Thursday, April 30, 2009

U.S. Abortion Support Slips

Pew Research Study: Currently, 43% of men say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 46% say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. In August 2008, a greater proportion of men said that abortion should be legal than illegal (by 53% to 42%).

The change among women has been more modest -- 49% believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, down from 54% last August.

People older than age 50 -- both men and women -- express less support for legal abortion than they did in August 2008. Just 40% of men older than 50 say abortion should be legal in most or all cases compared with 53% last summer. Support for legal abortion among women older than 50 has fallen from 53% to 45%.

There has been little change in opinions among women younger than age 50: 53% say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, which is largely unchanged from August (55%). Support for abortion has declined since last April among men under age 50 (from 53% then to 45% currently).

Abortion Opinions: A Closer Look

Between August and late October 2008, the proportion supporting legal abortion ranged from 57% (in mid-October) to 53% (in late October), before declining to 46% currently. Though opinion among some subgroups varied significantly across those surveys, some trends are apparent, aside from the falloff in support among men.

There has been notable decline in the proportion of independents saying abortion should be legal in most or all cases; majorities of independents favored legal abortion in August and the two October surveys, but just 44% do so today. In addition, the proportion of moderate and liberal Republicans saying abortion should be legal declined between August and late October (from 67% to 57%). In the current survey, just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans say abortion should legal in most or all cases.

Among religious groups, support for abortion has steadily declined since August among white mainline Protestants (from 69% then to 54% currently). And just 23% of white evangelical Protestants now favor legal abortion, down from 33% in August and mid-October and 28% in late October.

The change has been less pronounced among white non-Hispanic Catholics: In August, 51% said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases; in both October surveys, 55% favored legal abortion. In the current survey, 49% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say that abortion should be legal while 42% believe it should be illegal.

View the topline and survey methodology at .
Pew Research

Patrick Madrid, Catholic Apologist, has posted a video on his web page that powerfully and graphically illustrates the effects of the decline in numbers of children in the countries of the western world and the the growth of the numbers of Muslims. In not so many years, Western European and American history and culture may no longer be studied in our schools and universities.

Family Rosary Procession: 1:30 p.m., Sunday, State Capitol or Dunwood Institute in Minneapolis

Calling Out To All: Come into the Immaculate Heart of Mary

A Reminder ...

that this Sunday May 3 is the annual May Day Family Rosary Procession held concurrently in Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The times are becoming increasingly serious on all counts...Our Lady is calling everyone to prayer and into the refuge of her Immaculate Heart where we will be enlightened in the truth and strengthened in suffering.

Entrust yourself and your family to her Immaculate Heart as we pray for our country, our families and for LIFE.

Assembly time is 1:30 at the State Capitol Approach in Saint Paul, or at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis.
The March in St. Paul will be to the Cathedral of St. Paul; in Minneapolis it will be through Loring Park to the Basilica of St. Mary.

In Saint Paul Archbishop Nienstedt will bless a new statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which will travel throughout our Archdiocese for Marian/Eucharistic Holy Hours.

Hear her call...and respond!

Archbishop Nienstedt reflects on the joys and the challenges of his first year as our "Good Shepherd."


As shepherd of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Archbishop John Nienstedt keeps a demanding schedule. Fridays are supposed to be his day off, but when you are the leader of more than 650,000 Catholics, it doesn’t always work out that way.

On a recent Friday, for example, the archbishop met with members of the archdiocesan Comprehensive Personnel Board. Then there was a lunch appointment followed by an interview with a reporter. Later that day, he would attend a basketball tournament in Chaska between priests and seminarians.

Some Fridays, he heads to the Catholic Charities Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul to help serve meals and talk to the people who drop by.

Most days “there isn’t a whole lot of leisure time,” admits Archbishop Nien­stedt, who will mark one year as leader of the archdiocese on May 2. He spoke with The Catholic Spirit recently about his time in the archdiocese and his hopes for the future.

Keeping pace

After Archbishop Harry Flynn’s retirement last year and auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates’ appointment last April to the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, Archbishop Nienstedt has had to shoulder a demanding ministry load.

But he has kept pace with the parish and school visits he initiated when he was first appointed as coadjutor archbishop in April 2007. So far, Archbishop Nienstedt has been to 107 of the archdiocese’s 216 parishes, all 14 of its Catholic high schools and 56 of 97 Catholic elementary schools, as well as a host of other Catholic facilities and agencies.

He said the visits have been one of the joys of shepherding this archdiocese, along with celebrating confirmations — he has 37 of them this year, and during the Easter season he typically is confirming youth three or four times a week.

“For me, these are great family celebrations,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “But more than that, since we ask most of our confirmation candidates and their sponsors to come to the cathedral [in St. Paul] and the basilica [in Minneapolis], they really are ecclesial celebrations as well. I think that’s a good thing because being confirmed should be more than being confirmed in the faith of this parish, this local community. It’s really being confirmed in the wider church.”

The chrism Mass, at which the oils that are used for the sacraments throughout the year are blessed, was also a great source of joy, Archbishop Nienstedt said.

“We had over 200 priests there. We had over 200 seminarians there. It was just very, very impressive,” Archbishop Nienstedt said about the March 31 Mass. “The presence of so many deacons, religious women, confirmation candidates and catechumens, as well as those candidates who were going to be fully received into the church at the Easter Vigil, it was all so overwhelming. I got goose bumps during the ceremony and especially afterward when I started calling these different groups to stand up.”

Challenges along the way

Archbishop Nienstedt said he also has had to confront some challenges along the way, especially those related to the transition of leaving the smaller Diocese of New Ulm to come to the much larger archdiocese.

“I would say one of the biggest accomplishments is just surviving the e-mails,” he said. “I used to get e-mails in New Ulm, but nothing to the extent I get here.”

The archbishop said he also had to overcome negative media publicity after his arrival. And then he had to cope with the death of both of his parents in the course of six weeks in late 2007 and early 2008.

“Change is always difficult for people when you introduce a new person into a situation,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “And obviously, having been here for 13 years, Archbishop Flynn was a very successful pastor of this local church. And so I had some pretty big shoes to fill.”

But, Archbishop Nienstedt added, “I feel much more at home, and I think people are getting to know me better.”

One of the constant questions Archbishop Nienstedt said he received when he first arrived in the archdiocese was: “What is your agenda?” It was a question to which he took exception, he said, because “I don’t feel a bishop coming into a diocese should have his own agenda.”

A bishop’s agenda, he said, should be the church’s agenda — preaching the Word, celebrating the sacraments, caring for the poor.

But bishops do set priorities.

One of Archbishop Nienstedt’s priorities is the Strategic Task Force for Parish and School Planning, which will deliver recommendations to him in 12 to 18 months after gathering input from across the archdiocese. The archbishop wrote about the work of the task force in his March 26 column in The Catholic Spirit.

“We’ve had significant demographic changes,” he said. “We’ve had changes in our resources, particularly in our personnel resources. So we have to take a look at this.”

Having overseen the formation of a plan for parishes in the Diocese of New Ulm, however, Archbishop Nienstedt said he comes to the archdiocesan planning process not with fear and trepidation, but hope and expectation.

“I think it can be done, and it can be done well,” he said. “But obviously the biggest thing is it’s a collaborative process. My mantra in New Ulm was: Let’s build on our strengths and not duplicate our efforts.”

Another priority is the morale of the archdiocese’s priests and their ongoing education and formation, Archbishop Nienstedt said.

“I’m very pleased we had two study days for the clergy, both the priests and the deacons, which I think were very well attended and very well received,” he said.

“And so I hope to continue to do that.”

The archbishop said he is also very aware of the difficulties posed by the current economic crisis.

“Our parishes are finding that people aren’t able to give to the level they have given before,” he said. “Thanks be to God we seem to be doing OK with our Catholic Services Appeal.

“But there are so many challenging situations out there, particularly with our Catholic schools,” he added. “As you know, we’ve had to close three grade schools. That just breaks my heart. But those weren’t done easily or quickly. There’s lots of discussion, lots of trial and error in trying to find ways to remedy the situation. But given this overall economic downturn, it just seemed to be inevitable that those kinds of things would happen.”

Finding the balance

Despite his busy schedule, Archbishop Nienstedt said he takes time to exercise every morning, read (he is currently reading “The Joy of Knowing Christ” by Pope Benedict XVI) and stay in touch with family and friends.

He has found a little restaurant on a lake about 40 minutes from St. Paul, where he likes to visit and do some reading if he has a free afternoon.

And, he added, “I try to make sure I’ve been going to bed a little bit earlier. Instead of watching the 10 o’clock news, I force myself to turn it off and go to bed.

“I think I’ve learned to balance things pretty well. But I will very much appreciate the presence of a new auxiliary bishop whenever the Holy Father deems it proper for us to have one.”

Sources of hope

Archbishop Nienstedt said there are a number of things that give him hope as he ministers in the archdiocese and looks toward the future:

• “What gives me hope is the joy that I have in knowing Jesus Christ. What gives me hope in knowing him is the visits to the high schools. I like to do questions and answers, and I ask them to think about those questions a week ahead of time. They give them to me — they’re not identified at all — but it gives them a chance to ask me things that might be on their hearts or in their minds.”

• “I would say at the Easter Vigil, baptizing eight catechumens and bringing 22 candidates into the church. Confirming 30 of them brought a great sense of joy and gives me great hope because I can see right before my very eyes the faith of our Catholic Church being passed on to another generation.”

• “Having a full cathedral of dedicated marchers on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — that gave me great hope. There was standing room only there when we came together for that prayer service [in January].”

Anne Taylor, of St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater, greets Archbishop John Nienstedt March 1 during the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of St. Paul, as Patti Watkins, faith formation director, looks on. At right is Taylor’s sponsor, Eugenia Junker. - Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
• “Being able to converse with a homeless person down at the [Catholic Charities] Dorothy Day Center. I like to go down on Fridays when I have an opportunity to help serve meals there. They begin to recognize you, and they come up and talk to you.”

• “To be able to share some of their grief [at the Dorothy Day Center]. One night I was there and a couple had just had their house burn down. They were lucky enough that somebody came in and got them out before the fire took off. But they said they lost everything. It’s so hard to believe. I mean I was robbed last June, but I didn’t lose everything. But I know the feeling of [desperation] that you have in a situation like that. Being able to give them a word of hope is a hopeful thing for me.”

• “Visiting the seminary every month. I go over on Sunday night and spend the night. Then I get up and do an hour of reflection with the seminarians at St. John Vianney and I celebrate Mass for them. Then I usually have breakfast with our guys from the archdiocese. I stay there and try to get some work done and at 10:30 I go over and visit with Msgr. [Aloysius] Callaghan [St. Paul Seminary rector] and then take the 11:30 Mass and stay for lunch. So it’s a whole morning, but I enjoy it, and they’ve been telling me they enjoy it as well.”

• “Visiting with our Missionaries of Charity. Such wonderful, dedicated women, and so joyful. Seeing them work among the poorest of the poor in Minneapolis really gives me great hope.”

• “And I would also say the work that we have been doing through the Center for Mission in our Venezuelan mission parish. I see such tremendous awareness [and] consciousness of the church in the mission territory and people wanting to volunteer to go down and see what that’s all about.” The Catholic Spirit

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wayne Smith remembered as father and designer of more than 100 churches in the Diocese of Winona

Sydney Smith laughs when she remembers the dress — the one that “looked like blueprints” — even after all these years. Her parents bought the unusual garment for her in third grade, and when the little girl questioned the design, her mom gave her a simple reply.

“My mom said it was good for business,” Sydney said, chuckling at the memory.

Her father’s business, W-Smith Architectural & Engineering Service of Winona, enjoyed many successes over the years, though few were likely related to the dress. W. Wayne Smith started his own firm and designed hundreds of buildings across the Midwest.

Smith, 85, died April 21.

While few Winona residents may recognize his name, most see his work every day. He designed and helped construct many of the city’s most well-known structures, including the Law Enforcement Center, Joseph Page Theatre on the Winona campus of Saint Mary’s University and Winona State University’s Performing Arts Center.

“I couldn’t have imagined him doing anything else,” Sydney said. “He was very creative.”

Smith was also very proud, his brother Charles Smith said. Proud of his military service; Smith was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. Proud of his family; he was married to his wife, Phyllis, for 63 years when he died, and the couple had seven children. Proud of his faith; one of eight children, he graduated from Cotter High School in 1942 and the University of Notre Dame in 1948.

And very proud of his work, which he was always talking about, Charles said. Smith worked for two different firms, even supervising the construction of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Church, before he started his own business in 1954.

Smith quickly established his own reputation in the area, designing buildings for area municipalities, colleges and businesses. Sydney and her siblings quickly became accustomed to attending ground-breaking and dedication ceremonies, she said.

His trademark may have been churches, though, his family said. He designed and oversaw the construction of nearly 100 Catholic churches in the Diocese of Winona.

“I think he probably did a couple and word got around,” Sydney said. “He was a committed Catholic, and a good salesman.”

Smith’s son, Sherman, joined the firm in 1975, and the pair worked side by side before a fall forced Smith to retire in 1990. Sherman couldn’t point to one building that her father liked best, Sydney said.

“I asked him which one Dad was most excited about,” she said. “He said, ‘The next one.’” Winona Daily News

Bishop Aquila of Fargo's April 5th message on Notre Dame just seeing daylight

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.

FARGO, ND (Catholic Diocese of Fargo) - The Catholic Diocese of Fargo Office of Communications, 5201 Bishops Blvd., Suite A, Fargo, ND 58104 issued the following Press release:

Bishop of Fargo addresses “gravity of Notre Dame’s error” in inviting President Obama to speak at commencement exercises and receive honorary degree

In an April 5 letter to Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila wrote that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at their commencement exercises and to receive an honorary degree “diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.”
Bishop Aquila, who serves the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, N.D., wrote, “I was surprised and saddened when I learned about the invitation extended to President Obama to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement exercises and to receive an honorary degree. Your statements in defense of the award and invitation have only deepened my dismay.”

The Diocese of Fargo released the letter to the public on April 7 via its Web site, with this explanation from Bishop Aquila. “Because I have received inquires and concerns expressed about the invitation by Notre Dame’s president, Father John Jenkins, to President Barack Obama to receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement speech at the 2009 May graduation ceremonies, I have released publicly the letter to Father Jenkins expressing my dismay with this public action that has caused scandal to faithful Catholics.”

In the letter to Father Jenkins, Bishop Aquila wrote, “I know you are a man of integrity and believe in the Church’s witness. I also know as a priest and a president of a Catholic University, you are well acquainted with Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the 2004 statement of the Bishops of the United States on ‘Catholics in Political Life.’ Even though President Obama is not Catholic, he clearly rejects the truth about human dignity through his constant support of a so called ‘right to abortion.’ He also tolerates the inexcusable act of letting aborted children die who are born alive. He promotes an intrinsic evil which must always be resisted by a just and civil society.”

Quoting from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, Bishop Aquila wrote, “Your judgment in this matter is seriously flawed, with damaging consequences, for ‘…you are not on the side of God, but of men’.” Diocese of Fargo

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New 'Vitae Monologues' play offers hope for healing after abortion

A play created by a member of a Minnesota theater company aims to be an alternative to "The Vagina Monologues," a popular campus play but one that is often criticized for its sexual explicitness.

Sarah Preissner stars in a scene from Epiphany Studio Productions' "The Vitae Monologues." - CNS photo/courtesy of Epiphany Studio Productions
Jeremy Stanbary of Epiphany Studio Productions says his play, "The Vitae Monologues," portrays powerful stories of hope and healing from women who have suffered from the psychological and physical effects of abortion.

Stanbary, founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Catholic production company, was inspired to write this play a few years ago after hearing women and men speak publicly of their experiences dealing with post-abortion syndrome at a Silent No More event in Minnesota.

Sarah Preissner and Stanbary star in the one-act play designed for performance particularly on college campuses or at high schools.

"These personal and very real testimonies are unfortunately often dismissed by the secular, medical community," said Stanbary in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service.

"The Vitae Monologues" or "The Monologues of Life" opens with a scene in a therapist's office, where several people talk about seemingly unrelated problems they're having in their lives. Each one has experienced trauma in the aftermath of an abortion.

"Oftentimes symptoms don't appear until years later," Stanbary said. "Since Roe v. Wade, women have been repressed and ignored, but we're seeing an influx of women coming forth, telling their stories of post-abortion syndrome -- understanding that they are not alone.

"This play gives women a voice within our culture and their stories need to be told," he added. "The greatest deception is that abortion is good for women and helps women." The Catholic Spirit

See Epiphany Studio Productions for performances of this and others of their productions that they can bring to your school, parish or community.

Check out our new and revised promotional videos, which are now available from our YouTube channel:

UST Art exhibit celebrates old, famous, and still well-traveled Spanish pilgrim route

Soon, Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will no longer need a passport to get a taste of what life is like in such exotic places as the South Pacific island of Tonga, India or New Zealand.

Sister Monika Zwiek, left, and Sister Mary Joseph Pale, Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, hold an ebony statue of Mary with the child Jesus from Tanzania. The statue and many other artifacts donated to the sisters by missionaries from around the world are on display at the new Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center in St. Paul. - Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
On Tuesday, May 5, the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver will dedicate a new museum showcasing hundreds of artifacts from around the world inside their St. Paul convent.

The Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center, located at 265 Century Ave., is designed to be a hands-on museum — a feast for the senses — dedicated to the work of missionaries around the world.

“This is not a typical museum,” said Sister Genevieve Kudlik, superior of the St. Paul community. “It’s something that we hope [to use] to help people understand the cultures and traditions of different countries, their religions, their beliefs . . . and why evangelization is needed today in the world.”

The extensive collection includes colorful hand-painted instruments from Aborigines in Australia, animal horns used to carry human ashes from Central Africa, a Buddhist altar from India and a sacred Congolese idol pierced with dozens of nails, each representing a young girl sacrificed to the gods.

All of the items in the museum were gifts to the sisters from missionaries serving in different parts of the world.

Sister Genevieve, who is from Poland, said she hopes the museum will inspire school children and adults alike to get involved in mission work.

Museum dedication

The Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver invite the public to attend a blessing and dedication of the new Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center with Archbishop John Nienstedt.

• Day: Tuesday, May 5

• Schedule: 7:30 a.m. Mass, 8:30 a.m. eucharistic adoration, 11 a.m. dedication ceremony, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. open house, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. eucharistic adoration, 5 p.m. vespers and Benediction

• Place: Convent of the Sisters of St. Peter Claver, 265 Century Ave., St. Paul

Please RSVP by Tuesday, April 28, by calling (651) 738-9704 or e-mailing e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
“People are hungry not only for food but also for God,” she said. “As Pope John Paul II would say, each one of us has the duty to evangelize in any way that we can in the place that we live, and there are many ways to do that.”

Until recently, most of the museum’s collection had been in storage. When the sisters decided to outsource the printing of their magazine, Echo from Africa and Other Continents, which tells the stories of missionaries in the field, rooms that for decades had housed printing machines and other equipment opened up.

Mother Maria Moryl, former superior of the St. Paul community, came up with the idea to house a museum in the empty space.

Hidden treasures

A hand-carved wooden statue of St. Peter Claver on display at the Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center in St. Paul. - Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
After Mother Moryl was appointed superior general in fall 2007 and moved to Rome, Sister Genevieve and the other sisters residing at the convent carried out her vision.

For two years, they sorted items, labeled them and created colorful displays.

Some objects include tags with information such as the country of origin and a date. Others are more of a mystery, though the sisters are conducting research to fill in the blanks.

The museum includes three spacious rooms. One room houses displays representing each of the continents and Oceania. There is also a multimedia room, where visitors will be able to watch films and slide shows on a large flat-screen TV, and a conference room that can seat about 50.

“I think it could be a great spot for religious education groups,” said Deacon Mickey Friesen, director of the archdiocesan Center for Mission. “It’s a place right here in our own backyard where, in a sense, the mission is brought to us.”

Deacon Friesen referred to the sisters as a “wonderful witness.”

“These are women who themselves are from all over the world . . . and they’ve dedicated their lives to telling the stories of the mission. They put such love and care and a lot of effort into this [project].”

The seven sisters residing at the St. Paul convent are from Poland, Samoa, Ireland, Tonga and Vietnam.

“This museum will be a wonderful part of our apostolate as a mission animation,” said Sister Monika Zwiek, who is from Poland. “We’ll have a chance to show people the cultures where the missionaries are going to evangelize to bring the Gospel, and we can show people the fruit of their evangelization.”
After May 5, the museum will be open to the public by appointment.

To make an appointment to visit the Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center, call (651) 738-9704 or e-mail The Catholic Spirit

Home Page of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver

Monday, April 27, 2009

Homosexual attraction: A disordered desire for love

The following first appeared in the Northern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of Duluth.

Why is homosexuality a sin?

First, homosexuality is not a sin. The term “homosexuality” refers to the condition of being sexually attracted to mem­­bers of one’s own gender. An at­traction, even a same-sex attraction, is not sinful; it is simply a description of what is. Every one of us struggles daily with our attractions and desires. This is the human condition: We are made good but are sometimes attracted to things that aren’t good for us.

Of course, not all desires are bad. In fact, every human person innately desires the good. We all long for love. We all long for friendship. We all long for the truth.

But we are also often tempted toward things that aren’t good. We long for love, but we are sometimes tempted to use other people. We long for friendship, but we may be tempted to manipulate friends. We long for the truth, but we can be tempted to lie. All of these temptations are simply that: temptations. They are our desires out-of-order.

The Catholic Church sometimes uses the word “disorder” when referring to these attractions. This ought to make sense to all of us: We are made for good and any attraction to something that is not good is a disordered desire.

The same is true when it comes to sexuality. All humans are ordered toward loving and being loved. Every one of us is made for love. No one is excluded from this.

But we also recognize something within us that is attracted toward using another person for our own purposes. A man is tempted to fantasize about a woman who is not his wife. A girl is tempted to act out sexually with her boyfriend. A woman is tempted to read romance novels and insert herself in the story. A priest is sexually attracted to a woman in his parish. A man is attracted sexually to another man.

All of these are disordered attractions — homosexual attractions being “intrinsically disordered,” meaning that it is the object of the desired act itself that is not rightly ordered.

We can wag our finger and say, “Don’t think like that!” But what would that do? Wouldn’t it be better to point out what these people are actually longing for? They (and all of us) are longing to know and be known, to love and to be loved.

Love and friendship

People who are attracted to a member of the same gender are desiring something that is good; they are desiring love. The problem is the fact that this good desire has become sexualized. This is huge.

In our culture, we have reduced love to “romantic love.” We have further reduced romantic love to “sex.” Therefore, if I deny someone sex, I am saying that they may not know love. But that is ridiculous. All of us know that love is more than sex, and we know that love is more than romance. In fact, wiser, more ancient cultures believed that friendship was a greater form of love than erotic love.

This is what every person is longing for: true friendship. Why else do couples continually say things like, “I married my best friend”? They realize that friendship is higher and more precious than “in-loveness.” I can fall in love with virtually any cute person. To find a true friend is another thing entirely.

Every person is called to love. It is very possible that not every person is called to act that love out in a sexual way. If two men or two women love each other in a real way, is the addition of sexual acts going to deepen that love? Do we assume that “adding sex” necessarily “adds love”?

Would the introduction of sex into a parent-adult child relationship add to the relationship or destroy it? I only use that example to demonstrate the faulty reasoning that the sexual expression of love is always a good.

Sex is ordered toward two things: bonding the couple and bringing forth life. There is only one context in which this is possible: in the marriage of one man and one woman. If there is no marriage, there is often no sense of true commitment and the bonding of the couple is weak. If both genders are not represented, the possibility of life is thwarted. Anything that directly violates either the bonding or the possibility of life is a disordered use of the sexual act (as well as use of the other person).

Called to holiness

We are all called to holiness. Do we realize that? This is for everyone. Men and women with same-sex attraction are not singled out in this. Every disciple of Jesus Christ is called to live differently. We are all called to enter into the struggle for holiness and purity of life. A man or woman with same-sex attraction does not need to feel ashamed.

If you have homosexual feelings, do not panic. Don’t be discouraged. And please, do not hate yourself. But I also invite you not to forget this fact: You are called to be holy. A large part of that is simply letting yourself be loved by God (even when we fall) and walking in hope. I have no doubt that there are a number of canonized saints who had to walk the same path you may find yourself on.

You have a place in the Catholic Church. She will call you to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ (which includes chastity), but she will also call you to the love and the glory for which God has destined you.

For more information, please check out .

Father Michael Schmitz is director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth. He leads the Newman Center at the University of Minne­­sota-Duluth. Catholic Spirit

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Respect, Not More Condoms

As an Archbishop, dealing on a daily basis with people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, I know that the Pope is speaking the truth. I suspect that those who were so vociferous in condemning the Pope have never touched an HIV infected person, let alone rendered any care and attention. It is so much easier to distribute gadgets, especially at other people's expense.

What reduces infections is less casual sex, not more condoms. That is the truth.
Those who accuse the Pope of being "unrealistic," that young people will have sex anyway, have no respect for the young people. When they are given true orientation, they freely respond with far greater sexual responsibility that the armchair social experts can ever imagine.

As an African Archbishop, it is my nephews and nieces that are in danger of dying of HIV/AIDS. Let no one ever suggest that they are more concerned about them than I am. The condom distributors should listen to the truth coming not only from the Pope and Bishops, but even from impartial and serious scientific research. The facts are there, as Cardinal Pell has briefly illustrated. To ignore these facts is the greatest disservice anyone can do to the future of Africa. The struggle continues, and we are overcoming!

Archbishop John Onaiyekan
Archdiocese of Abuja, Nigeria
A Shepherd's Voice Fr. John Malloy

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Ulm's Bishop John LeVoir joins 45 other U.S. bishops against decision to invite President to Notre Dame for honors

. . . .Like the majority of the U.S. bishops against the scandal, Bishop LeVoir of New Ulm, MN reacted to Notre Dame's decision by recalling the U.S. Bishops Conference 2004 directive against honoring pro-abortion politicians.

"Since President Obama has taken stands that contradict the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic Church, e.g., the approval of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, he 'should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for his actions' at a Catholic university," said Bishop LeVoir in an April 13 statement.

"The decision of the University of Notre Dame makes it much more difficult for the Church to carry out her vital mission to transform our culture into a culture of life and love," he concluded. . . . LifeSiteNews

Blessed Nuno to be named a saint with help from MN-based society

Pope Benedict XVI will canonize five men and women April 26, including one with a unique connection to Minnesota.

Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira was a lay member of the Portuguese Order of Friars of the Blessed Sacrament in the 15th century, and the only organization in the English-speaking world dedicated to him is headquartered in Duluth.

The Blessed Nuno Society is a mission society and prayer apostolate that works to support orphaned and homeless children — a cause that was close to Blessed Nuno’s heart.

It was formed in the aftermath of a 1985 pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal, that included Tim Heinan, the organization’s executive director and a former member of Our Lady of the Cathedral parish in Duluth.

Heinan, who will be attending the canonization ceremony Mass in Rome, moved to Arizona three years ago to open the society’s mission office in Tucson. The society is currently involved in projects to help orphans and others in need in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Of the organization’s nearly 1,000 members, approximately 325 are from Minnesota, with some 60 from the Twin Cities metro area, Heinan said. The society’s first Twin Cities chapter was officially formed this month and is based at Holy Rosary in Minneapolis.

Blessed Nuno provides an important witness to Catholics today, especially in light of the greed that helped spawn the current world financial crisis and ongoing global tensions.

“He was one of the wealthiest men of his day, but believed that the error of the rich and powerful in his day was their greed and all-consuming pursuit of more, rather than using their gifts from God to serve Christ in the poor and the most marginalized, especially orphaned children,” Heinan said.

“A close look at his life shows that he was truly a peacemaker who loved his enemies, even when he had to defend his nation from them,” Heinan said.

For more information about the Blessed Nuno Society, visit The Catholic Spirit

Blessed Nuno society members celebrate canonization, miracle connection

By The Catholic Spirit

When Blessed Nuno Society members Father Ray Cossette, Father Rich Kunst, and
Society Executive Director Tim Heinan left Fatima, Portugal, on May 15, 2000, they had
no idea that a tragedy and a miracle were soon to take place. The group arrived in
Lisbon that afternoon only to discover that some of their luggage had been accidentally
left behind in a doorway, ninety minutes to the north. Heinan immediately phoned
his friend, Guilhermina de Jesus, and asked her to put the lost luggage in a taxi and send
it to Lisbon.

Guilhermina de Jesus is a simple and modest sixty-six year old Portuguese woman who
had often cooked and cleaned for Blessed Nuno Society members when they visited
Fatima. In 1998, the Society commissioned an artist in Fatima to produce a limited
number of nine-inch tall statues of the Society’s patron, Blessed Friar Nuno Alvares
Pereira. One of these porcelain statues had been given to Guilhermina because of her
deep personal devotion to Blessed Nuno.

Less than five months after asking Guilhermina to retrieve the lost luggage, Heinan
received a call from her family asking for prayers. Guilhermina, known simply as Mina
to her friends, had been cooking her famous “bacalhau” (codfish) when boiling oil
splashed in her face. She had just removed her glasses because they had steamed up
when the hot oil flared up, literally frying the cornea of her left eye. Mina was rushed to
the hospital but the doctors said she would be permanently blind. Consultations with
other medical specialists provided no hope.

In November, Mina asked her parish priest, Father Carlos Querido, to lead her and her
family in a novena to Blessed Nuno. A second novena ended on December 8, the feast of
the Immaculate Conception. Mina wanted to continue praying at home that evening, but
was unable to read the prayers, so she simply kissed the Society’s statue of Blessed Nuno
and touched it to her eye. As she describes it, a feeling of peace overcame her. The
following morning, when her family arrived at her house, she announced that she had just
been watching television. She had experienced an instantaneous and medically
inexplicable healing!

On July 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI approved this healing as a miracle obtained
through Blessed Nuno’s intercession. Nearly six hundred years after his death, Nuno
would finally be canonized as a saint. Carmelite Postulator for the Cause, Rev. Felip
Amenos, had at least two other reported miracles to consider, but choose to present this
one to the Congregation for Causes of Saints because it was instantaneous and so clearly
tied in time and circumstance to the petitioner’s prayer to Blessed Nuno.

Heinan will represent the Blessed Nuno Society at the canonization Mass to be
celebrated by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, April 26. The Blessed
Nuno Society, headquartered in the Diocese of Duluth, is a mission society and prayer
apostolate that has worked to support orphaned children since 1985. It is the only
organization in the English-speaking world that has been actively promoting the cause of
Blessed Nuno. St. Nuno will be the first member of the Carmelites of Ancient
Observance to be canonized since 1669. He is a patron of orphaned children and of
international peace and remembered for his determination to put service to Christ and to
the poor ahead of personal gain and wealth. His feast has been fixed universally on the
Roman calendar as November 6.

Pope to recognize Portuguese medieval soldier/saint (whose U.S. devotional headquarters are in Duluth)

All hail the Holy Constable: Saint Nuno Alvares Pereira, glory of Portugal

Here's your chance to meet a brand spanking new Archbishop at the Catholic Servant's Banquet this Monday

There probably won't be anybody from St. Louis there, so you'll be sure to be able to elbow aside some of your fellow Minnesotans. For those of you who have been sleeping, Saginaw's Bishop Robert Carlson, former auxiliary in St. Paul and Minneapolis and former bishop of Sioux Falls, was appointed by His Holiness yesterday to be the Archbishop of St. Louis replacing Archbishop Raymond Burke, former Bishop of La Crosse, now in Rome. Whew! The rank comes automatically with the appointment but the installation won't be for another month or so.

Archbishop Carlson's appearance has been confirmed. We haven't lost him yet.

Bishop Archbishop Robert Carlson will be the Keynote Speaker at the 13th Annual Catholic Servant Spring Benefit Banquet, Monday, April 27th. The event will be held in Rowan Hall at St. Helena Catholic Church, 3204 East 43rd Street. The evening begins at 6:00 P.M. with a social/silent auction, followed by a catered dinner and program. Tickets are $100. Call 763-502-0792 to register by April 23rd.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Military chaplaincy helps service men, fills need, and pays dividends

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Bishop’s Bulletin) – Halfway around the world, diocesan priest, Father Gary DeRouchey is serving in Iraq as a Division Catholic Chaplain for the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, NY.

Father DeRouchey is a Major and a member of the Army Reserves and part of the Diocese of Sioux Falls relationship with the Military Archdiocese where the diocese shares some of its priests as Military chaplains.

It is a long term relationship Bishop Paul J. Swain hopes can and will continue. He recognizes the need that America’s service men and women have to access a chaplain’s gifts and skills.

“These [service] men and women, many of them young, are sacrificing a great deal to serve the country in often lonely and sometimes isolated and often dangerous locations,” the bishop said. “It is a time when faith is important and particularly for Catholics, the Eucharist is particularly important.

“It is certainly one of the important ministries that we, as Church, must provide to the extent we are able.”

The diocese has other priests serving as chaplains as well. Father Joe Holzhauser, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Aberdeen is a colonel and Joint Forces Headquarters state chaplain with the state’s Army National Guard.

Father David Stevens, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, Tea and St. Christina Parish, Parker is a chaplain with the state Air National Guard as well.

Father Stevens expects to be called back to active duty later this year.

When call-ups happen, it poses a challenge to the diocese. “Certainly the reduction in numbers of priests make it difficult for any specialized ministry...” said Bishop Swain. “So if someone goes into the military as a chaplain, they obviously cannot be present in the parish so it’s a balancing and yet it’s one of those ministries that is vitally important at a key moment in people’s lives.”

Father DeRouchey understands that and agrees. Before attending seminary and becoming an ordained priest, DeRouchey was an enlisted soldier in the Army. Catholic OnLine

“As an enlisted soldier, I received wonderful spiritual care from the priests assigned to our unit or community and I felt it was only right to give back to those from whom I received care,” he said.

DeRouchey has served previously at the Pentagon, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, at Arlington National Cemetery and now in Iraq.

One of the things driving the diocese’s ongoing interest (to the extent it is able) in a relationship with the Military Archdiocese is the acute shortage of Catholic chaplains in all branches of the military.

For Father DeRouchey, he often sees how much of a difference his service can make to soldiers. “A soldier who came to the chapel for counsel told me, ‘chaplain, you saved my life.’ The stresses of every day life gets to many of these service members and I am there to help them on their journey,” DeRouchey said.

From encounters like that, he encourages others who share that they may have a vocation to the priesthood as the desire to serve in the Armed Forces as a chaplain.

Bishop Swain said some priests and several seminarians in the diocese have expressed that interest to him.

All of the diocesan priests who serve as chaplains do so with the permission of the bishop who reserves the authority to keep them here or call them back to the diocese if the need arises.

In Father DeRouchey’s case, “the bishop agreed to let me continue serving in the military.”

Bishop Swain wants the relationship with the Military Archdiocese to continue since there is such a benefit to the chaplains, the service men and women and the diocese.

“We pray for the safety of those in the military regularly and one way to visibly show that is by having chaplains,” said the bishop. “I think it is a good experience for the priests themselves. When they come home, they have an understanding of experiences that, I am sure, are very helpful pastorally.”

The diocese also supports the chaplains and other service men and women from across the diocese through the St. Raphael Fund for the Military and their Families.

St. Raphael is the patron saint for the safety of travelers and for healing – both particular needs of the military and their families. The fund is administered through Catholic Family Services and provides a compliment to its existing services to military and their families.

Donations can be sent to St. Raphael Fund, 523 N. Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Applications for funds can be obtained from the same address or through pastors at parishes across the diocese.

Here's your chance to meet a brand spanking new Archbishop at the Catholic Servant's Banquet this Monday

There probably won't be anybody from St. Louis there, so you'll be sure to be able to elbow aside some of your fellow Minnesotans. For those of you who have been sleeping, Saginaw's Bishop Robert Carlson, former auxiliary in St. Paul and Minneapolis and former bishop of Sioux Falls, was appointed by His Holiness yesterday to be the Archbishop of St. Louis replacing Archbishop Raymond Burke, former Bishop of La Crosse, now in Rome. Whew! The rank comes automatically with the appointment but the installation won't be for another month or so.

Archbishop Carlson's appearance has been confirmed. We haven't lost him yet.

Bishop Archbishop Robert Carlson will be the Keynote Speaker at the 13th Annual Catholic Servant Spring Benefit Banquet, Monday, April 27th. The event will be held in Rowan Hall at St. Helena Catholic Church, 3204 East 43rd Street. The evening begins at 6:00 P.M. with a social/silent auction, followed by a catered dinner and program. Tickets are $100. Call 763-502-0792 to register by April 23rd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coming together: St. Charles community finds comfort at church

Sunday is the day Sandra Zuniga usually gets her husband’s lunch and clothes ready for the start of the work week.

That routine is gone.
More than 300 people attended Mass Sunday morning at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in St. Charles, Minn. The Rev. Jim Callahan spoke about how the community came together after Friday’s fire at North Star Foods. (Fred Schulze/Winona Daily News)

Her husband, Jos�, was working Friday at North Star Foods when fire erupted throughout the meat processing plant.

“He was one of the last ones to leave,” Zuniga said.

But the fire didn’t stop the 32-year-old from the weekly ritual of attending Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church with her mother Margarita Zuniga, 65.

“This gives you more faith,” Sandra Zuniga said.

And faith is something both women say people will need in the aftermath of the fire. Margarita’s husband has worked at North Star for 13 years.

“We just have to try to support each other,” Sandra Zuniga said.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church has become a home away from home for the community when tragedy strikes. The church moved from downtown St. Charles to its bigger location just outside of town in May 2007.

People have taken shelter there after the August 2007 floods, a Sept. 15, 2007, apartment fire and when St. Charles was evacuated after Friday’s fire.

“We wanted to build this to help the community,” usher Steve Littlefield said. “We didn’t know we’d help it as much as we are.”

Sunday’s service was full of songs and Scripture. Then the Rev. Bill Cronin addressed the elephant in the room. He acknowledged the community’s fear but spoke of St. Charles’ history of coming together during difficult times.

“There was a feeling of peace. It was a definite example of the goodness of Catholic faith reaching out to other people,” Cronin said.

Bishop Bernard Harrington helped buy groceries for those taking shelter at the church. The Rev. Jim Callahan did laundry for people stranded from home.

“It was a real opportunity of grace,” Callahan said.

Questions linger as people wonder what will happen to St. Charles’ second largest employer and the many people who worked there. Callahan says the church is looking at ways to help.

“One of the most important things is that God is with them in pain and suffering,” Callahan said. “He accompanies us through it.” Winona Daily News

Former St.P-M Auxiliary Bishop, Robert Carlson to head St. Louis Archdiocese


With this morning's appointment, the church of St Louis now prepares to receive its 13th head since Joseph Rosati was named its founding bishop in 1827.

For the last three appointments under the Arch, however, the must-read brief has come from the Gateway City's Patricia Rice, who covered the arrivals of Archbishops Justin Rigali and Raymond Burke for the Post-Dispatch and now, with the web-only Beacon, continues the tradition with an extensive Day One piece already prepped on Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson:

St. Louis’ new archbishop is known as genial prayerful man, who is well liked by other U.S. bishops. He was described as dynamic, self effacing and “always kind” by lay and clerical Catholics in Saginaw in interviews in February. His style of preaching is conversational and approachable.

“He is very normal, always been normal,” said his younger sister Cathy Carlson Percival of Minneapolis in a recent interview with the Beacon. He’s wonderful with young people whether they are strangers, parishioners or his nephews and nieces, she said.

He shines in talks with students and those about to be confirmed, said JoEllen Linder, vice president of admissions at Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., and a former administrator at Mount Mary College in Yankton, S.D., where she saw Carlson in action in the 1990s.

“He’s very personable, absolutely can relate to people,” she said adding that he is widely known for his success in encouraging young men to become priests. “When that much success happens in getting seminarians you know that he’s good with people.”

Carlson himself described the ideal effective bishop in an article he wrote in 1999 in Lay Witness magazine, published in Steubenville, Ohio.

In Carlson’s words: “Kindness, courtesy, meekness, gentleness, humility, patience, prudence and eager concern are the virtues which must describe the pastoral ministry of the bishop. Bishops must, before all else, be men of faith, outstanding witnesses of the life of the Holy Spirit. They must be dedicated to prayer and the constant reading of Scripture. Only by drawing upon the wealth of the interior life of grace can the ministry of the Bishop effectively take form.”

Carlson has been active on the floor of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' meetings He goes to the microphones and in genial tones makes incisive remarks, never hogging the mike, never the gadfly.

Other American bishops have shown their respect for Carlson by electing him to important conference posts. Some bishops, even archbishops, run and run but do not win high posts. Carlson, however, now chairs the bishops' conference Committee on Priestly Life. Fellow bishops elect hard workers who seem to love being priests to this job. That same joy in being a priest helps them encourage young Catholic men to consider becoming priests. St. Louis native Archbishop Tim Dolan of New York is a former Priestly Life committee chair.

The bishops’ conference also elected him to a three-year term chairing its Catholic Charismatic Renew committee, which he completed last year. In the Dakotas he had friendly dialogues with leaders of other faith groups and is likely to become active in the St. Louis Interfaith Partnership, one source said...

Carlson's gifts as a fisher of priests has resulted in his ordaining eight priests since he arrived in Saginaw. Five more Saginaw men are to be ordained this spring. In comparison, some large metropolitan archdioceses will ordain three or fewer this spring. His small diocese has 24 seminarians “in the pipeline."

Just as he did as a young priest, Carlson hangs out with seminarians for a mix of God talk and sports talk over casual meals. He serves as his own diocesan vocations director, which is rare for a bishop. Each year the Saginaw vocation office issues a new artist poster, always rather cool, that parishes and schools post to encourage vocations. At larger Masses and in the diocese’s newspaper, much attention is given to its current seminarians.

His St. John Vianney residential house in the Saginaw Diocese lets men considering becoming priests live in community with spiritual direction while they continue working or finish college before determining that they will enter a seminary.

Catholic bishops long have known Carlson’s ability to cast the nets wide for young men interested in the priesthood. More than a decade ago, he was one of the two main speakers to address U.S. bishops at a National Vocations Symposium. The other speaker was the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, then head of the Vatican’s Catholic education department....

In 2003, Carlson told the senior U.S. senator in his state, Thomas Daschle, a Democrat. that his general approval of abortion rights was in opposition to centuries of Catholic social justice teachings condemning abortion and wrote urging Daschle to support a ban on late-term abortion.

Daschle, who voted against the ban, went onto the Senate floor and read into the Congressional Record a denunciation of Carlson for speaking in a way "more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership."

Whether the bishop would have denied Communion to Daschle was never an issue, because the senator remarried after a divorce and had not been eligible under church law to receive communion. Later, Carlson asked Daschle to stop referring to himself as a Catholic in campaigns....

Pope Benedict has moved away from several of John Paul II’s bishop-picking standards including that the Vatican won’t make a man an archbishop in his native diocese. Benedict has returned popular “hometown’” priests who had been bishops of smaller dioceses to fill the bishops’ chairs in Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Many St. Louis Catholics had held out a slim hope that the pope would name St. Louis native Timothy Dolan, with his gift for spreading joy, as St. Louis archbishop. And when Benedict named Dolan to lead the New York Archdiocese, expectations were raised for the new St. Louis archbishop. It was the talk of Lenten prayer group gatherings and Friday fish fries. “St. Louis deserves to get as good as we give away,” said Jim Sullivan of St. Joseph Parish in Manchester who knew Dolan as a boy. “We deserve a man of the people who’s a pastor, a loving pastor. The archdiocese can hire all the bookkeepers and lawyers it needs, we need a shepherd to pray here in St. Louis.”

In accord with the norms of the canons, Carlson must be installed in the mosaic-rich "New Cathedral" of his new charge within two months of this morning's appointment.

Shortly thereafter, the ninth archbishop of the "Rome of the West" will head to the other Rome, where he'll receive the pallium, the symbol of his new office, from Pope Benedict on the 29 June solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

Of course, he'll be in friendly company -- the native son of Cardinals' Country recently landed here in Gotham will be along for the ride to receive his second one. Whispers in the Loggia

Son of St Paul to St Louis

Settling the most-awaited of the current docket of appointments, the Pope has named Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw as archbishop of St Louis.

Known for his success with drumming up staggering numbers of seminarians in the two prior dioceses he's led, the 64 year-old Minnesota native -- ordained a bishop before his 40th birthday -- succeeds Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was named the global church's "chief justice" late last June.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ramsey County Judge: List of suspected archdiocesan priests should stay private for now

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona do not have to make public a list of priests suspected of abuse, Ramsey County Judge Gregg Johnson ruled today.

St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson is seeking the list as part of a suit he has filed on behalf of an abuse victim and had said that he was going to make the list public as soon as he got it. Anderson still will get the list, but he is barred from revealing its contents.

Lawyers for the church had argued that because church leaders thought the list would remain private, they had included everyone who had been accused regardless of whether the charges were proven. The list still can be used in the trial, but now only those charges supported by evidence can be introduced.

The archdiocese issued a statement: "We are pleased that Judge Johnson agreed with us that these matters should be determined at the time of the actual trial. Once the evidence is presented in the courtroom, then the judge will determine what, if anything should be disclosed. That is all we were asking: to avoid premature disclosure that would have damaged a potentially innocent individual." Star Tribune

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The LJ Awards Ceremonies

Blogdom, like many industries, has many awards ceremonies to assuage the feelings of poor members who have to satisfy themselves with medals and honors rather than $$$ and cents.

The prestigious LJ ("Laughing Jerry") awards are given out only rarely to those bloggers who achieve the heights of humor, coupled with creativity, originality and intelligence. Published contributions and emails are considered eligible to enter the judging.

The reigning champion of LJ Award recipients for some time now has been Ms. Catherine of Alexandria, a native of Minneapolis, who, upon regaining her faith, moved to St. Paul where the choice of parishes was more to her liking.
Her entry was the following, which tickled my funny bone and showed quite a bit of creativity, besides displaying an acute knowledge of the award giver's background and habits:

"It's not like I'm asking you to read the Epistle in Swahili during the Latin Mass or something!"

Unfortunately, Ms. C of A is going to have to now share her 5 LJ honoree status with Father Tim Finigan, a Limey, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen (further location details unknown), would you believe, whose post today in attacking The Tablet, the British equivalent of the National Catholic Reporter, for their attack on Catholic priests and lay ministers who spend off duty time blogging, (and attacking the Tablet, a good thing), with, among other words, the following:

"In the spirit of collaborative ministry, should blogging lay ministers not also be using the wee small hours to visit the housebound? Come to that, what was St Thomas Aquinas doing, spending his time writing about essence and existence? The thirteenth century was a period of global warming - surely the Angelic Doctor should have been devoting his energies to saving the planet?"
See Fr. Finigan's complete post here

I bet you had forgotten about the Columbine massacre 10 years ago; Darrell Scott, father of a victim didn't.


After Columbine: a father spreads a message of compassion to the corporate world

Incredibly, Monday marks the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy known simply as "Columbine." The New York Times has this compelling look at the legacy of one victim, and how it is spreading into the corporate world:
Darrell Scott has told the story of his daughter Rachel’s life, death and legacy thousands of times in schools all over the world in the 10 years since her murder at age 17 in the mass shootings at Columbine High School.

But never before, he said, had he stood before an audience like the one on Friday morning in the garage of a carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise.

Instead of students, the listeners were men, and a few women, in blue-collar working clothes. Instead of teenagers, urged by Mr. Scott to make a world where horrors like Columbine never happen again, the 50 spectators were mostly parents, so they indicated by a show of hands. Many of the workers looked tough and burly, and some had only joined the company in recent months, managers said, forced by the economic downturn into second careers in cleaning.

But when music swelled and a photo of Rachel’s diary, which was in her backpack and was pierced by a bullet when she was killed, filled the projection screen, many of the workers wiped away tears, just as audiences do during Mr. Scott’s speeches to student assemblies.

“I think we’re all in agreement about life being too short,” said Tim Bohling, a sales technician, when Mr. Scott was finished.

What Rachel believed was crystallized in an essay she wrote a month before she and 14 other people, including the two gunmen, were killed at Columbine on April 20, 1999. Its global promulgation by a nonprofit group Mr. Scott founded, Rachel’s Challenge, is now branching out into corporate America. The Colorado franchise of COIT cleaning was the pilot foray into this new frontier; the company was offered the program free to see how Rachel’s message of “looking for the best and beauty in everyone” worked in a new setting.

Mr. Scott, 59, said the corporate effort — run by a for-profit company, with Rachel’s Challenge receiving a percentage through a licensing agreement — was intended not so much to stop the bullying and cruelty of school, but to alleviate the angst and anxiety of work.

“In the corporate world, greed and self-interest have been the focal point,” Mr. Scott said after his presentation. “That made us realize that Rachel’s Challenge has a place.”

He also hopes that the corporate training will become a new revenue source, to help finance the expanding list of ventures that Rachel’s Challenge is involved with, from feeding the hungry to helping support cleft palate surgery programs in underdeveloped countries. Rachel’s Challenge has a staff of 50 and an annual budget of $3.5 million, almost all of it paid through fees from schools for the group’s presentations and seminars. But Mr. Scott said it needed new staff members to manage and monitor its expanding list of programs.

Counseling experts say the appetite for messages of hope or compassion — whether from Rachel’s words or someone else’s — is just about bottomless these days in corporate life, as layoffs and economic fear stalk the landscape.

“We’re all just being stretched to the boundaries of our ability to cope,” said Bob Separ, a social worker and clinician at Corporate Counseling Associates, a company based in New York that runs employee assistance programs. Calls from distressed employees increased 15 percent last fall, Mr. Separ said, as did the severity of the problems people were calling about.

At COIT, which cleans carpets, drapes, upholstery and air ducts, the recession has not led to layoffs, said Steven J. Peterson, the owner and president. But it has had an impact, as bad times elsewhere in the economy have rippled through Colorado. Recruiting is easier now, Mr. Peterson said, and turnover is lower, as people stay in the job longer.

It is a debatable point whether any one effort, however well meaning, can alter the grand sweep of an economy or society, or indeed whether anything has changed since that bleak morning in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with bombs and high-powered weapons, stormed their school.

There have been even worse rampages, like the one at Virginia Tech, which left 32 people dead in 2007, blunting Columbine’s special place of horror. But law enforcement and school intervention efforts have evolved, too, perhaps heading off attacks that might have been.

The message from Mr. Scott and the organizers of the new corporate training program is that Rachel wanted to touch everyone. In her essay, she wrote about starting “a chain reaction of kindness and compassion,” that might, when repeated and expanded exponentially, eventually change the world.
You can read more at the link.

The Deacon's Bench