The Courier - May 2024

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Diocese ParticiPates in

Synod on Synodality

�n March, parishioners from around the diocese took part in two listening sessions as part of the Interim Phase of the Synod on Synodality. Around Christmas, Rome requested that additional diocesan conversations take place to discuss particular questions and offer input to the second session of the Synod on Synodality, which will resume in October of this year.

Sixty-six participants representing over twenty percent of the parishes in the diocese participated in two sessions. Among those who took part, 35 laywomen, 24 laymen, 2 religious sisters and 7 clergy joined Bishop Barron for Mass and a three-hour session. The first gathering was held on March 9 at Ss. Peter and Paul’s Parish in Blue Earth, and the second took place on March 23 at Holy Redeemer in Eyota. The majority of participants were, by design, parish leaders. Due to the nature of the questions discussed, pastors, parish pastoral and finance council members, trustees and staff were particularly invited to offer input on two guiding questions:

1. Where have I seen or experienced successes - and distresses - within the Church’s structure(s)/organization/leadership/life that encourage or hinder the mission?

2. How can the structures and organization of the Church help all the baptized to respond to the call to proclaim the gospel and to live as a community of love and mercy in Christ?

Participants began their discussion of each question with a prayerful listening to one another, as each person at the table took a turn to share from their lived experience. After everyone spoke, table groups then paid attention to where the Holy Spirit was highlighting convergences - or areas of agreement - and other matters for consideration. While there may not have been unequivocal agreement on successes and distresses within the Church’s structure, some general themes emerged.

It was agreed that the Church in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester has been largely successful in areas such as: collaboration of laity and clergy, Catholic schools, lay formation programs, women’s participation in parish leadership (for example: parish and diocesan staff, catechists, pastoral councils), and in social service ministries.

Minnesota Catholic Conference

Inside the Capitol

Legislators Roll Dice on Sports Gambling

�he debate over the legalization of sports gambling has intensified at the Legislature, raising concerns about the potential negative impacts on individuals and communities. The Minnesota Catholic Conference stands firm in our opposition to the expansion of gambling, advocating instead for strict limitations and expansive safeguards against addiction.

The proliferation of online sports betting, easily accessible via smartphones, poses significant risks to society. It exploits vulnerabilities, particularly among young men, by capitalizing on addictive tendencies and exacerbating gamblingrelated harms. According to this 2023 Newsweek report, alarming statistics speak volumes: in Virginia, calls to gambling helplines surged by 387% after legalization, while nationally, the incidence of gambling addiction has risen by 30% since 2018. Shockingly, in New Jersey, an estimated six percent of residents now suffer from gambling disorder.

Contrary to the belief that gambling is harmless entertainment, it often leads to devastating consequences for individuals and families, especially those already struggling financially. While some may argue for personal choice, the reality is that most gamblers lack the necessary self-control and financial stability to withstand potential losses.

May 2024 Official Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester, MN | Intercessory Prayer Team Poverty Immersion Program Recognizing and Living Out 'A Vision of the Good' page 4 page 7 page 11 INSIDE this issue Holy Trinity May 26
Synod, cont'd on pg. 14
Inside the Capitol, cont'd on pg. 16 Greg Sobolewski moderates the March 9 synodal gathering at Ss. Peter and Paul's Parish in Blue Earth.

A Better World Can't Be Built 'Lying on the Couch,' Pope Tells Children

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Peace can spread and grow from "small seeds" like including someone who is left out of an activity, showing concern for someone who is struggling, picking up some litter and praying for God's help, Pope Francis told Italian schoolchildren.

"At a time still marked by war, I ask you to be artisans of peace," the pope told some 6,000 Italian schoolchildren involved in the National Network of Schools of Peace, a civic education program designed to teach the children to care for themselves, their friends, their communities, the world and the environment.

During the gathering April 19 in the Vatican audience hall, Pope Francis led the children in a moment of silent prayer for their peers in Ukraine and in Gaza.

"In a society still prisoner of a throwaway culture," he told them, "I ask you to be protagonists of inclusion; in a world torn by global crises, I ask you to be builders of the future, so that our common home may become a place of fraternity."

The pope drew the children's attention to the U.N. Summit of the Future, which is scheduled

Tribunal Judge

for Sept. 22-23 in New York to draft a "Pact for the Future," focused on promoting international cooperation and partnerships to ensure "a world that is safer, more peaceful, more just, more equal, more inclusive, more sustainable, and more prosperous."

While government leaders and experts in a variety of fields obviously must get involved to make that hope a reality, the pope said, the pact will remain "just words on a page" without a commitment by all people of good will to take concrete steps aimed at changing harmful behavior and building communities and societies where everyone feels they are cared for and belong.

"This is a dream that requires being awake and not asleep," he told the young people. The world can change for the better only when people are out in the world, "not lying on the couch," using media to create connections and not just waste time, "and then -- listen carefully -- this kind of dream is realized by praying, that is, together with God, not by our strength alone."

"Peace, in fact, is not only a silence of weapons and absence of war," Pope Francis said. "It is a climate of benevolence, trust and love that can mature in a society based on caring relationships, in which individualism, distraction and indifference give way to the ability to pay attention to others, to listen to their needs, to heal their wounds, to be instruments of compassion and healing."

The Holy Father's Intention for May 2024

For the Formation of Religious and Seminarians

We pray that religious women and men, and seminarians, grow in their own vocations through their human, pastoral, spiritual and community formation, leading them to be credible witnesses to the Gospel.

The Most Rev. Robert Barron, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, announces the following:

Vicar for Clergy

Rev. Martin Schaefer: appointed Vicar for Clergy for the Diocese of WinonaRochester, effective July 1, 2024.


Very Rev. Marreddy Pothireddy: appointed Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the Diocese of WinonaRochester, effective July 1, 2024.

Mrs. Michelle Gerlach: appointed 1st Instance Judge for the Diocese of WinonaRochester Tribunal, effective March 19, 2024, through January 16, 2029.


Rev. James Berning: appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Adams, St. John the Baptist Parish in Johnsburg, Queen of Peace Parish in Lyle, and St. Peter Parish in Rose Creek, effective April 15, 2024.

The Courier is the official publication of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester 55 West Sanborn, P.O. Box 588, Winona, MN 55987 Vol 115 - 5

Most Reverend Robert E. Barron, Publisher Nick Reller, Associate 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)

Rev. Pratap Salibindla, OFM: appointed Pastor of St. Casimir Parish in Wells, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Easton, and St. John the Baptist Parish in Minnesota Lake, effective April 15, 2024.

Very Rev. Peter Schuster: appointed Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Windom, Sacred Heart Parish in Brewster, and Sacred Heart Parish in Heron Lake, in addition to his current assignments, effective April 15, 2024.

Rev. Luis Vargas: appointed Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rochester, effective April 15, 2024.

Parochial Vicar

Rev. Antony Arokiyam: appointed Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Brewster, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Currie, St. Gabriel Parish in Fulda, Sacred Heart Parish in Heron Lake, St. Columba Parish in Iona, St. Mary Parish in Lake Wilson, St. Ann Parish in Slayton, St. Anthony Parish in Westbrook, and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Windom, effective April 15, 2024.

Child Abuse Policy Information

Where to Find The Courier

• Hard copies are distributed at DOW-R parishes on the first weekend of each month.

• An online version may be viewed at courier/index.html

• To be added to the home delivery list free of charge, readers should send their names and addresses to:

Diocese of Winona-Rochester The Courier 55 W Sanborn St. Winona, MN 55987 or

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

Articles of Interest May 2024 w The Courier w 'A Vision of the Good'______________________4 All Are Welcome to Ministry Days 2024_______5 Unity in Our Diversity______________________6 Providing Help When You Need It____________6 Intercessory Prayer Team__________________7 Catholic Schools Updates_________________8-9 Parents' Influence on Vocational Discernment_10 Poverty Immersion Program_______________11 Diocesan Headlines____________________12-16
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The Courier

Three Great Themes in Dignitas Infinita

�very secular and religious commentator seems particularly interested in what the Church says in its new document Dignitas infinita regarding gender theory and the morality of sex-change operations. And it does indeed say interesting things about both, but I want to highlight three general themes of the statement that are more foundational and that should not be overlooked. First, the title itself is of extreme importance.


Throughout this document, the Church is affirming the principal pillar of its social teaching, namely, that every human being is a subject of infinite dignity. And this worth is grounded, not in moral achievement or intellectual capacity, but rather in the simple fact that each person is a creature of Godmoreover, a creature redeemed by Christ and destined for eternal life. In a winsomely novel way, the document refers to the “ontological” dignity of the individual, signaling that human dignity is intrinsic, irreducibly basic, tied to the very being of the one who possesses it. Now you might be tempted to say, “well, doesn’t everyone hold to this?” and the answer to that question is clearly no. The dignity of every person was by no means taken for granted in the context of ancient civilizations; just the contrary. And it has been explicitly denied in political regimes across time and across cultures, very much to the present day. What is fascinating is precisely why we in the West do tend to take it for granted. I stand with the British historian Tom Holland in declaring that this conviction is not a general default position but rather something bequeathed to us by the Biblical and Christian tradition.

I am well aware that some have tried to justify the principle on non-Biblical grounds, arguing that a person has

grandes temas en Dignitas Infinita

dignity because of his mental capacity or his creativity or his sense of responsibility. But notice that such an explanation would permit the elimination of individuals who are deemed not to be sufficient in intelligence, creativity, or social utility. If you doubt me on this score, take a good look at the death camps of the twentieth century, or, for that matter, at the antiseptic and seemingly benign clinics where the elderly and infirm are being put to death every day in Europe, the US, and Canada. It strikes me as entirely appropriate that it is none other than the Pope, the most prominent representative of biblical religion in the world, who is taking this stand for human dignity today.

A second major theme of Dignitas infinita is the wonderfully confounding nature of Catholic social teaching. What I mean is that the doctrine of the Church in regard to social, moral, and political matters simply does not correspond to the customary bifurcation into left and right, liberal and conservative. When the document explores various threats to human dignity, it draws attention to a number of issues that are, generally speaking, of particular interest to the left. So, for example, it speaks of the plight of migrants, the scourge of war, increasing poverty, and violence against women. And it also insists upon matters that the right takes

seriously: abortion, euthanasia, gender ideology. Finally, it highlights problems that both sides consider important: human trafficking, sexual abuse of children, care for those with disabilities. The point is this: I would challenge anyone in the West to study the range of threats to human dignity listed in Dignitas infinita and tell me exactly which political camp is being favored. That’s the beauty of Catholic Social Teaching— and to be honest, it is also the source of a good deal of pastoral frustration. But that’s a column for another day.

The third and final theme I’d like to explore is one that I have written about a good deal, what I have termed “the culture of self-invention.” Our contemporary liberal society is so preoccupied with freedom of choice that it gives the selfdetermining will authority over reality itself. In Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court blithely declared that it belongs to the nature of liberty to determine the meaning of the universe and of existence itself! That high legal judgment is now the default position of every teenager in America: freedom orders being. But in the classical and Biblical imagination, freedom is always correlated to objective truth and value; it is the disciplining of desire so as to make the achievement of the good first possible and then effortless. When our document speaks out against gender ideology and “gender affirming care,” it is standing athwart the peculiar and self-destructive modern conception of freedom. Listen to this rather uncompromising language: “Regarding gender theory…the Church recalls that human life…both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God. This gift is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good. Desiring a personal self-determination… apart from this fundamental truth that human life is a gift, amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God” (emphasis mine). I am very grateful to Cardinal Fernandez, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, who is the principal author of this text, and to Pope Francis who gave it his formal approval. At a time when, frankly, many in the West seem to be going mad, this text is refreshing in its sanity.

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

odos los comentaristas laicos y religiosos parecen especialmente interesados en lo que la Iglesia dice en su nuevo documento Dignitas infinita sobre la teoría de género y la moralidad de las operaciones de cambio de sexo. Y, en efecto, dice cosas interesantes sobre ambas, pero quiero destacar tres temas generales de la declaración que son más fundamentales y que no deben pasarse por alto. En primer lugar, el propio título es de extrema importancia. A lo largo de este documento, la Iglesia está afirmando el pilar principal de su doctrina social, a saber, que todo ser humano es un sujeto de dignidad infinita. Y este valor se basa, no en los logros morales o en la capacidad intelectual, sino en el simple hecho de que cada persona es una criatura de Dios; más aún, una criatura redimida por Cristo y destinada a la vida eterna. De una manera atractivamente novedosa, el documento se refiere a la dignidad "ontológica" de la persona, señalando que la dignidad humana es intrínseca, irreductiblemente básica, ligada al propio ser de quien la posee. Ahora bien, es posible que

tengan la tentación de decir: "bueno, ¿esto no lo sostiene todo el mundo?", y la respuesta a esa pregunta es claramente no. La dignidad de toda persona no se daba en absoluto por sentada en el contexto de las civilizaciones antiguas, sino todo lo contrario. Y ha sido negada explícitamente en los regímenes políticos a través del tiempo y de las culturas, hasta nuestros días. Lo fascinante es precisamente por qué en Occidente tendemos a darlo por sentado. Coincido con el historiador británico Tom Holland al declarar que esta convicción no es una posición general por defecto, sino algo que nos ha legado la tradición bíblica y cristiana. Soy muy consciente de que algunos han intentado justificar el principio por motivos no bíblicos, argumentando que una persona tiene dignidad por su capacidad mental o su creatividad o su sentido de la responsabilidad. Pero fíjense en que una explicación así permitiría la eliminación de individuos a los que no se considera suficientes en inteligencia, creatividad o utilidad social. Si dudan de mí a este respecto, echen un vistazo

a los campos de exterminio del siglo XX o, para el caso, a las clínicas antisépticas y aparentemente benignas donde los ancianos y los enfermos son ejecutados cada día en Europa, Estados Unidos y Canadá. Me parece totalmente apropiado que sea nada menos que el Papa, el representante más destacado de la religión bíblica en el mundo, quien adopte hoy esta postura en favor de la dignidad humana.

Un segundo tema importante de Dignitas infinita es la naturaleza maravillosamente desconcertante de la doctrina social católica. Lo que quiero decir es que la doctrina de la Iglesia en materia social, moral y política simplemente no se corresponde con la habitual bifurcación en izquierda y derecha, liberales y conservadores. Cuando el documento explora diversas amenazas a la dignidad humana, llama la atención sobre una serie de cuestiones que, en términos generales, interesan especialmente a la izquierda. Así, por ejemplo, habla de la difícil situación de los inmigrantes, el azote de la guerra, el aumento de la pobreza y la violencia contra las mujeres. Y también insiste en asuntos que la derecha se toma en serio: el aborto, la eutanasia, la ideología de género. Por último,

destaca problemas que ambas partes consideran importantes: el tráfico de seres humanos, los abusos sexuales a menores, la atención a los discapacitados. La cuestión es ésta: Desafío a cualquiera en Occidente a que estudie el abanico de amenazas a la dignidad humana que se enumeran en Dignitas infinita y me diga exactamente a qué bando político se está favoreciendo. Esa es la belleza de la doctrina social católica y, para ser sinceros, también es la fuente de una buena dosis de frustración pastoral. Pero esa es una columna para otro día. El tercer y último tema que me gustaría explorar es uno sobre el que he escrito bastante, lo que he denominado "la cultura de la auto-invención". Nuestra sociedad liberal contemporánea está tan preocupada por la libertad de elección que otorga a la voluntad auto-determinada autoridad sobre la propia realidad. En el caso Casey contra Planned Parenthood, la Suprema Corte despreocupadamente declaró que pertenece a la naturaleza de la libertad determinar el significado del universo y de la propia existencia. Esa elevada sentencia legal es ahora la posición por defecto de todo adolescente en América: la libertad ordena

el ser. Pero en el imaginario clásico y bíblico, la libertad está siempre correlacionada con la verdad y el valor objetivos; es la disciplina del deseo para que la consecución del bien sea primero posible y luego sin esfuerzo. Cuando nuestro documento se pronuncia contra la ideología de género y los "cuidados que afirman el género", se opone a la peculiar y autodestructiva concepción moderna de la libertad. Escuchen este lenguaje categórico: "Respecto a la teoría de género... la Iglesia recuerda que la vida humana... tanto física como espiritual, es un don de Dios. Este don debe ser acogido con gratitud y puesto al servicio del bien. Desear una autodeterminación personal... separada de esta verdad fundamental de que la vida humana es un don, equivale a una concesión a la vieja tentación de hacerse Dios" (énfasis mío).

Estoy muy agradecido al cardenal Fernández, prefecto del Dicasterio para la Doctrina de la Fe, que es el principal autor de este texto, y al Papa Francisco, que le dio su aprobación formal. En un momento en que, francamente, muchos en Occidente parecen volverse locos, este texto es refrescante por su cordura.

The Bishop's Calendar is on Page 16.

Non Nisi Te Domine
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Bishop Robert Barron
From the Bishop 3

Lay Formation & RCIA

Recognizing and Living Out

A Vision of the Good'

The Church relives the amazement of the women who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. The tomb of Jesus had been sealed with a great stone. Today too, great stones, heavy stones, block the hopes of humanity: the stone of war, the stone of humanitarian crises, the stone of human rights violations, the stone of human trafficking, and other stones as well. Like the women disciples of Jesus, we ask one another: "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" (cf. Mk 16:3).

-Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message for Easter 2024

�reetings of Joy in this Easter Season!

This month, I am sharing an extended excerpt from an article written by DR. HOLLY ORDWAY at the Word on Fire website. It is titled, “Developing a Vision of the Good.” The article is being reprinted with permission, and with thanks to Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. It can be found online at: I was deeply moved by the wisdom and insight offered by Dr. Ordway, and the spiritual challenge it offers to each of us in these days of such suffering and division. I pray that we will take her words to heart!

If I may state the obvious, there is a lot of suffering in the world, a great deal of wickedness, folly, exploitation, and general disregard for the good, true, and beautiful - and our media ecosystem is perfectly calibrated to deliver a constant stream of disturbing and distressing news about this into our daily life. We do need to know about some of this, to be sure, but if we subsist on a steady diet of reports of the evil, false, and ugly, disturbing changes can happen in our psyche.

One change that can happen is that we become apathetic and simply accept that this is how things are, and there’s no point in trying to change anything. But another change, more subtle perhaps but no less harmful for that, is that we can become so geared up to fight falsehood and ugliness that we end up seeing the world around us only in terms of what we are against, and not what we are for.

We should always be able to echo the words of Faramir in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: “War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

We must love what we defend, more than the satisfaction of knowing we are defending it; we must love and enjoy what is good for its own sake, not just because it proves the other side wrong or gives us the thrill of being right. The good, true, and beautiful must be real to us, more real than the discourse around it. By living a life that is grounded in these principles, we make them real to ourselves and, therefore, to the people we know. One of the ways that we can cultivate this quality in our lives is through our choice of ordinary

activities on a day-to-day basis: the things we do, read, and watch, not just the principles we hold in the abstract.

On an ongoing basis, one of the ways in which we can keep ourselves grounded in the good, true, and beautiful is to ensure that at least some of what we take in for enjoyment - leisure activities, reading, films, television - presents a vision of the good.

Some of these habits are, on the surface, very ordinary. Have a meal with a friend or with your spouse; put your phone away - yes, all the way away, not merely set aside on the table - and enjoy a relaxed, leisurely conversation. Don’t take any pictures; just enjoy the time together. Play with your children, or with your nephews and nieces, or godchildren, or your friends’ children. Potter around in your garden (a glorious way of bringing oneself ‘down to earth’) or go for a walk outside; at least some of the time, don’t listen to music or a podcast or anything, just be present with your thoughts and really pay attention to what’s in front of you.

This will help you recognize the good, true, and beautiful in your everyday life, among the people you know, not in the abstract, but in the particulars.

Another helpful way to counteract the sheer negativity of much of what we consume in the news and on social media is to have a regular infusion of what we might (somewhat misleadingly) call "light" reading or "light" viewing. We can recognize "heavy" reading or viewing easily enough: serious, worthy material that engages with important issues and themes, complex and challenging texts.

But heavy reading is tiring to the mind, just as heavy lifting is to the body: it does strengthen the mind, as physical effort strengthens the body, but in order to get the most benefit out of it, one must also have rest and recuperation.

Light reading and viewing can get a bit of a bad rap, as if it were "escapist" and unworthy, but that is to misunderstand the nature of "escape." Tolkien addresses this in his great essay “On Fairystories,” declaring:

I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used. ... Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prisonwalls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. Just so a Partyspokesman might have labelled departure from the misery of the Führer’s or any other Reich and even criticism of it as treachery. These words are just as relevant today, when each of us can so easily live in prison-cells formed by our awareness of all that is wrong with the world. Do we talk only of jailers and prison-walls?

Or do we have a sense of what is outside those walls? What we read and watch should help us to stay connected to the good, true, and beautiful, so that we have a real sense of what goodness is like (not just an abstract quality) and recognize beauty in our day-to-day lives, not just as something ‘out there’ to visit someday.

Dr. Ordway’s message is especially relevant in these Easter days. The darkness that surrounds us does not have the final word. The broken body of our Crucified Lord was transformed by the power of God into the glorified body of our Risen Savior. His wounds remained, but the suffering experienced in them did not. Our own experiences of suffering and trials now have meaning into eternity, and they will be transformed by the Resurrection.

We live in this hope, that God’s love which we can experience now in the goodness, truth, and beauty all around us is the final and eternal word of our lives and of creation. Deo Gratias!

This is the amazing discovery of that Easter morning: the stone, the immense stone, was rolled away. The astonishment of the women is our astonishment as well: the tomb of Jesus is open and it is empty! From this, everything begins anew! A new path leads through that empty tomb: the path that none of us, but God alone, could open: the path of life in the midst of death, the path of peace in the midst of war, the path of reconciliation in the midst of hatred, the path of fraternity in the midst of hostility.

-Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message for Easter 2024

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All Are Welcome to Ministry Days 2024: You Are the Salt of the Earth: Baptized for Mission 5

�inistry Days is back after a brief hiatus last year for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress! It will be held June 18-19 at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, and all are welcome.

Really? All? If you are involved in your parish and interested in the life of the local Church, yes,

A New Season A Call to Respond

�pril marks the start of a new evangelization season, when our St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) teams join together to pray with people in the public square. For those who haven’t heard of the apostolate, SPSE is a grassroots, non-profit Catholic evangelization organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking our Catholic Faith to the streets. We do this in a non-confrontational way, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness our public Catholic presence. SPSE was founded in 2012 and we have had teams in the Winona-Rochester

Diocese since 2015. Our local diocesan team members have talked to and prayed with thousands of people and have even experienced some miraculous healings. You can find out more about the apostolate at

When out on the streets, the evangelists of SPSE share the hope that is in them so that the world sees the salvation of God through the Church that He founded. We don’t evangelize because we have done any great thing, but because God has done a great work in us, and, for that, we are humbled. A person does not need to be a theologian or apologist to be an effective evangelist. That person only needs to have a heart for Jesus Christ and His Church and be willing to share that with others.

I am the Regional Missionary for SPSE in this area and I can help you get involved or learn more. I’m available for talks and trainings on evangelizations for any group, whether you are looking for basic ways to share your faith in your everyday life,

you are welcome. For many decades, Ministry Days has been promoted to priests and parish staff. And certainly there is a lot of renewal for them there! But look at the title this year–”You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). This event is open to all the baptized. We want and need all hands on deck as we continue to become evangelizing parishes together.

The conference will invite back Deacon Keith Strohm, the founder of M3 Ministries ( parishrenewal/) and former Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Deacon Keith, as some may remember from our “COVID Ministry Day” in 2021, is a phenomenal speaker who understands Christian mission inside and out. He will be speaking to all of us on the mission year of the National Eucharistic Revival, and how we can lean into that gift. We are planning a clergy track session Tuesday afternoon with Deacon Keith, while the lay and consecrated attendees get to work with Todd Graff and Susan Windley-Daoust.

On Wednesday, we will have breakout sessions on all kinds of ministries and apostolates in the Church and our diocese, to give people a chance to learn from each other and get updates from directors and other diocesan leaders about what is coming next.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday will be marked by Masses, with Bishop Robert Barron presiding. There will be Liturgy of the Hours and a holy hour of adoration as well. There will also be apostolates and ecclesial movements active in the diocese sharing their gifts at tables between talks and at breakfast in the Toner Student Center Lounge. Shared meals give us a chance to relax, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones. And finally, the beauty of the Saint Mary’s campus and walking trails give the event a retreat-like atmosphere that everyone enjoys.

We look forward to offering this rejuvenating and educational event again! Registration is open now, and we encourage people to register in May. Any questions about this event can go to Susan Windley-Daoust ( or Zach Rawson ( ). See you there!

you’d like to attend a basic evangelization training, or you want to join one of our teams on an outing. Our local teams have dates set up from April through October when we will be by the Mayo Clinic and there are also opportunities to join other outings with teams in the Diocese. Sometimes, thinking about sharing your faith out loud can seem like it would be uncomfortable or impossible, but in reality it is a beautiful experience to minister to God’s people and the Lord provides the graces needed. Mother Teresa put it very simply: “To evangelize means that you have Jesus in your heart, and then you carry him to the hearts of others”.

Get ready to join thousands of Catholics across the country who are taking their faith into the world! Contact me and I will help you get started: deb@ or 507-271-1737.

Deb McManimon is the Midwest Regional Director for St. Paul Street Evangelization.

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Unity in Our Diversity

�here are many languages and cultures. There are many roads to travel, many things to do, and many vocations to which one may be called. This is all very pleasing to God.

There are also many wounds and divisions. There is much misunderstanding and confusion of what is true and good. People are walking away from the Church and the practice of their faith. This must be of great concern to us. It should especially be of great concern to all deacons, men who are sacramentally called to suffer the realities of division so as to be men of reconciliation and unity.

On Pentecost, we are reminded we need not remain divided. We can rejoice in our diversity and embrace our catholicity. We can overcome our sinful divisions. The Father sends us the Holy Spirit to strengthen, encourage and unite us.

There is one faith we embrace and one Truth for which we search. There is one Church, one Body, and one People of God. The Holy Spirit has been poured into our lives bringing forgiveness and peace. In midst of the goodness of diversity - and the evils of division and sin - the Holy Spirit unites us and heals us. He conquers our fears, dispels our doubts, and rejoices in our diversity as a Church. He teaches us the truth. He lives within us. We can recognize his presence through his goodness. He fills us with his strength. He ultimately conquers our fears, and heals our divisions. The Holy Spirit bridges all divisions.

Yes, we are diverse and one in God’s eyes. There is goodness in our diversity, but we are one body, and have but one Spirit from whom we must never separate ourselves. The reconciliation which the Holy Spirit gives is superior to any divisions among us. We must not deny what is most important, our unity, by fighting over our differences.

Just as flour alone cannot become a single loaf without water, so too the Holy Spirit unites us. Just as a field cannot yield a harvest without rain, so too we

Catholic Charities

Providing Help When You Need It

s we approach our Annual Mother’s Day Weekend Appeal on May 11-12, we continue to want to share the work we do with others. However, our aim is not simply to seek support, but also to ensure that those who might find themselves in need of our services are aware of what we offer and how to access them. We have a multitude of wonderful programs. For instance, if you find yourself in need of both better mental and physical wellness, our Active Aging classes scattered throughout Southern Minnesota are just waiting for you to register. Maybe it’s counseling or diapers you are looking for - all of these services are available through Catholic Charities. Instead of delving deeply into the details of our work this month, we've chosen to highlight our services and how you or someone you know can access them. Please remember that more information can always be found on our website at, and we can be contacted at 507-454-2270, our main line for all our offices.

Remember we are your Catholic Charities, dedicated to caring for your neighbors in Southern Minnesota, and you too if you 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 11-12 - Mother’s Day Weekend.

Deacon John Hust Director of the Permanent Diaconate

cannot bear good fruit without the Holy Spirit raining down on us from above. Just as we cannot recover from serious illness without the proper medicine, so too we cannot rid ourselves of Satan and sin and division without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Deacons, we are to be men filled with the Holy Spirit. We can be the water for the loaf, the rain in the field, and the medicine for the sick. We can reach out to those on the fringes of the Church and society. We can suffer the realities of sin and division. We can suffer their pain, their confusion, and their sin. We can heal them by bringing them back into the Church.

Unity in our diversity - may the Holy Spirit this Pentecost come in powerful ways to accomplish just that!

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

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Diaconate &

Join the Youth Ministry & Faith Formation

Intercessory Prayer Team

ast month, I mentioned that I’d be ready to roll out a vision this month for the Office of Youth Ministry & Faith Formation. After praying more and talking with several individuals, I think we need a little bit more time before we roll that out. So, this month I’d like to focus on a prayer initiative which I think will be transformative for our children, youth, and families and all our youth ministry and faith formation efforts across the diocese.

One of the first things I was able to do as a youth ministry coordinator right out of college was attend a training institute for new youth ministers. A piece of advice that has stayed with me all these years is how important intentional intercessory prayer is in opening the hearts of individuals so that they are ready to receive the Lord when there is an encounter with him. Some time later, I learned about how Reverend Billy Graham would send prayer missionaries into cities months if not years in advance of when he intended to hold a future revival. The role of those missionaries was simply to pray that the hearts and minds of people in those cities might become open to the Gospel message. Finally, very recently an order of cloistered nuns, the Norbertine Sisters in Tehachapi, CA, went viral for a visitor’s post on Instagram about how one of the sisters, through some spiritual direction, revealed to this visitor that she and her fellow sisters gather to pray “Matins” or Morning Prayer at 12 a.m. every day. In doing so they offer that hour of prayer in union with all the mothers of the world who are up with their newborn babies or attending to their children’s needs; the sisters call it their “motherhood hour, where we get up with you.” In her post the visitor wrote, “All those nights where I felt so alone, so tired and withered… these sisters had been there awake with me… They were with me and I never knew it, hidden away in their quiet heroic way interceding.” She continued, “I am not alone. You are not alone. There are sisters awake in the night praying for you in your tiredness. They are awake with you in it all. They are praying for you, even in their own exhaustion, because they know you need an intercessor” (Caroline Perkins. Dec. 13, 2023. Mothers, You Are Not Alone.

The message about intentional intercessory prayer at that institute for new youth ministers was simple and powerful; it is the most important and the first thing that youth ministers should do upon being hired in a parish. With that, I want to invite our diocese to follow the leads of Reverend Graham and the Norbertine Sisters of Tehachapi right here at home. I know there are many “hidden” intercessors across the diocese and there are many more who just need prompting or a little nudge.

By latest count we have 96 parishes in the diocese. If we had five people in every parish intentionally interceding daily that would equate to 480 prayers for all our children, youth, and families every day. How about we shoot for a round number of 500 daily intercessors? Picture all the hearts that could be softened and the minds that could be opened. Think about how many souls will realize, as the Instagram poster who shared her story realized, they are not alone. Imagine what the Lord can do with those souls who will realize that they matter enough for you to be praying for them, lifting up intentions for them, and even offering your own inconveniences and suffering for them. The Lord can use those intentions to do some great things in the hearts and minds of the souls in our diocese.

On Sunday, March 17,

for the Worthington Deanery, in conjunction with the deanery faith formation directors and priests, sponsored our third annual High School Retreat. This year the retreat was hosted at the Church of St. Leo in Pipestone. Keynote speaker Pat Millea and Emcee Jon Konz led a lively and reflective day for more than 160 youth from all over the Worthington Deanery, and some youth from parishes in the Diocese of Sioux Falls. The theme was Living the Gift of Life, and Veronica Marquez from Catholic Charities Parenting, Pregnancy and Adoption program was also on hand to share resources available through Catholic Charities. With seven priests present, the Sacrament of Penance was offered during a time of adoration, which was followed by Mass.

Caption submitted by LISA KREMER, OFS, Coordinator of Parish Social Ministry for Catholic Charities of Southern MN.

Become an official “Youth Ministry & Faith Formation Intercessory Prayer Team Member” with me by signing up at

When you sign-up, I’ll send you some specific intentions and stories of hope from time to time (which you can always opt out of if you wish). As the list grows, I’ll share a map of where all our intercessors are praying from so we can see which areas of our diocese might need more support and encouragement. Let’s get to 500 team members by the end of August!

7 Youth Ministry & Faith Formation
the Social Concerns Roundtable
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Above photo by Lisa Kremer. Right photo by REV. TIMOTHY BIREN, Pastor of St. Mary's Worthington. Keynote Speaker Pat Millea (L) and Emcee Jon Konz (R).

Reflections on Another Amazing Year

�e are fast approaching the end of the school year. Our Catholic School teachers have been on mission teaching faith and academics all year. They are happy servants who go into the classroom day after day facing a room of hungry minds challenging their teachers to show them their best. One of those happy servants is Darlene Boe. Mrs. Boe has served as principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Adams since 2012. Before she was principal, Mrs. Boe began teaching at Sacred Heart in 1981. Mrs. Boe is the epitome of service and dedication. She puts in long hours at the school and then serves her parish on Sunday in music ministry. Sacred Heart Parish and School in Adams Minnesota is a better place for Mrs. Boe’s selfless labor. Bishop Robert Barron has recognized Mrs. Boe with the honor of bestowing upon her the Bishop's Medal. Mrs. Boe received the medal at the school Mass on April 12 surrounded by her family and friends. Thank you Mrs. Boe for showing us what service is all about.

Our Catholic Schools strive to meet the individual academic needs of our students. Smaller class

sizes, close working relationships with parents and the belief in the God-given talents of each of our students help them to realize their potential. Parents often share stories of student success and attribute a large part of that to the environment of our Catholic Schools. I want to honor one of our outstanding students, Francis Koll, a junior at Cotter Schools, who achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT! Join us in celebrating his outstanding achievement. Francis is an example of a culture of excellence and achievement that is the norm in our Catholic Schools.

I want to thank all of our school staff who are retiring this year. Service to our Lord is always a rewarding adventure. The cliché says, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” and I do look at this vocation as being part of a team. I look at our faith kind of like a football game. The game goes until Jesus returns in his glory. Until that time, it us up to you and me to take the ball and advance down the field. Maybe you are feeling a stronger call to serve the Lord. It could be that he is calling you to consecrated life, or to serve in one of our many open employment positions. If you are feeling called to something I urge you to take up that ball and join us in our mission.

Deacon Sean Costello Superintendent of Catholic Schools

• Vocations

• Job Openings

All of our Catholic schools are currently enrolling for next year. Join us for excellence and adventure. Our schools offer Preschool-12 grade in our diocese. Please call 507-858-1269 for more information.

Holy Spirit Catholic School, Rochester

Lourdes High School, Rochester Pacelli Catholic Schools, Austin Cotter Schools, Winona Crucifixion School, La Crescent Loyola School, Mankato

Noah's Ark, Pipestone

Sacred Heart School, Adams

Sacred Heart School, Waseca

Saint Casimir School, Wells

Saint Felix School, Wabasha

Saint Francis of Assisi School, Rochester

Saint John the Evangelist School, Rochester

Saint John Vianney School, Fairmont

Saint Mary School, Caledonia Saint Mary School, Madelia

Saint Mary School, Worthington

Saint Mary School, Owatonna

Saint Peter School, Hokah

Saint Pius X School, Rochester

St. Theodore Catholic School, Albert Lea Michael Gerard is Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.

St. Casimir's School Prepares for First Communion

he St. Casimir’s School second graders' dresses and suits have been purchased. Loving, handwritten invitations have been sent to friends and family. The food preparations are well underway and there is an anticipation for the celebrations that will follow the Mass. But what have my second graders been up to, to deserve such fanfare? They are ready to receive their First Holy Communion which will occur on May 21 at St. Casimir Church in Wells! These children have spent the last 8 months preparing for this amazing day in our classroom and in their homes.

One of the blessings of our combined K-2 class has been that we do a lot of blended learning throughout the day. When it was time to begin the second grade Sacramental Preparations, I decided to make the learning part of it available to the whole class. There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing children crowded around a table to look at the Reconciliation and Eucharistic books. They have all been eager to learn about the sacraments, to memorize the prayers, to listen about the Bible Stories and embrace the Catechism lessons. What the younger children do not

pick up on this year, they will certainly understand better next year or the following year! They really do benefit from the daily immersion in their Catholic faith.

This past week we worked on our Eucharist Centers which focused on hands-on learning to further solidify our book studies. The children made images of chalices out of Perler Beads, a take-home lapbook that included prayers, picture descriptions on how to receive the Eucharist and space to journal the events that they will experience during their First Communion. Of course, the best center ended up being the messiest center! The children watched a video on the Franciscan Sisters from Kentucky who make hosts for churches like ours. It was fascinating to watch the process, and we learned a lot about Eucharist hosts. Following the video, we went to the school kitchen to attempt to make our own hosts. After mixing flour and water, they had dough ready to be put into the altar bread machine. We learned a bit of the history of the machine and how the Franciscan Sisters used the exact same machine almost 100 years ago to make the hosts for St. Casimir Church! So not only did they get to study a process, but they also learned a piece

of their Catholic history here at St. Casimir’s. It never ceases to amaze me at the opportunities that our children have here at St. Casimir’s School to learn and grow in their faith. Please include these children in your prayers as they receive the Blessed Sacrament! Teresa Chirpich is the Office Manager for St. Casimir's School in Wells.
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Surrounded by her family, Principal Darlene Boe holds the Bishop's Medal with which she was presented on April 12.

Cotter Schools: Celebrating Milestones and Looking Ahead 9

�s the 2023-24 school year rapidly approaches its end, Cotter Schools finds itself in a whirlwind of celebrations and transitions. What seemed like just yesterday, the first day of school, has now evolved into a mere six weeks left of the academic journey. However, during this time Cotter Schools has much to celebrate and anticipate. Mary Eileen Fitch, President of Cotter Schools, said “On a daily basis I am reminded of so many ways in which God has blessed the Cotter Community. With more than 1,000 students entrusted to our care, we have the opportunity to witness God’s grace in action, and students and staff sharing their gifts to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them. With an increasing number of opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, our students continue to develop and grow academically, spiritually, socially, and co-curricularly, and the year has been filled with many achievements. We are truly blessed.”

At St. Luke Hall we are grateful to be implementing a method of Catholic faith formation known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd taught by Sister Mary Andrea. This is a Montessori-based method in which students encounter God as they ponder His word in Scripture and work with materials that lead them more deeply into the life of Jesus, the parables, salvation history, and the liturgy. We were able to pilot this program with our first graders during the 2022-2023 school year, and this year have been blessed with a room dedicated to this work in St Luke Hall. We now have a longer class period that meets once each week, which has allowed for the method to be more fully implemented. We also have the help of an aide and six of the IHM seminarians who rotate coming on different days to help assist the students. With these blessings, we are now able to extend this program to Kindergarten-Grade 2 at Cotter as well as preschool children from the Winona community whose families have made the purchase of the materials possible. Someone observing the class might see a student working with figurines representing the people in the Gospels or parables, tracing and labeling the maps of Israel or Jerusalem, or praying quietly at the prayer table. The impact of this program can be recognized in the words of a first-grade student who was working with a material called the "model altar." As Sister Mary Andrea sat with her and they prayed silently in their hearts she looked up at Sister as if she was nearly ready to finish, but hesitating she asked, "Can I have just one more minute with

Him?" We are truly blessed.

On April 5, 2024, Cotter's very own Coach Pat Bowlin became the new state record holder for most softball wins. Coach Bowlin, Cotter’s esteemed softball coach, achieved this monumental milestone through dedication, exceptional skill, and perseverance. His remarkable accomplishment, totaling an impressive 803 victories, is a testament to his leadership and the enduring spirit of Cotter's softball program.

The Cotter Schools 2024 Jazz Festival, presented by Hurry Back Productions, marked another highlight on the school's calendar. Held on April 6 and 7, the festival featured 11 middle school and high school jazz bands from across the region. It was a weekend filled with captivating performances and enriching masterclasses. Renowned musician St. Paul Peterson led an exclusive masterclass, conveying invaluable insights to participants before joining Cotter students for a collaborative performance on Sunday. The excitement continued with a concert featuring St. Paul Peterson and the Minneapolis Funk All-Stars on Saturday evening, followed by the annual Cotter Jazz Concert on Sunday. Special guest artists Scott Agster, Riley Helgeson, and Peter Vircks joined Cotter's jazz bands, enriching the festival experience. Mr. Andy Meurer, Cotter’s Band Director, said, "The Cotter Jazz Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. Not only is it amazing to welcome all of these other bands to our campus to share our

music, but the opportunities to connect with worldclass artists right here in our theater are unbeatable. Working with Mike at Hurry Back Productions really opens the door to bringing this experience to the next level. His connections and insight into the professional music world bridge the gap between these high school aspiring musicians and the reality that music is a true option for a career path."

Looking ahead, the Cotter community is preparing for a bittersweet farewell to St. Mary's School. This transition offers an opportunity to reminisce, celebrate, and bid farewell to cherished memories. Additionally, excitement builds for the opening of St. Nicholas Hall, Cotter’s new Early Childhood Education Center, set to welcome infants six weeks and older for summer care starting June 10. Christine Nichols, Cotter’s Child Care Director, shared, “St. Nicholas Hall will allow us to help meet the growing demand for infant and toddler care in the Winona area, as well as greatly enhance the preschool-age programs we currently offer. The entire building is designed specifically for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years. The future looks very promising for the young children in our community and for Cotter Schools.”

Beginning in the fall of 2024, Grades 7 & 8 students will have increased programming, coding, CAD, and robotics opportunities. Students in Grades 9-12 will have advanced computer science courses to choose from as well as a new engineering curriculum. The engineering courses will include mechatronics, robotics, and IOT (Internet of Things) and provide opportunities for students to earn industry certifications while in high school. These new opportunities are designed to support students seeking hands-on learning, like industrial arts or a shop class, and those who want to continue their education in a technical college or a university.

As Cotter Schools navigates through the final weeks of the school year, these milestones serve as reminders of the community's resilience, spirit, and commitment to excellence in education. With each achievement and transition, Cotter continues to stand firm in its commitment to fostering the academic, artistic, and spiritual development of its students, thereby guaranteeing a promising future for everyone.

Jana Korder works in communications, marketing & brand identity for Cotter Schools in Winona.

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10 Survey Underscores Parents' Influence on Children's Vocational Discernment


WASHINGTON, APRIL 15, 2024 - A newly-released study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, surveyed men who will be ordained to the priesthood in 2024. The data shows that families continue to be the seedbed of religious vocations: of the 392 respondents, 95% were raised by their biological parents, and 88% were raised by a married couple who lived together.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) released The Class of 2024: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood in anticipation of the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations on April 21. This annual commemoration occurs on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Pope Francis has expressed his gratitude for “mothers and fathers who do not think first of themselves or follow fleeting fads of the moment, but shape their lives through relationships marked by love and graciousness, openness to the gift of life and commitment to their children and their growth in maturity.”

Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the CCLV committee, echoed Pope Francis stating, “Mothers and fathers, united in marriage, are the first witnesses to love for their children. It is within the family that children are taught the faith, learn the meaning of love, and grow in virtue. This year’s study of ordinands underscores the fundamental

role that families, in particularly, parents, play in building up the kingdom of God. It is through the love and support of the family that children develop into the men and women God calls them to be.”

Of the 475 men scheduled to be ordained this year, 392 completed the survey for an overall response rate of 83%. These ordinands represent 128 dioceses and eparchies and 29 distinct religious institutes in the United States. Some of the major findings of the report are:

• On average, respondents first considered a priestly vocation when they were 16 years old. The youngest age reported was three years old and the oldest was 53 years old.

• The average age at ordination was 34 years old. Since 1999, the average age was 35 and ranged between 33 and 37.

• Most respondents are White/Caucasian (67%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (18%), Asian/ Pacific Islander (11%) and Black/African American (2%).

• Of those who are foreign-born (23%), the most common countries of origin are Mexico (5%), Vietnam (4%), Colombia (3%), and the Philippines (2%).

• Of those who worked full-time before entering seminary (70%), the most common fields of employment were education (21%), business (16%), and Church ministry (13%).

The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2024 may be accessed here:

Family and Communications

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")

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Life, Marriage & Family

The Poverty Immersion Program of the USCCB's Seminarian Engagement Project

What is the Seminarian Engagement Project?

The Seminarian Engagement Project (SEP) is an effort of the USCCB's Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), initiated in 2020 at the request of the bishops on the Subcommittee on CCHD to help seminarians become aware of the anti-poverty work of the Church. The project offers the resources and national network of CCHD to men in formation for the Catholic priesthood to become aware of the anti-poverty work of the Church as a resource in their priestly ministry, understand the needs of their local Church, and witness the mission and work of the Church to accompany low-income people to address those needs. The hope of the project is that seminarians will encounter and learn from Christ in the poor and through the lived reality of the People of God, forming them to be more compassionate and integrated ministers.

What are the Goals of the Immersion Program?

The goals of the immersion program are twofold: to have seminarians learn to rely on God's providence, and to encounter Christ in the poor and marginalized. SEP hopes the immersions will provide experiences of encounter and solidarity with Christ in the poor that deepen a seminarian's ministerial ability and integration with his own journey of human and spiritual formation. The new propaedeutic (or "preparatory") stage of priestly formation focuses on human and spiritual formation, and encourages in-depth experiences of encounter and relationality that are more feasible outside of an academic seminary setting. With the 6th Edition of the Program for Priestly Formation as the normative formation document (as of August 2023), seminaries and dioceses around the country are exploring ways to creatively form men to be "with and for the poor'' (PPF6, no. 394). Poverty immersions invite seminarians to embark on a journey, often in pairs, to another diocese to be immersed in communities and organizations who offer authentic accompaniment to and seek to empower low-income individuals to be leaders in the solutions needed to address the issues of poverty they face.

The January 2024 immersion cycle was the first implementation of the program, with one more cycle planned for later this year. Dioceses interested in participating in future immersion cycles can contact Aimee Shelide Mayer at

Reflections from Our Seminarians

This past January, I spent the month in New Orleans on a “Poverty Immersion”. It was an incredible experience to be poor with the poor. The seminary sent our class out in pairs of twos with the bare necessities to serve those in need. We took a long Greyhound bus ride down with nothing but a backpack of clothes, some money for food, and our Bibles. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops set us up with a place to stay and some assignments to serve at.

In the mornings, we were sent to the Hope House with Brother Don. He has served the impoverished St. Thomas neighborhood for 40 years. The Hope House is a small community center in this predominately black community that provides rent assistance, free GED classes, a food pantry, and a place to hang out and experience friendship. It was powerful to see Brother Don's impact on the neighborhood. If you asked anyone you met if they knew him, they would start listing off all the ways he has been there for them throughout their lives. A place for kids to hang out after school. A place to finally get your GED. A place to go when you can’t pay rent and eviction is being threatened. A place to feel at home.

We also helped out an organization called Jane’s Place. They help renters in hard and unlivable situations by helping them understand their rights to healthy homes. With Jane’s Place, we saw some awful apartments. Buildings with no security filled with drug dealers and which had had residents murdered. Apartments with mold everywhere and no effort to clean them. And these landlords were taking their money and putting none of it back into the building. It was powerful to see Jane’s Place go into these slums, help the residents organize and go to the state government, and see actual change in situations that seemed helpless. Jane’s Place is an example of how we can change a system that does not honor individuals’ human dignity.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development uses the example of “Two Feet of Love in Action” based on Pope Benedict XVI’s writings to illustrate how Catholics can live out the call to love our neighbors: to help people meet their basic needs for life, like food, clothing, and housing, and also to help improve the structures of society that make it hard for people to get the food and housing they need. It was a blessing

to have seen both feet in action, working with Hope House to help people get what they need, and working with Jane’s Place to help improve the housing system in New Orleans. The whole trip was an eye-opening experience and has led me to reflect, as we all should, on how God is calling me to love those around me and in my community who are in need.

This past January I spent a month in Chicago, IL, on a “poverty immersion” experience. It was an amazing chance to come to understand the difficulties with which many people in poverty struggle. The seminary sent us out in pairs.  In our case we stayed at a community called the Canterbury house in Uptown Chicago; most of our ministry time was spent there.

Our stay included going out to meet with many people who lived on the streets struggling with different parts of poverty, whether that be mental health, drug use, illegal immigration, loss of job, or loss of family. James, our host, has been attached to Catholic Workers for many years and was hosting a hospitality house which provided many people living on the streets with an opportunity to warm up in the winter, do some laundry, and have some quality time with other people happy to see them. He also offers a multi denominational bible study for anyone who wants to come and participate.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, set up multiple opportunities for us to meet other groups that often struggle to receive the support from their community. This included The Progress Center for Independent Living, a disability assistance program and local group advocating for better living situations for people with disabilities, and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, a restorative justice community on the south side of Chicago.

In addition to these groups, we assisted with smaller tasks like assisting a family with getting additional help with immigration and running a soup kitchen and food shelf. However, the highlight for me was going out and experiencing what people who are homeless go through. We walked with these people who spend a great deal of time just being avoided or looked right through and it was really beautiful to see Christ present in them the same way he is with all of us.

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In the Diocese

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Duluth, Crookston Dioceses to Host Eucharistic Congress May 17-18 13

�he Catholic Dioceses of Crookston and Duluth will jointly host the Star of the North Eucharistic Congress at the Sanford Center in Bemidji May

17-18, preceding the May 19 commencement of the Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage at the headwaters of the great Mississippi River in Itasca State Park.

Registration is open, and all are invited to attend. The event is expected to draw bishops, clergy, and pilgrims from across Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin, gathering to celebrate and glorify Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

A Eucharistic Congress is an event dedicated to honoring and bearing witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The events often draw large crowds who gather for Mass, for eucharistic devotions such as adoration, as well as for talks and testimonials. They can take place, as the Star of the North Congress is, at the regional level but also at the national and even the international scale.

The Star of the North Congress will feature a host of dynamic speakers. In addition to addresses by the two hosting bishops, Bishop Daniel Felton of the Duluth Diocese and Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Crookston Diocese, who is helping to lead the National Eucharistic Revival efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, two internationally known speakers based in Minnesota will be speaking - Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Ministries and now Bishop of the Diocese of WinonaRochester, and Father Mike Schmitz, a priest of the Duluth Diocese who has drawn a wide audience with his videos for Ascension Press and his Bible in a Year

and Catechism in a Year podcasts. Sister Jude Andrew Link, OP, known for her work through her community’s apostolate on catechetical and educational resources, will be presenting, and Saints Alive will host a special family track. Throughout the conference, Aly Aleigha, from the Duluth Diocese, will provide music, leading praise and worship.

“This Eucharistic Congress hosted by our two dioceses is a beautiful opportunity to come together with Catholics from far and wide to encounter Jesus more deeply in the Holy Eucharist,” said Bishop Felton. “May this deep encounter with Jesus light our hearts on fire with the Holy Spirit to bring his healing, hope, and joy to all the people in our lives.”

“As we deepen our relationship with God the Father and our identity as his beloved sons and daughters, the Lord will strengthen us for the mission we have ahead of us - which is to be the Body of Christ in the world today,” said Bishop Cozzens. “Join us in Bemidji May 17-19. Your participation will help to make the Eucharistic Revival fruitful.”

The cost of the Star of the North Eucharistic Congress is $40 for adults (18 and over) and $30 for youth (ages 7-17). Children ages 6 and under are free. All seating is general admission. For more information or to register, visit the Star of the North Eucharistic Congress website at

Deacon Kyle Eller is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Duluth.

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In the Diocese


cont'd from pg. 1

Those who gathered also pointed out particular distresses that hinder the mission of the Church within the diocese by bringing forward topics such as: steep decrease in parish participation of youth after receiving sacraments, loss/closure of parishes, polarization among and between Catholics, the effects of scandals, and the pressurization of priesthood with fewer clergy who have increased responsibilities.

The two groups posed several questions for further consideration. Two questions in particular are, and should be, asked by each institution in the diocese: 1) How can Catholic organizations learn and grow from its abuse scandals

and become more attractive to non-participants (Catholic or non-Catholic)?, and 2) How can laity and clergy increase their collaborative practices?

The full summary of the Diocese of WinonaRochester’s Interim Phase discussions can be found on the diocesan website.

Much work has yet to be done prior to the resumption of the Synod on Synodality in Rome this October (in which Bishop Barron will once again be a delegate of the United States Bishops). Other target groups, such as parish priests, will hold similar gatherings to discuss the role of Synodality in parish life. Many dicasteries (that is, offices in Rome dedicated to particular areas of Church life) have also been tasked with describing the theological and canonical limits and possibilities to ten themes raised in last October’s session. More can be found on the working groups at:

Very Rev. William Thompson is Vicar General of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.

W-RDCCW and the Service Commission

�appy Easter! He is risen! Are you living as an Easter people proclaiming the good news?

This month my focus is on the Service Commission.

“The Service Commission engages the members of NCCW, and all people working to address the needs and concerns of their individual communities, and supports and enhances family life within the church and society” (from the National Council of Catholic Women website,

Some of the projects of the NCCW include: supporting women religious orders in their missions, ending domestic violence and human trafficking, and supporting a RESPITE program for caregivers. NCCW partners with Catholic Relief Services and Cross Catholic Outreach on the international level. Our St. Paul and Minneapolis Province is promoting a giving opportunity to build a house through Cross Catholic Outreach. During the next couple of months, individuals and parishes are asked to consider a donation to this endeavor. A check will be presented to Melissa Kaufenberg with Cross Catholic Outreach who is a keynote speaker at the Province Conference.

At the diocesan level, we lend financial support to Sacred Heart - Haiti and Rochester Medical Missions, as well as through our donations of goods which are collected at our Diocesan Convention.

Our Diocesan Family/Community Service Commission Chair is Joanie Betsinger from Spring Valley. Our International Concerns Commission Chair is Melissa Jones also from Spring Valley. Both local and international service projects are addressed within these two diocesan commissions. There is a multitude of projects each of us is involved in on the local level. As members of the Council of Catholic Women, we do service very well!

Upcoming events include: the St. Paul and Minneapolis Province Conference at St. Mary’s Church in Sleepy Eye on June 25 (see flyer on next page); the National Council of Catholic Women Convention in Oklahoma City, OK, August 13-17; and our Winona-Rochester Diocesan Convention at the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester on October 12.

You can receive the Connecting Catholic Women e-newsletter by sending your request to our editor at If you have questions or concerns, please call me at 507-381-2842 or email

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

14 May 2024 w The Courier w
May 2024 w The Courier w


Sister Mary Owen Stevermer, SSND, 93, died April 3, 2024, at Benedictine Living CommunityWindermere in Shakopee. Funeral services were held April 8 at Windermere Chapel, with Father John Kunz as presider. Burial followed in the Good Counsel Cemetery, Mankato.

Sister Mary Owen (Ruth Stevermer) was born in 1930 on the family farm outside of Easton. She graduated from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School in 1944 and from Good Counsel Academy in Mankato in 1948. She entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame after graduation and prepared to become a home service sister. She professed first vows in 1951 and began a long ministry of caring for the needs of others through cooking and housekeeping. In the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, she served at St. Peter Convent in Hokah (1951-53) and Crucifixion Convent in La Crescent (1959-62) in addition to

Inside the Capitol, cont'd

from pg. 1

The detrimental effects of legalized sports gambling extend beyond personal hardship, infiltrating the very fabric of sportsmanship and integrity. Reports abound of athletes and coaches experiencing threats and coercion from gambling interests, tarnishing the purity of sports competition. Just recently, the NBA handed down a lifetime ban on a basketball player who placed bets on his own games.

If policymakers decide to move forward with online sports betting, stringent safeguards must be in place to mitigate these harms. We commend Senator John Marty of Roseville for his proposed bill, S.F. 5330, which outlines essential measures to protect Minnesotans.

May 5, Sunday

filling many roles at the Good Counsel provincial house. In the broader Mankato area, she worked in food service at the Gus Johnson Plaza and MRCI, and ministered to the elderly at Cedar Haven apartments. She possessed a special expertise in the area of nutrition. Intensely proud of her Irish heritage, she wore green and celebrated the entire month of March. She moved with other School Sisters of Notre Dame to Shakopee in 2022.

Sister Mary Owen is survived by her sisters, Irene Mikkalson and Alice (Lawrence) Killion; her brother Emmett; 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, William and Lucille (O’Rourke) Stevermer; her brothers Ray, William, Thomas and infant brother, Paul. A longer obituary and a recording of her funeral is available at

Sister M. Rochelle Trembley, SSND, 95, died April 13, 2024, at Benedictine Living Community - Windermere in Shakopee. Funeral services were held April 22 at Windermere Chapel, Shakopee, with Father Joe Fogal as presider. Burial followed in the Good Counsel Cemetery, Mankato.

Sister Rochelle (Theresa Trembley) was born in Delavan in 1929. She grew up in Mankato as a member of St. John the Baptist Parish. She attended and graduated from SS. Peter & Paul grade school, because St. John’s School only opened when she was

Key provisions of Senator Marty's bill that we support include bans on betting on college sports and in-game actions, known as prop bets. Additionally, the bill prohibits gambling platforms from sending push notifications to users when their phones are idle, reducing the constant temptation to place bets.

In addition to what Senator Marty calls for in S.F. 5330, we are advocating for comprehensive studies to assess the prevalence and impact of sports gambling, particularly its correlation with problem gambling, gambling disorders, youth gambling, and even suicide. These studies are crucial for informing evidence-based policies and interventions to safeguard public health and well-being.

We also support restrictions on advertising, including no advertising to audiences where more than 20 percent of individuals are under 21 and mandatory warnings about the addictive nature of gambling.

May 11, Saturday

*indicates event is open to the public

May 1, Wednesday

1:30 p.m. - Holy Half Hour and DOW-R Finance Council - Winona

May 2-3, Thursday-Friday

St. Mary's University of Minnesota Board of Trustees Meeting - St. Mary's University, Winona

May 4, Saturday

8:30 a.m. - St. Mary's University Baccalaureate Mass - St. Thomas More Chapel, St. Mary's University, Winona Visit Diocesan Institute of Lay Formation Class - Alverna Center, Winona

2 p.m. - ConfirmationCo-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Rochester

May 7, Tuesday

Speaker for Archdiocese of Milwaukee Priest AssemblyElkhart Lake, WI

May 9, Thursday

11 a.m. - Holy Hour and Deans Meeting - Resurrection, Rochester

2:30 p.m. - Clergy Personnel Committee - Resurrection, Rochester

May 10, Friday

9:30 a.m. - Holy Hour and College of Consultors - Winona

7 p.m. - ConfirmationCrucifixion, La Crescent

10:30 a.m. - ConfirmationBasilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Winona

May 12, Sunday

*10 a.m. - Mass and Installation of Fr. Jim Starasinich as PastorSt. Pius X, Rochester

May 13, Monday

Premier Banks Clergy Golf Outing - Owatonna Country Club

May 14, Tuesday

11 a.m. - Holy Half Hour and Pension Plan for Priests - Winona

2 p.m. - USCCB Civilize It Virtual Event

May 15, Wednesday

7 p.m. - Confirmation - Pax Christi, Rochester

in eighth grade. After graduating from Good Counsel Academy in 1947, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Following profession of first vows in 1951, she began her ministry as a classroom teacher and a teacher of music in Minnesota, Washington and North Dakota Catholic schools. In the Diocese of Winona-Rochester she taught at Crucifixion School in La Crescent from 1952 through 1954. For many years she also was a driver for sisters living on Good Counsel Hill, taking them to appointments and other destinations. In 2022 she moved with other School Sisters of Notre Dame to Benedictine Living Community in Shakopee.

Sister Rochelle is survived by nieces; nephews; and her sisters in community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND Associates. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ira and Marie (Willette) Trembley; her sisters, Amreta Joel, Janet Trembley, Ethel Erickson, Marceline Henke, Doris KennedyPaul, Frances Dunn and Rosemarie Cox; and her brothers, Paul, Joe and Roland. A longer obituary and a recording of her funeral is available at www.

We urge legislators in Minnesota to exercise caution and prioritize the welfare of their constituents by pressing the pause button on sports gambling proposals. While we oppose its legalization, implementing robust safeguards is imperative if such measures are to be considered. Let us work together to protect our communities from the perils of gambling addiction and uphold the values of justice and compassion for all. Send a message to your legislators today asking them to oppose online sports gambling by visiting:

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.

May 17-18, Friday-Saturday Star of the North Eucharistic Congress - Bemidji, MN

May 19, Sunday

*10 a.m. - Mass and Blessing of New Sanctuary - Holy Spirit, Rochester

May 20, Monday

Installation of Bishop Battersby as Bishop of La Crosse - La Crosse, WI

May 21, Tuesday

11 a.m. - Mass for Priest Retreat - IHM Seminary, Winona

2 p.m. - Bishop's CabinetWinona

May 23, Thursday

7:30 p.m. - Lourdes High School Baccalaureate MassResurrection, Rochester

May 25, Saturday

*10 a.m. - Ordination of Seminarians Jordan Danielson, Benjamin Peters, and Timothy Welch to the Transitional Diaconate - Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona

May 26, Sunday

*8:30 a.m. - Mass - St. John Nepomucene, Winona

May 28, Tuesday

11:30 a.m. - Holy Half Hour and Presbyteral Council - Pax Christi, Rochester

May 29, Wednesday

4 p.m. - Catholic Foundation of Southern Minnesota Board Meeting - Rochester

May 31, Friday 11 a.m. - St. Paul Street Evangelization - Rochester

• The Courier May 2024
Bishop's Calendar

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