Monday, November 30, 2009

UST commemorating new Catholic Studies building

The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is dedicating the newly expanded and renovated home of its Center for Catholic Studies.

The private Catholic university is holding a ceremony today to celebrate the new Sitzmann Hall. The nearly $4 million expansion doubles the amount of space for the school's Catholic Studies program, the nation's oldest and largest program of its kind in the United States.

St. Thomas enrolls about 300 undergraduates who are majoring or minoring in Catholic studies along with another 80 students pursuing master's degrees. Pioneer Press

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding peace in a Polish orphanage


Ania McNamara clutched a napkin bearing a hand-drawn map as she walked down a barren street in Chotomow, Poland. She came to the spot the store clerk had marked and looked up at the building. It was the same green gate from her memories.

The sign read, "Dom Dziecka," the House of Children.

A few kids ran through the yard as McNamara made her way up the path. "Where are the sisters?" she asked in Polish. One pointed toward the house. McNamara made her way to the door and knocked.

"Can I speak to the sisters?" she asked the little girl who opened the door. The child disappeared into the orphanage and soon returned with an old nun.

In broken Polish, McNamara tried to explain who she was. But she didn't need to. Sister Elizabeth knew.

"The eyes of little Ania," Sister Elizabeth exclaimed.

McNamara, a 20-year-old student at Saint Mary's University in Winona, returned in April to the orphanage where she and her three sisters were adopted 16 years ago. In Europe studying for a semester, McNamara had become haunted by the fact that her birthplace was so nearby. Her friends had already flown home, but she decided to stay, to find her birthplace and the nuns who raised her.

Standing in the doorway to the orphanage, McNamara didn't recognize Sister Elizabeth. But the nun hadn't forgotten McNamara's striking blue eyes. Sister Elizabeth left and returned with a photo pressed to her chest. She turned it around for McNamara to see. It was McNamara and her three sisters with their adoptive mom 16 years ago.

"I just started crying," McNamara said. "It was equivalent to meeting my real parents."

For the next four hours, the nuns talked with McNamara through a translator -- a teacher from nearby who knew English. She asked questions about the orphanage and the children there. She saw her old room again. And the same 16 narrow stair steps she used to run up and down.

The orphanage hadn't changed much. Photos of past popes hung in the doorway. Children still prayed in the pews of the chapel and made mud pies in the sandbox. The nuns still wore black habits.

But there were differences, too. The older children no longer all sleep in one large room. And the orphanage has computers now.

McNamara has little chance of ever finding her birth parents. The orphanage has no records, and most of what McNamara knows about her parents has come from the memories of the nuns who raised her.

They say McNamara and her sisters were left to them after their mother abandoned the family. Her father cared for the girls for a while, but eventually left them at the orphanage when he could no longer keep up. He visited infrequently, then stopped coming altogether.

McNamara isn't bothered not knowing her father and mother, and she doesn't blame her father for leaving her. He did the responsible thing, she says.

Back at the orphanage, McNamara's visit was coming to an end. She had a plane to catch. She said her goodbyes to the nuns and promised to stay in touch.

"I got back on the bus and wanted to tell everyone," she said, "but no one would understand me."

Consumed by memories

When McNamara got back to Winona in April, she told her friends about the visit. She could hardly believe it herself. But the more she told her story, the more the children and nuns seemed to consume her thoughts. She knew she had to help them out somehow.

"The journey back to Poland changed me," she said. "I just wanted to do something for someone else."

So McNamara spent the next couple of months gathering cards, toys and blankets to send to the children for Christmas. She knows what it's like to have to share gifts with 30 other kids.

Her past few weekends have been consumed in preparation. She and her friends made blankets. They wrapped the presents. They put bells on the packages. And some of the friends even wrote personalized cards for each child and nun -- in Polish.

Nikki Kolupailo, McNamara's 21-year-old roommate, paced around a classroom on the St. Mary's campus last week making sure everything was in order. She was one of the first people to hear McNamara's story. And she has been by her side ever since.

"She seemed whole when she got back," Kolupailo said. "She's just happier. It's like there's a glow to her."

Kolupailo handed off a package to Bailey England, 21, another volunteer and friend of McNamara's.

"Ania has a drive that's so rare in someone her age," England said. "She inspires me every day."

The next step is sending the packages, which McNamara expects will cost more than $1,000.

"It takes a second to change a kid's life," she said. "And a few dollars out of pocket. But it is worth it. We should all be helping others."

McNamara is the first of her three sisters to go back to Poland since the adoption. They plan to all return together some day.

But for now, McNamara wants to concentrate on finishing her marketing and entrepreneur majors at St. Mary's, though, of course, she plans to stay in touch with the nuns and children.

The questions about her past that haunted her for years have mostly been answered.

"I feel that everything I really wanted to know, the orphanage answered it for me," she said. "And now I want to provide those kids with the comfort I have." StarTribune/Winona Daily News

Friday, November 27, 2009

Polish Museum is something extra to celebrate on Oplatki Day

As Winona's Polish community prepares to mark the traditional Oplatki Day on Dec. 6, there is much to celebrate.

The Polish Museum, the center of Polish culture in the region, opened an expanded gallery last summer. And since August, Polish journalist Iga Marmolowska has been promoting the museum both at home and abroad.

"A lot of Polish history is here," said Marmolowska, who will return to Poland on Dec. 15.

The museum contains exhibits and displays tracing the history of the Polish community in Winona and the surrounding area. There is also a substantial library of books and genealogy resources. And now, there is the Polish Museum annex, a large hall for celebrations and gatherings surrounded by a 160-foot long mural.

The mural tells the story of Winona's Polish community, reaching back to its roots in northern Poland, through immigration, settlement, jobs in Winona, the role of the Catholic Church, good times, bad times, war and, finally, modern times. The mural includes photos, documents and other memorabilia.

The museum and annex contain perhaps the largest collection anywhere of information on the Kashubian people who emigrated from Poland.

"For me, it's amazing," said Marmolowska, who is from Winona's sister city of Bytow. "We have a museum in Bytow, but it is very small."

The museum was founded in 1976 by the Rev. Paul Breza, who still stops in nearly every day to keep tabs on the collection.

Most of Winona's substantial population of Polish immigrants came from the Kashubia region of Poland. Today, the distinct Kashubian language and culture have all but been subsumed in the larger Polish culture.

Even Marmolowska, despite growing up in Kashubia, cannot read the language. "If you tell people there they are Kashubian, they say, 'No I'm not,'" she said. Rochester Post Bulletin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At last, Christians draw a line in the sand against their PC secularist persecutors

On Nov. 20, 2009 a group of prominent Christian (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical) clergy, ministry leaders and scholars, including Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, signed and released the Manhattan Declaration, which addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty. This extremely important statement, nearly 5,000 words long, stands up to those in our modernist and secular society and draws the line in the sand where secularism shall not encroach. This nearly 5,000 word document may be be found HERE.

Gerald Warner, a columnist for the UK Telegraph newspaper has written a shorter summary that should be required reading before you tackle the Manhattan Statement itself:

At long last, Christian leaders have faced up to their persecutors in the secularist, socialist, One-World, PC, UN-promoted axis of evil and said: No more. In the popular metaphor, they have drawn a line in the sand. For harassed, demoralised faithful in the pews it will come as the long-awaited call to resistance and an earnest that their leaders are no longer willing to lie down supinely to be run over by the anti-Christian juggernaut. This statement of principle and intent is called The Manhattan Declaration, published last Friday in Washington DC.

It is difficult to believe that so firm an assertion of Christian intransigence in the face of persecution will not have some beneficial effects even here. For this Declaration is no minor affirmation by a few committed activists: on the contrary, it is signed by the most important leaders of three mainstream Christian traditions – the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Evangelical Protestants. For an ecumenical document it is heroically devoid of fudge, euphemism and compromise.

The Manhattan Declaration states that “the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions”.

For Barack Obama, the PC lobby, the “hate crime” fascists and, by implication, their opposite numbers in Britain, the signatories have an uncompromising message: “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.” That is plain speaking, in the face of anti-Christian aggression by governments. The signatories spelled it out even more unequivocally: “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we will under no circumstances render to Caesar what is God’s.”

In a world where a Swedish pastor has been jailed for preaching that sodomy is sinful, similar prosecutions have taken place in Canada, the European Court of Human Rights (sic) has tried to ban crucifixes in Italian classrooms, Brazil has passed totalitarian legislation imposing heavy prison sentences for criticism of homosexual lifestyles, Amnesty International is championing abortion, David Cameron [U.K. Conservative leader] has voted for the enforced closure of Catholic adoption agencies, and Gordon Brown’s [U.K.] government has just been defeated in its fourth attempt to abolish the Waddington Clause guaranteeing free speech – this robust defiance is more than timely.

The signatories are unambiguously expressing their willingness to go to prison rather than deny any part of their religious beliefs. Those signatories are heavyweight. On the Catholic side they include Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; the Archbishops of Denver, New York, Washington DC, Newark, Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Louisville; and other Bishops. The Orthodox include the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and the Archpriest of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. There are also the Anglican Primates of America and Nigeria, as well as a host of senior Evangelical Protestants.

In terms of influence on votes and public opinion, this is a formidable coalition. It has served notice on the US government that further anti-Christian legislation will provoke cultural trench warfare and even civil disobedience. As regards the sudden stiffening of resistance among the usually spineless Catholic leadership, it is impossible not to detect the influence of Benedict XVI.

We need more declarations like this, on a global scale, and the requisite confrontational follow-up. This is Clint Eastwood, make-my-day Christianity – and not before time. From now on, any governments that are planning further persecution of Christians had better make sure they have a large pride of lions available for mastication duties. The worm has turned.
Gerald Warner, UK Telegraph Columnist


The signers of The Manhattan Declaration have called upon us to also sign the document, pledging our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, as did the signers of our Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life -- National Religious Vocation Conference

A Report for the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC)

Published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, August 2009

Summary of Major Findings prepared for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Presented by Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Executive Director of NRVC
November 18, 2009

The Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life in the United States conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) for the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) was designed to identify and understand the characteristics, attitudes, and experiences of the men and women who are coming to religious life today as well as the characteristics and practices of the religious institutes that are successfully attracting new candidates and retaining new members.

Religious Life Today

• Most religious institutes in the United States are experiencing diminishing numbers, but some continue to attract new members and a few are experiencing significant growth.
• Nearly 4,000 men and women are either in initial formation or professed final vows within the previous 15 years, which confirms that there are still significant numbers of men and women who are responding to a call to religious life and are hopeful about its future.
• 78 percent of men’s communities and 66 percent of women’s have at least one person currently in initial formation (candidate or postulant, novice, or temporary professed).

Characteristics of New Members

• Those coming to religious life today are much more diverse in terms of age, racial and ethnic background, and life experience. Many come with considerable education and ministry and work experience. More than 90 percent were employed, usually full-time, and nearly 70 percent were engaged in some form of ministry.
• Among new members, the average age of entrance is 30 for men (median 27) and 32 for women (median 29).
• 21 percent of those in initial formation are Hispanic/Latino(a), 14 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 6 percent are African/African American. About 58 percent are Caucasian/white, compared to about 94 percent of finally professed members.
• Nine in ten were raised Catholic and most (73 percent) attended a Catholic school for at least part of their education.
• More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the new members first considered religious life by the time they were 21.

Attraction to Religious Life and to a Particular Religious Institute

• 85 percent say the example of members attracted them “very much,” especially their sense of joy, down-to-earth nature, and commitment and zeal. Sense of call and a desire for prayer and spiritual growth are other primary draws.
• Most new members were attracted to their particular religious institute by its spirituality, community life, and prayer life.
• Significant generational gaps, especially between the Millennial Generation (born in 1982 or later) and the Vatican II Generation (born between 1943 and 1960), are evident throughout the study on questions involving the Church and the habit, with younger respondents drawn by a desire to be more committed to the church and wear a habit.

Vocation Promotion and Discernment Programs

• The most common discernment programs are: “Come and See” experiences (offered by three-fourths of the responding institutes), live-in experiences and discernment retreats, and mission or ministry experiences. New members who participated in such programs generally found them to be very helpful in their discernment process.
• Many new members did not experience a great deal of encouragement from family members, diocesan priests, parishioners, or friends when they were first considering a vocation to religious life. Younger respondents were more likely to report receiving encouragement from diocesan priests.

Prayer and Spirituality

• Many new members identify common prayer, particularly Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, as what most attracted them to religious life. Millennials also mentioned Eucharistic Adoration, the Divine Office, and Marian devotion as especially important.

Community Life and Ministry Setting Preferences

• Most new members indicate that they want to live, work, and pray with other members of their religious institute.
• Most new members prefer to live in a large (eight or more) or medium-sized (four to seven) community and to live only with other members of their institute. The higher the number of members who live alone, the less likely an institute is to have new members.

Evaluation of Religious Institutes

• Most new members give their religious institutes “excellent” ratings for their commitment to ministry, and high marks for their faithfulness to and opportunities for prayer and spiritual growth, and focus on mission. Institutes received lower ratings for community life and relationships, opportunities for ongoing formation, and efforts to promote vocations.

Practices Regarding the Religious Habit

• Having a religious habit was an important factor for a significant number of new members. Interviews with vocation directors suggest that many inquirers are looking for the possibility of wearing a habit even in those institutes in which few, if any, members regularly do so.

Most Rewarding and Satisfying Aspects of Religious Life

• New members offered a range of comments about the satisfying aspects of religious life, including living, praying, and working together, being part of something larger than themselves, following God’s call, deepening their relationship with God, and being a witness to God for others. Comments about ministry, service, or the apostolate were less frequent.

Excerpted from the Executive Summary of The Study on Recent Vocations, pp. 1-15

Recent Vocations to Religious Life

Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference, addressed the U.S. bishops at their meeting last week to report on the wide-scale national vocation study his organization undertook.

The landmark study, Recent Vocations to Religious Life, looked at "who is entering religious life today and the characteristics of the religious institutes that are receiving and retaining new members."

From Brother Bednarczyk's address:

"It is no surprise to anyone that men and women religious are a shrinking and aging population. Compared to the mid-sixties when the number of religious reached its peak at about 23,000 priests, 12,500 brothers and about 180,000 sisters and nuns, the religious population has decreased by approximately 65 percent. According to the latest statistics, there are less than 13,000 religious priests, 5,000 religious brothers, and 59,000 religious sisters and nuns.[1] About 75 percent of men and more than 90 percent of women religious are age 60 and over. For those men and women religious who are under 60, the majority are in their 50s, with only 1 percent under 40.

"Although the number of religious is considerably lower, we need to look at this phenomenon within the broad spectrum of religious life. The truth is that throughout history men and women religious have always made up a small percentage of our Catholic population. The temptation is to compare the high numbers of the fifties and sixties as the norm, when in actuality, they were an anomaly. It is my hope that this study will serve as a more realistic benchmark for tracking future trends in religious vocations for this century."

The research, he said, confirmed what his organization has been tracking for several years: Younger people are beginning to look at religious life as "a viable option." He explained that the numbers show that millennial Catholics are looking for more "traditional style" communities:

"Newer members say they are drawn to religious life primarily by a sense of call, a desire for prayer, spiritual growth, and clearly for younger members, a deeper commitment to the Church. More than three fourths of institutes of men (78 percent) and two-thirds of institutes of women (66 percent) have at least one person currently in initial formation. As a testimony to the strength of diversity in religious life, these institutes represent a wide variety of lifestyles, ministries, charisms, and spiritualities. The institutes though that are most successful in attracting and retaining members at this time, would be characterized as following a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotion al practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and its teachings. All of these characteristics and practices are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today, the members of the millennial generation."

The read Brother Bednarczyk's full address, click HERE. Our Sunday Visitor

Ten myths about religious life . . . and the facts from the Study that dispel them

Myth #1: No one is entering religious life anymore. Fact: More than 70 percent of all religious communities (both men’s and women’s) report having new members in formation. Nearly 20 percent have five or more people in some stage of formation. These numbers do not reflect the large number of entrants in the 1950s and ’60s, although many people have used this period as a point for comparison. The 2009 NRVC/CARA Study on Recent Vocations sets the benchmark for the current century.

Myth #2: Most vocations are coming from older/second-career candidates. Fact: Our study indicates that the average age of men who entered religious life since 1993 was 30. For women the age was 32. The data also shows that 71 percent of those in initial formation are under 40. Although there always has been, and always will be a place for older or second career candidates in religious life, our study results have confirmed what we have tracked in our Vocation Match Annual Trends Survey, which is that an increasing number of younger people are looking at religious life as a possible life option.
Myth #3: Conservative/traditional communities are the only communities attracting new members. Fact: Religious institutes that have a focused mission, who live in community, who have regular prayer and sacramental life, and who wear a habit show a higher proportion of newer members. The study indicates that men and women are also drawn to other types of religious life.

Myth #4: Women entering religious life want to wear habits. Fact: Both men and women seem to be drawn to habited communities. About two thirds of the newer members say they belong to a religious institute that wears a habit. Among those that responded affirmatively, a little more than half indicate that the habit is required in all or most circumstances. Interestingly, almost half of the men who belong to an institute that does not wear a habit say they would wear it if it were an option, compared to nearly a quarter of the women respondents.

Myth #5: Entering religious life is a last resort. Fact: New members to religious life report having rich options available to them—in terms of career, education, and personal life choices. Seventy percent of respondents had at least a bachelor’s degree before entering, with one third of these respondents also having degrees in higher education. Nine out of ten respondents said that they were employed prior to entering their institutes.

Myth #6: Younger religious are not interested in traditional devotional practices. Fact: Newer members have ranked highly daily Mass as very important to them.Their prayer style also expresses a strong preference for Liturgy of the Hours, faith-sharing, nonliturgical common prayer, Eucharistic adoration, and common rosary and meditation.
Myth #7: There are fewer religious communities. Fact: The rise and diminishment of religious institutes has always been part of the continuum of religious life. Once a need is met, unless a community adapts its founding charism to addressing the changing needs in the Church, it is not uncommon for the community to end. Many congregations today that share a same charism are either consolidating or merging into new religious institutes. One little known fact is that since the end of Vatican II in 1965, approximately 175 newer religious communities have been founded in the United States alone. Some were only short-lived, but others are canonically recognized as religious institutes by the Church today.

Myth #8: Religious communities are homogeneous and lacking in ethnic and cultural diversity. Fact: This may have been the case previously, but newer members are definitely changing the face of religious life in this country. Fifty eight percent of newer religious are white Anglo, compared to 94 percent of the finally professed men and women religious in the US. Nearly 20 percent of newer entrants were born in a country other than the United States. Hispanic/Latino vocations make up 21 per cent of the newer religious while 14 per cent are Asian/Pacific and 6 per cent are African or African American.
Myth #9: New members would prefer to live alone. Fact: Newer members are coming to religious life not just for ministry, but also for common prayer and community living as well. Respondents were much more likely to indicate a preference for living in a large (8 or more) or medium-sized (4 to 7) community than living in a small community and especially living alone. This is especially true of younger members.

Myth #10: New members want to live with younger members. Fact: Although having a peer group of their age cohort is extremely important to younger members, the evidence shows an extremely high percentage (93) of newer members who prefer to live in community with people of different ages. In addition, newer members also show a preference for living with people of different cultures and who do different ministries.


Myth #11: New members are drawn to the ministries of a community. Fact: Newer members indicate that they are drawn to religious life because of the example of the members, the spirituality, prayer life, community life, and mission of the institute. In fact, more than half of the newer members surveyed indicate that they were previously involved in either some liturgical ministry or other volunteer work in a parish or other setting. Since newer members were already previously involved in some type of ministry, clearly, they are coming to religious life not just for ministry—they are coming for a way of life that is different from what they were living before. National Religious Vocation Conference

Restoring St. Joseph's Cathedral in Sioux Falls ... A "Beacon Of Hope".

Restoring St. Joseph's Cathedral...A "Beacon Of Hope".

Catholic Church officials say they are trying to restore what they call a "Beacon Of Hope" for all to enjoy. We were inside the Cathedral on Monday to see how the 16 million dollar project is coming to life.

It's an effort that's well underway at St. Joseph's Cathedral. The church is in its third and final phase of restoration. With 90 years of history in these walls, church officials say they're thrilled to be getting the Cathedral back to its original glory. And with the original architects vision in mind, they say they're giving the community something to look up to.

"We need beacons of hope in our culture these days and we are going to continue on after we are done," Bishop Paul Swain told us.

And from the restored wooden pews to marbleized columns, city officials say it will be a historic point of interest many will come to see.

Mayor Dave Munson: "When it's done, people will come and visit this facility and just be overwhelmed by the beauty of it."

Painters who specialize in restoration are hard at work, painting art renderings that will tell the story of the Catholic faith. When it's done, around 900 worshipers will be able to take in the sights many have been waiting anxiously for years to see.

Bishop Swain: "It means a lot to have it restored and people will say 'this is a beautiful place' and they will bring folks with them and it means a lot to people."

Church officials expect to have this final phase of the restoration completed by June or July of 2011.

And the Cathedral will be open to the public for its "Christmas At The Cathedral" concerts December 17 through 20. KSFY

Saturday, November 21, 2009

22,000 from National Catholic Youth Conference meeting in KC, MO

Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those here?

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, formerly of Sioux City, Iowa, gave the keynote at today’s session of the National Catholic Youth Conference in Kansas City, while Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann led Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at Sprint Center. Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn then led 22,000 High School students through his See City from Sprint Center to the Kansas City Convention Center. Catholic Key

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who's going to pay for the study of U.S. women religious congregations? Not us!

There's a rumor going around and on the internet that the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis is going to foot the bill to the tune of one million for the financing of the three year study that the Vatican has undertaken of American women religious orders.

I was pretty skeptical when I first heard it since the archdiocese is still trying to figure out how to pay for the repairs done to the Cathedral a few years ago. And there have been major layoffs of archdiocesan staff in recent years. And also the archdiocese began a planning process last Spring, the result of which will no doubt indicate that we may have to merge and or close some schools and parishes. We are not in bad shape, financially, but we are certainly in no shape to start financing Vatican projects all by ourselves.

Then, when I checked out the story and discovered that the total cost of the study is only 1.1 million, the absurdity of the rumor grew immensely. If every diocese were to pay on a per capita basis for this study, our share would be about 10,000. Why would we agree to pay all of it?

Here's the article from the National Catholic Reporter, no fan of the study, on the Vatican's request of the US. Church to finance the study. There didn't seem to be any huzzah's coming out of the USCCB when they got that request.

The projected cost of a three-year study of U.S. women religious congregations is $1.1 million and Rome has asked the U.S. bishops to provide funds to offset these expenses, according to a letter by Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and obtained by NCR.

“We have a projected budget of $1,100,000 for the three years which the total work of the apostolic visitations will require,” Rodé wrote in a July 14 letter. “I am asking you, my brother bishops, for your help in offsetting the expenses which will be incurred by this work for the future of apostolic religious life in the United States.”

Since the Vatican announced the study last December, it has never publicly stated how much it estimates the comprehensive inquiry will cost or who will pay for it. A Vatican document sent to the heads of U.S. women’s congregations last summer suggested that those chosen for on-site visitations defray costs by paying for and hosting visitation teams, “and, if at all possible, transportation costs related to the visit. . . .”

'Manhattan Declaration' to address threats to life, marriage

An ecumenical group of clergy, concerned about the ongoing threats posed by abortion, attempts to redefine marriage and encroachments on religious liberty in the United States, are preparing to release a statement pledging their commitment to defend human life, traditional marriage and the rights of conscience.

The statement, titled the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience” and set to be released Nov. 20, also invites Christians and others to a deeper reflection on these issues.

It is the result of a meeting of Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic clergy who gathered in late September in New York for a one-day seminar organized by Charles Colson, author and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; Professor Robert George of Princeton University; and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

About a dozen Catholic bishops were present, according to Archbishop John Nienstedt, who also attended.

Facing many challenges

“We are in a crisis today,” Archbishop Nienstedt said during a Nov. 12 interview with The Catholic Spirit, during which he highlighted the particular challenges facing the institution of marriage.

Too many marriages end in divorce and the rate of cohabitation outside marriage continues to increase, he said. The number of children under the age of 18 living with a single parent rose from 6 million in 1960 to 19 million in 2000.

Want to learn more?

Archbishop Nienstedt recommends the following book to learn more about the issue of marriage and society: “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals,” edited by Robert George and Jean Bethke Elshtain (Spence Publishing Company, 2006).
“In addition,” he added, “there is a small, but well-financed advocacy group pushing for the redefinition of marriage in our society.”

The mass media and some self-interest groups promote views of human sexuality — particularly among the young — that are unhealthy spiritually, physically and psychologically. The challenge, Archbishop Nienstedt said, is to readjust society’s perspective on the role of sexuality in human relationships and get back to a view of sexual behavior as something that is properly expressed within the context of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman.

“It’s not just a question that church leaders are concerned about,” he said. “It’s a question that I think anyone who takes a look at the future of our country has to be concerned about.”

Two clergy days were organized last year within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis concerning marriage and how priests and deacons can preach about the topic. In addition, a study day was held this fall at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul to focus on what the local church can do to support traditional marriage.

“What they’re trying to do with this [“Manhattan Declaration”] is light a fire,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “Hopefully that fire will catch on and touch the troops in the rank and file.”

The “Manhattan Declaration” and perhaps a future local statement on issues related to marriage is something the archbishop said he would like to see sift down to the level of parishes and parish programming.

“The church, by her very nature, is not a political animal,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “But the church has to continue to teach and to educate people in these very essential issues.” Catholic Spirit

New Archdiocesan Speakers Policy

New archdiocesan speaker policy to aid administrators

The following new speaker policy was recommended to Archbishop John C. Nienstedt by the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council on Nov. 11 and approved by the archbishop that same day.

The following policy is offered to help pastors and administrators of any Catholic institution or organization in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as they consider inviting speakers and/or granting awards.

To be considered for invitation, the person should be in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church. The speaker’s writings and previous public presentations must also be in harmony with the teaching and discipline of the church. A priest who left the ministerial priesthood without dispensation would not be eligible for consideration.

Those in irregular marriages or those living a lifestyle at variance with church teaching would also not be eligible.

Pastors/administrators should make a prudential judgment after appropriate research about the suitability of a speaker in light of the above criteria. If there are any questions needing clarification, they should feel free to confer with the archdiocesan Office of Commu­nica­tions.

For any archdiocesan-sponsored program, the moderator of the curia considers proposed speakers according to criteria listed above. If the speaker would also be addressing seminarians at St. John Vianney or the St. Paul Seminary, the seminary administration would need to grant concurrence.

Politicians and candidates for pub­lic office — regardless of their relationship with the Catholic Church — should never be invited to speak during or after the holy Eucharist. An appearance of a political candidate or incumbent government official on church property is at the discretion of the local pastor/administrator and only if consistent with the political activity guidelines issued by the United States Con­fe­rence of Catholic Bishops. Similarly, if a parish intends to host a candidate or other political forum, that must be done in keeping with the United States Conference of Cath­o­lic Bishops and Minnesota Cath­o­lic Con­ference guidelines. It should be clear that none of the candidates enjoy endorsement by the church.

With regard to granting of honorary awards, degrees, special recognition or commendation, the archdiocese abides by the 2004 policy of the United States Conference of Cath­olic Bishops that we should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms that might suggest support for their actions. Catholic Spirit

Catholic Campaign (CCHD) grant gives hope to former Twin Cities addict

There has abeen a lot of debate in the past month about the US Council of Catholic Bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and how they spend their money. In the past perhaps they haven't been forthright in revealing that some grantees have been engaged in activities opposed to Catholic teachings. The bishops under Cardinal George of Chicago have been actively reining the CCHD and forbidding donations to many groups that have been funded in the past. ACORN is one major group that falls into this category. Here is a story from the Catholic Spirit on a Twin Cities group that will be funded this year.

Elsa Cardenas had lost everything: her business, her home, her kids. Eventually the Minneapolis woman’s crack cocaine addiction robbed her of the only thing she had left: her hope.

Thanks to help from St. Stephen’s Human Services in Minneapolis, Elsa Cardenas was able to break free of a crack cocaine addiction and turn her life around. St. Stephen’s receives grant money from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty program that funds community development programs around the country. - Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
Cold and living on the streets, Cardenas had had enough. She began treatment for her addiction and moved into a transitional housing unit across the street from St. Stephen’s Human Services, a Minneapolis organization that advocates for homeless people.

But with three felonies on her record, Cardenas didn’t think any employer would hire her. She felt stuck. “I thought to myself, I’m getting sober, but what am I going to do now? I can’t get a job,” she said.

One day a staff member from St. Stephen’s invited Cardenas to share her story with participants of the organization’s poverty awareness program “A Day in the Life,” funded in part by a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

“They had this confidence in me,” Cardenas said about St. Stephen’s. “They just made me feel good about myself even though I’d been through what I’d gone through, and they really encouraged me.”

After volunteering at St. Stephen’s for several months, the organization gave Cardenas a referral that helped her land a job at Spectrum Community Mental Health in Minneapolis.

Now 40, Cardenas is sober. She has her own apartment and steady employment. “I’ve come a long way,” she said. “My whole state of mind has just totally changed, what I think and feel.”

Cardenas credits St. Stephen’s for helping her get her life back on track.

“I see them and the way they try to help others, I see how they really care, and it just inspires me to want to be the same way,” she said. “What they do for people that are homeless is they inspire them to want more for themselves and they give them that hope that, hey, you can go out and do this.”

Making an impact

St. Stephen’s and several other local organizations have been chosen to receive grants this year from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program that funds community development programs around the country, and its local counterpart program, the Christian Sharing Fund.

Cathy Heying, advocacy coordinator at St. Stephen’s, said the $15,000 CCHD grant will make a “huge impact” on the organization’s budget.

“All of the money, every dollar we get, we use carefully and thoughtfully,” Heying said. “We are being good stewards with people’s money and working really hard to try to live out the tenets of Catholic social teaching by empowering people and honoring the dignity of every person.”

St. Stephen’s Human Services was founded by St. Stephen’s parish but became a separate entity in 2001. Grounded in the belief that the fight to end homelessness must be fought side-by-side with the people who experience it, the organization’s Human Rights Program educates, organizes and advocates around the basic human right to housing.

Permanent solutions

Collections for both CCHD and CSF will take place in most parishes Nov. 21 and 22, the weekend before Thanksgiving. “Families are struggling. Faith is calling” is the theme for this year’s collection.

The campaign’s purpose, according to local CCHD/CSF coordinator Cheryl Peterson, “is to support low-income and marginalized people who are working for their own systemic change.

“The whole point of CCHD is to identify and fund permanent solutions to poverty in the United States,” Peterson said.

She explained that CCHD complements other church programs that provide direct assistance to the poor.

“A response of charity is good. We should give to food shelves, we should provide coats and blankets to people,” Peterson said. “However, that doesn’t change the situation of poverty for anybody. It just helps them deal with their poverty. There really is a biblical call to change the situation.”

In order to receive CCHD/CSF funding, projects have to be initiated or led by poor or low-income people, Peterson said.

Local CCHD/CSF grant recipients for 2009-2010 include: PEACE Foundation, African Chamber of Commerce, Project Navigate, All Parks Alliance for Change, Mental Health Con­sumer/Survivor Network of Minnesota, Minnesota Immigrant Free­dom Network, Somali Action Alliance and Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. (For information about these organizations, go to

Since 1970, CCHD has provided close to $300 million in grants to community and economic development projects in the United States.

Last year, CCHD awarded more than $7.7 million to 250 grantees throughout the U.S.; 776 Catholic parishes, 18 Catholic Charities agencies and 51 religious communities were involved in CCHD-funded groups.

“CCHD relies on the annual parish collection to fund anti-poverty programs in communities across the country and here at home,” Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a CCHD promotional brochure.

“This is the church’s way of proclaiming that poverty is not simply a result of bad individual choices,” the archbishop added. “Rather, there are deeply embedded social systems that can lock people into a situation of poverty that even the greatest amount of individual effort cannot overcome.

“By joining with others, we can break the cycle of poverty, one community at a time,” he said.

Seventy-five percent of the money collected within the archdiocese goes to organizations selected by the national CCHD office, including several Twin Cities organizations. The other 25 percent goes to local organizations chosen by the archdiocesan CCHD advisory board with Archbishop Nienstedt’s approval.

“Because the Twin Cities has organizations that are doing the kind of social change work that CCHD funds, . . . most of the money that is collected in this diocese really comes back to this diocese, whether it’s in the form of a CCHD national grant or whether it’s in the form of a local grant,” Peterson said.

Empowering the poor

“This year, our call as Catholics to bring glad tidings to the poor, . . . to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free is more important than ever before,” said Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Miss., who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ CCHD subcommittee.

He made the remark in a letter to parishes asking Catholics to be as generous as possible during the annual collection that is the primary source of support for the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program.

“The mission of CCHD is crucial in 2009 — to uplift and embolden all who are one layoff or one medical scare away from the poverty line — and all who are already there,” the bishop said.

According to U.S. census figures, an estimated 40 million people currently live in poverty — almost 3 million more than last year. The unemployment rate reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in October.

For nearly 40 years, CCHD has funded community groups that create affordable housing, obtain fair wages and provide job training, as well as organize projects led by low-income individuals to help people and resolve problems in their communities.

All grant applications are carefully reviewed and funds are provided only to projects “with objectives and actions that are fully in accord with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, according to the CCHD.” Partisan activity is prohibited.

Organizations are not required to be Catholic to receive CCHD/CSF funding.

“We don’t fund these organizations because they’re Catholic,” Peterson said. “We fund them because we’re Catholic.

“When you look at the principles of Catholic social teaching, we’re called as Catholics to respond to the needs of the marginalized.”

For more information about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development or the Christian Sharing Fund, go to or call (651) 291-4477.

Here is a pdf statement from the USCCB on the CCHD issue.

Retired StP-M priest serves foreign sailors in Duluth-Superior

Flecks of wheat sprayed through the air over Lake Superior as the discharge chute’s long metal arm shot the grain bin’s contents into storage containers aboard a freighter.

- Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit
The 591-foot-long Ziemia Lodzka, a bulk cargo ship from Poland, was moored in Superior Harbor, across the Blatnik bridge from Duluth. Its 20-member crew had been on the sea for two months, stopping in Romania, Spain and Israel before sailing north to push down the St. Lawrence Seaway in Quebec and enter the Great Lakes.

A series of locks allowed the ship to navigate the lakes’ varying sea levels until it reached Duluth Nov. 10.

After loading the wheat, they were leaving on the afternoon of Nov. 11. Their next stop was Casablanca, Morocco. It would take about two weeks.

Typically, Father Bob Sipe, 76, would have scaled the gangplank to the ship’s deck to meet the men, but he was stuck on the ground due to a cold he didn’t want the seafarers to catch.

A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Sipe now volunteers with the ecumenical Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers as a member of the international Catholic organization Apostleship of the Sea.

On this day, retired Minnesota state representative and fellow Twin Ports Ministry volunteer Mike Jaros met the crew alone to bring them cell phones and 42-minute calling cards when they arrived; later he took the crew members into Duluth to shop for necessities.

Jaros also translated Nov. 11 when The Catholic Spirit met the seafarers who are among Father Sipe’s new water-bound flock.

Polish seafarer Marek Jan­kowicz visits with a Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers volunteer. - Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit
A busy retirement

The Apostleship of the Sea was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1920s to serve mariners, fishermen and their families, and all who travel the world’s waterways, including cruise-goers.

The seafarers who come into the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., hail from all parts of the world, typically working in six- to nine-month contracted periods, the entirety of which they’re living aboard the ship.

In addition to meeting the seafarers’ practical needs, Father Sipe also offers to celebrate Mass aboard the ship, or he helps the crew get to a religious service if they’re in port over a Sunday. He’s also available for confessions and other sacraments.

After serving a handful of archdiocesan parishes over 45 years, Father Sipe retired from full-time parish ministry in 2004. He celebrated his 50th jubilee last summer.

After his last parish assignment at St. Peter in Forest Lake, Father Sipe moved to his family cabin near Grand Rapids, where he has childhood memories of swimming, fishing, hunting and spending summers with his parents and four siblings.

Even during World War II when gasoline and tires were rationed, his father, who was in the filling station business, would garner a few extra gas stamps to get the family up north from its home in Robbinsdale.

The 1940s cabin is about 80 miles from Duluth, a distance Father Sipe travels about once a week to spend a couple days meeting ships. He first learned of the Apostleship of the Sea a few months before he retired through a mailing that invited him to consider being a cruise priest. He thought he could get used to that.

International scope

Now he sits on the board of the U.S. chapter of Apostleship of the Sea, and his work has taken him well beyond Duluth’s harbor.

As a cruise ship chaplain, he’s rounded Cape Horn, Argentina’s southern-most tip; marveled at the Alaskan fiords; explored coast towns in the Caribbean, Hawaii, New Zealand, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Korea; visited family in Australia and inquired about the life of seafaring families in the Philippines, from where at least a third of the world’s seafarers come.

“I’ve never felt more like a priest,” he said, noting his retirement frees him from the meetings and parish politics that can entangle a pastor. And, ministering to a cruise ship crowd lets him mingle him with people who don’t always go to church. He often hears, “I used to be Catholic, but . . .” and has the opportunity to listen.

He celebrates Mass daily for cruise-goers and weekly for the crew. He wishes he were allowed to spend more time with the crew, who, like many of the seafarers he meets in the harbor, are from poor, politically corrupt countries.

Back at the Twin Ports, Father Sipe is grateful to have a center coordinating volunteers. Most U.S. Apostleship of the Sea volunteers are priests or deacons who work out of their cars, he said. Duluth is the busiest Great Lakes port.

“What you do find rewarding is the gratitude that somebody cares enough about them,” Father Sipe said. He’s had the chance to bring Eastern Orthodox crewmen to Divine Liturgy, and once took a group to Gooseberry Falls.

“They loved that,” he said.

Father Bob Sipe, a retired priest of the archdiocese, shuts a gate to a Lake Superior port where he ministers to sea­farers. - Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit
Maritime ministry

The hard life of a seafarer has weathered the faces and hands of the Ziemia Lodzka’s crew. They are always working, they said, maintaining equipment and cleaning when they’re out at sea, and assisting with the loading or unloading of cargo while at port.

Eugeniusz Bornia, 55, has worked on ships for 30 years, he said, wearing a yellow hard hat and standing on the ship’s deck. In his hometown on the Baltic Sea, it’s a tradition to work on the water, he said. His great-grandfather did, his grandfather did and his father did.

His three children won’t, however, he said. Borrowing an adage from his father, he explained why: “The sea is for fish, not for people.”

Father Sipe recalls once asking a captain how many times he was able to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife, to whom he had been married 30 years.

The captain thought for a moment, calculating. “Once,” he answered.

While at sea, the men get news of deaths of family members or other life-changing events at home, and Father Sipe listens to them if they want to talk about it.

However, many ships are in port for only a day or two, and the opportunity isn’t always there to establish the rapport sharing often requires, Father Sipe said.

So, he supports them in other ways. White boxes with red ribbons are stacked against a wall in a basement room of the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers Duluth office. With the guidance of the ministry’s executive director Tom Anderson, a Lutheran pastor, they’re being filled with “ditty bags” — handmade cloth bags stuffed with nail clippers, toothpaste, sewing kits and other things useful to seafarers.

In late October, volunteers started giving them to ship captains, who will give them to the crew on Christmas Day. The office will distribute about 600 boxes by the holiday.

‘Majesty of the sea’

Father Sipe is impressed by the abiding faith he finds among the seafarers and the rootedness of many of their Catholic cultures.

Ziemia Lodzka crew member Marek Jankowicz, 51, said he relies on his prayers and holy cards to sustain him throughout the voyages. Because of the seafarers’ varied schedule, Pope Benedict XVI grants them a dispensation from their Sunday Mass obligation.

Working on the water has increased Father Sipe’s own appreciation of “the majesty of the sea,” he said, which he sometimes ponders while walking the cruise ship decks. “It’s bound to hit you — not only the vastness of it, but the depth of it,” he said. When he rounded Cape Horn in 2005, he felt truly at the end of the world, he said.

In his travels, he’s found special meaning in the allegory of Psalm 139. It describes how deeply God knows man and includes the verse: “If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.”

Father Sipe plans to continue his ministry as long as his health — which is good — will allow, he said. He hopes to eventually establish a foundation to ensure the continuation of the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers.

“We are by far the best center on the Great Lakes,” he said. “I want to see this ministry continue to grow.” Catholic Spirit

Is the Swine Flu Really That Big a Deal? And What is Your Parish Doing About It?

Mitchell here.

Has your parish curtailed Communion on the tongue for fear of the H1N1 flu? Has the chalice been done away with during Communion? Have you been told to substitute a polite nod for a handshake at the Sign of Peace? (Actually, I have to agree on that last one.) In short, are you surrounded by signs suggesting that those around you have succumbed to the hysteria about the flu?

Here in the Twin Cities, the Archdiocese issued a set of guidelines some time ago concerning the flu, which in my un-PC way I'm going to simply refer to as "swine" flu. Among the highlights was point number 5, and I quote: "Reception of the Blessed Sacrament in the hand is the best way to reduce the possibility of flu virus transmission." This has been taken by some as a sign to eliminate reception on the tongue, or at least to make you feel darn guilty about it. (One priest actually told his congregation that it would be "an act of Christian charity" to take Communion in the hand.) Many parishes have reprinted the guidelines in their weekly bulletins, some even bolding point number 5.

Now, if you're like me - that is, somewhat skeptical about this whole flu hysteria - you might be interested in this piece from National Review Online about what it calls the "phony" flu crisis. I found particularly interesting this section:

What’s truly unprecedented about this swine flu is its incredible mildness. The CDC estimates seasonal flu annually kills 36,000 Americans, again spread over four months. That compares to 4,000 swine-flu deaths in the current cycle. The seasonal-flu death rate therefore ranges from 0.06 percent to 0.24 percent, while the CDC estimate puts it at only 0.0182 percent for swine flu. So seasonal flu is three to twelve times deadlier per case.

And then there was this:

Even more telling, though, is that the bottom has fallen out of new infections. Test samples doctors have submitted to CDC-monitored surveillance laboratories went from 26,000 two weeks ago to 21,000 last week to just 13,000 at present. Further, progressively fewer of those samples have actually shown flu. Overall, the number of positive samples has plunged over 60 percent in just two weeks.

The fact is, seasonal flu is three to twelve times deadlier than swine flu. But since swine flu spreads easier, it's pushing the seasonal flu out of the way. The author's conclusion: "Swine flu, therefore, prevents more flu deaths than it causes."

You might want to let that sink in for awhile. And while you're at it, if you know anyone in your parish who's a real germophobe, you might share this link with them.

How about you? Are you concerned that this could be a subtle attempt to eliminate Communion on the tongue all together? Let us know if you've experienced any efforts to change the way Communion is distributed in your parish. At the very least, I think Catholics in the Twin Cities deserve to know where they can go to receive Communion in a reverent fashion without being sent on a guilt trip.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

As parish archdiocesan planning meetings end, trends emerge from ideas, concerns

The fear of losing one’s parish community, the low rate of young people attending Mass, and retaining St. Peter Claver’s unique identity were among the concerns voiced at the last regional parishioner meeting Nov. 5.

Held in the basement of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, the meeting attracted about 45 Catholics from several parishes.

“We wanted to make sure that the archdiocese did not forget who St. Peter Claver [parish] was,” said parishioner Cedric Waterman.

The meeting was the last of 11 regional parishioner meetings held around the archdiocese since early September. It was a mid-process addition to the nine originally sched­uled meetings, including one for the deaf community at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Min­nea­polis.

Use your voice!

Although the scheduled meetings have finished, there are still several ways for Catholics to share their ideas, hopes and concerns with the task force:

» 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.

Planning principles

1 Every Catholic will know where to participate in the sacraments and find spiritual assistance.

2 All areas of the archdiocese will have competent and com­pas­sion­ate clergy, religious and lay lead­ers.

3 There is a special concern for the needs of the poor, marginalized and immigrant.

4 Catholic schools are valued and included in this discussion.

5 Every parish will be involved in this discussion.

6 Every parish will be expected to evaluate its own resources and adjust accordingly.

7 Respect, patience and honesty will mark all discussions.

Along with a meeting held at Holy Cross in northeast Minneapolis Oct. 13, the meeting at St. Peter Claver was created to accommodate people who typically use public transit.

The task force has spent nearly a year listening to people in all facets of church life, said Father Peter Laird, the archdiocesan vicar general.

Father Laird is task force co-chair with Father John Bauer, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

“[Listening] has served as a way of educating and clarifying the need to act,” Father Laird said.

It’s obvious that people love their parishes, and parishes have their own valued unique personality and role in the archdiocese, he said.

A sense of belonging

St. Peter Claver was founded in 1888 to serve St. Paul’s community of African-American Catholics. Add­ing this last meeting ensured that the voices of African-American Cath­olics were heard, said Task Force member Jim Lundholm-Eades.

“We wanted black Catholics not only to be at the table, but to be comfortable at the table,” he said.

Waterman, 68, has been driving to St. Peter Claver from Apple Valley for Mass for 22 years, since his family moved to the Twin Cities.

“It’s a good mix of people, even though it is considered primarily an Afro-American community,” said Waterman, who attended the meeting with his wife, Hazel.

He hopes that St. Peter Claver can retain its unique role as a place where black Catholics feel comfortable worshipping.

Rita Commodore, 55, has attended St. Peter Claver all of her life, and she loves the way her parish worships. “The worship is alive,” she said. “When you come out of there, you feel like you’ve been to church.”

It’s common to hear gospel music, or for someone to insert “Amen” or “Yes, Jesus” into the priest’s homily, Waterman added.

Commodore said it’s important to her to worship with people like herself. As an African American, she wants to worship with people — of any race — who appreciate the parish’s African American history.

“There’s nowhere else in this archdiocese that you know you can walk into, and you will feel immediately welcomed,” Commodore said.

“The first things [others] see when I walk into [another church] is that I’m a black woman — not ‘there’s a new Catholic here,’” she said. “That can either have a very welcoming aspect to it, or it can be very negative, a negative that’s very palpable, or just real.”

Like many who attended the Nov. 5 meeting, Commodore is concerned about the declining numbers of young people in church across the archdiocese.

“We’re worried about losing our young people, and we’re worried about the revenue we have here — and the two aren’t unrelated,” she said. “The reason a lot of younger people aren’t in church is the same reason a lot of older people aren’t in church: They’re going somewhere else where they feel the Word is made relevant to them.

“I’m not suggesting that we change our values, our morals, but we’ve got to find a way to make it relevant without beating up and condemning people,” she added.

Emerging themes

The meeting at St. Peter Claver was the 127th meeting held by task force members since April to share information about the archdiocese’s current reality and gather ideas from Catholic leaders and parishioners.

Despite the diversity of parishes and life experiences sought by the task force, there were many reoccurring themes that emerged throughout the listening process, Lundholm-Eades said.

The central themes include:
  • • The Eucharist and sacraments must be available to every Catholic in the archdiocese.
  • • Small parishes can be just as vital as larger ones.
  • • Training and support needs to be available to ensure competent and compassionate leaders in all parish communities.
  • • Catholics’ desire for more evangelization and outreach.
  • • Parishes are willing to collaborate with other parishes to strengthen their ministries.
The messages didn’t surprise Jim Lundholm-Eades; what did surprise him was the consistency of the central messages throughout the re­gional parishioner meetings, he said.

“People were very keen on evangelization of those who had fallen away from the church; of non-Catholics; of the young, particularly those after confirmation — 18 to 35 was a group that was mentioned very often: Where are those people, and how can we outreach to them?” he said.

Sharing ideas with people from different parishes was one of the things participants most enjoyed about the meetings, he added. The meetings intentionally mixed people from different parishes, and participants often found common ground with others, despite their different parish communities.

Although all planning process meetings will be finished by mid-December, Catholics can still share their ideas via e-mail, postal mail and the dedicated voice line, Lundholm-Eades said.

The planning task force members will be given the information compiled from the meetings in Decem­ber, and they will have several months to process it, Lundholm-Eades said. The task force members are not scheduled to give recommendations to Archbishop John Nien­stedt until July 2010.

Recognizing the local church

Father Laird said he is pleased to hear that parishes provide a source of faith, community and belonging — something “that allows people to experience what it is to belong to the mystical body,” he said.

However, “there are challenges before us,” Father Laird said. “A structure that was created for a European immigrant church isn’t necessarily the structure that will assist us going forward.”

He added, “Sometimes the strength is the greatest weakness. Be­cause there is such an intense identification with a particular parish, the sense of belonging to the local church — which is the church of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Min­nea­polis — and the universal church, is sometimes diminished.”

As the task force goes forward, Father Laird and the rest of the task force appreciate the gravity of their decisions, he said.

“Every parish community is be­loved to someone,” he said. “These are very personal decisions.”

Father Laird acknowledges that fears surround the idea of change, but he takes hope in Archbishop Nienstedt’s description of the process at its introduction: an op­por­tunity for the next 100 years.

“Just as for our forebearers, I’m sure it was challenging, intimidating and a bit fearful,” he said. “We have to remember that in the midst of that there were also great opportunities for the church to continue to reach out in every age to those who belong to the mystical body.” Catholic Spirit

Abp. John Nienstedt: Changes in the language of the liturgy

One of the principal goals of the Second Vatican Council was to initiate a reform of the Sacred Liturgy.

The goal of this reform was not a matter of simply revising texts. Even less was it a matter of abandoning the treasured traditions of the past. Rather, at its heart, the liturgical reform of the council was a divinely inspired desire to foster within us, the People of God, a renewed love of the liturgy, the source and summit of our Catholic way of life.

The goal of “active and conscious participation of the faithful” in the liturgy, so central to authentic liturgical reform, is not so much a matter of merely doing more things, but rather of actively internalizing and, in short, praying the liturgy.

Tremendous successes have been made in realizing this crucial goal, while much work remains. The church continues to invite all of her members to make her own liturgical life the source and summit of their lives, as she prays with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ in this service of love that is the liturgy.

In a matter of a few short years to come, the English-speaking church will receive a historic text that marks a special moment in the continuing implementation of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. This text is a new English Roman Missal, more commonly known as the Sacramentary.

A bit of history

This large, red-covered book is most often only seen from afar by most Catholics. Consequently, the idea of a new one being issued by the church can seem like a matter hardly worth any fuss.

But the fact is that every Sunday and, indeed, every time we attend Mass, we are impacted by this essential red book.

It is the book from which the prayers of the Mass of the Roman Rite are found, and it is from this book that the priest recites the church’s approved texts of prayer and blessing. While no specific date has yet been given for an official release, it is reasonable to assume that by Advent of 2011, we will be using this new translation for our eucharistic worship.

Some will ask, “Why a new translation?” In attempting to answer that question, I think it is helpful to remember that when the Second Vatican Council began over five decades ago, the Mass was celebrated everywhere in the Latin language.

Shortly thereafter, the bishops of the council recommended that portions of the Sacred Liturgy be celebrated in vernacular languages to help foster that conscious and active participation of the faithful that was at the heart of the council’s liturgical reforms.

That led in 1964 to the formation of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, commonly referred to as ICEL. The first full English translation of the Mass was published in 1974 and a revised edition was promulgated in 1975.

A second edition of this work appeared in 1985 and that is the translation we use today. All of these translations of the Missal were translations of the Latin original, which remains the official text of the Roman Rite.

Because the work of translation was so new, it was always presumed that there would necessarily be a learning curve and that the first translations, over time, would need to be amended.

In addition, it is important to remember that at the time of the first translation, the translators and editors were following a 1969 instruction on the translation of liturgical texts, “Comme le prévoit,” which suggested a methodology which has now become known as “dynamic equivalence.” This theory emphasized the translation of concepts over the more “literal” translation of words.

However, in 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments promulgated, with the permission and approval of the Holy Father, an important document on the translation of liturgical texts, “Liturgiam authenticam.” This instruction stated in part:

“The translation of the liturgical text of the Roman Liturgy is not so much a work of creative innovation as it is of rendering the liturgical text faithfully and accurately into the vernacular language.

While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax, and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated intricately and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptations to the characteristics of the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discrete” (No. 20).

Comparing the texts

The differences between the old translation and the new translation can be seen most clearly by placing the texts next to each other.

Below are two prayers, or “collects,” taken from the texts of the first Sunday of Lent:

Current translation:

“Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son’s death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives.”

Proposed new translation:

“Grant us, Almighty God, through our yearly exercises in the Holy Season of Lent, to grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and to pursue their effects by a worthy way of life.”

Here we can at least begin to see some of the differences between “dynamic equivalence” and the more literal method of translation that “Liturgiam authenticam” calls for.

The expression, “our observance of Lent,” does basically mean the same thing as “our yearly exercise.” However, while it is more crisp and direct, much of the richness of the original Latin text is lost.

The same would be true of “riches hidden in Christ.” It, of course, does refer to Christ’s death and resurrection, as indicated in the first text, but again, a certain poetic expression has been eliminated from this first text.

There will also be changes in the responses of the congregation, for which some catechetical work needs to be done.

For example, “Et cum spiritu tuo” in 1985 was loosely translated, “And also with you.” But in point of fact, when the priest greets us with “The Lord be with you,” he is doing so in virtue of his sacramental identity as an “alter Christus in capitis”; the priest celebrant is making present Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, head of the Mystical Body.

So our response is not merely, “And with you, too, Fr. John . . . thanks for being here,” but rather, “And with you, too, Fr. John, in recognition of the wonderful sacred grace of Holy Orders bestowed on you by the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.”

Just the addition of that one word, “spirit,” which, in fact, is in the original Latin text, adds great meaning to our liturgical celebration.

Invitation to study

I do not presume that these changes will be easy for either priests or congregation. Certainly they will require great adaptation on my part as well.

Yet, if these adaptations lead us, as they are intended, to a greater sense of wonderment, a greater sense of the beauty and splendor of our worship, and a greater step closer to real contemplative prayer, then whatever effort is required will be well worth the sacrifice.

I invite the reader to study the formational materials on the new English Roman Missal available at the USCCB Web site:

This site is being constantly updated, and has within it many wonderful features meant to educate us all on the new translation. In the implementation of these historically important changes, there can be no substitute for good catechesis.