Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 Questions Before You Leave the Catholic Church


5 Questions Before You Leave the Catholic Church

National Catholic Register 
Author Anna Quindlen has been in the news lately, promoting a new book called Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. She recently spoke with NPR's Terry Gross about a wide range of topics she covers in the book, including her recent decision to leave the Catholic Church. She summarized this decision by telling Gross:
The pedophilia scandals, the church's reaction to them, and their constant obsession with gynecology -- taken together at a certain point, it was probably two or three years ago, I said, 'Enough.' Every time I sit in the pew I ratify this behavior, and I'm not going to ratify it anymore.
I'm sure that Quindlen's words resonated with many. She's a gifted writer, and has undoubtedly put words to what others have thought when they make the decision to leave the Catholic Church. Like Quindlen, many people who abandon their Catholic faith still believe in God and still strive to be good, moral people; they choose to leave because they think that they will find these things they desire -- God, freedom, equality -- outside the walls of the Church. Such a move certainly fits in with popular cultural beliefs. Common wisdom states that the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization that places oppressive, unnecessary rules on its members. The way to find freedom, the thinking goes, is to ditch the institution and create a spirituality and moral code that works for you.
To modern ears, this all sounds right. But is it true?

As someone whose faith journey has gone in the opposite direction, I would encourage Quindlen, as well anyone else who has followed her path or is thinking of following it, to consider the following five questions before abandoning the Catholic faith:

1. Are you sure members of the Church hierarchy are worse than anyone else?

When people cite the pedophilia scandals as a key reason for abandoning the Church, I worry that they're setting themselves up for deep disappointment. The fact that priests abused children is an idea so horrific that one can hardly bear to think about it, and the fact that some bishops didn't take action to stop it is almost worse. But the chilling fact -- perhaps so chilling that we don't can't accept it -- is that this is not a problem with Catholic priests and bishops; it's a problem with human nature. A priest is no more likely to abuse a child than a male schoolteacher, and a bishop is no more likely to cover it up than a school administrator.
The problems may have seemed worse within the Church because it is a single, worldwide organization, so it's easy to link all the bad occurrences under one umbrella. But if, for example, all the nondenominational churches on the earth were part of a cohesive worldwide system, you would almost certainly see the same issues at the same rates. Instead of each instance being lost in the anonymity of disconnected communities, when they were all considered together it would seem epidemic.
Other organizations are no more safe for children than the Church -- in fact, based on personal experience, I believe they are now less safe. Thanks to the pervasive stereotypes about Catholicism, people are lured into a false sense of security when dealing with other organizations, and end up adopting the dangerous mentality that "it couldn't happen here."

2. Are you sure your faith life would be better outside of the Church?

Keep in mind that leaving the Catholic Church means leaving the sacraments -- sacraments with real power, which are not available outside of the Church that Jesus founded. If it brings you joy to commune with Jesus spiritually, how much better is it to commune with him physically as well? And how lucky are we to have the sacrament of confession, where you can unload all your burdens, hear the words "you are forgiven," and receive special grace to help you to be the morally upright person you strive to be?
Now, those who are considering leaving the Church may struggle with believing in the supernatural power of the sacraments (in which case I'd recommend checking out these resources). But even if that's the case, within the two-thousand-year-old Church is an unfathomable treasure chest of spiritual wisdom. We have the Rosary as well as all the other time-tested prayers of the Church. Then there are the lives of the saints, countless stories that offer an inexhaustible supply of information and inspiration about how to have a rich spiritual life. And of course we have a worldwide network of monasteries and convents, and all the great religious orders. I suppose it's possible to utilize some of these spiritual resources without being a practicing Catholic, but if you believe that they're good and helpful, why sever them from the source of their wisdom?

3. Are you sure the Church's teachings are wrong?

There is a pervasive sense in modern culture that whatever spiritual tradition places the fewest moral restrictions on its adherents is most likely to be right. This idea might feel good since it appeals to our natural desire for autonomy, and certainly it is accepted as an immutable fact by modern society. And so if a person follows the path of least resistance carved out by our culture, it would be easy to drift away from all these "oppressive" teachings of the Church, without ever pausing to ask:
But are they true?
Let's take just one example: The Church's crazy-unpopular prohibition against contraception. The Church says that it's neither good for individuals nor for society for couples to use artificial birth control. It's understandable that someone's first reaction upon hearing that would be to reject this wildly counter-cultural teaching. I know that when I first heard it, I thought it was one of the most backwards, bizarre ideas I'd ever heard. But when I took a closer look, I was shocked by the wisdom behind this thinking: I realized that contraception doesn't solve the problems its proponents claim it will solve. I discovered that it makes women lose control over their bodies. I thought of the women I've known who have had abortions, and realized that almost every single one of them were using contraception when they conceived. They had been told that it would be just fine to engage in the act that creates babies, even if they were sure they couldn't have a baby. Then, when they saw the two lines on the pregnancy tests, they felt trapped and scared, believing that they had no choices outside of the walls of the local abortion facility.
Living without artificial contraception has its challenges, but it's the only system that gives women real freedom. As with so many other Catholic teachings that seemed crazy at first glance, once I took the time to understand the details of this view, I saw that there was a wealth of wisdom behind it beyond anything I could have imagined. It had seemed crazy simply because our culture has it so wrong, and the Church is the last institution left that's willing to proclaim what's right.

4. Are you sure the Church's doctrines aren't divinely inspired?

In my own conversion to Catholicism I faced serious challenges, including the fact that I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot in a major vein) which was caused by a genetic clotting disorder that's exacerbated by pregnancy. My doctors told me I absolutely had to use contraception. It threw me into a crisis where I had to discern how serious I was about this religion, and how much I was really willing to risk to follow it.
Thanks to some wise advice, I realized that the situation was really quite simple: Is this Church guided by God in its teachings or not? If it's not, then there's no reason to listen to anything it says; if it is, then to say that I knew better than the Church was to say that I knew better than God.
When I looked at the unfathomable body of wisdom contained in this organization, considered that it has stood strong while empire after empire has fallen away around it, and saw that it has been unwavering in its core doctrines despite the imperfections of its hierarchy, I simply didn't think that humans could pull this off on their own. Then, when I began to transform my life according to these teachings, I was completely convinced. Following the "rules" of the Church brought an explosion of grace and peace and love into my life, and into my family's lives as well. I became convinced that these teachings are not human-made, but come from Someone who knows us better than we know ourselves.

5. Are you sure we don't need the Church?

At the end of the NPR interview, Quindlen says, "I've never really gotten past that quote from Anne Frank in her diary, where she says that people are really good at heart." I too have always been touched by that quote, and I think it's worth putting some serious thought into. Because if it's true that people are ultimately good at heart...then that means that the staff who worked at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, lining up children in front of the gas chambers, overseeing Anne Frank and her family in slave labor, were good at heart too. How on earth, then, could normal, good people participate in something so evil?
The answer is chillingly simple: Through the power of human rationalization.
To look at the smiling faces of the employees in these pictures of an on-site staff retreat at Auschwitz is to understand that they had all rationalized their behavior. Nobody ever wakes up and says, "I'm going to do something evil today!", not even the staffers at Auschwitz. The only way evil ever works through us is when we convince ourselves that what we're doing is actually good. The most dangerous force in the world is the human capacity for rationalization.
I think that some folks reject the concept of the Church's divinely-inspired moral code because they don't see why it would even be necessary. Why would God even care to institute something like that? Why can't each person just get in touch with the spiritual realm and find what's good and true for him- or herself? The answer to that question can be found in the smiles on the Auschwitz's employees faces.
Though the individual members of the Catholic Church have made plenty of mistakes, sometimes gravely serious ones, its doctrines have always been a bulwark that protects human life. To a healthy American adult this may seem like an insignificant concept, since the only life that is devalued in our time and place is that of the severely disabled, the unborn, and others who literally do not have a voice. But that could change. The zeitgeist could shift, just as it did in Europe in the 1930s, and new groups of people may suddenly be seen as inconvenient and expendable. And one day the life that the Catholic Church stands up for may be your own.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Duluth’s Irish connections shaped its history

.Diocese of Duluth

The story of missionary priests coming from Ireland to serve in the United States and other countries is a rich part of church history. The Diocese of Duluth has been blessed by this phenomenon. The first bishop of the diocese, James McGolrick, was from Ireland.

In the Duluth diocese, it ended up being a family affair. At least four Irish priests who came to the diocese in the early 20th century were followed here by nephews ordained decades later.

Archival photo

Msgr. Michael Boland (with trophy) poses with students from St. John School in Duluth.
Msgr. Michael Boland, ordained a priest for the diocese in 1912, was followed by his nephew Father Eamonn Boland, pastor of Holy Angels in Moose Lake, who was ordained in 1969. Father Patrick Flynn, ordained in 1925, was followed by Father Charles Flynn, pastor of Resurrection Church in Eveleth and St. Joseph in Gilbert, who was ordained in 1969. Msgr. Thomas Scott, ordained in 1926, was followed by Father Michael Lyons, pastor of Holy Spirit in Two Harbors and St. Mary in Silver Bay, who was ordained in 1970. And Father Henry Spain, ordained in 1918, was followed by Father Seamus Walsh, pastor of St. John in Grand Marais and Holy Rosary in Grand Portage, who was ordained in 1966.

Each uncle and nephew came from the same county in Ireland. Each uncle spent more than 40 years as a priest in the diocese. All four nephews have also served more than 40 years, bringing combined family totals sometimes more than a century.

Fathers Boland

Msgr. Michael Boland, from County Tipperary, was born in 1886 and died in 1971 in Superior, Wis. He built St. John the Evangelist Church in Duluth, where he was pastor for 46 years, and directed the adjacent St. James Children’s Home for 45 years. He also served the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and St. Michael’s in Duluth, building the basement and offering the first Mass at the latter parish in 1915.

He was vicar general under three bishops — Bishops James McGolrick, John McNicholas and Thomas Welch — holding the post from 1922 until 1957 with only a brief interruption while he served as diocesan administrator between 1925 and 1926. He was named a prothonotary apostolic, the highest of the three grades of the honorary title monsignor, in 1922, and as he marked his golden jubilee in 1962 was considered to have held the title longer than any other priest in the United States.

Father Eamonn Boland, 67, has served at parishes in Grand Rapids, Duluth, Deer River, Hibbing, Cloquet, Carlton, Hoyt Lakes, Eveleth and Moose Lake, where he is approaching a decade as pastor. He has also served as a diocesan consultor.

He said his uncle’s work at the orphanage stands out. “I think that was the great love of his life,” Father Boland said. “He loved that ministry.”

His uncle was influenced to come to Duluth by Bishop McGolrick and in turn was an influence on his own decision, especially when his uncle would come home and mention happenings in the diocese, Father Boland said. “That influenced me quite a bit.”

His time in the diocese overlapped with his uncle’s only briefly, and he said Msgr. Boland’s “mind was going a little bit” by that time, but he would go up to St. John’s and talk to him frequently. “We come from a big family, so we had lots of relatives to talk about.”

Fathers Flynn

Father Patrick Flynn was born in 1900 in County Leitrim and died in 1970 in Two Harbors. He served parishes in Duluth, Virginia, Hill City, Aurora, Biwabik, Pine River and Two Harbors. He also served a mission in Pequot Lakes and founded St. Christopher Church there. He was a diocesan consultor.

Father Charles Flynn, 66, has served parishes in Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Longville, Hibbing, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Duluth in addition to his current parishes in Eveleth and Gilbert. His additional service has included being a consultor, serving on the diocesan Pastoral Council and Executive Council, chairing the Priests’ Senate and serving as dean of the Duluth deanery.

Father Charles Flynn said he remembers his uncle coming home when he was a little boy. “He came every three years, and he’d stay with us three months.” On the years he didn’t come home, they would have other missionary priests visit.

His time in the diocese overlapped with his uncle’s service by about a year and a half. “It was fine; I’d go up and visit him and stuff like that,” he said, and his uncle would give him Pabst Blue Ribbon and let him take the four cans left over home with him.

“He drove a great big car. It was a Buick Wildcat. It was like a tank,” he said.

Father Flynn said his uncle was happy about the decision to come to Duluth but that he had already made the decision independently, drawn in part by the Catholic American president John F. Kennedy.

Father Lyons and Msgr. Scott

Msgr. Thomas Scott was born in 1899 in County Mayo and died in 1968. He served parishes in Duluth, Hibbing, Hill City, Floodwood and Brainerd. He was named a monsignor and invested in 1961. He also served as Brainerd dean and as a diocesan consultor.

Father Michael Lyons, 68, served as a deacon in Brainerd and as a priest in parishes in Hibbing, Duluth and Pine City in addition to his current parishes in Two Harbors and Silver Bay. He also served in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Archdiocese of Tuam in Ireland in the 1970s and for the Duluth diocese has directed the planning office and the office of communications and served on the diocesan Presbyteral Council.

Father Lyons said in an email that his only personal experiences of his uncle are from his teenage years while Msgr. Scott was on an extended vacation in Ireland. “During that time I enjoyed his many stories about Minnesota that he shared with family members and neighbors,” Father Lyons said.

He said the visit left a deep impression on him. Those experiences and his uncle’s “iconic stature” were important to his eventual decision to serve as a priest in the Duluth diocese, and he also got a “persuasive letter” from Msgr. Scott when he entered All Hallows Seminary.

“He spoke highly of the life of the church here, the deep faith and support of parishioners for their priests, as well as the potential support and friendship of many other Irish-born priests already serving here,” Father Lyons said. “He never mentioned the Minnesota winters, however!”

Many other letters passed between them during seminary, and he was looking forward to an ongoing friendship, but just six months before he was to begin his internship as a deacon in Brainerd, Msgr. Scott died suddenly. “Had he lived, I’m sure I would have enjoyed his familial support and his ever-ready counsel,” Father Lyons said.

Fathers Walsh and Spain

Father Henry Spain was born in 1893 in County Tipperary and died in Duluth in 1978. He served parishes in Virginia, Chisholm, Pine River, Walker, Bovey, Coleraine, Nashwauk and Eveleth before retiring in 1968.

Father Seamus Walsh, 70, has served parishes in Duluth, Marble, Crosby, Cloquet, Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Brainerd, Pine Beach and Fort Ripley as well as his current parishes in Grand Marais and Grand Portage. His other service includes being chaplain to St. James Children’s Home, being a diocesan consultor, doing campus ministry at the University of Minnesota Duluth, serving on the diocesan Personnel Board and Presbyteral Council and serving as a National Guard chaplain.

Father Walsh’s time in the diocese overlapped with his uncle for about two years while Father Spain was still a pastor and for several years after his retirement. “There was something special about it, a family connection, both immigrants to the country,” he said.

Father Spain came to Duluth because of Bishop McGolrick. Father Walsh came to the diocese because he wasn’t needed in his home diocese and because of his uncle. “Had he not been here, I would never have heard of such a place as Duluth,” he said.

“I’m amazed that I asked so few questions about what it was like,” he said. For instance, he never knew anything about the winters.

Fathers Walsh and Spain attended the same seminary but 50 years apart. With Father Spain’s 60 years as a priest in the Duluth diocese (10 retired) and Father Walsh’s nearly 46, that’s almost 106 years between them.

The Fathers Boland have combined for almost 105 years.

The Fathers Flynn have combined for nearly 88 years, and Father Lyons and Msgr. Scott have combined for nearly 84.

Duluth's Bishop Paul Sirba Visits the Pope!

The Northern Cross - Fiat Voluntas Tua

First ad limina visit to Rome a memorable experience

I continue to ponder the meaning of my first “ad limina” visit. I am sure I will do so for years to come. “To the threshold of the Apostles” — part pilgrimage, part meeting, all done in communion with the bishops of the United States and the Duluth's Bishop Paul Sirba Visits the Pope and the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua
On the day of the audience, Archbishop John Nienstedt led the delegation of bishops from Minnesota. He greeted the Holy Father, followed by Bishop Lee Piché, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. We then proceeded in alphabetical order by diocese, Bishop Michael Hoeppner from the Diocese of Crookston; yours truly; Bishop John LeVoir from the Diocese of New Ulm; Bishop John Kinney from the Diocese of St. Cloud; and Bishop John Quinn from the Diocese of Winona, with retired Bishop Bernard Harrington.

I was able to bring along one of our seminarians from the North American College, Elias Gieske, to accompany me.

I took off my zucchetto, bent down on one knee, and reverenced the Holy Father’s ring. I then looked into the kind and deep eyes of Pope Benedict XVI and introduced myself as the bishop of Duluth from northeastern Minnesota. I assured the Holy Father of the love and prayers of the faithful of our diocese. I said: “Thank you, Holy Father, for leading us to Jesus!”

The Vatican photographer quickly snapped a number of photographs. He captured the moment for a visual memory. I introduced Elias Gieske as one of our seminarians to be ordained a deacon on June 21. “A deacon in June,” the Holy Father said. I took it as a papal pronouncement. Eli got his photo op, and then the two of us looked on as the Holy Father blessed the holy cards I will distribute to the confirmation candidates around the diocese this year.

After all the bishops, priests and seminarians had greeted the pope, the bishops took their seats on either side of the Holy Father’s chair, the priests and seminarians left, and we had our audience with the Successor of St. Peter.

He greeted us warmly. He spoke of the importance of our meeting, our communion with the office of St. Peter, and his desire to hear from us about matters of importance that the church is experiencing in our part of the Lord’s vineyard.

Beginning with Archbishop Nienstedt, each of the bishops presented briefly on topics of importance for our local church. We had sent ahead of us our Quinquennial Reports detailing matters we were now presenting.

The bishops spoke about marriage, the blessings and challenges, our efforts in Minnesota to pass an amendment to our state constitution defining marriage between one man and one woman. We spoke to the sometimes negative responses we have encountered and the conviction and unity of the bishops to defend marriage.

We thanked His Holiness for the third edition of the Roman Missal. We reflected on our ecumenical efforts, and Bishop Piché greeted our Holy Father on behalf of the Lutheran bishops of Minnesota.

We addressed the need for priests and the hope of more vocations. We spoke about the signs of hope in the quality of the men and women considering vocations to the priesthood, religious life and permanent diaconate. Our seminaries, the St. Paul Seminary and St. John Vianney Seminary, are full.

I had the honor of mentioning our work with the youth. The night before the audience, I accompanied Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piché to visit the Catholic Studies students from the University of St. Thomas’ Bernardi campus. Two of our seminarians, Deacon Daniel Weiske and Nicholas Nelson, serve as chaplains at the campus. One of the students, Ann Thompson, is from St. Joseph’s in Crosby. What a great example of what a Catholic Studies program can be!

I told the 30-plus students I would have the opportunity to speak to the Holy Father tomorrow about the youth in our region and asked them what they might say if they had the chance. One student said, with such beautiful conviction: “Tell the Holy Father how much we love him!” He is to them a spiritual father leading them in word and witness to Jesus. I expressed the sentiments to His Holiness. He was grateful. I thanked him for World Youth Day and Youcat and for introducing our young people to silence as a place to encounter God.

The bishops spoke about the importance of Catholic identity and the need to form a new generation of leaders who embrace the church’s teaching in love, are willing to be counter-cultural, and lead our institutions.

Echoing the comments of bishops across the United States, we spoke about the attacks against our religious liberty and the challenges ahead. And we thanked the Holy Father for his leadership and strong response in the face of clergy sexual abuse, especially his meeting with victims of abuse on his journeys. His example gives direction and brings healing.

The next day we had the privilege of meeting a second time in audience with Pope Benedict XVI. He delivered a discourse, the third of five to be given to the bishops of the United States. The full text is printed in this issue of The Northern Cross.

In this talk, our Holy Father spoke to the serious issue the bishops have been raising in our “ad limina” visits, namely, the contemporary crisis of marriage and the family, and, more generally, of the Christian vision of human sexuality.

As you can see, the Holy Father is close to us. As a good Shepherd, he is concerned for the Lord’s flock. He is with us in the challenges we face and continually encourages us and points us to Jesus as our loving Redeemer and our source of hope.

“To all of you I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, strength and peace in the Lord,” he said.

Bishop Samuel Aqula of Fargo to Become Next Archbishop of Denver

It was only a matter of time for Bishop Samuel Aquila to move to a larger diocese than Fargo. Many thought he would have become the Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis when Archbishop Harry Flynn retired. But that wasn't to be.
Archbishop Aquila will have big shoes to fill when he moves to the Mile High city, those of Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M.-Cap., himself a former Bishop of Rapid City, now the Archbishop of Philadelphia, most probably soon to be a Cardinal, making the Dakotas a wonderful incubator of Good Shepherds for the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Aquila is returning "home", after a fashon, having attended Denver's St. Thomas seminary on his way to ordination as a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver..
But Archbishp Aquila has been no slouch from the viewpoint of his Shepherd's See at the top of North America (except Alaska, of course):
Bishop Samuel J. Aquila
Born: 1950, Burbank, California
Education: B.A., Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 1972; M.A., Theology-Dogma, St. Thomas Seminary, Denver, CO, 1976; Licentiate of Sacramental Theology, San Anselmo University, Rome, 1990.
Vocation: Ordained to the priesthood in 1976; Bishop, The Catholic Diocese of Fargo since 2001
On Success: “When people tell me that I have been an instrument of God and have helped to bring them to encounter Jesus Christ.” “Being a spiritual father to seminarians.”
On leadership: “A leader needs to be a person of honesty, integrity, who desires truth, is compassionate and a listener.”
“One who has to make the difficult decisions that are grounded in The Truth.”
Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Mary’s instruction to the waiters at the wedding feast in Cana reminds Bishop Aquila to be a servant of Christ and the Church and to trust Jesus to guide him.
As he visits parishes, teaches through his homilies and speaking to Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the Diocese of Fargo, Bishop Aquila hopes to inspire all of us to give ourselves fully to our Lord, to live our lives according to our faith, and do whatever Jesus calls us to do. Bishop Aquila started his spiritual journey as a parish priest in the 70s and served in parish ministry for 11 years.
“Every priest has it in their heart to serve people,” he reminds us, and he has served the people well. Over the last 30 years, he has accepted positions of increasing responsibility in the church and has earned the honor of being named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II, receiving the honorary title of Monsignor in 2000.
Ordained a bishop in 2001, Bishop Aquila now oversees 139 parishes, 86 active priests, a number of retired priests, the Cardinal Meunch Seminary and 13 schools located in eastern North Dakota, which covers approximately 36,000 square miles. Bishop Aquila serves on the Bishops’ Advisory Council for the Institute for Priestly Formation.
He is also a member of several United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committees. His responsibilities include teaching though preaching, writing pastoral letters and visiting with priests and parishes. He also oversees the sacramental life and governance of the Church in all churches in the diocese and he attends many monthly and quarterly meetings that are devoted to running the diocese.
Twice a year, Bishop Aquila meets with lay people and priests, who are members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, about their concerns and pastoral outreach. A typical day also includes an hour in prayer before the Eucharist, and praying five times daily for the church and the diocese.
The admonition from John 2:5, “Do whatever He tells you,” also adds direction to Bishop Aquila’s daily life. Bishop Aquila says he was inspired by the late John Paul II’s ability to teach, preach, and visit with people. He said that John Paul II had a deep goodness about him, living The Faith, enjoying people, and engaging in banter back and forth in conversation with them. He has also worked diligently to meet controversy head-on and to stand for The Truth—especially pertaining to the dignity of human life.
He admires, remembers and applies a quote that John Paul II used often: “Be not afraid.” Much like a corporate CEO, Bishop Aquila manages a large team of people and faces the same challenges. He points out that he relies on a talented staff that does a wonderful job with the day-to-day duties of running the diocese.
Bishop Aquila has learned to set very clear expectations for his staff and to give people the freedom to do their job, allowing them to be accountable for their areas of responsibility. Bishop Aquila says that, over the years, he has learned to trust his gut feeling or intuitiveness more when dealing with staff and daily issues. Bishop Aquila stressed that his primary focus and love is the spiritual side of his calling.
His future goals include continuing to evangelize the truth of Jesus Christ and of the Catholic Church. The Bishop would like Catholics to be more familiar with the Catechism so they can truly understand the real teachings of the church and develop a deeper love of the Eucharist. All in all, Bishop Aquila is striving for them to know The Word, to develop a more contemplative heart and to be silent in order to listen to the Lord. Bishop Aquila believes that, in this day and age, silence can be uncomfortable for people. He said that we are constantly bombarded with noise and activity from Ipods to cell phones to constantly running between activities.
By pursuing regular silence in our lives, he notes, we can hear God’s plan for each one of us and enter in to a deeper relationship with Him. As for time spent in prayerful silence, Bishop Aquila said one of the most profound experiences he has experienced was a 30-day silent directed retreat. He adds that time spent in silence and prayer can offer a real renewal in our family life — the place where stability starts for children.
In addition to prayer, Bishop Aquila believes in the importance of reading and learning. He reads books of the Church Fathers from the early 600s, theological books, as well as biographies and autobiographies of the saints. Reading and reflection helps him see that conversion is an ongoing experience for all of us.
Bishop Aquila has enjoyed all of the many different ministries that he has been involved in over the years and has found real grace in all situations. However, he has enjoyed serving as a parish pastor and seminary rector the most.
This servant of God also enjoys traveling, the water, boating, playing pinochle and began golfing a few years ago. He recently played in a pinochle tournament in Napoleon, ND and commented, “It was a blast!”
I found Bishop Aquila to be a warm and approachable person with a delightful sense of humor. When you talk with him, you have his undivided attention and you can feel his deep commitment to the church and above all, to God.
As he puts it, “I believe that, in Christ Jesus are all of the words and instructions that mankind needs to live life in peace and harmony and to gain eternal salvation.” The priest said to them,”Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.” - Judges 18:6 KFGO Faith (Fargo-Moorhead)

 The Eagle Returns:  Fargo's Aquila Headed Home to Denver 

(The report below was formally announced by the Vatican at Roman Noon on Tuesday, May 29th.)

Much as the shop was planning to hold for Roman Noon, after a late leak to the Mile High City's ABC affiliate, we can proceed.

Earlier tonight, three Whispers sources confirmed that Pope Benedict is to name Bishop Samuel Aquila, 61 -- the Denver-bred head of North Dakota's Fargo diocese since 2001 -- as his hometown's fifth archbishop at Roman Noon (4am Mountain time) today.

As noted below, the putative appointee -- born in California to a family that emigrated West from South Philly -- is slated to appear at the traditional 10am press conference before leading an evening Mass in the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, located in the shadow of the Colorado Capitol. By virtue of his appointment alone, the archbishop-elect would be expected to receive the pallium from the Pope's hands in Rome a month from today on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, alongside the world's other new metropolitans named over the last year.

According to credible reports, Aquila's installation has already been scheduled for Wednesday, July 18th -- 365 days since his predecessor-to-be, Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap., was transferred to Philadelphia, in a move widely seen in church circles as the most challenging assignment an American prelate has been given in at least the last half-century.

A sacramental theologian trained at Rome's Benedictine-run Athaneum of Sant'Anselmo, as director of Denver's Liturgy Office, Aquila served as Master of Ceremonies at Chaput's installation as Colorado's fourth archbishop in April 1997. At the Capuchin's appointment, two years later Aquila took office as founding rector of St John Vianney -- the Denver seminary reconstituted from scratch which, within a decade of its establishment, has become the largest American formation house west of Mundelein. (Just last fall, the archdiocese received 20 first-year seminarians.)

During his ad limina visit with the bishops of the upper Midwest in early March (above), Aquila was praised by the Pope for his push to restore the traditional order of the sacraments of initiation in the 90,000-member North Dakota church, where Confirmation has preceded First Communion since 2005.

* * *
The first and lone US city to host World Youth Day, in August 1993 -- an event termed the "second founding" of the Mile High church -- Denver is viewed by no shortage of key churchfolk both at home and abroad as the de facto seat of the New Evangelization on these shores, a distinction born from the encouragement given to and success experienced by creative apostolates ranging from the celebrated NewAdvent web portal and rapidly-growing college missionary effort FOCUS to the archdiocese's lay-led Augustine Institute and ENDOW, a mission to affirm and amplify the charisms of women in the church. Demographically speaking, meanwhile, a mass influx of Hispanic immigration coupled with the community's birth-rates over the last two decades has now given Latinos a slight but growing majority share of the archdiocese's Catholic population.

The Denver church stretches across some 40,000 square miles of Colorado's Northern third from the Mile High City to the state's Western Slope.

Notably, the last two Denver archbishops have subsequently been named to positions traditionally held by cardinals. While Chaput's Philadelphia predecessors have been given the red hat for the last century, Aquila's predecessor-to-be was returned to the Rockies (where Chaput had already spent a decade as a parish priest and Capuchin provincial) after the 1996 appointment of then-Archbishop J. Francis Stafford to Rome as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Stafford's transfer ostensibly owed itself to the unexpected success of WYD Denver, which was felt in Rome to have "redefined" the concept and scope of the triennial event.

Elevated to the "Pope's Senate" in 1998, Stafford -- still a member of several Vatican offices, including the Congregation for Bishops -- is expected to retire in Denver on reaching his 80th birthday in late July, at which point his Curial memberships cease. Much as the Baltimore-born cardinal has maintained a vigor far younger than his years, the scholar-prince has reportedly kept his wish to be buried with the archdiocese's prior heads in the Bishops' Mausoleum at the local Mount Olivet Cemetery.

On 16 August, the Denver church marks the 125th anniversary of its founding as a diocese under the leadership of Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, the French-born cleric who would lay the groundwork for a sprawling, pioneering and evangelical Colorado Catholicism over the following three decades.

As ever, more to come.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Archbishop John Vlazny's ad limina visit to Rome

An Uplifting and Challenging Experience

Archbishop Vlazny, currently the archbishop of Portland, OR, is the former Bishop of Winona.

Last week in the print issue of the Sentinel I wrote about the ad limina visit of us bishop here in the Pacific Northwest to Rome at the end of April. Our newly ordained brother from eastern Oregon, Bishop Liam Cary, was able to accompany all of us on that visit. He found it to be an excellent preparation for his new duties as Bishop of Baker. As always, I found the experience uplifting and challenging, a great reminder of the universality and the complexity of the church. It all began on that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. I sensed that the same Holy Spirit was coming upon his successors from the Pacific Northwest during our days in Rome. On our first full day in Rome, Monday, April 23rd, we visited the Pontifical Council for the Family. The challenges to family life, the increase of divorces, the defense of marriage as a sacred union of husband and wife, and family problems dominated our conversation. My visit prodded me to think about the ways we as a local church might more effectively support marriage and family life. I confess that archdiocesan support has been minimal ever since our bankruptcy experience, but, thanks be to God, many parishes and many religious communities have picked up the slack ever since those tragic years. This is an area that calls for improvement in the coming years. Tuesday was our busiest day. We went to visit the Congregation for Bishops, whence these ad limina visits are scheduled and coordinated, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by our former Archbishop, Cardinal William Levada, the Congregation for Divine Worship, where the number two man is Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, OP, presently the titular archbishop of Oregon City, and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. All four of these meetings dealt with issues that are pertinent to us in our life as teachers of the faith and shepherds of the flock. We acknowledged our gratitude for the recent appointment of the new Bishop of Baker, a priest of this archdiocese. We discussed some possible programs for the coming Year of Faith, reviewed the implementation of the new Roman Missal in our dioceses and discussed some of the serious questions that have been raised recently about religious life in the United States. We stressed how invaluable men and women who have embraced the consecrated life have been for us in carrying out our evangelizing mission. Wednesday began with an early morning Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. Praying there is always a very special privilege, a reminder of all the church history that takes its origins on that Vatican hill. We later visited the Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for the Laity. That evening we had an opportunity to meet with the United States priests who are working in Rome and live at the Villa Stritch, a residence established by the American bishops back in the late 1960’s. Our own Msgr. John Cihak is one of the residents and, with his fellow residents, graciously welcomed us for some refreshments and conversation. Thursday, in addition to seeing the Holy Father, we celebrated Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral, and then visited the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I was especially impressed with the conversations there. The new Prefect, Cardinal Kurt Koch, a native of Switzerland and former Bishop of Basel, was especially helpful. As challenging as ecumenical dialogue may be at times, the importance of relationships with the other Christian churches is so critical that our struggles need to be endured, not set aside. His second in command, Archbishop Brian Farrell, was especially instructive in some of our conversations about the ecumenical dialogue involving Anglicans and Catholics, as well as the recent welcome that has been extended to some Episcopalian priests and the establishment of a special ordinariate for former Episcopalians who have asked to become members of the Catholic Church. That evening we were hosted by Ambassador Miguel Diaz and his wife Marianne, at a reception in the Villa Richardson, the residence of the United States Ambassador to the Holy See. I have known Marianne and her family from my days as Bishop in Winona. Finally on the last day of our visit, we celebrated Mass again in St. Peter’s at the Altar of Blessed John Paul II and visited the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The Prefect at the Congregation for Catholic Education spoke to us at length about seminaries, Catholic universities and Catholic schools. He prodded us to be persistent in our efforts to seek assistance from the government for the ministry of our Catholic schools. He pointed out how this is quite common in other nations and surprisingly unacceptable by so many in the United States. The last visit, at the Council for Promoting New Evangelization, gave us an opportunity to meet with Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The archbishop at one time taught a course at Mount Angel Seminary. He is an enthusiastic proponent of the new evangelization. We discussed some opportunities and strategies that might strengthen the life of our church during the coming Year of Faith. With the celebration of Pentecost on this coming Sunday, the Easter season will come to an end. We return to Ordinary Time, but, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, hopefully we shall be able to accomplish some extraordinary things in the months ahead. Certainly the ordination of ten new priests on June 9th will be a highlight. It will be my special prayer this Pentecost that the Holy Spirit will guide our efforts to protect religious liberty here in the United States. We need to pray especially for our Catholic leaders in government who are sorely tempted these days to do what is seemingly expedient and “politically correct” in our current secular milieu. Pray too for all our bishops and pastors that they will be faithful shepherds of the flock, and not run for cover when under attack. God bless us all.

Pope Benedict's Explanation to Jimmy Akin on the Meaning of the Book of Revelation

One of the most difficult books to understand in the Bible is the book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse.
Here we offer an "interview" with Pope Benedict (taken from his writings) to learn from his wisdom on this book.


Your Holiness, the book of Revelation is often attributed to one of Jesus' first disciples: John, the son of Zebedee. He is also the traditional author of the Gospel of John and the three epistles of John. Interestingly, none of those works expressly say that they were written by a man named John, but Revelation does--four times! (1:1, 4, 9, 22:8). Was it written by this John--the son of Zebedee--or by another?
The Gospel never directly identifies [its author/the beloved disciple] by name. In connection with the calling of Peter, as well as of other disciples, it points toward John, the son of Zebedee, but it never explicitly identifies the two figures. The intention is evidently to leave the matter shrouded in mystery.
The Book of Revelation does, admittedly, specify John as its author (cf. Rev 1:1, 4), but despite the close connection between this book and the Gospel and Letters of John, it remains an open question whether the author is one and the same person.
It is obvious, on the one hand, that the author had no reason not to mention his own name, and on the other, that he knew his first readers would be able to precisely identify him.
We know, moreover, that in the third century, scholars were already disputing the true, factual identity of John of the "Apocalypse".
For the sake of convenience we could also call him "the Seer of Patmos" because he is linked to the name of this island in the Aegean See where, according to his own autobiographical account, he was, as it were, deported "on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Rv 1: 9).


Many in our own day have seen the book of Revelation as a vision almost exclusively concerned with the future. How should we understand it?
The Book should be understood against the backdrop of the dramatic experiences of the seven Churches of Asia (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea) which had to face serious difficulties at the end of the first century - persecutions and also inner tensions--in their witness to Christ.
John addresses them, showing acute pastoral sensitivity to the persecuted Christians, whom he exhorts to be steadfast in the faith and not to identify with the pagan world.
His purpose is constituted once and for all by the revelation, starting with the death and Resurrection of Christ, of the meaning of human history.


There are many compelling images in the book of Revelation, but if you had to boil it down to just one, central symbol, what would it be?
The first and fundamental vision of John, in fact, concerns the figure of the Lamb who is slain yet standing (cf. Rv 5: 6), and is placed before the throne on which God himself is already seated.
By saying this, John wants first of all to tell us two things: the first is that although Jesus was killed with an act of violence, instead of falling heavily to the ground, he paradoxically stands very firmly on his own feet because, with the Resurrection, he overcame death once and for all.
The other thing is that Jesus himself, precisely because he died and was raised, henceforth fully shares in the kingship and saving power of the Father. This is the fundamental vision.
On this earth, Jesus, the Son of God, is a defenceless, wounded and dead Lamb. Yet he stands up straight, on his feet, before God's throne and shares in the divine power. He has the history of the world in his hands.
Thus, the Seer wants to tell us: trust in Jesus, do not be afraid of the opposing powers, of persecution! The wounded and dead Lamb is victorious!
Follow the Lamb Jesus, entrust yourselves to Jesus, take his path! Even if in this world he is only a Lamb who appears weak, it is he who triumphs!


One of the most mysterious images in the book is that of a scroll which the Lamb--Jesus--opens in heaven. How can we understand this image?
The subject of one of the most important visions of the Book of Revelation is this Lamb in the act of opening a scroll, previously closed with seven seals that no one had been able to break open.
John is even shown in tears, for he finds no one worthy of opening the scroll or reading it (cf. Rv 5: 4).
History remains indecipherable, incomprehensible. No one can read it. Perhaps John's weeping before the mystery of a history so obscure expresses the Asian Churches' dismay at God's silence in the face of the persecutions to which they were exposed at that time.
It is a dismay that can clearly mirror our consternation in the face of the serious difficulties, misunderstandings and hostility that the Church also suffers today in various parts of the world.
These are trials that the Church does not of course deserve, just as Jesus himself did not deserve his torture.
However, they reveal both the wickedness of man, when he abandons himself to the promptings of evil, and also the superior ordering of events on God's part.
Well then, only the sacrificed Lamb can open the sealed scroll and reveal its content, give meaning to this history that so often seems senseless.
He alone can draw from it instructions and teachings for the life of Christians, to whom his victory over death brings the message and guarantee of victory that they too will undoubtedly obtain.
The whole of the vividly imaginative language that John uses aims to offer this consolation.


Another compelling image is that of the Woman in chapter 12, who is clothed with the sun, who stands on the moon, and who has twelve stars as a crown on her head--imagery that is based on Joseph's dream in the Old Testament (Gen. 37:9-10). Many understand this Woman as Mary, but others see her as an image of the Church. What is the truth?
This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but at the same time she also represents the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church which in all ages, with great suffering, brings forth Christ ever anew. And she is always threatened by the dragon's power. She appears defenceless and weak.
But while she is threatened, persecuted by the dragon, she is also protected by God's comfort. And in the end this Woman wins. The dragon does not win.
This is the great prophecy of this Book that inspires confidence in us!
The Woman who suffers in history, the Church which is persecuted, appears in the end as the radiant Bride, the figure of the new Jerusalem where there will be no more mourning or weeping, an image of the world transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself, whose lamp is the Lamb.
In the vision of the Book of Revelation there is a further detail: upon the head of the woman clothed with the sun there is "a crown of twelve stars". This sign symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel and means that the Virgin Mary is at the center of the People of God, of the entire communion of saints.
And thus this image of the crown of 12 stars ushers us into the second great interpretation of the heavenly portent of the "woman clothed with the sun": as well as representing Our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all time.
She is with child, in the sense that she is carrying Christ in her womb and must give birth to him in the world.
This is the travail of the pilgrim Church on earth which, amidst the consolations of God and the persecution of the world, must bring Jesus to men and women.


After the woman gives birth, she is persecuted by the dragon. What does this mean?
This dragon sought in vain to devour Jesus--the "male child", destined to rule all the nations" (12:5)--because Jesus, through his death and resurrection, ascended to God and is seated on his throne.
Therefore the dragon, defeated once and for all in Heaven, directly attacks the woman--the Church--in the wilderness of the world.
However in every epoch the Church is sustained by the light and strength of God who nourishes her in the desert with the bread of his Word and of the Holy Eucharist.
And so it is that in every tribulation, in all the trials she meets over time and in the different parts of the world the Church suffers persecution but turns out to be victorious.
And in this very way the Christian community is her presence, the guarantee of God's love against all the ideologies of hatred and selfishness.


Many people feel frightened reading the book of Revelation. Should they be?
Although John's Book of Revelation is pervaded by continuous references to suffering, tribulation and tears--the dark face of history--it is likewise permeated by frequent songs of praise that symbolize, as it were, the luminous face of history.
So it is, for example, that we read in it of a great multitude that is singing, almost shouting: "Alleluia! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready" (Rv 19: 6-7).
Here we face the typical Christian paradox, according to which suffering is never seen as the last word but rather, as a transition towards happiness; indeed, suffering itself is already mysteriously mingled with the joy that flows from hope.
For this very reason John, the Seer of Patmos, can close his Book with a final aspiration, trembling with fearful expectation. He invokes the definitive coming of the Lord: "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rv 22: 20).
This was one of the central prayers of the nascent Christianity, also translated by St Paul into its Aramaic form: "Marana tha". And this prayer, "Our Lord, come!" (I Cor 16: 22) has many dimensions.
It is, naturally, first and foremost an expectation of the definitive victory of the Lord, of the new Jerusalem, of the Lord who comes and transforms the world. But at the same time, it is also a Eucharistic prayer: "Come Jesus, now!". And Jesus comes; he anticipates his definitive coming.
So it is that we say joyfully at the same time: "Come now and come for ever!".
This prayer also has a third meaning: "You have already come, Lord! We are sure of your presence among us. It is our joyous experience. But come definitively!".
And thus, let us too pray with St Paul, with the Seer of Patmos, with the newborn Christianity: "Come, Jesus! Come and transform the world! Come today already and may peace triumph!". Amen!
Thank you, Your Holiness.
If you've found this interview helpful, don't forget to share it with friends so that they can benefit from it, too!

To learn more of Pope Benedict's wisdom, read the resources from which the above "interview" was taken:
Your pal,
Jimmy Akin, Secret Info Club Poobah

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Usus Antiquior [Extraordinary Form/Tridentine], St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul


This past weekend, St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota offered -- for the first time -- the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite -- a Missa Cantata.

The celebrant was Father John Paul Erickson, head of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Seminarians from the seminary acted as the servers for the Mass.   New Liturgical Movement blog

You can see more photos at the NLM blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bishop Baraga declared to be a "Servant of God', first step on the road to canonization

- Servant of God Frederic Irenej Baraga, Slovene American, first bishop of Marquette (1797-1868).

Catholic Encyclopedia  
First Bishop of Marquette, Michigan, U.S.A., b. 29 June, 1797, at Malavas, in the parish of Dobernice in the Austrian Dukedom of Carniola [present-day Slovenia — Ed.]; d. at Marquette, Mich., 19 January, 1868. He was baptized on the very day of his birth, in the parish church of Dobernice, by the names of Irenaeus Frederic, the first of which, however, he never used, retaining only the second. His parents, Johann Nepomuc Baraga and Maria Katharine Josefa (nee de Jencic), had five children, of whom Frederic was the fourth. His father was not rich, but his mother inherited after her father's death the estate of Malavas, besides a vast fortune. They were God-fearing and pious, and strove, while they survived, to give a good education to their children. His mother died in 1808, and his father in 1812, and Frederic spent his boyhood in the house of Dr. George Dolinar, a layman, professor in the diocesan clerical seminary at Laibach.
In 1816 young Frederic Baraga entered the University of Vienna, studied law, and graduated in 1821, but soon turned his thoughts to the clerical state, and entered the seminary of Laibach that same year. He was ordained priest 21 September, 1823, at Laibach, and laboured with great zeal and spiritual success as assistant in St. Martin's parish, near Krainberg, and at Metlika, in Lower Carniola. On the 29th of October, 1830, he left his native land for the United States to spend the rest of his life in the Indian missionary field. After a journey of two months, he landed in New York on the 31st of December, 1830. He then proceeded to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he arrived 18 January, 1831. He was most kindly received by the Rt. Rev. Edward Fenwick, Bishop of Cincinnati, and during the winter and spring months laboured among the German Catholics of that city and elsewhere. On the 28th of May, 1831, he arrived at Arbre Croche, now Harbor Springs, his first Indian mission. There he laboured with apostolic zeal at the conversion of the Ottawas during two years and four months, during which time he baptized 547 Indian adults and children. He was succeeded in 1833 by Rev. F. Saenderl, Superior of the Redemptorists in the United States. On or about the 8th of September, 1833, Baraga left Arbre Croche to found a new Indian mission at Grand River, Mich. He arrived at his destination (now Grand Rapids, Mich.) on the 23d of September. He immediately began the building of a combination church, school, and pastoral residence, which was very poor, owing to the deficiency of funds. There he laboured most earnestly, though not as successfully as at Arbre Croche, until February, 1835, when he was succeeded by Father Andrew Viszoczky, a Hungarian priest. Baraga himself estimated the number of his converts at about two hundred, but Bishop Rese estimated the number of Indian converts in his diocese in 1834 at three thousand, with twelve churches or chapels.
Baraga's next Indian mission was among the Chippewas at La Pointe, Wisconsin, where he arrived 27 July, 1835. There he laboured successfully for about eight years, baptizing 981 Indians and whites. In 1843 he founded the L'Anse Indian mission in Michigan, arriving there on the 24th of October. For ten years he laboured in this vast mission, being for many years the only Catholic priest in Upper Michigan. He attended not only to the Indians, but also to the whites of the vast territory, as the discovery of iron and copper drew many German, French, and English-speaking Catholics to the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. Truly incredible are the hardships and labours of Baraga at this period of his life. On the 29th of July, 1853, the Northern Peninsula of Michigan was detached from the Diocese of Detroit and erected into a vicariate Apostolic, and Baraga was appointed its first bishop. He was consecrated in the cathedral of Cincinnati by Archbishop Purcell, Bishop LeFevre of Detroit and Bishop Henni of Milwaukee officiating as assistant consecrators. Shortly after his elevation to the episcopal dignity Bishop Baraga issued two circulars to his people, one in Chippewa and the other in English. His jurisdiction extended not only to the whole Northern Peninsula of Michigan, but also to a large part of the Lower Peninsula, to Northern Wisconsin, and to the North Shore of Lake Superior. He laboured in this vast extent of territory for fifteen years, travelling almost incessantly, from the opening to the close of navigation year after year. On the 23d of October, 1865, by Apostolic authority he transferred his See from Sault Ste. Marie to Marquette, where he died at the age of seventy years.
Bishop Baraga will always rank with the foremost authors in American Indian literature. He composed the first known Chippewa grammar. This was a truly Herculean task, for he had to establish after long and close observation and deep study all the rules of the Chippewa grammar. This grammar has gone through three editions. In his preface to his Chippewa dictionary, printed in preface to his Chippewa dictionary, printed in Cincinnati, O., in 1853, by Jos. A. Hermann, he says: "This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first Dictionary of the Otchipwe language ever published. The compilation of it has cost me several years of assiduous labour." This dictionary has also passed through several editions. Both grammar and dictionary are most highly prized and constantly used by Indian missionaries and others. His Indian prayer book and works of instruction are much read by both Indians and their pastors. Baraga always wrote in a very simple and clear style. His writings are admirably adapted to the limited capacity of his Indian readers, and can be understood even by ignorant Indian children. His "Dusna Pasa", a prayer book in Slovenian, his own native language, passed through ten editions, the last, in 1905, with 84,000 copies. This alone is a proof of its great popularity and usefulness.
In addition to the "Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Otchipwe [Chippewa] Language" (Detroit, 1850), the Chippewa dictionary, and the "Dusna Pasa" mentioned above, the published works of Bishop Baraga include: "Veneration and Imitation of the Blessed Mother of God", in Slovenian (1830); "Animie-Misinaigan", an Ottawa prayer book; "Jesus o Bimadisiwim" (The Life of Jesus), in Ottawa (Paris, 1837); "On the manners and customs of the Indians" in Slovenian (Laibach, 1837); "Gagikwe-Masiniagan", a sermon-book, in Chippewa (1839 and 1859); "Zlata Jabelka" — "Golden Apples" (Laibach, 1844); "Kagige Debwewinan" — "Eternal Truths"; "Nanagatawendamo-Masinaigan" — Instructions on the Commandments and sacraments.
No Indian missionary of modern times was more beloved and revered by both Indians and whites than Baraga. He loved his Indians with a warm-hearted devotion which they reciprocated. Men of all positions in society, Catholics and non-Catholics, revered him as an ideal man, Christian, and bishop. Michigan has named after him one of her counties, several towns, and post offices, and his name has been given to one of the principal streets of Marquette. In his native country he is, if possible, even more popular than in America. His life, published in Slovenian, in 1906, has already (1907) reached a sale of 85,000 copies. That life might be summed up in the one phrase: Saintliness in action.

The Snowshoe Priest

bishop baraga shrine, upper peninsula mi
Shrine of Bishop Baraga
First Bishop of the Upper Peninsula
"The Snowshoe Priest"
On the stretch of US 41 between L'Anse and Baraga, is a giant copper figure standing astride a silvery cloud rising some 60 feet above the bluff overlooking Keweenaw Bay. This heroic statue pays tribute to one of the earliest and most beloved pioneers of the Keweenaw, Frederic Baraga, the Snowshoe Priest who became the first Bishop of the Upper Peninsula and the Apostle of the Great Lakes.
Frederick Baraga left his home in Slovenia in 1830 for the Catholic missions of the Upper Great Lakes. Father Baraga's intention was to minister to the native peoples of the region. In the process he founded five missions along the south shore of Lake Superior and created a legend.
The last of his missions was sited in the village of L'Anse which had been the site of an earlier Jesuit mission founded in the late 1600's. He remained in L'Anse from 1843 and was consecrated as the first Bishop of the Upper Peninsula in 1853.
Much been written about this priest who left an upper class European existence for the hardships of the northwoods. Stories of his endurance in overland treks to reach members of his flock are at times difficult to credit, yet the records attest to both his strength of will and physical stamina.

His title as the Snowshoe Priest" came from the necessity of long treks overland in the winter months to serve his far flung churches that served both the native population and the small communities of copper miners on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Even after he became a Bishop, Baraga continued his circuit covering distances of more than 60 miles. Bishop Baraga was known to travel over 700 miles in winter serving his churches.
Father Baraga had these comments about his work among the L'Anse Chippewa: "I have few comforts here, often times barely the necessities of life. But what consolation, what grand reward, what unspeakable joy will it be for me on the day of judgment, some or hopefully all of these my good children may surround me and give me testimony before our final judge".
Baraga learned to speak the native languages fluently and developed their written language. His Chippewa grammar and dictionary are still used today. In 1832, his first Indian Prayer Book was printed in Detroit.
In 1853 he was elevated to Bishop, becoming the first Bishop in Upper Michigan. He continued his long treks to visit churches in his jurisdiction.
The Shrine
The Bishop Baraga Shrine, erected in the 1960's, was designed and constructed by the late Jack Anderson with the help of Art Chaput. Anderson was commissioned by the Bishop Baraga Foundation to memorialize this dedicated man of God through funds raised by local subscription.
Rising six stories above the Red Rocks Bluff, the Shrine commands a breathtaking panoramic view of virgin hardwoods, scenic coastline and the oldest mountains, geologically, in the world. Flanking the southern side of the Bluff is the Lac Vieux Desert Trail, a gateway to the Mississippi Valley for Native Americans in the early 1830's.

Holding a cross (7 feet high) and snowshoes (26 feet long) the statute of Bishop Baraga is 35 feet tall and weighs four tons. It floats on a cloud of stainless steel supported by five laminated wood beams representing Baraga's five major missions.
The Shrine is a lovely spot to rest and get out of your car to stretch your legs. There is a well kept picnic area, restaurant, and gift shop on the site where you will find several fine books about Baraga and the early days of these Keweenaw Bay communities. You may also find yourself reflecting on the challenging conditions confronting this priest in his efforts to bring the Grace of God to the indigenous peoples of a wild and unforgiving land.
His triumph over adversity is still evident today in a county, a village, and a L'Anse street all named after Baraga, in the continuation of the Holy Name Church in Assinins, and in the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest.

Although an average of 100,000 people visit this peaceful setting each year, donations cover only minimal upkeep of the grounds. Major maintenance of the shrine itself has been financed through bank loans and donations of labor.
The future of the Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest is unsure at best. The Bishop Baraga Foundation must increase its membership and income in order to maintain the Shrine properly.

If you would like to become a member of the Bishop Baraga Foundation, send a donation of $5 or more to BISHOP BARAGA FOUNDATION, INC
Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest
Box 47
Baraga, Michigan 49908

There is a small shop with books, gifts, baked goods, ice cream, coffee, and snacks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

San Diego Bishop Brom’s lifetime of service [Former Bishop of Duluth]]


Q&A: Bishop Brom’s lifetime of service

Bishop Robert Brom

Age: 73
Birthplace: Arcadia, Wisc.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, St. Mary’s University, Winona, Minn. Licentiate in Sacred Theology, Gregorian University, Rome.
Ordained: For the Diocese of Winona at the Church of Christ the King in Rome, 1963.
Career: Associate pastor, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona; faculty member, Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary at St. Mary’s University, Winona; rector of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary; pastor of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona; vicar general of the Diocese of Winona; bishop of the Diocese of Duluth; coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Diego; bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.
Bishop Robert Brom has guided the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego for nearly 22 years, overseeing its 98 parishes that serve nearly one million Catholics.
He was the bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn. before coming to San Diego in 1989 as coadjutor bishop to Bishop Leo T. Maher. He became bishop the next year when Maher retired.
During his tenure, the $12 million Pastoral Center on Paducah Drive was opened — in a renovated convent — to house the diocesan offices that had been located in cramped quarters at the University of San Diego. In addition, two new Catholic high schools — Cathedral Catholic in Carmel Valley and Mater Dei in Chula Vista — designed to accommodate 2,000 students each, were opened.
The $80 million price tag for each school is being covered through diocese-wide fundraising efforts.
Brom is scheduled to retire next year and will be succeeded by recently named coadjutor Bishop Cirilo Flores.
Below is an edited transcript of a recent interview with Brom.
Question: When did you know you wanted to become a priest?
Answer: As a high school student at Cotter High School in Winona, Minn., in 1955-56. I had thought about becoming a priest when I was a little kid. It was natural when you were in a Catholic family and a Catholic grade school and were an altar server. Then, my buddies and I discovered — I have to think how I should say this — that girls were part of the population. The fascination with the priesthood was lost in middle school and the early high school years, when I was in public school, with all the activities around. Then, before my senior year, we moved to Winona. There was a Catholic high school there. It was during that year, when again there were priests and sisters around, that it came back.
Q: Was service to others always going to be part of your vocation, whether as a priest or a lay person?
A: I think so. I asked myself how I could best use my God-given gifts and talents to make a contribution to people and the world.
Q: What areas of service have you focused on?
A: Well, after I was ordained, I was briefly an associate pastor. Then I was assigned to the faculty of the seminary at St. Mary’s University in Winona. I taught theology there. I found that I had some gifts and talents as a teacher. If you think about it, a bishop is part of the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the church. So I think I have been a teacher all along.
Q: Are there others?
A: I have made a point of making pastoral visits to all the parishes in the diocese. I am in my fifth round of these. I usually go on a Friday, if there is a school, or a Saturday. I can only do about 25 a year, because other weekends there are confirmations and other things. In terms of what I’m most pleased with in my ministry, this is one thing. I meet the people where they’re at, not at headquarters.
Often these pastoral visits provide opportunities for teaching, to witness to Christ. Sometimes I am there for key celebrations. I can visit some of the houses where there are shut-ins, I can visit people in hospitals. It’s special. Right in the parish context I can be a teacher, I can be the presider in liturgy and I can be the shepherd. The church flourishes in the parishes or it doesn’t flourish at all. My social outreach takes place in these pastoral visits and my prison ministry. On Easter, I go to Donovan prison. I have these personally selected opportunities for social outreach.
Q: If you could wish for one thing to make this region a better place, what would it be?
A: For people to be the living Gospel for all to see and hear, live a God-centered life and express that love for God to one’s neighbors. The Gospel values are not Catholic values and they’re not Christian values; they are radically human values.
Q: Who has most inspired you?
A: The two people most inspirational people in my life by far have been Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II.
Q: What advice would you give the area’s leaders?
A: Leadership at every level has to get beyond self interest in order to be of service to others. There is so much self interest in the world of business, in the world of education, in the world of politics. All of us in leadership, in the church and in the public sector, we have to get beyond our self interest in order to be genuine servants of the people.
Q: What advice would you give young people?
A: The same: get out of the cocoon of self absorption and embrace a life of selfless service.
Q: Have your views about serving others changed over time?
A: They’ve changed from the point of view that they’re not lofty ideals to be preached. The older I get, the more I realize you have to live them, not just talk about them.
Q: Is there something about yourself you could tell people that would surprise them?
A: That I think fishing is more fun than golfing, because if they don’t bite it’s not your fault.