The Courier - April 2024

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PoPe SayS, in a HoStile World, The VocaTion of chrisTians is To hope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Though the global situation risks plunging people into pessimism, Christians are called to pursue their vocation of becoming "men and women of hope," Pope Francis said.

"As individuals and as communities, amid the variety of charisms and ministries, all of us are called to embody and communicate the Gospel message of hope in a world marked by epochal challenges," the pope wrote in his message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations April 21.

Global challenges such as war, migration, rising poverty rates and climate change, in addition to personal difficulties encountered daily, "risk plunging us into resignation or defeatism," the pope wrote in the message released March 19. He encouraged Christians to instead "cultivate a gaze full of hope and work fruitfully in response to the vocation we have received, in service to God's kingdom of love, justice and peace."

To be "pilgrims of hope and builders of peace" means "to base our lives on the rock of Christ's resurrection, knowing that every effort made in the vocation that we have embraced and seek to live out will never be in vain," the pope wrote.

Pursuing a vocation, he explained, is not an imposed duty but rather "the surest way for us to fulfill our deepest desire for happiness."

"Our life finds fulfillment when we discover who we are, what our gifts are, where we can make them bear fruit, and what path we can follow in order to become signs and instruments of love, generous acceptance, beauty and peace wherever we find ourselves," he wrote.

The pope expressed his gratitude for the "hidden efforts" of those who consistently respond to their calls in life, namely parents, workers, consecrated men and women and priests, and he urged young people to make room for Jesus in their lives in order to discover their vocation.

"Let Jesus draw you to himself; bring him your important questions by reading the Gospels; let him challenge you by his presence, which always provokes in us a healthy crisis," he told young people.

Minnesota Catholic Conference Inside the Capitol

Faith Under Fire: The Battle for Religious Freedom in Minnesota

�t a House Committee meeting on Thursday, February 29, it became clear that some Minnesota legislators not only do not respect religious beliefs, but they will no longer tolerate them.

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee was considering amendments to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). The MHRA has been in place since the late 1960s and serves the purpose of ensuring that all Minnesotans are treated as equals, and that no one is discriminated against based on personal traits including race, disability, religion, sex, and others.

In 1993, two major changes were adopted to the MHRA: (1) sexual orientation was added as a protected status, and (2) an exemption for religious organizations was added to allow them to act in accordance with their religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation. We did not oppose this change because it was meant to be a shield against discrimination for all persons with regard to public accommodations and the basic necessities of life, such as housing and employment. The change also guaranteed religious freedom and allowed Catholics and all other faith communities to live out our beliefs, choose our own clergy and teachers, and teach our values to our children.

Last year, the Legislature passed an amendment to the MHRA which added “gender identity” as a protected status but did not include a religious exemption. This change prohibits religious

Inside the Capitol, cont'd on pg. 10

2024 Official Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester, MN | Child Abuse Prevention Month Caring for Our Neighbors Scriptural Lessons from These Holy Seasons page 4 page 7 page 12 INSIDE this issue Annunciation of the Lord April 8
Hope, cont'd on pg. 2
Pope Francis greets visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus at the Vatican March 17, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The Courier Insider 2

Pope Calls for Pastors to Walk Alongside Migrants in the Americas

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - The Catholic Church needs people and pastors capable of walking alongside refugees to respond to the reality of forced migration across the Americas, Pope Francis said.

Only by forming people "who dare to go beyond the limits of what is established" and are "capable of returning to the essential (and) breaking free from indifference" can the Church lead migrants toward hope, he wrote in a message March 20 to bishops from Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.

The bishops were meeting for a three-day conference in Panama City, organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, titled "Easter with our Migrant Brothers and Sisters."

Every migrant or refugee who leaves their home challenges Christians to wake from indifference and embrace a spirit of hospitality, the pope wrote, urging the bishops to work for a church in which migrants "do not feel judged but welcomed, where they can quench their hunger and thirst and revive hope."

He wrote that "by recognizing ourselves as strangers, with our own vulnerabilities and shortcomings, we can create the necessary conditions to welcome our neighbors as brothers and sisters, and thus make them participants in our daily lives."

Pope Francis underscored the dangers many migrants face in crossing the Darién Gap, a heavily forested region that straddles the

Hope, cont'd from pg. 1

The pope also highlighted the "synodal character" of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, noting how "amid the variety of our charisms, we are called to listen to one another and to journey together in order to acknowledge them and to discern where the Spirit is leading us for the benefit of all."

Pope Francis encouraged people to prepare for the Holy Year 2025 by engaging in the current year of prayer, in which "all of us are called


Colombia-Panama border and which the pope called "a jungle that is a triumph of nature but that today is becoming a real 'Way of the Cross.'" According to data published by the Panamanian government, more than 500,000 people crossed the Darién Gap in 2023. The dangerous crossing leaves many migrants vulnerable to abuse by criminal groups, including sexual violence.

The challenges for migrants crossing the Darién Gap highlight "the limits of migration governance in the Western Hemisphere," the pope wrote, and it "feeds a thriving business that allows the accumulation of illicit profits from human trafficking."

Yet "neither the dangers posed by the travel and illegal extortion, nor the increasing returns or blockages in countries where these brothers and sisters are not wanted reduce the attraction - real or imaginary - of satisfying the needs for employment and better living conditions, or even of an awaited family reunification," he wrote.

Pope Francis praised the many initiatives of the Church in the Americas revolving around care for migrants, including shelters, care centers for returning migrants, emergency medical care, legal advice, spiritual support and political advocacy.

The bishops gathered at the meeting were scheduled to visit the Darién Gap to speak directly with migrant groups, reported ADN, the news agency of the Latin American bishops' council.

Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa of Panama City told ADN that the purpose of the bishops' meeting was to "raise awareness about the danger that migrants face when crossing the Darién jungle."

to rediscover the inestimable blessing of our ability to enter into heartfelt dialogue with the Lord and thus become pilgrims of hope."

Prayer, he added, "is more about listening to God than about talking to him."

The pope called on Christians to "open the doors of the prison in which we so often enclose ourselves, so that each of us can discover his or her proper vocation in the Church and in the world."

"Let us be passionate about life and commit ourselves to caring lovingly for those around us in every place where we live," he wrote.

Most Reverend Robert E. Barron, Publisher

Nick Reller, Editor

Telephone: 507-858-1257 Fax:507-454-8106 E-mail:

Publishing Schedule: Monthly - Deadline for advertising & articles is the 10th of the month prior.

(ISSN 0744-5490)

The Holy Father's Intention for April 2024 For the Role of Women

We pray that the dignity and immense value of women be recognized in every culture, and for the end of discrimination that they experience in different parts of the world.

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The Diocese of Winona-Rochester will provide a prompt, appropriate and compassionate response to reporters of sexual abuse of a child by any diocesan agent (employees, volunteers, vendors, religious or clergy). Anyone wishing to make a report of an allegation of sexual abuse should call the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 507-454-2270, Extension 255. A caller will be asked to provide his or her name and telephone number. Individuals are also encouraged to take their reports directly to civil authorities. The Diocese of Winona-Rochester is committed to protecting children, young people and other vulnerable people in our schools, parishes and ministries. The diocesan policy is available on the diocesan web site at under the Safe Environment Program. If you have any questions about the Diocese of Winona-Rochester’s implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, please contact Mary Hamann at 507-858-1244, or

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�he Gospel for Easter Sunday is from St. John’s account of Easter morning. We are told that Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb very early in the morning while it is still dark. She has come to anoint the body of the Lord, which had been buried in haste because of the onset of the Passover. She spies the great stone rolled back and assumes that the body has been stolen. So she runs immediately to Simon Peter and

the other disciples: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.” She doesn’t yet believe in the resurrection, for she is operating still within a conventional framework.

So the two disciples, Peter and John, make a mad dash toward the tomb, the younger John outpacing the older Peter. What an odd detail, by the way, so peculiar in fact that it led the novelist Graham Greene to accept the historicity of the account. Upon coming to the open tomb, John looks in and sees “the burial cloths.” Then Peter arrives and spies the same cloths as well as the cloth that had covered his head “rolled up in a separate place.” Have you ever wondered why there is such an emphasis on the burial cloths? The most obvious reason is that their presence is peculiar. If the body had been stolen, why would the thieves have bothered taking the elaborately wound cloths off and why in the world would they have taken the time and effort to fold the head cloth up so carefully?

But might they also be mentioned so prominently because they were treasured by the early Church? And might at least the principal cloth exist to this day? I’m speaking, of course, of the famous Shroud of Turin, which for centuries has

Vio los lienzos y creyó

�l Evangelio del Domingo de Resurrección es el relato que hace San Juan de la mañana de Pascua. Se nos dice que María Magdalena llega al sepulcro muy temprano por la mañana, cuando todavía está oscuro. Ha venido a ungir el cuerpo del Señor, que había sido enterrado apresuradamente debido al comienzo de la Pascua judía. Al ver la gran piedra removida, supone que han robado el cuerpo. Entonces corre inmediatamente a Simón Pedro y a los demás discípulos: "Se han llevado al Señor del sepulcro y no sabemos dónde lo han puesto". Todavía no cree en la resurrección, pues se mueve en un marco convencional.

Así que los dos discípulos, Pedro y Juan, corren como locos hacia el sepulcro, y Juan, el más joven, se adelanta a Pedro, el mayor. Qué detalle más extraño, por cierto, tan peculiar que llevó al novelista Graham Greene a aceptar la historicidad del relato.

Al llegar al sepulcro abierto, Juan mira dentro y ve "los

been reverenced as a relic of the crucifixion. I had a chance to see the Shroud in 2010, when I was a visiting scholar in Rome and the cloth was exposed briefly for public display. It is remarkably long - long enough indeed to have covered a body front and back. On it can be seen plainly enough rust colored markings that suggest the frontal and dorsal sides of a man about thirty years of age. Marks of violence can be seen on him, wounds from whipping and, quite clearly, from crucifixiongreat gashes in the wrists and feet, as well as a gaping wound in the side of the torso.

However, the most remarkable feature of the Shroud was revealed only in 1898, when it was photographed for the first time. When the photographer, a man named Segundo Pia, developed the film, he noticed that the negative of the photo revealed an exquisitely detailed depiction of the man of the Shroud, anatomically exact to a degree that no artist could have produced. So, what we see of the Shroud, he concluded, is itself a kind of photographic negative. And when scientists pored over the detailed version, what they saw took their breath away. Not only was the anatomy perfectly correct, but the details of the wounds were telling, corresponding to the very sort

of scourges that ancient Romans used. The “crown” of thorns was more of a cap, and the wound in the side gave evidence of both blood and pericardial fluid: the blood and water that St. John spoke of. Furthermore, traces of coins, bearing the inscription of Pontius Pilate, could be seen covering the eyelids. Also, seeds and pollen from the Middle East were found within the strands of the fabric.

How was the image formed?

Here the scientists were truly stumped, for absolutely no trace of paint or pigment could be found, and the marks did not work their way down into the fabric but colored only the very surface of the shroud. The closest they could come to naming it accurately was to refer to it as a “scorch,” something caused by an intense burst of radiation - which would furthermore explain the photographic negative quality of the image.

What in nature would produce such a phenomenon?

Nothing that we know. Does it indicate the fact of the resurrection, when in a great burst of light and energy, the body of Jesus was brought back to life? The extraordinary and mysterious Shroud of Turin speaks to us a great Easter truth, namely, that at the heart of Christianity stands, not a

myth or a legend or a symbol, but a fact: the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It was this historical truth that sent the first Christians careering around the world to announce “Gospel,” which means “good news.” They were not trading in philosophical abstractions or spiritual musings; rather, they were grabbing their interlocutors by the shoulders and telling them that something had happened.

From the Bishop 3

When St. John entered the tomb and saw the burial cloths, he “saw and believed.” There was something about those wrappings that convinced him. I wonder whether the same thing is true today in our hyper-skeptical age. We too can see the cloth in which Jesus’ body was wrapped, and we understand it far more thoroughly than St. John ever could have. Does it cause us to “see and believe?”

-Most Rev. Robert Barron, Bishop of Winona-Rochester

lienzos mortuorios". Luego llega Pedro y ve los mismos paños, así como el lienzo que había cubierto su cabeza "enrollado en un lugar aparte". ¿Se han preguntado alguna vez por qué se hace tanto hincapié en los lienzos mortuorios? La razón más obvia es que su presencia es peculiar. Si el cuerpo hubiera sido robado, ¿por qué se habrían molestado los ladrones en quitarle los elaborados paños y por qué se habrían tomado el tiempo y el esfuerzo de doblar el paño de la cabeza con tanto cuidado?

Pero, ¿es posible que también se mencionen de forma tan destacada porque eran muy apreciados por la antigua Iglesia? ¿Y es posible que al menos el paño principal siga existiendo hoy en día? Me refiero, por supuesto, a la famosa Sábana Santa de Turín, venerada durante siglos como reliquia de la crucifixión. Tuve la oportunidad de ver la Sábana Santa en 2010, cuando fui como académico invitado a Roma y el paño se expuso brevemente al público. Es extraordinariamente

largo, lo suficiente como para cubrir un cuerpo por delante y por detrás. En él se pueden ver claramente marcas de color óxido que sugieren los lados frontal y dorsal de un hombre de unos treinta años de edad. En él se pueden ver marcas de violencia, heridas de latigazos y, claramente, de crucifixión: grandes cortes en las muñecas y los pies, así como una herida abierta en el costado del torso.

Sin embargo, la característica más notable del Santo Sudario no se reveló hasta 1898, cuando fue fotografiado por primera vez. Cuando el fotógrafo, un hombre llamado Segundo Pia, reveló la película, observó que el negativo de la foto revelaba una representación exquisitamente detallada del hombre del Santo Sudario, anatómicamente exacta hasta un grado que ningún artista podría haber producido. Concluyó que lo que vemos de la Sábana Santa es una especie de negativo fotográfico. Y cuando los científicos estudiaron detenidamente la versión detallada, lo que vieron les dejó sin aliento. No sólo la anatomía era perfectamente correcta, sino que los detalles

de las heridas eran reveladores y correspondían al mismo tipo de flagelos que utilizaban los antiguos romanos. La "corona" de espinas era más bien un gorro, y la herida del costado mostraba sangre y líquido pericárdico: la sangre y el agua de las que hablaba San Juan. Además, se podían ver restos de monedas, con la inscripción de Poncio Pilato, cubriendo los párpados. También se encontraron semillas y polen de Medio Oriente entre las hebras de la tela. ¿Cómo se formó la imagen? Aquí los científicos estaban realmente perplejos, porque no se encontró rastro alguno de pintura o pigmento, y las marcas no penetraron en el tejido, sino que sólo colorearon la superficie del sudario. Lo más cerca que estuvieron de darle un nombre preciso fue calificarlo de "quemadura", algo causado por una intensa radiación, lo que explicaría además la calidad de negativo fotográfico de la imagen. ¿Qué elemento de la naturaleza podría producir un fenómeno semejante? Nada que conozcamos. ¿Indica el hecho de la resurrección, cuando en un

gran estallido de luz y energía, el cuerpo de Jesús fue devuelto a la vida? La extraordinaria y misteriosa Sábana Santa de Turín nos habla de una gran verdad de Pascua, a saber, que en el corazón del cristianismo no se encuentra un mito, una leyenda o un símbolo, sino un hecho: la resurrección corporal de Jesús de entre los muertos. Fue esta verdad histórica la que llevó a los primeros cristianos a recorrer el mundo para anunciar el "Evangelio", que significa "buena noticia". No hablaban de abstracciones filosóficas o reflexiones espirituales, sino que agarraban a sus interlocutores por los hombros y les decían que algo había sucedido. Cuando San Juan entró en el sepulcro y vio los lienzos mortuorios, "vio y creyó". Había algo en aquellas envolturas que le convenció. Me pregunto si ocurre lo mismo hoy, en nuestra época hiperescéptica. Nosotros también podemos ver el lienzo en el que se envolvió el cuerpo de Jesús, y lo comprendemos mucho mejor de lo que San Juan podría haberlo hecho jamás. ¿Nos hace "ver y creer"?

The Bishop's Calendar is on Page 16.
Non Nisi Te Domine
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the Cloths and Believed
Bishop Robert Barron
He Saw

Lay Formation &

Scriptural Lessons from These Holy Seasons

The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word that is love, mercy, forgiveness…. [T]he word of the Cross is also the answer that Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did.

-Pope Francis, Good Friday, 2013

�reetings of Peace in this Easter Season!

As I write this in the middle of March, we are in the midst of our Lenten journey. But, I also realize that it will be published early in the Easter Season. So, I would like to offer a reflection that honors the present Lenten time of fasting and penance and perhaps gives deeper meaning to the joyful Easter days to follow.

I have been reflecting a lot this Lent on what we learn from Jesus’ Passion and his Death on the Cross. These are days of immense suffering in our world, and of great division both in our country and around the globe. It seems like many, many people in our world are living through an experience of the passion, and even of death for those who have had loved ones perish due to famine, violence, and war. Within our own country, there is a deep and dark spirit of anger and hostility turning neighbor against neighbor in our public life.

How are we, as Christians and followers of our Crucified and Risen Lord, to respond?

On Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent, we hear Jesus tell his disciples as they are traveling to Jerusalem that he will be “mocked and scourged and crucified” (Matthew 20:19). This is directly followed by the mother of James and John requesting that her sons sit “one at your right and the other at your left” (Matthew 20:21) in Jesus’ kingdom. His response to her offers some of the most critical and most challenging words of Scripture.

Jesus notes that the rulers of the Gentiles “lord” their authority over others and make their power “felt”. But, in perhaps my favorite verse of the gospels, Jesus teaches: “But it shall not be so among you.” He then states: “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27)

Foreshadowing what is to come, he offers his life and his witness as the model: “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

We live in a time when many in our culture, and in our politics, are seeking power and authority in order to vanquish their political and ideological enemies. Sadly, at least for me, many of these declare that they are doing so in the name of Christianity. While it is not my place to judge anyone, I cannot accept this as the way of Christ: “But it shall not be so among you.”

The way of Christianity is the way of the Cross, the way of service, even the way of servitude. This is a very hard way, and many times I resist it in my life, but we do not get to the Resurrection and the promise of new life without accepting the humiliation, the self-surrender, and the hardship of the Cross.

As St. Paul taught, “[W]e proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25)

A second scripture that has stayed with me this Lent is from Saturday of the Third Week of Lent. It is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). It challenges me to repent of my sense of being “righteous” and judges any thoughts of mine which “despise” another.

It is a temptation of Lent to believe that our actions of penance and self-denial serve to “merit” God’s mercy. Although necessary and valuable, they do not. It is a humble heart that God desires, such as that of the tax collector, who prays, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And, in offering this simple prayer, fearing to "even raise his eyes to heaven," he is justified.

No one stands outside of God’s compassionate love and mercy. Our assurance of our own “righteousness” and of others’ sinfulness are spiritually very dangerous. The way to divine reconciliation and forgiveness is through the surrendering of our ego and our self-righteousness and by a recognition of our spiritual brokenness and need of God’s healing grace.

A final Lenten-Easter “lesson” comes from the Gospel Reading for Friday of the Third Week of Lent. It is Jesus’ response to the scribe’s question as to the “first of all the commandments.” Jesus’ words here are familiar to us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-34)

The spiritual writer DEACON JAY CORMIER, offers a deeply mov ing and beautiful reflection on this reading in the resource Give Us This Day. His words bridge these seasons of penance and joy, drawing on our eucharistic faith. Perhaps his inspiration can help to guide us, as Christians, through these often dark days to a place of light and hope:

Every week we gather around our parish altars. We place on the eucharistic table bread and wine as our offering to God, who consecrates them and returns them to us as the body and blood of his beloved Son. But imagine a bigger table, an altar on which is placed not just the eucharistic elements, but the means of realizing mercy, compassion, justice, forgiveness in our lives.

Imagine placing next to the paten and chalice your favorite casserole dish, the one you use to prepare suppers for neighbors experiencing crisis or hardship … the book you read to your child every night … the smartphone you put aside when a friend needs to talk, the yarn you use to knit shawls for the parish prayer shawl ministry, the snow shovel you use to clean your elderly neighbor’s walk.

All these gifts are sacramental; they reveal God in our midst…. With our eucharistic offerings, God accepts our most ordinary acts of mercy, our tools of reconciliation, our humble efforts to heal and reconcile. God accepts them and returns them as grace, blessing, and hope.

May we become what we offer at our altars: the embodiment of God’s mercy and peace, the vision of God’s compassion and justice to heal and lift up the broken, the fallen, the lost.

[Deacon Jay Cormier, “An Extra Leaf in Our Table,” from the March 2024 issue of Give Us This Day (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2024). Used with permission.]

The way of Lent, the way of the Cross, is to fast from and “crucify” “the works of the flesh:” “…hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions.” The way of Easter is to rejoice in and embrace “the fruit of the Spirit:” “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:19-24) Through self-sacrificing love, we journey from the suffering and death of the Cross to the light and new life of Easter… “Christ is risen! Christ is truly risen! Alleluia!” I wish you, and our world, peace and hope in these days of Easter joy. Deo Gratias!

The meeting with the Risen One transforms, it gives faith fresh strength and a steadfast foundation. For us, too, there are many signs through which the Risen One makes himself known: Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, all those acts of love that bring a ray of the Risen One. Let us permit ourselves to be illuminated by Christ’s Resurrection, let him transform us with his power, so that through us too the signs of death may give way to signs of life in the world.

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Structuring for the Lord's Mission

This article is the fourth in a series of four on how emerging models of evangelization in our secular age help us find our way forward in creating evangelizing parishes, especially in concert with the Eucharistic Revival. The four models (radical hospitality plus first proclamation, small group spiritual multiplication, honoring signs and wonders, and organizational mission re-focus) are explained more in my book The Four Ways Forward: Becoming an Apostolic Parish in a Post-Christian World (OSV Press, Nov 2022). Thanks for reading!

�’m going to be honest - my grandfather was an engineer. My father was an engineer. My brother is an engineer. My other brother is an IT professional who engineers an extensive university website. I thought for years, because I’m not a numbers person, that this gene missed me entirely.

As I moved into adulthood I slowly figured out I was very wrong. As a specialist in a subdiscipline called systematic theology (the study of Catholic doctrines and how they connect and support the broader faith “system”), engineering is not irrelevant

at all. Structure and relationships and method processes are key. And in terms of a parish communicating its mission and message, engineering–or structural re-focus–is also relevant to how the mission is lived, and the message heard.

Since we live in a culture that is less Christian by self-definition than at any time in American history, we need to seriously look at how our structures support the message that “God loves you and has a remarkable plan for your life–turn to God and trust his promises!” It is a deep temptation to say that we just need to do everything better, or recover the way we did it back in the day. Both of these may be good impulses. But I would argue that, given that our mission field (our surrounding culture) has changed dramatically, we need to look at our current parish structures and evaluate whether they help the good news be heard and lived in our current town.

What’s a Parish Structure?

What do I mean by parish structures? I’m not referring to structures that are mandated by canon law (councils, trustees), but I want to focus on the structures that are more of an American custom: at minimum, I refer to the division of labor under the leadership of the pastor, and whether directors, coordinators, and support apostolates are actively making disciples, or supporting the Church in a way that others can make disciples. I’ll give you an obvious example. We almost always have a person appointed

to faith formation, and sacramental prep, sometimes youth ministry, and often a ministry of care. Sometimes there is a coordinator or support apostolate for the social mission. In and of themselves, these are all good. Does your parish have a director or coordinator of evangelization? Or even a committee? If you have lost people (and I’ve seen the numbers, only one parish in the diocese has grown in the past few years), why not? Adding attention to evangelization as a key reality of the mission and how it is lived is a minimal re-organization move.

But adding a division of ministry (if that is what is needed) isn’t the only thing to assess. Here, we can get a clue from Jesus’ own parables, where he often refers to this proper structuring by tending a plant. You need good soil. You need God to provide the sunlight and rain. You need to prune in order to redirect energy and nutrition to the primary branches. You need deep roots. Then, before our very eyes, the plant will bear fruit. This is a critical assessment image to use as we think about parish organizational re-focus: is the parish bearing the fruit that it is called to bear? Or is the parish in a more stagnant stage of growth than the Lord hopes for us?

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Missionary Discipleship
Structuring, cont'd on pg. 13

Youth Ministry & Faith Formation

The State of Youth Ministry & Faith Formation

�very month we send out a newsletter to our youth ministry & faith formation coordinators across the diocese. (If you don’t receive that newsletter and would like to, let me know.) In my first couple of months, I included an assessment seeking feedback on the state of youth ministry and faith formation in their parish and in the diocese so I could get a good sense of how best I can serve our coordinators, parishes, and diocese in those specific areas. The feedback was great, and here are some highlights.

1. Numbers - 39 people in all provided feedback, which is pretty good (almost a third of all who receive the newsletter every month). 24 of those people work for or represent one parish apiece, 7 represent 2 parishes, 5 represent 3 parishes, 2 represent 4 parishes, and 1 represents 6 parishes (wow). Each deanery had at least three responses.

2. State of YM&FF - Overall, respondents indicated that their parishes seem to be doing the best they can. Some wrote that the state of youth ministry and faith formation is “strong” and “on fire,” others wrote that they are struggling. The sentiment I saw most often was one of “rebuilding” in light of trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

3. Strengths - Many of the respondents indicated their number-one strength is their catechists and dedicated volunteers. Another often-mentioned strength was efforts in family ministry or family activities.

4. Challenges - Finding the best way to engage parents was overwhelmingly the greatest challenge (almost every one of the respondents mentioned it as such). Trying to compete with extra-curricular activities was mentioned often. And, while most have great catechists, it seems to be a challenge to find, recruit, and train new catechists.

5. Dreams - When asked what 1-3 things they would do/implement if resources (such as time, money, etc...) were not a factor, respondents offered many ideas. Here are some of the most mentioned:

a. focus on family ministry, family formation of some sort, and activities for the whole family (I might sum this up as a desire to foster a family friendly community)

b. an increased focus on beautiful and reverent liturgy

c. curriculum that focuses on discipleship

d. more opportunities to encounter God in ways that lead to conversion and deeper commitment to living life as a disciple

e. space in the parish that is designed/decorated with more intentionality/purpose of providing an encounter with the Lord

f. more service opportunities

g. parent formation

h. dedicated staff for youth ministry and faith formation

6) Diocesan Assessment - I also asked respondents to tell me which diocesan efforts are most important.

a. Camp Summit was on the top of most everybody’s list as very important.

b. Steubenville and Totus Tuus were right behind Camp Summit.

c. March for Life and the National Catholic Youth Conference were not as strong as those first three, but were still listed as important or very important.

d. Finally, efforts such as TEC Retreats, Day-long opportunities like NEXT, and training/professional development were all important, but not quite as overwhelming as the above letters a, b, and c.

In general, it seems that Family Ministry and figuring out how to better engage, inform, and educate parents are high on the list of areas in need of attention. With that, and something that I didn’t mention specifically above even though it was laced through many of the responses, is a need to be better equipped in the area of evangelization.

This is great feedback for me as I look at ways in which I can best support our families, coordinators, parishes, and diocese. These responses will help to shape many of our efforts here in the Office of Youth Ministry & Faith Formation and I’m excited to see where the Holy Spirit leads us in the near future.

Next month I’ll lay out a vision for Youth Ministry & Faith Formation that will hopefully help us stay focused on the Father’s will, draw us deeper into relationship with the Son, and constantly seek guidance from the Holy Spirt as we strive to meet the needs of children, youth, and families across the diocese.

Please continue to pray for our families, coordinators, parishes, and diocese. Know of my prayers for all of you.

April 2024 w The Courier w 6

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month 7 Safe Environment


�n a society that emphasizes productivity, pleasure, and independence, it is all the more important to accompany those in need of care and compassion. When a person is in pain and in need, we are called to remind them that they are not alone. When a person has been beaten down and is feeling insignificant, we are called to remind them of their worth and the unconditional love that is bestowed upon them. Reaffirm the gift of childhood. Acknowledge the joy of innocence. As the Lord watches over all of us, so too must we watch over each other. Impress upon each person the moral obligation to care for one another, to respect each other. As a parent nurtures and protects a child, we are also called to protect each other, and intervene if we observe wrongdoing. On Blue Sunday (the last Sunday in April), we are united with the world in praying for the victim survivors of child abuse. Pray they will be rescued. Pray they are placed with caring people. Pray their minds and bodies can heal. Pray they find hope. Pray for those who rescue them. Pray for the witnesses to find courage. Pray for the community to be educated and find ways to support the efforts that will put an end to violence. Pope Francis has called upon all people to reflect on synodality. We are being asked to journey together, to listen and learn from each other, to discern together what is the will of the Holy Spirit. During this Child Abuse Prevention Month, let us listen carefully to the words of the wounded. Let us walk together on this journey of healing and building trust. The Holy Spirit will light the way through the darkness of evil. But we must take the time to listen, to heed this guidance as we draw the map of our journey to wholeness.

Did you know... Child abuse comes in many forms. Most people identify child abuse as physically hitting a child. Neglect is also a form of abuse. Failing to provide a child with proper nutrition, housing and supervision can cause irreparable harm. Expectations that a child be an active participant in the care of home and family, or even ageappropriate jobs is a part of healthy development. But excessive demands can cross into a form of servitude that is beyond the societal norms. Child pornography is a form of sexual abuse, with real victims in every image. The viewing of these images is an offence against the human dignity.

Did you know... Child abuse can occur in every culture and every socio-economic demographic. Peer reviewed research, especially that of the past 30 years, repeatedly shows this to be true. This same research indicates that the vast majority of child abuse occurs at the hands of someone known to the victim. Those who seek to do harm to children will pursue opportunities that provide access to children and may even ingratiate themselves into the home. You can protect children by respecting the safe environment protocols established at youth serving organizations. More importantly, you can implement many of these protocols in your home and be ever observant and vigilant in all public and private settings.

Did you know... Hope is rising. Throughout scripture there is evidence that we are called to be ambassadors of hope and healing. Did you know children of abuse long to hear this message of hope? Victims of crime, their family and loved ones need to know that their voices are heard. Organizations throughout the nation are striving to share the message that He has risen and there is hope. Each of us has a unique ability to support individuals who are hurting, to promote healthy relationships, and to build communities that are safe from those who may want to do harm. How has He called you to be an ambassador of hope and healing?

Did you know... The Catholic Church is deeply committed to protecting children from abuse and holding people accountable for inflicting such pain. In December 2021, the revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law went into effect. This is the most recent of several documents that specifically address the issue of the abuse of children. Other documents include Vos estis lux mundi and Vademecum. These documents expand the acts which are considered abusive, clarify the manner in which the cases are processed, and hold people accountable for their action or inaction with regard to processing of a case. Of significant importance is attention given to the care of victim survivors and all who have been harmed. Bishops in the U.S. lead the way for these changes with the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People 20 years ago. Today every diocese and eparchy must have in place systems for tending to those who have been harmed, protecting those in our care and seeking restorative justice.

Did you know... What is happening in the diocese to protect children?

• Training is provided for all adults and youth to identify warning signs and develop strategies for maintaining a safe environment for all.

• A designated Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to receive reports and accompany victims through their journey.

• A volunteer, independent Review Board assists the bishop in the review of cases and makes recommendations for moving forward.

• A Safe Environment Coordinator assists parish and school personnel with training and background screenings for anyone who may have access to children.

• An audit is conducted by an independent firm to evaluate implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Findings are incorporated with those of other dioceses and made available in an Annual Report.

The above is excerpted from a resource booklet shared online by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in February 2024. To view the booklet in its entirety, visit: CAPM_Booklet_-_February.pdf

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8 Catholic Schools

The Beginning of Catholic Schools in America

�atholic education in this country really began on May 9, 1852, at the First Plenary Council in Baltimore. Here, the bishops of the country met to outline a vision for the Church in America. At that meeting, one of the biggest concerns brought up was that public schools were presenting Protestant theology and teaching students about “popery,” which was a derogatory term for Catholics at the time. The bishops present, which was every bishop in the country at the time, declared that every parish should create a Catholic school and teach Catholic doctrine to children.

The newly appointed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. John Neumann, observing the massive influx of Catholic migrants into his diocese, began the process of creating the first diocesan school district in the nation. This was greatly supported by the faithful of his archdiocese who were experiencing outside influences and discrimination in their public schools. The Archbishop reached out to religious communities who answered his call. Sisters from around Europe arrived, ready to teach in these newly founded schools and to serve the children in their care.

After one of his students in Catholic school was hospitalized from injuries sustained from a beating because he was enrolled in a Catholic school, the Archbishop knew something had to be done. He wanted his students to be identifiable by other Catholic students so that they would be able to come to each other’s aide should another student be attacked. He was impressed by the sense of loyalty to the clan that Scottish immigrants who had come into his diocese held, and so he asked pastors in the diocese to model their children’s school uniforms after the Scottish Clans, which is why so many of our schools wear tartans to this day.

St. John Neumann also instituted Forty Hours Devotional practices throughout his archdiocese. At these sites the faithful would spend 40 straight hours in prayer before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It was to this devotional practice that St. John credited all of the success that his Catholic school system was demonstrating. He knew that it was through this devotion to prayer that our Lord provided His grace. This practice continues through today at several parishes in the archdiocese.

The bishops of the 1850s recognized that our Catholic children needed an educational environment that fostered our Catholic beliefs and held to the reality of the universality of Truth. This vision, established at the First Council of Baltimore, is just as true 172 years later. We know today that our students are being inundated with ideologies and agendas that are often in conflict towards our Catholic Theology and Catholic Social Teaching. And, our culture today is

St. Mary’s School, Worthington, Plans All Day, Every Day Preschool

This article is reprinted with permission from The Globe, Worthington.

WORTHINGTON - St. Mary’s School in Worthington will host a March 21 open house to showcase its classrooms and educational facilities. While the event invites parents to enroll their kindergarten-aged children in St. Mary’s, the real focus of the open house is to share information about the new all day, every day preschool program St. Mary's is starting for the next school year.

Rev. Tim Biren said the move to all day, every day preschool began with a request brought forth by community members seeking more daycare possibilities.

“Shortly after I got here, I ended up getting a phone call from (Community and Economic Development Associates child care specialist) Joshua Schuetz,” Biren said. “He ... shared with me the concerns of child care and early development opportunities for children within the community and the deficit of spacing needs for our children in the greater community."

Biren said after he listened to Shuetz and his concerns, he began to look into spacing at the church and school, trying to discern what St. Mary's could do to expand opportunities in the community.

"Where we made the decision to begin is by expanding all day, every day preschool this coming year and then eventually continuing to add programs as we go,” Biren shared.

Biren said a second section of all day, every day preschool will be added during the 2025-2026 school year, and said there is talk of potentially having a daycare at the school. He also said areas of the school not

currently used will be repurposed into classrooms for the upcoming school year.

Biren said Schuetz was not the only one who expressed a need for more child care opportunities within the school.

“I didn’t know if it was on the radar of our current parents, but after interviewing several of them I asked if they would be open to this opportunity and they were all enthusiastically ‘yes,’” he said. “ When they don’t have the opportunity for all day, every day, then they have to find child care or other options."

Biren said expanding St. Mary's preschool program provides a solution for parents in need of child care — and it's being offered in a Christian environment with meal programs and academic development that will help them from an early age to be successful.

The Catholic School Center of Excellence (CSCOE), a non-profit organization, is assisting St. Mary’s in implementing all of the school’s needs to establish the preschool program, as well as other expansion needs.

“These are people that have the experience and have the necessary skillset to make sure that we are doing everything appropriately,” Biren said. “We are currently interviewing and engaging an architect that will be coming through our building to see what initial needs need to be done yet this summer prior to the opening this fall.”

One of Biren's CSCOE contacts is its Director of Preschool Excellence, Oona Myhre, who is assisting with the school’s upcoming open house, among other things.

Myhre said the combination preschool-kindergarten open house on March 21 will showcase both the preschool space and the kindergarten space.

often openly hostile towards those who fully practice the faith. Catholic schools provide their students with an environment that allows them to intentionally seek out Truth. It allows students to study all content areas through the lens of our Faith. Our Catholic schools uphold our teachings which we hold fundamental to our beliefs as Catholics and for the common good of our society.

Although the religious sisters are not predominantly staffing our schools anymore, lay men and women have stepped into these roles with grace and professionalism unmatched. They make tremendous sacrifices, financially and otherwise, to ensure that our students are fully formed to go out and spread the Gospel into their workplaces, communities, and homes. I know we can be better, and through God’s grace, we will be better. We will continue to adapt to meet the challenges that are presented to us, and ensure that we remain just as viable and vital to the formation of the students that grace our schools for the next 172 years. Let us all pray, through the intercession of St. John Neumann, that our schools continue to thrive in serving our Lord’s children and to meet the challenges of today.

"It’s to get families in there both together (and) really cater to the current families that are already in the preschool space, being able to see the kindergarten classroom," Myhre said. "The whole point is that we all hope that everyone in our preschool will be staying for kindergarten and it’s also an opportunity to showcase both the preschool and kindergarten space to families that may not be familiar with the school space."

Myrhe said the new program will allow for bigger class sizes.

“My hope would be that you would have 20 fulltime (Monday through Friday) kiddos, 20 would be your max,” she said. “When it comes to part-time, because kids would potentially be splitting schedules, you could actually have ... 20 kids on any given day, but you could potentially have anywhere from 35 or even 40 depending on the part-day schedules that they choose.”

Biren, who became the priest at St. Mary's last October, said he has made a concerted effort to become more present in the student’s school life and faculty meetings. He said being more present to the students is not only beneficial for the students and staff, but also for himself.

“I’m involved minimally weekly, but I do make walkthroughs and visits three out of the five days a week,” he said. “There are moments where I’ll join the kids for lunch or on the playground for recess, we have our weekly liturgy together and to just be involved as much as I can.

"I also attend all of our teacher-staff meetings to be a support to them, to offer assistance to them in various ways," he added. "I recognize the need to be very present for this school as we continue to grow and see exciting things on the horizon and our future.”

For more information about St. Mary's School, visit

Samuel Martin is a reporter for The Globe, Worthington.

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Living as Joyful Disciples at St. Mary's School, Caledonia

�t. Mary’s School in Caledonia has had an exciting, productive, and active school year! The theme for this school year is “Living as Joyful Disciples.” Being a disciple means you are called to be witnesses of Christ to the world. Catholics are called by God to serve as his disciples in many different ways. Disciples have characteristics and qualities that are present in their everyday life. We study individuals that Jesus chose during his time on earth, to help us know what a true follower of Christ is. Each month, the school focuses on a quality and a story of a disciple.

Throughout the school year, students, teachers, and staff members have been grateful to have several opportunities for both learning and fun! In the fall, students were able to attend a fall field trip and enjoy the beautiful weather outside. The older students went to a corn maze, and the younger students went to an apple orchard. Each grade also has an upcoming spring field trip to celebrate all the hard work they have done this year!

The St. Mary’s Student Council Team has put in a lot of time and effort to plan events and activities for the school. They have led trivia days and

dress up days, and have given back to the community with a very successful Penny Wars. They also decorated a float for the homecoming parade, hosted the Winter Snowball Dance, and are currently working on the Spring Middle School Dance.

Catholic Schools Week was celebrated with lots of energy and school spirit! Throughout the week, students participated in different wholeschool activities. We kicked off the week with a pancake breakfast and continued on with school STEM activities, community career fair, the St. Mary’s Got Talent show, olympics, four corners game, and BINGO! The week ended with the Snowball Dance and Fun Night for St. Mary’s students and families.

The Believe and Read program started this school year in our kindergarten through secondgrade classrooms! We have seen phenomenal growth with our students throughout the year and look forward to continuing implementing it in third grade next year. We are so grateful to CSCOE for providing us with this wonderful opportunity for our students, staff, and school!

Throughout the various activities and events during the school year, St. Mary’s students and staff have modeled what is meant to be living as joyful disciples. We look forward to the continued growth academically and spiritually, and growing

9 Catholic Schools

stronger in our faith! St. Mary’s School has been blessed with another wonderful school year!

Rebecca Stutzman is the principal of St. Mary's School in Caledonia.

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Life, Marriage & Family

Catholic Rural Life Celebrates 100 Years

ST. PAUL - Catholic Rural Life (CRL), a steadfast advocate for rural and sustainable living, is proud to announce the celebration for its 100th anniversary. This historic milestone marks a century of dedicated service, deeprooted faith, and a commitment to fostering thriving rural communities.

In commemoration of this significant occasion, on May 8, 2024, Catholic Rural Life will gather members and friends from around the country for a day of celebration at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. The event will focus on celebrating, learning the rich history, and sharing plans about the future.

• Distinguished Speakers: His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Archbishop of New York), Monsignor James Shea (President of St. Mary University in Bismarck), Dr. Christopher Thompson (University of St. Thomas), Dr. James L. Nolan (Williams College)

Founded in 1923, Catholic Rural Life has spent a century dedicating hard work and prayer to promoting Catholic life in rural America. Through the decades, our organization has played a pivotal role in promoting faith, social justice, and sustainable living practices. This anniversary serves as an opportunity to reflect on our journey, celebrate achievements, and look forward to continued growth.

We are immensely proud to celebrate a century of Catholic Rural Life, rooted in faith, community, and stewardship. This milestone is a testament to the dedication of our members, supporters, partners, and the communities we serve. All glory be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us into this mission of laboring in this rural apostolate

Executive Director at Catholic Rural Life

To register for this monumental event, visit:

About Catholic Rural Life

Catholic Rural Life (CRL) is a national, Catholic nonprofit organization dedicated to the vitality of the American countryside. Since 1923, we have been promoting Catholic life in rural America. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, CRL is a membership-based organization, composed of dedicated bishops, laity, and religious who are joined in a common effort to serve the rural Church, rural people, and their communities.

Our vision is thriving families, farms, and parishes - centered on faith, community, and care of creation. While the issues that affect rural communities have changed over the decades, CRL’s commitment to rural America has never wavered. Learn more about our mission and programs at

Zachary Wiese is the communications manager for Catholic Rural Life

Inside the Capitol, cont'd from pg. 1

organizations, churches, and schools from acting on religious beliefs regarding human sexuality. In practice, this could mean, among other things, that the MHRA requires a church to employ a transgender person as its religious education director, or that a Catholic school would be prohibited from teaching that God created us male and female and not “nonbinary.”

This is a drastic shift in the MHRA and a serious infringement on religious liberties in Minnesota.

On Thursday, February 29, an amendment to the MHRA was proposed by Rep. Harry Niska (R-Ramsey) which would restore religious protection from claims of discrimination based on gender identity. Leaders from the Catholic Church, Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, the Islamic Center of Minnesota, and the Association of Christian Schools International testified in person in support of this amendment, asking that their organizations’ deeply held religious beliefs regarding human sexuality be respected, and underscoring the crucial importance of governmental noninterference with those beliefs.

It was hoped that not including a religious exemption to the new MHRA gender identity language was a simple oversight rather than an intentional infringement on religious liberties.

Unfortunately, legislators made clear that this was no oversight and were clear that the intent was to persecute some faith communities because of their supposedly bigoted beliefs.

Representatives opposed to the religious restoration amendment commented that it was disturbing, appalling, and infuriating, and that the amendment is just an excuse for hatred. Of course, this is not the case.

These words are troubling on many fronts, especially when considered alongside the so-called “Equal Rights Amendment” (ERA) (S.F. 37) to the Minnesota Constitution.

The ERA would force women’s rights and religious freedom to take a backseat to harmful gender ideology. Like the new MHRA language, the ERA includes “gender identity or expression” as a protected status but excludes protection for “religion” or “creed.”

So, what does the ERA and the changes to the MHRA mean for people of faith in Minnesota?

The ERA is a blank check to courts to impose new forms of discrimination rules. For example, religious organizations may be prohibited from acting on their religious beliefs regarding human sexuality. They could be required to cover gender “transition” procedures in their employees’ health plans, to hire individuals who are not living in accordance with the teachings of that faith, to affirm a student’s decision to transition, or be prohibited from teaching their religious beliefs. We can also expect to see more men allowed in women’s shelters, prisons, sports, and bathrooms.

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Inside the Capitol, cont'd on pg. 13

Accompany Jesus!

“�trive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (Luke 13:23).

The narrow gate opens to the Cross and the tomb. Many have striven to enter, only to find he is not strong enough, weakened by his wounds.

Look beyond the Cross, beyond the ugliness of Golgotha, beyond the darkness of the tomb! Look to the glory and light that follows. God allows the Cross and the tomb for us all, but he wills for us the resurrection. God allows our wounds and weaknesses, but he redeems and heals them.

The Cross is the narrow gate, through which we must pass. It opens to the darkness of the tomb from which we pass to newness of life. The Cross is the gate, the tomb is the wait, and the resurrection is the healing. Whoever accompanies Jesus through it all will triumph with him.

Go to the Cross! Stand there and listen. Suffer the coming of the Word of the Father into your lives. Suffer the Gospel. This is the narrow gate. Let Jesus, the Word of the Father, possess you! Accompany him into the darkness of the tomb, and find healing Easter morning.

We must accompany Jesus. Healing requires pressing our wounds into the wounds of Jesus. Pressing our wounds into his wounds brings healing. Pressing our wounds into his wounds enables us to accompany the people to whom we are sent to serve. By pressing our wounds into the wounds of Jesus we see the unique way God has planned to reveal his Son through us.

What is your Cross? What are your wounds? Maybe it is some form of abuse or neglect. Maybe it is a serious health concern. Maybe it is an addiction to food, alcohol, chemicals, or pornography. Maybe it is having witnessed the abuse of others. Whatever it is, name it, surrender it, beg for the grace of healing, and then do whatever he tells you to do.

Now is the time to embrace the Cross. Now is the time to be healed. Now is the time to do the small necessary things that bring about change. Now is the time to never lose hope in the healing God wills for you.

Lectors Installed

�hree of our diocesan seminarians, Gabriel Rysavy, Alexander Peters, and John Vrchota were installed in the Ministry of Lector by the Most Reverend Robert Barron on March 16 at Holy Trinity Church in Litomysl, Gabriel’s home parish. It is now their place to proclaim the readings as they strive to live out the demands of the Gospel. This is a step toward their eventual (God-willing) ordination to priesthood. Please pray for these men and for the other 22 men in formation for diocesan priesthood.


All of us want to change external things but not many of us want to go through the process of internal change and healing and accompanying Jesus. Letting go of well-known attitudes, behaviors, sins, or lifestyles we have developed can be difficult. We need to continually do small things over and over again that bring about change. We must never lose hope and never tire of begging God for healing.

Jesus knew that healing would be difficult for us. Jesus knew the Cross and the tomb would be difficult places for us to go. He knew the gate is narrow. He gives us his Spirit to strengthen and encourage us.

I leave you with this admonition from St. John Paul II who said, “Do not be afraid! Open wide your hearts to Christ!”

Yes, my brothers and sisters, do not be afraid! Open your hearts to Jesus Christ.

Deacon Robert Yerhot serves the parishes of St. Mary in Caledonia and St. Patrick in Brownsville.

April 2024 w The Courier w 11 Diaconate
& Vocations
Deacon John Hust Director of the Permanent Diaconate Pictured below (L to R) are: Gabriel Rysavy, Alexander Peters, Vocations Director Fr. Jason Kern, Bishop Robert Barron, Vocations Promoter Fr. Brian Mulligan, and John Vrchota. Caption submitted administrative assistant for the offices of Vocations and Diaconate in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. Photos by LEANDRA HUBKA, assistant to the Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.

Catholic Charities

Caring for Our Neighbors

The Enduring Impact of Catholic Charities

�rom the banks of the Mississippi River in Winona to the open fields and prairies of Luverne, we touch the lives of those in need across southern Minnesota.

I often find myself highlighting to people that our Catholic Charities has faithfully served the communities of southern Minnesota for over 75 years. As the social services arm of the Diocese, we were initially formed to respond to the needs of orphaned children. Now, seven decades later, we've expanded to run more than a dozen programs, aiding those in need across our local communities. When talking about my work, some acknowledge our presence with remarks like, "Oh, I know about your homeless shelter down the road," or "Yes, my niece has been able to get help with diapers from Catholic Charities!" Yet, I'm still met with surprise when someone says, "There's a Catholic Charities around here?" I find it bewildering that, after 75 years, this can be so! So as I sit here today thinking about our upcoming Annual Appeal on Mother’s Day Weekend, with much hope for support, I wonder why some have heard of us while others haven’t.

One conclusion I came to was that it’s our longevity. While age often signifies wisdom and experience, it

can also cause us to not be in the forefront of people’s minds. To this, some acceptance is needed; age happens to us all, and we will continue to lead with our faith and knowledge of 75 years and care for people in their time of need. Let’s face it, Catholics understand more than most the wisdom of age after more than 2,000 years of carrying out God’s work!

I came to another conclusion: if you don’t need us you might not know us. How do we inspire people to support our Catholic Charities mission of caring for the poor and marginalized, if they themselves haven’t needed our help? For all of you who don’t know us, there are many who do. They are those in our communities that seek counseling during the long, isolating Minnesota winters or those facing the daunting prospect of medication costs, only to find relief through our prescription assistance program. You would know us if war separated you from your child for over 16 years until our resettlement team reunited your family; or if you’d considered adoption and found supportive staff at our agency whether you decided to parent or give a loving couple an opportunity to create a family.

You might know us through a renewed commitment to your health by joining our SAIL Active Aging classes. Or through advocates that have to make important decisions when those in our community can’t make them for themselves. You might never know what it’s like having to seek refuge from the bitter cold in one of our warming shelters, but we know that with

wisdom comes the ability to understand that there are people in our communities that need our support. By supporting Catholic Charities you are helping your community and putting Catholic social teachings into action, as is articulated by our Parish Social Ministries program.

Maybe you HAVE heard of us, and after more than 75 years, we certainly hope so. We are YOUR Catholic Charities, dedicated to caring for your neighbors in southern Minnesota, and for you, too, if find yourself in a time of need. It's for this reason that we humbly request your donations and support during our Annual Appeal in the parishes May 11 and 12 - Mother’s Day Weekend. Learn more about Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota at Keep an eye out for our Annual Appeal mailer with stories from those in our communities that we have empowered to grow in their faith and their futures. Many thanks from your Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.

12 April 2024 w The Courier w

Most troublingly, parents will likely lose their ability to raise their child and protect them from harmful gender ideology. Children could be taken from their homes to be gender-transitioned according to court order when their parents refuse. This chilling outcome should get everyone off their couch and into the public square opposing the ERA and similar legislation.

If the Legislature does not adjust course, the potential for persecution of fundamental freedoms will be cemented in the state constitution and rules about who our churches employ and what our schools teach is decided by the government, not by our faith, with only the federal courts as a last defense.

Visit today to learn more and to send a message to your legislators asking them to support the religious restoration amendment to the MHRA and to oppose the ERA.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference has been the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota since 1967. The voting members of the MCC's board of directors are Minnesota's Catholic bishops.


In the Diocese

I won’t deny that this is challenging work, and involves hard decisions. But once decisions are made, growing for evangelization becomes so much easier. And there are apostolates that will help–The Amazing Parish is one used by some parishes in our diocese, and Divine Renovation offers good tools as well. The Office of Missionary Discipleship offers some assessment tools as well (it’s a particular interest of mine). This is work that is often easier with an outside point of view.

Structuring for Revival?

What connection does this have to the Eucharistic Revival? Well, this Eucharistic Revival is, essentially, a Jesus Christ revival. It is a “return and recognize the Lord” revival. The Lord himself said “I am the vine, you are the branches.” If we restructure with the question, "How is the Lord our source here?" and "Is this branch of the Lord’s mission bearing fruit?" - that would be deeply helpful. If the Lord is not the center of the parish, it simply becomes a friendly non-profit organization. The Church is called to be different, and ordained by God himself. Let’s give the initiative to God by allowing him to prune, weed, and support our structures back into a more perfect mission fulfillment, leading people to Christ and healing a broken world.

13 April 2024 w The Courier w Inside the Capitol, cont'd from pg. 10
cont'd from pg. 5

Updates from the CCW

�ur quarterly member meeting on Saturday, April 13, has been moved to Good Shepherd Church in Jackson. In-depth speakers will be from Leadership and International Commissions. Rosary, Mass, breakfast, lunch are part of the day. The day begins at 8 a.m. All women are invited!!

This month I’m focusing on the Spirituality Commission.

The Spirituality Commission reinforces faith and supports service to the Church and to the world through discipleship and spiritual growth; and encourages legislative advocacy at the local, state, and national levels, guided by Catholic social teaching (from the National Council of Catholic Women website

Our Board is looking for a Spirituality Commission Chair. Please contact me if God is calling you to serve and use your faith to promote and enrich the spirituality of our women. Please call me at 507-381-2842 or email

In other news, the St. Paul and Minneapolis Province Conference is at St. Mary’s Church in Sleepy Eye on June 25, and the National Council of Catholic Women Convention is in Oklahoma City, OK, August 13-17. Our Winona-Rochester Diocesan Convention is at the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester on October 12.

Also, remember that you can receive the Connecting Catholic Women e-newsletter by sending your request to our editor at

Finally, I'll close this month with an election year statement from the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) Legislative Advocacy Committee (reprinted from The President’s Pen, March email):

Forming Your Conscience Before You Vote!

Election season is here! Let us enter the season with prudence. Prudence is critical as we hear many competing voices. Many voters’ guides will say they are Catholic but present conflicting messages.

In their document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FCFFC), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gives us a thorough overview of teaching about political responsibility. They encourage Catholics to seek resources authorized by our own bishops, state Catholic conferences, and the USCCB.

Unlike statements from groups claiming to be Catholic but who say that only a few issues matter, FCFFC gives teaching on a full spectrum of issues important for Catholics. Unlike voters’ guides that tell which candidates or political parties to support, the USCCB tells us to form our consciences and vote prudently in our unique situation. They remind us, Catholics may choose different ways to respond to compelling social problems, but we cannot differ on our moral obligation to help build a more just and peaceful world through morally acceptable means, so that the weak and vulnerable are protected and human rights and dignity are defended. Read Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship at forming-consciences-faithful-citizenship.

Shelly Holt is the president of the Winona-Rochester Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

14 April 2024 w The Courier w
April 2024 w The Courier w


Sister Lucille Dehen, SSND, 89, died January 9, 2024, at Benedictine Living Community - St. Gertrude’s, Shakopee. Funeral services were held March 11 at Windermere Chapel, Shakopee, with Father John Kunz as presider. Burial followed in the Good Counsel Cemetery, Mankato.

Sister Lucille, a St. Paul native, was born in 1934. She graduated from Good Counsel Academy in Mankato in 1952 and entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame that same year. She professed first vows in 1954. She served as a teacher and administrator in Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington State Catholic Schools including St. Felix, Wabasha (1963-68). In 1994 she became director of the Good Counsel Learning Center, a position she held until 2005. She continued as a staff member at the Learning Center until her retirement in 2020. In addition to working at the Learning Center, she also tutored students at Fitzgerald Middle School in Mankato from 2006 until 2010, through the Foster Grandparent program. She moved with other School Sisters of Notre Dame to Benedictine Living Community in Shakopee in the fall of 2022.

Sister Lucille is survived by her sister, Virginia “Ginger” Dehen; her brothers, Bob and Bill (Judy); nieces and nephews; and her sisters in community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND Associates. She was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Mildred (Stark) Dehen; a sister, Carol Mahre; and a brother, John. A longer obituary is available at www.ssndcp. org/obituaries.

Sister Mary Magdala Winter, SSND, 96, died February 26, 2024, at Benedictine Living Community - St. Gertrude’s, Shakopee. Funeral services were held March 4 in the Windermere Chapel, Shakopee, with Father John Kunz as presider. Burial followed in the Good Counsel Cemetery, Mankato.

Sister Magdala was born in St. Paul in 1927. She graduated from Good Counsel Academy in Mankato in 1945 and entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato that same year. Following profession of first vows in 1948, she taught and was a guidance counselor in several Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota Catholic schools, including St. John’s, Mankato (1954-55); Loyola High School, Mankato (1958-65 and 1974-78) and Good Counsel Academy, Mankato (1978-80). She served in pastoral ministry at St. Stanislaus, Winona (1983-95) and St. Joseph the Worker, Mankato/Holy

April 11, Thursday

Family, Lake Crystal (1995-99). She also provided pastoral care for sisters in Good Counsel’s healthcare (1999-2007). She moved with other School Sisters of Notre Dame to Benedictine Living Community in Shakopee in the fall of 2022.


April 5-14, Friday-Sunday

*indicates event is open to the public

April 5, Friday

7 p.m. - Confirmation - St. James, St. James

April 6, Saturday

10:30 a.m. - Confirmation - St. Joseph the Worker, Mankato

2 p.m. - ConfirmationImmaculate Conception, St. Clair

Sister Magdala is survived by her sister, Jane Krueger; nieces and nephews; and her sisters in community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND Associates. She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Mary Ann (Weirick) Winter; her sister, Sister Josine Winter, SSND; and her brothers, Bill, Eugene, Jack, Joseph, Robert and Tom. A longer obituary is available at

Sister Paulanne Gruber, SSND, 91, died February 29, 2024, at Benedictine Living Community - Windermere, Shakopee. Funeral services were held March 7 at Windermere Chapel, Shakopee, with Father Joe Fogal as presider. Burial followed in the Good Counsel Cemetery, Mankato.

Sister Paulanne, was born in 1932 in St. Paul. She graduated from Good Counsel Academy in Mankato in 1950 and entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame that same year. She professed first vows in 1953. She taught primary grades in Minnesota Catholic schools, including one year at St. John the Baptist, Mankato, before transitioning to the healthcare field. As a registered nurse, she worked in healthcare at the Good Counsel provincial house from 1967 until 1977. She completed training to become a geriatric nurse practitioner and then worked with the Olmsted Medical Group in Rochester and the Mankato Clinic. Following her retirement in 2002, she volunteered in several areas, spending the years from 2005-10 at Sacred Heart convent in Waseca. In 2010 she returned to Good Counsel Hill, where she used her seamstress abilities to assist in the Good Counsel sewing room. She moved with other School Sisters of Notre Dame to Shakopee in 2022.

Sister Paulanne is survived by her brother, Richard (Sheila); three nephews; and her sisters in community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND Associates. She was preceded in death by her parents, Leopold and Lorraine (Altmeyer) Gruber; and her brother, Paul. A longer obituary and a recording of her funeral will be available at

April 14, Sunday

10 a.m. - Real Presence Radio

Live Interview

11 a.m. - Clergy Personnel Committee - Winona

2:15 p.m. - Q&A with High School Juniors and SeniorsCotter Schools, Winona

April 12, Friday

4:30 p.m. - Bishops and Rector Dinner - International Event Center, Rochester

2 p.m. - Confirmation - Christ the King, Byron

April 17, Wednesday

7 p.m. - Confirmation - St. Joseph, Owatonna

April 18, Thursday

11:30 a.m. - Senior Priest Luncheon - Pax Christi, Rochester

April 19, Friday

Speaker for Day of Recollection - St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul

The Church of St. Pius X, Rochester, is excited to host a moving and informative mobile exhibit on the Shroud of Turin. The centerpiece is a full-length canvas replica of the Shroud. The exhibit also contains display banners detailing the history and science of the Shroud. If you have questions, contact the parish office at 507-288-8238 or church@ A public viewing schedule can be accessed by visiting:

April 21, Sunday

St. Patrick's Church, Brownsville, will host its Spring Fling from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Breakfast $15 per adult meal; $10 per youth meal; 5 & younger eat free. Dine-in or carryout. Egg bake, sausage, pancakes, fruit juice & coffee. Also, Big Ticket raffle, silent auction, quilt raffle, basket raffles, jewelry sale, bake sale, and children's games available. 604 Adams Street in Brownsville. Find us on Facebook: stpatrickschurchbrownsvillemn.

April 28, Sunday

St. Patrick's Church, West Albany, will host a Chicken BBQ Dinner with Silent Auction & Quilt Raffle 11a.m. - 1p.m. or until gone. $14 half-chicken dinner. $10 quarter-chicken dinner. Proceeds go toward church steeple repair. 30932 Highway 60 in Millville.

The Televised Mass Is Offered Every Sunday

Sioux Falls - ODLT Channel 7 at 7 a.m.

Sioux City - KPTH Channel 44 at 8:30 a.m.

Mankato - KEYC Channel 12 at 7:30 a.m.

Digital Channel 12.2 or Charter Channel 19 NEYC at 9:30 a.m.

Digital Channel 7 (DirecTV) or Channel 11 (DISH) KMNF at 9 a.m.

Rochester/Austin/Mason City

KIMT Channel 3 at 7:30 a.m.

MyTV 3.2 at 9 a.m.

Twin Cities - WFTC Digital Channel 29 or Channel 9.2 at 11:30 a.m.

Southeastern MN - HBC Channel 20 at 3 p.m. (repeated Wed. at 3:30 p.m.)

Winona/La Crosse/Eau Claire - WLAX/ WEUX Channel 25/48 at 7:30 a.m. and on our website, (click "Weekly Mass")

April 21, Sunday

2 p.m. - Confirmation - Ss. Peter and Paul, Blue Earth

April 24, Wednesday

10 a.m. - Mass - St. Elizabeth's Senior Living, Wabasha

April 25, Thursday

*2 p.m. - National Catholic Partnership on Disability Series on Persons with Disabilities in the Church - Online

April 26, Friday

7 p.m. - Confirmation - St. Pius X, Rochester

April 27, Saturday

2 p.m. - Confirmation - St. Edward, Austin

April 28, Sunday

*2 p.m. - Young Adult MassPax Christi, Rochester

April 30, Tuesday

*9:30 a.m. - School Mass - St. Francis of Assisi, Rochester

• The Courier April 2024
Bishop's Calendar
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