Tuesday, January 31, 2012

*153* Bishops Speak Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate

Updated: 153 Bishops Speak Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate; still nothing heard from Crookston, St. Cloud and Duluth

Updated: *116* Bishops Speak Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate

Name UserAmerican

by Thomas Peters
1 day ago


In the past I’ve compiled a list of all the bishops speaking out on a particular controversial issue (for instance, over Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama) — here are the bishops who have spoken out against the Obama/HHS mandate.

If I have missed anyone please let me know in the comments! And please double-check that your bishop really is not there before posting. The list is not in any particular order at this point.

Items in bold mean the statement was read at all diocesan Masses or included in all parish bulletins on Sunday:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Duluth's Bishop Sirba describes grief, acceptance of church closings

In the end, Catholics came around to the realities facing the Duluth Diocese, Bishop Paul Sirba announced in a news conference Thursday at the Pastoral Center in Duluth.

In the end, Catholics came around to the realities facing the Duluth Diocese, Bishop Paul Sirba announced in a news conference Thursday at the Pastoral Center in Duluth.

The five-year strategic plan offered by Sirba has some harsh realities in it: the imminent closing and merging of up to 19 churches in the 10-county diocese, should the entire plan be implemented.

“People were very passionate,” Sirba said of a year of discussion on congregation sizes, the availability of priests, and the condition of churches physically and financially.

The downsizing is obviously a difficult turn for the diocese, Sirba said, “but some beautiful things happened as well.” He said the 45 families served by St. Phillip in Saginaw came to a realization that closing the church and melding into St. Rose in Proctor would serve them best.

“They said, ‘You know, there’s a bigger need,’” Sirba said, “and that awakened others in the deanery.”

While presiding over a Mass in Bruno, another church set to close, Sirba said he heard from 15 people in the congregation who came to the same conclusion — at one time it made sense to have a church, when the town was bustling.

“It’s different now,” Sirba said of Bruno residents’ sentiments. It was another example of a congregation that knew it was ready for a change, he said.

The long-range plan is also a reaction to a possible loss of 11 retiring clergy, a drop to 34 from 45. The good news, Sirba said, is that Duluth will have its largest-ever class of new priests when six men are entered through the diocese this spring.

The changes announced Thursday will be slowly implemented, Sirba said, but changes could come as soon as this summer. And the diocese will continue to review parishes across the five years, he said, meaning things could change. Another intensive long-range plan will be tackled in five years.

Some churches scheduled to close in earlier plans were spared: St. Joseph in Ball Club and St. Michael in Northome.

Major changes for the five regions within the diocese include:

Duluth: Our Lady of Mercy on Park Point closes and merges with St. Mary Star of the Sea; Star of the Sea shares priests with the Cathedral; in West Duluth, St. Elizabeth and St. Margaret Mary merge with St. James, with two worship sites retained; St. Joseph closes, with parishioners going to St. Lawrence; priests would serve St. Lawrence and Holy Family; west of Duluth, St. Phillip in Saginaw closes and merges with St. Raphael; priests would serve St. Raphael and St. Rose in Proctor.

Cloquet: St. Joseph in Finlayson and Sacred Heart in Bruno close and merge into St. Patrick in Hinckley; St. Isidore in Sturgeon Lake merges with St. Mary in Willow River with rotated services.

Brainerd: St. Joseph in Deerwood merges with St. Joseph in Crosby and a new church is built; churches in Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Pine River move toward a merger; Our Lady of Fatima in McGrath closes and merges with Holy Family in McGregor; Holy Family in Hillman closes and merges with Our Lady Fatima in Garrison.

Hibbing: Sacred Heart in Federal Dam and St. Ann in Bena close and merge into St. Mary in Deer River; St. Joseph in Ball Club shares services with St. Mary in Deer River; St. Kevin in Pengilly and St. Mary in Keewatin close and merge into St. Cecilia in Nashwauk; St. Joseph in Taconite and St. Mary in Marble close and merge into Mary Immaculate in Coleraine; St. John in Hill City and St. Paul in Warba merge with St. Joseph in Grand Rapids.

Virginia: Holy Spirit and Sacred Heart in Virginia, and Sacred Heart in Mountain Iron merge; Queen of Peace in Hoyt Lakes, St. John in Biwabik and Holy Rosary in Aurora share services.

As part of the five-year plan, and following the vision of the Vatican, the diocese will concentrate on making sure people stay with the church, Sirba said. By pooling congregants, priests can serve them more efficiently with a stress on keeping youth programs strong, he said.

Pope Benedict has declared 2012 a “Year of Faith” for Catholics across the world, calling members to take a more active role in the church and its teachings.

Sirba believes the plan revealed Thursday puts the Duluth Diocese in a better position to work on that mission: “This process of pruning the vine allows for more evangelism.” Duluth News Tribune

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top 20 Catholic Bloggers of 2011

From the Aggie Catholic, the Newman Club of Texas A&M University

Top 20 Catholic Bloggers of 2011
(in no particular order)
[Three with Minnesota connections!!! Congratulations to them]

  • Jennifer Fulwiler - Conversion Diary and National Catholic Register.
    One of the best bloggers on the scene today. Always thinking deeply.
  • Deacon Greg Kandra - The Deacon's Bench.
    How he finds all the stuff he does, I will never know. I think he must have dozens of websites open at once 24 hours a day.
  • Ed Peters - In the Light of the Law.
    Dr. Peters was my canon law prof and made canon law interesting. He does it on the blog as well. Former canon lawyer for the Diocese of Duluth, now in that position for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
  • Carl Olson - Ignatius Insight Scoop.
    Books, music, culture, and more. I have no idea how Carl reads as much as he does or listens to as much music as he does. Must help to work where he does.
  • Patrick Madrid - PatrickMadrid.com
    Patrick has been writing for a long time, but he only started blogging recently. He has found his blogging voice quickly. His dry wit is always entertaining.
  • Fr. Z - What Does the Prayer Really Say?
    Doesn't put up with fluff, hype or messing with the liturgy. He has the most rabid followers. Former SPS seminarian; good friend to many in Minnesota
  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker - Standing on My Head.
    Fr. Dwight shines most brightly when he takes on difficult subjects head on. He isn't shy about them either.
  • Rocco Palmo - Whispers in the Loggia
    The #1 Catholic insider blog.
  • Elizabeth Scalia - The Anchoress.
    Politics, religion, faith, and how it applies to life - wrapped up in one place.
  • Mark Shea - Catholic and Enjoying It and National Catholic Register.
    Mark is probably the most prolific Catholic blogger. He posts on just about every topic there is all over the place.
  • Patrick and Matthew Archbold - Creative Minority Report and National Catholic Register.
    Funny, irreverent, interesting, and I think I am the lost Archbold brother.
  • Thomas Peters - American Papist / CatholicVote.org
    A very influential blogger who is widely read. Son of Ed Peters, above; born in Duluth.
  • Brandon Vogt - The Thin Veil.
    New media, young Catholics and more.
  • Jimmy Akin - National Catholic Register and Jimmy Akin.org.
    Jimmy likes details and being thorough and complete. I appreciate that.
  • Danielle Bean - DanielleBean.com and Faith and Family Live.
    Danielle does it all. Mom. Wife. Editor. Writer. Blogger. All of that stuffed with wisdom and practical advice.
  • Taylor Marshall - Canterbury Tales.
    Posts items you won't see anywhere else.
  • Jeff Miller - The Curt Jester.
    Still making us laugh after many years. Yet, his best stuff is when he gets serious.
  • Matt Warner - Fallible Blogma and National Catholic Register.
    Matt has great stuff, he justs needs to post more frequently. Your readers want more Matt!
  • Simcha Fisher - National Catholic Register and I Have to Sit Down.
    One of the best all-around Catholic writers blogging today. I love her stuff.
  • The Ironic Catholic.
    Just read her. Theology Professor at St. Mary's U in Winona, Mom, and Catholic Worker volunteer.

8 Heroic U.S. Military Chaplains, most of whom you haven't heard of


While researching the post 10 Heroic Battlefield Medics, I came across a couple of fascinating stories about military chaplains and their wartime exploits. Those stories were filed away for later, and they grew into a list of stories that deserve to be told and remembered. They are presented here in more or less chronological order.

1. Anthony Rey

Some contemporaries wrote of the Mexican-American War as one of U.S. Protestants against Mexican Catholics. President Polk responded to such allegations by appointing two Catholic priests to serve as military chaplains. Father Anthony Rey, a Jesuit from Georgetown University with no military background or training, participated in the battle of Monterrey in September of 1846. He tended to the wounded on the battlefield and gave last rites to the dying. Afterward, serving in north Mexico, he ventured out of the U.S. garrison to minister to the locals, despite warnings of the danger. In 1847 he said a mass at the village of Ceralvo, and never made it back. His body was found a few days later, stabbed through by lances. He was mourned by both the U.S. troops and the Mexicans he served.

2. Horatio Stockton Howell

Presbyterian minister Horatio Howell was chaplain of the 90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. Most military chaplains at the time wore clerical black, but Howell preferred a regulation captain’s uniform. On the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Howell was serving at the infirmary set up at a church in Gettysburg when he went to the door and was confronted by a Confederate soldier demanding his surrender. The minister began to argue that he was a non-combatant and not subject to capture, but was shot and killed, probably due to the uniform.

3. John P. Chidwick

Father John P. Chidwick was the chaplain serving on the battleship USS Maine when it exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898. Tensions were already high, and this incident was the spark that began the Spanish-American War. Father Chadwick worked tirelessly through the night to rescue injured sailors and tend to their wounds. He was the last man to leave the ship. Two days later, Chadwick conducted the funeral rites in Havana for those who died.

4. John B. DeValles

Father John B. DeValles earned the nickname the “Angel of the Trenches” during World War I. He ventured into No Man’s Land in France to search for wounded and dying soldiers, and ministered to both the Allies and the Germans. During one foray, he did not return and was found unconscious and wounded, next to a dead soldier he had tried to help. DeValles’ wounds caused his health to suffer, but he continued to serve in France until 1919. He died a year later, never having completely recovered from his wartime attack. France awarded DeValles the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor. Only a half-hour before he died, DeValles was notified that he would be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. It was pinned on him at his funeral in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The funeral carried full military honors, and all town flags were flown at half-staff. A school in the town was named in his honor.

5. Colman O’Flaherty

Father Colman O’Flaherty was an Irish immigrant who was educated in Canada and then worked to establish several schools in South Dakota in the early 20th century. When World War I began, he joined up and was sent to France as a chaplain with the the 28th Infantry. O’Flaherty was shot and killed while helping the wounded on the front lines on October 1, 1918. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism in action.

6. Francis P. Duffy

Canadian-born Father Francis Duffy served in the Spanish-American War, and returned to service in 1916 to accompany troops in Mexico. Then during World War I he ministered to soldiers on the front lines in France. During battle, Duffy administered first aid and last rites as well, often under heavy fire. For his service and bravery, the priest was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal. After the war, Duffy served as pastor of Holy Cross Church near Times Square in New York until his death in 1932. Duffy Square in the city’s theater district is named after Father Duffy. He was portrayed by Pat O’Brien in the 1940 film The Fighting 69th. Father Duffy is pictured on the right.

7. John G. Burkhalter

Rev. John G. Burkhalter was a professional boxer who became a Southern Baptist minister in Florida in 1932. He then earned a degree in history and immediately joined the military when he graduated in 1942. Burkhalter was assigned as a chaplain with the First Infantry and landed in Normandy with Allied forces during the D-Day invasion on August June 6, 1944. In October, Burkhalter worked to recover the wounded and dead during the Battle of the Bulge. He went missing for several weeks and was discovered in a French hospital, having sustained several head wounds during the battle. Burkhalter was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star as well as a Purple Heart for his activities under fire. After the war, he stayed with the army, eventually serving in the Korean War. Burkhalter retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1969. In 1992, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

8. Francis L. Sampson

If you’ve seen the movie Saving Private Ryan, you might be surprised to learn that the real hero who reunited the soldier Private Ryan was based on with his remaining family was a chaplain. Father Francis L. Sampson was “The Paratrooper Padre” with the 101st Airborne Division who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, landing behind enemy lines in a river. He dove to the bottom to retrieve his equipment because he couldn’t lose his Mass kit. Sampson was once captured but was saved from being shot by an enemy unit leader who was Catholic. He ministered to friend and enemy alike, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his activities in France. Sampson then went into action in Holland, where his parachute jump landed him again in water -a castle moat. He was captured by Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned near Berlin for four months. That camp was liberated by the Russians in 1945. But that wasn’t the end of Sampson’s heroics -he went on to serve in Korea, then stayed with the army to train other chaplains and eventually became Chief of Chaplains. He retired with the rank of Major General and a slew of medals in 1971. But that’s not all! Father Sampson was then appointed to head the USO, and he spent the rest of the Vietnam War visiting troops with entertainment tours. He died in 1996 at the age of 83.

We’ve only made it to World War II, and there are other heroic stories from the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and more recent conflicts. Those will be posted next week.

Minnesota's Laboure Society Helps Vocation Discerners With Payment of Education Loans


Young people who wish to pursue a religious vocations have assistance in paying off their debt thanks to a nonprofit society.

01/05/2012 Comment

St. Catherine Laboure

– Wikipedia

When Allen Alexander wanted to pursue his calling to the priesthood, which he had since he was a child, he was faced with a major obstacle: Even though he received some scholarship assistance and worked while at Franciscan University of Steubenville, he still had thousands of dollars of school debt to pay off before the congregation he applied to would let him enter.

When Amy Turner went on an Ignatian retreat while working at a Boston hospital and had plans to study to be a nurse, she realized “God gave me the desire for a vocation, and that was what I had to respond to.” But she still was paying off debt from the University of Dallas.

Augustine DeArmond felt the call to religious life and the priesthood, but he too was still whittling down college debt, even though he had started teaching. Accepted by the Dominicans, he said, “As with most religious communities today, our province asked me to handle most of the debt before coming into formation.”

Faced with the same dilemma, each turned for help to the Labouré Society (LaboureSociety.org). Since 2001, the Labouré Society has blossomed into a lay apostolate that has already helped more than 220 individuals resolve their financial debt to enter religious life and who are now ordained, professed or in formation.

Brother Alexander was able to take his first vows in 2010 and begin studies for the priesthood with the Congregation of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Brother DeArmond professed simple vows in 2008 with the Dominicans, who sent him to study this year with their Blackfriars in England. Today, Turner is Sister Louise Marie, a novice with the Sisters of Saint Benedict Center, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Still River, Mass.

In the past few years Cy Laurent, founder and director of the Labouré Society — although he considers himself only the humble servant of the real founder (the Holy Spirit) — is busier than ever.

Having started this project from his home as a hobby, a year and a half ago Laurent moved into an office in Eagan, Minn., and now has two assistants. Praying about the move, he bumped into a man whose name kept coming to him in prayer. When Laurent explained the situation, the gentleman gave him an office with a free five-year lease.

“This is why you listen to the Holy Spirit,” Laurent said.

“There’s a real urgency here,” he added. He pointed out there are up to 10,000 discerners in the United States courageous enough to consider priesthood and religious life. “We must deliver these vocations to the Church.”

But the problem is: 99% of them who have gone through interviews and been tested and are qualified by vocation directors, bishops and religious communities have educational debt that averages $40,000 just for an undergraduate degree.

“The only thing that prevents them entering formation is this debt,” Laurent emphasized. In comes the society, which helps raise money to pay off this debt. “It’s a monumental task the Church can’t answer. They don’t have the money. Laypersons must respond to this.”

Over the years, Laurent, formerly a Minnesota businessman, has tweaked the process to benefit both aspirants and donors. He works with small groups, around 10 of them, at once. They develop a campaign, and Laurent motivates and counsels them. They pray together. The board decides how and when the funds are distributed to the members. Because the society is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, donors receive tax benefits. That applies to family and friends who donate, too.

Brother DeArmond reminds people they don’t have to know anyone personally to help someone enter religious life. By donating to the Labouré Society, they help anyone called to religious life but without means to enter because of debt. There are anonymous donors.

The board of directors makes grants against the debts of aspirants in a staged way in case someone leaves during discernment. For instance, payment on debt comes in steps, like entering as a candidate, first profession to postulant, then novice. Any remaining debt is eliminated at final vows or ordination.

Sister Catherine Marie of the Holy Trinity looks fondly upon the Labouré Society. In February 2011 she took her final vows with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Laurent was present.

“It was incredible to have him there and witness all that had happened since the beginning when I was first thinking about religious life,” said Sister Catherine Marie, one of the first aspirants who was helped by the society.

She had been working jobs during her school years and summers to pay her school debt, then happened to meet Laurent.

“It was really clear to me it was totally sound and a good thing he was doing,” she explained. “The people would know what they’re giving their money to.”

It was difficult to ask for money, but Laurent made the process blessed and easy, she said. Along with help from her friends, the Labouré Society paid off her final debt.

Laurent credits her with helping to confirm the name for the society. He well remembers first meeting her: “She was walking toward me, and the sun was shining on her Miraculous Medal pin.”

Before that, the first woman he helped was also wearing a Miraculous Medal pendant. Because both of these women were wearing the Miraculous Medal that our Blessed Mother gave to St. Catherine Labouré, Laurent chose the saint as the society’s patron.

Patrons of another sort now come from across the country in the form of vocation directors and bishops’ endorsements.

“We are so grateful to the Labouré Society for assisting some of the women in application with us,” said Sister Antoniana Maria, vocation director for The Sisters of Life. “They provide a great service to the Church to allow the opportunity to follow God’s call.” In September, a new postulant entered thanks to help from the society.

Those helped see added advantages.

Sister Louise Marie said the society was a “third party” endorsement: giving her greater credibility to people she was asking for help. And the prayers and encouragement she received from the society remain priceless.

“Mr. Laurent had such joy in my vocation that it increased my own understanding of what a wondrous thing it is to be called to be the bride of Christ,” she said. “I’m glad to know he’s going to be praying for me forever.”

Brother Alexander can’t help but see “the love Cy Laurent and others who work for him have and their commitment to help young men and women struggling (to pursue their vocation).”

“Cy Laurent is one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve met,” Sister Catherine Marie said, “and so in line with the mission of the Church and the message of our Holy Father Pope Benedict and John Paul II before him about vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”

What is one of Laurent’s biggest motivating factors that should inspire donors?

“To think about the importance of one vocation,” he emphasized. “Priests and religious today are making an unbelievably important impact on members of society.”
National Catholic Register

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Little Falls nun, advocate for orphans, to celebrate 100 years


Sister Justina Bieganek
Sister Justina Bieganek

LITTLE FALLS — A Franciscan nun known for her leadership in orphan train reunions will celebrate her 100th birthday this month.

Sister Justina Bieganek, OSF, will celebrate with an 11 a.m. Mass and an open house from 2-4 p.m. Jan. 15 at St. Francis Convent in Little Falls.

Bieganek came to Avon on an orphan train when she was 22 months old. She was among more than 250,000 children from New York City who traveled west by train to adoptive families between 1854 and 1929.

Bieganek’s original name was Edith Peterson, and she learned that she was born to a widowed mother who was unable to care for her. John and Mary Bieganek adopted her when she came to Avon; she also helped the Bieganeks’ son and his wife raise their 13 children.

Justina Bieganek went to St. Francis High School in Little Falls and entered St. Francis convent in 1929. In her 82 years as a Franciscan sister, she has served as an advocate at the St. Cloud Orphanage, office worker, parish visitor, CCD instructor, sacristan and organist. She continues to work daily at St. Francis Music Center, where she has been a clerk for 31 years.

One of her greatest passions has been her effort to tell the story of the orphan trains and organize reunions for the orphans and their descendants. The 51st reunion was Oct. 1 in Little Falls. St. Cloud Times

My great-grandparents adopted a brother and sister off of an Orphan Train in the 1890s In Negaunee, Michigan. Sadly we have lost contact with them over the years.