valves in adults, too.
The research is preliminary, and experts say implanting tissue-engineered valves in human hearts is probably years away. But it is not far-fetched. Earlier this year, American scientists reported re-engineering diseased bladders with tissue grown from the patients’ own cells.
About 250,000 patients worldwide have surgery to replace heart parts each year, Dr. Mayer said.
In one of Dr. Mayer’s experiments, heart valves fashioned from stem cells harvested from sheep bone marrow appeared to function normally when implanted in sheep. A similar experiment used cells harvested from sheep arteries.
Dr. Hoerstrup said amniotic fluid was potentially a richer source of stem cells than other sources. Dr. Mayer said the big question was whether stem cells from amniotic fluid could create valves superior to those made from other cell types.
“I’m pretty sure the ball will continue to be advanced down the field,” he said. “We’ll get there one way or the other.” New York Times