Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Shakopee: Tri-parish faith formation: More resources, volunteers, funding

On most Wednesday nights during the school year, kids from first to 10th grade from three parishes meet at the Shakopee Catholic Education Center for faith formation classes.

A parishioner at St. Mark in Shakopee, Doug Schleif teaches faith formation in the program his parish shares with nearby St. Mary in Shakopee and St. Mary of the Purification in Marystown.
The parishes — St. Mark and St. Mary in Shakopee and St. Mary of the Purification in Marystown — are among several in the archdiocese that are not all clustered but share a program.

St. Mary and St. Mary of the Purification are clustered; St. Mark is not.

Yet, the three Shakopee parishes have been sharing a faith formation program for so long that the collaboration doesn’t feel unusual, parishioners say. It’s all most of them have ever known, and they’ve known it to work well.

“There are a wealth of gifts out there when consolidating, and when merging, and when sharing,” said Janelle Heikkila, the program’s director.

After the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Parishes Oct. 16-17, all parishes will be encouraged to find new ways to collaborate, including on faith formation and other programing, said Jim Lundholm-Eades, a member of the task force which crafted plan recommendations for Archbishop John Nienstedt.

More to offer

Before any of the three parishes shared a pastor, St. Mark, St. Mary and St. Mary of the Purification united their schools in 1970 to conserve resources and better serve the community. The faith formation program followed the school’s lead and consolidated five years later. In 2004, the parishes constructed a new building for the school and faith formation programs.

St. Mary and St. Mark are located in the heart of Shakopee. St. Mary of the Purification is a few miles away in rural Marystown.

The program’s 35-year success is aided by the fact that all the parishes are basically in the same city, said Father Peter Wittman, pastor of St. Mary in Shakopee and St. Mary of the Purification in Marystown. People who are members of the three different parishes could live on the same block, he added.

The Shakopee Catholic Education Center offers three different times for faith formation on Wednesday evenings: 4:30 p.m. for grades 1 through 5; 6 p.m. for grades 7 and 8; and 7:30 p.m. for students in grades 9 and 10, who are preparing for confirmation.

In an effort to meet parishioners’ needs, classes are also offered on Sunday evenings, or on a twice-monthly (opposed to weekly) schedule.

About 500 kids participate in the program, Heikkila said. Most of them attend the area’s public schools, like Pearson Elementary, where St. Mark parishioner Doug Schleif, 49, is principal.

Schleif has taught in the faith formation program for five years, and the volunteer work has been a “natural fit,” he said.

Schleif likes the shared faith formation program, he said, naming better funding and volunteer resources as important benefits.

It also allows the program to survive, he said. “I don’t think one [Shakopee] parish is big enough to support a program,” he said.

In Shakopee’s case, this is due in part to large enrollment at Shakopee Area Catholic School, whose students attend faith formation classes in school and generally do not participate in the faith formation programs until they’re preparing for confirmation.

“[With] any community the size of Shakopee that has a Catholic school, it’s hard to keep that . . . faith formation component thriving,” Schleif said.

Large, and growing

But thrive it has. The number of students enrolled in the program is growing, Heikkila said.

The program itself is also expanding. Two years ago, the parishes revived summer Bible school for pre-kindergarten to fourth-grade children. The first year drew 60 children; this year drew 150. The parishes had been without a program for about 10 years, said St. Mark parishioner Jennifer Klecker.

Klecker, 37, tried for several years to revive the summer Bible school before she was successful, she said. Without a program in Shakopee, she drove her two daughters to Pax Christi in Eden Prairie to attend Bible school.

“I thought it was ridiculous that we had three parishes and nothing was happening here in town,” she said.

After first trying to start something at her own parish, Klecker sought support from the tri-parish faith formation program, which led to its 2009 launch.

“There’s a wealth of information when you have so many people together,” she said. “[There’s] fun and excitement in the community coming together.”

Klecker also teaches second-grade faith formation with her husband Jeff. Together, they prepare eight to 10 students for the sacraments of reconciliation and first Communion.

Teaching students from the three parishes provides an opportunity to talk about the different ways parishes might do things within their liturgies, she said.

Dave Siwek, 47, teaches a confirmation class, and he’s glad to see students from different parishes in the same classroom, he said. He likens it to the 1985 movie “The Breakfast Club,” in which students who otherwise wouldn’t socialize with one another form new relationships.

Forming community

The tri-parishes’ confirmation students engage in conversation and work on projects together that they likely would not otherwise, said Siwek, who attends St. Mark.

“The idea of what Shakopee is, and [what] the faith formation program and the confirmation program is, [is] to be part of the community,” he said.

The shared program also eases scheduling and allows the parishes to share staff, Siwek added. And with two priests in the three parishes, one is usually available to attend an event, which isn’t always the case in a single parish with a single priest, he added.

Still, communication and resistance to change continue to be challenges to the tri-parish faith formation program, Schleif said.

As a remedy, it helps to have the parishes’ pastors and leadership agree on what faith formation is and should look like before a program gets underway, Heikkila said. In this consolidation, Father Wittman oversees the school, and Father Tim Norris, St. Mark’s pastor, oversees faith formation.

It may be difficult for parishes facing a similar program consolidation to let go of control, especially if one parish’s program is well run, and people are wary of the unknown, Father Wittman said.

“I think you’ve got to keep an open mind,” Schleif said. “[Sharing a program] can strengthen your faith because of the strong collaboration that can take place during that time. It’s a nice way to reflect on your own values, and what’s really important, and what you can give up.”

Transition is easier when everyone keeps in mind that faith formation and other parish programs are about bringing people closer to Jesus, Heikkila said.

“It’s not a territory, it’s a ministry,” she said. Catholic Spirit

Hungry for Deeper Faith: 37 suggestions for making your Catholic faith a bigger part of your daily life

Feast on Feasts
Talk about readings at Sunday brunch
Say your bedtime prayers
Learn about each day's saint
Follow the liturgical seasons
Greet the day? “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Oh!!!
Pray the Rosary
Hang your crucifixes
Attend a funeral
Have your home blessed
Make a pilgrimage
Recite the Angelus
Bless your door
Thank your priest
Pray before car rides
Attending religious education classes
Give/Offer something up
Mail a holy card
Read a religious book
Open your Bible
Attend a daily Mass
Look at religious art
Eat one meal together (It might have to be breakfast!)
Pray for the Pope's intentions (they change monthly; check out www.Vatican.va)
Pray for the Pope
Volunteer for a cause
Talk about God
Memorize a Psalm (117 is the shortest, followed by 119, the longest!)
Visit an empty church
List your prayer intentions; and use them daily!
Plant a garden
Be grateful
Light a candle for your prayer sessions
Try Adoration of the Holy Eucharist at a parish near you
Leave out your Nativity set all year
Make a Confession
Schedule (and attend) a retreat

For details relating to these recommendations, see The Catholic Spirit

Your Great Catholic Minnesota Road Trip #4: Fort St. Charles, Lake of the Woods

It is possible to be north of International Falls and still be in Minnesota!


Fort St. Charles

Magnuson’s Island, Lake of the Woods

Located in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle — that piece of land in that funny geographic knob at the top of the state — Fort St. Charles has been called the resting place of “Minnesota’s forgotten martyr.” In 1736, Sioux American Indians beheaded missionary Jesuit priest Jean Pierre Aulneau and the 19 men he accompanied. They are buried at the fort. In 1949-51, the Knights of Columbus built a shrine for the priest.

Did you know? Built in 1732 (the same year George Washington was born), the site’s importance as a fur trading post extends beyond Father Aulneau. Fort St. Charles is also only one of three French forts found in Minnesota established before 1763, when Spain received the Louisiana Territory from the French after the French and Indian War. (France got the territory back in 1800.) Catholic Spirit

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality Isn’t Bigoted

Msgr. Stuart Swetland, the Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn Professor of Christian Ethics [!!!] at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., served as director of the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1997 to 2006. In 1998, he hired Kenneth Howell as the John Henry Newman Scholar in Residence. Msgr. Swetland and Howell taught courses on Catholicism at the university.

This June, Howell was informed that he would not be teaching Catholic courses this fall because the university disapproved of his teaching of the Catholic doctrine on homosexual sex.

In late July, the university decided that Howell could resume his teaching of Catholicism (see related articles here and here) and that his course salary would be paid by the University of Illinois; the Newman Center is paying him for his work for the Newman Center. As Howell says in his latest update on the “Save Dr. Ken” Facebook page, there’s “more to this than appears, but, for now, we move on.”

In July, Register correspondent Bryan Berry interviewed Msgr. Swetland about the situation.

In your view, why was homosexual sex the issue that the University of Illinois attacked Dr. Howell over?

If you look nationwide, this issue is contentious to the point where many people are confusing sincerely held beliefs with bigotry, which is not the same thing.

Recently, a federal court judge in Massachusetts ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was motivated by “irrational prejudice.” In 2003, another judge in Massachusetts ruled that the state had “arbitrarily deprived” homosexuals of marriage. How do you respond to this view that Catholic teaching on homosexuality is bigoted or arbitrary or culturally bound?

Catholicism is not the only religion that holds this position. Devout Muslims, evangelical Protestant Christians, many religious traditions, hold this position.

What is bothersome to many individuals is that the Catholic Church doesn’t just hold it on religious grounds. The Church’s position is that this isn’t something that is known to us just based on revelation, based on what our revealed Scriptures say. The Catholic position — and this is where Dr. Howell was specific in his teaching — is that this is something that is based on what the moral/natural-law tradition calls right reason.

How do you respond to people who say that’s bigotry, pure and simple?

Well, many would argue that the tradition of natural law is the basis of the founding of our country. An interpretation of natural law is that you can know moral truth through reason alone. Throughout human history, most people have come to understand that there is a purpose and meaning for sexual union.

The problem is that the other side thinks that any opposition to same-sex sexual union means being opposed to those individual persons, judging those individual persons.

The student who wrote the e-mail to Religion Department head Robert McKim complaining about Dr. Howell’s teaching called it “hate speech.”

I didn’t think we’d ever be up against this, because, from a teacher’s point of view, there was always an acceptance of the idea that there was a distinction between disagreeing with the morality of an act and not judging [specific] persons.
Let’s take it off homosexuality for a minute. I personally believe that divorce and remarriage is wrong. I also believe that you can know that, through reason alone, that the vows that one agrees to when he or she enters into a marital union mean what they say: “until death do us part.”
So, for a valid, consummated marriage, I don’t believe that divorce and remarriage is legitimate if they’re in a valid first marriage.
We’ve taught that for 2,000 years. But no one has ever accused us of being bigoted toward divorced people because we teach that. There’s no clamoring in any course I’ve ever taught, rallying groups of people who find themselves to be divorced, or the children of divorced people, who are wanting us fired because we’re teaching about the sanctity of marriage when it comes to divorce and remarriage. Because they understand totally that you can disagree with someone’s actions without being bigoted towards them.

This is something completely new and very recent, where any opposition, expressed in any way, to those particular [homosexual] sexual acts becomes, in the minds of those who don’t agree with us, tantamount to bigotry.

But that position seems so illogical, that one has to question whether they really believe it.

Well, that’s what we’re up against as far as the intellectual climate goes, that people can’t make a distinction. We’re trying to find moral truth; we think we have found moral truth about how best humans should use their sexual powers and gifts, and to put forward a position, which isn’t a new position but one that has been held for a long time and has the test of time behind it as well as everything else.

But to put forward that position, they can’t see it as anything but condemning — not just that we disagree about the purpose and meaning of sexuality — but condemning a whole group of people.
To put traditional Catholic teaching in that category [of bigoted, unacceptable ideas] is quite unfortunate for the university. Think of all the contributions that Catholic ideas have made to intellectual tradition in the sciences, law, political science. I used to teach the just-war tradition at UI. The just-war tradition began in the West with the thinking of Augustine and Ambrose and in the East with people like Basil and Chrysostom. You’re dealing with intellectual traditions that are hundreds or thousands of years old and that are part of the intellectual heritage that the university is now saying is no longer acceptable at the university.

Some think that this struggle is more difficult than the struggle over abortion, because a lot of people know homosexuals and don’t want to offend them, whereas the unborn are silent.

It’s true that when a lot of people think about this issue they’ll immediately personalize it to a friend or a family member they know. And they think that any condemnation of the act is condemning the person or friend or relative they know. But that’s not what’s going on, and that’s just a problem of rhetoric.

If I have a relative who’s struggling with alcohol or drugs, I wouldn’t say that it’s condemning of my cousin on drugs if I favor enforcement of drug laws. I want what’s best for my cousin, and what’s best for my cousin is that he get sober. But that’s hard for people to see; that’s a hard distinction to make.

People have forgotten that there’s such a thing as weakness in human persons. We’re all weak; we all sin; we all fall short of the goal. We keep our goals high, knowing we’re going to fall short of them, but we continue to be the best we can be.

Yes, the Church’s teaching on everything — from how we are to take care of the poor, how we are to deal with people who hate us, how we are to deal with our sexual powers, everything — the Church’s teachings are very precise and very demanding.

There is a reason for that. God calls us to a certain perfection — knowing that we’re going to fall short — and that’s why we have confessionals in every church and chapel. We recognize that we’re in need of healing. National Catholic Register

Catholic High Schools and the Parish, Part I: A Few Random Questions to Get the Discussion Going

This week, I will be examining some aspects of the relationship between a Catholic parish and the Catholic high schools where that parish's young people are enrolled.

First of all, is there a relationship? As I begin my assignment this summer as Pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Oakdale, Minnesota, I am eager for a most active relationship with Hill-Murray School, Cretin-Derham Hall High School, Saint Agnes High School, and the other Catholic high schools attended by Transfiguration's youth. Read the rest!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


My Windows program got corrupted somehow, (a mortal sin?) and I just got my computer back. It just kept locking up and then I got the "black screen of death." Unfortunately, opening in "safe mode" or using a "restore point" was not possible.

I guess most of my data is OK because the hard drive and memory tested OK. And I had my "My Documents" backed up. But I haven't contacted my back up service (Qwest) to see if they really did it. Holding my breath, mostly on my genealogical stuff that I have been collecting for 35 years.

What they had to do was install a second hard drive and now I have to transfer my documents to the new drive. Not all were saved it seems, but I can't tell until I look at each directory.

I guess I'll just transfer only when I need to, pending contact with Qwest probably not til Monday.

And now my DVD drive door won't open so I can't re-install my major programs like Word and Outlook.

So I have to take the computer back this morning to have them fix that; they must have messed it up when they installed the new hard drive.

This is the first really major loss that I have had in 20+ years of having a computer. So I've been lucky.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I drove by my local Target store today

Coasted right by the front door on my way to my local dollar store at the other end of the mall to pick up a dozen replacement reading glasses. They don't last long with me.

But I don't think that I have ever seen a larger crowd at Tarzhay, as we used to call it when I shopped in their designer aisles. But the customers today looked a lot less hip, much more frumpy and somewhat pleasingly plump, too. But they were all carrying stuffed shopping bags in both hands.

Maybe when the neurotically fastidious and demanding set makes room for the real shoppers, it will turn out to be a bonanza for Bullseye the Dog's masters.

Superior's Bishop Peter Christensen on "Why the Silence" on abuse accuations?


Bishop Peter Christensen,
former Pastor of Nativity of Our Lord parish in St. Paul

[Stella Borealis emphases] In a recent conversation a friend of mine was commenting on the sizeable number of secular newspaper articles that center on the topic of sexual abuse by clergy. He was perplexed by the fact that there have not been more responses made by the Church in regard to some of the assumptions made by the papers that he knows to be either exaggerated or false. Well aware of his frustration, which is shared by many, I began to explain the reasons for the absence of rebuttals to the media as I see it.

First of all, doing so makes the Church look either defensive or calloused, as if the leadership of the Church is out to protect itself. There is no question that there have been priests who have sexually abused minors. Many innocent victims and their families have been directly or indirectly wounded and scarred by such behavior. There is no denying this fact. In response to the damaging actions of some of the clergy, since the Charter for the Protection of Children was established in 2002, the Catholic Church has gone well beyond any other institution in setting up safe-guards to protect our young from such horrendous, sinful behavior.

What we often fail to remember is that the Church, like the rest of society, in regard to the disciplinary action of its members was motivated by the social beliefs and sciences of its time. Up until the 1980s it was believed that pedophiles (pre-pubescent) and ephebophiles (post-pubescent) could be rehabilitated and reinstated into the institutions they served. This was true not only for ministers of other Christian and non-Christian denominations, but also for secular institutions, such as teachers in our public school systems. As I have often heard it said and know it to be true, the framework in which we were making judgments was based on the knowledge of the time we made them. As an example of context, it would be like someone suing the Ford Motor Company today for a wrongful death of a grandfather when his airbag failed to deploy 70 years ago. The knowledge gained and serving us today in the realm of psychosexual sciences is far more understood than it was even twenty years ago. That which is sometimes referred to as “cover up” by the Church was nothing more than a lack of knowledge of what dangers were being done and what treatments could or could not be administered for rehabilitation.

Another reason for the lack of response to the secular press could be caused by a misguided prejudice against the Catholic Church for whatever reason. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church makes the front-page headlines in this regard. A while back, when I asked a prominent reporter from CNN, why he thought this was the case, he stated it is so because we are such a large institution. I said that I believe it is the case because we are the only institution in the entire world that can speak with one voice on issues of faith and morals. No other institution in the world can offer teaching and guidance with the authority of the Catholic Church. And no other institution in the world has the ability to speak with such a unified voice. As I said to the reporter, not everyone likes such a voice, to be reminded of the existence of God or to have his or her conscience tweaked. If you can silence the voice by destroying the Church’s credibility it would serve as a relief for some.

At the end of our conversation I thanked the CNN reporter for the attention given to these matters. It may sound strange, but in many ways when there is credibility of abuse, the reporting reminds us of the contrast of what is expected by the Church. We should be shocked by such contrary behavior to our beliefs. The day that reporting such information is not seen as horror will be the day that the Church has lost its message of the Gospel. It is newsworthy because it is scandalous behavior and always will stand in contradiction to the belief of our Catholic Church.

What I find difficult is when our local paper misquotes or exaggerates information. This frustration is exasperated when they are unwilling to make corrections and print the facts. Recently, our diocesan office responded to misinformation printed in our local Duluth paper. The paper made no corrections or points of clarifications. They stated that the Diocese of Superior had paid out nearly 3 million dollars in one settlement in 1989. I know differently. Since 1950, there have been 546 priests serving in our Diocese. Tragically, 12 of these priests during the past 60 years have what seem to be credible allegations of pedophilia or ephebophilia. That is 2.2 percent of our priest population in the Superior Diocese which is well below the national average of males who sexually abuse children. Eight of these priests are now deceased and the other four are no longer serving in active ministry. During this same period of time, the Diocese of Superior has been responsible for making settlements on 4 cases, paying a total of $135,000 from our own diocesan funds directly to victims. Our insurance companies covered other costs. This is nowhere near the amount as reported in the paper.

The third reason that the Church oftentimes seems silent in offering corrections or rebuttals to the media is because those who have been abused by priests have asked that their names and cases never be mentioned to others. These are legal agreements, set up by the Church and to be honored by the Church as requested by those abused. These confidentiality agreements are put in place in order to protect the good names and reputations of those abused. Unfortunately not all reporters or advocate groups appreciate this fact. Sometimes these groups, although they speak in terms of reconciliation, are more interested in retaliation against the Church in general.

All this being said, as Catholics we are meeting the situation of our times for our own institution, while the sexual abuse of minors is running rampant throughout society. As the Church grows stronger in the knowledge and care of the young, its leaders and congregations will better serve as educators and reconcilers for our religious and civic communities. This is not a pleasant journey, but to help expose and heal the sin of sexual abuse throughout our society is what we are called to do at this time in our history.

And at times, although we may be seemingly silent in response to the media, we as a Church are doing all that we can to correct our faults and to help others in society to deal with their similar issues in this regard. May Our Lord bless all who suffer from abuse with his healing presence, and strengthen all the faithful to serve as ministers of his pure love.
Superior Catholic Herald

Tip O the Hat to the Badger Catholic

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Translation of US Ordinary Form Missal Implementation Set for Advent 2011

You can better believe that there will be lots of sneak previews all over the country on this one. And the complaints of people not sticking to the Ordinary Form General Instructions of the Roman Missal (the GIRM) will be coming from those improvisers and extemporizers who have been wreaking havoc on the GIRM for 40 years.

To the surprise of no one, the following announcement is fresh from the Mothership:
Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has announced that the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has been issued for the dioceses of the United States of America.

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on July 24, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on January 22.

Cardinal George announced receipt of the documents in an August 20 letter to the U.S. Bishops and issued a decree of proclamation that states that “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

The date of implementation was chosen to allow publishers time to prepare texts and parishes and dioceses to educate parishioners.

“We can now move forward and continue with our important catechetical efforts as we prepare the text for publication,” Cardinal George said.

In the coming weeks, staff of the bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship will prepare the text for publication and collaborate with the staff of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which will assist Bishops’ Conferences in bringing the text to publication. In particular, ICEL has been preparing the chant settings of the texts of the Missal for use in the celebration of the Mass. Once all necessary elements have been incorporated into the text and the preliminary layout is complete, the final text will go to the publishers to produce the ritual text, catechetical resources and participation aids for use in the Liturgy.

Receipt of the text marks the start of proximate preparation for Roman Missal implementation. Before first use of the new text in Advent 2011, pastors are urged to use resources available to prepare parishioners. Some already have been in use; others are being released now. They include the Parish Guide for the Implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ, a multi-media DVD resource produced by ICEL in collaboration with English-language Conferences of Bishops. Both will be available from the USCCB. Information on resources can be found at www.usccb.org/romanmissal

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, voiced gratitude for the approval.

“I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in our parishes,” he said. Msgr. Anthony Sherman, Director of the Secretariat for Divine Worship of the USCCB noted, “A great effort to produce the new Roman Missal for the United States, along with the other necessary resources, has begun. Even as that work is underway a full–scale catechesis about the Liturgy and the new Roman Missal should be taking place in parishes, so that when the time comes, everyone will be ready.” Whispers in the Loggia

Shrine/Cathedral of Saint Paul to host events honoring 100th anniversary of Blessed Teresa's birth Aug 26


  • The Cathedral of Saint Paul will host the following events in honor of the 100th anniversary of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's birth.
  • Thursday, August 26
    Mass at 5:15 p.m.
    In honor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta followed by Eucharistic Adoration with meditations from her writings until Benediction at 7:00 p.m.

    Monday, August 30
    7:00 p.m.
    Showing of Academy Award-winning documentary "Mother Teresa"
    Cathedral - Hayden Hall

    Tuesday, August 31
    7:00 p.m.
    Showing of Academy Award-winning documentary "Mother Teresa"
    Cathedral - Hayden Hall

Videos of Harvest Mass (homily to come) at Winona last weekend


Penitence Within the Mass

. . . Some Catholics, including those with liturgical duties, seem reluctant to allow the Penitential Rite at the beginning of every Mass to make its presence known and felt. In particular, the Confiteor prayer ("I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters...") is often left out. Granted, within the Penitential Rite, the Confiteor is not required, but why would we skip it? Because our parishioners don't need it? Because they only need it during Lent? Because penitence mars the proper spirit of the Liturgy. . . .? Father Bill Baer at Transfiguration Today

Thursday, August 19, 2010

U of MN Scientists use bone marrow stem cells to treat rare skin disease


Scientists from the University of Minnesota Medical School, working with their counterparts from Oregon, the United Kingdom and Japan, have found a way to use stem cells from bone marrow to treat a deadly skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. The disease causes the skin to flake off easily, resulting in extreme pain. Stem cell therapies have shown to significantly repair damage to the skin of those inflicted with the disease. MinnPost

Researchers find that adult stem cells can rebuild heart tissue

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, working together with Belgium experts, have demonstrated in lab tests that adult stem cells from bone marrow can repair and rebuild damaged heart tissue. The discovery was published yesterday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Stem cells that have been isolated from patients generally have a limited capacity to repair heart tissue, explained the Mayo Clinic in a press release. However, the technology used in this particular study yielded significant results by programming these cells to acquire a profile similar to cardiac cells.

In order to carry out the tests, researchers obtained bone marrow-derived stem cells from patients with heart disease during coronary bypass surgery.

The Mayo Clinic reported that stem cells from two of the 11 individuals demonstrated an unusual capacity to repair heart tissue. The researchers then used techniques to introduce the same molecular signature into the stem cells of the other patients in order to “program” their capacity to repair heart tissue.

These kinds of cells, called Mesenchymal stem cells, were injected into rats with heart disease and resulted in significant recovery of heart function, as well as an improved survival rate after one year, in contrast with rats infused with stem cells not guided by researchers.

According to Andre Terzic of the Mayo Clinic, the main author of the study, “These findings provide proof-of-principle that "smart" adult stem cells have added benefit in repairing the heart.” Catholic News Agency

I've been looking for a better writer than me to write this article

I came across this information about six months ago on the site of the U.S. Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta.

"Nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently age 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday."
Besides unsafe sex, homosexuals also shorten their life spans by smoking cigarettes, using alcohol to excess, using drugs to prolong the pleasure of the sexual act, using recreational drugs, some engage in sad0-masochistic practices, have incredible levels of venereal disease infections, etc.

Transgender, transsexual and trans fats

In June I bought a full-page ad in our local gay newspaper during gay-pride week to bring attention to a lifestyle that is protected even though proven to be dangerous and unhealthy. If something is deemed unhealthy, it does not take a public vote before school boards, cities, the federal government and many parents take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate access to that danger.

How many times have you heard the unfairness, hatred and the mistreatment of trans fats? It is thought that trans fats may be unhealthy, along with sugar and salt. And the list of unhealthy food choices grows daily.

The Centers For Disease Control has said and proven that the homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy and dangerous to those who participate in it. I will prove that point a little later in this article. The evidence cannot be argued – ignored, yes, but not debated.

Where is the public outcry when this dangerous lifestyle choice is promoted by schools, cities, states, courts and the federal government? Where is the evidence that we care about homosexuals when a judge overturns the decision of 7 million voters who passed Proposition 8, and is applauded for encouraging many to marry while living this hurtful lifestyle? We stand strong on the danger (albeit highly debatable) of certain foods that we suspect might be injurious to our health but turn a blind eye to homosexuality, which inarguably kills its participants.

What is at the heart of evil in our world, and how do we lessen its power in our own lives? Check out David Kupelian's newest book, "How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America"

The National Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN, took place at schools across the country again in April. According to GLSEN'S website, "On the National Day of Silence hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and even harassment in their schools." In other words, the purpose of the day is to stand in solidarity with homosexual victims.

The illusion that the homosexual lifestyle is a normal way of living has been successfully propagated by promoting a "victim" image for homosexual persons and by the pseudo-science alleging a "gay" gene. Evidence does show that homosexual persons are indeed victims – but overwhelmingly of their own behavior, not that of others. Why do cities, states and our federal government help these victims by celebrating with them in gay-pride events, and why do schools celebrate an entire day during the National Day Of Silence? For those who are so health conscience, if you are truly interested in removing those things that are dangerous to society, you need to examine the question of why the deadly homosexual lifestyle is protected.

Why is the lie about the existence of the gay gene and the falsehood that homosexuals are not able to change because they were born that way so widely promoted? Think about this common-sense scenario: If a man ever got pregnant, could anyone say from that day forward that it is impossible for men to get pregnant? The answer is a resounding "no." You would never again be able to say it is impossible. Using the same logic, if one homosexual ever changed and got out of that lifestyle, can the statement be made that it is impossible for homosexuals to change?

The answer is again a resounding "no!" You would never again be able to say it is impossible. We know of many homosexuals, and I am friends with many, who have gotten out of the homosexual lifestyle by one decision – to stop. One of the most famous ones is the breakup of Ellen Degeneres and Ann Heche. Ann broke it off with Ellen and married a man and is living a heterosexual lifestyle at this very moment. I am black, was born black and will die black – I assure you of that. I can't even take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, because it is obvious who I am. I have never met an ex-black man (even Michael Jackson could not accomplish that), but I have met countless ex-homosexuals who are living a victorious heterosexual life. Why do we allow the lie to continue to be perpetrated, and why do we keep encouraging homosexuals to stay in this deadly lifestyle?

I have read the Constitution and cannot find anywhere that it protects same-sex marriage. If the Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage, then how can a judge in California declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional? It is a perversion of the Constitution to give protection to a group that can move in and out of that group just by making a conscious decision.

According to the Centers For Disease Control website as of June 12, 2010:

  • The No. 1 risk factor for contracting HIV/AIDS is and always has been homosexual sex.

  • 56,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

  • As of 2006, there were 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, up 11 percent from 2003.

  • Homosexual/bisexual individuals are seven times more likely to contemplate or commit suicide.

  • Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals.

  • Nearly one-half of practicing homosexuals admit to 500 or more sex partners, and nearly one-third admit to 1,000 or more sex partners in a lifetime.

  • Individuals who have ever engaged in homosexual sex are prohibited from donating blood. [Homosexuals are attempting to get that prohibition removed so that people who don't engage in unsafe sex or drug abuse might start getting HIV and/or AIDS.]
World Net Daily

HatTip to Terry!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Archbishop Burke is on EWTN Live tonight at 7 central with Fr. Pacwa

Thursday 12:01 AM Central & 8 AM Central,
Sunday 3 AM Central

Magnificat and Ignatius Press Join Forces to Publish Books for Children

Through a new partnership between Magnificat, the publisher of the popular daily devotional, and Ignatius Press, the primary English-language publisher of Pope Benedict XVI’s books, a new line of Catholic children’s books will be available.

Anyone familiar with the market will recognize that there are few publishers that publish beautifully illustrated Catholic children’s books. Pauline Press and Bethlehem Books come to mind. [Bethlehem Books is a real Christian apostolate located up in North Dakota a few yards from Canada, I think. They do wonderful work and are a real favorite with home schoolers.]

The first eight books in the Magnificat-Ignatius Press series will include a variety of titles for children of different ages. They’ll include sturdy board books, such as My First Prayers for My Family, My First Prayers for Christmas, and The Bible for Little Ones. They’ll also be publishing two hardcover titles for older children – John Mary Vianney: The Holy Cure of Ars and Bernadette: The Little Girl from Lourdes. Two additional titles will include: The Adventures of Lupio, Vol. 1: The Adventures and Other Stories and The Illustrated Gospel for Children. Both are told in a comic book style. Finally, the partnership is also publishing the first in a series of coloring books – Pictures from the Gospels: A Coloring Book.

“Ignatius Press is honored and excited to be working with Magnificat to publish this new line of such high quality, beautifully designed Catholic books for children,” said Anthony Ryan, marketing director for Ignatius Press.

The books will be available for purchase in October 2010. , National Catholic Register

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The future of the American Catholic Church may not be Hispanic; It may be Vietnamese

It never gets anywhere near the coverage it merits, but the Stateside church's largest annual pilgrimage took flight again earlier this month as, for yet another August weekend, the 33rd Marian Days (above) lived up to its legend as roughly 80,000 Vietnamese-American Catholics swelled Carthage, Missouri (usual pop. 15,000) for the latest edition of the festival started in 1978 by a recently-migrated religious community which, having received a former seminary in the Heartland as its new home-base, sought to give thanks for the freedom it found on these shores.

For the better part of five days, young and old alike sleeping in tents throughout, the Days see the US church's widely-dispersed, intensely-devoted Vietnamese diaspora gather from all points for a long weekend marked by everything from reunions to food-fairs to concerts... and, above all, the rites of faith. . . . Rocco from Whispers

Confessions after Mass: Is It Confession That They Want?

Fathers (and Penitents):
Father Bill Baer, now of Transfiguration in Oakdale, is providing some wonderful sacramental thoughts. Spread the word.

As I noted yesterday, many pastors have become wary of hearing confessions after daily Mass on a regular basis.

The principal reason is this: Confessions after Mass have a tendency to become extended spiritual direction or counseling sessions, and sometimes a rather small circle of parishioners, including those with significant emotional and psychological needs, or an unhealthy attachment to the priest, tend to take over this time slot.

The pastor should first assess whether he is providing sufficient time before Mass for confessions. If he is not hearing confessions throughout the scheduled time before Mass, yet finds a significant number of people wishing to make their confession afterwards, this may be a sign that parishioners are developing a two-tiered approach: a quick sacramental “clean-up” before Mass, or a lengthy conversation in the Confessional afterwards.

The pastor who has scheduled confessions after Mass may then wish to do two things: First. . . . [More]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Father Bill Baer, Transfiguration Parish: "Why I Preached What I Preached Last Evening"

[To listen to the Homily, please go to www.transfigurationmn.org/worship/Audio.Homily.htm, and click the 8/14/10 link]

My chief point in the Homily was that most Catholics today don’t pay much attention to the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary because they don’t pay much attention to two other rather important facts: sin, and death. (Specifically, the fact that all of us are sinners, and the fact that all of us are going to die as one of the effects of original sin).

The singular privilege given to Mary by God, to be conceived without stain of original sin and, thus, to be assumed body and soul into heaven without mortal corruption at the end of her earthly life, means little to those Catholics today who believe, first, that everyone jumps right from the nursing home bed into heaven (well, everyone except perhaps Hitler and, this year, various petroleum corporate executives), and, second, that death is not at all a terrible thing to behold, so long as one has chosen a trustworthy mortician. . . . Transfiguration Today

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Your Great Catholic Minnesota Road Trip: Old Crookston Cathedral, No. 3


Old Crookston Cathedral
Ash St. at 2nd Ave., Crookston

It may be remembered by locals as the former Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and its gorgeous stained glass windows, [and the story of its lost stained glass] but its intrigue also lies in a unique architectural component: It has three spires atop its neo-gothic facade. In a world where most churches of this style only have two towers, architect Bert Keck gave several northern Minnesota churches three. The 1912 church is one of only three still standing in Minnesota — the others are in Duluth (the old Sacred Heart Cathedral, now the Sacred Heart Music Center at 2nd Ave. W and 4th Street) and Terrebonne (St. Anthony of Padua parish in a town of that name in Red Lake County). (Unfortunately, none are used as Catholic churches today.) It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Catholic Spirit

New Photo Contest! Minnesota's Most Photogenic Catholic Church


$100 1st prize

$50 2nd prize

$25 3rd prize

All entries to be featured in an Internet slideshow, and the best will be showcased in a multimedia show on www.TheCatholicSpirit.com

Deadline: Oct. 31, 2010


  • Church exterior shots only.
  • 1 entry per person. [Check to see if your baby brother can make an entry!]
  • JPEG files only, submitted by e-mail to: photos@thecatholicspirit.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Put “Minnesota Church Photo Contest” in subject line.
  • Include your name, address, phone.
  • Include church name, location.
  • Optional: Brief description about photo (camera used, technique, etc.).
  • Entry implies permission to reproduce photo for all contest purposes.
Sponsored by The Catholic Spirit and LifeTouch

First glance at the Archdiocesan Plan; but No Glance For You! ----- Yet.

Archbishop John Nienstedt reports on his first glance at the work of the group that has prepared the Archdiocesan Plan involving parishes and schools in the Archdiocese. The plan will be released in all the parishes the weekend of October 16 and 17.

This year’s “working vacation” also had another purpose. As I left on July 2, our vicar general, Father Peter Laird, gave me the 300-page report from the Strategic Planning Task Force. You can imagine my reaction: “What’s this? I’m going on vacation!” Nevertheless, I took the first week at my home on Lake Huron to read the document three times.

First of all, let me say that I found that the Strategic Planning Task Force did an excellent job of compiling data and giving credible rationale for their recommendations. I believe the whole archdiocese owes these members its heartfelt gratitude.

Second, I admit that I did not agree with all the recommendations that were made. I have asked for more information and, over the next few weeks, I will consult with members of the Presbyteral Council, the archdiocesan Finance Council, the archdiocesan staff and the task force itself. I want to stress that this Strategic Plan is not “my plan.” It belongs to all who have participated in the process.

What was very clear to me in reading the report is that the overall vision of what has been proposed needs to be emphasized and clearly articulated. Yes, it is true that our limited resources, declining personnel and changing demographics demand that we reassess the way we function as church. But the overall reality is that we are the Body of Christ, called and sent forth to be the presence of Jesus in our world today.

The Strategic Plan is all about this divinely revealed fact, and how we can better proclaim the Kingdom of God by inviting all men and women into a communion of faith, hope and love.

The first step in providing for such a renewed local church is to ensure that our resources are being used efficiently. Once we are convinced that we have the right balance of property, personnel and finances to carry out our mission as church, then we will renew our programs in the areas of catechesis, evangelization, sacramental celebration and Christian service.

Let me be clear: This whole process is aimed at a stronger and more robust community of faith, one that will be an attractive powerhouse of spiritual guidance as well as for strong leadership in the public square.

In the display case that sits at the front entrance of our Chancery, a perspective on the past 150 years of this local church is being shown. The stories represented there demonstrate that our ancestors faced many challenges to give us the parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions that we have today. Those forebearers in faith made sacrifices and took risks to ensure that the church had the proper resources to proclaim the Gospel and call all men and women to Christ.

That is the same challenge we face today, albeit in very different circumstances. In the end, we may be a leaner church, but I believe we will also be a more effective church, shaping the future for the benefit of all.

One final story: A very insightful, holy woman told me this past week that I ought not to be worried about the reaction to the Strategic Plan. She said everyone she has talked to feels certain that his/her parish will be closed. So, she said, when the facts are presented, more people will be relieved than upset!

I hope she is right! I firmly believe that what we are doing with the Strategic Plan is in the best interests of all Catholics in this archdiocese.

“Be not afraid,” the angel Gabriel said to Mary. Those are helpful words for all of us to ponder. Catholic Spirit

Friday, August 13, 2010

Good Confessions, Good Vocations; Hie thee to the Confessional!

Each Friday this Summer, I am devoting my Homily at our Parish’s daily Mass to some aspect of the Sacrament of Penance.

Today, I wish to offer a simple point: Good confessions lead to good vocations.

There are many good reasons to spend a few minutes before Our Eucharistic Lord in Church immediately after making one’s confession. This, of course, is the time when many pray their penance. It is a time to quiet our souls in a state of grace and ask, “Lord, is there anything that you wish to show me, to teach me, to change in me?” The Holy Spirit will often bring us light about how to avoid the near occasion of sin the next time, how to take practical steps toward virtuous habits, how to “amend my life. . . .More at Fr. Bill Baer's Transfiguration Today blog

Catholic Education prefect: Only universities with strong Catholic identity will last

20th Anniversary of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

"Only the Catholic university that conserves its identity will have a future," said the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education just days before the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, in speaking about the continued relevance of the document on Catholic higher education, explained that if a Catholic university loses its identity, it becomes just like any other.

The Apostolic Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which established guidelines for the functioning of Catholic universities, was presented by Pope John Paul II 20 years ago this Sunday. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, spoke with EWTN News about the importance of the document on Friday.

According to Cardinal Grocholewski, two motivations led John Paul II to write the document. The first was the "importance" that he attributed to the Catholic university, which, he said, the Pope himself explains best at the end of the document in an exhortation for Catholic witness. The second reason, the prefect pointed out, was that John Paul II believed it was necessary to create legislation outlining the nature and mission of Catholic universities, while giving them juridical norms for their creation and the composition of their faculty.

Success Stories

“Ex Corde Ecclesiae” has produced "great results," he said, most of all we can see this in the foundation of so many Catholic universities "with a clear disposition" since its publication in 1990.

Citing the creation of more than 250 Catholic universities during Pope John Paul II's pontificate, he said, "many of these have had a guideline from the very beginning, a clear vision of what a Catholic university should be."

This has been especially significant in African and ex-Communist countries, he explained.

"I think that many universities, also based on this document, have strengthened their identities, which is very important," he added.

Fidelity to the Magisterium

EWTN News asked the cardinal about certain challenges that have come up in the course of applying norms for John Paul II's ideal for the Catholic university, such as the need for a "mandatum," a statement from the local bishop that assures theologians are in communion with the Church's teachings.

The cardinal prefect said that this is a question of methodology as with any other field of study. He explained that "to be a theologian, one must believe in the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition and must be united to the Magisterium (teaching) of the Church."

"It is a rather risky assumption if a single person wishes to be more important than the Magisterium of the Church," he remarked.

Catholic Identity

When asked about the requirement for Catholic institutions of higher learning to promote their Catholic identity, even with non-Catholic faculty members, the cardinal replied that all professors have a "responsibility" in this sense to the Church, and before science and the world.

"In the Catholic university people who are not Catholic can also teach, but they are obligated to respect the Catholic identity."

Reflecting on the application of the Apostolic Constitution today, Cardinal Grocholewski said that it remains "current everywhere." He considers it to be an "stupendous" document that "gives spirit to the Catholic university."

To the cardinal, "the Catholic university that conserves its own identity, as was delineated in Ex Corde, truly has a future and will contribute to the good of society," while seeking to be an interlocutor between cultures and a force for progress.

Stressing the importance of Catholic schools retaining their roots, the cardinal said that "if the Catholic university loses its identity, it's similar to all the other universities, practically it becomes less significant and this is a big challenge, or a big problem."

He noted that his congregation has received protests from people who attended Catholic universities, who have said that the education being offered was not in line with Church teaching. They have said that if the institution does not offer a Catholic education while claiming to be Catholic, it is "hypocritical and lying."

"I think they are right," said the cardinal prefect," and the same goes for Catholic grade schools, he said.

"I think that only the Catholic university that conserves its identity will have a future."

“Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” he said, "does not demand a 'grand reform,' the document is current, it is a very realistic approach, and in itself it has a great dynamism to make the Catholic university important in today's world ... where, as we know there is a cultural and moral relativism that creates so much damage."

What is needed in the modern context of permissibility and relativity, he said, is "the Catholic university that defends the truth, the objective truth."

The Model Catholic University

There is no specific model Catholic university in the world, noted Cardinal Grocholewski. Universities should not compare themselves to each other, he also advised, "rather they should turn to the document which is fundamental for the Catholic university, which is 'Ex Corde Ecclesiae'.”

"There," he said, "the ideal of the Catholic university is outlined, and I think that studying this document is much more productive" than looking to the "diverse realities" of other universities for direction.

Asked about Pope Benedict XVI's perspective on Catholic education today, the cardinal prefect said he is "a great enthusiast of the Catholic university. He practically rejoices when he sees that the Catholic university, (as) it progresses, preserves its identity ..."

The current Pope, he said, has encouraged him to continue "to fight for the Catholic university." EWTNNews

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Celebrate the Basilica's 95th Birthday August 15


Basilica Day
August 15

Join us for our Annual Celebration of our Spiritual Home!
Honor the 95th Anniversary of the Solemn Dedication of The Basilica as the Pro-Cathedral of Saint Mary,
and the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.

Join us outside after 7:30am, 9:30am & 11:30am masses for activites, cool treats and more!

  • Enjoy Sebastian Joe's Immaculate Confection Ice Cream
  • Sign The Basilica Anniversary card
  • Hear the Choir sing at 9:30am mass
  • Learn about images of Mary at The Basilica and participate in hands-on activities for children & adults

Planned Parenthood Boycott List Now Has Pro-Abortion Firms AOL, Hilton, ING

The pro-life group that has compiled the national boycott list of companies and corporations that give contributions to the Planned Parenthood abortion business today released its updated list. Several new companies joined corporations that have been longtime Planned Parenthood supporters.

Some of the new companies on the boycott list include Internet giant AOL and Darden Restaurants, a conglomerate that oversees popular restaurants like Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Season 52. . . .

Hilton Worldwide made the boycott list and it manages hotels ranging from Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns/Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Hotels, and Homewood Suites.

Other new Planned parenthood-supporting companies to make the list include ING financial services, Kohl's department stores, Mrs. Fields cookies, Staples office supply stores, Toys "R" Us, and Trader Joe's markets.

Kenneth C. Garvey, the director of communications for Life Decisions International, which compiles the list of companies backing the abortion business, said the boycotts have worked over the years because millions in Planned Parenthood funding has stopped. "As a direct result of the commitment, action and prayers of pro-family people, at least 256 corporations have stopped funding Planned Parenthood," he told LifeNews.com. LDI estimates that the boycott has cost Planned Parenthood more than $40 million since the Corporate Funding Project (CFP) began nearly 18 years ago.

"This should serve as a testament to those who thought it impossible to change corporate philanthropic behavior," Garvey said.

Some of the companies that make a return appearance on the boycott list include The Gap clothing stores and Freddie Mac, the troubled government-sponsored mortgage firm.

AlphaGraphics, Wells Fargo (including Wachovia), Nike, Time Warner, Bank of America, Walt Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Lost Arrow (Patagonia, etc.), Chevron, and Nationwide Insurance are among the other companies included in the boycott list again.

As was the cast with past editions, the new boycott list includes a "Dishonorable Mention" section, which identifies charitable groups that are associated with Planned Parenthood, by either supporting it financially, co-sponsoring events or programs or allowing it access to its members and supporters.

Those charitable groups include Lions Clubs, the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, Boys & Girls Clubs, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Camp Fire, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Clubs, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Rotary Clubs, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Salvation Army, YWCA, America Gives Back (formerly [American] Idol Gives Back), and YMCA, among others.

"This has not been some sort of 'Jesse Jackson boycott' where we make news for a few days and then go away," said LDI chairman Thomas Strobhar.

"Corporate officials are learning that those who value life are among the most dedicated people on earth. We will not go away until corporate involvement with Planned Parenthood comes to an end," he concluded. LifeNews.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reason #2: If We Just Ignore that Nasty Little Statistic, Perhaps It Will Go Away

from Transfiguration Today

Recent studies have determined that between 25% and 30% of American Catholics are at Mass on any given Sunday. (Statistics on Sunday Mass attendance vary a great deal by region: Catholics in western Kentucky and the Dakotas, for example, have been clocked at 75% - 80%. At the other end would be the Archdiocese of Boston, which reports attendance rates of 12% - 15%.)

Imagine truancy rates such as these in our schools. . . .

New Farmers' Last Chance Mass being offered Saturdays in New Prague area

Farmers and others in the New Prague area whose schedules make it difficult for them to attend Sunday morning Masses now have a new option: an 8:15 Saturday night Mass at St. Scholastica in Heidelberg.

For several years, Father Elgar Bockenfeld celebrated a late Saturday Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Union Hill. But after Father Bockenfeld’s death in January, it was discontinued.

About 250 people regularly attended the Mass. Some came from as far as 30 miles away.

After the Mass was discontinued, more than 70 letters requesting that the Saturday night “farmers’ Mass” be reinstated poured in to the archdiocese, said Father David Barrett, associate pastor at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague. Father Barrett, who will be the main celebrant at the Saturday night Mass, also serves at St. Thomas in St. Thomas and St. Scholastica.

St. Scholastica (31525 181st Ave.) was chosen as the new host for the Mass based on its location and facilities; however, the Mass is open to everyone regardless of their parish membership, Father Barrett said.

A collection taken during the Mass will go toward any extra expenses St. Scholastica incurs. Catholics from outside St. Scholastica who wish to give a contribution to their own parishes at the Mass may do so using their parishes’ envelopes. The Catholic Spirit

Sunday night ‘last chance’ Masses in the archdiocese

Anoka: St. Stephen, 6 p.m.
Brooklyn Center: St. Alphonsus, 5:30 p.m.
Burnsville: Mary, Mother of the Church, 6 p.m.
- Risen Savior, 6 p.m. (Oct.-May only)
Chanhassen: St. Hubert, 6 p.m.
Coon Rapids: Epiphany, 5:30 p.m.
Eagan: St. John Neumann, 6 p.m.
Eden Prairie: Pax Christi, 5 p.m.
Edina: Our Lady of Grace, 6 p.m.
Faribault: Divine Mercy, 5 p.m.
Forest Lake: St. Peter, 5:30 p.m.
Hastings: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 6 p.m.
Hopkins: St. John the Evangelist, 6 p.m.
Lakeville: All Saints, 5:30 p.m.
Maple Grove: St. Joseph the Worker, 5:30 p.m.
Medina: Holy Name of Jesus, 5:30 p.m.
Minneapolis: Basilica of St. Mary, 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
- Holy Cross, 6:30 p.m.
- Holy Rosary, 6 p.m. (Spanish)
- Our Lady of Lourdes, 7 p.m.
- St. Austin, 6:30 p.m.
- St. Boniface, 7:45 p.m.
- St. Lawrence-Newman, 7 and 9 p.m.
- St. Olaf, 4 p.m.
- St. Stephen, 6 p.m. (Spanish)
New Brighton: St. John the Baptist, 6:15 p.m.
New Hope: St. Joseph, 6 p.m.
North St. Paul: St. Peter, 6 p.m.
Rogers: Mary, Queen of Peace, 6 p.m.
Rosemount: St. Joseph, 6 p.m.
St. Michael: St. Michael, 6 p.m.
St. Paul: Cathedral of St. Paul, 5 p.m.
- Holy Spirit, 5 p.m.
- Nativity of Our Lord, 5 p.m.
- St. John Vianney Seminary, The "Real" Last Chance Mass" - 9:00
Shakopee: St. Mary, 6 p.m.
Shoreview: St. Odilia, 6 p.m. (Sept.-May)
Stillwater: St. Mary, 6 p.m.
Waconia: St. Joseph, 5:30 p.m. (Sept.-May)
Woodbury: St. Ambrose, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USCCB FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on the Proposition 8 Lawsuit in California


The Proposition 8 Lawsuit

Perry v. Schwarzenegger
Cal. Aug. 4, 2010)

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement

What is Proposition 8? Proposition 8 is an amendment to the California Constitution adopted by California voters in 2008. Similar to laws adopted in a majority of states, Proposition 8 provides that marriage in California is only the union of one man and one woman.

What is the basis for the judge’s decision? The judge ruled that Proposition 8 violated two provisions of the U.S. Constitution (due process and equal protection) because in his view it lacks a rational relation to any legitimate government interest. In essence, he ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to government recognition of same-sex “marriage” – that is, he claimed that the government has the ability and constitutional duty to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex.

Where does the ruling apply? Technically only in California. If, however, the Ninth Circuit were to affirm, then the appeals court’s decision would create binding precedent in that circuit (the nine western-most states, including California). The case may ultimately end up in the Supreme Court, where a decision will have ramifications for the entire country.

What is wrong with the district judge’s decision? Marriage, the union of one man and one woman, is an institution recognized throughout history. As a union naturally capable of and open to conceiving and nurturing children, marriage is essential to the well-being of society, more so than any other human institution that the state recognizes and supports. The court was mistaken when it found no rational basis for the timeless definition of marriage.

Is preserving marriage between one man and one woman like the ban on interracial marriage that the Supreme Court invalidated in 1967? No. Bans on interracial marriage furthered a system of segregation; they are from a now-discredited era in which people were judged and stigmatized by the color of their skin. Marriage, by contrast, stigmatizes no one. It is, by its very nature, the union of one man and one woman. Sexual difference is an essential characteristic of marriage; racial sameness or difference is not.

What’s wrong with allowing two people of the same sex to “marry”? There are several reasons why redefining marriage is wrong. The consequences would include a neglect of the essential place of sexual difference and complementarity between husband and wife, the neglect of the rights of children to a mother and a father, the false claim that men and women, fathers and mothers, do not matter for families or for society, and requiring a radical revision of laws and education. In law, marriage is shorthand for a package of benefits and responsibilities that the law grants or imposes upon persons who enter into that relationship. The government does not act irrationally or unconstitutionally when it decides not to regulate (i.e., grant comparable legal benefits to, or impose comparable legal responsibilities upon) same-sex couples. Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. It’s respecting the unique reality of the relationship between a husband and a wife, who alone are capable of forming a union open to new life.

How is voter approval of Proposition 8 and similar laws relevant to this debate? The people recognize what marriage is. The decision not to extend marital benefits or responsibilities to two persons of the same sex is well-grounded and certainly rational.

Isn’t marriage simply a social construct subject to redefinition? No. Marriage is not devised or invented by people. It is given in nature, human nature. Only a man and a woman – by nature and not by human invention – are capable of forming a spousal union and generating children. That some marriages do not generate, or are incapable of generating, children, or that technological means are sometimes employed to create children outside the sexual act, does not alter the fundamental fact of sexual complementarity between men and women that is part of, and given in, human nature.