Friday, August 31, 2007

A Catholic Church Scandal That Isn't

Father Andrew Greeley doesn't often get quoted in these pages, but he hit it on the nail head today:

Now, as the poor battered Catholic Church tries to recover from a bushel basket of scandals, it must cope with the Mother Teresa scandal. Someone has found the poor woman's private letters in which she confessed how weak her faith and love seemed. Spread around the world by Time magazine, the letters are taken as evidence that she was not the saint we all thought she was. On ABC Evening News on Friday night, an itinerant atheist offered the opinion that she was a hypocrite.

Is there no way that journalists reporting on the Catholic Church can treat it like it is something about which a little more is known than primitive tribes in the Brazilian rain forests or the impenetrable jungles of New Guinea?

Don't the respectable news agencies, the major TV outlets and the great if fading print media have a list of reliable Catholic experts who can explain what goes on among us?

A few years ago, a nasty editorial in what Jimmy Breslin calls the New York Times Newspaper compared the Jewish feast of Passover favorably with the Christian feast of Easter. Didn't the good gray Times have a fact-checker available who could have warned that they are the same feast and that in many languages have the same name?

Was there no one in the deep sub-basements of ABC who knew about the Dark Night of the Soul -- an experience in which someone on the road to sanctity feels abandoned by God and has to cling to faith and vocation by sheer stubborn faith? Could not someone at a local chancery call ABC and say, hey, you idiots, that feeling of abandonment is one more proof that she was a saint?

Catholics know that doubt and fear are part of the human condition, and absolute certainty is rarely if ever granted, and merits skepticism if it's offered. St. Teresa of Avila experienced the Dark Night; Juan de la Cruz did, too, and wrote one of the greatest of poems in human literature about it ("Once in the Dark of Night"). St. Therese of Lisieux lived through it in the last years of her brief life. Jesus' Agony in the Garden was quite literally a Dark Night. So was his cry, ''Why have you forsaken me?''

When I'm asked if I experience doubts, I usually answer, ''No more than 20, but that's before breakfast.''

I suspect that some Catholic source tried to explain these matters to the ABC reporter, but the reporter's paradigm for all things Catholic is scandal and had been given that paradigm by his news editor, who already had the lead for the story in mind. How could the clip have begun with ''Catholic experts on sanctity said today that the revelation of the secret letters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta were simply one more proof that she indeed was a saint and a very great saint at that.''

No, it was a much better ''grabber'' to summon up an atheist to proclaim that the soon-to-be saint was a hypocrite. Like I say, a medicine man with poisoned arrows in the rain forest would get a better break. He would be someone novel.

Catholic nuns are interesting only when they become cops or bricklayers or baggage handlers at the airports or other weird jobs. In part it is the fault of the church leadership, which avoids transparency like it was the bubonic plague, and has been known on some occasions to short-circuit the canonization process. And, anyway, how do you explain to a religiously illiterate, secularist reporter about the Dark Night? Chicago SunTimes

11 Men Entering St. John Vianney College Seminary Fall 2007:

Jack Haben--St. Pius X, White Bear Lake
Daniel Hallman--Church of St. Joseph, West St. Paul
Elliot Huss--Epiphany, Coon Rapids
Matthew Kuettel--Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, St. Paul
Matthew Prokop--Church of St. Paul, Ham Lake
Timothy Rasmussen--Church of St. Michael, Stillwater
Andrew Rice--St. Vincent de Paul, Brooklyn Park
Aaron Schroerers--Our Lady of the Prairie, Belle Plaine
William Slattery--Sacred Heart, Robbinsdale
Brandon Theisen--Epiphany, Coon Rapids
Joseph Turner--St. Agnes, St. Paul

Please remember all of our seminarians in your prayers and continue to pray for vocations!!!

Letters to the Editor-Catholic Spirit

Cathy Here.

The Catholic Spirit printed my response to Father John Mitchell's opinion column of August 16th in today's issue of the paper. It is not online. Here is what I said. I took no pleasure in writing this letter. Contradicting a priest does not make me happy, but I felt that something needed to be said. I prayed on it for five days before I sent this letter to the editors.

I read with concern Father John Mitchell's assertions in the August 16th issue.

Summorum Pontificum does not really offer anything new to anyone who paid attention to Pope John Paul II's Ecclesia Dei 20-years ago or what the documents of the Second Vatican Council actually said.

I believe a large reason for the Holy Father's issuance of this motu proprio was in response to the fact that the prior, applicable, church documents are not being appropriately implemented, if at all. However, rather then "turning the clock back" Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum gives us, the Faithful, an extraordinary form of the Mass that may be new to some while still leaving intact the more familiar ordinary form.

I think the fact that we have another valid form for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should be an occasion for rejoicing, not, fear and anger.

The Mass, in either form, is NOT the priest's nor the people's. It never has been; it never will be. It's God's.

Janice LaDuke
St. Andrew
St. Paul, MN

Oh, and my buddy Ray gets in on the action too!

Father John Mitchell in his Catholic Spirit "My Turn" article of Aug. 16, is "very sad and very angry". In his opinion, "the Tridentine Mass is a huge step in the wrong direction for our beautiful church".

I would bet that the result of the decision by Pope Benedict to loosen the restrictions on the offering of the “Tridentine Mass” (more properly, it should be called the 1962 Latin Mass of Pope John XXIII) will be that six or so parishes might offer that Mass occasionally.

Why is Father Mitchell so angry about that? Is he being required to say or go to those Masses? No. Is he angry about the far more than six parishes in this Archdiocese who make a travesty of the Novus Ordo Mass of the Second Vatican Council by their improvisations and omissions? I don’t know.

Is he angry about the Minneapolis pastor who allows his parishioners to personally intinct the Sacred Host into the Precious Blood in direct contravention to Canon Law?

What is there about church progressives that drives them to demand that only their view be permitted?

I respect and love our priests. But I really wonder about priests who won’t let me worship in a way that others feel will bring them closer to their God. And by the way, I’m not a real fan of the Mass in Latin. I might go occasionally, but not as a general rule.

Ray Marshall
Basilica of St. Mary
Minneapolis, MN

There is also a letter saying the Latin Mass does not send the church backward by Mr. Timothy Kay of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul.

Cross Posted to Recovering Dissident Catholic

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I think nitroglycerine is clear.

Even holy water from the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes can’t get by airport security screening passengers for suspicious liquids.

A passenger on a new Vatican-backed charter airline had to hand over a container of water collected at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral to security officials at the airport in southern France on Monday before boarding a return flight to Rome, officials for Mistral Air said. They identified the passenger as Italian television personality Paola Saluzzi.

Airport officials barred other pilgrims on the Mistral Air flight from taking holy water from the shrine back to Rome, the Italian news agency Apcom reported. The pilgrims protested that they had waited in long lines to fill up their bottles with holy water from the grotto. [...Snip] MSNBC

Thank goodness that Homeland Security Units are in the Vatican also.

St. Paul Seminary to Establish Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute

I heard this on Relevant Radio on my way to work this morning. Jeff Cavins is going to be Interim Director!!!

The St. Paul Seminary will assist the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in developing nondegree programs to help adults grow in their Catholic faith.

The new Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, to be established in fall 2008, will offer educational programs for lay people seeking to learn more about their faith and for religious educators such as faith formation directors, catechists, Catholic school teachers, youth ministry leaders, deacons and priests.

An advisory group of archdiocesan, seminary and University of St. Thomas faculty and staff are developing the institute's core curriculum based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is expected to consist of four modules based on the catechism's four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the commandments), and the prayer of the believer (the Lord's Prayer). In addition, the institute will offer one-day seminars that will focus on putting the Catholic faith into practice.

Faculty for the institute will be sought from among practicing Catholics with master's degrees or the equivalent. Institute programs will be conducted at the seminary and at other locations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Students will be granted certificates by the archdiocese for completion of institute coursework.

Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the seminary, called the institute "a practical and effective means of formation and preparation to be authentic heralds of the Word."

Jeff Cavins , who directs the John Paul II Center, a nonprofit Catholic faith-formation organization based at the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, has been appointed interim director of the new institute. Cavins is a nationally known Catholic speaker, author and broadcaster. A graduate of Antioch University in Ohio, Cavins was a Protestant minister for 12 years before returning to the Catholic Church. He has an M.A. in theology with catechetical certification from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He also is a graduate of Brown Institute in Minneapolis.

"Many Catholics ask for ways to deepen their faith, and I'm excited about this initiative," Cavins said. "Archbishop Flynn has always expressed his desire, so simply, to make Jesus known and loved, and this institute will do just that."

For further information on the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, contact Cavins, (763) 234-5314.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

September-October Parish Festivals

Fall Festival at St. Bonaventure, Bloomington — Sept. 7 to 8:
Chicken dinner served from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. Continues at 10 a.m. Saturday with a parade. Games, raffle, live music, classic car show and more until 6:30 p.m. Mass at 7:15 p.m. Located at 901 E. 90th St. for information, call (952) 854-4733.

Fun Fest at Sacred Heart, Robbinsdale — Sept. 7 to 9: Texas hold’em tournament with food and beverages from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday. Mass at 4 p.m. Saturday followed by roast beef sandwich dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday featuring a Polka dance and music by The Dweebs, games, silent auction and more. Family fun day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday featuring music by The Moonlight Serenaders, chicken dinner, raffle and more. Located at 4087 W. Broadway. for information, call (763) 537-4561.

Festival at St. Mary of the Lake, White Bear Lake — Sept. 8 to 9: Outdoor Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday at 4690 Bald Eagle Ave. followed by spaghetti dinner, silent auction, live music and more. Jazz Mass at 11 a.m. Sunday followed by a turkey dinner, bingo, games and more. event ends at 4 p.m. for information, call (651) 429-7771.

Holy Family Maronite Catholic Church hosts its annual Lebanese Fall Festival at Joseph’s Grill, St. Paul — Sept. 9: Runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 122 Wabasha St. featuring ethnic foods from kabobs to baklava, games, auction and raffle. A bingo night is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 at 126 S. Wabasha St. (between Joseph’s Grill and Subway). for information, call (651) 291-1116.

Fall Festival at Our Lady of the Prairie, Belle Plaine — Sept. 9: Polka Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday followed by a chicken and ham dinner served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 215 N. Chestnut St. Festival features wood auction, country store, music, games, raffle and more. for information, call (952) 873-2323.

38th annual Wild Rice and Chicken Dinner Festival at St. Mary, Stillwater —Sept. 9: Dinner served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Games, silent auction, bingo and more will be offered. Located at 423 S. 5th St. for information, call (651) 439-1270.

CountryFest 2007 at St. Boniface, St. Bonifacius — Sept. 10: Roast pork and sauerkraut dinner served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by live music, silent auction, children’s’ games and more until 4 p.m. Located at 4025 Main St. for information, call (952) 446-1054.

Festival at St. Michael, St. Michael — Sept. 8 to 9: Polka Mass at 4:30 p.m. at historic church, 22 Main St. N. Sausage and sauerkraut dinner will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday followed by live music. Festival begins at 10 a.m. Sunday. A shuttle service will be offered from the new church, 11300 Frankfort Parkway, N.E.. Festival features food, bingo, games, car and cash raffle and more. Chicken dinner served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. for information, call (763) 497-2745.

“Dancin’ in the Streets” Fallfest & Booya at St. John the Baptist, New Brighton— Sept. 14 to 16: Festival begins with a “Shamrocks and Thistles” social from 5:30 p.m. to midnight Friday. Cost $35. Continues Saturday with Polka Mass at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. followed by a family street dance featuring The Lost Faculties Band from 6 to 10 p.m. Continues Sunday with Booya being served beginning at 11 a. m. along with games, silent auction, live music and more. Located at 835 2nd Ave. N. for information, call (651) 633-8333.

40th annual Fall Carnival at St. Timothy, Blaine — Sept. 14 to 16: Located at 707 89th Ave. N. for information, call (763) 784-1329.

Annual Fall Festival at St. Peter, Forest Lake — Sept. 14 to 16: 7 p.m. Friday with the Killer Hayseeds Tent Party at 1250 S. Shore Drive. Continues from 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with inflatable rides, talent show, wine and beer tasting event, turkey and pork dinners and more. For information, call (651)982-2200.

Applefest at St. Anne, Le Sueur — Sept. 15 to 16: Outdoor Mass at 5:15 p.m. Saturday followed by a hog roast and cards. Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday, a flea market, granny’s kitchen, country store and greenhouse will be offered. During the afternoons, concessions, silent auction, apples sales, bingo and more will be offered. A grilled chicken dinner will be served from at 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Kids games also will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Located at 511 N. 4th St. for information, call (507) 665-2047.

18th annual fall festival at St. Pius V, Cannon Falls — Sept. 15 to 16: A free outdoor concert featuring Steady Reign, formerly known as The McDonoughs, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be sold. Polka Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday followed by a roast beef dinner, live Polka music, silent and live auction, balloon artist, bingo, kids games and more. Located at 410 Colville St. W. for information, call (507) 263-2578.

Fall Festival at St. John the Baptist, Jordan — Sept. 16: Mass at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sunday at 313 E. 2nd St. Festival begins at 11 a.m. with home style chicken and ham dinner served until 2 p.m. Continuing from 3 p.m. until closing will be a “Fun Land for Kids,”quilt auction, games, bingo, raffles and more. for information, call (952) 492-2640.

Fall Festival at St. Joseph, Hopkins— Sept. 17: Chicken dinner served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Cake walk, bingo, and more offered. Located at 1310 Mainstreet. for information, call (952) 935-0111.

Annual Family Festival at St. Austin, Minneapolis — Sept. 22 to 23: Mass at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at 4050 Upton Ave. N. Festival runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday featuring “Fabulous ‘50s” music, food and more. Mass at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Festival continues from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring a turkey dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., silent auction, bingo, games, talent show, crafts, and more. for information, call (612) 529-9561 or visit

Fall Festival at St. Rita, Cottage Grove — Sept. 22 to 23: Polka Mass at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Chicken dinner served at 5 p.m. followed by silent auction, country store and bingo. Mass at 10:30 a.m. Sunday followed by an antique road show, volleyball, golf challenge, food and more. Located at 6894 80th St., S. for information, call (651)-459-4596.

Saint Rose of Lima Parish Festival Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Dedication of our Church, Saturday, September 29, 2000;

4:30pm Polka Mass in Church Grand Raffle - 40 Prizes for 40 Years! Raffle Drawing at 9pm. Pig Roast Dinner by “Divine Swine” Outdoor Tent with Polka Band until 10pm Games, Beverages, & Food for Adults and Children Outside, Gym, & School Cafeteria

Saint Joseph Catholic Church & Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Chili Fest Saturday September 29th 10:30am-8:00pm - 490 Bench Street, Taylors Falls, MN 55084 • 651-465-7345 - Silent Auction; Kids Games; Garage Sale; Karaoke; Live Music

Fall Festival at Holy Name, Minneapolis — Oct. 14: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday featuring kegged rootbeer and homemade ice cream, live music, games, beer garden, bingo, raffle and more. Located at 3637 11th Ave. S. for information, call (612) 724-5465.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rosary for Truth Schedule for September 2007

Rosary for Truth
Schedule for September, 2007

Schedule of Dates, Churches and Mass Times
Date Mass Time Church

Sept. 8 (Saturday) 4:30 p.m.
St. Thomas the Apostle
Rosary at 4:05 p.m.
2914 West 44 th Street, Mpls, 55410

Sept. 22 (Saturday) 5:00 p.m.

Church of Christ the King
Rosary at 4:35 p.m.
5029 Zenith Ave. S, Mpls, 55410

Sept. 29 (Saturday) 5:00 p.m.

St. Frances Cabrini
Rosary at 4:35 p.m
1500 Franklin Ave SE, Mpls

We invite you to pray the Rosary with us for a return to the Orthodox
Tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and for the
conversion of our brothers and sisters who are involved, whether by
intent, deceit or ignorance, in disordered movements contrary to the
teachings of the Magisterium of the Church and Holy Scripture.

Our intent is to gather over a period of time at various churches in
our Archdiocese approximately 25 minutes before Mass, quietly kneel
and silently pray the most holy Rosary of the blessed Mother of God.

If you sense the Spirit of God prodding you then please join with us.
Please carry your Rosary exposed so we can identify one another and
sit together if you wish.

Arrive 30 minutes before Mass is scheduled to begin.

Cathy here:

This group of Faithful had a great impact on my reversion. There are those who are going to be angry, or who are angry, that this group exists. Yes, some of the members are more trad then some of us may be, but their motives are good. They appeared at my former dissident parish several times. They were not hassled overly much. There were many who were upset that they were there. You may wonder why Catholics should be upset that other Catholics appear and want to pray the Rosary in a Catholic parish before Mass. Good question. There are many Catholics who have never seen the Rosary, barely know what it is, or think it's a relic from a irrelevent bygone era. There are Catholics who are afraid of the Rosary because they see it as the powerful force it can be. Or, they are baffled by it because they think it can only be used for rote prayer and that's dumb.

Seeing people praying a Rosary was something I had nearly forgotten by the time the group appeared at my, former, dissident parish. It prompted me to wonder why I was not praying it like my Mom taught me. The reactions of the other parishioners made me wonder: Why are they so angry? Why are they threatened? Why aren't we having regular Catholic devotions like this anyway? Aren't we a Catholic parish? What's wrong with, actual, established, Catholic prayer instead of the "made-up" stuff the liturgist invents every week?

Once I started adding these questions to some of the "issues" I already was already wondering about, Mary grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. Perhaps, the fear that these Catholics might actually become Catholics if they are exposed to the Rosary is what scares them. Don't be afraid.

There are people that are angry that the group picks their parish. By selecting your parish, yes, Rosary for Truth is telling you that something is wrong. Please look around and ask yourself what and why. Seriously. I know some of you are thinking: Why don't they just leave us alone? We don't bother them, they shouldn't bother us. It's not about bothering anyone. It's about your brothers and sisters in Christ being concerned about your soul. I realize sin and damnation are not topics that are talked about a lot in Catholic churches these days. Just because some of us quit talking about it, does not mean sin and damnation ceased to exist.

Cross posted on Recovering Dissident Catholic

Team Vianney Events

Do you know a young man who's got what it takes to follow Jesus?

Catholic high school to college-age men (9th grade and up) meet for pizza, hear a short, dynamic talk on our Catholic faith, attend Benediction and participate in an energetic Mass with college seminarians and university students.

5:45 p.m to 8:30 p.m. on the following dates: Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6, 2007, Feb. 7, March 6, April 3, May 1, 2008.

St. John Vianney Seminary, University of St. Thomas (St. Paul campus)
FFI: Annette at 651-962-6825 or Fr. John Klockeman at 651-962-6832 or

Extraordinary Form Mass Schedule at Holy Trinity/St. Augustine

Beginning September 14, 2007 the following will be the schedule for the extraordinary form of the Mass at Holy Trinity and Saint Augustine in South St. Paul, Minnesota.

Holy Trinity: 749 Sixth Ave S (651) 455-1302
Monday & Wednesday: 5:15 p.m.
Friday (except First Fridays): Noon

St. Augustine: 408 Third St N (651) 451-1212
Tuesday & Thursday: 8:00 a.m.
First Friday and Holy Days of Obligation: 7:30 p.m.
First Saturday: 10:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m.

"The Nerve of Those Foetuses!"

A botched abortion in which a healthy twin foetus was terminated instead of its sibling with Down syndrome has reignited the abortion debate in Italy and raised allegations of eugenics.

"The time has come to re-examine the abortion law" that dates back to 1978, wrote leftist Senator Paola Binetti, who is close to the Vatican, in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"What happened in this hospital was not a medical abortion but an abortion done for the purposes of eugenics," she said, referring to the belief that the human species can be improved through selective reproduction.

The abortion was performed on a 38-year-old woman in Milan in June, but news of its outcome has only recently become public. Doctors blamed the mistake on movement of the foetuses between the examination and the abortion.

"They wanted to kill the sick foetus and save the healthy one and what didn't work properly in this business was the selection," Binetti wrote. IOL.CO.ZA

Rushford needs 1,300 volunteers


Rushford residents take a few minutes during mass Sunday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church to talk about where they saw God this week among the devesation from the flood. St. Joseph's was the only Rushford church without flood damage and has opened it's doors to Rushford Lutheran Church to hold masses as well. From left are Vern and Beth McManimon-Myers, Edward and Rose Ann McManimon, Raquela and Mason McManimon-Myers.

The city of Rushford is issuing a call for volunteers to assist with flood cleanup. People or groups interested in volunteering should call United Way of Olmsted County at (507) 287-2000 to register. About 1,300 volunteers are needed over the next week.

United Way officials ask people not to go to Rushford without first registering. For city of Rushford volunteer projects, the minimum age for volunteers is 16 with parental permission and adult supervision. There are current volunteer needs through Sept. 2, with more likely to be added, officials said.

To make donations to help Rushford residents, send checks to: Rushford Flood Relief Fund c/o Associated Bank, Rushford, P. O. Box 726, Rushford, Minn. 55971. Donations of hand sanitizing and cleaning supplies will be accepted. No used clothing is needed at this time.

Rushford is just one city of the six counties of southeastern Minnesota that got hit with 7-17" of rain last week. The Diocese of Winona provides the following information:

  • St. Joseph Parish in Rushford has become the central relief center for that city. St. Joseph’s were the only church buildings in the city unaffected by the flooding.
    • The parish has been serving close to 1,500 meals a day for those who have lost their homes and those who have come to the city to assist in the recovery effort, such as the National Guard, building inspectors, county work crews from throughout southern Minnesota, and those who are working to keep the city functioning. Parish teams from as far as Medford have arrived with food and personnel to cook and serve.
    • In order to keep the operation open, the parish is counting on donations of food, serving supplies, such as paper plates and utensils, and cash donations.
    • Businesses wishing to donate food should take it directly to Montini Hall (the church hall next to the church at 101 Rushford Ave. W). If access to the city is still restricted, drivers should tell National Guard troops that they are bringing food for Montini Hall.
    • Cash donations may be sent to the Diocese of Winona, PO Box 588, Winona, MN 55987 and marked for Flood Relief. Please note that the U.S. Post Office in Rushford remains closed.
  • The Winona County Flood Relief Donation Center, for anyone affected by the flooding (not just Winona County residents), is now located in the Underdahl Toyota building at Huff and 2nd Street in Winona. Personal hygiene and cleaning supplies are available to those in need. Many items are still needed.
    • The center is seeking NEW and/or UNOPENED supplies as follows: Brooms, squeegees w/long handles, Kleenex, scrub brushes, mops, laundry detergent, Lime-a-Way, rubber gloves (large and heavy-duty), baby wipes, bee traps, allergen-free detergent, shovels, storage totes w/lids, garbage bags, fans, boots (heavy-duty, rubber and/or work), face masks, protective eyewear, toilet paper, plastic sheeting for windows, duct tape, rags, buckets, work gloves, paper towels, razors, spray bottles, hand sanitizer, bug bite stick and cream, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, lotion, first aid supplies, feminine products, socks and underwear, NEW bath towels, hydrogen peroxide, eye protection, non-scented bleach, steel rakes.
    • Donation Center is NOT accepting ANY food or clothing at this time (see below, Winona Volunteer Services).
  • Many families and individuals affected by the flood need a place to talk, to grieve and sort through their emotions. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Winona is responding to the mental health needs of those families by providing free mental health counseling. For more information, please contact Catholic Charities at (507) 454-2270 or (507) 287-2047. Visit our website at for locations.
  • Emergency food items may be donated or obtained at Winona Volunteer Services, 416 E. 2nd St. The telephone number is (507) 452-5591. Clothing is also available for those in need. If you wish to donate clothing, please call the center first to see if it is needed or what they are accepting.

  • The buildings of St. Paul Parish in Minnesota City, St. Peter Parish in Hokah, and St. Aloysius in Elba were unaffected by the flooding. Eleven families from St. Mary’s Parish in Winona have lost their homes and all their belongings. Holy Redeemer Parish in Eyota, St. Joseph, Good Thunder, and Immaculate Conception in Wilson had water damage to their church basements. At St. Patrick Parish in Brownsville, the roof of the parish hall collapsed during the storm.

  • Two years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss., the people of the Diocese of Winona responded with goods and services totally more than $3 million in relief for southern Mississippi. Now, through a personal telephone call to Bishop Bernard Harrington, Bishop Thomas Rodi of Biloxi has assured the Diocese of Winona of their prayers and support. He has asked all the parishes in the Diocese of Biloxi to take up an emergency collection Aug. 25-26 for the flood victims in the Diocese of Winona. There have also been inquiries from work teams from the Biloxi Diocese ready to head to Minnesota to assist in rebuilding efforts.

Report compiled by Suzanne Belongia of Catholic Charities and Rose Hammes, diocesan Director of Communications. If you have information to add to this report, please contact Hammes at, (507) 454-4643, or Belongia at (507) 459-5556,

Few know that our own Ironic Catholic, one of the wittiest bloggers in or out of Christendom, lives in the Winona diocese. She, whose own home was not harmed, reports that:

"Eleven families from St. Mary’s Parish in Winona have lost their homes and all their belongings."

I think the most touching part may be that the Diocese of Biloxi has offered to help us. Winona "adopted" Biloxi the after Katrina hit, and hundreds of people have traveled there to help rebuild and more, and the diocese donated $3 Million to help. But I don't think anyone expected Biloxi--which is still recovering--to offer to help us.

I can't tell you how bizarre it is to open university with a Red Cross shelter onsite, and Emergency relief trucks all over the towns. Most (like me) are not really hurt, and some (everyone knows someone) who have lost absolutely everything.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Crisis Looms as 18 Million Chinese Can't Find a Wife

China is planning to tighten punishments for sex-selective abortions amid concerns that its widening gender imbalance will lead to wife trafficking, sexual crimes and social frustration.

Shocking new figures released by the state media show that the worst affected city, Lianyungang in Jiangsu province, has a ratio of 165 boys to 100 girls among children aged one to four.

Nationwide, six males are born for every five females, far above the international average. With the gap growing every year as a result of increased access to ultrasound sex-checking technology, one senior official warned that China faces the 'most serious gender imbalance in the world'. [....Snip] UK Guardian

UK Headmaster's killer to get new identity

The government is preparing to give the killer of headmaster Philip Lawrence a new identity.

Under the plans, Learco Chindamo, 26, and his close family will be given new names and moved to an address away from London, where he grew up and where his mother, stepfather and brothers still live.

They would then be provided with 24 hour police protection via a panic button. UK Telegraph

I wrote the following to the English Embassy in Washington, D.C.:

I see you folks are going to spend all that it takes to protect the young non-citizen murderer.
I pray that 100,000 or more good English folks will adopt finding him as their new hobby and it takes a division or two of your army to protect him for the next 60 years. I don't want him caught or harmed. I just want you to pay a billion or two each year for protecting him.
And of course, I prefer that he never sleep two nights in a row in the same bed.
I really can't figure out what is going on over there. I used to admire the U.K. because much of your history and laws are responsible for many of the good things about our history and laws.
But for the last 20 years, about the time you cozied up to the EU, coincidentally, you seem to have gone off the deep end.
You possess only a shadow of your former greatness and decisions like that of protecting the murderer over concern for his family chip mightly away at what little is left.
May God have mercy on your souls.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Which Minnesota Health Care Facility is Building a Gorgeous Chapel?

Statues, altars, communion rails and other marble items have been removed from St. John the Baptist Church in Quincy [IL] and will be on their way to Minnesota today, leaving dust and plaster scattered on the floor of the 127-year-old building.
Monsignor Mike Kuse, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, did not say how much the items were being sold for, but admitted little profit is being made in the sale of the items. The goal, he said, is to put the items in other places of worship.

"It's not like you're making money on this stuff," he said. "The value is more in the hearts of people. [And the people are not happy about losing their church statuary, altar and decorations].
A crew from Straight Edge Construction Company in Quincy has been in the church since Aug. 16 helping remove the items from St. John and put them in boxes. Also on hand were two men from Kansas who were hired by Fynders Keepers out of Shawnee Mission, Kan., which finds and resells antique religious items for various Catholic church missions.

Kuse says the marble items have been sold through Fynders Keepers to a new chapel in a health-care facility in Minnesota. [....Snip] Quincy Herald Whig

In the 21st century, Catholic ecumenism is learning to push back


When the Vatican recently widened permission for celebration of the old Latin Mass and reaffirmed that Catholicism is the one true church, both moves set off alarms in ecumenical and inter-faith circles, prompting some to wonder if the Catholic Church is reevaluating its approach to other Christian bodies and to other religions. (The Latin Mass is swept up into this discussion largely because of prayers in the Good Friday liturgy for the conversion of Jews, heretics and pagans, language from a decidedly pre-ecumenical age.)

In truth, the future of Catholic ecumenism and inter-religious relations is less likely to be determined by declarations from Rome, whatever one makes of them, than by shifting demographics on the ground. In the Catholicism of the 21st century, the tone on many matters will be set more by the global South, where two-thirds of all Catholics today live, a transition which is producing a new ecumenical psychology.

In the immediate post-Vatican II period, the architects of Catholicism’s relationships with other churches and other religions were mostly Europeans, many of whom carried a sense of historic guilt for sins of the past, from the Crusades to the Wars of Religion, and in particular they were haunted by the Holocaust. Their approach was therefore dominated by the need for an examination of conscience, and a spirit of reconciliation.

Tomorrow’s trailblazers will be Africans, Latin Americans and Asians, who are often more likely to regard themselves as victims rather than perpetrators of religious intolerance. In the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia today, Catholics suffer under aggressive forms of Islamicization, while Catholics in India are reeling from militant Hindu nationalism. In Latin America, Catholics often see themselves as targets of aggressive proselytism from Pentecostal and Evangelical movements. [....Snip] Read the Rest from the John Allen in the Nat'l Cath. Reporter

"I did it because, even though Oriana Fallaci said that she didn't believe, she had great hope. "

Committed atheist, Oriana Fallaci, also intellectual and world renowned journalist, spent many of her dying days with Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University in Rome, and an intimate of Pope Benedict XVI:

"I held her hand the day before she died, as I had promised, a hand by then reduced to just skin and bones. I also gave her a blessing. I did so consciously, because Oriana Fallaci was baptized. She was a Christian. I did it because Oriana Fallaci made her first Communion, because she was confirmed. I did it because many times Oriana Fallaci told me how, with her father, taught to do so by her father, she read the Bible of Douay. She knew all the illustrations of her Douay Bible, which she decided to leave to me. I did so because many times during the last weeks of her life, when it was just the two of us by her bed and she was suffering enormously, she would look at me, raise her eyes to Heaven, and say, 'If you exist, why don't you let me live?' She didn't say, 'Don't make me suffer,' but rather, 'Let me live.' I did it because Oriana Fallaci loved life, and because the God of Christians is the God of life. I did it because, even though Oriana Fallaci said that she didn't believe, she had great hope.

"During those days, a phrase came into my mind from the posthumously published book of Ignazio Silone called Severina. The protagonist is a sister who had left the convent, who is now dying from a wound she received during a protest. At a certain point, one of the sisters from the convent comes to her deathbed and takes her hand, saying, 'Severina, Severina, tell me that you believe!' Severina looks at her and says, 'No, but I hope.' I believe we Christians have a great responsibility to talk about our faith with the language of hope. Quite often, people won't understand us when we talk about the content of our faith. But without doubt, people of today can understand when we talk about hope, if we talk about the mystery of our existence and the meaning of our lives …

"I held Oriana Fallaci's hand as a priest, as a bishop, asking the Lord to look upon her with great mercy, if for no other reason than that she suffered so greatly, because she was so alone, and because in her last years, radically and with deep conviction, she defended the idea that this country belongs to the West. She defended like few others the profoundly Christian roots of the civilization to which we all belong, including the faith that, let's not forget, God forever offers to us as a great gift. We have to remember this woman for what she did, for what she said and wrote. She was a great woman, a great Italian, who deserves to be viewed with respect, and who now belongs to the history books."
John Allen of the NCReporter

Bishop Elect Peter F. Christensen Events

Parish Celebration of Thanks and Farewell
Nativity of Our Lord Parish, St Paul
Sunday, August 26, after the 11:00 a.m. Mass

Cathedral of St Paul
Friday, September 14, 2:00 p.m.

Christ the King Cathedral, Superior, WI
Sunday, September 23, 4:00 p.m.

Conundrum: What the Hell Happened To Canada?

I'm a news and politics geek and like to be aware of things, especially trends, with what's happening around me. One of the black holes in the news media is our neighbor to the north, the Dominion of Canada (the country that was created in 1867 so that its prairies and mountains wouldn't become part of the U.S.).

When I was growing up, good old dependable Canada was there in a pinch in World War I and II, but was not known for much of anything else. When Pierre Trudeau came along as Prime Minister, something akin to the excitement felt about JFK trickled across the border and we occasionally would think about Canada. Then the Quebec French started to think about freedom and I even subscribed to McLean's, the Canadian "Newsweek" for a time.

But in the past ten years, Canadian governmental officials seem to have subscribed to every liberal fad that has come down the pike, to the point where expressing one's faith, any faith, is often considered a crime today. What would have caused the "We're-minding-our-business-ehh" Canadians, who are over 40% Catholic, to go off the rails?

Well, Father John Corapi, the 21st century's answer to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and "the Roto-Rooter of My Soul", tipped me off this morning on one of his dozen or so weekly media broadcasts.

It seems that two months after Pope Paul VI issued his Humanae Vitae Encyclical in 1968 that clearly stated that artificial contraception was a grievously deadly sin, the Canadian Bishops who were meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba almost unanimously approved "The Winnipeg Statement", that rejected the Pope's encyclical and authorized Canadians to follow their conscience with respect to birth control.

"Although many Episcopal Conferences published statements regarding Humanae Vitae, it is the Canadian Bishops' statement which has been the subject of the most controversy, as it is generally seen by both supporters and opponents as a loophole whereby Catholics may feel permitted to use birth control. Central to the debate is the role and importance of personal religious freedom of conscience." [Source]

This "freedom of conscience" that Canadian bishops gave their parishioners in the Winnipeg Statement also permits them to support any other secular or modernistic program. Now I understand. Pray for Canada!



Each year, the TEC Conference acknowledges individuals for their exemplary commitment to Catholic youth and young adults with a Spirit of TEC Award. The 2007 recipients, presenting 21dioceses throughout the U.S, include two bishops, five priests, one religious and 33 lay adult and young adult leaders.

“On behalf of the TEC Leadership Council and Conference staff, I would like to congratulate each of you for receiving the 2007 Spirit of TEC Award. You are true gifts to both the TEC Movement and your local TEC community. May the Lord continue to bless you and be the light on your faith journey; even as you serve as His light to others,” said TEC Conference Director Ronald Reiter.

Since 1990, nearly 500 people have been honored with this distinction. Nominees are selected by their local TEC communities for committed service to the youth and young adults of the Church; contributing to the TEC ministry in a significant way on a local or regional level; and witnessing Paschal Mystery spirituality in their daily lives.

The 2007 Spirit of TEC Award Winners (in order of TEC community) in our area are:
• Agape (Diocese of Superior, Wis.)-Rev. Michael J. Tupa
• Agassiz Valley (Diocese of Crookston, Minn.)-Most Rev. Victor Balke
• Kairos (Madison, Wis. Diocese)-Barb Wills
• Pathways (Diocese of Winona, Minn.)- Peter and Ann Langworthy
• Twin Cities (Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minn.)-Ralph and Lynn Pierre

For more information about the TEC Movement, contact (636) 933-9233 or; or visit online at

TEC—an acronym for Teens, Troops, Twenties, To and Together Encounter Christ—is a Catholic movement of spirituality for older adolescents and young adults founded in Battle Creek, Mich. in 1965. Focusing on the Paschal Mystery, TEC helps 8,000 young people each year deepen their relationship with Christ and discern their vocation within the larger Church. TEC is affiliated with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry; National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association; and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops through its Episcopal Moderator Most Rev. Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, Anchorage, Alaska. [Former Bishop of Duluth] Catholic OnLine

Men, Keep Your Second Tuesday's Open for the A.O.T.M. 3D Society

Argument of the Month Drinking, Dining and Debating Society
St Augustine's, South St Paul
2007-2008 Schedule
Men (and Boys) Only!
Father J.P. "Crash" Echert, presiding

October 9th: Dr. Arthur Hippler, Providence Academy

He is back for his monthly dose of debate. He will be giving his presentation, "Is religious liberty the road to secularism?"

Is religious liberty based on truth or religious relativism? Does religious liberty require the separation of church and state? Is religious liberty only for non-Christians?
If you think these are important, timely questions for our day, wait until you hear his answers.

November 13: Dr. David "Intense" Pence vs. Fr. Johnny "Crash" Echert

Our in-house liberal will duke it out with our conservative traditionalist as they debate the issues surrounding Vatican II.

January 8th: Archbishop John Nienstedt, will explain the Church's understanding of Homosexuality.
We welcome Archbishop Neinstedt to the AOTM as he explains this controversial teaching of the Church. We are honored to have him and look forward to this event, which will be a great way for everyone to meet our new Archbishop.

February 12th: Dale Ahlquist. "American Chesterton Society" takes on everyone

"Catholic Social Teaching: Why both Liberals AND Conservatives Get it Wrong!" He is pretty sure no matter who you are, you will disagree with something he has to say. Armed to the hilt with Chesterton thought and quick wit, he is confident ATOM attendees stand no chance winning an argument with him. Come try your best to show this brother the light!

March, April and May Speakers to be confirmed.

See further information including directions Here.

Exhibition Honoring Father Tim Vakoc, Wounded Iraq War Army Chaplain


Father Tim Vakoc


St Paul Public Library Exhibition

August 17 - 31, 2007

Ministry of Intentional Presence

"I live with (the soldiers), work with them, eat with them, care for them, listen to them, counsel them.
The soldiers know if you are real and genuinely care or not.
The soldiers see me out there with them, and that makes a difference."

It has been over three years since Catholic Chaplain, Major Tim Vakoc (pronounced VAH-Kitch), of the U.S. Army's 44th Corps Support Battalion, suffered a severe head wound while returning from a Mass he delivered to soldiers outside the Iraqi city of Mosul. The Robbinsdale, MN, native was the first Army chaplain seriously injured in the Iraq war. For more Stella Borealis posts and links, see here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

St Agnes is Considering Expanding its Latin Mass Offerings to Include the 1962 Mass of Pope John XXIII

Father John Ubel, pastor of St Agnes parish in St. Paul, posted the following in his "Pastor's Page" column this past Sunday:

I am appreciative of all who have spoken to me regarding the motu proprio of our Holy Father. With the
aid of our deacons and musicians, and with prayerful consideration, we are exploring our options, as well
as what would be entailed should we move in the direction of offering the Latin Mass in both its ordinary
and extraordinary forms. I will keep you posted

Monday, August 20, 2007

Epiphany Country Diner - Minnesota State Fair

The Epiphany Diner has a long history at the Minnesota State Fair, serving the hungry and exemplifying the hospitality of Christ to fairgoers from 6:30 am until 8:00 PM every day of the Fair. This is one of the biggest fundraisers of this parish, and serves to raise money for many programs such as the food shelf, maternity clothes closet, missions in Kentucky, Guatemala, Bosnia, and Calvinia, educational ministries, and others.

Breakfast is served from 6:30 to 11:00 am
Lunch/Dinner 11:30 am to 8:00 pm

At Epiphany Diner, you can find all the traditional breakfast foods, and then for dinner, anything from a chef salad, to turkey dinner, chicken, bbq ribs, meat loaf (a staple in any midwestern home!), sloppy joes, or mashed potatoes and gravy.

You'll find the priests of the parish working alongside families...not all necessarily from Epiphany.

This is a wonderful endeavor and really speaks to the words of St. Francis: Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."

No words are necessary for these people, for they are speaking through action. They are taking time off work in order to serve at this event, not to preach, but to serve as they were directed to serve. They are all volunteers...the proceeds go to those who don't have their own financial resources.

And guess what? Epiphany Diner needs your help. Are you willing? Do you have time? And do you have a spirit of fun?

I was forwarded this e-mail tonight:

Let me first start by saying thank you to all of you who have signed up to work at the diner & those of you who have been helping behind the scenes.

After sign ups this weekend we will still have a shortfall for the first 4 days of the fair, the most critical is the 23rd (first day of the fair) it takes 45 people to make the diner run - there are 19 signed up for that day. The other 3 days are just as low & there is not another opportunity for Mass sign-ups before the fair starts.

It would be extremely helpful if you could look at your schedules & look into your hearts & see if there is a possibility you could help out in any way, even if it is only to forward this email to everyone you know who might be in a position to help.

All of your efforts to help the Diner are Greatly Appreciated!


Michele W.
Epiphany State Fair Diner
Volunteer Coordinator

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Michele at:

Please keep in mind that those who serve are not working the posted hours...they are working before breakfast to prepare, and long after close in order to clean up.

You may also contact Epiphany Parish directly at 763-755-1020 (general number) in order to sign up. There are buses that leave from Epiphany Parish twice daily to take people to the sure to enquire about this service when you call or e-mail.

For those of you who can't volunteer to fill a shift, please consider stopping by for a great meal provided by the wonderful people of Epiphany. The Epiphany Country Diner is located on Underwood Avenue north of the Haunted House and across from the Horticultural Building.

The web site for the parish is:

(Technical note: if you want to volunteer but have problems with the e-mail address, please contact me so I can forward you the original e-mail. I found I had to click directly on the link in order for it to work. Dunno why.)

Blest Art, Inc. at Church of St. John of St. Paul

"Next weekend, August 25th and 26th (2007), representatives of Blest Art, Inc., will display in our church hall beautifully carved sacred images, the work of Palestinian Catholics using olive wood native to the Holy Land. Over the years, I have purchased a number of their beautiful products: a large Nativity set, a representation of the Last Supper, and a number of individual statues. They are both a joy to behold and an inspiration. Headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin, Blest Art, Inc. serves as the marketing agent in America for these sacred images. Six hundred Christian families (mostly Roman Catholic) in the Bethlehem area rely on the sale of these products as their principal source of income. In recent years, subjected to the daily pressures brought to bear by an increasingly aggressive Islamic environment, most of the Christian families, despite their millenial connection with the Holy Land, have fled to the Christian West. The six hundred or so families who still remain in the Bethlehem region are reluctant to leave, since to do so would be to remove from the birthplace of Christ the living witness of the Christian faithful. Purchase of these products helps us to enable these familes to remain in the neighborhood of Bethlehem."---Father George Welzbacher

The Church of St. John is located at 977 E 5th St. in St. Paul. 651-771-3690

Interview with Msgr. Callahan of St. Paul Seminary

CityWinds on Relevant Radio interviewed Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, J.C.D., Rector-Vice President of St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota, recently. The audio stream of the interview is available here

Msgr. Callahan's Curriculum Vitae:

Reverend Monsignor Aloysius R. Callaghan, S.T.L., J.C.D.
Rector and Vice President
The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity
of the University of St. Thomas
2260 Summit Avenue
St Paul, Minnesota

Academic History

J.C.D., Lateran University, Rome, 1977
S.T.L., Lateran University, Rome, 1972
B.A., Lateran University, Rome, 1968

Monsignor Callaghan was born in Heckscherville, Schuylkill County, the son of the late Aloysius R. Sr. and Genevieve (O'Brien) Callaghan on September 15, 1946. In 1962 he began preparation for the priesthood at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. After completing four years of studies he was sent by Bishop Joseph McShea to the Pontifical Roman Seminary and the Lateran University in Rome to complete his training. Monsignor Callaghan was ordained a priest on December 17, 1971, in Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, by Cardinal James A. Hickey.

In the years 1972-74, he served as an Assistant Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Allentown; as Secretary to the Diocesan Tribunal; and as an Associate Professor at Allentown Central Catholic High School.

In August 1974, he returned to Rome for graduate studies. He earned a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Lateran University in 1977. After returning to the diocese, he was named Secretary to Bishop McShea in August 1977; Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the Tribunal; and member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. In June of 1979 he was also appointed Diocesan Director of Vocations. He was named a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor on December 15, 1981.

In March of 1983 he was appointed Secretary to Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, a position held until December 12, 1984, when he was named Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Allentown and Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Whitehall, PA. On January 18, 1985, he was one of seven priests named as members of the newly formed Committee for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life in the Diocese of Allentown.

On March 27, 1986, Bishop Welsh announced that he was releasing Monsignor Callaghan for service as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes at the Vatican. In October of 1987 he was named a Prelate of Honor by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. He served as an official from 1986 until 1991. On April 8, 1991, Monsignor Callaghan was appointed as an official with the Congregation for Bishops.

In July of 1995, Monsignor Callaghan was appointed Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, with all the faculties of a Vicar General. He also served as Secretary of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and Adjutant Judicial Vicar.

In December of 1996 Monsignor Callaghan was appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. At the same time he served as an adjunct Spiritual Director for Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.

On July 1, 2005, the Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, appointed Monsignor Callaghan as Rector and Vice President of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He was formally installed as Rector at a Mass in St. Mary’s Chapel at the Seminary on October 22, 2005.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Father Echert Injured in Motorcycle Accident; Pray for Him


Brand Spanking New (Spring 2007)
Lieutenant Colonel Echert
(as a Captain in this photo)
Fr. John Paul Echert, the pastor of St. Augustine and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in South St Paul, had a motor cycle accident last weekend. I only found out late Wednesday and got his email on Thursday that he is alive. He did not say how he was doing, but I heard from reliable sources in the field that he is on crutches. I I know nothing more except that he welcomes your prayers for his recovery. So please remember Fr. Crash in your prayers. We ask the Lord to allow him a full and speedy recovery.
Kent Wuchterl

Dear AOTM members:

Greetings from the self-declared Pope of South St. Paul, or at least Pastor of two parishes!

Though I am not anxious for the summer to end I am eager for another season of the AOTM. Our numbers have steadily grown and yet the quality and quantity of the food has not suffered in the least. So, too, our presentations have been excellent and well received, with a few good arguments here and there. If you are looking for another faith-filled activity to participate in, consider the "Called By Faith" Catholic Bible study program that meets most Thursday evenings, at Holy Trinity Parish.

This year we will be studying the Gospel of Saint Matthew, with video lectures by Father John Echert, some excellent study notes, and some group discussion. "Called By Faith" is a program home-grown here in South St. Paul and it has proved popular and fruitful for many folks from across the Twin Cities area. And if your wives are complaining that they cannot participate in AOTM, they are welcome to the CBF Bible series, so this may get you off the hook at home and out of an argument.

See you in September, if not before!

Father Echert

Friday, August 17, 2007

Collegeville's J.F. Powers Resurrected in the Washington Post

All of his books, generally about the Church and based in Minnesota are enjoyable reads.

The business of America is business, as Calvin Coolidge so succinctly (and accurately) put it, so it's surprising and disappointing that business is the subject of so little serious American fiction. Boardroom drama and similar high-level high jinks are often to be found in popular fiction, but by and large our ostensibly literary writers have looked down their noses at workaday life, apparently finding it unworthy of their finely-tuned sensibilities.

J.F. Powers, left, won the National Book Award in 1963 for
J.F. Powers, left, won the National Book Award in 1963 for "Morte D'Urban," about a go-getter priest who is exiled to a one-stoplight town in Minnesota.

Thus it's both revealing and ironic that one of the few genuinely good American novels about business isn't about "business" at all, but about the Roman Catholic Church. J.F. Powers's "Morte d'Urban," first published in 1962 (it won the National Book Award the following year), can be read in any number of ways, but reading it now for the fourth time I am struck more sharply than ever before by how Powers turns this story of a go-getter priest into a metaphor for the world of business. It's a much better novel than Sinclair Lewis's far more famous "Babbitt": subtler, wittier and much more elegantly written.

I read "Morte d'Urban" not long after it won the NBA; in those years that prize still occasionally went to books that deserved it -- Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer," Saul Bellow's "The Adventures of Augie March," Bernard Malamud's "The Magic Barrel" -- and I completely agreed with the judges' decision. I read it again a few years later for a discussion group I led on religious issues in contemporary fiction, then a third time purely for pleasure. Now, 4 1/2 decades after that first reading, I'm as convinced as ever that the oblivion into which it seems to have sunk is inexplicable and wholly undeserved.

Oblivion, though, was a condition all too familiar to Powers during his lifetime. Between his birth in Illinois in 1917 and his death 81 years later, he published only four other books: three collections of short stories and a second novel, "Wheat That Springeth Green" (1988). His short stories appeared in various places, from the Catholic Worker to the New Yorker, and, though widely admired by the literati, found him relatively few readers. He spent much of his time in Ireland and frequently taught at St. John's University in Minnesota, the state that is the setting of "Morte d'Urban" and much of his other work. In a wry, admiring tribute to Powers after his death in 1999, published in the New Criterion, John Derbyshire called him "the patron saint of slow writers," and quoted his daughter Katherine: "He had powers of procrastination that went far beyond the merely amateur."

Powers wrote about many subjects, but the Catholic Church was his chief one. His interest in it may well have been more psychological and sociological -- "Though religious by instinct," Derbyshire wrote, "Powers does not seem to have been deeply pious" -- and the affection with which he viewed the church always was sharpened by the satirist's edge. Certainly he was by no stretch of the imagination a "Catholic writer" in the sense that Flannery O'Connor or Graham Greene was; though matters of theology crop up from time in "Morte d'Urban," they are scarcely the novel's principal concern.

Its protagonist, Father Urban of the Order of St. Clement, is one of the great characters in American fiction. He is a hustler, "an operator," but unlike George Babbitt he is also a complex and deeply sympathetic human being. He is 54 years old, "tall and handsome but a trifle loose in the jowls and red of eye." As the novel opens he is working out of the Clementines' decidedly modest office in Chicago, traveling the rubber-chicken circuit to boost the order. Audiences love him for his forceful speeches and infectious glad-handing, but this doesn't translate into much for the Clementines, who exist under "a cloak of incompetence." Powers writes:

"It seemed to him that the Order of St. Clement labored under the curse of mediocrity, and had done so almost from the beginning. In Europe, the Clementines hadn't (it was always said) recovered from the French Revolution. It was certain that they hadn't ever really got going in the New World. Their history revealed little to brag about -- one saint (the Holy Founder) and a few bishops of missionary sees, no theologians worthy of the name, no original thinkers, not even a scientist. The Clementines were unique in that they were noted for nothing at all. They were in bad shape all over the world."

Apart from his traveling and lecturing, Father Urban's main contribution to the order has been to reel in a big fish named Billy Cosgrove, a Chicago businessman with a taste for golf, sailing and whiskey who decides that Urban is a regular guy in a turned-around collar and by way of rewarding him for this becomes the order's biggest benefactor. This does not sit well with some higher in the order, notably Father Boniface, the head of the Chicago office, who sees Urban as a rival and, in a classic office-politics maneuver, exiles him to "the newest white elephant, the new foundation . . . near Duesterhaus, Minnesota," so far from Billy Cosgrove and the good life as to be on another planet.

Urban is appalled, but he is also a good priest: He does what he is told to do. So he packs off and moves to Duesterhaus, "a one-stoplight town" where "the main street was a state highway" and "the drugstore was the bus station." There he falls in with two hapless priests -- the rector, Father Wilfrid, and Father John -- as well as the novitiate, Brother Harold, and almost immediately finds that priestly duties are low on Father Wilfrid's list of priorities. What he wants to do is to get the tatterdemalion main building into shape so that it can be used as a retreat for priests and laymen, perhaps with profitable results. So Urban is put to work "as a common laborer." Why, Urban soon asks himself, "had he been cast into outer darkness, thrown among fools and failures?"

Then a bit of a break comes his way. The priest at a nearby church -- a real church, with a real congregation -- goes off for a while and Urban is asked to stand in for him. With the amiable but indecisive Father Phil out of the way, Urban has room to operate, and, "Suddenly St. Monica's was a busy, happy rectory." He's there for about a month and a half, and though he doesn't exactly work miracles, he gives the church a big boost, and he gets one himself: "the deep satisfaction there was in doing the work of a parish priest -- his daily Mass meant even more to him at St. Monica's." Yes, he's guilty as charged of being "something of a showboat," but he's also a priest to the core, and the showboating is almost always done in the service of the priesthood.

He returns to Duesterhaus recharged and full of plans. An attractive spread of farmland next door comes on the market, and Urban makes his move. This involves Billy Cosgrove once again, as well as a meddlesome, domineering bishop who is the church's local CEO. For those who do not yet know the rest of the tale, and whom I hope to lure into reading it, I will keep the rest of it in confidence, but suffice it to say that Urban is awarded a great triumph that, when he finally receives it, is emptier than he could have imagined, and he learns that venturing out into the real world can have painful consequences.

All of this is most rewardingly seen as a microcosm of American business, with its suffocating layers of bureaucracy and its bitter, silly rivalries. Observing the Clementines at work, "For the life of him, Father Urban couldn't see how the Catholic Church (among large corporations) could be rated second only to Standard Oil in efficiency, as Time had reported a few years back." Laboring away with Father Wilfrid, Urban sees things for what they are:

"A good part of his working day was spent in wandering back and forth between the lavatory and the job. Yes, he knew what he was, a disgruntled employee blowing himself to a bit of company time, but he didn't care, and he didn't give the boss quite enough cause to complain. However, it got so that the employee knew what to expect if, in his journeys to and from the lavatory, he paused too long at a window for a look at the outside world. He knew that the boss would soon come along and offer him a cigarette -- there was no use trying to smoke a cigar if you did the kind of work they did -- and then a light. There they'd be, then, just a couple of average guys such as they saw in the evening on television, taking their well-earned break."

In the end, then, "Morte d'Urban" isn't just about a Catholic priest and the Catholic Church, it's about the American workplace. If there's a better novel about that subject, I don't know what it is; certainly Joseph Heller's ambitious but numbing "Something Happened" falls far short of it. That "Morte d'Urban" is still in print is thanks to New York Review Books Classics, which also has in print "Wheat That Springeth Green" and "The Stories of J.F. Powers." These are books that matter, and keeping them alive -- in the face of general indifference to Powers's work -- is a genuine service to American literature. Washington Post

"Morte d'Urban" is available in a New York Review Books Classics paperback ($12.95).

Jonathan Yardley's e-mail address is

Amy Welborn, in her new incarnation in Charlotte Was Both ("Open Book" is now retired) is confining herself to writing (for money) and blogging on her family and books. She comments on Yardley's column on Powers:

There are a couple of ways to look at this - Yardley’s way, which is certainly legitimate. But I think saying that this is more about business than spirituality or that the Church setting functions as a metaphor indicates a gap in understanding of Powers’ subject, which is, most of the time, priests and clerical culture. For the “business” atmosphere which Yardley discerns is not extrinsic to this culture. It’s not something Powers imposes on it because it’s handy. It’s an aspect of institutional church life which he knew from his close association with priests over the years. Certainly, Powers’ work can be read to understand something about American life, particularly the American way of doing business, but how that way of doing business permeates the way of doing God’s business raises its own set of uncomfortable questions, but questions that are very much based in the reality of how things are: the Church making its way, raising its money, building its institutions, finding its place in the New World. I don’t think anyone who’s ever worked in the Church - or a church - could read Powers and do anything but nod. Charlotte Was Both

Gregorian Chant in Northeast Minneapolis, Tomorrow Morning; You're Invited!

Yes, the beginning chant group with which I've been rehearsing is singing at the 8:30 am Saturday mass tomorrow at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Minneapolis (directions). The morning begins at 7:30 with a holy hour before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Glen Jensen has been encouraging the people at St. Anthony's to learn the responses in latin by celebrating a beautiful liturgy in honor of Our Lady each Saturday. He's been kind enough to invite us to sing tomorrow, and perhaps more regularly in the future.

While we are beginners, we've been doing our best to prayerfully offer the following repetoire. The ordinaries are from Orbis Factor (Mass XI), and the propers taken mostly from the Solemnity of the Assumption of the BVM:

Introit - Salve Sancta Parens
Kyrie - Mass XI, B
Alleluia - Proper from the Assumption of the BVM
Offertory - Assumpta Est, O Sanctissima (hymn)
Sanctus - Mass XI
Agnus Dei - Mass XI
Communion - Beatam Dicent, Jesu Dulcis Memoria (hymn)
Recessional - Salve Regina (hymn)

Come pray with us! Sheets will be available with responses and translations of the propers.
Thanks to fellow chant student Dan of Believe and Profess for posting this.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mpls Fire Chief is a Deacon; Reflects on 35W Bridge Disaster

Deacon Jim Clack wasn’t as well prepared as usual when he preached the homilies during weekend Masses Aug. 4 and 5 at his parish, St. Pius X Parish in Zimmerman. Indeed, the deacon spoke off the cuff, without notes even.

Laziness? Procrastination? Just returning home from a vacation trip?

Nope. You see, Deacon Jim Clack is also Minneapolis Fire Chief Jim Clack, and he had just spent the three previous days directing — non-stop — a good portion of the response, rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis.

Although his preparation time was scant, Deacon Clack was nevertheless grateful to be able to reflect on the experience he had just been through and relate it to the weekend Mass readings from the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes and the Gospel of Luke. In fact, Deacon Clack said he finds that speaking from his heart often has more impact than reading from a carefully prepared manuscript.

“The whole book of Ecclesiastes focuses on what’s important in life and what really doesn’t mean much,” Deacon Clack said in an Aug. 9 e-mail interview with the St. Cloud Visitor. In the passage in Luke (12:13-21), he added, Jesus addresses the foolishness of storing up bumper crops and things of this earth instead of cultivating the true riches of a right relationship with God.

“People driving on that bridge that evening had no inkling that their lives would change so drastically,” Deacon Clack said. But God, on any night, can take back any life.

Deacon Clack said he was sitting in his fire chief’s car at a bank in Elk River with his daughter Elizabeth, 19, when he heard the first calls on the radio about the bridge collapse.

“I told Elizabeth to buckle up and hold on because she was going to have to ride with me as I raced back down to Minneapolis,” he said. “There was no time to drop her off at home.”

So, in a kind of classic “French Connection” or “Bullitt” movie car-chase scene, Deacon Clack sped down Interstate 94 at 90 miles per hour.

“Elizabeth would breath in real deep every time we approached a car from the rear to pass it,” he said.

The deacon and his daughter arrived on the scene about 30 minutes after the bridge collapse. Again, it was as if they had walked onto the set of a movie.

“Our initial view of the scene was from the 10th Ave. Bridge just downstream of the collapse site,” he said. “We both were stunned. I saw dozens of people crawling and climbing all over the various sections of the bridge. Some were obviously injured; some were firefighters, police officers and, also, many civilians. All seemed to be working together.

“I remember not hearing much noise, which was very strange. It was a scene that was hard to imagine, almost surreal. There was a semi-truck on fire which nobody seemed to be paying any attention to. There was a bus with the back door open. Kids ... I wondered out loud how many were still in the bus,” Deacon Clack said.

“I thought to myself that we would end up with many serious injuries and deaths. The devastation was almost overwhelming to my senses,” he said. “Now, in retrospect, I know that it is a modern-day miracle that so many walked and swam away from that scene.”

Deacon Clack’s immediate thoughts and emotions, however, lasted only fleeting seconds. It was then back to the business of again getting behind the wheel and finding the command post, which had been set up just on the other end of the bridge. After a quick talk with the operations chief, he sped down to City Hall and into the basement emergency operations center.

“My wife, Rose, came down to City Hall and picked up Elizabeth at some point that evening. I was too busy to notice when Elizabeth left.”

Deacon Clack said that his experience and historical perspective were beneficial Aug. 1 when he found himself in charge of the response to a major disaster.

“I was not working for the fire department when the Northwest Bank fire occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1982,” he said, “but many of the lessons learned at that high-rise fire 25 years ago were passed on to me as a young firefighter by the ‘crusty’ old veterans who would tell me as a young rookie firefighter to ‘pace yourself’ and never commit all your energy and resources to any one incident. The old chiefs would say, ‘Never get too excited and keep your voice calm on the radio because everyone working for you will follow your lead. If you are flying off the handle, so will everyone else.’

“These wise thoughts came back to me the evening the 35W Bridge collapsed. In those initial moments I was very tempted to send every available fire truck to the scene and call everyone in from home that was not working. Instead, we kept a few companies in reserve and did not ask everyone to report for duty. I was also very careful to talk calmly and deliberately on the radio, telephone or in media interviews. It turns out that the old guys were pretty wise,” he said.

Deacon Clack said such a circumspect approach has implications also for church leadership.

“I think our church leadership has developed a similar mode of operation. They never seem to act or react quickly. Good bishops and pastors make time to consider options and always look back for the experience of those who came before them,” he said. “To the lay faithful living in a wealthy and very fast-paced society, this leadership style can at times come across as indecisive or even as ‘glacial’ thinking. Sure, there are things that happen which require a forceful and immediate response, but I have learned that many ‘emergencies’ will resolve themselves if we take a little time to think, and to pray for help.”

Deacon Clack said that his secular role as fire chief and his ordained role as a deacon often intersect.

“The firefighters know about my faith life, which in some ways makes me more ‘approachable.’ We lost a healthy and young firefighter — Barry Delude, a 20-year veteran of the Minneapolis Fire Department — to influenza last February. I was able to serve as deacon at the funeral Mass and give a short reflection about what Barry meant to me and the fire department. Many of the people who work for me were pleasantly surprised and offered support as I attempted to balance my faith and my secular profession as a leader in local government.”

Even after witnessing devastation that would cause many people to question, “Where is God?” Deacon Clack says his faith in God has never been stronger.

“The miracles I have witnessed over my career in the fire service just make me realize more and more that God is with me, blessing me and watching over me as I stumble through life,” he said. “I have seen babies born right in front of me and helped ‘jump start’ the hearts of many very old people. I feel blessed to have witnessed those everyday miracles which God’s grace makes possible.

“I never expected to be a deacon or a fire chief, but I know that these things are not really up to me. I just need to listen for the voice of God and everything will be according to his plan for my life.” The Catholic Spirit