Monday, May 31, 2010

The great expectations of Archbishop Schnurr in Cincinnati

He vowed to make recruitment of priests a priority on his arrival

The Rev. Kyle Schnippel was excited last year when he told his boss, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr [former Bishop of Duluth], that he had recruited 10 young men to become priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

The new class of seminarians was double the size of the one two years earlier and Schnippel saw the 10 recruits as proof the church was ending a long, downward trend.

But Schnurr seemed unimpressed.

"Well," he said. "Why not 20?"

The conversation reminded Schnippel - and anyone else who has watched the new archbishop work - that Schnurr has great expectations when it comes to finding, training and ordaining more priests.

• Photos: Tour Cincinnati’s Catholic seminary

He arrived here in 2008 with a vow to make priest recruitment a priority and he has spent the past 18 months trying to make good on that promise through fundraising and outreach.

His goal is to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the church today: a shortage of priests that threatens parishes, programs and the spiritual life of the region's half million Catholics.

Part of Schnurr's campaign went public last week when he made a fundraising pitch on behalf of the Athenaeum of Ohio, which is home to Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Mount Washington. The plan is to complete a $15.75 million renovation of the Athenaeum while doubling or even tripling the number of seminarians there.

But the archbishop's push to recruit priests is about more than raising money for brick-and-mortar projects. He's also leading an aggressive recruitment program that has changed the way the church urges devout men to consider a "call" to the priesthood.

Church leaders no longer shy away from tough issues - celibacy, long work hours, the clergy abuse scandal - and instead embrace those challenges in their pitch to prospective seminarians.

The message now emphasizes the life of a priest as a life of sacrifice and encourages men to heed their call because their church and their fellow Catholics need good priests, now more than ever.

"They want to hear the challenge," Schnurr said. "They want to know they will spend their life making the world a better place. To soft-pedal anything, young people are not going to be interested in that."

The new approach to priest recruitment, also known as vocations, was underway before Schnurr arrived, but his involvement has intensified those efforts. He sought out Schnippel, the archdiocese's vocations director, the day he came to Cincinnati in late 2008 and made clear he would be active in the recruitment campaign.

"From the first moment, he said vocations are very important to me," Schnippel said. "And he's backed that up. Everywhere he goes, he talks about the impact of vocations."

The results so far are promising. The Athenaeum already has raised about $14 million, almost 90 percent of its goal, and outreach efforts have in two years helped increase the annual number of new seminarians from five to 10.

Schnurr mounted a similar drive to recruit priests as bishop in Duluth, Minn., from 2001 to 2008, when the number of seminarians there increased from eight to 24. The archbishop has no delusions about the difficulty of the job ahead, given that the number of priests in the archdiocese has fallen from 466 to 278 in less than four decades.

But he rejects the notion the decline is inevitable or that the church will have to learn to make do with fewer priests.

"There is a mentality that has to be turned around," Schnurr said. "We have watched the numbers diminish over the years and there has been a mentality that we just have to accept that.

"I don't accept that."
Seminary needs work

The work already under way at the Athenaeum hints at Schnurr's ambition.

The number of seminarian apartments will increase from 46 to 72 once construction paid for by a previous fundraiser is completed in a few years.

"I'm committed to filling them," Schnurr said of the new rooms.

The next round of work at the Athenaeum, which currently houses 36 seminarians, is meant to bring the 80-year-old stone-and-tile building into the 21st century. The Cincinnati landmark is packed with historic books and artwork, but it also has a leaky roof, drafty windows and inadequate wiring.

Those running the fundraiser say the building is crucial to priest recruitment in the same way training facilities and state-of-the-art labs are important to colleges trying to recruit scholars or athletes. They say good facilities send a message that the school is supported and that the church considers its seminarians a priority.

"It's critical," said Greg Ionna, a Mason businessman and co-chairman of the Athenaeum's capital campaign. "We all know our priests are aging and we need people to come in and replace them. We in the Catholic community are stewards of that place.

"If we're going to have priests for our children and our grandchildren, we've got to support the seminary."

Ionna said that support seems to be there, judging from the money raised in the first year of the campaign.

"A lot of people said this is crazy, let's delay this," said the Rev. Edward Smith, president and rector of the Athenaeum. "No one could have foreseen how well we've done. It showed me that people really love this place, love their priests, love their deacons.

"They see this as an investment in their future."
Recruitment a priority

The future of the seminary and the priests it trains has been on Schnurr's mind since he became co-adjutor archbishop in 2008. That's when he asked now-retired Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk if he could play a greater role in vocations, and Pilarczyk told him to "take it over."

Schnurr has continued that involvement since becoming archbishop in December.

He routinely attends events involving young people and makes a point of introducing himself and shaking hands with everyone. The idea is to make the church a bigger part of their lives and to encourage them to think about their future role in the church, be it as a volunteer, an active parishioner or, maybe, as a priest.

He also meets regularly with seminary candidates and those already in the seminary, urging them to embrace their call and to carry their message to others. He even encourages the seminary basketball team, the "Minor Prophets," to play an occasional scrimmage against a school or youth team.

The basketball isn't always great - the Prophets lost to an eighth-grade team this year - but the games are about more than hoops. Schnurr sees them as an opportunity to dispel the image of priests as lonely men detached from the outside world.

"They meet the seminarians and they play basketball with them," Schnurr said. "They see that they're normal guys."

Perhaps Schnurr's most effective outreach occurs during Andrew Dinners, where men considering the priesthood can meet with him and other priests. The dinners are named for St. Andrew, who in the Gospel of John brought his brother, Simon Peter, to meet Jesus.

The dinners are held all over the 19-county archdiocese and often attract 20 to 30 young men, a big improvement over the 15 who used to show up for an annual retreat at the seminary.

"Rather than trying to bring them here, we go out to them," Smith said.
A sense of mission

The approach is attracting a new breed of seminarians. They are older now than their predecessors of the 1960s and 1970s, when many entered seminary as teenagers.

Some have gone to college, held jobs and considered married life, but they say a spiritual yearning led them to the priesthood.

They also speak with a sense of mission about their work and about the culture they believe has distorted the image of the Catholic faith, especially after a decade of media coverage of the clergy abuse scandal.

"I think most of us, this new generation of men coming in, we have a strong sense of getting the Catholic story out on our terms," said Chris Conlon, 28, a Norwood man who just completed his second year at the seminary.

"Our story is being told, but by the wrong people."

Ionna said the success of the fundraising campaign suggests Catholics appreciate these new priests and Schnurr's determination to fill the seminary with more of them.

When he introduced some seminarians to Catholics at a dinner last week, Ionna said, he was struck by the loud ovation they received.

"I think people do understand the importance of what's happening, and I think people appreciate it," he said. "They're sticking with their priests." Cincinnati Enquirer

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pneumonia - Don't ever get it!

Thanks oh so much to all of you who have had me in your prayers.

I'm out of the hospital and home now, but still recuperating. Most of the coughing is gone, but still some fatigue and some shortness of breath. I'm not sure how long that will continue. But I have gotten out to do some walking the past two days.

Here is a short version that I wrote last Tuesday (slightly edited) of what I have experienced with my bout with pneumonia:

To make a long story short, I just got back from The VA Hospital in Minneapolis where I was admitted Friday evening (May 7) for pneumonia.

It slowly started last Tuesday (May 4) (when I thought it was flu for which I normally take sudafed, which normally does the job in a couple of days) and got progressively worse each day.

I went to the hospital to get an asthma inhaler (I have "stress induced asthma" and don't use the inhaler frequently. I seem to have lost my old one and expected to be gone only a couple of hours.

I made the decision to go to the hospital on Friday morning, and this is where a lot of mental confusion began to show up. My normal practice is "male pride" and I always drive to the hospital. But I decided to take a taxi. But believe it or not, I couldn't figure out how to get a number or call a cab company. I finally drove to the hospital about 7:00 or so.

It took a few hours but the emergency room ("urgent care) staff confirmed that it was pneumonia with x-rays showing lots of fluid in my lungs. They actually didn't get the lab tests back for a couple of days on the gunk/pflegm from the lungs that showed that it wasn't some rare strain but the most common kind. I'm no more contagious than people you might meet in an elevator or at a ball game. I could have caught it at the hospital when volunteering, or on the street.

The next day, not having a cellphone to look up the numbers of friends, I was pretty much out of communications. The situation was further worsened by the fact that occasionally pneumonia patients have the situation greatly worsened by having the thought processes jumbled a bit. So, just like my problems with getting a taxi, I couldn't figure a way to get hold of a telephone book. And for some reason, I didn't think of having my brother bring me his for a twenty minutes lookup or so.

One of the effects apparently is lack of oxygen to the brain (that's what I was told by somebody). When I did get hold of one needed number from a friend but I must have got written it wrong as there was never any answer or answering machine at the number I called. I wrote down my brother's work number incorrectly, too. By Sunday I had contacted a few people and I had a few visitors.

Monday night I finally got some sleep (pill assisted; constant coughing was the big problem) but as usual they wake you up every few hours to take "vitals." On one such visit, I was completely confused. I didn't know where I was or what was happening to me. I asked the strange nurse: "Who are you? Where am I? Why am I in a tent?" [I was in a four bed ward and they closed the curtains around me to shield me from light and noise. When I finally woke up for good about 4:00 a.m., it literally took me a half hour or so to figure out where I was and what was happening. Frankly, that was quite scary.]

Monday night they started me on a "nebulyzer" (sp?) to clear my lungs and by noon Tuesday most of the constant coughing was over (as long as I was sitting up). Lots of antibiotics were pumped into me day and night.

The nurses and doctors were great, but they have other duties so aren't always available to answer questions or clear up my confusion. But they take teasing well and respond in kind.

Since at that point they figured that bed rest and pills was the plan and that could be done at home rather than in the hospital, I got out about 2:00 Tuesday. But I discovered quite quickly that while I could walk 20 feet quite well, but anythiing much over that and I was back to wheezing. It literally took me almost three hours (with many stops to regain strength) to get to my car and drive the two miles home.

After about five days at home, the coughing began to dissipate and I was able to get out and move around a bit.

Thank you again for all of your for your prayers and best wishes.

Now I've got computer problems with my email program. So it still might be a while before I get Stella Borealis back into operating mode.

Ray Marshall


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Record-setting day for bishops 100 years ago in St. Paul


Six bishops consecrated by Archbishop John Ireland, far left facing camera, on May 19, 1910 were, seated from left to right, James O’Reilly, John Lawler, Patrick Heffron, Timothy Corbett, Vincent Wehrle and Joseph Busch. Photo courtesy of archdiocesan archives

It was a day to remember in St. Paul and, as it turns out, a day never since repeated.

On Thursday May 19, 1910 at St. Mary’s Chapel on the campus of The St. Paul Seminary, a unique event occurred in the annals of Catholic history in the United States.

In a ceremony lasting more than four hours, six priests were consecrated as bishops for the growing Province of the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

They were:

» Fathers Joseph Busch, 44, Diocese of Lead, S.D.

» Timothy Corbett, 51, new Diocese of Crookston.

» Patrick Heffron, 50, Diocese of Winona.

» John Lawler, 47, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul.

» James O’Reilly, 54, Diocese of Fargo, N.D.

» John Wehrle, OSB, 54, new Diocese of Bismarck, N.D.

The event was occasioned by the deaths of two bishops, the resignation of another, the need for an auxiliary in St. Paul and the creation of two new dioceses in the Province of St. Paul.

This remains a singular event in our country. The closest we can come is May 27, 1979, when Pope John Paul II ordained 29 men to the episcopate at St. Peter’s Basilica, among them five for service in the United States. There have been many double and triple consecrations in the U.S. and even a couple of quadruple consecrations. But never a sextuple! And, it happened right here at our own seminary chapel.

Why there?

A grand affair

Both the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis were under construction. The seminary chapel is by no means large, yet nearly 1,000 people managed to squeeze in for the ceremony, with Archbishop John Ireland presiding in grand style.

Bishop James Trobec of St. Cloud (former pastor at St. Agnes in St. Paul) was one of the co-consecrating bishops, along with Bishop James McGoldrick of Duluth.

Archbishop Diomede Falconio, papal apostolic delegate, 21 bishops, hundreds of priests and religious, local dignitaries and family members attended. Others circulated outside on the seminary grounds, hoping to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.

The church was growing rapidly in those days, moving westward. Toward the end of the 19th century, Pillsbury Company could claim that it had built the world’s largest flour mill. By 1910, the population of Minneapolis swelled to more than 300,000, only about 70,000 fewer than today.

The legacy of Archbishop Ireland was prepared through these years. During his tenure, no fewer than 14 of his priests were consecrated as bishops for service in the Catholic Church in the Midwest.

A newspaper photo shows Minnesota Gov. Adolph Eberhardt flanked by an impressive military entourage, trimmed in gold uniforms. The governor stood at attention with his entourage outside the chapel while all the ecclesiastical dignitaries filed in. He then took his own seat, it was noted by the newspaper, in the back of the church!

He did, however, sit next to the archbishop at the celebratory dinner afterward, held in a giant outdoor tent. In his after-dinner remarks, the governor recalled the “magnificence” of the occasion, saying that he would “remember it as one of the most auspicious occasions which I ever had the honor to attend.”

Archbishop Falconio stayed until 9 p.m., before being ushered to the train station for his return trip to Washington, D.C.

Front-page news

After the folding of the Northwestern Chronicle, the archdiocese was without an official Catholic newspaper for a decade until the Catholic Bulletin began in 1911.

Much of our information about this event is gleaned from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which ran an impressive front-page article the following day.

Familiar names even a century later among the event’s steering committee included Pierce Butler, E. M. Lohman, and J. A. Wilwerscheid. For several hours, Archbishop Falconio, Archbishop Ireland and the six new bishops lined up to greet several thousand guests at the reception, who patiently waited their turn to greet the new bishops.

One extra item of note: As an inveterate baseball fan, it was simply impossible to complete this research without at least peeking at the Pioneer Press sports page.

The St. Paul Saints and Minneapolis Millers were tied for first place atop the American Association with a record of 21-9. In the big leagues, a man by the name of Ty Cobb went “two for six” with a stolen base as the Detroit Tigers broke the winning streak of the first place Philadelphia Athletics.

While a mere snapshot in time 100 years ago, the events of that day remind us of the vibrancy of the church in the Midwest and our little place in the ecclesiastical record books.

Try to top that New York!

Father John Ubel is pastor of St. Agnes in St. Paul. The Catholic Spirit

Rocco Palmo of Whispers adds some local color:

Sure, a week from today in the City of Angels will see just the third occurrence of one rite in Catholicism's four-century journey on these shores... today, however, marks the 100th anniversary of another act that remains without equal in the life of the Stateside church: the ordination of six bishops in one fell swoop.

Like today's rapid growth in parts South and West, the sextuple high-hatting was the fruit of a quickly-burgeoning Catholic population in the Upper Midwest, and provided a crowning moment for the region's undisputed ecclesial builder-prince: John Ireland (above left, standing) the hometown product whose 34-reign over the church in Minnesota and the Dakotas saw the first archbishop of St Paul become one of the nation's most outspoken prelates and, at his peak, arguably the most powerful American cleric of his era -- the first non-Easterner to lay claim to the distinction.

With Ireland's twin seats -- the capital's Cathedral of St Paul and Minneapolis' St Mary Pro-Cathedral (made the nation's first minor basilica in 1926) -- then at mid-construction, the four-hour spectacle was held in the local seminary chapel, its capacity easily overflowed.

Thanks to the pastor of one of the archdiocese's most celebrated parishes, a commemoration of the event -- and, indeed, what it signified -- is running in the Twin Cities' Catholic Spirit....

Here's a taste:
The [ordinandi] were:

» Fathers Joseph Busch, 44, Diocese of Lead, S.D. [seat moved to Rapid City in 1930]

» Timothy Corbett, 51, new Diocese of Crookston.

» Patrick Heffron, 50, Diocese of Winona.

» John Lawler, 47, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul.

» James O’Reilly, 54, Diocese of Fargo, N.D.

» John Wehrle, OSB, 54, new Diocese of Bismarck, N.D.

The event was occasioned by the deaths of two bishops, the resignation of another, the need for an auxiliary in St. Paul and the creation of two new dioceses in the Province of St. Paul.

This remains a singular event in our country. The closest we can come is May 27, 1979, when Pope John Paul II ordained 29 men to the episcopate at St. Peter’s Basilica, among them five for service in the United States. There have been many double and triple consecrations in the U.S. and even a couple of quadruple consecrations. But never a sextuple....

Archbishop Diomede Falconio, papal apostolic delegate, 21 bishops, hundreds of priests and religious, local dignitaries and family members attended. Others circulated outside on the seminary grounds, hoping to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.

The church was growing rapidly in those days, moving westward. Toward the end of the 19th century, Pillsbury Company could claim that it had built the world’s largest flour mill. By 1910, the population of Minneapolis swelled to more than 300,000, only about 70,000 fewer than today....

A newspaper photo shows Minnesota Gov. Adolph Eberhardt flanked by an impressive military entourage, trimmed in gold uniforms. The governor stood at attention with his entourage outside the chapel while all the ecclesiastical dignitaries filed in. He then took his own seat, it was noted by the newspaper, in the back of the church!

He did, however, sit next to the archbishop at the celebratory dinner afterward, held in a giant outdoor tent. In his after-dinner remarks, the governor recalled the “magnificence” of the occasion, saying that he would “remember it as one of the most auspicious occasions which I ever had the honor to attend.”
The youngest of the group, Busch was the last survivor of Ireland's "sextuplets" when he died in 1953, aged 87.

All of 44 at the ordination, he spent just shy of half his life as a bishop... and all of it in active ministry; the retirement age of 75 wouldn't come into force for another decade and a half.

Meanwhile, it might not have happened at once, but history does have its ways of repeating itself: in just the last three years, five Twin Cities priests have been elevated -- four to dioceses, one as a local auxiliary.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ray is in the Hospital!

5/9/10: The primary author of this blog, Ray from MN (Ray Marshall), is in the hospital with pneumonia. At this point, he expects to be home on Tuesday. Prayers appreciated!

I'll keep you posted-Cathy

Update 5/10/10 9:15 p.m. by Cathy of Alex:
Just got home from visiting Ray. He is still using oxygen and the nebulizer and he sounds very phlegmy in his voice and coughing (which is frequent). However, he sat up during our entire visit and his temp, which was high yesterday, is down to normal. Ray was VERY happy to read that people are praying for him. I printed out the comments to the blog posts, from several blogs, that mentioned he was hospitalized and took them with me to the hospital and left them with him. Terry went to see him today and griped to Ray that at least they could've given him a nice robe to wear! What do our taxes pay for?!? Classic Ter. (kidding). Also, Swissmiss (come back, Swissy!) and her son paid him a visit and she brought him some treats! A priest has visited him and he was Anointed. Also, he received Communion on Sunday. As Catholics we need to, and I'm being totally serious, make sure our loved ones are as well taken care of spiritually in hospital as they are physically.

I'll be surprised if they let him go home tomorrow as Ray is hoping. I don't think he's ready for that yet.

Update 5/12/10 5:50 AM: Ray is home!!!! I talked to him last night but was so happy (and busy) I forgot to update the blog! He is tired and plans to rest.He is still very phlegmy. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes.

Update 5/14/10 10:30 AM: Just talked to Ray, he is tired and resting as much as possible. But, he's still glad to be home!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Mother Teresa Stamp is Coming!



Over 138,000 friends of joined together to defend the stamp to honor Mother Teresa. And the Postal Service took notice. Roy Betts, a spokesman for the Postal Service, told yesterday:

“The stamp will be dedicated September 5 [at] the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Feel free to post information about the stamp, the image and the dedication ceremony on your website. Thanks!”

Wow. Launching the stamp at a church. The anti-religion radicals are going to go wild!

When the stamp was first announced, a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation began spreading lies about Blessed Mother Teresa, accusing this holy nun of having a ‘darker side,’ and calling her a ‘polarizing Roman Catholic figurehead.’

Mother Teresa gave a pro-life speech when she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. This radical group called her speech a “disturbing, befrogged religious rant.”

That’s why we swung into action to “Stamp Out Bigotry!”

Thank you for signing our petition. It truly made a difference. If your friends or family would like to add their names in support of the Mother Teresa stamp and against those who attack this holy nun, tell them to visit

Too often only one side of this debate is heard. This time the Post Office heard from us. A separate spokesperson for USPS even told a reporter that our efforts were appreciated.

You would think attacking Mother Teresa would be off limits. But in our world, respect and decency can be discarded so long as you're bashing Christianity. A small but vocal segment of our country will stop at nothing to cut down the role of religion in our public life.

These groups are relentless. So we must defeat them at every turn.

This past week, the anti-religion zealots were dealt another blow. They fought for years to tear down a cross at the Mojave War Memorial in California – a cross honoring our fallen heroes. We filed an important brief in this case with the Supreme Court on behalf of you – the members of – and we won.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that a federal court went too far in ordering the removal of the cross (which has been covered up by a plywood box since 2002!). is committed to protecting and promoting the role of religious faith in our culture and national life.

We think it’s proper and fitting that our Supreme Court has a statue of Moses. We think it’s great that three Catholic priests (one is now a Saint!) are honored in the National Statuary Hall located in the United States Capitol. This is the history of our nation. We should be celebrating the role of religion in America, not destroying it.

And that’s why we’ll be in Washington at the ceremony unveiling the Mother Teresa stamp on September 5.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

P.S. Can you name the three priests who are honored in the National Statuary Hall? Click here to see if you are right.

Building a Holy Communion in the local Catholic Church

Unity, collaboration are essential as local church faces significant changes

For Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, whether in the cities, towns or rural areas, the life of faith as it has come to be known is getting closer to a time of change.

When the work of the Strategic Task Force for Parish and School Planning begins to be put into place, the goal is to have a more vital and dynamic local church. But the announcement and implementation aren’t likely to happen without grieving.

In the coming months, the recommendations of the task force will go to Archbishop John Nienstedt for inspection and eventually his approval, and the report is expected to be presented this fall.

Even then, the process will be far from over. So far, the work of the task force has included data gathering, meetings with parish leadership and listening sessions across the archdiocese, where parishioners could express their needs, concerns and hopes.

The process has been 14 months in the works to date, and the writing of the report will go on throughout the summer before the anticipated early October announcement of the plan.

The restructuring and reorganization will be a lengthy process, Archbishop Nienstedt told an archdiocesan Ministry Day audience, and one that won’t be without challenges and difficulties.

Mitigating the pain

The archbishop called upon the more than 300 lay ministry professionals gathered to be part of, and to help build, a “holy communion,” one in which individuals understand and believe in the mission of the church.

It’s that kind of unity and collaboration that will lead to better serving the mission and, in the archbishop’s experience, can temper the potential for hurt and anger that so often accompanies change.

“Change is hard for all of us,” Archbishop Nienstedt said April 29 at Ministry Day, an annual gathering of those who serve at parishes and archdiocesan offices, held this year at St. Patrick in Inver Grove Heights.

He made reference to the closing of parishes and schools in his native Archdiocese of Detroit. The changes the church made there brought “anger, rancor, dissent and disaffiliation,” and the mission of the church “was lost in a cloud of negativity,” the archbishop said.

“Our own vision of being church must be rooted in the ‘communion’ of life, love and truth. . . . More than likely, the proposed recommendations will require new ways of thinking on the part of pastors and parishioners alike. They will require that weekly routines be altered and, yes, even lives be adjusted. The man who has been going to the same church for the 10 o’clock Mass for 20 years is going to find that Mass at the next parish.”

For understanding and acceptance to occur in such cases, being in communion is key, the archbishop said. “Communion draws us out of ourselves and into Jesus.”

Archbishop Nienstedt said he prays daily that the archdiocese, wider church and world might come to know the unity that comes from letting go of personal wishes and wants and from having the humility to listen to and value the opinions of others.

In his message to the lay ministers, the archbishop said his intention was “to help us think about the dynamics of communion.”

Dissecting the Gospel story of the Woman at the Well (John 4:5-26, 28-29), he pointed out that the woman Jesus asked to give him a drink of water came to believe in him after realizing that the life she had been leading didn’t result in happiness.

“Her search for love will always be futile,” the archbishop said, “when it turns to self-seeking human pleasure.”

“(Jesus) thirsts for our souls. . . . Only when we allow our hearts to be captured by his love do we find true joy and fulfillment.”

Giving up personal desires and entering into communion with others draws one into the mission Jesus gave his disciples, to go teach all nations, he added. “The laity are called to sanctify the world in the name of the church.”

Keeping that mission in mind will be important as the changes come that will impact every parish in the 12-county archdiocese in one way or another.

Asked by The Catholic Spirit if he was aware of any dioceses in which a parish and school reorganization did not result in the scene he spoke of in Detroit, the archbishop first said no, but then he mentioned that the reorganization he was involved in in his previous episcopal assignment in the Diocese of New Ulm was a model that, although not perfect, was successful.

“In New Ulm we had a process we worked and worked and worked,” he said. Very key was a planning committee that was willing to take a draft of its ideas to the pastoral leadership, talk about it, revise it, take it back, talk some more and revise some more.

In the end, the pastoral leadership took ownership of the plan, he said.

“Life in New Ulm is not perfect,” Archbishop Nienstedt said, noting that after all that conversation and discussion there were still complaints and angry people. “But despite the challenges and difficulties, the pastoral leadership knew it was the right thing to do.”

Much to look forward to

The lesson he took from his New Ulm experience was the importance of listening, dialogue, giving people an opportunity to express their opinions and repeating the overall mission.

“The purpose is to have a more vital and dynamic local church,” Archbishop Nienstedt said.

“This is not going to be a one-time thing,” he stressed. “It’s going to be ongoing, and it won’t be done in my time as archbishop. I think we’re on the right track.”

There will undoubtedly be a sense of loss for some, and the archbishop doesn’t doubt that changes will elicit anger.

“Change is difficult for everyone,” he said. “For people to make these accommodations will be hard. But we have a much better chance if they see the big picture.”

At Mass, Bishop Lee Piché said the like-mindedness the archbishop spoke of should build a bond of unity among Catholics.

“Can this unity really exist in the church?” the auxiliary bishop asked. “If so, it must begin with those who minister in the church.”

Father Steven Adrian, pastor of St. Matthew in St. Paul, added advice that fit with the theme for the day — “Serving in the Spirit” — which was planned by the Coalition of Ministry Associations in the archdiocese.

Among the “attitudes” he recommended for lay ministers was, “Don’t be surprised by diversity, don’t pre-judge speakers and don’t be frightened by what is different. Instead, take an attitude of non-judgmental listening.”

Father Adrian warned, “We can become so invested in what we know, what we want, [and] what we’re used to that we don’t want to hear anything else.”

Bob Zyskowski is the associate pub­lisher/general manager of The Catholic Spirit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Michaelangelo's Pieta Replica to Remain at Cathedral and Shrine of St. Paul

The replica of Michelangelo's Pietà will remain at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, National Shrine of the Apostle Paul permanently, thanks to a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

The life size sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of her son Jesus Christ after his death. The marble casting of the original sculpture in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, has been available for public viewing beginning Ash Wednesday, February 17, in the Sacred Heart Chapel.

For more information on Michelangelo’s art and the casting of his Pietà, go to

What should Tommies take with them as they graduate?

A blog by St. Thomas community member Dave Nimmer in the Scroll has some thoughts on what grads of St. Thomas should take into the real world as they leave for 60 or more years in the real world. Interestingly, Nimmer mentioned nothing about Heaven! Wouldn't it be nice if all grads of UST took a minor in Catholic Studies with them as they left so that they would be prepared to meet the 21st century and its temptations?

For most of them, the paltry exposure to Catholicism that they had while a Tommy will be the last Catholic education they will ever receive, unless they really pay attention while attending Mass.

Take some of St. Thomas along as you rush into “the real world”

Graduation is less than three weeks away and I am willing to bet hundreds of seniors can’t wait to “get out in the real world” and get on with their lives – minus early-morning classes, late-night study binges and 20-page term papers.

I have a cautionary note: Don’t be too hasty. And whatever you do, take some of St. Thomas along, especially the part involving a life of the mind.

Life’s more than a two-car garage, a long weekend and an office on the top floor. I came back to a university environment (St. Thomas) after more than 25 years in the world of bylines, live shots and weekly paychecks. What I lost in money I gained in exposure to new books, fresh ideas and challenging discussions.

The undergraduate core of St. Thomas is as relevant to living a good life as developing job skills and technology savvy. For instance, if you took Economics 251, Principles of Macroeconomics, you have more tools than I do to examine the “national income, unemployment, price stability and growth, monetary and fiscal policies, international trade and finance and (the) application of economic theory to current problems.”

That’s as timely and relevant to life in this recession and recovery as today’s New York Times website.

And if you had an elective and chose Music 130, Introduction to World Music, you explored “the phenomenon of music as an activity in people’s lives … a context in which music serves as part of larger social rituals” in such places as Africa, the Middle East, China, India, Japan and the United States.

That’s in addition to learning more about European classical music. I’m trying to do that at the age of 69 by listening to Osmo Vanska and his Minnesota Orchestra playing Beethoven’s symphonies.

If one of your three required Theology classes was 215, Christian Morality, you, your classmates and professor Bernie Brady would have spent last semester discussing and writing about subjects in the book Modern Spiritual Masters, 12 people whose lives “served as witnesses to the challenges of living the contemporary Christian life.”

My old newsroom buddies talk about those very challenges at our weekly coffee klatches, as we spend more and more time over how we acted rather than what we accomplished.

And, if you were a freshman at St. Thomas when the common text was Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, you came away with an antidote for the helplessness we sometimes feel in the face of global (and universal) problems:

“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folks may circumvent this restrictions is they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither a god nor poet; one need only a good shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree – and there will be one.

“If his back be strong and his shovel sharp, there may eventually be ten thousand. And in the seventh year he may lean on his shovel, and look upon his trees, and find them good.”

Now, I ask you: Why would you ever want to leave all of this behind?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Laura the Crazy Mama just had her umpteenth kid

If you wanto to see some great photos of God in action, stop by here to meet Evangeline! [There were no pictures like these when I popped out after an extremely hard labor some 68 years ago]. And I learned a heckuva lot about childbirth tonight that I had become resigned to the fact that I would never learn. I think I would have needed a sedative if I had been in that room.

Planned Parenthood to move to poorer and minority neighborhoods to further the intentions of its eugenicist founder, Margaret Sanger.

Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in 1916 originally to remove poor and minority populations from society. Adolf Hitler was one of her disciples.

After years of demonstrations, now almost daily, by dozens of Pro-Life groups sponsored by many faiths and persuasions, Planned Parenthood, the principle abortion provider in Minnesota, bit the bullet and is leaving upper middle class Highland Park in St. Paul and is moving closer to its intended market, the poor and minority neighborhoods that surround University Avenue in St. Paul. They'll be within walking distance of the Raymond Avenue Light Rail Metro Transit stop when that line is completed in a few years. Construction is expected to start on both the new abortuary and the light rail line this year.

Planned Parenthood moving abortion clinic, HQ to Midway area

Planned Parenthood plans to move both its headquarters and its Highland Park abortion clinic to a new location near Vandalia Avenue and University Avenue in the Midway area of St. Paul.

Using $16 million it has quietly raised from private donors, the organization plans to complete the new building by December 2011, providing a full range of reproductive health services to men and women, as well as abortions. The new site will also house the organization's headquarters, including its education program, fundraising and public policy staff.

The current clinic in Highland Park, long a lightning rod for antiabortion protesters, has operated since the early 1980s and is an inefficient space, said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

More importantly, she said, the new building -- with a large parking area, fences and plantings -- will provide more privacy for women patients who have generally had to walk past protesters to enter the Highland Park building. Planned Parenthood is the leading abortion provider in the state, and all are conducted at that clinic.

The new, three-story facility will be environmentally efficient and provide a more convenient location for many of nearly 30,000 people in the Twin Cities who use its reproductive health services, she said. It will be close to the new Central Corridor light rail line, which is expected to open in 2014.

Planned Parenthood is also trying position itself for the impact of the new federal health care law, which is likely to increase demand for medical services, she said. Even now, demand for all its reproductive health services except abortion, is increasing, Stoesz said. Abortion rates both in Minnesota and nationally have been declining for several years.

After the move, the clinic in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, which now houses much of the administrative staff, will be renovated into a clinic-only facility. Star Tribune