Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hands-Off Approach to Worshipping in Duluth


In the past, most churches have taken a "common sense" approach to the seasonal flu. This year, however, they're getting a bit more specific.

As a result, catholic masses around town might feel a little different this fall. Parishes are being urged to use increased precaution, in order to curb the spread of H1N1 and the flu.

For the congregations, it means no more holding hands during the Lord's Prayer, no more using touch to exchange a sign of peace, and no more taking communion from the Holy Chalice.

At Duluth's Cathedral of Our Lady-Rosary, those changes have already kicked in, and most parents say they support it.

They need to do, what they need to do," said Lynne Bailey, a mom of two girls at the school. "If the Catholic Church needs to take those steps until the epidemic does what it's going to do or goes away, I think that's a step they need to take, and i'll support it."

"If we can keep from spreading the flu around, it's great. I don't have a problem with it at all," said parishioner Rick Kaneski.

The Catholic Diocese of Duluth issued their revised recommendations on Tuesday, and are effective immediately. Meanwhile, Superior's Catholic Diocese issued their's late last week-- however it is not effective until October 1st.

The catholic diocese of superior has 3 additional levels that would be used if the pandemic moves from a mild form, to a more severe. The highest level means they would actually stop offering mass.

Experts say the most important guidelines is to follow the following-- if you're sick stay home, cover your cough and wash your hands. WDIO-TV, Duluth

Big changes ahead for Catholics in Twin Cities

The Archdiocese is embarking on a realignment in which nothing is off limits to change. But first, input will be gathered.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is launching an extreme makeover that promises big changes for the Twin Cities' 650,000 Catholics.

"Every parish will be impacted to one degree or another," Archbishop John Nienstedt announces in a short video being shown at public hearings. "Everyone must be prepared to make sacrifices for the greater good of our local church."

Those sacrifices could mean mergers or even closures of parishes and schools. A 17-member task force is holding hearings throughout the archdiocese to address everything from population patterns to finances to societal influences. With an annual operating budget of $37 million, the archdiocese includes 217 parishes in 12 counties. There are 93 elementary schools and 14 secondary schools with a total enrollment of 36,000. It also includes four hospitals, six nursing homes, six monastic communities and 10 retreat centers.

The task force's job is to reshape the archdiocese from a 19th century model -- when people walked to daily mass at neighborhood churches -- into an organization that will thrive in a 21st century landscape dotted by big "destination churches" that people drive to attend.

Nienstedt isn't sugar-coating the prospects. "It is possible that some parishes and schools will be merged, realigned, or even closed," he warns.

Some of the archdiocese's challenges are the same as those confronting other denominations: Churches in the inner-city and first-ring suburbs are facing declining and aging memberships while churches in the outer suburbs are stretched to capacity with an influx of young families.

Other issues are unique to the Catholic church, in particular a surge of Hispanic immigrants. On an average Sunday, 16,500 people attend Spanish-speaking masses in the Twin Cities. On a smaller scale, there are also masses offered in Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino and French.

'No preconceived ideas'

People get nervous when they hear talk about mergers, acknowledged the Rev. John Bauer, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis and co-chairman of the strategic planning task force. Some of the uneasiness comes from assuming that the decisions already have been made.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "We went into this with no preconceived ideas. People think there already is a plan out there, that everything has been decided. Nothing has been decided. There is no plan yet."

But there will be a plan, most likely by next summer, and that is why Bauer is encouraging people to speak up now. By the time the task force presents its proposal to Nienstedt, it will be too late.

"This is their opportunity to give us input," Bauer said. "That's all we're doing right now: gathering information, listening to parishioners, to clergy, to lay people, to teachers. If you can't come to a hearing, send us an e-mail or a letter. We also have a voice-mail line." (Contact information is on the archdiocese website,

Recommendations due in July

Despite the trepidations he is hearing from the people in the pews, Bauer is upbeat about the coming changes.

"I realize that people are very worried about how this is going to impact their church or school," he said. "But if you look at the bigger picture, it's going to help us. By combining some functions, we're going to be able to free resources for other things. I'm very excited about the possibilities."

The task force's timeline calls for the information-gathering to wrap up by the end of the year. Then it will spend the first six months of 2010 preparing a set of recommendations, which will be presented to Nienstedt in July.

"Not everyone is going to be happy" with their plan, Bauer conceded. "But I'm hopeful that, in the end, people will feel that they had a voice in the process. They might not agree with our decision, but at least they can understand how it was made and why it was made." Star Tribune

If you would like to make a comment on the Star Tribune's web page or read the comments there, you may do it Here.

If you would like to contact Archbishop Nienstedt to make a comment on the archdiocesan plan or its process, he may be reached at:
Comments: 651-291-4400 -- FAX: 651-290-1629 --

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MN Catholic Conference: Right to health care is grounded in sanctity of human life

Right to health care is grounded in sanctity of human life, U.S. bishops consistently hold

The Catholic bishops of the United States have continually emphasized that the right to adequate health care “flows from the sanctity of human life,” a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin [sic] bishops has noted.

Minnesota Catholic Conference policy director Alexandra Fitzsimmons has said that previous documents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on health care are relevant to the present debate about proposals for reform, the Catholic Spirit reports.

We cannot let go of the principle that really is why we believe that health care is a basic right,” she said.

Health care reform without respect for life is “empty,” she remarked, which is why Catholics cannot compromise on the abortion issue.

A 1993 USCCB resolution, titled “A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform,” stated that everyone has a right to “adequate health care.”

“This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God,” the document explained.

The bishops’ resolution listed eight criteria for health care reform, including respect for life from conception to natural death, priority concern for the poor, cost restraint, pursuing the common good while preserving pluralism, and universal access for everyone living in the United States, the Catholic Spirit says.

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center, N.Y. in a July 2009 letter to Congress said the bishops want to support health care reform.

“We have in the past and we always must insist that health care reform excludes abortion coverage or any other provisions that threaten the sanctity of human life,” added the bishop, who is chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis John Nienstedt, writing in his August 27 column in the Catholic Spirit, has said health care reform legislation has “far-reaching moral implications.”

“What it permits and what it disallows speaks volumes about the values that we hold dear and are willing to fight to defend,” he added.

President Obama in his Sept. 9 speech said that his health care proposal will not fund abortions with federal dollars and will leave federal conscience protections intact.

However, Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said that legislative proposals such as H.R. 3200 and the recent proposal of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have “the same unacceptable language.”

Rep. Lois Capps’ amendment would require a public health insurance option to cover all abortions eligible for federal funding under the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother’s life.

The proposal would also grant the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the authority to mandate federally funded coverage for abortions in the public plan not eligible for funding under the Hyde Amendment.

Fitzsimmons said that tax credits designed to help low-income people pay their insurance premiums will also subsidize abortions in private plans that cover abortions, the Catholic Spirit reports.

The Capps Amendment says that these credits should not be used to pay for elective abortions, but Fitzsimmons said that this is merely a segregation of funds that will not achieve its stated aim. Catholic News Agency

Tip O' the Hat to the Ineffably Accomplished Fr. Z

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Archdiocese passing the plate for St. Paul Cathedral

With a debt of nearly $13 million and crumbling walls that endanger the priceless 25-foot high mosaics on its prized cathedral, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is asking Catholics and non-Catholics alike to open their wallets a bit wider this weekend.

The archdiocese spent more than $30 million earlier this decade to renovate the Cathedral of St. Paul, but donations to cover the cost have dwindled during the economic meltdown. Roughly $13 million remains on the debt, while another $14 million is needed to repair damage from pre-restoration leaks from the dome.

The landmark cathedral that watches over downtown St. Paul is a century old; it serves not only as the primary worship center for 2,500 families and a "mother church" for about 700,000 members of the archdiocese but is also the city's namesake. Its doors are open seven days a week.

"It's truly an artistic treasure, and I think our nation is not used to caring for buildings like that," said Father Joseph Johnson, the cathedral's rector. "We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a sports stadium and 30 years from now won't think [twice about] tearing it down and building a new one, but caring for old and irreplaceable treasures like this takes a different mindset."

If even possible, Johnson said building a new cathedral would cost upwards of $1 billion.

Churches throughout the archdiocese will hold special collections during masses this weekend.

"With a building of that magnitude and age, it has constant problems, and the cost is enormous," said archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath. "It's pretty staggering."

The special collection "is obviously not intended to raise the entire cost" of the shortfall, he said.

Carolyn Will, director of media relations for the Cathedral Heritage foundation, cited a letter in the archdiocese newsletter, the Catholic Sprit by Archbishop John Nienstedt that said if every one of the approximately 700,000 members of the archdiocese donated an extra $25, the remainder of the current debt from prior repairs would be paid off.

The Beaux Arts cathedral, in use since 1915, was designated in June as a national shrine of the Apostle Paul, the only one of its kind in the Untied States. It's on the National Register of Historic Places and is regularly open for tours and concerts, its caretakers asking only a goodwill donation, if possible, in return.

Seven years ago, the archdiocese completed an emergency renovation of the copper dome and roof. After the interior restoration, church leaders hope to restore the cathedral's two historic pipe organs for about $2.5 million.

The weekend's efforts will be a prelude of a wider fundraising push targeted beyond Catholics in the Twin Cities.

"The cathedral is a unique church, a landmark for the whole community," McGrath said. "We're hoping more and more people realize that."

Coincidentally, the cathedral parish festival will be held Sunday after an 11-year hiatus. It will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the corner of Summit and Selby avenues. Star Tribune

St. Thomas business magazine halts profile of Saudi alum

A University of St. Thomas alumnus from Saudi Arabia said Friday that the president of the Roman Catholic university blocked a school publication from running a profile about him out of concern it would harm efforts to recruit Saudi students.

Ali al-Ahmed, 42, who earned his master's in international management from St. Thomas, is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, which describes itself as a nonpartisan think tank on Mideast and Islamic issues. The profile was written for B., the magazine of the St. Thomas' Opus College of Business, and had been in the works for more than a year, al-Ahmed said.

The Rev. Dennis Dease, the university's president, asked St. Thomas' publications director, Brian Brown, not to publish it, according to an e-mail from Brown to al-Ahmed on Wednesday that al-Ahmed supplied to The Associated Press.

St. Thomas spokesman Doug Hennes denied that Dease killed the story, but said the university decided not to run it without a response from the Saudi government, to ensure the story is accurate and out of respect for Saudi students.

The profile included al-Ahmed's views on human rights in Saudi Arabia and his assertion that he was a political prisoner there for a month when he was a teenager.

"Without a chance to get both sides of the story in, for the government to respond to Ali's allegations, the story wouldn't be balanced," Hennes said.

The profile's author left two phone messages with the Saudi embassy seeking comment but never heard back, Brown's e-mail said.

Hennes said he didn't know if the magazine was still actively seeking a Saudi response. He said if the magazine ever does hear back from the Saudis, school officials would then have to decide whether to run the profile.

Al-Ahmed said he was "disappointed tremendously" in Dease for "trying to please Saudi Arabia" at the expense of the university's alumni and academic freedom.

"To have an American university, a Catholic father, to be afraid and so worried about Saudi actions, that is not a good sign," al-Ahmed said.

The profile originally was set for the spring 2009 issue, but the dean of the business college, Christopher Puto, raised concerns "about some of the more contentious information," particularly about time al-Ahmed spent imprisoned in his home country, the e-mail said.

"Dean Puto's primary reason — and I think it's a valid one — is that he knew our president, Father Dennis Dease, was doing some work with the Saudi government in recruiting young Saudi students to attend St. Thomas," Brown wrote to al-Ahmed.

Brown added that he decided to hold the profile for a later issue and asked the author to contact the Saudi Arabian embassy for comment. He said the embassy did not return the writer's calls. Once some revisions were complete, Brown sent the profile to Dease, mentioning the author had contacted the embassy.

"News of this action caused Father Dease a great deal of concern, and he believes that our actions may have jeopardized his working relationship with the embassy. There is no evidence that this is the case. Nevertheless, Father Dease has asked me to hold the profile indefinitely," Brown wrote to al-Ahmed.

Al-Ahmed said he became a political prisoner in 1981 at age 14 when he was arrested along with his parents and most of his siblings. He said he was held for a month, and that his family members have been arrested many times for advocating U.S.-style rights and freedoms in the conservative kingdom.

Al-Ahmed later came to Minnesota to attend Winona State University, earning a journalism degree in 1996. He said his father warned him not to return home because he faced arrest, so he went to graduate school. He said he was granted political asylum in 1998 while at St. Thomas, where he earned his graduate degree in 1999.

"In my mind the American model was my aspiration," al-Ahmed said. "The American human experience has been, in my personal view, one of the most successful in human history."

Al-Ahmed said he founded his think tank, originally known as the Saudi Institute, in 2001 to advocate for human rights. It publishes studies and sponsors events, and since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks he has frequently given national media interviews on terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs.

"You have an inspiring story — the sort of story our audience would be very interested to read," Brown wrote to al-Ahmed.

In 2007, Dease decided not to invite Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu to appear at an event on campus because he was worried the South African archbishop's views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would offend Jews. Dease later changed his mind and re-invited Tutu, but Tutu declined and organizers held it at another local college instead. Star Tribune

Read Strib Comments

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Fiery Gift -- A meditation on birth and the spiritual life: Susan Windley-Daoust

But just as John Paul II reflected upon sexual union in his “theology of the body” as a sign pointing toward the ultimate union of God with the human being, a medically uncomplicated “good birth” points toward how all souls, pregnant with the Holy Spirit, are transformed by cooperating with the Spirit, letting God make all things new. And while every moment may not be what you wished for, even in that, it resembles the soul’s journey to God.

All the adorable clothes for infants, jokes about pickles and ice cream, and debates about appropriate names for children occupy the expectant woman’s mind like sitting-room company sharing a pleasant tea—until labor begins. In a flash, your visitors leave, their cooling teacups half-empty. Alone, or with a trusted companion, you may wait out the beginning contractions by reading a book or watching a movie, but you know as you have never known in your life what the main event is. Birth is the rock of motherhood. It does not easily allow diversions; it is more glorious and messy, more trying and transformative than a person might suspect. Basically, it is a lot like prayer.

If you are an average American, that last sentence may have come as a shock. But it is no groundbreaking metaphor to claim that the spiritual life is like a birth (Jn 3:3). Still, few people look seriously at the physical reality of giving birth as akin to the spiritual struggle of prayer. When I was struggling through a wonder-filled but challenging prayer period recently, a sentence settled within me: This is a lot like giving birth; it feels as if something is trying to be born. And it was not that I was looking toward a positive end—holding the baby—although at some level I was. Rather, it felt “existentially” like giving birth: a clearing of the mind, an expectant and somewhat painful waiting, the sense that my life is changing here and now. There was a concrete moment in my prayer when I thought, with surprise and gratitude, I’ve been here before. . . [more]
America magazine
Susan Windley-Daoust is an assistant professor of theology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona campus. She also teaches in Saint Mary’s Institute in Pastoral Ministries and is training to be a spiritual director. She and her husband are expecting their fourth child any day now.

Winona's Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Enthralled by New Stained Glass Window


Click on Image for Full Size View

More people than usual are attending Cathedral of the Sacred Heart [in Winona] these days, and not just for the Mass.

They come to sit on the stairs and stare up into the reds, greens and blues of the massive new stained glass window.

The Sacred Heart Window, 16 feet high and 10 feet wide, was dedicated Saturday in memory of James and Genevieve Hauser and on behalf of their their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It towers over the entrance to the church. The window shows Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque[, patron saint of Devotions Before the Sacred Heart,] kneeling before Jesus, who is revealing his sacred heart. The deep blues and greens make Margaret Mary hard to see at first, but look closely and her figure appears in the color.

James and Genevieve Hauser began going to the church when it was first built in the early 1950s. They sent their children to Cathedral Elementary School. Some of the children are still members of the parish.

"The church needed the sacred heart theme," said Jim Hauser, one of the children. "It didn't have that theme in any other windows."

The idea for the window had been brewing in the mind of Jim and his brother Mike for more than a year. They wanted to build something in memory of their parents. So they stuck with what they knew - glass. The brothers took over their father's business, Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, after he retired. They have since been producing stained glass windows for churches across the country.

"This choice was just natural to us," Hauser said. "Now we can give something back to the church and to our parents."

It's also a good fit for Winona, which some residents call the stained glass capital of the world.

Jim Hauser picked designer Charles Z. Lawrence, who had worked with the company in the Philadelphia office, and told him to not hold back on the creation. It wasn't long before the first drawing was completed.

"I first saw the design on a 8 x 14 piece of paper," said the Rev. Richard Colletti, priest [pastor!] at the Cathedral. "It was stunning then."

Piece by piece, the window was put up Monday and Tuesday last week. People have since been in and out of the church, gazing into the mix of color and light.

Colletti likes to watch the sun move through the glass for a few minutes before his morning prayer.

"It brings a different light into the church," he said. "Something to speak to us all." Winona Daily News

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"On a Mission for Christ" - A Talk by Bishop John M. LeVoir, Bishop of New Ulm


Come; learn more about your Catholic faith and get some direction for your spiritual journey by attending a talk "On a Mission for Christ - Ways you can carry out your baptismal mission and imitate Christ by acting as prophets, priests, and kings", followed by a Q&A session by Bishop John M. LeVoir, Bishop of New Ulm Diocese on Tuesday, October 6th at 7:00 p.m.

Bishop LeVoir has written several publications including, Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul II on Sexuality, Marriage and the Family; Faith for Today: Pope John Paul II's Catechetical Teachings; and was the theological consultant and author of Image of God Religion Series. Conference will be held at the Church of St. Mary, located at 261 E. 8th Street, St. Paul, MN. The talk is open to everyone and there is no fee for the talk - a free will offering will be collected. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk will begin at 7:00 p.m. If you have any questions please call (651) 458-8142 or send an e-mail to Sponsored by the Holy Name Society of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Archbishop John Nienstedt: More Thoughts on Health Care

While my schedule did not give me the opportunity to listen to President Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress on health care Sept. 9, I did read the talk as published by the White House Office of the Press Secretary.

I was grateful to find his statement “under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” (presumably, this also means no federally funded embryonic stem-cell destruction). Equally gratifying was his next statement, “and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” In addition to these, the president’s support for Medicare assistance to senior citizens brings much relief.

It was also encouraging that President Obama made the words of Sen. Ted Kennedy his own: “What we face is above all a moral issue. . . .” This was the reason behind my column in The Catholic Spirit on Aug. 27. It is the sole reason that I brought the topic before the Catholics of this archdiocese.

As I have said before, health care reform is needed — that is not the question. But the real question is: How will this health care reform define us as a nation and as a people?

The answer must include:

1.) A statement disallowing taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and, necessarily connected to this prohibition, embryonic stem-cell destruction.

2.) A statement forbidding the practice of euthanasia.

3.) Allowing the federal conscience laws to stand.

Still time to weigh in

While the president’s words were encouraging, the process is not yet over. There are, at least, three versions of House and Senate bills being worked on, and none are in their final form. This means that Catholics must continue to monitor the process as it goes forward and contact their representatives in Washington, D.C., with their thoughts.

It is obvious that doing so is having an effect. (For the Senate, call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your senator; call (202) 225-3121 to speak with your representative. If you do not know the name of either, give the operator your zip code and you will be connected to the correct office.)

Reading the commentaries of my brother bishops, I realized that I did not mention another essential Catholic principle that should have been included in my last column: subsidiarity, which posits that health care ought to be determined, administered and coordinated at the lowest level of society whenever possible.

In other words, those intermediary communities and associations that exist between the federal government and the individual must be strengthened and given greater control over policies and practices rather than being given less and less control.

To usurp this “hierarchy of communities” is terribly damaging in the long run, both to society as a whole and the individual citizen (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1883, Compen­dium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 185 ff).

Papal insights

Two quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are instructive in this regard:

Pope John Paul II has written:

“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending” (Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus,” No. 48).

Pope Benedict writes:

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person — every person — needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need . . . . In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) — a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human” (Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est,” No. 28).

To neglect the principle of subsidiarity inevitably leads to the excessive centralization of human services, which leads to higher costs, less personal responsibility for the individual and a lower quality of care.

Two reminders

Two other reminders:

1.) October is the Month of the Rosary, a devotion that has proven itself to be a means, not only of reflection and meditation, but indeed of contemplation. This is to say, a means of entering into the presence of God himself.

The late beloved Pope John Paul II said that praying the rosary was “an act of contemplating the face of Christ.” One may ask, “I thought it was a prayer to Mary?” But the late Holy Father argued that “Mary was the most accomplished person in history to contemplate the face of her son. Therefore, to pray the rosary is to view the face of Jesus through Mary’s eyes. This prayer, being focused on Mary, must be directed to Jesus, her Son.”

I encourage all Catholics to make a special effort to pray the rosary daily during this month of October. Invite others to join you in that prayer.

2.) October is also Criminal Justice Month, a time to study the present state of our criminal justice situation and to reach out to those who are imprisoned as well as those who are making a transition from prison back into society. I have sent materials on this topic to all the parishes. I hope that they will be used effectively during these next weeks.

As Deacon Timothy Zinda said in last week’s edition:

“[Prisoners] are not what you might think they’d be like, and I don’t really see them any differently than I do anyone else. They are people who have made serious mistakes or whose lives have taken difficult turns.”

I believe that this is so true. I encourage you to join your parish’s efforts to assist the imprisoned and those transitioning back into society. It is, after all, a corporal work of mercy.

God bless you! The Catholic Spirit

"Visitation Questionnaire" Sent to Women Religious Orders

Questions about membership, living arrangements, the ministries in which members participate and spiritual life, including the practice of prayer and the frequency of Mass, are included in a questionnaire sent Sept. 18 to 341 congregations of women religious in the U.S.

Distribution of the questionnaire opens the second phase of a comprehensive study of U.S. institutes of women religious ordered by Cardinal Franc Rode as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Divided into three parts, the questionnaire reveals more about the depth of the study, known as an apostolic visitation.

One part of the questionnaire, designated "Part A" and encompassing eight pages, seeks data about membership, living arrangements, governance and ministries of the members of the religious orders.

A second section, designated "Part B" and encompassing six pages, seeks information related to the operation of a religious order including its origins, identity and charism; governance; vocation promotion, admission and formation policies; spiritual life and common life; mission and ministry; and finances.

The third part, designated "Part C" and one page in length, asks for contact information for the major superior responsible for completing the questionnaire.

"The questionnaire is an extremely important part of the process of the visitation requested by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life," Mother Mary Clare Millea, the apostolic visitator charged by the Vatican with directing the study, wrote in a letter accompanying the survey.

Mother Clare, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, said in the letter that the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University is assisting in the "effort to gain a clear picture of women religious in our country today."

She said CARA assisted her office in developing the wording of questions in Part A and will collect and compile the information gathered in that portion of the survey.

Responses to Parts B and C are to be sent to the apostolic visitation office for compilation.

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, a member of the American province of the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George who is coordinating efforts in the visitation office in Hamden, Conn., told CNS in an e-mail message Sept. 21 that Mother Clare would not comment on the questionnaire.

In Part A, the orders are asked to indicate the number of professed sisters, temporary professed sisters, novices and candidates or postulants and their birth dates, by decade. It also seeks information about the number of women who entered religious life in two periods: between 1999 and 2004 and between 2004 and 2009.

In addition, one question seeks demographic data regarding race and ethnicity of sisters.

An extensive series of questions asks about living arrangements for current members of orders. Specifically, the questionnaire asks how many sisters live outside of a religious house and whether they live alone, with other members of their order, with members of other orders, with associates of an order, with family members or with laity who are not members of an order.

Several questions also revolve around members who have left an order. It asks for information about the years of departure in the periods between 1999 and 2004 and 2004 and 2009 and the age of each sister who left.

Part B requests information related to the operation of religious orders.

Under each area a series of questions seeks to gain information about how the religious institutes are evolving today.

Some of the areas explored in the questions include: who is involved in governance, including associates and lay people, and to what extent; decision-making procedures; how individuals sisters can speak up when they disagree with a corporate decision made by the order's members; practices regarding the formation of novices; continuing education within the order; the frequency of celebrating the Eucharist as a community; whether eucharistic celebrations follow liturgical norms; how major superiors ensure that members maintain a vow of poverty; the relationship between bishops and the order by members; accountability of income, such as salaries, stipends, gifts and donations; the transfer of ownership of buildings and property to other entities as well as the acquisition of buildings and property; and the sharing of goods with the poor.

Major superiors have until Nov. 20 to complete the questionnaire. The deadline was adjusted by three weeks because the document was delayed from a planned early-September distribution.

Congregational leaders have the option of completing the questionnaire online or on paper.

In announcing the working instrument, or "instrumentum laboris," upon which the questionnaire was based, Mother Clare said July 28 that answers on the questionnaire will help determine which congregations will receive a visit by an apostolic visitation team. The visits are expected to begin in the spring and continue throughout 2010, Mother Clare said in the letter accompanying the questionnaire.

The study covers about 59,000 American nuns, all but those living in cloisters.

Mother Clare's final report, expected in mid-2011 and based on what will be learned from the questionnaires and the apostolic visits, will be sent to the Vatican congregation. Her letter reiterated that the report will remain confidential. National Catholic Reporter

Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States

Catholic Sisters have contributed in manifold, generous ways to building up the Church in the United States since our nation’s earliest days. With respect for these good works and genuine concern for the women religious who perform them, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has sought an Apostolic Visitation “in order to look into the quality of the life” of women religious in the United States.

Important message for Major Superiors: A letter containing important information for the Phase 2 questionnaire was mailed on Friday, September 18. Thank you for your patience.

With Phase I of the Apostolic Visitation completed, we would like to share the latest letter from Mother Clare with our Instrumentum Laboris. We would also like to extend a special thanks to the superiors general that participated in providing their input to this effort, some of the finest Catholic women religious in the United States. They have shared their stories, hopes, dreams and concerns about the sisters they love and the congregations to which they have generously given their lives.

Reference Materials

Questionnaire Letter to Major Superiors

Questionnaire - Part A --[Membership, living arrangements, governance and ministries]

Questionnaire - Part B -- [The operation of religious orders]

May 2009 letter to Superiors General

Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) statement on Apostolic Visitation

Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) statement on Apostolic Visitation

Band of Fathers (Nazareth Hall in the 1940s) - Ralph McInerny

A solitary figure, clad all in black, out on a frozen Minnesota lake, moving gracefully over the windswept surface, glimpsed from a study hall window of the minor seminary, where he was rector. The glimpsing eye is mine. It is the early 1940s. The school is a magnificent structure on the shore of the lake in which several hundred boys and young men are being prepared for the major seminary and eventually the priesthood.

War is far off, the more so for students who read no newspapers or timely magazines. Our minds were full of the campaigns of Julius Caesar and the slow retreat of the Anabasis; Troy was under siege. If I was ever made uneasy by this distance from the grim realities of those days, my misgivings were removed by reading, years later, C. S. Lewis’s “Learning in War Time.”

There were a dozen or more priests of the archdiocese of St. Paul assigned to Nazareth Hall, chosen on what principle it would be difficult to say. Perhaps the whimsicality of the prelate in J. F. Powers’ stories, based on John Gregory Murray, the archbishop of the time, was not a fictional trait. Initially at least, each priest was astounded to receive this assignment, usually his first after ordination.

The last surviving member of the priests who taught me there died recently at over 100, bringing a rush of memories and that image of the rector skimming over a Minnesota lake in the waning light of a winter afternoon while his charges were busy at their studies. The school itself had died long since, the principle on which it was raised airily dismissed as part of a forgettable past by a Church renewing itself; the property was sold for a song, a casualty of one interpretation of aggiornamento.

The priest who recently died, last apple on the bough, was known as Spud by the students, and such nicknames were conferred on most of the other priests as well, their origin often soon lost – Butch, the Greek, Harpo, Sookie, Zip, Uncle Bill, Kush. Those nicknames come more readily to mind now than their family names, conveying a mixture of irreverent love and feigned chumminess.

Those who were eager to dismantle the system of preparatory seminaries could not have foreseen what lay ahead. Did any of them regard the sequel as an improvement, a change that brought the Church more surely into dialogue with the modern world? The sudden melting away of the number of priests in the United States due to defection and to the dwindling of new vocations brought home how rich the Church had been then in personnel. Imagine the ability to assign a dozen men to the faculty of a minor seminary. True, they all did week-end work at parishes in the Twin Cities but that too recalls a time when the churches were full and Sunday Mass was celebrated on the hour from early morning until noon. The phenomenon of Nazareth Hall does indeed gather together many of the aspects of the pre-Conciliar Church.

There was of course the initial assumption that a newly ordained priest was equipped to pass on to the young the education he himself had received. That education was in large part a remnant of the classic education that had characterized schools for generations, it in turn the fruit of the liberal arts tradition, both in the version of Augustine and Boethius, and the medieval version which saw the arts as preparatory to philosophy and theology. Latin and Greek were central to it with a modern language or two, literature, history and some science. It is tempting to romanticize and idealize all this, and assume that the goal was reached. In many cases, as with Dr. Johnson’s lady preacher, the wonder was not that it was done well but that it was done at all. For all that, it was for me the most stimulating and formative experience of my life.

Like myself, a majority of the students did not advance to ordination and the priesthood. In that perhaps lay the strongest practical argument against such institutions as Nazareth Hall, but I do not recall that it was often invoked. I could formulate an argument to the effect that even so such schools served the Church, but it is impossible, I suppose, not to see that place, those years, that curriculum, in terms of its personal benefits. I cannot imagine who I would be without them

All that, like so many other things, is gone now, with fewer people even to remember it. With the demise of Spud, the last living link to those priests who made up the faculty is gone. All the more important, then, the image of the skating rector, performing intricate arabesques on a frozen lake while from the study hall students look on. You cannot skate twice on the same lake. The Catholic Thing
Ralph McInerny is a writer of philosophy, fiction, and cultural criticism, who has taught at Notre Dame since 1955.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Washed, Justified, Sanctified: Baptism, Part 5, Mark Shea

National Catholic Register:
Naaman, the great Syrian general, had a little problem. He was a leper. His Israelite slave girl gave him news that a prophet of Israel, a great man named Elisha, might be able to help him out of his predicament. So, being a great man himself, he went to the prophet to ask for help. The reply came from Elisha: “Not a problem. Come on down and take a dip in our filthy, muddy Jordan River and God will heal you.”

Naaman was furious. Elisha was not treating him as an equal, but as a mere groveling supplicant, like any other loser. Naaman groused that his home country had a lot of rivers cleaner than the Jordan. His dignity and intelligence bucked like broncos at the insult of it all.

But none of that made his leprosy go away. In the end, his servants brought him to his senses with these words:

“My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13).

In his pride, Naaman was prepared to perform seven Herculean feats to earn his healing. But he hadn’t been prepared to humble himself. When he realized his servants were right, he took a deep breath, crucified his pride (which is even more Herculean) and received healing on God’s terms, not his.

Baptism is a similarly simple act of submission to God. It washes us of all sin, the greatest of which is pride.

It seems like such a small thing. A little spill of water. A few words. No blood, sweat, toil or tears. No complex formulas. No Herculean feats. No demonstration of your worthiness to be among the Few, the Proud.

On the contrary, it’s all about confessing your unworthiness and your readiness to admit that you are among the Many, the Sinners.

Baptism “justifies” us according to the Church. Justification does not come from acting justified. Justification comes with admitting you are not justified, because it comes from God, not us. It’s a gift.

Because it’s a gift, some Christians have the theory that justification is like snow on a dunghill. According to this theory, you remain the nasty creature you were, but God pretends otherwise.

This is not, however, what Scripture or the Church teaches. On the contrary, in baptism your sins and your sinfulness really are taken away, and you become a “partaker in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). That doesn’t mean you are incapable of sin. It doesn’t even mean that you are not still afflicted with concupiscence: The weakened will, disordered appetites and darkened intellect that linger on like a trick knee after baptism have operated on the injury inflicted by original sin.

Rather, it means that as you cooperate with grace (and nowhere more so than in the field of combat with temptation) you are being changed into a creature who more and more fully replicates the life of Christ. As he is the Just Man, so you too become more and more like him: not merely a disgusting dunghill that God endures, but a genuine delight through whom God radiates Christ’s goodness to the world.

This process of sanctification can look a bit like the “snow on a dunghill” theory, but it’s not. The “snow on a dunghill” theory says, “You’ll never change, so God has to pretend you’ve changed.” The essence of Catholic moral exhortation is always “Become what you are.” It’s an approach that comes to us directly from St. Paul, who confronts the squabbling, stupid Corinthians in the midst of their sins and tells them not “So! You were never really Christians after all!” but:

“[Y]ou were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

In short, in baptism you already have changed.

Now the mustard seed that has been planted in your soul must grow.

That’s hard to believe because the world constantly tells us that underneath the veneer of goodness lie nothing but abysses of hunger for selfishness — in a word, sin. So when we sin we think, “That’s what I’m really made of.” But the faith tells us that our sins do not name us and that we are ultimately meant for God.

Our sins make us anonymous, take away our names, and destroy our true identity. Paul’s exhortation calls us to take up the dignity that is already ours in Christ through our baptism. He does this because he knows Christ means to give us a new name.

Which is to say that he means to make us saints.

Part IV Priest, Prophet and King

Part III Our Needs vs. God's Needs

Part II Baptismal Complexes

Part I The Fountain of Youth

Parishioners express desire for solidarity in Archdiocesan regional planning meetings

Solidarity between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Catholics - Parishes capable of fostering community - Programs aimed at keeping young people in the church.

These were just a few of the hopes expressed during a gathering at St. Richard in Richfield Sept. 12.

About 400 English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Catholics from parishes around the archdiocese attended the gathering to provide input regarding strategic planning for the archdiocese’s future.

The meeting was the first of eight regional parishioner meetings to be held in the archdiocese during Sep­tem­ber and October. It was the only meeting scheduled to include a presentation in Spanish.

Upcoming planning meetings

» St. Pius V, Cannon Falls
Sept. 26, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

» All Saints, Lakeville

Sept. 28, 7-9 p.m.

» Holy Spirit, St. Paul

Oct. 1, 7-9 p.m.

» Holy Name of Jesus, Wayzata

Oct. 6, 7-9 p.m.

» St. Timothy, Blaine

Oct. 8, 7-9 p.m.
In addition to attending a regional parishioner meeting, you may share your ideas, hopes and concerns with the archdiocesan planning task force in the following ways:

» Via the Web:

» By voice mail:
(651) 291-4435.

» By postal mail:
Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, PST - Planning Process Comments, 328 Kellogg Blvd. W, St. Paul, MN 55102.

Key parish facts to know about the Parish Planning Process

“This meeting is really designed to help you become more familiar with the archdiocesan planning process, including the important information that we’re learning about our current reality,” said Lori Dahlhoff, a member of the Parish Services Team who led the English-speaking session.

The meeting was also a means to foster conversation between members of different parishes and to provide feedback for the Strategic Planning Task Force, she added.

Planning Task Force members will con­sider ideas and concerns presented in the regional parishioner meet­ings as they prepare their final proposal, which they will present to Archbishop John Nien­stedt in July 2010. The Parish Services Team is assisting the task force.

The series of parishioner meetings follows planning meetings for priests and parish leaders, which were held during the summer.

At St. Richard, the two-hour format began with a bilingual introduction from members of the archdiocese’s Plan­ning Task Force and Parish Services Team before attendees separated for presentations in English and Spanish. Participants were given facts and supporting statistics about the archdiocese as a framework for the planning process. (See sidebar “Key parish facts.”)

Young adults, racial division

In the English session, participants were invited to share their concerns and ideas first with those sitting near them, then with the whole gathering.

Attendees expressed concerns in­clu­ding the number of people leaving the Catholic Church, separation between English- and non-English speaking Cath­olics, and the loss of a sense of community within their own parishes.

Fred Seagren, 67, said he attended because he thinks it’s important for all Catholics to be involved in decision-making in the church.

St. Richard, his parish, has struggled financially over the years, he said, and he would like to see root causes to current trends — such as low parishioner financial support, declining Mass attendance and fewer vocations to the priesthood — ad­dres­sed. He expects the planning process to lead to greater collaboration and sharing among parishes.

Ruben Soruco, also a parishioner at St. Richard who attended the meeting, is most concerned about the declining number of young people in the church, he said.

“We are losing every day the participation of more young people and children because we are not paying attention to them,” he said. “[Young people] have their own new idiosyncrasies, they have their own philosophy, and we should tap those re­sources and make religion a little more appealing for them in order to preserve our Catholic beliefs.”

Soruco, 79, pointed out that even the meeting itself was an indication of this problem within the archdiocese. Most of the attendees in the English-speaking group were senior citizens. In contrast, many of the Spanish-speaking attendees were families with children and teen­agers.

Soruco hopes people who don’t regularly attend church take time to attend the regional meetings because otherwise the Task Force will only hear from people who are already involved, he said.

Participant Gail Pueringer, 48, said she hopes parishes can find better ways of uniting white and Latino Catholics. “We should remember that we are part of a bigger picture,” she said. “We should say that we are all one.”

About 200 people representing 14 parishes participated in the Spanish-speaking session, according to Estela Villagran Manancero, a member of the archdiocesan Parish Services Team and Hispanic ministry coordinator. Some parishes bused people to St. Richard to participate.

Donald Mendoza, 42, was one of about 15 Latino parishioners of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center to attend the Spanish session.

“The reason that we decided to go is because we have a few necessities in our community,” Mendoza said after the meeting. “For example, there are a few people that cannot bring their children to the school because they don’t have enough money or the church doesn’t have enough money, and my understanding is that there is more money in other churches, that they can share the money with us, and that we can provide for all the needs in our church.”

At the Spanish-speaking session, participants were given art supplies, then asked to work together in small groups to create an image depicting the church of the future. Mendoza said his group drew an altar without a priest behind it. While the church’s Latino population has been steadily growing, the number of Spanish-speaking priests and parish leaders has not kept up with the need, he said.

The archdiocese has begun a parish leadership training program for Latinos to address the shortage, said Manancero. Forty-five people recently graduated from the 18-month program. Also, several archdiocesan priests are learning Spanish in Mexico, she said.

Many of the comments at the meeting centered on a more united church and a desire for more resources for children, said Nadia Najarro Smith, a Spanish interpreter hired by the archdiocese to write a summary report of the meeting.

Jim Lundholm-Eades, a task force member and director of the Parish Services Team, said generally it’s clear that people love their own parishes and are concerned about their futures.

They’re also glad that Archbishop Nienstedt is taking the time to listen to people and “do this right,” rather than rushing the process, he said.

“People . . . realize that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done before,” he said. “The world has changed demographically, financially and so on. People are seeing the big picture of the archdiocese. Catholic Spirit

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Father Greg Esty makes all feel welcome at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park


Father Esty
The Catholic Spirit “When he introduced himself to [my husband and me], he made us feel that the song we had just sung at Mass, “All are Welcome in this Place” was truly a belief that not only he professed but one that was shared by his very happy parishioners.

When we first started attending Mass at [St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park], and before joining this active parish, we initially began meeting the parish staff and, one by one, each of these people shared their joy about not only working at STA but also about their team member, Father Greg Esty. (When the church support staff voluntarily tells you that they’ve got the world’s best priest, that spoke volumes to us!). . . .

“We are 100 percent convinced that we have been truly blest to be STA parishioners and getting to know Father Greg as priest/friend has been the best. He is a respectful and respected man to all who enter the doors of STA. Father Greg’s genuine heart of openness, his willingness ‘to listen with the ears of his heart’ and his ability to truly care make him an absolute favorite of our entire congregation.

“His homilies hit home because of their humanistic qualities — he does not talk above/below ‘his people,’ but he sends us out the church doors each week with a specific message that sustains us for the coming days.

“Whether you are newly baptized, celebrating your 60th wedding anniversary, or a person somewhere in between, all of us are truly welcomed in this place week after week and month after month. How wonderful we now feel to call this our home church.”

— Trish Thompson
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish,
St. Paul Park

Candlelight Rosary Procession Friday, Oct. 2, 7:00 p.m.: Capitol to the Cathedral

The World Apostolate of Fatima will sponsor its annual candlelight rosary procession Friday, Oct. 2. Participants should gather at the State Capitol at 6:30 p.m.

The procession, led by Bishop Lee Piché, will proceed to the Cathedral of St. Paul at 7 p.m.

The procession will include a new sta­tue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was blessed by Archbishop John Nienstedt at the May Day rosary procession and will be used in all future archdiocesan rosary processions.

Candlelight Rosary Procession Friday, Oct. 2, 7:00 p.m.: Capitol to the Cathedral

The World Apostolate of Fatima will sponsor its annual candlelight rosary procession Friday, Oct. 2. Participants should gather at the State Capitol at 6:30 p.m.

The procession, led by Bishop Lee Piché, will proceed to the Cathedral of St. Paul at 7 p.m.

The procession will include a new sta­tue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was blessed by Archbishop John Nienstedt at the May Day rosary procession and will be used in all future archdiocesan rosary processions.

Carnies and Roustabouts: A Weekend at the Fair

Running a parish these days is not an easy task for a pastor trained in philosophy and theology. He needs lots of support from his staff and from his parishioners and their "time, talent and treasure.

Once a year in Catholic parishes (it's coming soon) the pewsitters will be hit with the annual pledge appeal to lay claim to some of the expected financial resources for the coming year. At other times in the year they are requested to give their time and talent to their parish. Many provide their talent when they serve on parish councils, in choirs, as lectors, ushers, teaching aides, maintenance workers and providing the other skills needed to run the modern parish.

Most parishes around here sponsor festivals to provide a social experience for their parishioners and also to raise a few simoleons for the parish treasury. These festivals may be anywhere in length from one evening, to a day, a weekend or even two weekends in length, depending upon the size of the parish and the willingness of the parishioners to provide the time and talent to carry it out. Most festivals seem to take place in August and September and the Catholic Spirit generally has a complete list of them in one of their summer issues.

St. Helena's, a blue collar parish that is located in the real southeast of Minneapolis, down by Minneheha Park, has for over 25 years been sponsoring one of the most popular and financially successful festivals in the archdiocese, Autumn Daze. It generally takes place on the third weekend of September, starting on Friday evening and going til late Sunday afternoon.

It contains food and drink, including the incredibly popular fish fry on Friday (people do yearn for that), children's games, book and rummage sales, auctions, bingo, cake and wine walks. a parade, a 5K race, a new car raffle, musical entertainment, fireworks (on Friday), a horse-drawn hayride and carnival rides. Some of the most important people volunteering were the clean up crews, keeping the grounds immaculate, almost, and the red-hatted security team that keeps the generally amicable crowds amicable and moving at the end of each day. It takes almost the entire parish to staff all these events over a period of 24 hours, not counting the incredible amount of work that needs to be done in the middle of the night and ahead of time, starting way back in March or before.

Being the only fair of any size in Minneapolis, (Nativity in St. Paul has their two weekend fair in August), Autumn Daze couldn't survive without most of its attendees coming from non-parishioners. Parishioners distribute a 16-page newspaper door to door to all the homes and businesses in virtually all of South Minneapolis east of Cedar Avenue. Carnival ride tickets were sold to a lady from Chaska, present with her kids.

This most enjoyable festival even attracts volunteers from outside the parish. Greg Smisek, the volunteer organizer of the Archdiocesan Corpus Christi Processions was seen running a ball toss game for little tykes in the big tent (did I forget to mention the huge tent?). Josh Teske, an attorney, one of the key men behind the Argument of the Month Club (First Tuesday in October, Men ONLY, put it on your calendar!), last year was the No. One to Autumn Daze honcho John Sondag of the parish staff. This year Josh was mostly busy with St. Augustine's parish festival in South St. Paul so couldn't spend many hours at Autumn Daze but he did make an appearance.

Not many guys can pull off wearing a hat designed to look like a steaming ear of corn on the cob. But Jeremy Stanbary, actor, writer, producer, best boy and stagehand of Epiphany Studio Productions, was seen handling some kind of gambling game for adults, looked rather distinguished and comfortable in it as he took the money from his suckers, errrr, customers.

Yours truly, not having much talent other than typing, has been drafted these past few years to sell tickets to the kiddies, young and old to the carnival rides. The parish doesn't make too much money off of the rides, but they are a way to get moms and dads with deep pockets to bring their offspring to the fair for the rides, and then buy a meal and a beer, purchase something at the auction, get another bed for the expanding family, take a chance on the $5,000 raffle, maybe take a ride on the bumper cars or the Zipper themselves, etc.

Selling tickets means being enclosed in a six foot square box with a tiny window and getting to talk to little three foot high excited munchkins whose hands are grasping for tickets while grandma digs deep into her purse for the money for more tickets. That's the best part of the job. Nothing is more enjoyable than seeing the eyes of those little ones getting set to go on the Merry Go Round. One was jumping half her height in the air she was so excited. The little ones are far and away the attraction of the job.

Selling tickets means also dealing with the "Carnies", the workers for Midwest Rides & Amusements who are there to put on a safe and enjoyable show, and make money. If you haven't had much experience with carnivals, your idea of the carnies is probably of somewhat disreputable people, possibly on the lam from the law, and with two or three addictions and lots of tattoos. Well you'd be right about the tattoo part. These are guys with strong mechanical and electrical skills who can get along with people. There aren't too many shops around where you can fix a Tilt-a-Whirl or a Merry-Go-Round.

The first evening, the show manager told me that he wouldn't be able to attend because it was his son's first football game and he wanted to be there. I thought that was very classy! The second day, one of the tattoo'ed, walking by with a plateful of food (all those guys were great customers for the food booths), knocked on the door of the booth and showed me how to turn on the air conditioning. Knowing that as far as they were concerned that I was the money man, they wanted me to be comfortable. They were all nice guys.

The weather was great this past weekend and the crowds were large. Except. Last year the fish fry was so popular that they doubled the number of fryers this year to serve more people (sell more fish). Unfortunately they blew out a transformer and for nearly two hours the main tent and the school building (and surrounding homes) were without power. sending many people home. The rides continued, though, because they have their own generator. And then on Sunday the Vikings scheduled their game with Detroit, forgetting to check with St. Helena's to see if it would be OK. Hopefully they will have a bye weekend the next 25 years.

Lessons learned about children and money:

1. If you want an idea of what to get a ten year old for Christmas or a birthday, how 'bout a wallet. The number of crumpled dollar bills that I had to handle was amazing.

2. I assumed that it wasn't St. Helena's students, but I was stunned by the number of children who couldn't figure out how many tickets they could get for five or ten dollars, or how much 3 tickets cost ($3.75). Teachers should concentrate in their arithmetic classes on figuring batting averages and field goal and won-loss percentages and the cost of carnival ticket rides (If Sally needs __ rides for Billy at __ tickets per ride and __ rides for Tommy at. . . . You get the picture), to make mathematics more relevant to the kids.

3. I was also amazed at the drawing power of the rides. The number of people, young and old who had to be yelled at to come back and get their change was incredible. In a slow moment, I lectured one 13 years old boy on money management. An hour later he accompanied a friend back and he apologized for "forgetting his money." I think there was a lesson learned. So I did some good.

4. Everybody loves fireworks. Generally, the bigger, the better. But at a small fireworks display like Friday night at St. Helena's, when you can get to within 100 feet of the shooting area, they are pretty darned spectacular, especially the last five minutes of the 20 minute show. But I suspect some might get a crick in their neck. Ah, well, the wages of pleasure!!!

5. We will now resume the regular Stella Borealis blogging schedule.

Next year, put the third weekend in September on your calendars as Autumn Daze weekend and come on over and have a great time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another sign of change in families: After grandpa dies, nobody wants to bury him.

Unclaimed cremated remains accumulate at Allouez cemetery in Green Bay

Tucked away in a second-floor utility room of a Green Bay-area cemetery is a haphazard stack of small, unremarkable cardboard boxes and a few coffee can-sized tins. Inside the containers are the cremated ashes of 70 people who have been forgotten or abandoned.

"It's not an identification thing; we know who they are," Brown County Medical Examiner Al Klimek said. "They have no legal next of kin that we are able to recognize or that will step forward and claim the remains. "It's not necessarily that we don't know who they belong to, it's just that the family steps away."

Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum provides the indefinite storage space as a form of community stewardship. The cemetery charges a $50 storage fee if someone steps forward to claim a set of remains, some of which date back to the 1940s. The ashes were stored in a crypt in the mausoleum's chapel for many years, but the crypt was recently sold, evicting the remains to a temporary home in a storage area. Cemetery staff plans to move the remains to an outdoor crypt soon. . . .

How? Why?

A person's ashes end up in the collection at Allouez for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes, there's not enough information available to track down next of kin. "There are other situations where we simply exhaust all of our resources to try and find legal next of kin and there is no one," Klimek said. "It's hard to believe in this day and age that there's no one out there." Some in the group were indigent when they died and they were cremated at county expense.

Others are simply unwanted. "In essence, we do have those families that say 'I didn't like the person when they were alive and I'm not going to take care of him now that he's dead' and they step away," Klimek said. "That results — in essence — in unclaimed remains." Money and miscommunication play a role as does a reluctance to hold onto a loved one's ashes as a memorial. . . .

This is not an issue unique to Green Bay. "It's a situation funeral homes are dealing with across the country," said Scott Peterson, executive director of the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association. . . . Green Bay Gazette

Why I am a Catholic and Why I just love Pope Benedict XVI

He has some comments in the second book of interviews with Peter Seewald, God and the World:

We all stand in a great arena of history and are dependent on each other. A man ought not, therefore, just to figure out what he would like, but to ask what he can do and how he can help. Then he will see that fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following one's inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring, anyway. Only the man who "risks the fire," who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, an ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment. As we have said, it is not in taking, not on the path of comfort, that we become rich, but only in giving.

Hat Tip to Why I am Catholic

Oy Yez, Oy Yez, Read All About It!: Ironic Catholic Interviewed

The Ironic Catholic without a doubt one of the funniest and best bloggers in the country, certainly the best in the Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who also works part time as a Mom of 3.94 and a theologian, was interviewed recently by another blogger from the Church of No People. I'll give you the questions, go over there to find the answers:

First, can you share any vital stats with us to introduce yourself?
I like mysterious women. When did you start blogging and what got you interested?
Crummy Joel was a titan of the industry...whatever industry that is. But it's a great moment when we look at our heroes and say, "Well big deal, I could do that!"
Yes, I too have not yet published my book, nor opened my meth lab, though I am still a man, still not pregnant, and thus without excuse.
Do you consider your real-life person to be as ironic as your online person?
"Serously theological...and stuff." Sounds groundbreaking.
You seem to have a bit of a crush on the handsome Steven Colbert. What’s up with that?
Your family is growing with the birth of your fourth precious little irony. Congratulations! Are you planning any rivalries with a neighborhood Mormon family?
I think fewer than 10% of the students at my Baptist seminary had actually met a Catholic person, and I think most were scared of meeting one. We were told by an expert that if we met a Catholic, don't panic because Catholics really are just as scared of Baptists as Baptists are of them. Is that really true?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cardinal Newman Society Annual List of Orthodox Catholic Colleges


Today The Cardinal Newman Society published a new, second edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, a unique resource for parents and students seeking a faithful Catholic education.

This comprehensive Guide recommends 21 colleges and universities in the United States plus eight international, online and unique programs based on the strength of their Catholic identity. In addition, the Guide includes several essays to help families better understand the search for a strong Catholic college.

The culmination of four years of research and hundreds of interviews, this edition of The Newman Guide builds substantially on the successful first edition which was published on All Saints Day in 2007. All told more than 8,000 copies of that edition were distributed to Catholic leaders and families. . . .

The online version of the college profiles include additional campus pictures and videos, open house and other event details, as well as a form to request admissions or financial aid information directly from the college. . . .

A new section in this edition of The Newman Guide recommends international, online and unique Catholic colleges and programs to help provide options to families looking for non-traditional ways to obtain a faithful Catholic education. . . .

In addition to the recommended college profiles, The Newman Guide includes several essays to help families put the search for a Catholic college in context. . . . [more]

§ Aquinas College, Nashville, Tenn.

§ Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Fla.

§ Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, N.C.

§ Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan.

§ The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

§ Christendom College, Front Royal, Va.

§ The College of Saint Thomas More, Fort Worth, Tex.

§ DeSales University, Center Valley, Pa.

§ Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Oh.

§ Holy Apostles College & Seminary, Cromwell, Conn.

§ John Paul the Great Catholic University, San Diego, Calif.

§ Magdalen College, Warner, N.H.

§ Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Md.

§ Providence College, Providence, R.I.

§ St. Gregory’s University, Shawnee, Okla.

§ Southern Catholic College, Dawsonville, Ga.

§ Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.

§ The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack, N.H.

§ University of Dallas, Irving, Tex.

§ University of St. Thomas, Houston, Tex.

§ Wyoming Catholic College, Lander, Wyo.