Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knocknagoshel on the Hill


Lo these 182 years ago, my great grandfather, Jeremiah "Jer" Reidy, left Ireland to find his fortune in the the U.S. His fortune turned out to be his wife and nine children, born and raised in Negaunee, Michigan, on that state's Upper Peninsula where he mined iron ore til late in life.

He was a Kerryman, from County Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland where he "Saddled the Salmon" in 1872, where relatives were waiting for him in Negaunee.

He left the tiny township of Knocknagoshel that hasn't changed a heckuva lot in those 182 years as is evidenced by this current video maybe by a group called Irish Rambling House.

Holy Name Society Apologetics Conference, St. Augustine's, SSPaul, Jan 8, 1:00 p.m.

9th Annual Holy Name Society Apologetics Conference - Featuring Mark Shea - Saturday, January 8th at 1:00 p.m.

Mark P. Shea is the featured speaker at the Holy Name Society's 9th Annual Apologetics Conference scheduled for Saturday, January 8, 2011. First talk begins at 1:00 p.m.

Mark is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. His most recent work is the "Mary, Mother of the Son" trilogy. An award-winning columnist, Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column "Connecting the Dots" for the National Catholic Register in addition to his regular feature on Mark is known nationally for his one minute "Words of Encouragement" on Catholic radio. He also maintains the popular blog Catholic and Enjoying It. In addition, Mark is an internationally known speaker on various issues in Catholic faith and life.


Conference Schedule

12:30 p.m.
Registration Begins
(Refreshments - Books for Sale in lower level)

12:40 p.m.
Recitation of the Most Holy Rosary
1:00 p.m.
"101 Reasons not to be Catholic"

Break - Refreshments - Books for Sale - Lower Level
2:20 p.m.
"Behold Your Mother"

Followed by Special Q & A Session
4:15 p.m.
Book Signing - Lower Level

Conference Flier

Church of St. Augustine
408 3rd Street North
South St. Paul, MN 55075

Come; be inspired by two powerful presentations plus a Q & A session.

  • Learn more about the Catholic Faith and how best to share it with your non-Catholic friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers.
  • Learn the best defense of the faith and how to deliver the message with conviction.
  • Question & Answer Session - have your questions answered by Mark. Send your questions via e-mail to and Mark will answer it the day of the conference!

Register - Now

Cost is only $15 per person - $10 ages 18 and under - Clergy/religious free!

Register on-line - 100% Secure 24 Hour Online Ordering

Register by Mail - Checks Required in Advance

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Anglicanorum Coetibus group being formed at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville

They are having a Prayer Service January 1 at 5:00 p.m. and a Mass on January 2 at 1:30 p.m. using the new Anglican Rite for Roman Catholics.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Brother
John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B. at jpauley [at] csbsju [dot] edu

On November 9, 2009, Pope Benedict approved an Apostolic Constitution entitled "Anglicanorum Coetibus" ("A coming together of Anglicans?"), Providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering into Full Communion with the Catholic Church.

[Brother John-Bede asked that the following correction be posted:
I should point out that we are formed under the 1980 Pastoral Provision rather than invoking Anglicanorum coetibus since the latter has not been officially instituted in the U.S. Also, we are all (at this moment) Roman Catholic (though our group naturally includes former Anglicans/Episcopalians). Your prayers for the continued success of our efforts would be greatly appreciated.
Br. John-Bede Pauley]

On the weekend of November 13-14, five people gathered at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota for what became the founding of the Anglican Use Society of St. Bede the Venerable.

To show how serious they are, the even formed their very own blog: The Society of St. Bede the Vernerable up at St. John's.

You can find information on their initial formation and plans at their web site and their blog.

Abbott John Klassen of St. John's Abbey and Bishop John F. Kinney of the Diocese of St. Cloud have already promised their complete cooperation in this new venture, welcoming Anglicans (and Episcopalians) home to Rome.

This is their schedule for the immediate future:

SSBV Schedule for 2011

January 1, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer
January 2, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Mass of the Epiphany

March 5, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer;
March 6, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Mass of Last Sunday after Epiphany

April 30, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer;
May 1, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Easter II

July 2, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer;
July 3, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Mass of the Third Sunday after Pentecost

September 3, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer;
September 4, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Mass of 12th Sunday after Pentecost.

November 5, 2011 – 5:00 p.m. Evening Prayer;
November 6, 2011 – 1:30 p.m. Mass of the 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, December 26, 2010

For These Young Nuns, Habits Are The New Radical


Nuns playing basketball

Sister Joan of Arc (second from left) forsook law school but not basketball. Now in her second year at the convent, she regularly plays ball with the sisters. From left: Sister Cecelia Rose Pham, Sister Joan of Arc, Sister Victoria Marie Liederbach, Sister Mara Rose McDonnell and Sister Paula Marie Koffi.

For the most part, these are grim days for Catholic nuns. Convents are closing, nuns are aging and there are relatively few new recruits. But something startling is happening in Nashville, Tenn. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are seeing a boom in new young sisters: Twenty-seven joined this year and 90 entered over the past five years.

The average of new entrants here is 23. And overall, the average age of the Nashville Dominicans is 36 — four decades younger than the average nun nationwide.

Unlike many older sisters in previous generations, who wear street clothes and live alone, the Nashville Dominicans wear traditional habits and adhere to a strict life of prayer, teaching and silence.

They enter the chapel without saying a word, the swish of their long white habits the only sound. It is 5:30 in the morning, pitch black outside — but inside, the chapel is candescent as more than 150 women kneel and pray and fill the soaring sanctuary with their ghostly songs of praise.

A few elderly sisters sit in wheelchairs, but most of these sisters have unlined faces and are bursting with energy. Watching them, you wonder what would coax these young women to a strict life of prayer, teaching, study and silence.

And did they always want to be nuns?

"No," says Sister Beatrice Clark, laughing. "I didn't know they still existed."

Clark, who is 27, says she became aware of the religious life when she was a student at Catholic University in Washington. In her junior year, she began feeling that God was drawing her to enter a convent. Over Thanksgiving vacation in 2004, she broke the news to her family.

"My parents just sat there and looked at me," she says. "And they cried. And I said, 'I think I'm supposed to enter soon.' And my father said, 'This is the time of life to take leaps.' "

She joined the Nashville Dominicans on her 22nd birthday.

Silence — Sometimes

The sisters eat breakfast in silence, sitting side by side at long tables, served by the novices in white habits and veils. Sister Joan of Arc, who's 27, stoops to pour coffee. At 6 feet, 2 inches, the former basketball player for the University of Notre Dame is hard to miss. Sister Joan of Arc, who was born Kelsey Wicks, like the others here adopted a new name when she entered.

She says she worked on refugee issues after college, then received a scholarship to Notre Dame Law School. But her plans shifted when she went on a medical mission trip: In Africa she saw abject physical poverty, but it was nothing compared with the impoverishment she saw when she came home.

Sister Joan of Arc
Enlarge Sister Mary Justin Malton

Sister Joan of Arc says the minute she met the Nashville Dominicans, she felt as if she had come home.

Sister Joan of Arc says the minute she met the Nashville Dominicans, she felt as if she had come home.

"When I came back to the U.S., I saw our true poverty of the heart and of the mind. And I saw the loneliness," she says. "It really made me give my life to the church, so I was more open to the advances of God when he asked, 'Lay down your life!' "

Her parents did not share her certainty.

"I remember my mother sent me Notre Dame Law School bumper stickers when I was deciding, because she did not want me to pass up that opportunity," she says with a laugh.

Sister Joan of Arc forsook law — but not basketball, entirely. Now in her second year, she regularly drills her sisters on the court behind the convent. They dribble and shoot in their long habits — the first-year postulates in black, the second-year novices in white. And when they break into the three teams — Our Lady of Victory, Cecilia and the Martyrs — they scream and chant with a fierce competitiveness that is not all that, well, sisterly.

Lady of Victory wins, followed by Cecilia ... trailed by the Martyrs.

"Sadly, the Martyrs always have a rough go of things," observes Sister Joan of Arc, as the Martyrs shout, "Our victory is in heaven!"

Friendships Beyond Facebook

"You can't even imagine how much fun we have," says Sister Victoria Marie Liederbach, who is 23. "We really do become sisters; we're each others' best friends, and we just have a blast."

I'm sitting with a half-dozen novices, who range in age from 23 to 27. They all have college degrees. There's a nurse, a would-be archivist, but like Sister Paula Marie Koffi, they all felt torn by their ambitions.

"Yeah, I was working as an accountant, and I remember telling one of the managers one day, 'I'll either be a partner in this firm, or a nun,' " she recalls, laughing.

It's a mysterious call to what they describe as a love relationship with Jesus. And for them it is literal: They consider the white habit a wedding gown.

"It's beautiful, and it's a reminder that you are a spouse of Christ," says Sister Mara Rose McDonnell. But it's more than that.

"It tells others that there's a reality beyond this world. There's heaven. We're all orienting ourselves towards heaven," she says.

To the world, the habit is the most visible symbol of their commitment — one they all acknowledge exacts a price.

Sister Beatrice Clark trained as a litigator before entering the convent five years ago.
Sister Mary Justin Malton

Sister Beatrice Clark trained as a litigator before entering the convent five years ago.

"Yeah, like motherhood and children, that's the desire of a woman's heart," says Liederbach. "And being desired, and pursued by a man, that's something for sure that's a real sacrifice."

But Sister Anna Joseph Van Acker says she's weary of shallow relationships rooted in texting and Twitter — and finds the depth she's looking for in God. "He has the love you don't find by someone leaving a message on your Facebook wall," she says. "It's way better than someone saying, 'I'm eating pizza for dinner right now,' or whatever your Facebook status says right now. You don't get fulfilled by that. Ultimately, all you want is more. And here, we're thirsting for more, but we're constantly receiving more as well."

Van Acker, who's 23, says her generation is hungry for absolute truth and tradition — ideals they found in the messages of Pope John Paul II.

"Our generation is thirsting for orthodoxy," she says. "And I know it because I've seen it in university settings. I've seen how young people ... love JP2 not only because he was a nice-looking old man and he gave great hugs or something — but because what he spoke and wrote was the truth and it spoke to their hearts."

Inspiring Others

This is the Pope John Paul generation, coming of age. Of course, that may explain why they chose to enter a convent — but why this convent? Most visited several orders, and the novices nod as Sister Joan of Arc says the minute she met the Nashville Dominicans, she felt as if she had come home.

"I was blown away — seeing them in their habits, seeing their joyful witness, listening to them sing. Oh! It was captivating, it was so captivating," she says.

Of course, not everyone is cut out for this life, and a few drop out in the first two years.

"The day-to-day is hard," says Clark, who is in her fifth year. "The day-to-day can be mundane in little stuff. But in the large choices, this is the most freeing thing I could have chosen, because everything else would have been trying to find this — this defining relationship that would give value to everything."

Including her work teaching sophomores at St. Cecilia Academy, where Clark is, on this fall day, grilling her students on The Scarlet Letter. Clark, who had planned to become a litigator, handles discussion like a cross examination, peppering the girls with questions and the girls firing their answers right back.

Catholic bishops beg the Nashville Dominicans to send their young sisters to their parochial schools, and more than 100 of them now teach in 34 schools in 13 states. The sisters are a big hit with the students as well because they don't fit the stereotype.

"You hear stories from your parents about getting spanked with rulers and stuff, and that's not true at all," says Breanne Lampert, one of Clark's sophomores. "But seeing the sisters here compared to other schools — they're so much younger. I don't know, they understand you really well."

I met the person for me. I've been known by him forever. And I've known him more or less throughout my life. And now I know that this is where I'm called to.

"The young sisters are really inspiring," says Brady Diaz-Barriga, "because you're like, 'Oh, I could never do that. I just love Facebook and my cell phone and my computer too much to give that up!' But you see how much joy your life can be with less and not having all of that."

Isabelle Aparicio says the young sisters' lives have a surprising appeal. "Seeing these young women make these really hard decisions and then seeing so many of them make it, it's kind of inspiring," she says. "And it's actually made me think about it, possibly."

But what about doubt? I ask Clark, "Do you think you'll have any regrets?" She pauses, then shakes her head slowly.

"I met the person for me," she says. "I've been known by him forever. And I've known him more or less throughout my life. And now I know that this is where I'm called to."

Clark, like the nearly 300 other Nashville Dominicans, is called to the unbending rhythms of prayer and silence and worship. With their long habits and disciplined regime, these conservative sisters are, it seems, the new radical. National Public Radio

Friday, December 24, 2010

St. Agnes of St. Paul; Music that offers a glimpse of heaven

Katherine Kersten: Music that offers a glimpse of heaven

St. Agnes Catholic Church in St. Paul is one of the last places on earth to hear some of the grandest music written, in glory to God.

Tonight at St. Agnes Catholic Church in St. Paul, 60 singers will assemble in the choir loft for midnight mass. Violinists, oboists and trumpeters -- many from the Minnesota Orchestra -- will tune their instruments.

Then, as Christmas arrives at the stroke of midnight, the glorious strains of Mozart's monumental Coronation Mass will rise in the baroque splendor of this onion-domed, gilt-and-marble church in Frogtown, as bells peal in the frosty air.

Worshipers and visitors will have to pinch themselves to remember they're in Minnesota, and not in a cathedral in Vienna or Munich.

A chance to hear the Coronation Mass -- among the grandest music ever written -- would seem a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to many Minnesotans.

In fact, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale performs classical-era masses of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and others at St. Agnes at 10 a.m. almost every Sunday from October until June.

Though the music is magnificent in the concert hall, says director Robert Peterson, it's different and more meaningful in the context of the Latin mass. There, it's performed to give glory to God -- just as its composers intended it to be.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would surely be astounded to learn that, in 2010, St. Paul, Minn., is one of the last places on earth where music lovers can still experience his music this way.

"A handful of European churches perform these masses in a worship service on rare occasion," says Peterson. "But we do 30 of them a year."

"If music is supposed to lift up your soul, to give you a glimpse of heaven, this music will do that," says parishioner Keith Kostuch, who was incredulous to discover St. Agnes' cultural treasure when his family moved here recently.

"When the chorale, the organ and the orchestra power in on some of the numbers, it's chilling -- you just get goosebumps. I've seen visitors weep. They're moved and enthralled -- overwhelmed, really."

The chorale's singers, all talented amateurs, range from a gifted high school student to a senior medical doctor. Some members actually moved to the Twin Cities to join, says Peterson. The vocal soloists and instrumentalists are top-rank professionals.

Peterson became the chorale's director in 2005, when its founder, the Rev. Richard Schuler, retired. Schuler was a distinguished organist and musicologist, as well as St. Agnes' longtime pastor.

He launched the chorale in 1974, after he and the church choir returned from a European singing tour determined to reproduce the orchestra-accompanied Latin masses they had heard in famous churches there.

Peterson, who conducted choirs at Edina High School and Macalester College for decades, was bowled over when he first heard the Chorale in 1999.

"I was used to having three months to rehearse my choirs to perform a work of this scope. I couldn't imagine preparing a major work in one week, then putting down my baton to get ready for another the next week, and so on for 30 Sundays."

St. Agnes is the perfect setting for what one chorale fan calls "the greatest hits of Western civilization."

The church building, begun in 1909, was lovingly constructed by Austro-Hungarian immigrants who came to work on the railroad and lived in Frogtown, close to the tracks.

They modeled the church on Kloster Schlaegel, a monastery near Aigen, Austria. It's filled with old-world beauty and craftsmanship: a gorgeous marble altar, Tyrolean statues, and Stations of the Cross in German.

The experience of perfectly harmonized art, architecture and music can transport visitors.

"It's like taking your music history textbook and opening it about the years 1750 to 1800 -- the height of the classical era," explains Peterson.

"Everything is integrated. There's Latin in the choir loft and on the altar, and reverent rituals that have been part of the church for centuries: candles, bells, incense, vestments and altar servers, and the ninth-century Gregorian chant of the 'Schola Cantorum' which sings the 'proper,' or parts of the mass that change daily.

"It all comes together to help people appreciate this great mystery," Peterson concludes.

Both Catholics and non-Catholics can appreciate the results. The chorale includes Catholic and non-Catholic members, and the church has greeters who help people unfamiliar with the Latin liturgy to feel at home.

No work provokes more emotion than the great "Mass in E Minor" by Heinrich von Herzogenberg. This huge work, composed in 1894, was once presumed lost, but a complete score turned up in the mid-1990s.

Performed by more than 100 musicians, the music almost lifts listeners out of their pews. The chorale is the first to perform it in North America.

"People today have a real thirst for the transcendent," says the Rev. John Ubel, St. Agnes' current pastor. "I believe the way in which we celebrate the Eucharist here speaks to that."

But each Sunday's performance costs several thousand dollars. The chorale is primarily supported by donations to its nonprofit, and may die unless new donors are found.

Tonight, the chorale will give its only real concert of the year. At 11:15, before midnight mass, it will perform traditional carols you'd likely hear in a church in Bavaria.

"When I conduct the chorale, I feel a real connection with God," says Peterson. "When I finish the last 'Dona Nobis Pacem,' I feel a sense of peace and completeness. The music helps me to pray in a different way. I hope it's the same for others, and that they are brought closer to God by this great music."

"As Monsignor Schuler always said, 'To sing in church is to pray twice.'" Star Tribune

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Repeat after me 18 times: "The Church's clerical abuse crisis was a homosexual crisis"

Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register has an article today, documented by a secular university, that no secular media outlet will dare reprint. You'll have to read it yourself.

Notice that I said "was a homosexual crisis." Because after the revelation of how serious the situation was, and how bad the cover-up was, beginning with Boston revelations in 2002, the Church began to take measures to ensure that this would not happen again. Virtually every parish in the country has undergone special training and the regulations prohibiting homosexuals from becoming priests were strengthened.

As a result, the 2009 Annual Report of the USCCB reported that there were only 6 new cases of clerical abuse in the entire country that year. Right now, the Catholic Church is the safest place for children in the entire U.S. All those articles you keep seeing in the newspapers are old cases dating from the 1960s to the 199os, finally being brought to trial.

This week, our elected officials voted to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. By so doing, for the first time in this nation’s history, they’ve opened the U.S. military’s combat forces to practicing homosexuals. It would behoove the military to take a look at how such an open policy toward homosexuals worked in another male fraternity, that is, the Catholic priesthood. . . .

The connection between homosexuality and abuse was clearly demonstrated in 2004’s The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, otherwise known as the John Jay Report, which was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice [part of the New York State College system] and commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. . . .

Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has said that the report shows that the Catholic abuse crisis was “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons has echoed that.

“The John Jay report has revealed clearly that the crisis in the Church is not one of pedophilia but of homosexuality. The primary victims have not been children but adolescent males. Fitzgibbons told Catholic News Agency that “every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships. . . .

Following the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, and the results of the John Jay Report, the Church reaffirmed its policy in the 2005 statement, “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

That statement indicated that “the Church…cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” Furthermore, the statement went on, “Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. . . .

Homosexual relationships caused a deep fracture in the priestly male fraternity. Pseudo-intimacy and intrigue replaced the outward looking evangelization of apostolic brotherhood. Bishops were unwilling to discipline the abusive priests under their charge. The Communio became divided. Religious leaders hid their own homosexual proclivities. The worst priests desacralized the liturgy and their vows and their priestly identity, while good priests often became isolated, fearful, and rigid. All priests were maimed. . . .

What will be the result once the military has been compromised by disordered love? What will happen when an 18-year-old recruit finds himself in an unequal power differential with a superior officer who wants something more than push-ups. . . ?

How ironic, that at the same time that Congress was voting to impose its morality on the American military, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with the Vatican Curia about the disastrous results of a corrupted priesthood.

In his Christmas message, Pope Benedict said that the Church’s garment has been torn by the sins of her priests. “We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” said the Pope, citing the reigning philosophy of the sexually derelict 1970s. “It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself…Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. . . .”

We have been promised that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church, instituted by Christ. The Armed Forces, however, carry no such divine promise. This radical disruption of the Armed Forces of the world’s most reliable Christian nation represents a desacralization of the male military bond. The center may not hold.

Read Tim's complete article here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What is the biggest liturgical abuse?

The biggest abuse at almost every parish is the nearly 100% reception of Holy Communion by the congregation in parishes that have minuscule Confession opportunities and lines.

I would think that the Communion Fast from food before reception should be increased from one hour to three hours. This would make it much more likely that many parishioners would not be able to keep the fast and if they were adequately catechized, they would not want to receive Communion.

This requirement and that of being free from Mortal Sin should be announced by the celebrant immediately before Communion in every Mass for several years before the habit of sacrilegious reception can be minimized. [A similar announcement is generally given at Christmas and Easter Masses and at marriages and other events where large numbers of non-Catholics might be present].

Ushers should cease guiding communicants "row by row" up to the front. Let them go up as they want, or don't want. Then it won't be so conspicuous if some don't receive, putting an end to idle speculations as to which mortal sin ones neighbor or pew-mate had committed.

Confession opportunities must then be increased for parishioners to more than just 30-60 minutes before the Saturday Vigil Mass.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law repealed. President to sign it.

I wonder if narcissistic "pro-choice" homosexuals will treat their military oath to obey their superiors the same way that most homosexual 'Catholics' treat Roman Catholic Church dogma, precepts and teachings: that is, to choose only those which they like.

), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Farmer Spreads $3 Million Around his Small Town

Mower County Farmer Spreads $3 Million Around his Small Town

LEROY, Minn. (AP) - A retired farmer had a reputation in his small Minnesota town for being very frugal. So, when the checks arrived at the senior center, fire department, churches and other places in Le Roy following the farmer's death, surprise would be an understatement.

Ninety-four-year-old Loren Krueger spread $3 million around the Mower County community of about 900. Krueger outlived two wives and a son and lived in a simple white house on Le Roy's main street, quietly amassing a fortune.

Checks for more than $400,000 arrived at two local churches. St. Patrick's Catholic Church received about $1 million. The senior center, which was getting by on $600 in county funding each year, got $220,000.

KARE-TV says while many in Le Roy tagged Krueger as frugal, now they're remembering him as generous.

"Wombs Have Windows" -- Conception and Birth Animation - Amazing


Mark Johnson blog

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today, in addition to being Gaudete Sunday, it is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn.

I thought it was appropriate, today, to post a schedule of the ongoing weekly prayer times outside of the local abortuaries. Together, we can end abortion.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Planned Parenthood, 1965 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN

Thursday, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 10:30 a.m.
Friday, 3:00 p.m. (by Legion of Mary) and 3:30 p.m. (by St. John Vianney Seminarians and University of St. Thomas students)
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. (by Church of St. John of St. Paul)

Mildred Hanson's abortion center 710 E 24th St Minneapolis, MN

Saturday 7:30 a.m.

Robbinsdale abortion center 3819 W Broadway, Robbinsdale, MN

Saturday 10:00 a.m. (by Fr. Thomas Dufner)

Outstate Minnesota:
St. Cloud, Planned Parenthood 451 E St. Germain St. Friday, 6:00 p.m.
Duluth, Women's Health Center 32 E First St, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. (by Fr. James Crossman)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Melendez won't run for another term as DFL chair

Harvard educated attorney and divinity school grad Brian Melendez informed state DFL party leaders today that he won't seek another term as state DFL chair.

Melendez, who has faced some criticism after the party's disastrous legislative election results, is leaving after three two-year terms.

In a note to Central Committee members, he wrote about getting U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken elected on his watch, along with the new DFL governor, but doesn't refer to the DFL's disastrous legislative election results in November.

Nor does he refer to the "Ignore the Poor" postcard campaign that he authorized that became nationally known for its bigotry and ineptness. Here is a comment to this article that first appeared on Minnpost and has Melendez' complete statement:

It's not surprising that Melendez didn't mention the "Ignore the Poor" political postcard campaign that he authorized to attempt to save the Senate District 40 seat for the DFL.

This crude, multi-faceted campaign with three postcards mailings that in addition was aimed at Roman Catholics and their position against homosexual marriage while erroneously tagging them with being against the poor.

The messages of the postcards reminded voters of Archbishop John Nienstedt's mailing of DVD's to all the Catholic families in the State of Minnesota.

That campaign became known for its ineptness and bigotry quickly throughout the entire country, reminding people how how anti-Catholic Democratic leaders happen to be. Who knows how many votes were changed against Democrats partially because of Melendez's incredibly stupid decision?

The Catholic Church, its bishops, its agencies and its laypeople, and their agencies, are far and away the largest suppliers of charity to the poor in this country, not to mention being the largest private provider of education also.

Melendez must not have learned much when he got his Divinity degree from Harvard. Now he will have time to go back for a refresher course.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Virgin Mary apparitions at shrine near Green Bay recognized as first in U.S.


A shrine in the Town of Green Bay is one of only a handful in the world — and the sole location in the United States — officially designated as a place where the Virgin Mary appeared.

David Ricken, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, announced today his official approval of the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion during a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Ricken’s decision makes the shrine the first and only Marian shrine site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Virgin Mary. The designation puts it in the same category as other famous Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.

According to the diocese, the Virgin Mary appeared in the area to Belgian immigrant Adele Brise three times in 1859.

Brise’s account states the apparition appeared in dazzling white claiming to be the “Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners” and asking Brise to also pray for sinners and teach children about salvation. Brise’s family built a chapel at the site of the apparitions.

In the past 151 years, thousands have made pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the diocese said. The shrine’s history includes a number of accounts of prayers that have been answered, including documented physical healings and conversions that have taken place as a result of pilgrimages there, the diocese said.

A fire in Peshtigo in 1871 engulfed the surrounding area, but the entire five acres of land consecrated to the Blessed Virgin were not affected, the diocese said. It is believed that the land was spared thanks to a prayer vigil that circled the area, which was organized by Brise.

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief — although not obligatory — by the Christian faithful,” Ricken said in a written statement.

Green Bay bishops have long supported the shrine as a place of prayer and pilgrimage but had made no formal decree regarding the apparitions from Brise’s account.

Ricken appointed experts to investigate and study the apparition in January 2009, and from documents, letters and written testimonies the experts determined the accounts of the apparition consistent with the Catholic faith without error.

According to the diocese, few documents remain from the era of the apparition because Green Bay was frontier country at the time. But one of the experts said the lack of information does not invalidate the event’s overall coherent impression and similarities to other recognized apparitions
Wausau Daily Herald

  • Web site for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion
    Father Z's Blog

    Diocese of Green Bay Investigates Apparitions at New Franken Shrine -- WDAY-TV

  • We do seem to have a problem with this "apparition." The first report says it is in the town of "New Franken." Then there is a report saying it is in the "Town of Green Bay." And also there is a report saying that it occurred in the "Town of Champion." I think the "Devils Advocate" better get busy on this one.

  • Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Surgeon: birth control pill a ‘molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer


    Answer: as often as they prescribe the hormonal birth control pill.

    This little-known fact about the pill was presented by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, who shared her expertise on the drug at the “50 Years of the Pill” conference in Washington, DC on Friday.

    “When is it ever right to give a group one carcinogen to a healthy woman?” she asked the audience. “We don’t have to take a group one carcinogen to be liberated.”

    Lanfranchi offered a wealth of statistical data from various sources to support a fact that is known by the medical community to be true yet is rarely acknowledged: use of the pill has been strongly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Cervical cancer and liver cancer are also linked to use of the pill, although there is evidence that it is protective of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer.

    “This stuff is not new, it’s not magic, it’s in the literature,” she said, linking pill use to the 660 percent rise in non-invasive breast cancer since 1973. “Women want to know, and women have a right to know, what researchers have known for over 20 years.”

    She compared media treatment of the pill’s cancer risk to that of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was found to be carcinogenic in 2002. Once word got out, 15 out of 30 million women in America taking HRT stopped; by 2007, invasive breast cancer in women over 50 for estrogen-receptive positive tumors dropped 11 percent.

    Meanwhile, she noted, hormonal contraception - essentially the same drug as HRT and with a similar cancer risk, about 25-30 percent - continues to be touted as harmless and even healthy. And yet, the International Agency on Research of Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified hormonal contraceptives in 2005 as a group one carcinogen along with asbestos and radium.

    Unlike the HRT discovery, “I don’t remember one six o’clock news report about that information,” said Lanfranchi.

    While even medical textbooks attest to the 30 percent increase in cancer risk, Lanfranchi noted a pervasively dismissive attitude: one British medical textbook she cited said that, “Considering the benefits of the pill, this slight increased risk is not considered clinically significant.”

    Not clinically significant? “To whom?” Lanfranchi asked, showing a sobering photograph of one of her own cancer patients, Suellen Bennett. While breast cancer caused by the pill is often caught early, she said, the pill’s “benefits” are hardly a reason not to mention its dangers.

    “This is what you have to go through when you’re cured. You lose your hair, you lose your breast,” she said. Had Suellen been told of the risk, Lanfranchi said, “she would very well have been one of those women who would have chosen not to take the pill.”

    The surgeon explained that the extra estrogen received by taking the pill not only encourages excessive multiplication of breast tissue - usually a normal occurrence in the menstruation cycle - but, when metabolized, can also directly damage breast tissue DNA.

    Because breast tissue remains susceptible to cancer until it undergoes a stabilizing transformation in the childbearing process, said Lanfranchi, the pill is particularly dangerous to women who have not yet had their first child: perhaps the most popular demographic among pill users in the U.S.

    To show just how much of a threat the pill posed to young women, Lanfranchi pointed to several statistics, including a 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis that concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent.

    “It’s like you took this molotov cocktail of a group one carcinogen and threw it into that young girls’ breast,” said Lanfranchi. “Is this child abuse?”

    In a world where 50 percent of teenagers are on the pill, Lanfranchi lamented that publicly controverting the deep social dependence on the pill has become nearly impossible - even though the message would save countless women’s lives. She sympathized with doctors who would find the information hard to swallow.

    “It’s hard to talk about this because you’re changing a culture ... I want to think that I did good, that I helped my patients, that I did better because of what I did,” she said. “25 years down in my career, when I hear that I’ve been handing out a group one carcinogen for the last 25 years, I’m going to be resistant to that.”

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Bismarck Diocese Welcomes Back Lapsed Catholics

    The Bismarck Catholic Diocese will unveil a multi-faceted welcome mat soon for those who have drifted away from the church.

    The “Catholics Come Home” TV commercials will air statewide from Dec. 17 to Jan. 30 for both the Bismarck and Fargo dioceses; they are financed separately by each diocese.

    Other parts of the project take it to a more personal level. Priests and congregations are trained how to welcome those who have returned or want to.

    On Nov. 18, several volunteers spent the day stuffing informational packets and DVDs for those who left and church members who want to deepen their faith. The packets include material about confessions, the rosary, and a DVD.

    The local ad effort is an offshoot of the national Catholics Come Home program, started by ad executive Tom Peterson, based in Roswell, Ga.

    “He wanted to promote the faith,” said Mary Tarver, canon lawyer for the Bismarck Catholic Diocese. “It’s been run successfully in 20 dioceses. Phoenix saw a 15 percent increase in Mass attendance. It is just advertisements.”

    Tarver said the ads give examples of why people leave the Catholic Church and what happened when they returned. “Each of the commercials ... says, ‘If you’ve been away from the church, give us another chance, take another look at the Catholic church.’” Tarver said.

    The Rev. Tom Richter said most of the ads are testimonies. He said they are true stories from people who share why they left the church and why they came back. Another two-minute ad shows people who watch the story of their lives. “They’re meant to inspire the heart to be close to Christ again with the church.”

    Tarver said most who left said they just wanted an invitation to return after they drifted away. “That’s all we wanted to do — invite them back.”

    She said specific dioceses are doing the television commercials, but they will go national in 2011.

    Richter, who is a member of the Catholics Come Home Committee , said the ads typically target the Advent and the Christmas-New Year’s and Lent-Easter seasons, “when people’s sentiments and desires come back to church are the highest ”

    The Three Affiliated Tribes radio station, KMHA 91.3 in New Town, will not charge for air time to air the messages, Richter said.

    The project in western North Dakota Catholic parishes will cost $160,000. Priests and deacons in the western part of the state have collectively contributed $60,000 to help pay for it. Bishop Paul Zifpfel has urged each priest to pledge $1,000.

    Special collections will be done throughout the state’s western parishes to make up the difference.

    Richter said TV air time will cost about $120,000; some $40,000 more will be spent on materials.

    More information on the project is given at

    “It’s really a part of the new evangalization that John Paul II wrote about when he was pope,” Tarver said. “... We just want them to take another look and ‘see what you’re missing and see what we can help you with.”

    Richter said a big part of the project is to make existing church members more hospitable to those returning.

    “The bishop has sent a team around to prepare the parishes. ... First the priests had a training session, then your parish staff had a training session. Then each priest is supposed to be preparing their congregation at the Sunday Mass, primarily through the homily.”

    He uses the parable of the “Prodigal Son” as an example. “If the older son had shown up and met him, it might not have turned out so well,” Richter said. “We want our parishes to have the spirit and the heart of the father in the parable.”

    Tarver said every person’s story is different, but the church wants to help them come back. “We’ll expect some won’t call the parish; they’ll just sneak into church. Depending on what they find, they’ll stay or they won’t.” She said that’s why it is important congregations be welcoming, but not intrusive.

    Richter said there are interior obstacles that prevent people from returning to the church — fears of shame, criticism and rejection.

    “We hope the priest and others do not put up any further obstacles.” He also hopes those that want to return won’t be afraid to call up a priest with questions.

    Richter said Catholics Come Home aims to stir the hearts of people who left the church to return, and those who attend to “be less critical, be more open and more hospitable.” Grand Forks Herald

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati is forming a Parish for the Extraordinary Form Mass

    Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, formerly Bishop of Duluth and Executive Director of the USCCB, is taking a recently closed church in that archdiocese and making it a new parish, dedicated to celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine).

    ". . .St. Mark's church in Evanston [OH], is a church of extraordinary architectural and artistic beauty which is exceptionally well designed for the celebration of the Mass in its more ancient form. It is without a doubt one of the finest churches built in the Italianate basilican style in our region and is a great treasure in the patrimony of our Archdiocese.

    This plan envisions a full authentic restoration of the church in accordance with its original design and decoration. Dedicated to the ancient liturgy, those who advance this plan are committed to giving new life to the building in the Church's living tradition. It would enable St. Mark's to retain its historic place as a beacon of hope and beauty in the Evanston neighborhood and as a center of the Church's service to the local community. it would also ensure that its sacred artistic treasures are maintained and returned to their full glory for the benefit of present and future generations. . . ."
    Ten Reasons blog

    Diocese of Green Bay Investigates Apparitions at New Franken Shrine

    After a two-year investigation, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay is set to release its findings about apparitions at an area shrine.

    If the apparitions are decreed true, it would be an extremely rare occurrence.

    For more than 150 years the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, outside New Franken, has been the sight of some amazing, supernatural accounts.

    In 1859, a young Belgian woman reported the Mother Mary appeared to her here on three separate occasions, and the shrine was established.

    Twelve years later, it's where everyone fled to during the Peshtigo Fire, praying for safety.

    "The rains came during the night, stopped the fire, and it was when dawn broke the next day they witnessed what had happened. Everything around this spot as far as you could see in any direction was nothing but ashes," shrine caretaker Karen Tipps says.

    For the past 18 years, Tipps and her husband have been caretakers of the shrine owned by the Green Bay diocese.

    She says over the years there have been hundreds of stories of people coming to the shrine and being healed. Old crutches and canes were left behind.

    "They know, the doctors know, but it's just now the point some of those need to be documented," Tipps says.

    During a 10 o'clock mass this coming Wednesday morning, Bishop David Ricken will announce if the shrine is formally declared an apparition sight of the Virgin Mary.

    If he does, it will be the only apparition ever approved by decree in the United States. WBAY-TV

    'Urgent review' coming for Archdiocesan Catholic schools

    As part of its reorganization, the Twin Cities archdiocese is evaluating 10 schools "most on the edge'' and wants them to make their case to stay open.

    At least 10 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are under "urgent review" by church officials as part of the archdiocese's historic reorganization efforts. Not all of the schools are expected to close, but some may.

    The schools have until the middle of this month to present their case to the archdiocese in support of remaining open. Archbishop John Nienstedt will consider the recommendations and make a decision in January.

    "They [10 schools] are the ones that are most on the edge in terms of their enrollment and financial viability," said archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath. "But no decisions have been made. Obviously if a school is deemed to be not viable because of enrollment and financial potential, then some action will have to be taken."

    The archdiocese declined to name all the schools, but confirmed that three include St. Francis-St. James United in St. Paul, as well as Our Lady of the Prairie in Belle Plaine and St. Bernard's in Cologne.

    The archdiocese currently has 98 schools with a total enrollment of nearly 34,000 students. About 3,800 full-time employees work in the archdiocese, the majority of them in schools. McGrath said it has not been determined if there will be any layoffs at the schools.

    The school changes are part of the largest reorganization in the archdiocese's nearly 160-year history, which is aimed at dealing with a projected priest shortage, tighter budgets and shifting demographics.

    In October, the archdiocese released a plan calling for 21 parishes to merge into other parishes. Another 33 parishes will join new cluster configurations in which one pastor will lead two or more parishes. After the mergers are completed, there will be a total of 192 parishes. Archdiocesan officials say structural changes won't begin before January and will take place over several years.

    Gail Rappe, principal at St. Francis-St. James United in St. Paul, said she believes the K-8 school will be able to show it's viable because it has a balanced budget and enrollment is up from 72 students last year to 87 this year.

    She expects enrollment to continue to go up, in part driven by the increasing number of Hispanics joining the Twin Cities archdiocese.

    "I was not surprised we were put on this list," Rappe said. "We are a changing neighborhood. People aren't having as many children as they did before. But we'll be fine. Personally, I would find that [school closing] hard to believe."

    The archdiocese is looking to reorganize schools, partly because nearly 20 percent of them receive subsidies from the archdiocese, and there are approximately 20 percent more seats than students.

    "While local school leaders and the Archdiocese recognize the urgent review process may cause stress for parents, staff, and other school community members, the process is vital to strengthening Catholic schools as a whole in this Archdiocese," the archdiocese said in a statement released on Friday.

    Earlier this week, Nienstedt announced more changes in the archdiocese as a result of the economic downturn. The pension plan for archdiocesan employees will be frozen on Jan. 31, 2011, which means employees' pension retirement benefits will be calculated based on eligible years of service and salary history as of that date.

    In a letter to pension plan participants, Nienstedt said the pension plan has lost value in the economic downturn, creating a funding shortfall. Star Tribune

    Former Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Duluth sold to charter school group

    Thirteen years after it last served as a church, the former Good Shepherd Catholic Church no longer belongs to the Diocese of Duluth.

    The building at 5905 Raleigh St. in West Duluth has operated as Raleigh Edison Charter School since 1999 on a lease-to-buy arrangement between

    The charter schools exercised their option to buy on Nov. 10 through Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co., a nonprofit entity that was created because charters can’t own buildings. The Rev. James Bissonette, the priest of St. James Catholic Church, said Tischer Creek paid $207,000, the balance due.

    Tim Golden, president of the Duluth Edison board, said, “Essentially we felt it was the right time.” The charter schools are purchasing a house adjacent to Raleigh Edison and will move the playground to that site and place two modular classrooms at the site of the existing playground. It’s part of an expansion plan that includes building a new school on Rice Lake Road. Hopes are to have both projects complete by next fall, Golden said.

    When Good Shepherd Church closed, it merged with St. James, 715 N. 57th Ave. W. Bissonette said the money from the sale will help pay for an addition connecting St. James Church and School. Good Shepherd parishioners fought the closing at the time, but Bissonette said most of those wounds have healed over time.

    “The vast majority of the people that I’ve talked to are happy for the church and the school, and it really is a win-win situation,” Bissonette said.

    The Good Shepherd parish was established in 1916, Bissonette said. The existing building opened with Christmas Eve Mass in 1959. Duluth News Tribune

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Archbishop Nienstedt: Changes in lay pension plan were necessary

    Last Thursday, as you know well, our nation celebrated its annual feast of giving thanks for all the blessings we have received. It is the closest we come to a secular holy day — that is, a holiday not associated with a religious feast.

    While I reviewed with gratitude the countless blessings I have received in my life, I was, at the same time, conscious of the challenges I have been given as well.

    Earlier this week, I announced a decision to freeze our defined benefit pension plan for our archdiocesan employees on Jan. 31, 2011, and, at that time, to enhance their defined contribution plan (called a 403(b) plan), which is funded by their employer.

    This decision was based on a recommendation of the Lay Pension Task Force as well as the Archdiocesan Finance Committee. The reason behind it was to protect the accrued benefits in the defined benefit plan that had been, among other things, severely affected by the downturn in the stock market these past years.

    Surely this is a challenge as it involves a change in overseeing the investing of the 403(b) plan. At the same time, I believe the bottom line will prove to be a blessing. I say this because:

    1. We have preserved all the retirement benefits our employees have earned to date;

    2. We have put into place an enhanced 403(b) pension plan that is employer sponsored;

    3. And, in going forward, present salaries are maintained and benefits are provided.

    In talking with other bishops and reading reports about other non-profits dealing with this same problem, I wasn’t completely surprised that our pension program would be affected.

    But still and all, it is a different situation when the news is announced.

    But, again, the good news for our employees is that:

    1. They will receive all the retirement benefits that they have earned to date;

    2. They will be enrolled in an enhanced 403(b) pension plan that is sponsored by their employer;

    3. That going forward, their salaries are maintained and their benefits are provided.

    More information is available on our archdiocesan website or at our Archdiocesan Pension Hotline (651) 291-4503.

    As a church, we are committed to justice. At the same time, we have to make decisions that will assist us in meeting present responsibilities without compromising future economic security.

    I see the present decision as a way of affirming our responsibility to provide for competitive salaries and benefits in a sustainable way over the long term.

    Working for the church should not be like working for a non-profit business organization.

    Working for the church should be like working with family; we all pitch in to do what needs to be done.

    This present change gives me the opportunity to express my deep gratitude to our employees for their dedication and their personal commitment to the work they do.

    The mission of the church, which is the mission of Christ, is greatly enhanced by what they do day in and day out.

    I applaud their service and assure them of the support of our Catholic faithful. Catholic Spirit

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Myanmar [Burma] refugees bring new life to St. Bernard


    Father Mike Anderson greets refugees from the Myanmar state of Karenni as they get off a school bus to attend Mass at St. Bernard in St. Paul Nov. 28. The parish has arranged for transportation for nearly 400 Myanmar refugees that have started coming to Mass recently.

    Father Mike Anderson waited patiently on the front steps of St. Bernard in St. Paul last Sunday morning, his purple vest­ments cloaking him from the Novem­ber chill. Clanging church bells heralded the 10:30 Mass, but only a smattering of parishioners prayed silently in the pews.

    Minutes later, a yellow school bus pulled up to the curb, then another one behind it. The priest’s face lit up as he greeted dozens of people pouring off the buses into the church.

    About 400 Myanmar refugees have found a spiritual home at St. Bernard in recent months. For Father Anderson, the refugees’ arrival has been nothing short of a miracle, he said.

    “I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to us,” Father Anderson told The Catholic Spirit. “For 15 years, we’ve watched our parish rolls drop from 1,000 families to less than 400 families.

    . . . [The refugees] are a sign of new life.”

    Come one, come all

    It all started a little over a year ago when one Catholic family from the Myanmar state of Karenni heard church bells ringing in the distance. The family members followed the sound to St. Bernard, where they began attending Mass regularly.

    One day, the couple invited Father Anderson to visit them in their home. “We had a very silent visit with each other because I didn’t know their language and they didn’t know mine,” Father Anderson said. “But somehow it began a bond.”

    As the seasons changed, the couple approached Father Anderson once again to ask him if he would like for them to continue going to Mass at St. Bernard during the winter. When Father Anderson replied he would, the couple said they would need help with transportation.

    Without hesitation, Father Anderson offered to drive the grateful couple to church in his Ford Taurus. Soon he began picking up other Myanmar refugees along the way.

    “Every Sunday they’d lead me to another person and another person, and pretty soon I brought like eight families to church one Sunday. They were sitting on each others’ laps,” Father Anderson said with a laugh.

    At a parishioner’s suggestion, Father Anderson decided to contract with a bus company to transport people to church. “I didn’t know how many people would come,” Father Anderson said, “but within two weeks we had 125 Karenni joining us every Sunday for Mass.”

    Since then, the refugee population at the parish has continued to grow. As word spread that St. Bernard was welcoming the Karenni, refugees from Karen, another Myanmar state with its own language and cultural identity, also began attending Mass there.

    Some families have come from as far away as Texas to join what they heard was a Catholic church that would welcome them, Father Anderson said.

    New challenges

    While the refugees have been a tremendous blessing for St. Bernard, making the parish a welcoming environment for them has presented some challenges, Father Anderson admitted. Read the balance at the Catholic Spirit

    New Prague pastor relieved by changes to merger


    Father Kevin Clinton, pastor of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, said he is feeling a bit less pressure since Archbishop John Nienstedt modified the merger plan among six parishes in the area.

    The new decree for the New Prague area merger removed St. Thomas in St. Thomas from merging with St. Wenceslaus in New Prague and merges it instead with St. Anne in LeSueur as the receiving parish.

    The rest of the merger remains the same, with St. Benedict, St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph and St. Scholastica merging into St. Wenceslaus on Jan. 1. The St. John, St. Scholastica and St. Wenceslaus buildings will remain open.

    The changes affecting the New Prague area merger are one of two mergers modified by Archbishop Nienstedt in response to information received from parishioners in petitions to reconsider merger decisions announced last October by the archdiocese.

    The other modification involved a merger of parishes in northeast Minneapolis. The original decisions in the remaining 12 mergers were confirmed.

    Decisions still to be made

    In the New Prague area, “It’s a win-win situation,” Father Clinton said. The parishioners at St. Thomas are not only geographically closer to LeSueur, but they also have closer relationships to the parishioners at St. Anne, he said.

    It also decreases — from six to five — the number of parishes for which the pastor is now responsible to blend into one parish that worships at three sites.

    One of the greatest challenges will be where and what time to celebrate six Masses at three sites, after the last Mass is celebrated at St. Benedict, he said. Mass has not been celebrated at St. Joseph for the past two years.

    Many decisions are yet to be made by the transitional leadership coordination committee, made up of two representatives from each of the five parishes, along with Father Clinton, Deacon Bob Wagner and Father Dave Barrett, the regional associate pastor.

    “The facts are that even with two priests serving five sites, the five sites were not sustainable,” he said. One of the sites had 14 households. Another site had just 50 to 75 people attending the one weekend Mass offered.

    “People are grieving,” Father Clinton said. It is like a death within the faith community.

    However, he said, the creation of the new parish won’t change much in the way people worship. That is just a “legal modification,” he said. What is more important is the relationship of the people, who have the power to create something new and life-giving for the future.

    Father Clinton said he is getting a lot of support and advice from the archdiocese and meetings with other pastors of merging parishes.

    “Archbishop Nienstedt spent a few years in the New Ulm diocese where he learned a lot about rural faith communities,” he said. “So, that is to our advantage. He is not unfamiliar with the dynamics that do evolve and can evolve.”

    The pastor also is grateful that there are no staff reductions with the merger, since the parishes outside of New Prague did not have any staff besides the priest and volunteers.

    Throughout the merger process, Father Clinton is keeping people updated through the parish bulletins, announcements from the pulpit and through lay leaders reporting to the entire parish community.

    “As much as we can, we are trying to take the best from each community and bring it into the new environment,” he said.

    Changes in Minneapolis

    In another merger in Minneapolis, Archbishop Nienstedt confirmed his original decision, with some modifications, to merge Holy Cross, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Clement and St. Hedwig.

    Modifications include that the combined parish community will be named Holy Cross, and the effective date of the merger will take place upon the retirement of Father Earl Simonson as pastor of St. Clement, which will take place by July 1, 2013.

    The archbishop also reaffirmed the Polish nature of the combined parish community, including the continued offering of Mass in Polish, and he stated that Mass will continue to be offered onsite to residents of Catholic Eldercare facilities adjacent to the church buildings of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Hedwig.

    Father Glen Jenson, Holy Cross pastor, was unable to comment on the changes in the merger before this issue of The Catholic Spirit went to press.

    Parishioners involved in the two revised mergers — in the New Prague area and northeast Minneapolis — have until Nov. 29 to appeal the changes to Archbishop Nienstedt.

    Parishioners in parishes where the mergers remain unchanged have until Dec. 3 to appeal the archbishop’s decision to the Vatican if they choose to do so.

    Archdiocesan staff members are working with pastors, lay leaders and parishioners at affected parishes during this time of transition, according to a news release from the archdiocese. Pending appeals, the first round of mergers go into effect on Jan. 1. Changes will roll out over the following months and years; they will not all happen at the same time.

    According to the archdiocese, 21 parishes are scheduled to merge into 15 receiving parishes, which will lead to a reduction in the number of parishes from 213 to 192. Catholic Spirit

    ProLifeWisconsin Erects Two Billboards for Christmas in La Crosse

    Just days after posting billboards in the city of Milwaukee equating abortions with black genocide Pro-Life Wisconsin, an organization that fights all forms of birth control and abortions, has erected two signs in La Crosse featuring ultrasound images the organization claim represent the baby Jesus in the Virgin Mary's womb.

    Read more at the Badger Catholic