Time Flies When You’re Having Chemo: A Reflection on One Year of Cancer Treatment

Molly at her last infusion.

When June rolled around this year, it brought with it some heavy emotions.  Memories from last June came flooding back and I found myself reflecting on some pretty terrifying moments.  Certain dates in this cancer journey will always stop me in my tracks.  Like June 8 for example.  June 8 is emblazoned in my mind as the day I was diagnosed with cancer. But for all the darkness and fear that last June brought, it had some rays of light as well.  And as much as I would love to say that this summer has been nothing but light and hope, I can’t.  However, the tears of sadness and fear have mostly been replaced with tears of joy and hope.  We attended a college reunion, which included the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet their new babies!  We celebrated the baptism of our godson on the feast of the nativity of John the Baptist.  There were trips to the lake and runs that were literally bursting with color (I’m talking about you CCS color run!).  Cook-outs with friends filled up our bellies and our hearts.  And before I knew it, July was here.

Catholic Community Schools Color Run

Last year the July calendar was filled with things like my first chemotherapy infusion and myriad medical appointments.  However, this July happily marks the end of my cancer treatments.  Earlier today I sat in a room at the Coborn Cancer Center for my final biotherapy infusion.  After 18 rounds of that stuff, I can’t believe it’s over.  If I’m honest, I never really minded the infusions.  Don’t get me wrong, when chemotherapies were a part of the infusion cocktail, I knew I’d have hell to pay at the end of the week.  But the actual infusion?  It kind of felt more like a spa day than a day of toxins dripping slowly into my body.  Infusion days meant one of two things:  Either I got to sit in a room with a good friend and no sippy cups to refill or I got to sit in a room by myself to pray, read, and write with no sippy cups to refill.  I guess that’s what it really comes down to.  There were no sippy cups to refill at the cancer center.  As a mom of two littles, there are always needs to be tended.  I love tending to those needs but letting someone else do it for me once every three weeks certainly allowed me to relax a little…and hopefully grow in holiness.  After all, that’s what this life is about.

Molly, her husband, Kevin, and her godson.

This year has been arduous.  Our little family has carried some crosses for sure!  But the cross is a part of the Christian life.  In fact, we are told to embrace it.  We have a God who also carried a cross.  He gets it.  At Mass this week, we sang that lovely hymn based on the famous prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (although not likely penned by him in reality).  I found myself reflecting on the final line of the prayer which reads, “it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”  Although the daily crosses that we bear don’t usually kill us, they give us the chance to die to self.  These little deaths bring about little rebirths in which we become better humans.  Every cross brings with it the opportunity to grow in virtue and to grow closer to Christ.

It hit me as I was unpacking my infusion bag that it was the last time I would do that.  I think that is when it really sank in that my treatment is complete.  I’ve brought the same bag to the cancer center every three weeks for the past year.  I got the bag a year ago as a gift and its sole use has been toting my books, journals, computer, candy, and blankets to the cancer center.  The nurses would laugh at me as I would lug that bag into my infusion room, joking that it weighed as much as me.  In many ways that bag was an instrument in my spiritual growth.  It carried the crucifix that stood on my table at each infusion and the devotionals that spoke God’s Word into the ear of my heart.  I look forward to giving it new uses now, but I’m grateful for its role in this journey.

As I reflect on the past year, which has been the hardest of my life, I thank God for both the crosses and the spiritual tools that have helped me grow.  Despite how difficult this year has been, there is no guarantee that it will the toughest one I face in my life.  I pray that I have the grace to approach each future cross with virtue.

Molly Powers is not a native Minnesota girl. Rather, she hails from Atlanta, GA and lived in several different states and countries before she landed in Minnesota in 2017. She is a wife and mother of two. Read more about Molly on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Out of Our Minds and Into Christ’s Heart

For this blog post, I am going to focus on these two lines from the Gospel of Mark (3:20, 22):

“Jesus came HOME with his disciples…. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

So, the event of coming back home for Jesus was not one marked with joy, acceptance, and love.  How ironic, and yet in some ways how sadly typical, that his own relatives labeled Jesus as ‘out of his mind.’

Therefore, if anyone has ever told you that YOU are out of your mind, you are in good company with Jesus!

But of course, Jesus was very much in his right mind.  It is the mind of Jesus, as well as his heart, that provide our best examples for living.  Indeed, to have the heart and thoughts of the Lord Jesus is what we all attempt to strive for, day by day.

However, the relatives of Jesus apparently did not see it that way.  They judged him for being different… perhaps they were threatened by the big following he had;  maybe they didn’t appreciate his uniqueness;  and sadly for them, they did not want to learn from this man who was also Divine.

We also may have experienced times in life when we were not understood.  Because of daring to be different, we also may have been called putdown names such as ‘crazy’ and ‘out of our minds.’  Please know that it is okay to be different, and that each and every one of us is unique.

In our modern day, with advances in psychiatry, we know there are real biological conditions, referred to as mental illnesses, that have to do with brain chemistry and the uptake of neurotransmitters.  These illnesses can be helped through appropriately prescribed medications.  Mental illness diagnoses are more common than many might think.  In fact, in most church congregations, there is a prevalence of approximately 1 out of every 4 or 5 people sitting in the pews suffering from some form of mental illness.

So please note, having a mental illness is not a sign of weak character, a punishment from God, a sign of being possessed by the devil (as Jesus was accused of), an indicator of poorly developed faith, or a lack of trying.

We need to be respectful with our language (unlike how Jesus’ relatives spoke of him!), and it can help so much if we are willing to be open to talking about mental health.  We also need to be supportive of the struggle and recovery of others, by encouraging others to seek the help they may need.

Another situation where we might personally feel like we are “out of our minds” is in the midst of grief.  Each one of us grieves our life losses differently.  Sometimes we can go through periods where we would like to cry, but we can’t.  Other times it may seem like we cry continuously, and we wish we could stop.  All kinds of grief reactions are normal, and are a sign of great love.  However, grieving is hard work, and at times you may wonder if you will ever again be back to your “right mind”… whatever that might be!  By grieving, you actually will not go back to normal, so to speak, but will grow into a new normal.  And you come to realize you will survive.  But please, reach out for help… perhaps through a counselor, a support group,  your pastor, or a chaplain.

Remember that the shortest but one of the most profound verses in Scripture is  “Jesus wept.”  Jesus too experienced grief… in this verse Jesus cried in response to the death of a friend..  and He was not afraid to show his feelings.  Such truth there is in the song, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  Jesus truly “gets us.”  Allow Jesus into your thoughts and hearts, and he will help guide you.

Deb Forstner is daughter of Bob and Joan Forstner of Fargo, ND. She is a graduate of Fargo Shanley High School, the College of St. Benedict, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and St. John’s School of Theology. She worked for many years in the St. Cloud Schools as a school psychologist. She currently serves as a NACC-certified chaplain at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and is a member of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. She is the owner of two rescue dogs; one of which is a certified therapy dog who at times accompanies her in ministry, named Deacon.

“Power In My Hands”

“Power In My Hands” is a brand new film that uncovers the beauty and power of the rosary. The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, a non-profit organization, have answered the pleas of the Popes from St. John Paul II to Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis to call upon humanity to turn to Jesus through the rosary. Through various Mary apparition messages given at Fatima, Akita in Japan, Kibeho in Africa, and San Nicholas in Argentina (approved by the Church in 2016), Our Lady has encouraged the recitation of the rosary daily.

The production is 80-minutes in-length and intended to fill the viewer with hope. It also represents various ethnic cultures and is all about encountering Jesus Christ and Our Lady through the rosary.

The film, Power In My Hands, was launched at the World Premiere in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in April, 2018, and showings in area theaters are currently being shown. Additional showings will be available upon request for dioceses, parishes, schools, and organizations. After the premieres, DVD distribution will take place across the country and beyond.

The film portrays that America is in a spiritual crisis and the solution is Jesus Christ through Our Lady and her Rosary. The movie encourages one to “gaze on the Face of Jesus with Mary” to help bring about a spiritual transformation in the world.

Philip Rivers, quarterback for the NFL Los Angeles Chargers, Jeff Cavins, a Catholic convert and Biblical Scholar, Nancy Salerno, a wife and mother of four children in Wisconsin, Rebecca Roubion and Chris Czarka, young music recording artists and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers from Portland who gives a beautiful witness to being raised fatherless are well known individuals who share their testimony and individual stories in this very recent film.

This film will provide encouragement, hope with original music and a truthful message and also a much needed spiritual boost for families around the world! I am looking forward to seeing the movie and will promote it to be shown at St. Boniface Church in Cold Spring in the near future.

Guest blogger, Sheila Pulju, is pictured here with her husband Rich. They are members of St. Boniface Church in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

Holy hands

I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS IN TODAY’S WORLD
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20180319_gaudete-et-exsultate.html

One quiet evening in 1978, my mother and I were discussing various topics in the life of the church. She was a hard-won convert when she married my dad at the end of the Second World War. After struggling with various doctrines and traditions, especially anything to do with Mary, she finally integrated the teachings of the Catholic Church into her faith as a Methodist.

It was not surprising, then, that she had some difficulties with some of the changes stemming from the Second Vatican Council. She worked hard at accepting Catholicism, and now it seemed that the Church was betraying her efforts.

One of the changes she could not accept was the reception of the Eucharistic Bread in her hands. There was ‘no way she was worthy enough’ to touch Jesus.

Our conversation turned to “whose hands are worthy enough to touch Jesus?” She was convinced that it was because the priest’s hands were anointed at ordination that made it okay for them to touch the hosts, as well as to do blessings and other sacramental acts.

This conversation took place shortly after my dad passed away at the end of a tough struggle with cancer. Certainly I agreed that priests’ hands are holy. And so are hers. I reminded her of my dad’s final days in the hospital when she held his hands, caressed his face and mopped his brow as he faded from our family. Wasn’t that holy? Wasn’t that sacramental (small “s”)? And what about those hands that cared for my siblings and me? Didn’t they comfort us when we were sick, and didn’t they do the necessary cleaning after bouts of nausea? What about diaper changing? Wasn’t that an act of holiness?

I guess, like our differing images of God, we have different images of holiness.

A few weeks later, my mom admitted to me that she received Communion in her hands. I looked at those hands, gnarled with painful arthritis, and thought about how holy those hands were, and how holy she was to be vulnerable enough to share that her image of holiness changed as she reflected on her holy hands.


A Note about the Post’s Image:

Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).

Pockets of Grace

It certainly seems that we’re all in the throes of summertime. Graduation party announcements are stuck to my whiteboard, an expected wedding invitation will arrive any day now and a quick glance at our family calendar tells me we’ve got plenty of things scheduled. Any casual conversation during a grocery store run-in indicates that summer is in full swing and we’re all “busy.”

If I take a step back from over-analyzing and fretting about those calendar squares, I see there is goodness within these summer months. My perennials came back to life this year in full abundance, exceeding any expectations I may have had during those cold winter months. The garden was planted weeks ago and is shooting forth good growth while we begin to anticipate its fruitful vegetation. Another homeschool year is complete and I’ve already begun ordering and planning our next school year. A couple of bigger outdoor landscape projects that we were determined to finish before July, have come to completion.

It takes a different mindset to retrain our focus and find the correct perspective, doesn’t it? As someone who is a planner and organizer, the over-filled squares and the endless list of “must do” can get me anxious. There’s never enough time in the day, the weeks are too filled and I’m too tired at the day’s end. It does take me numerous times throughout any given day to stop myself and look around. I only need to seek what is the next thing that needs doing. What does my day look like today (not the full week or month ahead)? Who needs me most this day?

When the world and life is swirling, my restless heart begins to do the same. My children notice my stress and rushed pace, right along with an unhappy household.

When I take a deep breath, rest in the Lord and pray a silent prayer, the outlook is much more simple. Do you know what I see? I call them “pockets of grace.” Moments of beauty, calm and living life uncomplicated. Do they last all day? Very rarely. I again get caught up in the bothering of daily life. BUT, I know they are there. I know that only through the grace I’m sent each day am I even able to accomplish the smallest (and largest) of tasks that my life and vocation call on me to do.

I look forward to this season of summer, even if it flashes by in a blur. I desire to be intentional this summer. To make time for people and not screens, relationships and reconnecting rather than disengaging in frustration, days of rest, a treasury of books read and picnic lunches at playgrounds before dropping off my older kids at rehearsal. I remind myself that these days are passing, things will slow down again when we cozy up with blankets on dark winter nights.

How can you make this a summer of slowing down? What small ways can you reconnect with family, friends and with Christ this summer? Look for the pockets of grace in your day and go to bed each night with a heart of gratitude. Maybe it’s just for surviving the summer carpooling, drop offs at VBS, swim lessons and other social events or maybe for that chance you were granted to serve someone.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

Engaging Minds, Creating Saints

Catholic schools have been a staple of our country and communities for over 200 years.  The first Catholic school in the United States was created by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland in 1809.  It is crucial for us to understand the history, role and challenges of our Catholic schools. My hope with this blog is to educate you about Catholic schools, challenging us to better understand the role of Catholic education and engage in a conversation on how to strengthen our Catholic schools.

It is important to have a grasp on the history of Catholic schools in our country.  Here is a brief history with key events:

During the mid 1800s, more and more immigrants were crossing the Atlantic Ocean to come to America.  Many of these immigrants were trying to find a new home and a new opportunity for their family.  In the United States there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the community and specifically in the schools.  Public schools viewed their role as educating young children and also helping them to assimilate into our country but also learn about the Protestant faith.  Of course this didn’t sit well with Catholic families, priests and community members.  Specifically in 1875 the United States passed the Blaine Amendment which didn’t allow any government money to be used in a non-public school.  The Blaine Amendment was aimed directly at Catholic schools and was the government’s way to try and eliminate Catholic schools.

During this time, the United States Catholic Church was growing and responding to the ever changing political landscape.  The Catholic Church called three national meetings for all Bishops to be held in Baltimore in 1852, 1866 and 1884, which was called the Council of Baltimore.  These meetings discussed various aspects of the faith and Catholic education.  There were a few key agreements/requirements passed at the Council of Baltimore:

  • 1852: Bishops are strongly encouraged to have a Catholic school in every parish
  • 1866: Every parish should have a school
  • 1866: Parents should make every effort to send their children to Catholic schools, if they are unable or choose not to, then those children must participate in faith formation at the parish.
  • 1884: Every parish is required to have a school.

After the meetings in Baltimore, priests went back to their home parishes and started creating and building Catholic schools.  Many times when a new parish was created in a new community a school was built first and then a church was built.  Enrollment grew during the early and mid 1900s.  The peak enrollment for Catholic schools was in the 1960s with roughly 5.5 million students attending the schools.  Now we have 1.8 million students attending Catholic school in the United States.  Obviously there has been a decrease in enrollment, and that has been for many reasons.

What challenges do you think our Catholic schools face today? In my next blog I will discuss some of those issues our principals, teachers, staff, pastors and parents have to deal with in the 21st century.

Kevin Powers was hired as the first superintendent of Catholic Community Schools in the spring of 2017. He studied Business at St. Anselm College, earned a Master’s in Education at the University of Notre Dame and earned his masters degree in Educational Leadership from DePaul University. Kevin was a classroom teacher for 5 years in Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL, and then was the principal at St. Margaret of Scotland School for four years in Chicago, IL. Kevin is married to Molly, and they have two girls:  Clare (4) and Mary Colette (2).

Rhubarb recipe ‘takes the cake’

Last Monday evening a group of us who work for the diocese went to see the documentary “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.” It truly is an inspiring film with a number of powerful and thought-provoking messages. If it is playing in your area, I highly recommend going to see it.

At dinner before the movie, the conversation turned to recipes and rhubarb. Alice Coudron, a consultant for planned giving and major gifts in the Catholic Foundation, mentioned this rhubarb cake recipe and several of us who are familiar with it raved about how scrumptious it is! Alice generously volunteered to get up early the next morning to bake one for colleagues working in the Pastoral Center

She did not disappoint. The next morning, the warm, enticing treat was waiting for us on the kitchen counter in the staff lounge. One co-worker called it “awesome.” I agree.

Alice’s Awesome Rhubarb Cake
Alice Coudron

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 to 1/2 cup oil*
3 eggs*
1 cup water*

5 cups raw rhubarb, finely chopped
1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Additional whipping cream, whipped, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix cake (using oil, eggs and water) following the directions on the box. (*Various brands of cake mix may call for different amounts of oil, eggs and water.)

Pour the cake batter into an ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan. Toss diced rhubarb evenly over cake batter. Sprinkle sugar over rhubarb and then pour cream over sugar.

Bake cake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes. (Test for doneness by inserting toothpick into center of cake — it should come out clean with no streaks of batter.)

Serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Yield: 15 servings

A note from Alice:
This is such a simple recipe. It takes less than five minutes to make once the rhubarb is cut up. My family likes it best when it is served warm from the oven. Serving it with canned whipped cream or whipped topping is easier and quicker than whipping the cream. (Refrigerate the uneaten portion.)

A note from Carol:
Alice is well known in our building as an excellent cook and baker. She frequently brings treats to share. While discussing the cake recipe, she told me that this year her graduating class, from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, celebrates its 50th reunion. She double majored in math and home economics. After graduation, she taught microwave classes for Litton throughout the Twin Cities. Microwave ovens had just began appearing on the market for home cooks at that time. Her demonstrations included prime rib roast, shake and bake chicken, stuffed green peppers, a head of cauliflower with cheese sauce, corn on the cob in the husk and a broccoli, cauliflower, carrot combination with Hollandaise sauce.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Hurt

Two weekends ago was the beautiful celebration of Ordination of Priests (ten of them!) for the Diocese of Wichita. It was such an exciting and beautiful day for so many, especially with my close friend’s brother being ordained, but it was also very bittersweet. It was the day that my friend Ben would have been ordained, had he not passed away just under 2 years ago giving his life to save another. (See his story here) But even though I couldn’t be down in Wichita for the Ordination, God has still found ways to speak comfort and peace into my heart as I reflect on Ben’s life and impact.

Last summer, while I was in Nashville for my friend’s final vows with the Dominicans, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a concert at the Grand Ole Opry, something I’ve always wanted to do. One of the first artists was someone I had never heard of before, and I was a little impatient to hear my favorite, Scotty McCreery, who was playing later on. But this artist touched my heart in a profound way. His name is Jackie Lee, and when he took the stage he told us that his mom had passed away from cancer the summer before (just a month before Ben), and he himself had been diagnosed with cancer just after. He had just recently written a song about his mom’s death, called “Long Year,” and it hadn’t yet been recorded or released. As I sat there letting the lyrics wash over me, I was struggling to hold back my tears because it felt like the song had been written for me. Ben passed away just 6 days after my 24th birthday, and the opening lyrics of the song were “It’s been a long year, and I’m a little tired. Lived a whole life between 24 and 25.” There I was, less than a month after my 25th birthday, thinking about how much Ben’s death had changed me in that year. Before that, I had never known deep, heart-wrenching loss, and that song spoke directly into that wound. Since the Opry concert, I’ve searched for the song countless times, but it still had not yet been released, and even sending messages to his record label proved unfruitful.

On the Saturday of Ben’s Ordination, when I woke up, for some reason that song was on my mind and I again tried to search for it. To my surprise and excitement, it had just been released 4 days before. As I played it, I realized just how intimately the Father knows my heart, and how incredible it is that He shows Himself in such small yet intricate ways. He knew that my heart needed this song right now, just in time for Ben’s Ordination day.

A line that has been resonating in my mind for a while now has been this: “It’s okay not to be okay.” A few weeks ago I was at Mass and we sang the same song that we sang the morning that my Grandpa passed away, this past April. I immediately began to cry, trying not to let anyone see. The weight of losing Ben and my Grandpa and missing them so much began to weigh so heavily on my heart that it felt like I was being suffocated, and all the loneliness and pain came to the surface in a rush of emotion. Over and over in the silence of my heart I heard the phrase “It’s okay not to be okay, Nikki. It’s okay not to be okay.” Sometimes it’s so much easier to hide or bury those feelings and pain than to be vulnerable and let them pour out. But later that night I came back to the church and I just sat in front of the tabernacle, looking at Him, and in that moment all I wanted to do was to pour out my heart to Him, to leave nothing hidden, to hand it all over. There’s so much healing that happens when we let Him see our wounds.

There’s another song that has been speaking deeply to my heart lately- “Let it hurt” by Rascal Flatts. There’s a line in there that has been convicting me in how to deal with loss and hurt and heartache:

“Let it hurt, let it bleed. Let it bring you right down to your knees. Let it hurt to the worst degree. May not be what you want but it’s what you need. Sometimes the only way around it is to let love do its work… So let it hurt.”

When I experience the sharp pain of loneliness and sadness, it’s such a temptation to distract myself with a million other things so that I don’t have to deal with it. But Jesus wants to meet us right there, in the darkness and in the loneliness. Let yourself feel it, let yourself experience the depths of that pain, but don’t do it alone. Invite Him into that pain, that brokenness, that wound. Allow Him to sit with you in that place of darkness, even if it feels like He’s never going to bring you out of it. The Cross is so present in our lives that I think sometimes we forget that we’ve been promised a resurrection. Allow Him to heal you in His timing, not your own. If you’re experiencing the ache of loneliness or a piercing sadness today, remember that you’re never alone. Rest in that promise. He is good, He is Love, He is with you in the darkness, and He will bring His light.

-Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Planting and Faith

 

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. –Genesis 1:29-30

Spring brings with it such excitement. At Mass last Sunday we had Baccalaureate. The faces of the students (and their parents), filled with excitement and maybe, just maybe, a little anxiety. Being from a rural area, it also brings planting. As I drove to work each day this week, I noticed the progress in planting and, in some fields, sprouts coming through the rows. Farming, to me, is an occupation which requires incredible faith. Incredible amounts of time and energy are put into preparing the field, sowing them, then fertilizing. After that, it is really about prayer and faith. Farmers can’t bring rain, or necessary sun, or protection from storms. It is really all about taking a chance. There are no guarantees. Yet, each spring we believe. For this reason, I view it truly as a vocation rather than an occupation. There is a relationship between farmers and their land, between farmers and their livestock. It is an investment in God’s creations. I say this first-hand, having been raised on a dairy farm. I certainly don’t feel that same way about my keyboard.

As I saw those high school seniors at Mass, I thought about their parents. For some, it was their first child graduating, for others it was their last. Parenting is the other vocation I believe requires incredible faith. The parents planted the seeds, but as the students described, one by one, their future plans to the congregation while standing on the altar steps, the future now rests largely on trust and belief that there will be necessary sun and protection from storms. I saw in their faces that the parents are invested in God’s creations.

Faith is not an idea. It is not short-term and you don’t just decide to try it one day, but not the next, and bounce back and forth. It is a relationship. It is an investment. It requires patience and cultivating. It does not “live” without effort. Farmers and parents live this truth each minute of each day.

At the end of Mass, we extended our hands and sang a blessing over the graduating seniors. I felt myself wanting to extend it over the parents too. As I drove to work this morning, I felt the same pull regarding the little tiny shoots in the fields and the seeds still under the ground and my friends who this morning woke up and headed to the barn and will be picking rock this afternoon.

“May God bless and keep you,
May God’s face shine on you:
May God be kind to you and give you peace.”

Sheila Hellermann is a member of St. Rose of Lima Church in St. Rosa. She works at St. John’s University as a program and department coordinator for several academic departments. Read more about Sheila on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

A DAY IN THE LIFE: Father Doug Liebsch

Father Doug Liebsch. Gosh there is so much to say about this guy! Father Doug is one of the youngest priests in the St. Cloud Diocese and has spent his first two years of the priesthood at St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Church of St. Augustine. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Fr. Doug about what his typical day looks like!

Father Doug’s day-to-day schedule is not very consistent, but he typically has his alarm set for 5:30 AM (he said that ideally he also wakes up at this time). He has Mass at either 7:15 AM or 12:05 PM and normally spends 6:15-7:15 AM in prayer unless he is playing basketball which he does 1-2 days a week at 6 AM. His mornings usually consist of meeting with people or popping in and out of classrooms at St. Katherine Drexel school. In the afternoon he might be making some visits to the Hospital or nursing homes and once or twice a week he looks forward to a potential nap! Father Doug’s evenings are consumed with meeting with people or attending different events, including some of the local sporting events.

Of all his priestly duties, Father Doug looks forward to hearing confessions the most. “I have experienced the Mercy of God so powerfully in the Sacrament for myself, both before and after ordination to the Priesthood. This same Mercy of God I am able to see at work in the eyes and hearts of so many who come to this great sacrament.”

Sundays are Father Doug’s favorite day of the week because it is the most fulfilling and re-energizing. He typically gets to spend most of the day with people but also has a little time to relax and spend time outside.

When I asked Father Doug what surprised him most about the priesthood, he said how normal it felt. He said everything didn’t necessarily come naturally, but it felt right.

When Father Doug was in kindergarten he wanted to be a firefighter. In first grade he wanted to be a professional basketball player and in second grade he wanted to be a priest.

 

 

Fr. Doug’s favorite:

Meal of the day: Supper  

Food: burritos

Sports team: MN VIKINGS!!

Favorite way to pray: “I like having adoration. One of the amazing privileges as a priest is having constant access to the Church and the Blessed Sacrament. Spending time with Jesus in His Silence is very, very peaceful.”

Favorite thing to do in his free time: “On my day off I am usually on a lake fishing, unless it is in the fall, then I will be hunting. Yes, I know, my mom says I need some different hobbies as well. Does bow-fishing count as a different hobby?”

We are so blessed to have such holy men serving us as priests in our diocese, living out their vocation with joy, humor, and heroic sacrifice! Let’s continue to pray for all of our priests and that young men who are called to this beautiful vocation would have the strength and courage to say yes to God’s invitation.

-Tricia

 

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.