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New May 2016 | Vol. 37 | No. 5


The Magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo

US BISHOPS: don’t rush in reading, interpreting Pope’s ‘love letter’ to families PLUS

From Bishop Folda: “The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis

Project Rachel provides hope for those suffering from an abortion experience

Jubilee Year of Mercy: The small town with a big heart for Hospice 1 NEW EARTH MAY 2016




May 2016 Vol. 37 | No. 5

ON THE COVER 18 US bishops: don’t rush in reading, interpreting Pope’s ‘love letter’ to families The United States bishops are welcoming Pope Francis’

new apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, praising the Pope’s call for careful encouragement and support of married life and engagement with families facing challenges. The bishops also echo the Holy Father’s call for a careful and considered reading of the text, urging understanding as Catholics seek to apply the Pope’s recommendations to their families and to society.



“The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis



Pope Francis’ May prayer intentions


Ask a priest: So I should just follow my conscience… right?


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul continues to care for those in need



10 Mike Hagstrom hired as new Director of Catholic Schools 11 Catholics and Lutherans gather for dialogue on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si 12 Project Rachel provides hope for those suffering from an abortion experience 14 Annunciation Monastery elects new prioress, Sister Nicole Kunze, O.S.B. 15 Sister Jean Dummer, C.S.J. of Sykeston, dies age 83t 16 Diocese to ordain three priests, two transitional deacons


25 Tattered Pages: A review of Catholic books and literature


Discovering the Year of Mercy in medieval Norway: A review of Sigrid Undset’s ‘Kristen Lavransdatter’





26 A pre-race interview with Monsignor Schlesselmann


27 Stories of Faith

The faith story this month tells the story of how a Lutheran music director used her talents in a Catholic parish.

28 Catholic Action

Christopher Dodson discusses Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and explains that the document focuses on right relationship with God.

29 Making Sense of Bioethics

Guest columnist, Father Tad Pacholczyk ponder what it means to “age gracefully.”

ON THE COVER: A family enjoys the warm fall weather outside the Civic Center in Fargo during the Year of Marriage and Family conference, October 24, 2015. (Tyson Kuznia | Legacy Photography)



(ISSN# 10676406) Our mission is to serve Catholic parishes in Eastern N.D. as the official monthly publication of the Diocese of Fargo.


Most Rev. John T. Folda Bishop of Fargo

Interim Editor Kristina Lahr


Stephanie Drietz - Drietz Designs


Parish contributions make it possible for each registered Catholic household in the diocese to receive 11 issues per year. For those living outside the Diocese wanting a subscription, an annual $9/year rate is requested.


Send address changes or subscription requests to: New Earth 5201 Bishops Blvd S., Suite A Fargo, ND 58104


30 Stewardship


In this month’s column, Steve Schons investigates how to save time and money when making an estate plan.

31 Seminarian Life

Matthew Kensok shares the encounter he had with Samuel Traut on his mission to Peru.


32 Sponsored by the diocese 32 A glimpse of the past 33 Events across the diocese 33 Life’s milestones SPECIAL SECTION: JUBILEE OF MERCY 35 The small town with a big heart for Hospice

Contact Information

Use the following contact information to contact the New Earth staff: (701) 356-7900 Deadline to submit articles, story ideas, advertisements and announcements for the June issue is May 25, 2016. All submissions are subject to editing and placement. New Earth is published by the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, a nonprofit North Dakota corporation, 5201 Bishops Blvd. S, Suite A Fargo, ND 58104. (701) 356-7900. Periodical Postage Paid at Fargo, ND and at additional mailing offices. Member of the Catholic Press Association




“The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis


fter several years of worldwide input, pastoral reflection, and synodal debate, Pope Francis has issued his apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris laetitia, “The Joy of Love.” As always, when a Pope issues a teaching document to the entire Church, it is a great gift, and this exhortation from Pope Francis is no exception. You could say it is a hymn to the beauty and joy of marriage and family life. But it is also a realistic and downto-earth appraisal of the challenges facing couples and families. In the opening chapters, Pope Francis presents God’s creation and plan for marriage and family life as we find them in Sacred Scripture, and he then contrasts this divine plan with the lived experience and challenges that so many couples and families are facing in today’s world. The Pope gives a beautiful reflection on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, and reminds us that the center of the Gospel of marriage and family is love. This authentic love is patient, kind, and merciful; it is self-giving, humble, and never rude or resentful. This love is also fruitful and always brings new life to those it touches. Francis knows, however, that this is not always the experience of our brothers and sisters. He acknowledges that the joy of love is often missing from marriages and families, and he calls upon the Church to do what she can to reach out and support those who are struggling and wounded in their life situation. To give only a taste of its breadth, Pope Francis reflects on the vocations of spouses and the family, as well as the roles of mothers and fathers. Throughout the document he shows a profound understanding of the gift of children and offers warm praise for large families. He speaks of the extended family and the place of the elderly and historical memory in family life. The Holy Father addresses issues of infertility, adoption, foster care and children with special needs. He strongly reaffirms the message of Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae on the fruitfulness of married love, and he firmly proclaims the sanctity of all human life. Pope Francis clearly affirms the nature of marriage between a man and a woman, and he rejects so-called gender ideology and the confusion it fosters. The Holy Father also calls for a ministry to families that offers a fuller catechesis and formation for those who are engaged or married, for their children, for priests, deacons, religious,



seminarians and all those who minister to families. He observes that formation for marriage and family life should not begin with the engagement, but must happen early on at home and at school. He notes too that newly married couples need to be accompanied as they begin their lives together. Those who expected a change in the Church’s teaching on marriage, family life, sexuality and divorce, will be disappointed. The Holy Father reaffirms all that the Church has held in its great body of teaching on these issues. Much attention has been given to speculation that the Pope would change the Church’s law and pastoral practice regarding the reception of the Eucharist by those who are divorced and remarried. He makes no such explicit change, but urges close and generous pastoral care in continuity with the Church’s teaching and practice. The Pope specifically urges the Church toward a more personal accompaniment of all those who struggle to live out their vocations as spouses, parents and children in the context of family life. The document emphasizes the need for deeper reflection and discernment by pastors and Catholic couples in so-called “irregular” situations, so that they may be integrated and participate as fully as possible in the life of the Church. Giuseppina DeSimone, a married philosophy professor who spoke at the Vatican press conference introducing the exhortation, gave her impression of it. She observed that the Pope is taking people “by the hand to discover the beauty of our families imperfect, fragile, but extraordinary because they are supported in their daily journey by the love of the Lord who never tires, doesn’t renege, and makes everything new.” It is important to note that the Holy Father makes no apologies for the fullness of the Church’s teaching and vision of marriage and the family. The Pope very directly tells us that Christian marriage is not a burden placed upon humanity, but is a gift from God to his beloved children. It is a way of life that reflects God’s own love for his people and that joins us more fully to his own Son. Marriage gives husbands and wives their own part in “salvation history,” the whole story of God’s love, constancy and fidelity towards his people. It is not merely an ideal for a select few, but is part of God’s plan for the whole of humanity. As always, Pope Francis refers us back to Jesus Christ as the ground of our faith and our Christian lives. Quoting the Second Vatican Council, he tells us, “Only in contemplating Christ does a person come to understand the deepest truth about human relationships.” Christ himself is the guide to love, self-giving, and fidelity in marriage and family. This document can be found at The Pope himself encourages us to read it thoroughly and reflectively. It is somewhat lengthy, but is certainly accessible to any adult who is interested in our faith and in the “Gospel of the family.” I invite all the faithful of our Diocese to read it, perhaps a few pages at a time, and allow its message to sink in. Over time, I am confident that our lives will be enriched by reading and praying over “The Joy of Love.”

BISHOP FOLDA’S CALENDAR May 10 | 11:30 a.m.

May 16-20

6:30 p.m.

Caritas Award Luncheon, Spirit of Life Church, Mandan

Retreat Master for Priest Retreat, Rockford, Ill.

Father Bert Miller, 25th Anniversary Celebration to the Priesthood, Blessed Sacrament, West Fargo

May 12 | 7 p.m.

May 25 | 10 a.m.

Vespers for installation of Archbishop Hebda, Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, Minn.

Baccalauerate Mass for Shanley, Holy Cross, West Fargo

May 13 | 2 p.m.

Shanley Graduation, Shanley, Fargo

June 3 | 7 p.m.

Installation of Archbishop Hebda, Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minn.

May 28 | 5 p.m.

Diaconate Ordination, Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo

May 14 | 10 a.m.

6 p.m.

Mass at St. Joseph, Tolna

May 29 | 9 a.m.

Confirmation/First Eucharist, St. Anthony of Padua, Fargo

Mass at St. Mary, Lakota

5 p.m.

May 30 | 10 a.m.

Confirmation/First Eucharist, Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo

May 15 | 11 a.m. Confirmation/First Eucharist, Holy Spirit, Fargo

5 p.m. Confirmation/First Eucharist, St. John, Wahpeton

Memorial Day Mass, Calvary Cemetery, Grand Forks Pastoral Center Closed

May 31 | 5 p.m. Mass at St. Gianna Home, Minto

June 1 | 5:30 p.m. Father Kevin Boucher, 25th Anniversary Celebration to the Priesthood, Nativity, Fargo

June 2 | 7 p.m. Jubilee for Priests Eucharistic Holy Hour, Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo

June 4 | 10 a.m. Priestly Ordination, Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo

June 5 | 4 p.m. Vespers for Monsignor Daniel Pilon 40th Anniversary, Our Lady of Peace, Mayville

June 11 | 10:30 a.m. Jubilee Mass, Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen, Hankinson

June 13-16 USCCB Spring Meeting, Huntington Beach, Calif.

PRAYER INTENTIONS OF POPE FRANCIS - MAY Universal intention: Respect young women as sisters with complete purity. for Women. That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.

Reflection: What qualities and

actions of Mary made her “the true and sublime example of woman?”

Evangelization intention: Holy Rosary. That families,

communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.

Reflection: What role has the rosary played in my own spiritual life?

Scripture: Luke 2: 15-20. Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2. Treat Provided by Apostleship of Prayer, older women as mothers and




So I should just follow my conscience… right? Ask a Priest

Fr. James R. Ermer


ell, yeah… but it is a little more complicated than that. A topic such as this demands a good understanding of what conscience is and how it operates to rightly use this most precious gift of the

moral/spiritual life. A basic understanding of conscience can be found in the Vatican II document The Church in the Modern World. It declares that conscience is a person’s most secret core and sanctuary where a person is alone with God whose voice speaks to each and every person. Deep within this sanctuary, a person discovers a law that is not of man’s making, but one that pre-exists the person. Conscience is that voice, God’s, calling us to live in accordance with that law by loving and doing what is good and avoiding what is evil. St. Paul seems to clearly enunciate this reality when he writes, “Whatever can be known about God is clear to [all men]; he himself made it so... invisible realities [like] God’s eternal power and divinity have become visible, recognized through the things he has made” (Rom. 1:18-19). He goes on to say, “When Gentiles who do not have the law keep it as by instinct... they show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts. Their conscience bears witness... and their thoughts will accuse or defend them...” (Rom. 2:14-15). Therefore, each person has a conscience, an inkling of right and wrong. No one can claim they did not know. For Christians the fullness of that law planted deep within us has come to full blossom in the person of Jesus Christ.   First and foremost, conscience renders judgment upon acts that a person is thinking about doing, about acts that are in the process of being done and upon acts that have already been done. To the degree one’s acts are in accord with this primordial law, one will experience validation from their actions; to the degree one’s acts are in discord with this primordial law, one will experience feelings of guilt. Guilt is conscience’s way of notifying us that we have diverged from correctly living this inner law that God has planted within each of us. In a deeply positive way guilt reminds us of hope

and God’s mercy, of our need to ask forgiveness, of virtue that still needs to be practiced, of good yet to be done. All of this leads to a reasonable observation – all consciences need to be correctly formed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, “The education of the conscience is a lifelong task” and one does this by reading and studying the Scriptures, “examining one’s conscience before the Cross,” seeking the witness and advice of others (e.g. the saints, spiritual writings, etc.) and being guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church (CCC 1784, 1785). Recent popes have expressed deep concern that the modern world has abandoned this understanding of conscience. The late Pope John Paul II said modernity denies the existence of a natural law that universally binds all humanity. Modern man may concede there is a generally accepted perspective about how things should be, but in the end each person decides how to act in particular cases. Conscience becomes a matter of subjective conviction or personal taste and wishes. Sometimes it gets reduced to group consensus or political or social power. This kind of thinking deadens the conscience and makes it a mechanism of rationalization. In this mindset, conscience decides what is right or wrong rather than conscience rendering a judgment about right and wrong. Eventually man replaces God as the author of right and wrong. The true understanding of conscience is that God deeply desires that we grow into the depth and profundity of the truth that has been revealed in his Son, who is “the way, the truth and the life.” Out of this perspective conscience is understood as “co-knowing” with the truth, “co-knowing” with God. In some of his earlier writings Pope Benedict speaks of conscience as “an original memory of the good and the true that has been planted in us... an inner sense, a capacity to recall so that the one whom it addresses... hears its echo from within.” With this understanding a certain judgment of a well formed conscience must be followed. Father James Ermer serves as pastor at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Casselton. He can be reached at Editor’s Note: If you have a question about the Catholic faith and would like to submit a question for consideration in a future column, please send to with “Ask a Priest” in the subject line or mail to New Earth, 5201 Bishops Blvd. S, Suite A, Fargo, ND 58104, Attn: Ask a Priest.

“First and foremost, conscience renders judgment upon acts that a person is thinking about doing, about acts that are in the process of being done and upon acts that have already been done.” – Father James R. Ermer



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The Society of St. Vincent de Paul continues to care for those in need By James Alfonso, President of Fargo Diocese District Council

Mrs. Axdahl’s 3rd grade class wins a competitive fundraiser during Catholic Schools Week at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Devils Lake. St. Joseph’s parish is one of 10 conferences in the Fargo, Bismarck and Crookston Dioceses that support St. Vincent de Paul. (submitted photo)


ne of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who volunteer by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 150 countries. Membership in the United States totals more than 160,000 in 4,400 communities. The striking differences between the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and other help organizations is that, instead of meeting those in need in an office, Vincentians meet them in their homes unless there are circumstances that prevents a home visit, such as homelessness. This has been the tradition and policy since the time of one of the Society’s founder, Frederic Ozanam, in 1833. Vincentians go out to visit those in need in pairs just like Jesus sent out the Apostles. Ozanam said, “The knowledge of social well being and reform is… to be learned not from books nor from the public platform, but by climbing the stairs to the poor man’s garret, sitting by his bedside, feeling the same cold that pierces him, hearing the secret of his lonely and troubled mind.” Emmanuel Bailly, first Conference President of the Society, underscored the necessity of home visits when he said, “The Foundation, the very essence of our Society… is the visiting of the poor in their home; we must see them in rags, and amid all the disorder and distress of their misery, improvidence and



discouragement. Such a sight is both a lesson to us and a motive of devotedness to him.” Some of the requests for assistance include food, clothing, transportation, household goods, temporary shelter, vehicle insurance so they can get to work, funding for rent and utilities. The Society’s motto is, “there is no form of charity that is foreign to the Society.” Poverty knows no boundaries. Our goal is not only to assist families and individuals financially but to provide hope, encouragement and love. We pray with them, listen to them and ask questions to help discern how we can best help. Most importantly, we tell them that God loves them, he has a plan for them and that the Catholic Church cares about each of them. We give them hope. The Fargo Diocese District Council is made up of 10 conferences in the Fargo, Bismarck and Crookston Dioceses. During the 2015 fiscal year, these conferences made the following impact on many of those in need in North Dakota and Western Minnesota. They provided assistance to 3,548 men, women and children. These people were helped as a result of 520 home visits, 289 visits not in the home and 402 phone contacts. It would not have been possible to provide this much-needed assistance without the generosity of the parishioners of the parishes associated with each conference. We also leverage our funds by collaborating with many other help organizations and agencies in each community.


The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Conference organizes a Friends of the Poor Walk/Run in Bismarck. The St. Vincent de Paul Conference at Holy Spirit Cathedral is one of the six conferences founded in the last four years. (submitted photo)

This year we spent over $113,000 in direct financial assistance plus over $40,000 in in-kind goods and services such as furniture, food, household items, Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets and more. Vincentians donated over 11,400 hours and drove an estimated 13,500 miles to meet with people in need.

Each of the 10 conferences owes a debt of gratitude to their home parish. Without the generosity of each of these parishes they would not be able help those in need. If you have a Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference in your parish, you know they are helping to fulfill Mathew 25: 31-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink… and the king will say to them in reply, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” This young Fargo District Council will be hosting the 2016 North Central Regional Society of St. Vincent de Paul meeting this summer. Over 150 Vincentians from the six-state region will gather in Fargo June 23-25 at the Baymont Inn and Suites for formation, fellowship and fostering ideas to help people living in poverty. In addition to the training in the Vincentian Mission, attendees will hear from Bishop John Folda, Monsignor James Shea, Roxane Salonen and Patrick O’Bryan, director of Chicago’s Center for Catholic Social Thought and Action. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this 183-year-old organization of lay Catholics called to grow in holiness by serving those in need.  If you would like more information on this conference or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, check out our website or call Joan Schaefer at (701) 364-0444. If you would to learn more about the Bismarck Conference, visit




Mike Hagstrom hired as new Director of Catholic Schools

By Kristina Lahr

The responsibilities of a public superintendent tend to focus more with the state, taxes and finances, but according to a poll from teachers, families, alumni and students from Catholic schools in the Diocese, there were other responsibilities that ranked as higher priorities. “Overwhelmingly, the priorities stated were belief in the mission of JPII Schools and Catholic schools and strong belief in the benefit of Catholic education,” said Dr. Smith. After teaching Religion at Shanley for 31 years and serving as Chaplain’s Assistant and Student Council Advisor, Mike Hagstrom shows he believes in the mission of Catholic schools. “It’s a family atmosphere here,” said Hagstrom. “Faith infuses everything. We’re a true community, enlivened by faith and motivated by faith.” “We’re believers that parents are the first and most important teachers of children,” said Dr. Smith, “so when we work with families, we try to have that partnership in place to learn from parents. It’s not just what we’re doing for the kids, it’s about what we’re all doing together. “Our schools go back to 1882. Any time between then and now everyone’s welcome to be a part of it. To be a part of it though, you have to take yourself out of it. You have to say I’m going to be a part of the community that’s bigger than me. It’s not about me. So if you’re willing to do that and let go of yourself as an individual, what you’ll get out of it is immeasurable.” “It’s not about one person; it truly isn’t,” said Hagstrom. “I would not have said yes [to this position] if it were not for a great team of people in place already serving our families and students.” Dr. Smith has served for four years as superintendent. “I’m grateful for that time he’s given and the stability and continuity that has come from it,” said Hagstrom. “He’s leaving things in very good shape. I’ve pinched myself everyday he’s ishop John Folda announced March 15 that Mike served as superintendent. We’ve been so fortunate to have him.” Hagstrom will serve as the new President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools and Director of Catholic Schools for “And the transition so far with Mike has been smooth,” said Dr. Smith. “ When I started, he helped me make the transition the Diocese of Fargo. as superintendent. To have someone who’s loved the school for Hagstrom will replace current school leader, Dr. Michael Smith, 31 years makes me very confident in his leadership.” and will officially begin his new duties as President July 1. Dr. The JPII Catholic Schools include Holy Spirit Elementary Smith has accepted a school leadership position in El Salvador. School, Fargo; Nativity Elementary School, Fargo; Trinity “When we looked at transitioning to a new person, we did Elementary School, West Fargo; Sullivan Middle School, Fargo; some reflecting on what our community was looking for with and Shanley High School, Fargo. new leadership and researched what Catholic schools are doing The Fargo Diocesan Catholic Schools include St. Ann’s School, around the country,” said Dr. Smith. Belcourt; St. Joseph’s School, Devils Lake; Holy Family-St. Mary’s Through the advice of consultants and benefactors, the school Catholic School, Grand Forks; St. Michael’s Elementary School, decided to alter its leadership position to a president model, Grand Forks; St. John’s Academy, Jamestown; St. Alphonsus’ rather than a superintendent model. Elementary School, Langdon; Little Flower Elementary, Rugby; “The title distinguishes the duties of what the head of the St. Catherine’s Elementary School, Valley City; and St. John’s school does,” said Dr. Smith. “It’s very different than the head Elementary School, Wahpeton. of a public school superintendent.” Mike Hagstrom, left, and Dr. Michael Smith, right, shake hands outside the chapel at Shanley Catholic High School, Fargo. Hagstrom will replace current school leader, Dr. Smith, and will officially begin his new duties as President and Director of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Fargo July 1. (Kristina Lahr | New Earth)




From left, Bishop Wohlrabe, (Northwestern Minnesota Synod); Bishop Hoeppner, (Diocese of Crookston); Bishop Brandt, (Eastern North Dakota Synod); and Bishop Folda; and Dr. Larry Rasmussen watch as Mark Rohlena speaks during a press conference at the Joint Theological Day at Sts. Anne and Joachim church, Fargo. (Diocese of Crookston)

Catholics, Lutherans gather for dialogue on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si By Kristina Lahr


n March 31 Sts. Anne and Joachim parish, Fargo, hosted the event, “Creation Conversation: Acting on the Message of Pope Francis,” which offered reflections on Pope Francis’ document Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home. Co-sponsored by the Diocese of Fargo, the Diocese of Crookston, the Eastern North Dakota Synod (ELCA) and Northwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA), Catholic and Lutheran clergy and lay people gathered to find common ground in Pope Francis’ message. Over 200 clergy and lay people were in attendance. “It was so nice to see the priests and deacons from two dioceses and see our Lutheran brothers and sisters coming together to discuss this,” said Deacon Kenneth Votava of St. James Basilica, Jamestown. “To be able to come together and be on the same page to address one major issue was encouraging.” Pope Francis expresses that his goal for the encyclical is to open the conversation about caring for the environment. “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” writes Pope Francis in Laudato Si. “We need a conversation that includes everyone, since the environment challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (#14). “We live in a land that has so much. A lot of the rest of the world doesn’t have those same resources,” said Deacon Ray Grim of St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, Valley City. “We have a tendency to use other people’s resources without even realizing it. We need to be respecting those around the world and what they have.”

Mark Rohlena, Director of the Office of Domestic Social Devolopment of the USCCB, and Dr. Larry Rasmussen, a retired professor and Christian environmental ethicist, offered thoughtful reflections about the environment and Pope Francis’ encyclical. Christopher Dodson of the North Dakota Catholic Conference also moderated a discussion panel. “Pope Francis is calling us to be counter-cultural,” said Rohlena. Rohlena explained that the document was not simply about care for the environment but about care for the poor who are most affected by pollution, lack of clean water, overconsumption, etc. “The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion,” writes Pope Francis. “It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (#217). “The pope is trying to talk to the power players in the world… but is also pointing out we can start at the grassroots level too,” said Deacon Votava. “He brings us hope that we can make a difference with the little things we do on a daily basis.” The idea for this ecumenical event was proposed by Bishop Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston along with Bishops Brandt and Wohlrabe of the Lutheran Synods.



This sculpture, called “Memorial for Unborn Children,” by Martin Hudacek of Slovakia, shows a woman grieving the choice of abortion. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)


Project Rachel provides hope for those suffering from an abortion experience By Kristina Lahr


n Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, the Diocese of Fargo launched a new ministry in Jubilee of Mercy. Project Rachel is a ministry that provides healing and support for those wounded by an abortion experience. “In this Jubilee of Mercy – we find a call to renew our invitation to healing for those who are suffering in the aftermath of abortion and provide opportunities of healing and forgiveness for them,” said Rachelle Sauvageau, Director of the Respect Life Office and Project Rachel Ministries. “Project Rachel is a diocesan response to post-abortion ministry modeled after USCCB’s Project Rachel. We offer an integrated approach to healing that is sacramental and prayerful. We also want to provide referrals to professionals when there is need for this type of care.” When someone calls Project Rachel’s confidential phone line, they will be able to visit with a person trained in post-abortion healing ministry who can help them begin the healing process. In visiting with the person, the Project Rachel representative can begin to create a relationship of trust. “In the beginning, women often need a mentor, another post-abortive woman or someone who is a good listener to whom they can tell their story,” said Sauvageau. “We’re here to help people in their healing journey and for them to know that they are not alone.” The Project Rachel representative can then provide multiple ways to lead the caller to whatever they need such as a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, a support group, a professional counselor trained in post-abortion care or reconciliation with a priest trained in post-abortion ministry. “Often times those who have had an abortion prefer to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a location away from their 12


home community,” said Sauvageau. “We have priests who have been trained in post-abortion ministry and understand the needs of the post-abortive person and the healing process they may undergo to find healing in the person of Jesus Christ.” “The fear of others learning of their abortion keeps many woman away from their parishes and church family. The possibility of others learning what she has done drives the woman into deeper isolation, shame and secrecy,” said Jody Clemens, who is involved in various pro-life ministries.    “The enemy wants us to keep everything in this secret,” said Sauvageau. “Being able to tell the story to someone they can trust is the first step in healing. With Project Rachel, God provides an avenue that is safe. It’s a big step for women to pick up that phone and ask for help. It’s a step in deepening a relationship with Jesus.” Clemens continues, “Seeking forgiveness and healing after abortion is necessary to untangle the self-made prison many women create. Prior to the abortion, the woman is often lied to; and by choosing to believe those lies, the woman successfully dehumanizes her child and desensitizes her motherly instincts to love and protect her baby. The woman is encouraged to live in secrecy when she is told ‘no one will ever have to know.’ So in secrecy and shame she lives. Deep regret and anguish then set it as the realization that what she has done can never be undone. The gravity of her sin and the irreversible harm it has caused leads her to question God’s love and his willingness to forgive her. So when a woman finally gets the strength and courage to seek help, it is vital that she is met with unconditional love and acceptance. She needs the assurance that God stands with open arms eager and ready to embrace her, forgive her and heal her.”

“God is always present in our pain,” said Clemens. “We may not know that at the time, but he is always there. He will create in us a clean heart and will restore unto us the joy of our salvation.” Project Rachel is for everyone affected by abortion, not just women. “Men are impacted just as profoundly by abortion,” said Sauvageau. “Our ministry is for both men and women.” Project Rachel started in Diocese of Milwaukee in 1984 and is now facilitated by the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat. The neighboring dioceses of Bismarck, Crookston, Sioux Falls and Rapid City also provide some form of post-abortion ministry. To contact a representative for Project Rachel, call (844) 789-4829 Monday through Thursday between 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All calls are confidential.

Trinity Youth Camp 2016 A Catholic Camping Experience

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Prayer for those who have lost a child to abortion By Priests for Life Lord of all Life, You have entrusted us to the care of one another, and called us to be one Body in Christ. You call us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep. Hear our prayer today for our brothers and sisters who have lost children to abortion. Help us to understand the pain that is in their hearts, and to be a living sign to them of your welcome, your mercy and your healing. Help them to undergo with courage the process of grief and the journey of healing. Never allow them to feel alone; Always refresh them with the presence of Your Spirit and of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Console them with the sure hope that you love and care for their children. Give them new strength that even while they grieve what they have lost, they may look forward to all the good that you still have in store for them. Lord of healing and hope, give us all the forgiveness of our sins, and the joy of your salvation. We ask this in the Name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

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Sister Nicole Kunze O.S.B. was elected as the new prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck. A public celebration will be held May 21. (submitted photo)


Annunciation Monastery elects new prioress, Sister Nicole Kunze, O.S.B. By Sisters of Annunciation Monastery


ollowing a period of prayer and discernment, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, have elected a new prioress, Sister Nicole Kunze, O.S.B. Sister Nicole succeeds Sister Nancy Miller, who has served eight years as prioress. The new prioress will be formally installed Friday, May 20, in the presence of the Benedictine community and the Federation president. A public celebration will be held Saturday, May 21 at 1 p.m. in Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel, Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership. The sisters spent sacred time together, and individually, to discern and hold conversations about the future directions set forth by the monastic community and who might be the sister to provide leadership into the future. “I am truly humbled and overwhelmed at the faith my community of sisters has placed in me,” says Sister Nicole. “In the days and weeks to come, I will learn more about what this really means in terms of my responsibilities as prioress. I cherish and appreciate the love and support surrounding me.” Born and raised near Valley City to Allen and Marilyn Kunze, Sister Nicole is the oldest of three children. She became acquainted with the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery while she attended the University of Mary where she received her undergraduate degree in biology. Sister Nicole earned a Ph.D. in chemical education from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colo. At graduation, she was presented with the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Dissertation. She is completing her tenth year of service at the University of Mary where she 14


is associate professor of chemistry. Sister Nicole was honored with the University of Mary Regents’ Award for Teaching Faculty in 2011. As prioress, Sister Nicole will provide leadership in the Sisters’ sponsored institutions: CHI St. Alexius Health, the University of Mary and Garrison Memorial Hospital. She will serve as president of the board at the University of Mary. As the spiritual and administrative leader of the religious community, Sister Nicole will guide the sisters in the implementation of their new long-range plan. “I am excited about the directions our community has chosen for the next four years,” she says. A member of Annunciation Monastery since 1996, Sister Nicole taught chemistry and biology at St. Mary’s Central High School for five years prior to attending graduate school. Within the monastery, Sister Nicole serves on the monastic council, sponsorship council and finance council. She is corporate secretary for the monastery. Sister Nicole, age 44, is an avid sports fan of the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Mary Marauders. She enjoys walking, biking and looking for wildflowers. “Our sisters came to Dakota Territory to serve the needs of the people and we will continue to serve out of that courageous spirit into the future. We continue to invite women to be open to God’s call in their own lives to become sisters. As monastic women, we strive to deepen our spirituality and enrich the lives of others through prayer and service,” said Sister Nicole.


Sister Jean Dummer, C.S.J. of Sykeston, dies age 83


ister Jean (Francine) Dummer was born in Sykeston Dec. 20, 1932 and died Jan. 16 at Carondelet Village in St. Paul, Minn. Her students, colleagues and friends describe her as “vital, conscientious, thorough and totally dedicated to whatever she was doing.” Sister Jean attended grade school and high school in Sykeston. Having known she wanted to be a sister since she was a little girl, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul, Minn. in 1952. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Speech/Theater in 1956. She taught English and directed the schools’ theater productions at

By Susan Hames C.S.J

St. Mary’s in Waverly, Minn., St. Josephs’ Academy in St. Paul, Minn. and then at St. James Academy in Grand Forks from 1966 to 1969. Sister Jean loved to dance and always knew the latest dance steps. She was an avid reader and photographer and loved conversations about books. Sister Jean was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Francis and Elizabeth Dummer; her brother-in-law, Gerald Bougie; and her nephew, Dean Patrick. She is survived by her sister, Gloria Bougie; her nephew, Paul (Barbara) Bougie; her dear friend, Sister Miriam Shea, C.S.J.; and many cousins, friends, former colleagues and Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

Nineteen women from St. Brigid of Ireland Catholic Church in Cavalier consecrated themselves to Mary on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Mary, April 4. The women met Wednesday nights during Lent to discuss “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Father Michael E. Gaitley. (submitted photo) NEW EARTH MAY 2016



Jubilee for priests holy hour, prayer for priests and men being ordained


oin Bishop Folda for a Eucharistic Holy Hour for the Jubilee On June 3, Scott Karnik and Jayson Miller will be ordained to for Priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fargo on Thursday, June the transitional diaconate at St. Mary’s Cathedral Friday, June 3 2, 7–8 p.m. This Holy Hour, on the vigil of the Sacred Heart, at 7 p.m. Deacons Robert Keller, Patrick Parks and Steven Wirth is a time to pray for priests in the diocese and for those to be will be ordained to the presbyterate Saturday, June 4 at 10 a.m., ordained the following weekend. also at St. Mary’s Cathedral. All are welcome.

To be ordained to the presbyterate Deacon Robert Keller

Hometown: Harvey School: St. John Vianney Seminary, Denver, Colo.

To be ordained to the transitional diaconate

Deacon Patrick Parks

Hometown: Coon Rapids, Minn. School: Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.

Scott Karnik

Hometown: Grafton School: Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.



Deacon Steven Wirth

Hometown: Munich School: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Jayson Miller

Hometown: Lawton School: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

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don’t rush in reading, interpreting Pope’s ‘love letter’ to families By Adelaide Mena (CNA/EWTN News)





he United States bishops are welcoming Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, praising the Pope’s call for careful encouragement and support of married life and engagement with families facing challenges. The bishops also echo the Holy Father’s call for a careful and considered reading of the text, urging understanding as Catholics seek to apply the Pope’s recommendations to their families and to society. “The Pope has given us a love letter – a love letter to families,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Friday press conference. The document, the archbishop said, challenges the faithful to grow in love and trust in God’s mercy in the face of difficulty. “Let us remember that no obstacle is too big for Christ to overcome.” Archbishop Kurtz also echoed the Pope’s own caution against “a rushed reading of the text” when turning to it for pastoral guidance and understanding. “I really encourage each one of us to read and reflect carefully on the words of Pope Francis – how they can be applied to our lives, our families and our society.” Pope Francis greets a girl at his general audience, March 18, 2015. (Daniel Ibanez | CNA)

(Drew Hays | Unsplash)

Archbishop Kurtz was one of eight American participants in the two-year synod process that led up to the release. The process featured two meetings of bishops, or synods, hosted at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015, which culminated in the release of Amoris laetitia April 8. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said the letter is a “beautiful and stirring reflection on love and the family” that challenges pastoral ministry to be more “missionary” and to engage with the “concrete reality” of parishioners’ lives. He promised that the U.S. bishops “stand with families and seek to support those who are touched by poverty, trafficking, immigration challenges, domestic violence and pornography.”



Post Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia in Vatican City. The exhortation was released April 8. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

“The Pope has given us a love – Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz letter – a love letter to families.” “We also have room to grow and improve and we welcome the Pope’s encouragement of a renewed witness to the truth and beauty of marriage and a more tender closeness with couples and families who are experiencing real difficulties,” he commented. Bishop Malone also stressed to CNA that the first step for bishops and pastors in implementing the advice presented in Amoris laetitia is to take time to read and truly understand it. “We cannot rush our interpretation of what we have here,” he emphasized. “We don’t want to be taking bits and pieces of them without taking them in context.” While it is too early to know what the full impact of the exhortation will be, Bishop Malone said that American bishops and pastors will likely seek ways to strengthen marriage preparation and support for married couples – both topics Pope Francis emphasizes in the letter. Archbishop Kurtz agreed with his colleague, telling CNA that improvements to marriage preparation and support of couples after marriage “will probably be the largest impact” within the United States. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who also participated in the synod meetings in Rome, welcomed the document as a gift both to the Church and to “everyone who wants to understand what God really intends for our true happiness.” The 20


archbishop said in a statement that while he is going to “read his reflections slowly and carefully,” he was encouraged by the Pope’s emphasis on marriage preparation and support of couples in their first years of marriage. “I was also touched by our Holy Father’s call for all of us in the Church to reach out with compassion to wounded families and persons living in difficult situations,” the Archbishop commented. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stressed that while the document “changes no Church teaching or discipline, it does stress the importance of pastoral sensitivity in dealing with the difficult situations many married couples today face.” Archbishop Chaput also participated in the Synod meetings in Rome, and hosted the World Meeting of Families in Sept. 2015 in Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput pointed to the letter’s large size – more than 250 pages – and praised the Holy Father’s advice to read Amoris laetitia carefully and slowly, promising further thoughts of his own as he finished reading the exhortation. Meanwhile, he thanked the Pope for his thoughts and analysis of the “unique witness” of Christian marriage. “Nothing is more essential to any society than the health of marriage and the family,” he concluded.


Pope: Media missed the real family crisis in covering Communion, remarriage


ope Francis has said that the family is in crisis, and that is a much bigger issue than Communion for the divorced-and-remarried. He suggested the news media had focused too much on the latter issue during the synod and in coverage of his recent document on the family. The Pope spoke with journalists on his plane flight back from visiting refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos April 16. A reporter from the French newspaper Le Figaro asked why his post-synod document Amoris laetitia treats access to the sacraments for the divorced-and-remarried in a footnote. In response, Pope Francis noted a recent Pope’s reflections on the Second Vatican Council. There was the council as it took place in St. Peter’s Basilica, and there was the “council of the media” that covered the event, Pope Benedict XVI had said in February 2013. “When I convoked the first synod, the great concern of the media was Communion for the divorced and remarried, and, since I am not a saint, this bothered me, and then made me


sad,” Pope Francis said, suggesting that he is sad that he can be annoyed. “But do you not realize that that is not important?” he asked. “Don’t you realize that instead the family is in crisis, don’t we realize that the falling birth rate in Europe is enough to make one cry? And the family is the basis of society.” “Do you not realize that the youth don’t want to marry?” he asked. “Don’t you realize that the lack of work or the little work (available) means that a mother has to get two jobs and the children grow up alone? These are the big problems.” He said he thought this aspect of the family crisis is certainly in a footnote in Amoris laetitia because he spoke about it in Evangelii gaudium, his 2013 apostolic exhortation. Amoris laetitia is the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation published April 8. It reflected upon the bishops’ synods on the family in October 2014 and 2015. In a previous question during the Pope’s April 16 in-flight press conference, Francis X. Rocca of the Wall Street Journal,

Family in St. Peter’s Square during the Angelus Address on December 27, 2015. (Alexey Gotovsky/CNA)



Priest gives communion on the feast of the Holy Family in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 27, 2015. (Alexey Gotovsky/CNA)

had asked Pope Francis about access to the sacraments for the divorced-and-remarried and Amoris laetitia. “Some sustain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that regulates access to the sacraments for the divorced-andremarried, that the law, the pastoral praxis and obviously the doctrine remain the same,” Rocca said. “Others sustain that much has changed and that there are new openings and possibilities.” Rocca asked: “are there new, concrete possibilities that didn’t exist before the publication of the exhortation or not?” Pope Francis answered: “I can say yes, many. But it would be an answer that is too small.” The Pope recommended Cardinal Christoph Schonborn’s presentation of the exhortation. “You’ll find the answer there,” the Pope said. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, led the April 8 press conference releasing the document. The cardinal had said there had been “too much concentration” on the questions regarding the pastoral care of the divorced-andremarried. “It’s a trap to focus everything on this point because you forget the sum total of the situation,” he said. Cardinal Schonborn said the experience of the poor is a key to reading Amoris laetitia. “In the families of the poor, little steps on the path of virtue are experienced that can be much greater than those who live in ‘comfortable success,’” he said.

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Father Larry Haas, retired priest in Carrington, gives a tour of one of 12 tractors in a collection owned by him and retired farmer, Virgil Zink. Father Haas has a passion for his collection and is active in using them for parades especially during the 4th of July area celebrations. (submitted photo)


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The best gift for those you love who are nursing home residents, shut-ins, or non-practicing CatholicsWDAY, Channel 6, Fargo – WDAZ, Channel 8, Grand Forks 10:30 a.m. Sunday Name_________________________________________________ Address_______________________________________________ City/State/Zip_________________________________________ Phone_________________________________________________ A GIFT FOR: Name_________________________________________________ Address_______________________________________________ City/State/Zip_________________________________________

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Diocesan policy: Reporting child abuse

The Diocese of Fargo is committed to the protection of youth. Please report any incidents or suspected incidents of child abuse, including sexual abuse, to civil authorities. If the situation involves a member of the clergy or a religious order, a seminarian or an employee of a Catholic school, parish, the diocesan offices or other Catholic entity within the diocese, we ask that you also report the incident or suspected incident to Monsignor Joseph P. Goering at (701) 356-7945 or Larry Bernhardt at (701) 356-7965 or For additional information about victim assistance, visit




Discovering the Year of Mercy in medieval Norway A review of Sigrid Undset’s ‘Kristen Lavransdatter’ By Father Michael Hickin

TATTERED PAGES A review of Catholic books and literature


“In today’s context, KL is an artful commentary illustrating the Jubilee of Mercy and Pope Francis’ latest exhortation, The Joy of Love. Couched in the charm, brutality and piety of medieval society—an education in itself—Undset spreads before us a literary encounter with the raging humanity of family life.” – Father Michael Hickin

o read Kristen Lavransdatter is to fall into 14th century The epic is grim. You can catch yourself dreading the next Norway. This is Catholic Norway. Evangelization most misfortune. Undset takes the edge off of tragedy by evoking often moves at glacier pace. The Norse were no exception. the splendors of Nordic nature. The lay of the land, the texture When the fictional Kristin appears, around 1300, the Church is and odor of the farm, the interplay of earth and sky and water, rooted on the land and in the consciousness of the people, but animate the novel and entice the imagination. The effect is one only by three or four generations. of being engulfed in a world that becomes your own, though Immersion into Catholic Norway holds particular interest it is not your own. That’s the magic of KL. for North Dakotans, America’s most Norwegian State per capita, Across the nearly 1,200 pages, the bold cast of colorful characters about one-third. Time and science have confirmed the accuracy paints a spectrum so broad you cannot help but find shades of Undset’s 14th century literary re-creation. Her father was reflecting someone in your own network of relationships. a renowned archeologist. Undset became Catholic at 42, two In today’s context, KL is an artful commentary illustrating the years after authoring this rare window into rural Scandinavia. Jubilee of Mercy and Pope Francis’ latest exhortation, The Joy The allure of her portrait lies in not whitewashing the humanity of Love. Couched in the charm, brutality and piety of medieval of her characters, including the Church. Tedious aspects to the society—an education in itself—Undset spreads before us a novel—land disputes, political wrangling, unpronounceable literary encounter with the raging humanity of family life. She names—can be fascinating to those of Norwegian descent. paints the storm clouds of the heart silhouetted with occasional Without moralizing, Undset’s gritty account of religious-minded silver linings of grace. Kristen the pilgrim, beloved and bedeviled, people connects readers to the soul of Norway’s richly woven embodies a struggle, spanning three generations, to shed sin cultural fabric. She has a gift for evangelizing through wonder. and make prosper a sacred heritage of love, faith and family. Is Kristen a heroine? Sprung from noble roots on a prosperous Undset pens a journey volatile enough to carve fjords in the farm, this cherished eldest daughter (-datter) of Lavrans (Lawrence) heart of anyone touched with a thirst for compassion. is a Norse beauty. But beauty can bring baggage. Naïve and headstrong, Kristen passionately commits herself and penitentially recommits herself to a love that rarely satisfies. Buried grudges About the Book: cause her to lash out against and even betray the ones she loves. This mistress of a grand estate commands with authority, “Kristen Lavransdatter” but brooding tendencies compromise her skills of governance. by Sigrid Undset. Her sobs fill the saga with rivulets of remorse. Her recurring reach for redemption becomes the plot’s silver thread. Published by Penguin Classics. Is Kristen a saint? Sometimes this mystic forgets how to pray. Paperback 1,168 pages. Sometimes this healer digs a canyon between herself and those she holds most dear. What contemporary readers long for in Available via the Lives of the Saints, and most often don’t get, is how they Barnes and Noble, Amazon rebound from falling down. Maybe in another age that sort and other book resellers. of literature will appear. Undset powerfully delivers precisely this in novel-form through KL. While Kristen is a questionable model of virtue, it is hard not to admire the flame of faith that refuses to let love die.




A pre-race interview with Monsignor Schlesselmann By Tara Splonskowski

Monsignor Schlesselmann gives a thumbs up as he completes his first Bike Race ‘n Ride between the NDSU and UND Newman Centers, April 26, 2015.

I asked Monsignor a couple of questions about his experience with the bike race.

1. How would you describe your experience riding in the bike race last year on a communal level and on a physical level? “Since last year was my first experience with actually riding in the bike race after many years of supporting other riders, I have nothing with which to compare it. However, my initial experience was overall very positive. I remember smiling when I was told by staff that ‘you are going to be riding in the bike race, right?’ At the same time, I knew that I had better prepare for it and not just attempt to ‘wing’ it! So I contacted a friend of mine who is an avid bike enthusiast and asked him to ride with me during my training. Even though I knew how to ride a bike, I knew I would be happier having some practical advice about riding it for 40 miles! So I rode several practice runs gradually increasing mileage and speed. As a result, the actual ride was not as hard as I imagined it would be. It was great to cross that finish line though and to join the throng who had already arrived. Being all together in this effort was an obvious and fun way to build and strengthen our Newman community as well as contributing to a great cause. I am so grateful to all those who sponsored me – some were unabashedly glad I survived!”

2. How are you feeling so far about the bike race this year? Are you training? Are you ready?

“This year I trust the experience will be even better. However, due to scheduling conflicts and weather, I haven’t yet really begun training, but I will need to soon! The gift of this year’s bike race is the challenge to better my time and standing when riding and to raise more money for our Newman Center. Knowing that we have a great opportunity to work with our young adults in a crucial time in their lives is a great motivation to do our best. May the wind be at our backs!” You can find results for this year’s bike race at Thank you all for your support in prayers and gifts to the Newman Centers this year!

April 30 was that day students, alumni, families and local businesses gathered to ride and support the Newman Centers as they competed once again for the trophy in the annual Bike Race ‘n Ride between NDSU and UND Newman Centers. After a sweeping victory for NDSU last year, Monsignor Gregory Schlesselmann plans to ride again this year for the winning team. Monsignor Schlesselmann is in his second year at St. Paul’s Newman Center, Fargo, providing spiritual direction and formation for the students that frequent the center. Keeping up with the students has been seemingly effortless for him, from Ultimate Frisbee matches, volleyball, mountain skiing and of course, the 40-mile bike race! 26


Lukas Budimaier | Unsplash


Director of Music brings more than music to parish By Father Bert Miller


ometimes I hear the question, “Is he/she Catholic enough for the job?” I think the answer has to do with the depth of the faith of the candidate! In my past two assignments (20 years), I have worked with three Lutheran women who were chosen for positions on the Catholic Church staff. Two were parish nurses and one just completed almost 13 years as the director of music. All three were wonderful women. The director of music came to her position about eight months before I arrived. When I would come to visit the parish, I met all the staff members except her. I learned I was coming on her day off and that she wanted to meet me because she was a little anxious about the change in pastor. Would I be accepting of a Lutheran woman in this important position? In my next visit, I found her at work. I went to her office to visit. We had a great conversation. She was a former elementary music teacher and church organist in many of the towns where she had lived. She asked me what I thought about her being a Lutheran working in a liturgical role in the Catholic Church. I said I thought she would have a lot to learn and that I would be happy to walk the journey with her. I believed that from what I knew of her background she would complement the team and have much to offer us as well. The journey began. The entire team left the director of music and me alone for my first weekend at the parish – July 4, 2004. I did not know how to unlock and lock the church doors at that point. But, the music director had mastered the keys by then. She assured me at the beginning of liturgy, that everything

would be okay. And it was. After the liturgy, she stopped by the sacristy and asked me how I thought the music was. I said it was a little slow and asked if she could speed it up a beat. She said she could, but she did not know if the cantors could. She would talk to them in the morning. Well, the cantors could and did and the music at the parish soon lifted our liturgical worship to new levels of meaning and joy! The director of music and I had the most delightful journey for almost 13 years. Her deep Christian faith shined clearly every day. She not only “fit” in our Catholic team leadership, but many times she even led it. Few Catholics in the pew knew the director of music was Lutheran. And I learned from her to be more compassionate and caring when a family came in to prepare for a wake and funeral, when a couple came to prepare for a wedding or when a person in need courageously came through the door to ask for help. The journey is about faith – having it, improving it, sharing it with others and encouraging those who need an ear to listen, a pat on the back, a hug, and someone to share a few tears. I am sorry to say that my “everyday contact” with the director of music is complete now. But soon we will be in a place where our deep faith will be merged with Jesus and everyone else of faith in the kingdom of God. Father Bert Miller serves as pastor at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo. Editor’s Note: Stories of Faith is a recurring feature in New Earth. If you have a faith story to tell, contact Father Bert Miller at




Year of Mercy: Care for Creation


n my last column I suggested that a key to understanding mercy is Catholic the call to never Action abandon. Not abandoning also Christoper Dodson means to be in relationship, including a relationship with the created world. The environment, however, is not a person. How can we be in relationship with something that is not a person? The key to understanding this challenge is to recognize that God the Father blessed us with this world and that he wants us to live within it according to his will. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis states that Genesis teaches that “human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself” (No. 66). Sin disrupted these relationships. To walk right with the Lord, to walk in mercy, means to walk again in relationship with all three. The importance of including creation in this triad of relationships should be apparent. God made us with physical bodies in a physical world. At this very moment you are touching the physical world. Christ became incarnate and lived in this same physical world, breathed the same air, ate the same fruits of the same earth, and walked on the same ground. By his life we learn that our bodies and the material world in which they roam are not just valuable, but also that they are part of God’s will for us. We were made for this creation and it for us. He means for us to be in right relationship with the environment. Care for creation, therefore, is not just care for creation itself. Care for the human person is central to our care for creation and flows from our acceptance of the Father’s plan. Pope Francis explains that because of this relationship “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (No. 49, emphasis is Pope Francis’). It also means that the “human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together...” (No. 48). Contrary to portrayals in the news and social media, Pope Francis is not just talking about specific environmental problems, though he has done a little of that. Building upon what already

is Christian teaching on creation, Laudato Si consists mostly of a call to live with respect to the environment as a Christian. In other words, in right relationship with God. The rupture which began in Genesis has become so great that it threatens the earth on a global scale and especially the poor of the world. Perhaps more damaging, however, is that it has become so engrained that we do not see the broken relationship in our daily lives, especially our public life. Our relationships with God, others and the environment should be an integral, not secondary, part of our economic and public life. Environmental concerns should not be viewed as just limits on what we can do. This is especially true with agriculture. John Cuddeback, a professor at Christendom College puts it this way: “Stewardship issues are not something that place an exterior limit on agriculture, as though we were to say, ‘Do your farming, but remember to be careful and don’t damage the earth too much.’ Rather, true farming is intrinsically environmental and stewardship minded.” Nor would it be right to say: “I’ve followed all the laws and I’m just doing what I need to do to make a profit” or “we have to do it this way to compete.” Here is where care for creation and relationship with others relates to mercy. Remember: mercy is about going beyond what is required. Certainly, laws should protect people and the environment from practices harmful or detrimental to both natural resources and the common good. The political and legal system, however, often falls short. Mercy calls us to always include the common good and the environmental good, even if doing so is not required by the law and even if it means that others will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In its testimony against legislation to weaken the state’s anti-corporate farming law — legislation being put to the voters in June — the North Dakota Catholic Conference noted that Pope Francis has called the relationship a farmer has with the land as like the relationship that exists within a family. The same principle applies to all economic and social activity. As human persons we are called to be in relationship with God, others and creation in all that we do. As agents of mercy, we are called to go beyond what is required, just as we do for family. Christopher Dodson is executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference. The NDCC acts on behalf of the Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine. The conference website is

“Building upon what already is Christian teaching on creation, Laudato Si consists mostly of a call to live with respect to the environment as a Christian. In other words, in right relationship with God.” – Christopher Dodson 28



On “aging gracefully” “By letting our infirmities existentially speak to us, and coming to realize how true it is that we have no permanent dwelling here, we begin to grapple with that mysterious truth that heaven and home are synonymous.” – Father Tad Pacholczyk


t seems odd, even a bit repulsive, when we encounter tales of elderly men running after women who are young enough to be their granddaughters. The wheelchair-bound billionaire oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall was 89 years old when he married the 26-year-old Anna Nicole Smith. He had met the Playboy model and reality TV star in a strip club. Anna insisted that she really did love the old man and wasn’t in it for the money. With age should come wisdom. It’s appropriate and fitting for older men to leave behind their former ways, and no longer live and act like college frat boys. It’s right to expect growth in self-control as we mature, and to expect a more reflective and sober approach to life. Growing old invariably offers us the opportunity to redirect our focus, and as our body weakens, our mind and soul can be drawn to consider matters we may have previously avoided, like death and that which awaits us beyond death’s threshold. Our later years can powerfully provoke us to come to terms with our destiny and with higher truths. In a recent column, Father Ron Rolheiser, quoting James Hillman, speaks to the graces that aging and infirmity can bring our way:

“Why have God and nature so structured things that as we age and mature and are finally more in control of our lives, our bodies begin to fall apart, and we need a bevy of doctors and medicines to keep functioning? Is there some wisdom in the very DNA of the life process that mandates the breakdown of physical health in late life? Hillman says, yes. There’s an innate wisdom in the process of aging and dying: the best wines have to be aged in cracked old barrels. The breakdown of our bodies deepens, softens, and matures the soul.”

eternal youth. Some in our society even push the notion that we shouldn’t have Making Sense to put up with the of Bioethics challenges of infirmity, and instead ought to Father Tad Pacholczyk receive help from the medical system so we can beat a hasty retreat to the exit. By pushing for physician-assisted suicide, they encourage us to despise the good of our own lives and to reject the graces that arise from our struggles by choosing to ingest any of a number of doctor-prescribed poisons. On the other hand, by embracing our particular path into death, and by offering up our trials, we acquire a poise of soul and human maturity that orients us towards our destiny, a destiny in the hereafter that so many seem largely oblivious to. By letting our infirmities existentially speak to us, and coming to realize how true it is that we have no permanent dwelling here, we begin to grapple with that mysterious truth that heaven and home are synonymous. Aging gracefully also involves recognizing and accepting the shortening of the time ahead of us and the lengthening of the time behind us. Even as we achieve a much-sought independence in our lives, we begin to cycle back towards a renewed dependence on others, on caregivers, family and the community, and we may even come to the realization that our own mind will have to be surrendered if dementia comes our way. All of this can instruct us, if we accept it with grace, in the wisdom of relinquishing our own willfulness once again like little children, and returning to a humble framework of interdependence in our shared destiny with others and with God. Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See

I once overheard a hospital nurse chatting with one of her patients and was caught a bit off guard when she nonchalantly declared, with a little twinkle in her eye, “...when we get to be over 40, who doesn’t have hemorrhoids?” The comment, I thought, reflected a healthy, positive attitude toward aging and infirmity. Unavoidably, our bodies decline. Our strength wanes. We get hemorrhoids and warts and cancers and high blood pressure and male pattern balding. In the midst of it all, we can accept our lot with grace and gratitude. A serene acceptance of our struggles, and even of the specific death that awaits us, is surely a great virtue. But aging gracefully is not something many of us tend to do well. We resist the idea. We may cling to the fantasy of NEW EARTH MAY 2016



How to help your lawyer, and yourself


e f o r e names in case your first choices are unable or unwilling to serve. m e e t i n g If possible, have two additional names for each position. with your Having all of this cared for before visiting your attorney will attorney about make things much easier and time-efficient. your estate plan, Stewardship you can do some 3.) Decide what to give family members Steve Schons things to save time This can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole process. and money. Here Indeed, some people endlessly delay getting a will because this are four tips: step is either too perplexing or painful. There are many issues to consider. Too much inheritance may stifle personal initiative and feelings of self-worth. One child may be careless with money, another disciplined. One 1.) Prepare an inventory of your estate Since your estate plan will essentially direct the transfer may have physical needs requiring extra assistance. One may of your assets at death, you should compile a list of all your be self-sufficient, another financially strapped. How much is holdings and obligations. What do you own? How much is it too much? How little is too little? worth? Where is it located? How are the various assets owned You might want to discuss this subject with a trusted friend (jointly, separately, etc.)? List any memberships (golf club, gym, or personal advisor. And remember, with a will you can always time-shares, etc.). What are the beneficiary designations on your change your mind later. The important thing is to at least get a bank, brokerage and retirement accounts and your insurance plan in place for now. policies? How much do you owe and to whom? 4.) Determine your charitable bequests This will take some time and force you to get all your records Which organization(s) do you want to support with gifts in order. But the process will be instructive for you and timesaving from your estate? Of course, I hope you include your church in when your attorney begins to quiz you about these things. It’s your plans. easy to overlook some assets, so be as thorough as possible. A charitable giving component to your estate plan can have 2.) Select key people you want to involve significant meaning to your survivors and communicate your values in a powerful way. It can also help you establish a legacy Who do you want to oversee processing of your estate (your that will outlive your children and grandchildren. personal representative)? Who do you want to serve as the trustee of any trusts created by your will? Who do you want to be the Steve Schons is director of stewardship and development for the Diocese of guardians of any minor children you might have? And don’t Fargo and president of the Catholic Development Foundation. He can be forget about your power-of-attorney and health care documents. reached at or (701) 356-7926. You will need not only primary names, but also back-up




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One year later: Remembering Sam’s last mission


n May 27, 2015, as we taxied to the runway, the man sitting next to me tells me this is his first plane ride ever. The wheels leave the ground at Hector, and the aircraft surges above the clouds. Awestruck, he sighs and exclaims, “Wow!” Three weeks later, as we safely touch down in Fargo, that same man sits fast asleep beside me. I guess the thrill was gone. Later I would realize that I had the privilege of flying next to this man for his first and last plane rides. Even more, I had the privilege of joining him on his last mission on this earth to share the Gospel with the people of a rural Andean village in Peru. As I was prayerfully preparing for this mission trip with five other NDSU students and alumni, God told me, “I want to show you something.” I now realize that something became someone. God wanted to show me Samuel Traut. As we parted ways from the airport on June 18, 2015, I brought my suitcase over to Sam in the parking lot to unload some souvenirs he bought for his family – the last time I saw him. He was murdered less than five days later. I didn’t know Sam very well before the trip, but after spending every day with him for three weeks straight, I knew a small part of him. God used Sam in Peru to reach a lot of the locals. God also used Sam to reach me. The following reflection only scratches the surface of what Sam has shown me. First, Sam taught me about prayer. Before takeoff on our very first flight together, Sam silently crossed himself and bowed his head in prayer. He did the same thing before each takeoff and after each successful landing to Peru and back. I thought, “Sam, I get you are new to this whole flying business, but flying is safer than driving a car. Don’t worry.” Wait a minute. It’s not about worry. It’s about being with God at every moment, whether he is watching over the plane or simply allowing me to draw another breath. Many times I take it for granted that God will keep me safe. There are even more times when God blesses me, and I neglect to offer him thanksgiving. Sam was showing me that prayer is a relationship, in which even the small things matter greatly. I didn’t often thank God simply for being alive. That changed after Sam. The main focus of our mission in Peru was catechesis for the youth. Sam taught me that perfect love doesn’t always have to look pretty. Sam took Spanish in high school, but that was a while ago. Let’s just say his Spanish, like mine, wasn’t pretty. I could see him struggling to communicate with these Peruvian children who gathered each evening for catechesis. But something beautiful was happening with each “Como te llamas?” and “Como estas?” that Sam asked the kids (“What is your name?” and “How are you?”). The first two questions

you learn in Spanish are also the most meaningful. He genuinely wanted Seminarian to know the names Life of each of them and how they were Matthew Kensok doing. Imagine a little Peruvian boy or girl with a blank stare as we babble on in English. Then imagine Sam stooping down to eye level and asking their name, age and favorite color in the language they can understand. Although it didn’t sound pretty, Sam’s love was perfect. The blank stare transformed into a humungous smile. “This gringo cares enough to talk to me?” As I saw the same scene over and over, I witnessed his perfect love trumping his imperfect speech. At seminary, as I was prayerfully reflecting on Sam’s love and that trip to Peru one year ago, God brought me to the foot of the cross. We just celebrated Easter, but there is no resurrection without Good Friday. We cannot forget the cross. Jesus on the cross looks anything but pretty. On the cross, Christ was broken like Sam’s Spanish, but they were both performing an act of perfect love. And what’s more, that same Christ on the cross wants to come to me in the Eucharist. In the Mass, ordinary bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Christ. In the Eucharist, something becomes someone. Sam, this Easter has been a comforting time to hope in your own resurrection. I have a feeling you are higher above the clouds than we ever were in those planes. But it still hurts. We miss you and we are praying for your entrance into the Eternal Kingdom. I hope and pray that I will see you there. Matthew Kensok is a College II student studying at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb. Matthew grew up in rural Wheatland. It was through bible studies, retreats and adoration at the NDSU Newman Center that led him to begin discerning the priesthood. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys running, geocaching, reading and spending time with family. Editor’s Note: Seminarian Life is a monthly column written by current Diocese of Fargo seminarians. It gives New Earth readers a glimpse of what these discerning young men are experiencing. Let us know if there is something you would like to know about the life of a seminarian. Perhaps, it will inspire an article from one of them. And, please continue to pray for them.

“On the cross, Christ was broken like Sam’s Spanish, but they were both performing an act of perfect love.” – Matthew Kensok, Fargo Diocese seminarian NEW EARTH MAY 2016



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Putt for a Purpose Priests celebrating 25th jubilee now accepting Father Kevin Boucher. A celebration for Father Boucher will be held Wednesday, team registrations June 1 at Nativity Catholic Church in Fargo

All are welcome for a day of golf and fellowship with Bishop Folda. Bishop Folda’s annual Charity Golf Classic (scramble) is scheduled for Aug. 8 at beautiful Edgewood Golf Course, Fargo. Shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m. with steak dinner and banquet to follow. Team prizes for best overall score and best team score representing a parish. There will be many other prizes given away through a random drawing. Learn more or register at

A Glimpse of the Past

This news item, compiled by Dorothy Duchschere, was found in the May 1996 issue of New Earth.

beginning with evening prayer at 5:30 p.m. Picnic style dinner to follow. Please RSVP by May 25 by calling Nativity Catholic Church at (701) 232-2414.

Father Bert Miller. A celebration for

Father Miller will be held Wednesday, June 1 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo. There will be a 9 a.m. liturgy with a social to follow and a 6:30 p.m. dinner for Father Miller’s family, guests and parishioners. Father Miller will be available all day June 1 for visiting in the Blessed Sacrament gathering area. For more information, call Father Miller at (701) 282-3321.

when he became co-pastor (with Father Lawrence Wiedman) of St. Boniface, southwest of Napoleon. He assumed full pastoral responsibility in 1954, and accepted the mission of St. Patrick in Wishek in 1958. As a displaced-person priest, Father Bacevicius “belonged” By Charles Eldredge to Rome rather than the diocesan bishop when he first came Father John Bacevicius was born in Lithuania, but he to the United States. As such, he could return to Lithuania if considers a remote rectory on the western edge of the Fargo the Russians let him in. He decided in 1955 that that would Diocese as his home. Father Bacevicius has been at St. Bon- never happen, so he became incardinated in the Diocese of iface of rural Kintyre for 43 years, dedicating most of his 60 Fargo and became a U.S. citizen. His decision not to wait years as a priest to that parish. The parish will celebrate his turned out to be a wise one. He would not have been able to return “home” to stay until the fall of Communism in 60th anniversary next month. 1991. However he has made several trips to Lithuania. Father Bacevicius was born Feb. 28, 1910, and was ordained While Father Bacevicius said he never planned to stay in Lithuania on June 11, 1936. After serving in parishes there in one place this long, he said he knew from the outset that until 1944, he became a postwar displaced person and was he would like St. Boniface. sent to a camp in Germany for five years. “This wasn’t like a prison camp,” he said. “It was crowded, but we were fed “The people took me as their own from the very beginning. and were free to come and go as we pleased.” He was pastor I don’t know why,” he recalled. “After 10 years (the bishop) of the camp at Unterburg and dean of the German territory asked me if I wanted to move, I said not yet. I like it here. of Bremen-Oldenburg, where he came into contact with the This is my home.” Father Bacevicius became “semi-retired” Diocese of Fargo’s Cardinal Aloisius Muench. in 1990 and fully retired in 1994. But he lives alone in the The future of Europe was uncertain. Russia controlled rectory. He offers daily Mass in the house chapel and SunLithuania, making return there impossible. So he came to day Mass in the church. “I do the baptisms, weddings and America, arriving in New York on Aug. 22, 1949. He had everything else, too,” he said laughing. “We had all the been told at the U.S. embassy that there were not many jobs Easter services again this year, sort of slow motion, but...” for priests there, so he should list another profession. His Father Bacevicius, a robust man who gets some help from sponsoring family farmed in Wisconsin, and he knew they a home health nurse, said, “I don’t know what will be. I think had an orchard. “I could tell a dead branch from a live one, the time will come when I have to move somewhere, but so I called myself a gardener,” Father Bacevicius said with who knows.” Not one to boast, except about his parishioners, a chuckle. he cited the last time Bishop James Sullivan had visited the parish for confirmation, four years ago. “He asked deep After brief stays in New York and Chicago he came to Fargo questions and the kids knew the answers. The bishop said in February 1950 and was assigned as assistant pastor at St. it was one of the best prepared classes he had seen. It’s that Philip in Hankinson. In June 1951, he was named assistant kind of parish, that kind of people,” he said proudly. pastor at Verona and in 1952, at Oakes. Sept. 1, 1953 was to be a day of destiny for Father Bacevicius because that is Note: Father Bacevicius died March 15, 2000.

Father Bacevicius to mark 60th anniversary of ordination




Events Across The Diocese Mark your calendar for events around the diocese Serra Dinner. Blessed

Sacrament Catholic Church, West Fargo. Thursday, May 12 at 6 p.m. Serra Dinners are a time to encourage vocations in your parish and family and hear vocations stories from around the diocese. Free will offering. Contact Vocations Office at (701) 356-7948.

Jubilee for Priests. St.

Mary’s Cathedral, Fargo. Thursday, June 2 from 7-8 p.m. Bishop Folda will lead a Eucharistic Holy Hour for priests and those to be ordained June 4.

Transitional Diaconate Ordination. St. Mary’s

Cathedral, Fargo. Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m.

Presbyteral Ordination.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fargo. Saturday, June 4 at 10 a.m.

Pie & cake ice cream social. St. Anne’s Guest

Home, Grand Forks. Sunday, June 12 from 1:303:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Mass in honor of Bishop Sullivan. St. Mary’s Cathe-

dral, Fargo. Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. Mass will be celebrated to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Bishop Sullivan death. Bishop Sullivan died June 12, 2006. All are welcome.

To submit events for New Earth and the diocesan website, send information to: New Earth, 5201 Bishops Blvd. S., Suite A, Fargo, ND 581047605 or email The deadline for the June New Earth is May 25. The earliest that issue will reach homes is June 13.

For more news and events, visit the “News and Events” section of the diocesan website:

Get Connected Find more stories and information about the diocese at:

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Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (701) 241-7842 toll free (888) 682-8033 1336 25th Ave. S., Fargo 58103 (south of K-Mart)

Life’s milestones Pulkrabeks celebrate 60th anniversary

Clarence and Marie Pulkrabek, parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo, will celebrate 60 years of marriage June 5. They were married in 1956 at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Renville, Minn. They have three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Louise Hartl celebrates 95th birthday

Louise Hartl, parishioner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Cando, celebrated her 95th birthday April 28. She is a faithful member of Christian Mothers and Altar Society. She was married to the late Frank Hartl. She has two daughters, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Lydia Muscha celebrates 80th birthday

Lydia Muscha is an associate of the Presentation Sisters in Fargo and has been a member of St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Wild Rice for 50 years. On June 4 she’ll celebrate her 80th birthday. Lydia married the late Paul Muscha in 1955. Together they have 12 children, 25 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Share Life’s Milestones As a way to celebrate life and love, we encourage parishioners throughout the Diocese of Fargo to send photos of anniversaries of 60 or more years, or birthdays of 80 or more years to: New Earth, Diocese of Fargo, 5201 Bishops Blvd. S., Suite A, Fargo, ND 58104-7605 or



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Caring for You!

The small town with a big heart for Hospice

Reprinted with permission from Hospice of the Red River Valley

Women at Hospice of the Red River Valley console the sorrowful by offering families a bear created from their loved one’s clothing. The bears are keepsakes to remember and celebrate the memory of these individuals after their deaths. From left, are Arb Lacina, Ruby Gramlow, Virginia Hagen and Charlotte Glynn. (submitted photo)


ullerton is a small town. Population: 54. It’s a tight-knit community, a community that Ruby Gramlow, a nurse for Hospice of the Red River Valley, knows well. Gramlow has also always liked to sew. When she heard about a unique volunteer program through hospice, she was intrigued. The Celebration Bears program at Hospice of the Red River Valley offers families a bear created from their loved one’s clothing. The handmade bears are keepsakes to remember and celebrate the memory of these individuals after their deaths. As part of her role as a hospice nurse, Gramlow was able to deliver a completed Celebration Bear to a family member after a patient’s death. “To see the joy on his wife’s face when she got the bears… it just brought tears to her eyes,” Gramlow said. “A little piece of their loved one is coming back to them in a different way.” Because of the demand for the bears, Gramlow decided to recruit volunteers for the program. She approached the Altar Society of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fullerton and three women joined the program, Virginia Hagen, Arb Lacina and Charlotte Glynn. “They’re beautiful seamstresses,” Gramlow said. “Being able to sew, it’s a talent God gave us. It’s something we can give back.” Lacina said she volunteers because it’s a way for her to help someone else out.

“I enjoy getting the different materials,” Lacina said. She remembers being given a ladies jacket to create a bear. “The jacket was lined and strips were sewn on the outside. It had a big button brooch on it, and so I put it on the bear when it was done.” “There have been some that have come through with a logo from an employer or a business or something that was special to that person,” Gramlow said. She usually incorporates the logo onto the bear’s paw. Special touches like the brooch and logos capture the memories and essence of the patients. And the sewers have the patient in mind while working on each bear. “It’s like when I make a baby quilt for one of my grandchildren,” Hagen said. “I’m thinking of that person and putting a little prayer in it.” “One time a note came across that said, ‘Please do not wash these. I want the smell of Mom to linger,’” Gramlow said. “And of course then I had to sniff it, and it was a good smell. The mom had a good perfume. I wouldn’t want to wash it, either.” While Hagen doesn’t have a personal connection with hospice, she was still interested in volunteering. “I think it’s a good organization,” she said. “It was something that I could do at home in my free time.” Hagen’s 97-year-old mother, Rose, joins in the bear-making process when she can. Her mother suffers from macular degeneration and is no longer able to do many of her favorite activities. “One day when I was doing them, she said, ‘I bet I could stuff them,’” Hagen said. “So while I sew the second set up, she stuffs the first one. She likes to be busy, so she really enjoys doing this.” Glynn has been sewing for 55 years. After retiring, she decided to volunteer. “It really is a good program and so helpful to people when they really need it.” The bears look different and have their own personality because the fabrics are unique. Her most challenging fabric was a denim shirt that had an embroidered bird on each side. “They wanted a bird on each bear. I thought, ‘How am I gonna do this?’ But I got it done. I got a thank you from a little girl who lost her grandpa, and it warmed my heart and made me feel like it was all worthwhile,” she said. “I think if there’s that one last connection, the family can hold on to their loved one,” said Gramlow. “It’s just so special to be able to give them that. Some days, I’m sure days are harder than others [for a patient’s loved ones]. For them to hold this bear and to let a tear or two fall… it’s a good thing.”





Catholic Diocese of Fargo 5201 Bishops Blvd, Ste. A Fargo, ND 58104



New Earth May 2016  

Magazine for the Diocese of Fargo, ND

New Earth May 2016  

Magazine for the Diocese of Fargo, ND