Sunday, December 31, 2006

Did you know that there was a "Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions?"

What does one normally do on a rainy New Years Eve in Minneapolis? I really don't know, it's never happened before. There must be lots of plans that have been changed this year where the temperature, in the 40s, is running about 20-25 degrees above normal, I would guess.

So idly following a link on the Curt Jester's blog leading to some obscure topic, Romano Guardini's "The Spirit of the Liturgy", I was most interested to see that it led me to the home page of "The Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions ( ), Representing Roman Catholic Diocesan Offices of Worship and Liturgical Commissions throughout the United States and supporting the liturgical apostolate."

What is most interesting to me is that our dearly beloved liturgists, in addition to the support that they receive from their Bishops, from the USCCB and from Rome, also have their own organization, outside of the USCCB, at additional expense, no doubt.

No wonder they are so powerful! No doubt you have heard the old joke: "What's the difference between a Liturgist and a Terrorist?" "You can negotiate with a Terrorist!" [Thanks John K. from whom I first heard it four or five years ago]!

Check out their web page. They are up to mischief, I would bet. If that Motu Proprio (sp.?) approving an universal indult for the Tridentine Mass gets approved, in Romes own good time, Liturgists will be in their glory making their revisions to the Pope's command because of pressing local need. Pig-Latin might become an approved dialect of Latin to be used in some dioceses.

What other diocesan officials and commissions might have their own regional or national organizations? What mischief might they be up to? National Association of Sacristans, Curates, Anchorites and Rectors (NASCAR)? Hmmmm. Those Sacristans might take different positions from those taken by Liturgists. We might have to create another organization to resolve those disputes. Sigh!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

"March For Life" -- Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision, January 22


January 22, 2007: A Prayer Vigil will be held at Regions Hospital, 640 Jackson Street in St. Paul from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, which immediately follows MCCL’s March For Life at the State Capitol.

January 22, 2007: Duluth will also have a March For Life at the Building For Women, 32 East 1st Street in Duluth from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. An estimated 618 abortions were performed at this facility in 2005. There will also be a Candlelight Prayer Vigil at the Duluth Civic Center in front of the Courthouse from 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm.

Catholic NewsNet

New Years Eve With Our Lord


Father Robert Altier will be hosting a special evening of Adoration in Reparation to Our Lord which begins at 8:00 pm, Confessions will be heard from 8:15 pm to 11:30 pm, Benediction at 11:45 pm and Midnight Mass in honor of Mary the Mother of God. The vigil and Mass will be held at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, 302 - 5th Ave North, in South St. Paul. Phone is 651-451-9905.

St. Bonaventure Catholic Church is having special Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the last day of the year. Mass will begin at 7:30 pm followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Every hour will begin with a Rosary followed by silent reflection until the next hour. Special intentions for the rosaries are vocations, priests, for our nation, world peace and respect for life. The evening will end at Midnight with the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction. Refreshments will be available in the choir room from 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm—please bring an appetizer, cookies or bars to share. St. Bonaventure Catholic Church is located at 901 East 90th Street South in Bloomington, Mn. For information call: 952-854-4733.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church will have its Adoration Chapel open from 8:00 pm until Midnight for those who wish to pray-in the New Year. Refreshments will be available. The Church is located at 4087 West Broadway in Robbinsdale, Mn, and the Parish Office phone is 763-537-4561.

Catholic NewsNet

"The Jeweler’s Shop", a Play Written by Pope John Paul II, Jan 12-14, St Paul


Drama: The Jeweler’s Shop (by Pope John Paul II)
January 12-14, 18-22, 25-28
Thursdays – Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
Sundays, 2 p.m.

Loading Dock Theater, 509 Sibley St., St. Paul
Cost: $18; $12 seniors and students; $12 with Fringe Button;
Monday, Jan. 22 is “Pay What You Can” night

Pope John Paul II wrote this play when he was a priest. The play
is a love story for a modern age. It tells the story of very real
marriages, including the fears, pains, and disappointments that
are part of the union. And yet, the play is also filled with hope...
Hope for the future... Hope for those getting married for the first
time... Hope that we can learn from our mistakes, and the
mistakes of others. This production by Commedia Beauregard is
directed by Christopher Kidder.

For more information, visit
To order tickets, visit for tickets.

Silent No More Minnesota: Film: “In Wake of Choice” Jan 27


Benefit: Silent No More Minnesota: Film: “In Wake of Choice” Jan 27

Saturday, January 27, 5:45 - 8:45 p.m.

Maplewood Community Center
2100 White Bear Ave, Maplewood
Cost: $20 per person

In The Wake of Choice is a documentary film revealing the pain
and regret of abortion while giving a path of hope and healing.
Individuals and families let you into their hearts and souls. This
film will give you some insight on how an individual could make
the decision to have an abortion, how it has affected them, and
what it has taken to find forgiveness and once again experience
peace and joy through the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ.

The night includes desserts, viewing of documentary, and the
opportunity to meet the filmmakers and the people whose lives
are told in this moving film. There will be time for questions. For
those interested, a group will gather for drinks, food and
fellowship after the event.

For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Ann Marie
Cosgrove at or (763) 536-8800,
or visit the Silent No More Minnesota website.

5th Annual "Silent No More Day" at the State Capitol; Jan 20

Fifth Annual "Silent No More Day at the Minnesota State Capitol
Saturday, January 20, noon - 2:00 p.m.
State Capitol Rotunda (inside State Capitol), St. Paul
Free parking in front of State Capitol Building

Silent No More Minnesota (SNMM) is a non-profit organization
that brings to the forefront the devastation of abortion. Women
and men speak publicly about their own experiences, to share
the truth of abortion and inform others so that they do not make
the same tragic mistake. SNMM provides a loving, healing
network for those who have had abortions and are seeking
healing and forgiveness.

There will be opportunity for young adult fellowship, coffee, food
and drinks following.

If you regret your abortion and would like to give public witness
either by holding a sign "I regret my abortion" or "I regret lost
fatherhood" or telling your story, contact Ann Marie Cosgrove at or (763) 536-8800.
To volunteer for set-up, ushering, or clean-up, contact Jon Tupy
at or (952) 393-7428.

Called and Gifted Weekend; Nativity, St Paul, January 26-27; Discover Your Gifts and Your Lay Apostleship


Workshop: Called and Gifted Weekend
Friday, January 26, 7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Nativity Of Our Lord Catholic Church, 1900 Wellesley Ave, St. Paul
Cost: $35 (plus $5 for lunch on Saturday)

Each of us has received gifts, through Baptism and
Confirmation, for the ways God intends his love to reach others
through us. Come and discover the gifts God has blessed you
with! The Called and Gifted workshop is a two-day live
presentation which will include Church teaching on the laity and
lay apostleship; the nature of spiritual gifts, call, and vocation;
and how to undertake the process of discerning those gifts.).

Register by January 17. For more information, e-mail Randy
Mueller at or call the Parish Center
at (651) 696-5401.

5th Annual St Augustine's, SSP, Apologetics Conference: "Unintended Journey" with Steve Ray, January 20

Apologetics Conference: Unintended Journey (Steve Ray)

Saturday, January 20, 1:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Church of St. Augustine, 403 3rd St, South St. Paul
Sponsored by the Holy Name Society
Cost: (Includes box lunch) $15 per person, $10 ages 18 and
under, no charge for clergy and religious.

The speaker for the Holy Name Society’s Fifth Annual Apologetics
Conference is Steve Ray, who after 39 years as an Evangelical
Protestant was received into the full communion of the Catholic
Church in 1994. He is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live,
The Journey Home (EWTN), Living His Life Abundantly, and
Life On The Rock (EWTN). He is a contributing writer to Envoy
, This Rock, and The Catholic Answer. He is writer,
producer, and host of the 10-part video/DVD series
The Footprints of God: the Story of Salvation from Abraham to
, filmed entirely on location in the Holy Land and
surrounding countries.

Advance registration is recommended, as tickets may not be
available at the door.
Register online at or print out the
registration form and mail it in.

Evening retreat for adults: God wants you to join His army of prayer; January 9

Evening retreat for adults: God wants you to join His army of prayer

Tuesday, January 9, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. (Mass, talk, social)
St John the Baptist Church, 835 2nd Ave NW., New Brighton
Sponsored by St. John’s Perpetual Adoration Committee
and Totus Tuus Catholic Youth Organization

Behold the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world.

---John 1:29

Fr. Antoine Thomas, of the Community of St. John, will preach a
an evening retreat for adults (18 years and older) who have a
desire to know more about prayer and Eucharistic adoration with
an urgency to live God’s commandments and realize that the
Catholic life requires us to reverence God by spending time with
Him in the Blessed Sacrament. The retreat includes Mass, a talk,
and social time. The theme is “.

To register online, go to
For more information, call (651) 748-1744.

Winter Teaching Conference: "Yielding to the Spirit" -- January 6

Winter Teaching Conference

Saturday, January 6, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church; 13505 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka
Sponsored by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office
Cost: Freewill offering

This one-day conference, entitled, “Yielding to the Spirit,”
includes a variety of workshops plus general sessions with
featured speaker, Sister Linda Koontz, founder of the Spirit of the
Lord International Mission in El Paso, Texas.

Lunch is included, so pre-registration is requested.
For more information and to register, visit or
contact Jolene at or (612) 721-2543.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Catholic Devotions Meme



1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?

The Divine Mercy Chaplet has been my main prayer. Although the Morning Offering is important. I used to say the Litany of Humility too but then I quit, thinking I had way too much to be humble about. But I can see where my stubborn pride keeps me from attaining many of my spiritual goals. “Please, Jesus, I’d rather do it myself!”

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?

You can’t beat the Rosary. I always used to have trouble with my mind wandering when I said the Rosary and it was never very effective for me. But then I became acquainted with various Scriptural Rosaries that make it much easier to concentrate on the prayers.

For example, I will be saying the Luminous Mysteries today, as it is a Thursday, I apply each seven aspects of each of the Mysteries to a decade of my Rosary. The first Luminous Mystery being the Baptism of Our Lord by St John the Baptist, I try to find seven aspects/events at that occasion that I concentrate on after two “intro beads” then and a “concluding bead.” Some mysteries are much easier to parse than others.

Being able to keep my mind (almost) from wandering, it makes it much easier to say the Rosary regularly, and I have been pretty good, but not perfect, about saying it daily the past few months.

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?

When I was a lad, I wore the brown scapular for a time, but then they either broke, I would forget to put them back on after baths or I would decide that the chances of me dying soon were slim so I’d wait til I was older. Well, I’m older.

When I was in the Army in Basic Training, I did wear a St Christopher Medal (before he got de-canonized) because I knew I would be running around with doofuses with loaded guns (one of the worst doofuses ran across a log over a pond with his loaded rifle pointed right at me -- I found out later -- as we were “attacking” some imaginary foe. They made him a cook).

A friend informed me a couple of weeks ago that she had a Miraculous Medal blessed by Pope John Paul II that she had received two of from a mutual friend and I am now wearing that with my St Christopher chain. I still have Chris’s medal.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?

That’s something that I have never done. I’ll have to muse a bit about that.

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings?

Rarely. I’m one of those independent types that like to rant, rail and suffer and only when it gets really bad do I occasionally think of requesting help from Divine Intervention. A major character flaw. It might come with the male genes, I think.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?

I used to try to observe them now and then and always after three or four I would miss one and then not resume the practice the following month. I have been attending a Holy Hour and Marian Mass on Saturday mornings more or less regularly these past six months, but the “less” keeps me from getting those major league indulgences.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently?

For almost a year I was very good at going weekly to Adoration at a parish near me. Then I had some car problems and getting there at 6:00 on Friday mornings was too far to walk, especially as our (laughable so far) Winter was coming. But I’m going to sign up again in January. “Bill”, my car, named for the number of repair bills it takes each month to keep him going, seems to be somewhat perky these days.

I mentioned in #6 that on Saturday’s I have been going to a Mass/Holy Hour combination where we start out with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, then a Rosary, then Benediction, then the Mass, where we stalwarts, 30, maybe, do the responses in Gregorian Chant.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?

I think I have only attended a Saturday Vigil Mass a few times. For some reason, I feel it to be “cheating.” As if I have never cheated on most of my other devotions!

I have been more likely been seen at a Sunday Evening Mass, which is REALLY CHEATING, to my way of thinking. We are supposed to “Keep Holy The Lord’s Day.” The “quibbler” in me can understand that Sunday might begin at dusk on Saturday, but even here in the far north, kinda, (45 degrees N), dusk doesn’t come at 4:00 p.m. so all those early Saturday Vigil Masses must be cheating.

And certainly those 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Masses on Sunday Evenings (commonly held for us hedonists in large cities) are actually being held on Mondays (unless there is a “hedonists’ Church calendar). But I seem to have no problem with them.

I asked a noted canon lawyer about this issue once, but he ignored me. I probably forgot to enclose a stipend.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?

[Shame] No, except in my Lutheran sister-in-law’s home, or, occasionally, believe it or not, at Arby’s or Taco Bell with a friend who always says grace before meals, no matter where he is.

10. Favorite Saint(s)?

When I began my reversion back to the Church after 20 years of being away, I decided I needed some help from Saints. But I figured all the “main ones” would be so popular that they wouldn’t have time for me.

So I chose two who were still only “Blesseds” and who were Polish because at the time, I was engaged in a lot of my Polish Family History. Blessed Maria Faustina (Who taught me the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and whose Diary I read excerpts of every day) and Blessed Maximilian Kolbe (Christian name: Raymond), who got me to sign up for his Militia Immaculata a few weeks ago after dragging my heels for a long time.

Talk about dumb luck!

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?

I’m pretty good with the Apostles Creed (named for 12 subjects, not the 12 Apostles) because of the Rosary. I would have a difficult time with the Gloria or the Nicene Creed saying them perfectly.

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?

Most of my “aspirations” are not printable on a Catholic blog. Fortunately virtually all of them are known only to me, God and my Guardian Angel.

The Jesus Prayer probably is the most common prayer that I use. It is great while walking: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.”

13. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?

I don’t recall that I have passed by very many, if any, serious automobile accidents. But, having lived in a large city for almost 40 years, I have been acquainted with several sites where people have been murdered, and I often say a quick “Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him/Her O Lord . . . .” as I pass by.

Make St Helena's in South Minneapolis Your HQ For Catholic Adult Education!

A Cana Dinner for Married Couples

Jack Quesnell, Marriage and Family Counselor, author and lecturer, will speak on Saturday, January 20
St Helena's Parish, 3204 E 43rd Street, Minneapolis, 55406 (west exit off Hiawatha Ave at 42nd Street)
Social 6:00 p.m., Dinner 6:30 p.m., Presentation 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $30 per couple
Pre-registration necessary by calling 612-729-7321 before Thursday, January 18, 12 noon. Complimentary tickets are available.


"Scripture as a Source of Spiritual Growth"
taught by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., formerly of the University of Dallas, currently at EWTN-TV
Saturday, January 27, Tuition, $15

St Helena's Parish, 3204 E 43rd Street, Minneapolis, 55406 (west exit off Hiawatha Ave at 42nd Street)

8:00 a.m. Mass
8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. "How to Pray with the Scriptures"
10:45 a.m. "The Scriptures as the Basis for the Mass"
12:15 p.m. Closing Prayer
Pre-registration necessary by calling 612-729-7321 before Thursday, January 25, 12 noon. Complimentary tickets are available.


"What Difference Does It Make Being a Catholic?" An All Day Seminar, Saturday, February 17
Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L.,
Director of the Institute for Pastoral Theology, Ave Maria University, Naples, FL
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
St Helena's Parish, 3204 E 43rd Street, Minneapolis, 55406 (west exit off Hiawatha Ave at 42nd Street)
Three talks and lunch $30 (scholarships available). Pre-registration necessary by calling 612-729-7321

Ave Maria is planning on offering classes from the Graduate School of Theology in the Twin Cities beginning this coming Spring! This would be a good time to get your questions answered.

Khutzpah! Spanish Muslims Ask Pope's Permission to Worship in Former Mosque Now a Cathedral For Over 800 Years

Spanish Muslims have appealed to Pope Benedict seeking permission to worship inside a landmark southern Spanish cathedral that was a mosque more than 800 years ago.

Spain's Islamic Board says it is not trying to take over the Cathedral of Cordoba, but wants to turn it into a place where believers of all faiths can worship in the spirit of peace and humanity.

The board says Spain's Catholic Church leaders have turned down its request, and that cathedral guards often use force to stop Muslims from praying inside the church.

The Cordoba cathedral was built as a mosque when the Moors ruled Spain starting in the 8th century.

The building was converted to a Catholic church in the 13th century when Christians reconquered Cordoba. Voice of America

This request comes from a leaders of a religion that is a state religion in one third of the world that won't allow Catholics and other Christians to publicly worship in their countries.

And my, wouldn't it be nice if the Pope could celebrate Pontifical High Masses regularly in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the former Church of St Sophia before the Ottoman Turks stole it in 1453. [During the Pope's recent visit to Turkey, few Turks breathed during the Holy Father's short visit to St Sophia in terror that he might say a Catholic prayer or assume a Catholic prayer position and "desecrate" the form Christian basilica.]

But they want the right to pray in Catholic churches. Some people have a lot of gall.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

SPS Seminarians Head Towards Hollywood For Christmas Break

When the fall semester was coming to a close, I thought to myself, "What am I going to do over Christmas break?" Many of us were asking this question and asking it of others. As it would turn out, 3 brothers from the seminary would join the two southern California transplants in the Golden State for a few days of sightseeing, warm weather, and brotherhood.

Our first highlight was attending mass at the newly built Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral of Los Angeles. Much discussion is had by many people regarding the choice of architectural style. The general consensus of the group was that the cathedral has truly beautiful elements to it. As with most things in life, there are elements which caught our attention, and other which caught our attention for a different reason. After mass, there was an opportunity to meet Cardinal Mahony, who is coming to our archdiocese in January for conference on immigration.

How could we not pay a visit to Dodger Stadium on a beautiful and warm morning? There wasn't a game that day, but from there, one can have a good look at the city around it. Frank was busy pointing out to us which scene in which famous movie was filmed here and there throughout Los Angeles. For this, Frank got the new nickname "Frankie-pedia," (a word play on the Wikipedia website).

Of all the things that Minnesotans have, but which is not quite like the real deal, is a beach. Sure there are only 10,000 lakes in the state, whereas California has only 1 ocean. Sure, there are beaches in MN, but none of the beaches are like they are in California! We rolled up our jeans and stood in the Pacific Ocean, watching a truly golden sunset. We even prayed Evening Prayer on the shore to wrap up the day.

Lest the brothers think that California has completely lost its Catholic heritage which is so much a part of its history, we had the chance to visit Mission San Gabriel, one of the 21 Spanish missions established all along the coast of California by Blessed Junipero Serra, most of which are still operational today. Father Junípero Serra was considered by his contemporaries to be an exceptionally devout missionary with great courage, remarkable intelligence and persistence. On the birthday of Mary, September 8, 1771, under Fr. Serra's direction, Fathers Pedro Cambón and Joseph de la Somera founded the San Gabriel Mission.

There was also the opportunity for them to meet the some of the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, whose sisters, as an Apostolic Religious Institute, areprimarily involved with teaching the truths of our faith and in making the Father and His love known. Their "Joyful Apostolate" flows from their daily and personal union with Christ.

All along the way, there was good food, good laughter, a few episodes of a favorite TV-medical drama House, good prayer time (much needed after the long semester). Isn't this what brotherhood is all about? Stephen of Future Priests of the Third Millenium

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles to Speak at STU in St Paul January 18-19

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Bishop Raul Vera of Saltillo, Mexico, will be featured speakers at a binational conference on immigration that will be held Jan. 18 and 19, 2007, at the University of St. Thomas.

The conference, “Together on a Journey: Building Bridges,” will be the first binational conference on immigration to be held in the Midwest. Mahony, Vera and other speakers will examine a range of immigration-related issues in the context of Catholic social tradition.

The conference, which will be held in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the university’s St. Paul campus, will open Thursday, Jan. 18, with a 7 p.m. discussion with Mahony and Vera. The discussion, which will be conducted in both English and Spanish, is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

A series of workshops and talks will be held Friday, Jan. 19. Registration is required for this portion of the conference, and a $25 fee includes the cost of lunch. The registration deadline is Jan. 5. To register or for more information contact Dr. Deborah Organ, the conference coordinator, at (651) 962-5792 or Organ is a faculty member and director of the Multicultural Ministry Program at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.

Introductory-level as well as advanced workshops will examine issues and myths surrounding immigration as well as how parishes and congregations can respond to the issue both locally and nationally.

“Immigration is a central issue for people of faith,” Organ said. “It is an issue here in the Twin Cities, which in recent years has received between 4,500 and 8,000 refugees annually, in addition to many other immigrants who continue to arrive and make their homes in Minnesota. It is an issue nationally, especially with the new Congress in Washington. As the public debate continues over whether and how to fix our broken immigration system, we must be involved.”

Among the Friday speakers will be Archbishop Harry Flynn, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who has had a longtime interest in immigration reform.

“Taking action in favor of fair and comprehensive reform of the immigration system gives us an important opportunity to stand for the rights of all people in our community – whether citizen, permanent resident, refugee or undocumented immigrant,” Flynn said.

“We as people of faith are called to not only believe in the dignity of every human being, but to act in ways that foster that dignity,” he said. “Action in favor of comprehensive immigration reform allows us to do that.”

Mahony, a priest since 1962, is fluent in Spanish and began ministering to Hispanics and migrant farm workers in 1975. He chaired the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which helped settle disputes between the United Farm Workers and growers in California. He also served on many committees with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including those dealing with migration, refugees and farm labor.

Vera was named bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo, Mexico, in 2000. He previously worked with the indigenous people of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico.

The conference will end with a 7 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Friday, Jan. 19. All are welcome.

The conference is sponsored by the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas, along with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and its Office of Hispanic Ministry, Office for Social Justice and Office of the Archbishop. It also is being presented with support from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. St Thomas Bulletin News

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

McClatchy Company Dumps Catholic-Bashing StarTribune at a Half-Billlion-Dollar Loss to Corporate Speculators

The Catholic-Bashing Star Tribune, thirty years without a Pulitzer prize, doesn't seem to have much appeal to its recent owner, the California based giant conglomerate, the McClatchy Company. McClatchy has decided after the the "Red Star" showed its true colors on its editorial page with a vicious attack on the Catholic Church, to dump the paper at a $500,000,000 loss. That's one-half billion dollars, people! Loss!

A private equity firm has reached an agreement to buy the Star Tribune from the McClatchy Co., publisher Keith Moyer announced today.

According to a press release from the Star Tribune, Avista Capital Partners, an investment group focused on media, healthcare and energy companies, will pay for $530 million for the newspaper, which Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy bought from Cowles Media Co. in 1998 for $1.2 billion.

The deal is expected to formally close sometime in the spring. Chris Harte, a member of Avista’s advisory board, will serve as chairman of a board overseeing the Star Tribune. Harte is a former publisher of newspapers in Akron, Ohio; Portland, Maine and State College, Pa.

The printed daily newspaper “will be the core of our business well into the future,” Harte said. “But it won’t be the overwhelming majority that it is today many years from now.

“You and I and everyone who works with us will have to listen carefully to our readers and our advertisers and make sure we provide them with the information and advertising they want, when they want it, how they want it,” he said. “By doing that, the Star Tribune will continue to be the dominant medium in the Twin Cities.”
[...Snip] Star Tribune


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nuevo Catholics: Are we to become a Spanish Language Church? Or will there will be assimilation as in the past?


Like the three services celebrated earlier in the morning and the four that will follow into the afternoon, the 10:45 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles is crammed to the rafters, even though the church holds nearly 1,000 parishioners. When I spoke on a recent Sunday to Msgr. Jarlath Cunnane, or Father Jay, as he is known by his congregation, he said: “If we had the space, I think another thousand people might well come to each Sunday Mass. We’re full, bursting at the seams, and so are most churches in the archdiocese.”

In many ways, this is the best of times to be a Catholic in Los Angeles. “In the 1980s, we were conscious of dioceses closing churches all over the Eastern United States,” Cunnane told me. We were sitting in his office in a low-slung new building across the street from the church, where the administrative work of the parish is done. “Our problem is the reverse: were it not for the shortage of priests, we would be expanding our ministry.”

This news comes as something of a surprise, given the fact that the last four decades have been such a catastrophe for American Catholicism. The statistics speak for themselves: In 1965, there were 49,000 seminarians; in 2002, there were 4,700. In 1965, there were 1,556 Catholic high schools; in 2002, there were 786. Mass attendance dropped from 74 percent of self-identified Catholics in 1958 to 25 percent in 2000. The number of priests has not fallen quite as drastically — 58,000 in 1965; 45,000 in 2002 — but the median age for priests today is 56, and 16 percent of them are from foreign countries.

And yet, to hear Cunnane tell it, things are different in Los Angeles. Indeed, what he was describing sounded like a throwback to the glory years of American Catholic devotion — the baby-boom era, when the native-born children and grandchildren of Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants filled an ever-expanding number of Catholic churches, often in places where there had been no Catholic diocese before, and they clamored for more priests to say Mass, hear confession, preside over baptisms and petition for more parochial schools.

In those days, young American Catholic males answered this call in steadily increasing numbers. To be a priest was to play a central role in the life of much of both urban and suburban America, spiritually and also in the everyday concerns of parishioners. The priestly hierarchy was overwhelmingly Irish then, and it remains so today. But that is where all similarity to the church of the 1960s ends. For if the priests are cut from much the same ethnic cloth as they were a generation ago, their parishioners are not: out of the eight Masses celebrated at St. Thomas every Sunday, seven are in Spanish, as are all three of the Masses on Saturday and two out of the three daily Masses. Parish business is routinely done bilingually, and priests like Cunnane probably spend more of their working lives speaking Spanish than they do English. New seminarians in the archdiocese of Los Angeles are required to be able to say Mass in Spanish (or another language of recent Catholic immigrants, like Tagalog or Vietnamese) as well as in English.

St. Thomas is in inner-city Los Angeles, but there is nothing anomalous about what takes place there. Throughout Southern California, from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and from Orange County to East L.A., almost every parish church is in the same position, or at least inclining that way. As Fernando Guerra, a professor at Loyola Marymount University, has said, churches in Los Angeles now fall into two categories: they “are either Latino or in the process of becoming Latino.” Although the trend is not as extreme in other parts of the country, it is being reproduced almost everywhere in Catholic America to one degree or another. Take, for example, another St. Thomas the Apostle Church — the one in Smyrna, Ga. There, Masses in English still predominate during the week, but on Sundays there are four English services and three Spanish ones, despite the fact that large-scale Hispanic immigration to the state is a very recent phenomenon.

Nationally, Hispanics account for 39 percent of the Catholic population, or something over 25 million of the nation’s 65 million Roman Catholics; since 1960, they have accounted for 71 percent of new Catholics in the United States. The vast increase, both proportionally and in absolute numbers, is mostly because of the surge in immigration from Latin America, above all from Mexico, that has taken place over the course of the past three decades. Today, more than 40 percent of the Hispanics residing in the United States, legally and illegally, are foreign-born, and the fate of the American Catholic Church has become inextricably intertwined with the fate of these immigrants and their descendants. [...Snip] New York Times

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The -2 day of Christmas is for shopping; -1 is for Wrapping; Anytime is for Gossip!

Well, I did make the obligatory three circuits of world's second biggest shopping mall in Bloomington the other day and found a couple of items but still had two more to go. So going into emergency mode, I headed out to St Paul this afternoon (no sense starting too early) with a few destinations in mind, most of which didn't pay off. But by late afternoon, my tasks were done, I was satisfied with my choices, hoping my giftees will also be but gift receipts were thoughtfully provided by the obliging vendors and I decided to celebrate by having a meal and a beverage.

Being that I was in the depths of the Saintly City, my thoughts understandably turned to a post of a week or two ago about the world of gossip in the Twin Cities deanery of St Blog's parish, and in the local Church. And seeing the spire of the St Paul Cathedral off in the distance, I decided to hit one of the three gossip centers that I had decided must be where the staffers of The Catholic Spirit archdiocesan newspaper and their churchly buddies hang out: Fabulous Ferns.

The parking lot was full as I pulled up but fortuitously, St Jude, the patron saint of parking spaces, found me one right near the front door and I ambled on in. It seemed like a gregarious crowd but not large in number, understandably for a Saturday afternoon.

I had grabbed a couple of tabloids from the ample supply in the vestibule to disguise my bloggers notepad (I never ago anywhere without it) and sat down at a table with a good view of all of those present, feeling peckish, and inquired of the comely waitress for a menu and one of their special drinks with lots of nutritious vegetables garishly advertised over the bar.

There seemed to be a fair number of possible spiritual conversations being held as evidenced by the number of black shirts I spied around the commodious room. I began looking for a better listening position where I might be able to eavesdrop when all of a sudden one of my suspects walked over towards me, greeted me quite amiably and then continued on into another room. I was aghast! How had I blown my cover so quickly?

Then I glanced down and saw that I was wearing my Deluxe Check polo shirt, fully as black as any worn by those at the adjoining tables. Curses! How could I have been so stupid as to have come dressed like a spy attempting to cozy up to his prey?

My cover blown, I made no further attempt to listen in on my targets but read an article or two from my tabloids, enjoyed my meal and idly planned my next foray into the camp of the adversary.

In due time I settled up with the waitress, commented quite favorably upon the lobster and crab bisque and returned to more mundane activities realated to Christmas and its presents.

I'll have to work on a better disguise for my next trip, possibly to either Costellos or Moscow on the Mississippi.

Aramaic, Jesus' Mother Tongue, is Still Spoken, Even in the Twin Cities

The Rev. Rodrigue Constantin belongs to a rare group of Minnesotans who can carry on a conversation in Aramaic, the language believed to have been spoken by Jesus 2,000 years ago.

When he consecrates the bread during his Christmas services, Constantin's words, "Ho no den ee tow faghro deel," will carry an added authenticity, because this is how Jesus would have told his disciples: "This is my body."I find that people are really fascinated by the language; there's a mysterious aspect to it," said Constantin, of Holy Family Maronite Catholic Church in St. Paul. "There's a historic thread starting 2,000 years ago that has reached me."

He is among roughly 100 people in Minnesota who can order loaves and fishes -- or lefse and lutefisk -- in Aramaic. They are mainly immigrants from small Christian communities in southeastern Turkey, one of a few pockets of the Middle East where a dialect of Aramaic remains a living language.

Aramaic also lives on in Minnesota as a liturgical language, used during church services at Holy Family and St. Maron Catholic Church in Minneapolis.

"We're a small minority of people who speak this language, and we don't want it to die," said Zahura Can, one of about 80 Turkish immigrants in the Lakeville area whose everyday language is the Aramaic dialect called Syriac.

"It's a very, very old language, and we are proud to speak it," Can said. " We speak it to our children. All four of my children understand it well."

Sunday service

The power and longevity of the language was evident during a recent visit to Holy Family, the oldest Maronite church in Minnesota. It's a small church on St. Paul's West Side, where visitors are greeted by a sweet scent of incense and the warmth of candles flickering in front of statues of Mary and Joseph.

Standing at the altar, Constantin shifted from English to Arabic to Aramaic throughout the service. For centuries, Aramaic was used through the entire service, just as Latin was the liturgical language of Roman Catholics. Now about a quarter of the service is in Aramaic. [...Snip] Star Tribune

Minnesota's Seven Bishops Lambaste Swift & Co. Raid and Arrests by Feds as "Divisive"

A group of Minnesota bishops released a strongly worded statement of protest against recent federal immigration raids on Swift & Co. plants — particularly a raid in Worthington, Minn. — saying the action had divided families, disrupted communities and did nothing to advance "needed" immigration reform.

"All the (Christmas) lights are out in that town. This is the land of light and brightness and safety, and they're hiding," Bishop Bernard Harrington, of the Winona Catholic Diocese, said Friday of immigrants in the Worthington community. The Winona Diocese covers the Worthington area.

The statement, released by the Minnesota Catholic Conference and signed by seven prominent church leaders — including Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — led off by lambasting the raids taking place on an important Latino Catholic holiday: the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas. The bishops said the decision added "insult to injury."

"That is the surprising thing, to think that the immigration service that worked on planning this thing for three months and then choosing that day," Harrington said. "It would be like having a raid in our houses on Christmas Day. There's an evilness to do it on that day. There's an evilness."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Tim Counts said the raid occurred at the time when the office was able to coordinate more than 1,000 agents in six states.

"The date was chosen only because, logistically, everything came together that day," Counts said. Counts declined to comment on whether immigration officials should have known about the holiday.

"They have to have known. If they don't know, the guy deserves to be fired, he's so dumb. He is just plain incompetent," Harrington added.

The bishops went on in their statement to say that the raids "heartlessly divided families, disrupted the whole community of Worthington and undermined progress that that city had made toward bridging racial and cultural differences."

"Such raids … violate the rights of workers and the dignity of work. These men and women are our brothers and sisters; as workers, they provide our food; as residents, they support our local businesses and communities."

Counts maintained the Dec. 12 raid "was carried out with care and respect toward each person arrested." He noted that about two dozen of the 230 arrested were released on their own recognizance for "humanitarian reasons," such as to care for a child.

About 20 of those arrested were criminally indicted for document fraud; 15 of those also were indicted for aggravated identity theft.

Parts of the statement mimicked a legislative agenda put forward recently by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling for "comprehensive immigration reform, including a broad legalization program."

"In the end, our immigration laws should be just and humane and reflect the values — fairness, opportunity, and compassion — upon which our nation, a nation of immigrants, was built," the Rev. William Skylstad, president of the national Catholic conference, said in June.

"They (local bishops) wanted to at least direct some language toward the national effort," said Chris Leifeld, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic conference.

President Bush has backed a "guest worker program" offering temporary legal status and some civil protections to undocumented workers. Many in the Republican Party oppose the measure.

Other Minnesota bishops to sign the statement are John Nienstedt of the New Ulm Diocese; Richard Pates of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; John Kinney of the St. Cloud Diocese; Victor Balke of the Crookston Diocese; and Dennis Schnurr of the Duluth Diocese. Pioneer Press

Winona's Bishop Harrington Starts Relief Fund For His Dioceses' Swift Employees

Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington has started a fund to help families separated after immigration agents arrested 230 workers at a Swift meat plant in Worthington, Minn., last week in what he called an “attempt to enforce the laws of a broken immigration system.” Harrington set aside $10,000 of the Catholic diocese’s funds and asked his followers to contribute and to work and pray for “meaningful immigration reform.”

About 200 families were affected, most in St. Mary’s parish in Worthington, said Suzanne Belongia, director of social action for the diocese. The diocese estimates there are also affected families in Albert Lea and Austin. “We’ve got many requests from people who need help,” she said. “The need is out there.”

Harrington said breadwinners have been detained, leaving families without resources and the money will help pay for food, heating bills and rent.

The raid also spread fear among Hispanics, Harrington said. “There are people living in darkness, afraid to go out.”

The raid netted a total of 1,282 workers in six plants across the country in what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the largest-ever workplace crackdown on illegal immigration.

About 5 percent of the overall arrests resulted in identity theft charges or other criminal violations, such as re-entry after deportation — but none of those were in Minnesota. The rest of the detainees were held on suspected violations of immigration laws.

There are about 30,000 Hispanic members in the diocese, which spans southern Minnesota, Harrington said. In the last 8 years, the diocese has gone from offering two Spanish Masses to 15.

Three parishes in Worthington, Austin and Albert Lea are nearly half Hispanic, Harrington said.

Harrington said the country needs an immigration policy that protects the borders but also “welcomes all God’s children to work with dignity and to provide for a better life for their families within our borders.”

“We need a process in which (those already here) can enter into the mainstream,” he said.

Harrington said the church will need tens of thousands of dollars to care for the splintered families.

“Christmas will come and Christmas will go,” he said. “The needs of human life go on.” Winona Daily News

Tidings of comfort and joy

With Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, Christmas decorations and Christmas presents, it’s pretty easy to get self-centered in the next few days. It’s pretty easy to miss some in our area who are hurting — like those whose families have been split up because of a raid by U.S. immigration officials in Worthington.

The recent raids there have reverberated in communities like Albert Lea and Austin — not far from our area. Diocese of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington hasn’t forgotten about them at a time when it would be easy to overlook their need. To help the families that have been separated — some in which parents have been taken from children — Harrington established a “Holy Family Relief Fund” through Catholic Charities. The diocese made the first payment of $10,000 and now is asking parishioners and businesses to contribute. And, the fund shouldn’t just be a call for the Catholic faithful, it should be an effort supported regardless of religious creed.

We praise the bishop for this forward-thinking effort. This type of action seems to strike at the heart of Christian theology and the commandment of Christ at the end of John’s Gospel, when Christ tells Peter, “Tend to my sheep.”

Harrington is indeed looking after his flock, providing not only for their spiritual needs, but for their day-to-day survival. Moreover, his leadership in the region is appreciated.

But his statement, issued Friday and printed on this page, shows more than just an immediate concern with the well-being of those displaced — it shows a broad concern with the social justice of the Worthington raids.

In a statement, Harrington said, “Many questions remain about the type of treatment these packing plant workers received and the appropriateness of the methods used during the raids… Families that have lost their breadwinner now face a winter of uncertainty with no idea how long detainees will be held.”

We should all have questions about the methods the U.S. government used. It is probably another example in an all-too-frequent line of events that show the dysfunction of our immigration policy. And, most of us should cringe just a little when we realize our families are not so far removed from being strangers in a strange land ourselves.

We join with Bishop Harrington as he calls for us to “remember the families … who have been fractured by this attempt to enforce the laws of a broken immigration system.”

Let that be part of our prayer this holiday season.


Interestingly, it appears that Swift & Company has been using the records of the Social Security Administration to assist them in determining whether or not its employees are eligible for work in the United States. But apparently the Immigration officials and those at the SSA don't seem to be on the same wave length.

It is also interesting that it took about 1,000 Immigration, Border Patrol and Customs officials to arrest the 1,300 illegal immigrants who were employed at various Swift & Company plants. Can you imagine what that cost to assemble an ad hoc group like that in areas where they don't live and provide them with needed facilities while waiting for all to be ready?

Of course there are probably more than 1,300 illegal immigrants crossing our borders each days where we do have "security." And maybe 20,000,000 are already here, and employed in other companies.

Washington, we have a problem and you don't know what to do about it and the poorest of the poor are the ones who get to pay for it.

Christmas Vandalism and Desecration

Vandals Storm Creches Nationwide - Baby Jesus Smashed, Dismembered, Desecrated
WASHINGTON, December 21, 2006 ( - The Catholic League is reporting vandalism to nativity scenes across the United States. Figures from nativity scenes were stolen or vandalized in Tucson, AZ ; Millbrae, CA; Mission Viejo, CA; Moorpark, CA; San Francisco, CA; Naugatuck, CT; Waterbury, CT (Jesus was taken, but one of the arms was left behind); Fort Walton Beach, FL; Des Moines, IA; Sioux City, IA; Ammon, ID; Chicago, IL (32 figures of baby Jesus were nabbed-they were later dumped on the lawn of a Catholic church); Jackson County, IL (two incidents); Tinley Park, IL; Floyd County, IN; Fort Wayne, IN; Montgomery County, IN; Wichita, KS; Hardin, KY; Lafayette, LA (two incidents); Youngsville, LA; Fitchburg, MA; Southborough, MA; Winthrop, ME; Portage Township, MI; Fayettville, NC; New Bern, NC; Columbus, NE (12 baby Jesus figures were stolen in one day); Plaistow, NH; Dover, OH; Utica, OH (three incidents); Artemis, PA; Bucks County, PA; Greenfield, PA; Hilton Head, SC; Halom City, TX; Santa Fe, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Winfield, WV and West Allis, WI.

"Some of these attacks were clearly motivated by malice," the League's Bill Donohue commented. "The baby Jesus figure stolen in Plaistow, NH was later returned, having been defiled by a pair of devil horns. The hooligan who stole the manger from Southborough, MA left the surrounding secular decorations standing."Donohue continued, "In Sioux Falls, SD, someone crushed the face of the statue of Jesus. What's worse, the creep in Des Moines, IA burned Jesus' face, doused the statue with red nail polish, and twisted the electrical cord around its neck."

Commenting Wednesday on the tradition of nativity scenes, Pope Benedict XVI said, "In a few days it will be Christmas, and I imagine that, in your homes, you are putting the final touches to your nativity scenes, which are such an evocative depiction of Christmas. I hope that this important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, may endure as a simple and eloquent way to remember the One Who came 'to dwell among us'."

See related coverage:

Nativity Scenes Vandalized in Three Major Canadian Cities - Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

Nativity Scene Stolen by Abortion Clinic Worker Returned by Police

New York Village Would Rather Remove 9-Foot Menorah than Allow Nativity S cene

Compare and Contrast: What is different about these two word pictures?

1. Brother Craig Franz, President of St Mary’s University in Winona, MN, was accused of having a relationship with an otherwise unidentified adult student at a California college when he was president of that school. He was immediately removed from his position in Winona and sent to an undisclosed religious community, probably for treatment and segregation, never to be employed by a college again.

2. Minneapolis Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek, accused of having affairs with subordinates, inappropriate touching, favoritism, discrimination and was sued along with the City of Minneapolis at least four times by department employees.

The city initiated investigations of Bleskachek, a lesbian mother of two, after the first of four fire department employees filed suit against her. A summary report from the investigations released Friday detailed what it called these "substantiated allegations":

• Bleskachek "has a history of dating and romantic pursuits of others in the fire department, most often employees of lower rank and sometimes direct subordinates," the summary report said.
• Bleskachek was seen "making out" with an employee on the floor of a fire station workout room.
• On three occasions, Bleskachek was naked in a hot tub when department employees were present.
• On one occasion, Bleskachek danced in a "sexually suggestive way" at a public club with a young firefighter who was uncomfortable with the chief's conduct.
• Bleskachek used the Fire Department's dispatch system for personal purposes.
• Bleskachek's behavior toward one employee, whom she had been romantically involved with but who later rebuffed her advances, included inappropriately touching her leg on two occasions, failing to correct errors in her pay and failing to give her the proper bars and badge for her position.
• Several employees had the perception that Bleskachek treated one employee, her lover, more favorably, and many believed the chief's decisions were governed by personal animosity toward some employees and favoritism toward others.
Some of those findings, such as the one that involved inappropriate touching, were "absolutely" denied by Bleskachek, her attorney Burg said. Others, like those regarding the hot tub, Bleskachek admits to.
Pioneer Press

Bleskachek was given a 9 months suspension with full pay (a vacation with pay if you will) and was ultimately demoted to a position of Captain in the department, but with no command responsibilities at a cut in salary. No doubt her seniority and full pension benefits still accrue with no cuts.

But fortunately we will all have free Wi-Fi and no Libraries. Our City Council is on the job!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

St Mary's U, Winona, President Resigns Because of "Inappropriate Sexual Behavior"

The president of St. Mary's University of Minnesota has resigned effective immediately after admitting to an allegation of "inappropriate sexual behavior" while he was president of a college in California.
Brother Craig Franz has been St. Mary's president since last year. According to a news release, the university received a tip from the other school that while serving as president of St. Mary's College of California, Franz "engaged in an episode of inappropriate sexual behavior with an adult student who was enrolled in that institution."Brother Craig realizes that his activity was inappropriate in light of his religious vows and his position as a leader, teacher and mentor," according to the school.
Franz has left the St. Mary's campus and is living in a religious community.
The university's provost and vice president, Jeffrey Highland, was named interim president.
In a statement, the chairman of St. Mary's Board of Trustees apologized to the campus community.
"I cannot tell you how troubling it is for me to deliver this news to you, particularly at this time of year," Robert Figliulo said. "As a second-generation alumnus of St. Mary's and the parent of both a graduate and a current student, I remain committed to Christian Brothers education. I feel very bad for all parties involved."
Franz was president of the California school for seven years. He left after a controversy involving a $112 million pledge from a donor that fell through. The school built a $26 million science center assuming that the pledge would cover a $15-million loan for the building, but the money never came in. The donor said he had been conned in a real-estate scam. School officials said Franz was not implicated in any wrongdoing.
St. Mary's University of Minnesota has about 1,800 undergraduates and about 3,750 graduate students studying on their campuses. Their main campuses are in Winona and the Twin Cities.

Star Tribune

Dry Times in the Seminary

Tyler at the St Paul Seminary, blogging at Future Priests of the Third Millenium doesn't always find holiness at the end of his days.

Perhaps it is that I have spent too much time trying to teach teenagers recently, but I have experienced an unprecedented desire to form a punk rock band that I would call "Righteous Indignation." We would spend most of our time with our arms crossed over our chests staring broodingly at people trying to talk to us. When we weren't doing that, we would probably be making snotty comments about the person talking to us or panicking in our minds over some relatively inconsequential piece of teen angst. My punk rock band probably won't really do much music. We'll just mostly sit around and be surly.

At least that's the impression of what teens do. On two separate occasions and with two separate groups of teens I tried to teach about the incarnation, the real meaning of Christmas, and its connection to the Resurrection. I may as well have been beating my head against a brick wall. Not a smile, not a response, not any indication that they had learned anything or had even heard a word of what I had just said. [...Snip] Read it All

Gopher Teams No Longer To Play Schools With Demeaning Nicknames and Mascots

Robert Bruininks
President, University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

President Bruininks:

I note that the University has taken the bold move and finally has decided to enforce its policy
forbidding university teams to engage in inter-collegiate athletic events with schools whose mascot or nicknames are deemed to be demeaning to minorities. Bravo!

The question comes up immediately, though, as to why you exempted the sport of ice hockey from the policy, thus allowing the University of Minnesota’s ice hockey team to continue participating in competition in the WCHA against the University of North Dakota whose nickname is the Fighting Sioux. Why was an exemption given for hockey? Is it that like with Islam, Gopher hockey fans might be too difficult to fight if their team could no longer compete against the best? Or would too much sports income be put at risk if the Gophers had to leave this league for refusing to play the Fighting Sioux? Or would four or more forfeits a year look pretty bad on the record?

You were quoted very clearly in the controversy over the play, “The Pope and the Witch”, that the University’s Theater Department plans to perform this coming March, “that the university will not reconsider the staging of the play, but underscored that our commitment to academic freedom also includes listening and giving a forum to the views of those who have concern with the play's content."

Your commitment to academic freedom may be admirable and won’t be compromised even if the Catholic Church, its leaders and its members are mocked and abused.

And your commitment to the removal of racial inequities also may be admirable and won’t be compromised unless money and rabid Gopher fans would be involved.

As mentioned, we know you won't dare offend Muslims. On what other issues do you regularly compromise? The students, teachers and graduates of the University of Minnesota would like to know.

Ray Marshall

CLA ‘69

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Even Married Priests Support Priestly Celibacy

Tim Drake, of St Joseph, MN, Senior Writer for the National Catholic Register, interviews a few priests about the issue of priestly celibacy.

It was a Saturday night, and Father Larry Blake had just celebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Waconia, Minn. He hadn’t eaten dinner and longed to spend time visiting with his wife and children.
“No sooner had I sat down than our emergency line rang,” said Father Blake, a former Lutheran pastor who was ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1999. “Someone at the hospital needed the anointing of the sick. I determined I had enough time to finish eating dinner and then left for the hospital.”
By the time he returned home at 11:30 p.m., his wife and children were all fast asleep.
“I’d be dishonest if I said I wouldn’t have rather sat at home and visited with my family, but this is what I was called to do.”
It is challenges like this that are often overlooked in the debate over whether Catholic priests ought to be allowed to marry.
According to one scholar, the Church has been struggling with the celibate priesthood question from time out of mind.
Father Andrew Cozzens, an instructor of sacramental theology at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn., said the Church first legislated clerical celibacy at the beginning of the fourth century. “At that time, it was mostly the teaching of continence,” he said. “It was almost universally required that if a married man was ordained a priest, he lived as a brother and sister with his wife.”
Father Cozzens, who is writing his doctoral dissertation on how the priest is a living image of Christ the bridegroom, said that the continence idea stemmed from St. Leo the Great, who said that when a man becomes a priest, his former marriage becomes a spiritual one because he enters into a new marriage.
He added that the practice was common in both the East and West until the seventh century, when the East began to permit married men to live as married men, except for bishops, who are required to remain celibate.
“In the West, every time the question comes up for discussion, the magisterium grows stronger in its defense of the connection between priesthood and celibacy,” he said. “Once the Church started legislating, they started pushing celibacy.”
Yet, the argument that making celibacy optional would solve the priest shortage seems to be contradicted by the Protestant experience. Ordinations among denominations that allow married clergy have seen nothing but decline. Male ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has dropped from 354 men in 1980 to 151 in 2003. In fact, in 2003, female ordination surpassed that of male ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
That decrease is also observable in the Episcopal Church of the USA. Male ordination decreased from 272 in 1974 to 94 in 1997, while female ordination increased from nine in 1974 to 69 in 1997.
And yet, married men ordained priests legitimately aren’t the ones calling for a change. Often, they are the ones that are most supportive of celibacy.
“I fully support the position of the Church on celibacy and consider it an exceptional privilege to serve the Church in this way,” said Father Blake, of Minnesota. Still, he admits that it’s a balancing act.
“It would be dishonest for me to say that there are not times when there are things that happen in the parish, and it means that I have to take time from my family, or there are times when I don’t attend something happening at the parish because of a family obligation,” he said. “If I were by myself, I might go. It cuts both ways. The reality is that I now have two vocations.”
Through the Pastoral Provision, the Church accepts married Episcopalian priests who have become Catholic. To date, 82 men have been ordained under the provision, the latest being Fathers Alvin Kimel in Newark, N.J., and Dwight Longenecker in South Carolina. Father Longenecker is a Register columnist.
Statistics are not available for Protestant converts who become priests, as they have more stringent requirements, and are handled on a case-by-case basis by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Father William Stetson, who serves as secretary to Newark Archbishop John Myers, the ecclesiastical delegate for the Pastoral Provision, pointed out that Episcopal ministers who are ordained to the Catholic priesthood do not ordinarily serve full-time in parishes.
“The Church tries to recognize that they have a duty to their family,” said Father Stetson. “Practically, a married man is not as available. Theologically, it’s a gift of Christ to his Church. The best way for a man who is invested with the priesthood of Jesus Christ is to serve the portion of the flock given to his care with an undivided heart.”
Providing for his family is a common challenge for married priests, he said. “Many of the priests have to supplement their income with secular jobs,” said Father Stetson, who knows of priests who are policemen, university professors or psychiatrists. “The experience of every single Episcopal priest that has come into the Catholic Church is that they are surprised by the volume of work that the majority of Roman Catholic parishes require.”

Greek Orthodox Deacon Virgil Petrisor, of Brookline, Mass., said that he finds it sad that married priests so often cite the problem that the priesthood diverts their attention from their parishes to their wives and children.
“I tend to view the family as a part of the ministry,” said Petrisor, who is studying to be a priest at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. “It’s not … these other people who keep him from doing his ‘job.’ Rather, it’s the priests and his family doing Christ’s work. I think the family can and should be an asset rather than a distraction.”
Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio disagreed.
“I don’t see how a priest who is faithful to his calling can give his wife and children the time and attention that they need in a marriage,” said Father Fessio, provost of Ave Maria College in Naples, Fla. “Does it mean it can’t happen? No, it doesn’t mean that, but I believe that there is some fundamental inner tension which can never be resolved.” [Read it All]

Did you get your Christmas Card from the Cathedral yet?


A Special Graduation At St Scholastica

Sister Edith, who blogs at Monastic Musings, reports on a happy Graduation Day up at St Scholastica this month.

We celebrated graduation at the College yesterday, including that of one very special sister who has been living, praying, and sharing Tanzanian culture with us for the last five years: Sister Valentina Pilla, a Benedictine of St. Gertrude Convent, Imiliwaha, Tanzania. A colleague and I exhibited unprofessional behavior: we stood and cheered as she walked across the stage. We knew how much hard work, perseverence, and courage were wrapped up in that moment, and had to express our admiration.

Several years ago - almost a decade - our monastery began a twinning relationship with a congregation of African Benedictines. We are challenged and enriched in our understanding of monastic life by our encounters with these sisters from halfway around the world. They are also involved in health care and education, through clinics and schools that they operate - but their sisters also grow tea and farm, make their own clothes, run printing presses, do dental work, and, in general, are more self-sufficient than we could ever dream of becoming. Their way of life is certainly edifying!

The twinning program opened the door for some sisters to study at our college - if they could brave our Duluth winters, master the art of multiple-choice exams, and get over all the hurdles of living in the high-tech culture of modern America. Sister Valentina is the first to finish a program at our college, having prepared to teach history and social studies in a program designed to meet the Tanzania government's requirements.

In true African style, we have partied for three days - Friday with the faculty and staff who encouraged her, Saturday with her American Mom and other friends, and Sunday with the monastic community. Today, Sister Valentina flew home to see her mother and her own community. It was not farewell, though. Her prioress has asked her to stay on an earn a Masters in Education, so that she can be a resource to the other sisters who teach in her community's schools. Undaunted - well, not TOO daunted - she will begin in January.

Bravo, Sister Valentina: job well done! Read more and see the photos!