Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Father Tim Vakoc, Wounded Combat Chaplain: The Healing Continues

Please Pray For Father Tim's Recovery!
This wonderful season of new life strikes me as just the right time to give you an update on the condition of Father Tim Vakoc, the first U.S. military chaplain wounded in the Iraq war. I say “just the right time” because the news about Father Tim is both hopeful and upbeat – so much so that the story is brimming with new life all on its own. If this doesn’t reflect the power of prayer, I don’t know what does.

Father Tim, you might remember, suffered a terrible head injury when a roadside bomb exploded near his unit three years ago. His wounds were uncomfortably close to being fatal. He survived, however – just barely – and was flown back to the U.S. and ultimately to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in his home Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. As I wrote last year: “He has received wonderful care, of course, but the outlook hasn’t always been bright. Most of the time, in fact, it’s been downright discouraging.”

Still, prayers on his behalf were working overtime. A year ago I relayed the promising story of a slight improvement in Father Tim’s condition, reported by Linda Louie, one of the friends invited by his family to be among his regular visitors.

Now the reports are even more encouraging. I caught up with them in AMS News, the newsletter published by the (U.S.) Military Archdiocese, which reprinted a recent story written by Jeremy Olson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. Briefly, here are the highlights:

After a year of therapy at the VA Medical Center, Father Tim had little strength in his legs and was able to move his left hand and wrist slightly – nothing more. Speaking was apparently out of the question. Doctors told Father Tim’s family that his recovery probably would progress no further.

Family and friends thought otherwise. The prayers continued, and so did the miracles. Continuing his exercise therapy, the chaplain gained balance and added strength. The tube in his throat was removed last summer, and he spoke his first clear words two months later. In December he was strong enough to be discharged from the VA facility, and became a resident of St. Therese nursing home in New Hope, Minn.

The healing, and the hard work of therapy, go on. Father Tim has a laptop touch-screen communicator on which he’s able to provide not only simple yes-or-no answers, but can indicate some basic wishes. “I need a break from talking” is one of them. From someone who hadn’t uttered a word for more than two years, it’s a powerful thought.

A highlight of his recovery – his recovery so far, that is – came not long ago when he attended the annual award banquet at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, his old high school in St. Louis Park. He was seated in a wheelchair and a friend lowered a microphone in front of him, asking him for a greeting. As Jeremy Olson reported: “For 20 seconds, only the gymnasium lights hummed in the quiet. ‘Thank you,’ Father Vakoc said. Silence returned as he labored for breath. ‘And,’ he whispered, ‘God ... love ... you.’”

Father Tim Vakoc, priest and chaplain, gives honor every day to both of his callings. His ministry goes on as he inspires all those with whom he comes in contact. And as for the power of prayer? Never count it out. Catholic Online

An Update from Father Tim's Sister, Anita:


This is Father Tim's sister. He has made even more progress. Today the 30th is Father Tim's 15th anniversary as a priest. Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of his injury.

He continues on his healing road. The prayer support and people support is truly a blessing.

The staff at St Therese work him hard. Speech has worked with Tim so he now is eating a little. Oatmeal. Yes it is a long way from a steak and a scotch but it is a huge step forward. He is now able to receive communion when he goes to daily mass. Physical Therapy has him on a recumbent step machine and in a standing table. And his head is so much straighter. Occupational Therapy has him using his right arm and doing some of his ADLS.

Please continue the prayers. Miracles do happen.


Celebration for Father Tim Vakoc, St Therese's, New Hope, Sunday, June 10, 2007

Caring Bridge, Vakoc Family Site

"Father Tim Updates", Fabrizio Azzola, Catholic Online Forum

Novena to St Michael for Father Tim Vakoc

St Paul Seminary Honors War-Wounded Priest, KARE-11, April 27, 2007

Chaplain injured in Iraq to receive seminary's Distinguished Alumnus Award today, St Thomas Bulletin, April 26, 2007

"A Prayer for Father Tim", StarTribune, Slide Show with Narration, December 15, 2006

"A Prayer for Father Tim", StarTribune, Article, December 15, 2006

He Could No Longer Explain Why He Wasn’t Catholic

Tim Drake, National Catholic Register's Senior Writer, who gets to work from his home in St Joseph, MN, has got a great article this week, profiling Francis Beckwith, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, former because he has now returned to the Catholic Church.

Until a few weeks ago, Francis Beckwith served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society, an association of 4,300 Protestant theologians.

That was until he made the announcement on the Right Reason blog of his return to the Catholic faith of his youth. Beckwith returned to the Church after 32 years as an evangelical. The online “storm” that followed led Beckwith to resign as president of the prestigious society. [...Snip] Read it All in the NCRegister

New Members of the USCCB National Review Board Include Fargo Psychiatrist

Judge Michael R. Merz, of Dayton, Ohio, has been named chair of the National Review Board (NRB) by Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Judge Merz’s appointment becomes effective June 1. He succeeds Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, Ph.D. as chair. He was named an NRB member in 2004.

In accepting appointment, Judge Merz said he would continue the Board’s strong role as lay collaborators with the bishops in protecting children, healing the damage done by abuse, and preventing its recurrence. “Our present goals,” he said, “are to complete the Causes and Context study, to audit Charter programs in place to ensure they are effective, and to recommend to the bishops best practices in implementing the Charter.”

Bishop Skylstad also named four new board members: Emmet M. Kenney, Jr., M.D.; Diane M. Knight, ACSW, CISW; Robert C. Kohm, J.D.; and Susan Steibe-Pasalich, Ph.D.
Dr. Kenney is an adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Prairie St. John’s, a Catholic health care organization offering psychiatric and chemical dependency services in Fargo, North Dakota. He has worked at Prairie St. John’s since 1996. He is a graduate of Creighton University School of Medicine. He is an executive council member of the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America and a member of the board of directors of the Dorothy Day House, Moorhead, Minnesota; and the Fargo Catholic Schools Network Council.
The National Review Board was established by the USCCB in June, 2002, when the bishops adopted their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The board’s purpose is to collaborate with the USCCB to prevent sexual abuse of minors by persons in the service of the Church in the United States. USCCB

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another "late vocation" starts with Mass in childhood church; God is good!

As a kid, growing up in Janesville, Matt Fasnacht spent an hour just about every Sunday in beautiful St. Ann’s Catholic Church.

How fitting it was, then, that the first Mass he presided over as a priest was celebrated yesterday at his hometown church.

Fasnacht “Mass of Thanksgiving” — a new priest’s first Mass — took place Sunday under a perfect blue spring sky in Janesville. With several hundred well-wishers packed in pews and overflowing to the church entryway, Fasnacht’s career of celebrating mass began in the same building his religious life did decades ago.

“It was a great joy,” he said afterward. “It was very overwhelming. I’m just very thankful to God.”

While no two journey’s to a life of religion are alike, Fasnacht’s must certainly be among the more unique. He tells it like this:

After attending church regularly as a kid, his interest in the Catholic mass went the way of most teenaged boys — out the window. While he didn’t entirely abandon his faith, he certainly paid less attention to it than other aspects of his life.

He says he was living what he calls a secular life until, in his early 20s, a series of events occurred that drove him to his current occupation. He recalls being 23 years old when he began to feel an emptiness inside. He noticed it affecting him in subtle ways.

Slowly, he began wondering about God and whether turning back to his faith would help him get rid of the emptiness he felt inside. The feeling grew stronger — almost unexplainably intense — and he decided to follow it. He began to attend church regularly again. He returned to the Bible. He prayed. He woke up one day to the feeling of a spirit-like presence all around him. He wept, certain that it was God calling to him.

Then, on an April Sunday several years ago, he was attending Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis when a similar but much more intense feeling overcame him. He sobbed uncontrollably until he says God communicated to him the message that prayer is powerful.

He enrolled in a seminary. The rest is history. He was ordained Saturday in Winona. And on Sunday, he became a practicing priest.

Fasnacht’s ordination is the Winona Diocese’s only one this year.

“Over the past several years, we have not had as many vocations to the priesthood,” said Rose Hammes, a spokeswoman for the Winona Diocese. “But the numbers are growing. It’s cyclical. There’s a lot of young men very much affected by (former Pope) John Paul II.”

Marny Fasnacht, Matt’s mom, attended Saturday’s ordination and was seated in the front row of St. Ann’s to watch her son run the show. Even his grandparents, Jack and Peggy Sexton, formerly of Mankato, flew in from New Mexico for the event.

“He’s fired up for the Lord,” Marny Fasnacht said. “We’re very proud of him. Couldn’t be prouder.”

She was also proud of another son who made news in Janesville, although itwasn’t the kind of news anyone wants to be the center of. On her wrist was a black bracelet bearing the name of Lt. Michael Fasnacht, who was killed in Iraq on June 8, 2005.

The back of the program for Sunday’s Mass read: “This Mass was offered for 1st Lt. Michael J. Fasnacht out of love
and devotion.” Mankato Free Press


Matt Fasnacht was studying to be a Roman Catholic priest when his older brother Michael, an Army Ranger, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. Instead of causing him to question his faith, the loss renewed his determination to enter the priesthood.

"It's so painful and harsh. You either run from it, or you trust in God even more," says Fasnacht, 32. "I became closer to God." USA Today

"Steubenville North 1" to Meet in Rochester, June 15-17

The Franciscan University of Steubenville will be hosting a Youth Conference in Rochester on June 15-17. The conference will be held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.The conference will be held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. For information, or to register go to:

St. Peter Claver graduates first class since reopening

From left, eighth-graders Abigail Awode and Allias Porter work on vocabulary during language arts class at St. Peter Claver School in St. Paul. They will be in the school’s first graduating class since it reopened five years ago.

Seven eighth-graders at St. Peter Claver School in St. Paul will make school history June 5 as the first graduating class since the school reopened in 2001.

“It’s a very proud day for the parish,” said Father Kevin McDonough, pastor of St. Peter Claver.

St. Peter Claver School first opened in 1950 to serve the urban, majority African-American community of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, St. Peter Claver School flourished. But in 1989, it closed due to a lack of funding and dwindling enrollment.

In 2001, with strong parish support, St. Peter Claver School reopened with between 50 and 60 students in kindergarten through third grade. Each subsequent year, an additional grade level has been added. Today the student population consists of 150 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Principal Teresa Mardenborough came out of retirement from the St. Paul Public Schools to take control of the school in 2002.

“I prayerfully discerned whether or not to come to St. Peter Claver School because I knew what it was going to take” to make the school succeed, Mardenborough said. “I came to St. Peter Claver School purely because of my love for my parish and because there was a need I could help with.”

Though Mardenborough had intended to stay only for a short time, after five years, she said she has not regretted one day.

“When I see the way students are achieving, when I see how parents understand or are beginning to understand what we are trying to achieve, it makes it very clear to me why I came,” she added.

The first year Mardenborough was principal, she doubled enrollment. More than 20 students have been added each year since 2002.

The first and second grades have reached their capacity for the 2007-2008 school year. Other grade levels are nearing capacity, with students coming from all over the metro area, Mardenborough said. [...Snip] Catholic Spirit

The Catholic Spirit is looking for a Web Page Coordinator: Call your Catholic Geek Friends; Or Convert One of Them!

The Catholic Spirit Web site coordinator is expected to work in collaboration with all departments of the publishing company to develop and maintain a useful, interactive Web site for the publishing company. In collaboration with the news team, the Web coordinator will gather, develop and create content appropriate for Web users and execute placement of that content on the Web site in as timely a manner as each situation demands. The Web coordinator will place and monitor all advertising on the Web site and will collaborate with other departments to create content pages with advertising, marketing and news potential. The Web coordinator will keep abreast of technological advances to enhance the Web site, and will keep abreast of local, national and international news to ensure Web news content is timely and relevant.

Required attributes:
1. Knowledge of 1Up software OR the ability to quickly master it. 2. Tech savvy – Mac skilled 3. Understanding of audience for online products 4. Awareness of potential for online product as a ministry 5. Awareness of potential for online product as a revenue source 6. Awareness of potential for online product as a service 7. Creative idea person 8. Ability to turn ideas into reality on the Web 9. Active Catholic faith life 10. Willingness to meet with advertisers to learn their needs and offer suggestions for copy and style. 11. Understanding of other software with possible Web applications, such as credit card functions. 12. Problem solving attitude. Bachelor’s degree in communications or related field required.

Position reports to the associate publisher and editor.

Send resumes with samples of work/links to your work on the Web to: Mary Gibbs
The Catholic Spirit
244 Dayton Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Monday, May 28, 2007

Google, Inc.'s Memorial Day Logo


Google, Inc.'s Persian New Years Logo
(ayd-e no rooz)

Limbo is part and parcel of God's Infinite Mercy, say the Theologians!

I'll buy that. The Lord said "My Father's house has many mansions [John 14:2]." Some are probably a tad nicer than others. The Blessed Virgin's, for example. What's so improbable about the Lord God providing an eternal reward for the totally innocent?

( The key concept for the recently released study on the theological concept of limbo is hope based on God's mercy, said the secretary of the International Theological Commission.

Jesuit Father Luis Ladaria explained why the commission theologians decided to study the question of salvation for infants who die without baptism.

Father Ladaria, a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, said it was urgent to reflect on the salvation of these infants.

The 41-page document, "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die without Being Baptized," was released April 20 and posted on the Vatican Web site on Sunday.

Father Ladaria said it is necessary to remember that limbo "is a theory with no explicit basis in Revelation" and is a concept that "was progressively abandoned in recent times."

He said the theologians who have reflected on this theme over the last few years concluded that "from a theological point of view, the development of a theology of hope and an ecclesiology of communion, together with a recognition of the greatness of divine mercy, challenge an unduly restrictive view of salvation."

Beatific vision

The document, Father Ladaria told ZENIT, concludes that "there are theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision."

The key concept of this document, said the theologian, is hope, based on God’s mercy.

The Jesuit said the document touches on pastoral and doctrinal points and recalled that it is not a teaching of the magisterium, but a text with "a certain theological authority."

The function of the International Theological Commission is to help the Holy See to examine doctrinal questions of great importance.

The commission is made up of theologians from various schools and nations. The members are named by the Pope after receiving suggestions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and consulting the respective episcopal conferences. ZE07052815

"There aren't many feasts where I can praise God and look like a tart"

The Ironic Catholic sure has a way with words!

Top Cannes Award For Harrowing Romanian Abortion Film


Terry, at Abbey-Roads2, has blogged on the Romanian film depicting a mid-term abortion that had the world's "cultural elite at the Cannes Film Festival glued to their seats to the point that they sat through it and ultimately rewarded the film with their top prize, the Palme D'Or. Read about it here but be warned that there is a disturbing image that you should also look at.

You can find the news article reporting about the award here.

Terry rightfully wonders if the movie will be "Banned in Boston" for frightening people out of having abortions.


Archdiocesan Marriage Day Celebration: Saturday, June 16, 10:00 a.m., St Paul Cathedral

All couples celebrating silver and golden anniversaries in the 2007 calendar year are invited to join Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis for Mass, on Saturday, June 16, 10:00 a.m., at the St Paul Cathedral for a renewal of vows and a short reception.

Couples married over 50 years will also be honored and are invited to attend. Families and friends of honored couples welcome!

For more information, call 651-291-4488 or visit Sponsored by the Archdiocesan Office for Family, Laity, Youth and Young Adults.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rainbow Sash Demonstration at Cathedral a Washout!

Inveterate church shopper that I am, I slept in late this morning and went to the 12:00 at the St Paul Cathedral to observe and pray, pray and observe, as the local Rainbow Sash organization had put out a call to all of its minions to make a show of force on Pentecost in honor of our new Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt of New Ulm. They have heard rumors that he might be conservative and they want to remind him and Archbishop Flynn "that our glbt sexuality is a gift from God, which we proudly celebrate on Pentecost."

Well, the 12:00 Mass is the last of the morning Masses and as could be expected on a nice Spring day, there were only a few hundred in attendance, total, in the large structure. As I had forgotten to bring my customary disguise, I decided not to walk up and down the aisles doing a "sash count" but waited until after Communion, when they were all committed to stand in defiance of GIRM instructions to do my count.

I did note one Pharisee and his daughter, both be-sashed up in the front pew. He genuflected on both knees to display his reverence. His teenage daughter didn't think genuflecting was necessary.

The celebrant was Father J.P. Erickson, the assistant pastor (wash my mouth out with soap if you ever hear me saying "Parochial Vicar") of the Cathedral. There was a con-celebrant whose name I didn't catch and two deacons were present for the Communion. Father Erickson gave a short admonition before Communion, noting that the reception of Holy Communion was a Sacrament and an awesome sacred experience and not an occasion for protesting. Those wearing sashes were asked to remove them if they wanted to receive Communion. They would be refused if they came with the sash on. Other members of the congregation were asked not to interfere with anybody wearing a sash.

Communion is received only under one species at the Cathedral. Lay Extraordinary Ministers were sent to handle the rear pews. No doubt it was assumed that the demonstrators would want to confront the priests, not laypeople. The priests and deacons remained at the altar rails.

Everything went smoothly, all of the be-sashed were refused Communion and in my view only one incident occurred when a non-sashed person did not consume the Sacred Host but kept it in his hand and with a smirky smile gave it to the Pharisee's daughter.

After the priests had finished purifying the sacred vessels and had sat down, I did turn around and counted maybe 20 people still standing, resplendent in their sashes.

Not much of a turnout, I would say. Mass soon ended. And somehow the Pharisee forgot to genuflect when he left at the end of Mass when nobody but me was watching him.

Battle of the St Paul Centennials


The electrons were hardly dry when I posted on the St Paul Cathedral's Centennial celebration which begins next Sunday when all of a sudden, news of the Assumption Parish's Sesquicentennial (That's a "Centennial-and-a-half") hit the monitor, also beginning next weekend. For those familiar with Catholic history, it is not surprising that the Germans didn't like going to Irish churches, and vice versa; so when Archbishop Ireland (sic) build his two mammoth structures as "co-cathedrals" in St Paul and Minneapolis, the Germans probably just poured more money in their parish, which predates both of them by 50 years.

The Irish have taken over Assumption Catholic Church, which once was known as the German Cathedral.

"Social progress," said Father John Malone, longtime pastor at the historic downtown St. Paul church.

But there remain a substantial number of families in the congregation with German roots. So, for festivals, the church's heritage often is honored with brats and beer in the parking lot.

"The Irish will put up with the brats as long as there's beer," Malone said, laughing.

This will be a brat-filled summer at the church where German was spoken until World War I, when the language became too politically volatile to be acceptable.

Beginning next Sunday, Assumption will be celebrating its 150th anniversary.
German immigrants built the first Assumption at what is now 51 W. 7th St. in 1857. Construction on the current two-spire building, built from the same plans as the Ludwigskirche in Munich, began in 1871. That means it's older than the State Capitol (1905), the Cathedral (1907) and the St. Mary's Basilica in Minneapolis (1914).

"The oldest landmark in the Twin Cities," Malone points out. [....Snip] StarTribune

I won't quibble with the definition of the word "landmark" with Father Malone as one can make a case that the Missisisippi River and maybe even "Pilot Knob" could be considered to be "landmarks" but the current extent of the "TwinCities" has expanded far beyond it first two urban burgs.

So the good parishioners of St Peter's parish in Mendota, founded as a French church in 1840, might like to point out that the construction of it's historic stone church began in 1853, four years before Assumption in St Paul. It is still used today.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cathedral of St Paul Timeline

Log chapel built on Mississippi riverfront and named for St. Paul.

1851 The log chapel becomes the first Cathedral of St. Paul after arrival of Bishop Joseph Cretin.

1858 First mass is celebrated at the third cathedral.

1888 Rome creates the Archdiocese of St. Paul, and John Ireland becomes its first archbishop.

1896 Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, later known as F. Scott Fitzgerald, is baptized at the Cathedral.

1904 Ireland decides to build a new cathedral on St. Anthony Hill, overlooking downtown St. Paul, and selects Emmanuel Masqueray as architect.

1907 Cornerstone is laid for the new cathedral.

1915 Ireland celebrates the first mass in the new cathedral, before congregation of 2,500.

1958 With interior work essentially complete, the cathedral is consecrated by Archbishop William Brady.

1962 Two weeks before the Cuban missile crisis, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, attends Sunday mass at the cathedral.

1987 Five new bells are installed.

2000 $25 million restoration project begins to restore the copper dome and clean the cathedral's exterior.

2002 A new cross is installed on the cathedral dome, marking the end of the restoration project.

Centennial Celebration Plans

The Story of the Cathedral of St Paul

Chrism Cathy of Alex Does It Again!

The featured star of St Blog's Parish this weekend on both Amy Welborn's fabulously popular Open Book and the National Catholic Register is none other than our own recently confirmed Cathy of Alex, who blogs at Recovering Dissident Catholic and has a tremendous following.

Tim Drake's
(Senior Writer from St Joseph, MN) article in the NCRegister deals with the role of the Internet in Cathy's (Janice LaDuke) reversion back to the Church a couple of years ago.

Don't pay attention to her post for May 27, though!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Do What You Can - God Understands

Mitchell, once again.

Apropos of the expected Rainbow Sash hubbub on Pentecost Sunday, I was struck by the following from the June/July issue of First Things. In it, Fr. Neuhaus quotes David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University.

Gelernter is probably best known for surviving an attack by the Unibomber (about which he wrote in the excellent Drawing Life), and his marvelous book on the 1939 New York World’s Fair, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair. He’s also a noted writer and critic on culture and society.

In this month’s First Things, Gelernter is writing of the recent decision by the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) of New York to accept gay students for the rabbinate. While the excerpt below refers to Judaism and the rabbinate, I think the logic involved regarding the view of homosexuality is particularly appropriate when considering the question of homosexuality and the Catholic Church, as well as serving as a prime example of how Catholicism grew out of Judaism. (It also serves as a pretty good defense of the all-male priesthood, but that’s a topic for another time.) Gelernter’s words and Fr. Neuhaus’ commentary:

Gelernter, who is writing a book in Jewish theology, does not want to read gays or lesbians (women were admitted to the rabbinate a few years ago) out of Judaism, but he notes that not every Jew is qualified to be a rabbi.”‘Do what you can – God understands.’ That is Judaism’s view – the view of normative, rabbinic, ‘orthodox’ Judaism. But consider the case of a Jew who openly refuses to keep kosher, and loves ham sandwiches. In this respect he is not a good Jew – but he might be a good human being … A rabbi is a teacher and must do his best to show us how a Jew should live. We don’t expect our rabbis to be perfect, but we do expect them to do their best to show the way. A rabbi is like an officer in the Israeli army – he is expected to lead his men into battle and to say, ‘Follow me!’” The openly gay rabbinical candidate, writes Gelernter, is saying, “I have an urge to commit homosexual acts, which I can’t or won’t suppress.” Like a married candidate who says the same about his urge to commit adultery, such a student should be told to “find another line of work.” In the Talmud, writes Gelernter, there are only three sins for which a Jew must be prepared to pay the price of martyrdom rather than commit: idolatry, murder, and illicit sexual relations. In view of the decision of JTS, says Gelernter, “we learn, at last, what it is to live in a world where nothing is sacred.” It is perhaps more accurate to say that we live in a world where, for many Jews and non-Jews, nothing is more sacred than the expression of one’s “authentic self” as defined by one’s chosen identity and desires, including sexual desires. Which, of course, abrogates both the prohibition of illicit sexual relations and of idolatry, in this case the idolatry of the authentic self.

The point, it seems to me, is twofold: 1) it is a reinforcement of the “love the sinner, not the sin” motto that we are all familiar with; and 2) it shows that there are, in fact, things that are to be considered privileges and not rights, and that furthermore there are good reasons why such privileges are not available simply for the asking.

“In this respect he is not a good Jew – but he might be a good human being.” Could we not say that about our brethren who do not follow Catholic teachings? They may be good human beings, all in all – and God will not ignore this. Nonetheless, they are not “good” Catholics in the sense that, by their choice, they do not live by the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is not something that can be ignored, or simply wished away. For teachings, for beliefs, for standards – for truth – to mean anything, there have to be consequences. Life is full of them – the consequences of breaking the law, of eating too much, of original sin. Maybe some of them are fair, some not – but the consequences are real nonetheless.

“We don’t expect our rabbis to be perfect, but we do expect them to do their best to show the way.” Such is the way of the Christian witness, the calling to show others the way to leading a Christian life. This is a profound responsibility, and its greatest potential for impact on others comes from how the Christian life is lived in view of others – in other words, publicly. None of us are perfect, but our best efforts are required.

In showing others the way, we reflect not only on ourselves, but on that which we profess to believe. And therefore the question comes down to this: do we believe the teachings of the Catholic Church or not? And can we truthfully say that our behavior – private as well as public – coincides with, reflects, that belief? Again to quote a familiar saying, if we were accused of being orthodox Catholics, would there exist the evidence to convict us?

And so sometimes the consequences are unhappy ones, and it becomes an unhappy duty to comment on them. It should always be done with charity rather than righteousness – and, yes, even a little sadness. But on the other hand, are we really so arrogant as to suppose God is incapable of understanding us without resort to means of human measurements? As in, "I must be allowed to do x in order to reach true fulfillment, to realize my ultimate potential." Realized in the eyes of others, perhaps, but God surely is capable of deeper understanding than that. "Do what you can - God understands."

We are all called to our vocations to display our gifts, to assume our roles, to do our work, to show others the way. Each of those vocations is unique, all equally borne of dignity from God, as is anything which He creates. And while they are all equally dignified, they are not all for everyone. Sometimes by circumstance – and sometimes by choice.

Can Catholic schools endure?


The Rev. Kevin McDonough recalls that in the 1960s, four other Roman Catholic schools could be seen from the second floor of St. Agnes High in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood.

In those days, the chief of staff for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said, some parishes paid nuns $50 a year to teach. Today, only two of those five St. Paul Catholic schools remain.

In 1965, nearby St. Thomas Academy abandoned its St. Paul campus in search of more space and a new identity in Mendota Heights. The move coincided with the growing number of families of European heritage flocking to the suburbs.

This month, St. Agnes nearly shut its doors until two anonymous donors contributed $2.6 million and the school raised $750,000 more at the last minute. Meanwhile, St. Thomas Academy alumni continue donating millions to the thriving all-boys school, and enrollment remains at capacity.

Urban and suburban Catholic schools in Minnesota and across the country are in similar circumstances as they figure out how to stay afloat. And while suburban Catholic schools tend to do better financially, both face the same pressures of fundraising, paying the salaries of lay staff, upgrading technology and adjusting to diverse student demographics.
...There are 7,498 elementary and secondary Catholic schools in the United States. As parents have more choices with charter, magnet and private schools, only 36 Catholic schools opened and 212 consolidated or closed.

These schools once could rely on nuns and priests, who voluntarily worked for little pay, but now the schools primarily employ lay staff.

The NCEA also reports that in the past decade, the number of students enrolled in Catholic schools in the Midwest dropped 10 percent, from about 251,000 to 230,194. Suburban Catholic schools, however, showed steady enrollment when compared to urban ones.
...Most Catholic schools must make tuition affordable to attract families.

St. Thomas awarded slightly more than $1.5 million in financial aid last year to about 685 boys who attended the school, said Headmaster Tom Mich.

The increasing number of minority children - especially Hispanic immigrants and those coming from strong Roman Catholic backgrounds - is one reason financial aid is important, Ristau said.

Catholic schools remain committed to urban and rural communities, added Father Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese chief operating officer who also leads St. Peter Claver School in St. Paul.

A majority of students attending St. Peter Claver are of color and non-Catholic, McDonough said, and about 80 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

According to McDonough, the parish's income from weekend services totals $350,000 a year, but running the school is a nearly $1 million endeavor.

Church members and donors from around the St. Paul area help pay the costs, McDonough said, because they value Catholic education. . . . Read it all in the Pioneer Press HERE.

Here's a Needed Morale Booster

New York: atheist donates $22 million to Catholic schools

A retired Wall Street financier who describes himself as an atheist, has given more than $22 million to the archdiocese of New York, because he said: "without the Roman Catholic church there would be no Western civilisation".

Thousands of needy New York City school children will now benefit from the highly regarded education offered in Catholic inner city schools thanks to the recording-breaking gift.

There are currently 8,000 places available to any student who wishes to attend a Catholic inner-city school. Mr Wilson's gift will enable 3,000 children to fill those seats this coming September. [...Snip]
© Independent Catholic News 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sioux Falls to Ordain Eight Deacons, Four Priests

This week, Bishop Paul Swain will preside at the first ordinations since becoming bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls last fall.

Today, eight men will be ordained deacons of the church, and on Friday, four will be ordained priests.

Both liturgies will begin at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral and are open to the public.

Today's ordinations include Dr. Ed Anderson and Kevin Doyle, who will be transitional deacons, meaning they are on track to become priests next year.

Both are second-career vocations - Anderson is a doctor, and Doyle is an accountant.

The other six will be permanent deacons, meaning they are not to become priests but rather will serve the local church immediately.

All are married and they come from around eastern South Dakota: John Devlin, Sioux Falls; Tom Bates, Sisseton; Jim Hayes, Mitchell; Steve McLaughlin Sr., Fort Thompson; Joseph Twidwell Jr., Dakota Dunes; and Micheal Wambach, Ipswich.

Those to be ordained priests on Friday are the Rev. Shane Stevens and the Rev. David Garza, both of Sioux Falls; the Rev. Thomas Anderson, Pierre, and the Rev. Kevin Zilverberg, Harrold.

Each completed his studies at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Argus Leader

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Neverborn drops off a Gideon Bible to the Joint's Newest Resident


Protestant English Adventurers Settled in Jamestown VA 400 years ago; Catholics were there before them!

Four hundred years ago this month, English adventurers settled the colony of Jamestown, the first permanent colony in what is now the state of Virginia. The history of Catholicism in Virginia predates Jamestown.

The first Catholic presence in Virignia was the 1526 expedition of Spanish settlers led by Lucas Vasques de Ayllón and accompanied by Dominican friars including Antonio de Montesinos. The enterprise was quickly abandoned and the settlers returned to their point of origin, Santo Domingo.

More than forty years later, Father Juan Segura, with seven other Jesuit missionaries, set out to evangelize the Algonquin Indians in coastal Virginia. They were all killed by the Algonquin in 1571, not far from the future site of Jamestown.

Segura and his companions left little noticeable mark on the land where they spilled their blood. The British colonists claimed the territory of the four rivers (James, York, Potomac, and Rappahannock) for the King of England, and with the Crown’s sovereignty came the Crown’s religion, Anglicanism. Given its proximity to Maryland and its relative tolerance in the early colonial period, Virginia provided haven for Catholics fleeing the former colony when Protestants took control and enacted anti-Catholic measures. The first known permanent Catholic family—Giles Brent and his sisters Margaret and Mary—moved there in 1650 and 1651, respectively, after a bitter contest with Maryland and English authorities over the property rights of their family estate in Maryland. They settled in the Northern Neck and recruited migrants from England to fill their vast property holdings.

After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Virginia, too, became hostile to Catholic residents, and the community remained small and private. Priestly activity was prohibited and the Anglican establishment enforced. In the eighteenth century, Catholics in Virginia depended on the ministrations of a few itinerant priests (including John Carroll) traveling from Maryland. [....Snip] For more on the Catholic history of Virginia, and other places, see

One Special Alternative to Abortion


Teen dances with Dad at special prom

It looked as if Oriette Olund were going to graduate from high school without ever attending prom, just as her father did decades earlier as a shy teenager.

Then the 19-year-old was invited to the Central High School prom — by her father, Bob Olund.

The nontraditional prom couple was first in the grand march, and they danced almost every dance, the father bent to accommodate his daughter in her wheelchair.

“She means the world to me,” said Bob Olund, who owns True Value Hardware in Two Harbors. “She’s my only child, and I love her dearly.”

Oriette Olund was born three months premature weighing only 1 pound, 14 ounces. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and doctors weren’t sure she would survive.

She was so tiny, Bob Olund could hold her in the palm of his hand.

“It was very scary,” Bob Olund recalled. “We thought we were going to lose her a couple of times.”

As she grew up, doctors said Oriette Olund might never smile. On Saturday night, her father gave her reason to smile.

“I heard prom was coming and nobody had asked her,” Bob Olund said, “so I figured it’d be pretty special if I asked her — so I asked, and she accepted.”

Forty years ago, Bob Olund didn’t have the courage to ask a girl to prom.

“It was worth waiting 40 years,” he said.

Saturday was a big day in the Olund household. Late in the afternoon, Bob and Oriette headed to Central, where a room was set aside for Oriette’s mother, Susan Olund, and several aunts to help get the prom date primped, curled, dressed and dusted with glitter.

“I love my daughter more than words can say,” Bob Olund said, “and I’m just happy that she’s able to go to the prom and enjoy it like every other kid. She’s going to be the prettiest girl there.”

Grand march was at 5 p.m. in the Central auditorium, and Oriette’s mother, three aunts and an uncle watched as Oriette, sparkling in beaded blue chiffon, was escorted through the lighted arch by her father.

Later came dinner for two at the Pickwick and the formal dance at the Greysolon Plaza ballroom.

As they danced into the night, other girls took notice of Oriette’s special date.

“I just think that’s really nice that someone would go out of their way to bring their date to the prom and make them feel special and wanted,” said Central student Danielle Yung. “This is one of the moments of high school.”

“I can’t even talk about it without crying really,” said Lauren Hellen. “I just think it’s the sweetest thing that he took his daughter there and I saw them dancing together.”

Before the dance Oriette surprised her father with a special gift, a framed poem that expressed a daughter’s love in words that Oriette isn’t able to say out loud.

But after the evening, she had no trouble forming the words: “I love you, Dad.”

Her date responded: “I love you Oriette; you’re a beautiful girl.” Duluth News Tribune

Stork Cam May 22


22 May 4:09 a.m. (Ray) Pa, preening away, standing, as usual. Dawn coming. Ma is awake, preening a bit but remaining on the eggs. I don’t know when Pa sleeps. Maybe he sleeps during the daytime. But I have never seen him down for more than a few minutes (unless he has egg duty). Pa, standing on the edge of the nest, almost fell off. It took some wing flapping to regain his balance. I suppose if he really fell, he might not be able to get airborne quickly and actually might hurt himself.

He (just 4:25) took off towards the southeast, like yesterday. Ma’s looking around a bit, nibbling at branches and grass nearby, but she remains on the eggs.

5:35 a.m. (Jack) Just checked to see what was up at the nest. Nothing! Mom's evidently asleep, first I've seen that bit of normal behavior, daddy's off somewhere. At 11:35PM in PA I guess it's 5:35AM in Poland, so daddy must be one of those "early birds" out to get a worm, frog, fish, etc.

Mom is really out of it, usually up and cleaning the house and preening [but
nothing like her vain hubby]. No baby yet. Maybe by 7AM my time

11:35 a.m. (Ray) Mom on nesting duties just stood up. Four eggs. Boy you have to learn patience when you attend a nest watch. Ma is up and down all morning. Maybe the eggs are becoming less “comfortable” as they grow larger.

Heavy construction day in the stork neighborhood. Equipment (backhoe or grader?) with a backup beeper has been working hard all morning.

12:30 p.m. (Ray) Chattering greetings indicate Pa’s back; but I can’t get an image, just sound right now.

3:20 p.m. (Jack) Just got connected, ca. 6 tries since ca. 7AM, zooming this AM at 9:20AM - PA time.
Mom [I guess] just sitting on their children to be, facing the camera, lovely shot.
Off to buy milk now [me] back in ca. 20minutes.
Other than the zooming in on where the great excitement is expected, no news

4:24 p.m. (Ray) still can’t get an image. But I get sound. 4:42: rebooted and got my picture back. When we have this vertical closeup, doesn’t it look like there are two eggs that might have been “kicked out of the nest” in the lower right?
Although I have heard that “five” is the maximum for a brook. But maybe there might be an extra one now and then.

4:11 p.m. (Marissa) Hey I got back on! It almost looks like two eggs or rocks in front of her

4:19 p.m. (Jack) I see what you're talking about, maybe? But, I thought their eggs were white and bigger. The "balls" seem to be grey and smaller.
If there was something wrong with an un-hatched egg, i.e. "still birth" the parents would get rid of it, like throw it out?

5:53 p.m. (Jack) It just occurred to me that eggs NEVER grow, it's what's in them that changes from white or relatively clear and yellow goo to a belly-buttonless being. I used the magnifying glass to see those round things we both saw and the one on the right was clearly where a bunch of sticks seemed to overlap, i.e. not a solid round thing, the one on the left however was just what it seemed, a ball like thing.

7:30 p.m. (Debbie) The camera at the Ustron~ nest just zoomed in really close. Momma had just stood up. I think this camera is manned and "they" wanted a
closer look at the eggs. Then the camera tilted up to the trees and
homes across the way! Then it re-adjusted itself to the "target."

It looks to me like these storks have not been turning their eggs over
but just moving them around and this could be a problem. Eggs need to
be turned while incubating. [Ray: I've been wondering if there is a power line tower near the nest where they can mount a camera and a boom microphone?

That's and interesting, and disconcerting, observation about "turning over
the eggs." All I have ever seen is a bit of nudging or maybe placing one on
top of the other three for a bit before having them all on the "floor" so
sitting can resume.

Are you an expert in "egg incubation?"]

8:23 p.m. (Marissa) the changing of the guards and boy whoever is on the nest now is really panting….haven't seen that. [Ray: I saw something like that earlier this morning; as if Ma was going to lay another egg or something]

10:00 p.m. (Debbie) I think one of the adults left the nest and the other is standing.
Looks like the eggs are gone! If I am right, this is not good.

10:17 p.m. (Debbie) I take back that alert! Sorry if anyone panicked. Dad made a better
door than a window. Mom is there and sitting; presumably on the eggs.

11:59 p.m. (Ray) I was occupied with car repairs, and visiting some friends for much of the day today and just returned home. The night view is very “foggy” and not nearly as bright as earlier “infra-red” or “night vision” images.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Truth: New Book Shows That Pope Pius XII Was Not Silent!

The black legend about Pope Pius XII is so widespread that many consider it to be more true than the actual historical facts, says papal biographer Andrea Tornielli.

Tornielli's latest book, "Pio XII, Un Uomo Sul Trono di Pietro" (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter)," hit the bookshelves in Italy today. Tornielli is a noted Vatican journalist with the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale.

Speaking with ZENIT, Tornielli denounced "the arbitrary diminishment of the figure of Pius XII."

That Pope has been "crushed under criticisms about the Holocaust and his 'silence,'" Tornielli said.

The 661-page book is a biography of the Roman-born Pope, and is based on never before seen documentation from the private archives of the Pacelli family, and eyewitness accounts recorded in the acts of his beatification cause.

Contrary to the Pius XII presented by his opponents as the "Pope of silence," a different Pius XII emerges from the pages of Tornielli's book.

"One of the major sources of my work," Tornielli explained, "was the letters Pacelli wrote to his family, in particular to his brother Francesco. While he was the nuncio in Germany, Pacelli collaborated with Pope Pius XI to create the Lateran Pacts.

"From these never before seen papers we can see Pius XII's concern about the birth of Nazism and about its strong anti-Christian nationalism."

"But other aspects also emerge -- much more personal ones -- like his desire not to become a cardinal so he could dedicate himself fully to pastoral ministry," he continued. "Here we see that Pacelli, as nuncio, cardinal and then Pope, was always a priest at heart, a true priest."

"The campaign against Pius XII was started in the Soviet Union and was then sustained in Catholic environments," Tornielli concluded. "Slowly the truth is emerging about the accusations of silence." Zenit

"Jesus of Nazareth"- Ratzinger; Times of London review

Yet there is a dogged impressiveness about the Pope’s exposition of scene after scene from the Gospel, a reading that finds it more logical to worship the Christ of Faith in the Gospels than to invent the vestiges of some Jewish prophet who had his words distorted by some later theological genius. Jesus was the genius. That is Ratzinger’s message, and the luminous intelligence of the exegesis will prompt many to respond with an Alleluia. Wordy as the old German can be, this reader at least felt that he had repeatedly identified what was haunting, indeed frightening about the Gospels. No amount of reasonable liberal “explanation” can evade the voice that comes through them – calling the reader not to a set of propositions, nor to a theory, but to a Person, who is at one with God. Times of London

The "Modern Catholic" wants to follow his conscience; Pope Benedict has some thoughts about that.

Your basic modern dissident is pretty enamored of freedom of thought and speech and, as I can testify from my own experience, uses "conscience" to monitor what is read and heard and compare it with existing knowledge and beliefs for "acceptibility." Not surprisingly Pope Benedict has some thoughts on that.

[....Snip] Due to their size and subject matter, neither of the books under review would likely have been published had the papal conclave chosen a different pope. In the case of On Conscience (Ignatius, $14.95, 82 pages), that would have been a great shame. The small volume collects two talks the CDF head delivered to American bishops at the National Catholic Bioethics center in 1984 and 1991.

In both speeches, he tried to address an error that he perceived in how we think about conscience. The existing model, he argued, was to view conscience as "the bulwark of freedom in contrast to the encroachments of authority on existence." One's government/church/boy scout group may order you to behave one way, but if your conscience tells you to do differently, it is considered more noble to follow your conscience. "Ich kann nicht anders."

Cardinal Ratzinger told the bishops about a faculty discussion from when he was a university professor in Germany. The dispute was over "the justifying power of the erroneous conscience." One professor created a reductio ad absurdum using Nazi true believers. If we should follow our conscience above all else, he said, then we "should seek them in heaven, since they carried out all their atrocities with fanatic conviction and complete certainty of conscience."

The example seemed straightforward enough for most of the profs, but the absurdity was lost on one or two observers. In fact, one colleague piped up "with utmost assurance that, of course, this was indeed the case." Hitler went to heaven.

"Since that conversation," Cardinal Ratzinger explained, "I knew with complete certainty that . . . a concept of conscience that leads to such results must be false. Firm, subjective conviction and the lack of doubts and scruples that follow from it do not justify man."

He went looking for a different conception of conscience -- one that didn't pit "morality of conscience" against "morality of authority." Finally, he decided that conscience has to work like language, from both within and without.
One has the innate ability to speak, but it has to be learned by observation, imitation and interaction with others. So it is with conscience: If one thinks of it as only an interior, almost occult, guide to life, he is likely to go badly wrong.
As part of his first lecture, Cardinal Ratzinger made use of the insight of psychologist Albert Gorres that "the capacity to recognize guilt, belongs essentially to the spiritual make-up of man. This feeling of guilt disturbs the false calm of conscience and could be called conscience's complaint against my self-satisfied existence."

That is, if you feel bad about something, maybe it's because you did something bad.

Chalk it up to sheer contrariness if you like, but this reviewer found it refreshing to read a future pope expounding on the benefits of guilt. [....Snip] Washington Times

Me too!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stork Cam Log May 21

May 21 00:10 a.m. (Ray) Midnight. Pa is standing preening himself a bit and then all of a sudden goes over and starts picking at Ma. Preening and picking a few bugs, I would guess. All of a sudden Ma stands up, looks down at the four eggs (still) stirs them a bit, then plunks right down on them again. This is a brief log of storks at a site in Germany south of Berlin in 2006. Not for the sensitive or those who tend to fall in love with “baby animals.”

4:06 a.m. (Ray) Pa’s still standing up and preening. Dawn coming.

4:30 a.m. (Ray) Pa messed around preening for a while and then, almost stepping on Ma in the process, turned around and then took off, without so much as a chattering “C U L8R”, took off in a southeasterly direction. First time I have seen that route taken. Ma looked up, and then snuggled back down.

Interesting Facts

Why don't storks fly over the sea?

It is generally known that on their way to wintering sites storks fly over Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Why don’t they take a shortcut and fly over the Mediterranean, straight to the Nile? Even small birds, like flycatchers and garden warblers, do not fly round the sea, but cover great distances flying over water for several hours.

Stork’s wings are built in a way, which allows them to take advantage of the streams of upward moving air. They are long and, compared to other birds, very wide – similar to these of vultures, condors, pelicans and the closest relatives of storks. Large wings of a stork “catch” the up going streams of air. Storks travel like gliders, taking advantage of the air movement. However, the resistance caused by such large wings makes it impossible to flap them (Try to flap a glide!) Gliding with wings spread wide means "flying for free", while every flap of a wing costs a lot of energy.

Before noon, especially on sunny days, the surface of the earth warms up. Warm earth causes the air to warm up and warm air moves upwards. If a stork finds such a stream of hot air, it can travel for hours without a single flap of wings.

It is easy to find warm air over the desert territories of Asia Minor and the Middle East. So, even if the journey is longer, it is energy saving. Meanwhile, there are mainly horizontal winds over the seas, so storks traveling over water would be forced to flap their wings a lot. They are not adjusted too such a way of flying. This is why storks fly over the land – it takes longer but is energy-saving and save.

10:17 a.m. (Ray) Really tight color shot of ? nesting. Good indication that something has happened. Nope! I had no sooner typed that than ? stood up, showing four eggs. A bit of shuffling the eggs around and back in “the position.”

1:25 p.m. (Ray) Still four eggs. With the tight camera shot I can’t tell who’s who today, but there was just a beautiful switch of duties. The greeting chatter alerts me when somebody returns. I quickly activated the picture. All I could see was the four eggs and two sets of stork legs. After a few seconds, one stepped away from the eggs and the other stepped up to them. It couldn’t have taken more than fifteen seconds.

3:45 p.m. (Ray) There’s a dark mark on one of the eggs. Could it be the start of a hole? I think it’s Ma, and she’s been up and down all morning. Off to my volunteer gig.

4:00 p.m. (Jack) They moved the camera or Zoomed [probably] in!
Most exciting considering the anticipation. Aside; I think it must be hot laying in the sun like that, stork's mouth is cracked open all the time.

10:30 p.m. (Jack) Both our Polish feathered friends are now in the nest, it's dark there and I can't tell which is which anyway. Doubt any babies born yet ??

Blogging is becoming Narcissistic; Adoro has tagged me with another Self Referential Meme

Here are the rules according to whomever likes to make up rules: • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight things about me that you really don't need to know

1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

When I started, in March of 2006, I had several ideas as to what I wanted to do with a blog, but the strongest perhaps was to create a forum for the Catholic Church in Minnesota and surrounding area where people could seek and share information to assist them in their individual spiritual journeys. To this end, Stella Borealis has been most effective in the blog roll list of Catholic blogs, organizations and events. Almost all of them listed in the sidebar are based in our area.

Finding the websites was easy compared to finding links to events, particularly educational events. That takes a tremendous amount of time surfing those most active sites and the parishes and dioceses for scheduled events. That has been very weak in terms of its completeness and effectiveness. But I still try.

I find that I don't do as much "personal posting" as do some on their blogs, but you will find that if they push the right buttons, you will find me commenting on many of the most popular of our local blogs. I have an opinion on almost everything.

2. Are you a spiritual person?

I love that question. And I love the answer most often given on singles websites when people are asked to describe themselves. The answer most often given seems to be "Spiritual, but not religious." I really wonder what that means. My answer would be "Spiritual AND Religious, but not nearly as much as I should be."

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?

A computer with a cable modem, a Blogger account and electric power. (Is that four)?

4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Birthday parties. I was the oldest of five children and we always made a big deal out of birthday's, even my Dad's which occurred on the day after Christmas. As hard is it is for a child to buy a present for a parent, can you imagine how hard it would be having to buy two for your Dad (or Mom)? And Dad, a mailman, invariably in the style of Tiny Tim, at every such event would proclaim "I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight?"

5. Are these your first (tagging) memes?

Not by a long shot. I'm going to start posting as "Anonymous."

6. Eight random facts about me

a. I won a city-wide Catechism Contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in Duluth when I was about 12. To me it seemed like everybody got tougher questions from the back of the Baltimore Catechism than I did. But I happened to know who the First Martyr was, something nobody had studied; but St Stephen's feast day is my Dad's birthday!

b. I went to the U of MN on an Evans Scholarship sponsored by the Western Golf Association for having been a caddie. The scholarship is fairly easy to get and far and away the easiest to keep, a C average, and it paid room and tuition and you live with a lot of great guys (and now, gals, I guess). It is still given out at country clubs that belong to the Western Golf Association. There aren't that many caddies these days, so have your kids check it out.

c. The Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor was my first boss in my first "adult job", as a busboy during lunch in the cafeteria in the basement of Coffman Union at the U of MN. Garrison was a radio nut, even back then, volunteering for WMMR, the dormitory radio station. I would have liked to do that, but didn't bother to talk to him to see if there would have been an opportunity for me there.

d. The U.S. Army trained me to be a Farsi/Persian linguist and about two-thirds of the way through the course in the hardship base of Monterey, CA, they decided to retrain me as a radio intelligence analyst. Then they sent me to Germany where I learned to ski and how to drink beer. If we declare war on Iran, I suppose they could still call me up.

e. During my "vacation" from Catholicism between 1960 and 1981, I never thought that the Church was wrong, but only that it didn't seem to have all the answers for me. Two famous theologians whose seminars I attended were Hans Kung (at St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Mpls about 1975) and Dominican fruitcake, er priest, Matthew Fox, at UST maybe about 1980. Fox has long ceased to be an active priest.

f. I was employed on the U.S. Senate campaign of Mpls Representative and early pro-choice hero, Donald Fraser, in 1978. We got beaten badly in that year's Minnesota Massacre. I was a very timid pro-lifer in those days.

g. I did a lot of dabbling in New Age activities before and after my reversion. In 1981 I participated in the controversial "est Training" founded by Werner Erhard. Two weekends, 18-20 hours each day, verbally glued to one's chair. I did it because they were a big customer of the company for which I worked and it seemed "interesting" and the company paid the $400 fee. I didn't get out of "est" what others got. I got my faith back. Within a month I had attended a retreat at the Basilica of St Mary and went to confession for the first time in 21 years. While I was back, it probably took another ten or fifteen years to become what might be described as "possibly orthodox" in my practices. I don't regret a minute of those two weekends.

h. I've been collecting books for thirty or more years. Much of my collection involves Minnesota history, and the history of labor, socialism and radical movements in the Upper Midwest. Some of my better books I have already sold.

I don't think that I know eight people who might want to participate in this "meme." Rather than embarrass them publicly, I'll send a copy of this post to them and ask them if they want to play.

"Saint Bombing" at Oregon State U!



This university [Oregon State] has a strong liberal presence. You might remember that The Insurgent student newspaper at the U of O (in Eugene, 40 minutes away) printed pornographic drawing of Jesus Christ about a year ago. This was lauded by some here at OSU. The university has a very strong gay presence (with pride week, featuring "lube olympics" and other vile events). Despite the secularism and liberalism, the Catholic students here are pretty cool.

Well, some friends of mine got the idea to "Saint bomb" campus. Using chalk, hundreds of Catholic Saint names were written all over campus last week. This was done during perhaps the busiest week of spring term. Many events took place this week on the Quad. The Genocide Awareness Project came to the quad, drawing a large number of people. The "Snow in the Quad" (put on by the Protestant apparel designer CIVIL) came to set up the next day. The Relay for Life event happened at night on the quad, which meant hundreds of students were walking by Saint names nonstop all night long. We also used chalk to advertise Mass times. Lots of exposure for the Church!

Here are two videos documenting this event:

The Newman Center had a booth set up inside the Memorial Union building with a "Find your Saint" computer set up. Some non-Catholics came by to find their Saints. Other Catholics who haven't been to Church for a while saw their confirmation Saint name on the ground. Other Catholics got a lot of joy to see the names and to see Christ's presence in a tangible form on campus. And some others were annoyed at the audacity of these students.

We are trying to get more exposure to this project, so if you'd like to link to this video, please do! We'd like to see others get this idea, and maybe do it at their campus, to remind wayward Catholics of their roots and to show a strong presence of Faith! The response we've gotten from people around the community has been amazing, and the priests loved it!

One more thing to note... we got permission from the Memorial Union (the student union on campus) as well as the Church before doing this. Tip O' The Hat to Amy at Open Book

Well, kids, there are a lot of sidewalks at the U of MN and a lot of other secular and dissident colleges around here. Ask for "Railroad Chalk" when you contact your office supply store! It comes in yellow and white only. 1.5" thick and much cheaper than artists' chalk.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Can't get Stork Nest Photos; can anybody help?

Normally I can use my "Screen Shot" utility to capture images on my computer monitor. But I can't make that hapen with the images I get off of the "Stork Cam" in Poland. Anybody have any ideas?

Stork Cam Log May 17-20


Smithsonian Institution on Storks

Wikipedia on Storks

17 May 6:15 a.m. (Ray) (Tower view, b&w) Momma stood up. Still four eggs there. Deb from Polish Genius must have been talking about another nest. Momma “stirred” the four eggs a bit with her beak, and then sat back down. No rain today, very windy though.

1:30 p.m. (Ray) (Low view, color) Momma resting on nest. Nice day

2:40 p.m. (Ray) Papa’s back, to the sound of the “chattering.” Cleaning himself up again. Maybe he has a job in a garbage dump. Of course, maybe he’s got a girl friend and maybe he just comes home to clean up.

2:50 p.m. – (Ray) Papa’s gone again. Unless, of course, he’s doing nest duty now. I’ll have to figure out a quick way of identifying between the two of them.

8:39 p.m. (Jack) They* are both asleep.

18 May 12:01 a.m. (Ray) Papa is up, preening, and nibbling and even preened the sound asleep Momma for a bit. Quite dark (but they are illuminated somehow) and no rain.

2:00 p.m. (Debbie) I mentioned to my husband how the image goes to B&W sometimes and he thinks that's the server (?) doing it to save bandwidth because there are so many people watching the storks. I don't know.

2:45 p.m. (Debbie) The storks take turns sitting on the eggs. Maybe you've missed the changing of the guard. If you watch closely, and maybe for a few minutes, when one flies into the nest he/she eventually sits on the eggs while the other parent lies off for food. Mom and Dad both sit on the eggs, not just Mom.

5:10 p.m. (Ray) Shadows seem to indicate that the camera is aimed towards the north.

6:35 p.m. (Ray) Mom (?) stood up and nudged the four eggs still in nest; then soon after, a change to a really tight closeup shot shot of “Mom’s” head

7:52 p.m. (Ray) Another closeup of Mom. I bet that the “experts” are expecting the hatch to happen imminently so they have repositioned the camera or put a new lens on it. That’s probably why there was the “black time” this morning when they made the lens change.

9:49 p.m. (Ray) Both home, Mom abed, Pa standing on one leg again, on the alert for something or another. I don’t think I have ever seen both of them sitting down at the same time.

May 19, approx. 1:30 a.m., Debbie Greenlee wrote:

As of yesterday two of the 5 eggs had hatched in this nest located in Przygodzice, near Ostro~w Wielkopolski, a little farther north than where the other camera is located (Katowice) :
This camera is more like the web cams we're used to. The picture updates every few seconds and there's no sound. However, at about 11:00 p.m. stork time the parents changed positions and I didn't see any eggs or babies. It could just be that the camera is using infrared- or is it?

May 19 5:45 a.m. (Ray) Mom? in nest, kinda sitting up; Pa out foraging or “straying.” Nice day.

7:10 a.m. (Ray) Mom? still lying in nest; nipping at nest, eating a bit from bugs around her? Then she stood up and started using her beak to turn over the soil around the “still” four eggs. Eating a bit and shuffling the eggs a bit for a couple of minutes. I wonder if they eat “twigs” as roughage to help digest the frogs, snakes, etc. that apparently is their normal diet?

8:27 a.m. (Ray) I think Dad, who has more black on the tail feathers, is now perching on the eggs.

12:20 p.m. (Ray) I could see four eggs still when Mom? stood up to take a dump. Sunny Day. Hear the sound of someone hammering in the background. Not now, but on other occasions, it sounds like construction equipment is operating nearby.

When you can see the tower in the background, note that this nest is fairly high up on some large, but not very high, hill. You can see a wide valley/plain in the background.

If it is “Ustron”, I see on a link on the main page that it is in Silesia!

Ustroń is a health resort town in southern Poland. It is situated in the Silesian Voivodeship (since 1999), having previously been in Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship (1975-1998). It is also the home of the Museum of Metallurgy. The Równica and Czantoria mountains are nearby and hikable from the city center.

Stork University!, Poland: (That’s it!)

Four Polish and a whole slug of German, Austrian & ? Stork Cams:

Chyby This is the one with the chat ability, but the image still doesn’t work.

Tarnowskie Gory

This is also a good one; no chat, though.

Northwest a bit of Katowice!


12:55 p.m. (Ray) Can hear people talking, laughing, clapping!!!!! Probably a Stork Watching Group???

May 19 , 2007 (Debbie)

The stork parents in Przygodice now have 3 babies.

If you go to this page: and click on the words under the film (look for TV) it brings up a
separate page with the same stork "movie". Near the bottom right corner are 3 little symbols. Click on the one in the middle (it's an arrow pointing to the top right of the screen). The film will enlarge but be fuzzy. To get rid of the big picture hit ESCAPE on your keyboard.

May 19, 2007 5:35 p.m stork time (Debbie)

Lots of sirens! Must be a big accident or fire. I think Ustron~ in old woj. Bielsko-Bial~a in southern Poland is a good sized town because little villages don't have that kind of emergency "equipment." It's also a gmina which means it would be a little larger than most villages anyway.

(Ray) I think I saw someplace that its population is 15,000 or so. Big Metallurgy museum nearby. Must be a mining area.

Stork not phased by the noise. Pretty windy again. I hope some eggs hatch. If you listen carefully you can tell it's a Saturday because of the laughter of children. I also heard several gun shots? If they had screen doors in Poland I'd say it could have been someone slamming a screen door really hard. Tomorrow morning (in Poland) you will here church bells.

Here is a link to a map which shows the location of Ustron~ :

Ustron Stork Nest 80 km (50 miles) south more or less from Katowice

Maybe 100 km (66 miles) sw from Krakow, probably 80km from Wadowice.

On the Czech border (12 km) and Slovak border 80 km or so.

once you get in real close. Here are the coordinates: N = 49°43'10'' = 49,71944° = 205801 m

E = 18°49'07,8'' = 18,81884° = 486946 m

6:10 p.m stork time. Dad came home and there was quite a discussion between mom and dad! Still only four eggs. Mom (?) flew off. I agree with you Ray. I think dad has more black feathers than mom.

6:35 p.m. (Jack) Sitting down, facing East cleaning up the house.

9:00 p.m. (Ray) Ma & Pa exchange sitting duties; getting dark (I just got back after 7 hours of things to do; I was not sleeping, Jack!)

9:10 p.m. (Ray) How come Pa loves to stand on one leg while he preens and readies himself for his extra-marital excursions?

May 20 1:00 a.m. (Jack) Changing of the guard observed, one or the other is now over the eggs they seem to be very fond of.

3:23 a.m. (Ray) Yeah, they seem to be aware that something is going to happen soon. This is getting exciting.
How do you suppose they sleep standing up? On one leg often? A few hours ago I noticed that they were both sitting down, very romantic-like. It’s getting near dawn.

3:50 a.m. (Ray) The Old Man is up preening still. Dawn is seen in the background. Let this be the Day!

4:45 a.m. (Ray) Screen switched to closeup in color

4:55 a.m. (Ray) Still four eggs! Mom stood up to stir them around a bit. Maybe it’s like “plumping up a pillow when you are trying to sleep.” I suppose trying to sleep on top of four eggs, not wanting to break them, and I suppose they move a bit, having living chicks inside ever and ever getting close to hatching, is somewhat uncomfortable. Whatever, she’s back down now. To bed for me.

1:00 p.m. (Ray) Still four eggs; another beautiful day. Lots of noise in the background, like construction equipment; but I can’t believe that they would work on Sunday! Ah HAAAAA. It’s not construction equipment, it’s a guy down below the nest pushing a hand power mower; I guess that’s OK on Sundays. I wonder if they had those under the “Commies?” I missed the Mass Bells; I may have to remember to be up at 11:00 or so on Sunday morning.

Pa’s back. Little chattering of “hellos.” Ma stands up, and 30 seconds later, Pa plunks himself down for the afternoon nesting duties.

Ma does a little “grooming” (Do you suppose she has a boyfriend?), running a beak through her feathers, stands on the edge of the nest, and then without even so much as a “See you later” chattering of bills, off she heads towards the north. That must be the location of “water.” Then a minute or so later, at 1:15 p.m., Pa chatters, “Hey, where’d she go?” Then a bit of dog barking as if someone walked by with their dog on a leash and the nest’s protector warned him off. I saw a big white dog one day running lose beneath the nest.

Hey, here’s a great German site to watch while we’re waiting for the hatch in Poland. If you can read German, this link has a live “chat” link so you can eavesdrop on the questions and observations of other viewers. You probably can register and comment yourself, too.

German Stork Log (in English): They haven’t been keeping it up since early May. But there are some very interesting comments if you want to learn more about storks.

4:45 p.m. (Ray) pa? Stands up and shuffles the four eggs around a bit, maybe verifying that there still are four live embryos in them. If one had died, we might see that egg removed from the nest. Just guessing here