Monday, February 5, 2007

St Cloud's Bishop John Kinney celebrates 30 years as a bishop and, soon, 44 as a priest

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St. Cloud Bishop John Kinney, who was ordained a bishop on Jan. 25, 1977, exactly 30 years ago, sat down at his Chancery office Jan. 15 for this interview with the St. Cloud Visitor. He feels blessed by God and filled with gratitude to serve in ‘wonderful diocese of faith’

What does a typical day for you include?

I start out with prayer. I usually spend an hour in the morning in prayer with the Liturgy of the Hours and then some prayer/contemplation time. That time is very important for me because one of the challenges I face, and I suppose most of us face, is looking at a day and saying, “I’m all alone in this.” That prayer time makes me realize the presence of God — the presence of Christ — in my life and that I am not alone.

Then I go from that hour of prayer to the celebration of Mass, which might be at home in my chapel or here in the chancery.

I usually get into the office at about 9:30 in the morning. I live out at the (St. Cloud) Children’s Home, so I make my own breakfast. I don’t have a cook except for special events.

Usually the first thing I do in the morning is to review the schedule for the day and then go through the mail. Going through the mail of a bishop can be really exciting because there are wonderful things that come in the mail. Sometimes there are very hard things that come in the mail. I like the wonderful things.

At about 10 o’clock I begin to meet with the people who want to see me that day. Mary Burrett, who is my assistant, is the one who arranges the schedule of when people are able to come in and for how long they will stay.

The idea was sparked from a staff brainstorming session. Staff members had toyed with the notion of inviting the pope to last year’s Springfest, but decided to go ahead with it this year. They timed the creation of the invitation to coincide with Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, knowing the activity would generate a buzz around the school as students added their personal floral touches to the invitation.

“The kids are very excited,” said Shelley Steffens, kindergarten and first grade teacher at the school, although “it’s hard for them to imagine the pope coming.” Father Don Wagner, pastor of St. Ann’s and of St. John the Baptist Parish in Bluffton, said that just the idea of inviting Pope Benedict to the occasion makes the idea of the universal Roman Catholic church more real. When the pope’s name is mentioned at the eucharistic prayer during Mass, he could seem more real to them because they sent him a letter.

“Doing this will give them a sense that Pope Benedict is the shepherd of the whole church,” he said, adding that no harm but only good can come from making the invitation.

“They ran it by me and I said, ‘Why not?’ ” he said. If the pontiff would be come, he could participate in a Springfest champagne reception, elegant dinner, live auction and even have a chance of winning a real diamond. Plus, he would have the chance of a lifetime of meeting the people of Wadena.

And, it would be a mutual lifetime opportunity. “I would be really excited,” said third-grader Jarrett Pettit.

Father Wagner said that if the school should receive a response from the Vatican, it would be “icing on the cake.” Just the invitation itself is already generating excitement and anticipation for the Springfest.

Whether the pope will accept the invitation is yet unknown. But, if he does want to come, he might want to not dawdle about R.S.V.P.ing. The limited tickets for Springfest go on sale soon. St Cloud Visitor
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