Can’t Help Falling in Love Baked Beans

Angie Loecken, a friend and longtime colleague, is retiring from the diocese today. She’s worked for the diocese, mostly in the Office of Marriage and Family, for more than 40 years and literally touched thousands of lives during that time through all the programs and events that she has organized, coordinated and staffed.

Angie for blogThe epitome of her given name “Angeline,” she’s sweet, thoughtful and caring. I’m going to miss her. Angie is fun to chat with and usually offers visitors to her office a little something sweet from her candy jar before they depart. She’s also been generous in sharing treats with our building staff over the years — pear apple pie, rhubarb custard bars, cakes, brownies, cookies … yum!

I’ve especially enjoyed sharing recipes with her. She’s a good cook and baker and credits her mom, Laura (Gilman) Housman, for passing on her culinary skills.

And, her mother imparted a love of genealogy, too, insisting that Angie research her family’s history — the Gilmans arrived on the East Coast from Hingham, England, in 1628. A long-ago “cousin” Bridget Gilman married a Lincoln and our 16th president was one of her descendants. (Angie affectionately calls him “Cousin Abe.”) Another early “cousin” Nicholas Gilman from Gilmantown, New Hampshire, helped to write the Constitution and also signed it.

Discovering that she was a descendant of Moses Gilman, a Revolutionary War soldier from New Hampshire, qualified Angie to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution — a distinction she truly treasures. She is the regent of the Sarah Steele Sibley DAR chapter, based in St. Cloud.

Angie is sharing her special baked bean recipe today — one she’s made “hundreds of times” for potlucks, graduations and family reunions. I’ve given it a special name based on her never-ending passion for Elvis Presley. “Elvis’ music has always soothed me, especially his hymns,” Angie related.

She saw The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in person in May 1977 in Minneapolis. He died Aug. 16 that year. She bought special licensed bubble gum at the performance that night and has never opened it. Still has her tickets from the show, too, and quite a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings featuring her flamboyant “idol.”

Angie loves cheeseburgers and fries — Elvis’ top “dinner” picks, which were usually served at 5 or 6 a.m. after a performance. (The King generally ate them in bed. But Angie doesn’t and neither did Cousin Abe.)

Can’t Help Falling in Love Baked Beans
Angie Loecken

Homemade Barbecue Baked Beans1 small onion, diced
3 lb. hamburger
¼ cup brown sugar
1 lb. bacon, fried and drained
1 (4.3 oz.) pkg. Hormel Original Real Crumbled Bacon
1 (Number 10-size)* can Bush’s Original Baked Beans
1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
2 tbsp. Liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Fry onion and hamburger together. Drain off grease. Sprinkle brown sugar over hamburger. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a greased roasting pan and bake at 325°F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

*A No. 10-size can contains three quarts.

Angie’s kitchen notes:

  • For a potluck following day, prepare and bake the beans in roasting pan for 1 hour at 325°F. Transfer them to a slow cooker and refrigerate overnight. Reheat in slow cooker.
  • To stretch the recipe for a larger crowd, add one or two more (16 oz. or 28 oz.) cans of Bush’s Original Baked Beans. Don’t add more liquid smoke!
  • To make the recipe smaller, use two or three (28 oz.) cans of beans instead of the No. 10-size.

A comment from Carol:

Angie’s Hamburger Bread Dressing recipe was featured in “Food, Faith and Fellowship,” a Visitor blog I wrote a few years ago, as was Cheesecake Supreme, a treat Angie’s son-in-law Carl and granddaughter Hadley baked for her in honor of Mother’s Day that year.

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."
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.”

Trust

The world premiere of John Woehrle’s new play, “Trust,” will open at The Black Box Theater in St. Cloud on Aug. 4 and run through Aug. 7. Performances will continue at the Lab Theater (the former Guthrie Lab) in Minneapolis through Aug. 28.

In keeping with its commitment to sponsoring and fostering the development of original plays by Minnesota playwrights and composers, The Black Box is honored that Woehrle will open his new play at the theater.

“Trust” follows the trauma of a college student, who in his final semester, is forced to confront clergy abuse that occurred years earlier.

The play focuses on a few pivotal days in the life of Michael Connor in keeping with serious dramatic form. It is tightly written and compact in structure. The characters are few for ease in dramatization and yet complete to convey the trauma and pathos associated with confronting the life-changing abuse. Survival and accountability are at the heart of “Trust.”

The playwright’s dialogue is authentic and succinct which I believe will capture and hold the attention of the audience. Narration of events is unnecessary as prior events are disclosed in conversation between the characters. This technique brings the audience right into the story, making them witnesses to the events that unfold in front of them on stage. The playwright conveys a “freshness” with this writing style that creates the impression that the events are simultaneously unfolding in their presence. Although not audience interactive by producing the work in true black box form (both The Black Box in St. Cloud and The Lab in Minneapolis are real black boxes) the playwright establishes a rapport and intimacy with his audience. That intimacy gives the play its tremendous pathos and intensifies one’s identification with Michael’s internal conflict.

The characters Woehrle uses to convey his message are carefully crafted from today’s catholic academic world. Bright and courageous, they encircle Michael to protect him from the initial disbelief that awareness of clergy abuse often engenders. The contemporary setting and quality of the work not only invites the viewer into the world of disbelief that events like this happen but also creates hope that Michael can overcome the potentially devastating impact of acknowledging, admitting and confronting the reality that, yes, this really did happen. Depression and denial leading to isolation have been the world of this young man as he matured. Woehrle introduces hope and the possibility of recovery through the assistance of dedicated religious and clergy.

The entire work is highly respectful of the characters and the church. It does not descend into denigrating the larger community that is the Catholic Church as is often the case when clergy abuse is discussed and examined. It is an honest portrayal of events without rendering judgment. It is surprising that Woehrle was able to write about this topic and remain true to a portrait of the facts without condemning the institution or the organization. I think in part this occurs because those who come to the aid of Michael Connor are likewise members of the Catholic clergy and religious.

This production to our contemporary society is not unlike “Mass Appeal” was to the ’80s. Dealing with sensitive and controversial topics “Mass Appeal” remained respectful. “Trust” is honest through the playwright’s objectivity in presenting the story. If anyone is to judge, it will be the audience.

Peter Donohue, a lifelong member of Holy Angels and St. Mary’s Cathedral parishes in St. Cloud, has been involved in theater and the arts for more than 50 years. Read more about him on the "Meet Our Bloggers" page.
Peter Donohue, a lifelong member of Holy Angels and St. Mary’s Cathedral parishes in St. Cloud, has been involved in theater and the arts for more than 50 years. Read more about him on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Seed, Scattered…Grown

The soil was cultivated and ready, the weather just right. We had made our plans and purchased the appropriate packets knowing which vegetables would thrive in the warmed soil. I grabbed a couple kids and we headed to the garden.

The rows were outlined and the seeds, small in my children’s hands, were thrown in their designated lots. While tiny now, properly fed and watered, they would grow and (hopefully) provide many meals worth of food for my family.

Inspired by this garden work I thought about how similar is parenting and teaching the faith to my children. They come perfect and ready, already cultivated and prepared by Our Creator. My work is only beginning and it is often sprinkled with many days feeling like the labor may not reap the desired rewards. The efforts my husband and I make can be difficult in a culture and society where my children are threatened by influences of the world, but we do not lose hope. We do our best by surrounding our family with good influences, bringing prayer to a meaningful and proper place within our home and lives, and striving to teach the richness of the faith so that they learn to yearn for God every day.

Back in the garden, among the weeds, less than ideal soil and imperfect conditions with unpredictable weather, even a week later I can see the growth and the signs of life as I walk the rows. So too in life, in these hurried days I step back to look at my children and realize how well the Creator instilled in them the ability to grow and survive in this ever changing world. Much like my garden providing for my family, children (my children in this case) become sustenance in our world while reminding us of how generous and good a God it is that we serve.

Take a moment today to take a step back, breathe in deeply, and, if you are able, find a patch of flowers or a garden nearby to walk through to see the splendor that God and man worked together to create.

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.
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.

Allowing Jesus’ words to ‘warm our hearts’

Recently my attention was drawn to something said by the great German biblical scholar Rudolf Schnackenburg. Commenting on St. John’s First Letter, he says, “The love of God has been ‘revealed,’ that is, become open to experience through God’s sending of his only Son into the world” (The Johannine Epistles: A Commentary, 208).

The nature of God revealing himself to human beings is that God makes himself accessible to our experience. In other words, no longer is our capacity to relate to God simply intellectual — what we might think about God and the nature of God — but because of revelation we can touch and be touched by God in our emotional, truly personal selves.

On July 15 we celebrated the Feast of St. Bonaventure, the Franciscan doctor of the Church. Throughout this saint’s writings is found the insistence that human beings must approach God on a deeply personal and experiential basis. Answering the question about how to experience God, St. Bonaventure says, “Seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love” (from the Office of Readings in The Liturgy of the Hours).

Notice particularly, “the longing of the will, not the understanding” and “seek the bridegroom not the teacher.” Bonaventure would never deny the precious ability of human beings to use their reason to contemplate God. Yet, the point here is that God desires to live in a truly and fully human relationship with us. God desires that our spirits be touched with the experience of his love, his saving passion for us. God desires that our hearts catch fire with a passionate love for him.

This is another way of saying what Pope Benedict insisted on at the beginning of his very first encyclical, God Is Love, when he said, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Or more simply and directly, Pope Francis’ often-repeated invitation that we allow Jesus’ word to “warm our hearts.”

A living faith is a faith that touches the whole of our humanity and, yes, warms our hearts.

Father Tony currently serves as pastor of Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud.
Father Tony Oelrich currently serves as pastor of Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud.

John Henry Newman vs. Maisy

My weekend off. So I get up at my usual 6 a.m. I read a quote a long time ago that farmers, if they want to loaf, get up early to do it. I guess I’m in that league.

Both days I got up and made a cup of Earl Grey tea and sat on the couch in the kitchen and read more of a biography of John Henry Newman. I got the book through interlibrary loan (a little esoteric for my hometown library’s taste). I wanted the book for two reasons:

Reason 1 – John Henry Newman is an interesting guy. One of his best friends was Henry Wilberforce, without whom Hollywood would not have been able to create a movie about the song “Amazing Grace.”

Reason 2 – The book was written by Father Zeno, who sounds like either a minor part in a Star Trek episode or a character in the third sequel to “A Canticle for Leibowitz.”

Fortunately, Father Zeno is a good writer and the book has held my attention well enough that I now owe a fine on the book because I’ve kept it too long. I get about a half-hour each morning (if I’m lucky) to read through what is at the same time dense and enlightening.

So for the past two mornings I’ve gotten up, made tea and read. And each time shortly after I sit down Jasper (my 3-year old son) has come down, snuggled up to me and asked me to read him a story.

Do I say no to a 3-year old in order to increase my spiritual growth and the awareness of God’s grace around us?

Nope. Maisy it is.

First, “Maisy Goes Camping.” Then “Maisy Drives the Bus.” Then Maisy Goes Shopping.” We end up with the magnum opus, “Where Are You Going, Maisy?”

I’m not a bad storyteller. I’ve learned to do voices and encourage kids to read along, leaving moments in the book where they can say the words they think are on the page. This, of course, gives me time to try to synthesize the trials and tribulations of John Henry Newman into the Maisy books. So the questions in “Where are you going Maisy” become spiritually rhetorical. Newman’s persecution and perseverance are reflected in the simple words and pictures of a children’s book. And the joy of a 3-year old in the timeless moment with a father is Newman’s realization that we are at times given glimpses of heaven.

And certainly, at 6:30 in the morning, sitting in the kitchen with my 3-year old son, I have a similar feeling.

I owe 25 cents a day for keeping the book too long. I really want to finish the book. Is this the price of paradise?

Stephen Miller -Member of St. James Parish in Randall, MN. -Not a native Minnesotan. -Not a cradle Catholic. -Former Librarian. -Likes kids, somewhat baffled by adults. -Married to the smartest and most beautiful woman in the world with whom we have six astonishing children.
Stephen Miller
-Member of St. James Parish in Randall, MN.
-Not a native Minnesotan.
-Not a cradle Catholic.
-Former Librarian.
-Likes kids, somewhat baffled by adults.
-Married to the smartest and most beautiful woman in the world with whom we have six astonishing children.

Reaching The Age Of Reason

Having recently retired from my duties as chaplain at a St. Cloud nursing home, I have found an old saying to be true: “When people find out you’re retired, your phone will start ringing off the wall!”

Well, the phone is actually still on the wall but one of the calls I received was to ask if I would consider writing for this blog.

I’ve been asked to write a little about our senior population. I have worked with this “greatest generation” for over thirty years now and I have learned so much from them. They are awesome. They are so faithful and faith-filled.

Spirituality takes on a whole new position in our lives when we reach a certain age. When sickness or injury requires nursing home care we tend to take everyday things more seriously. Our faith becomes more of a priority.

I have witnessed many, many life stories over the years and walked with many wonderful golden age persons to the time of their departure from Earth. I’ve prayed with their families as Mom or Dad moved on to heaven, the next step in the journey of life.

I recall one individual, a fine lady in her nineties who was near death after living in the nursing home for a number of years. She was a close acquaintance of a local priest and so she had actually received that wonderful sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick several times over the years. Nevertheless she was alert enough to request that Father come and anoint her one last time — “the Last Rites,” so to speak.

The priest was delayed for some reason and so I was called to come and be with her in her last minutes. She spoke to me quietly of going to see Jesus. I assured her that she was ready to go and that she would be with Jesus in Paradise today. Just before she breathed her last breath, her face lit up and practically glowed. As she looked up at the ceiling, a huge and glorious smile came across her face and I firmly believe it remains there forever. The priest arrived shortly after she passed and remarked, after seeing that smile, “I don’t think she needs anything from me!”

DEACON STEVE YANISH Deacon Steve is a husband, father, grandfather and retired nursing home chaplain who is currently serving as deacon at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.
DEACON STEVE YANISH
Deacon Steve is a husband, father, grandfather and retired nursing home chaplain who is currently serving as deacon at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.

No Greater Love

 

“No greater love is there than this: to lay down one’s life for a friend.”

This post is so hard for me to write because it has to do with one of my closest college friends, and his death this past Saturday. I met Ben (his real name is Brian Bergkamp, but he introduced himself to our friends as Ben so that’s what we always called him) my freshman year. Our group of friends was inseparable. The guys would go to daily night Mass with us girls and then come hang out in our dorm talking and laughing until the very last second of visitation hours, running out of the dorm before midnight hit.

When Ben decided to enter seminary at the end of freshman year, he wrote letters to our group of friends with all sorts of memories we had made together and hid them in bottles all over campus, leaving us clues to decode in order to find them. For the past several years, I’ve seen Facebook updates and talked to him here and there by letters, getting the updates on seminarian life and sharing my excitement with him for the day he’d be ordained a priest.

Then last Saturday, I got a text from one of my friends who grew up in the same town as Ben, telling us that Ben had gone kayaking that morning with a group of people on the Arkansas River and after hitting a rough patch of water, the kayaks all capsized. Ben and most of the others were able to get to shore, but one girl was being pulled under by the current, so Ben got back into his kayak, made it over to her, gave her his life jacket, and pushed her to shore before going under himself without the support of a life jacket. That’s the last time anyone saw him. He’s been missing ever since, with the rescue effort turning into a recovery effort to find his body after horribly long hours had passed.

I’m still not over the initial shock and grief of losing such an incredible friend and influence in my life. But I also feel like I’m just beginning to realize the ramifications of the way Ben both lived and died. He may not have made it to ordination day to become a priest, but by giving his life for another he lived out Jesus’ own priesthood of being both victim and priest, willingly giving Himself.

Right after finding out the news, I was scheduled to sing for Mass. Somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through and tried to hold myself together until it was over, but the Gospel hit me like a ton of bricks — the Good Samaritan.

The last conversation I ever had with Ben was on my birthday this past week; he told me he wouldn’t be spending the Fourth of July with his family because he’s spending the summer volunteering with other seminarians at the Lord’s Diner, a soup kitchen that feeds about 2,500 people a day, including those delivered by food trucks. He lived just as he died, putting another person’s life before his own, giving his life just as Jesus did.

In Adoration the day after Ben’s death, I read this in the first letter of John: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” How many times have I prayed and asked God to show me how to love, and then turned around and treated the people around me poorly, especially my family? Ben has taught me that it’s our actions that ultimately count, not our good intentions. It’s easy to love people theoretically, but when it comes down to it we need to put other people before ourselves in all circumstances. Ben is a true hero, not only because he died saving someone, but because he lived for others.

I know it’ll be a long road to healing for his family, brother seminarians, and all of us who were so blessed to know him. But there is such a peace knowing that he died serving God in such a beautifully concrete way. Another passage I read in Adoration has given me so much strength to face the hurt in my heart: “God Himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3b-4).

“Who is my neighbor?” Everyone. Go and love the people around you, not just strangers but your family members, friends, and the people you see every day. Don’t just pass through life; give of yourself and live for others. As I learned from Ben’s witness, that’s what makes you truly alive.

Ben, thank you for giving your life. Please pray for us and help us to live in imitation of Jesus as you did.

-Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Tricia uses her biochemistry degree to provide exceptional jokes which never fail to baffle Nikki, whose master's degree in theology doesn't seem to help her in this regard. When Tricia is not working at Medtronic she can be found at St. Peter's and St. Paul's volunteering with the youth, trying to regain her youthfulness by shooting hoops or taking full advantage of "Boneless Thursday" at Buffalo Wild Wings. Nikki, the younger of the two who uses that fact to remind Tricia that she will never be as old as her, recently embarked on a new adventure as the Faith Formation Director at St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Augustine's. Nikki can often be spotted in the adoration chapel, trying to imitate Taylor Swift on the guitar or keeping Cherry Berry in business with her love of chocolate. As cradle Catholics who discovered the treasures of the Church in their teenage years, they are extremely excited to share their experiences as they walk this crazy journey called life together!
Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Tricia uses her biochemistry degree to provide exceptional jokes which never fail to baffle Nikki, whose master’s degree in theology doesn’t seem to help her in this regard. When Tricia is not working at Medtronic she can be found at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s volunteering with the youth, trying to regain her youthfulness by shooting hoops or taking full advantage of “Boneless Thursday” at Buffalo Wild Wings. Nikki, the younger of the two who uses that fact to remind Tricia that she will never be as old as her, recently embarked on a new adventure as the Faith Formation Director at St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Augustine’s. Nikki can often be spotted in the adoration chapel, trying to imitate Taylor Swift on the guitar or keeping Cherry Berry in business with her love of chocolate. As cradle Catholics who discovered the treasures of the Church in their teenage years, they are extremely excited to share their experiences as they walk this crazy journey called life together!

Maturing in love

To live in a new stage of marriage, we all need to let ourselves be changed by marriage. The reluctance to change denies the possibility of being happy and can lead us to very difficult and painful conflicts that could lead to separation.

Keeping the old behaviors that we had before we got married will not be healthy for a couple who has just married. It is recommended for the newlywed to change the words “I” to “us” and “mine” to “ours.”

Marriage is full of richness between the couple but sometimes it is difficult for us to take away the habit of using our time only for personal desires, or with “my” own friends.

Establishing a balance between marriage life and the outside personal world is a process which will last according to the desire to integrate with love to the new stage of marriage and the adaptability of each of us.

When things do not go as we hope in our marriages, there will always be a chance to seek marital help that exists in our parishes and if necessary, the use of professional marriage counselors.

The ups and downs in marriage are present very often but these give us the opportunity to grow and mature in love.

 

For more than 15 years, Hernandez has worked in the convalidation marriage program, working with unmarried couples who live together to receive a sacramental marriage. She also was an instructor in the Engaged Encounter program, RCIA program and has been host of talks for marriage enrichment. She was born into a family where marriage was for life, where if something was not working well in marriage, it was fixed, and the marriage was not thrown away. Her mission is to evangelize young couples, sharing her experiences of 42 years of marriage and the different ministries that she has participated, especially in the area of marriage.
Adela Hernandez For more than 15 years, Hernandez has worked in the convalidation marriage program, working with unmarried couples who live together to receive a sacramental marriage. She also was an instructor in the Engaged Encounter program, RCIA program and has been host of talks for marriage enrichment. She was born into a family where marriage was for life, where if something was not working well in marriage, it was fixed, and the marriage was not thrown away. Her mission is to evangelize young couples, sharing her experiences of 42 years of marriage and the different ministries that she has participated, especially in the area of marriage. Adela is pictured here with her husband, David.

Performance art is alive and well in Central Minnesota

Performance Art is alive and well right here in Central Minnesota; in the city of St. Cloud, in our own Cathedral Church. I was reacquainted with the term Performance Art about 12 years ago when my daughter, Audrey, enrolled in a Masters Program at NYU. Her field of study: Performance Art. Richard Schechner was her mentor and advisor.

When Audrey first mentioned Schechner his name rang a bell but I did not realize how far back and how buried that memory was. When I was at St. Johns in the late 60s Schechner toured a play he produced with Brian DePalma throughout the U S. It was my first experience with Performance Art (a new concept at the time) and with interactive productions involving the audience.

Wikipedia provides the best reference for performance art that I’ve found:

“Performance art is a performance presented to an audience within a fine art context, traditionally interdisciplinary. …scripted or unscripted …spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. .. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work.”

Key elements of Performance Art for me include a presentation by an individual or a group within a fine art context often employing multidisciplinary presentations, preferably a major component being live and often having a limited life (a single or limited number of performances).

In the past months, St. Mary’s Cathedral has been the site of some noteworthy performance art presentations. Many of these performances have been under the direction of Eileen Farrell, music director for the Cathedral.

Stabat Mater, presented on a Sunday afternoon during lent reflected on the Blessed Virgin’s sorrow as she witnesses the crucifixion of her Son. Presented by an incredible vocal and instrumental ensemble under Ms. Farrell’s direction the audience viewed historical works of art depicting the Mother’s sorrow projected on the raredos (the best use of the Kazmarcik structure to date). The visual and auditory performance well prepared the audience for the conclusion of lent, Holy Week.

That performance was followed by Via Crucis, a solemn vocal and instrumental rendition of the Way of the Cross. Performed on the Friday before Palm Sunday it is an apropos way to usher in Holy Week and the Triduum.

The Tenebrae Service in the evening on Good Friday begins in a twilight setting moving to a crescendo of percussion instruments from drums to books pounded on the pew and feet stomped on the floor in an attempt to drive away the darkness into which the church has been plunged and to bring back the light, the hope in the Resurrection. Readings from Lamentations and vocal and instrumental performances set the somber mood commemorating the death and burial of our Lord.

On the first of May, during the joyous Easter season, the Cathedral was the site of a joint performance by the Choirs of St. Marys Cathedral and Joan of Arc (Minneapolis) featuring Gospel singer, Robert Robinson. It was no surprise that the audience was so moved by the production that many had tears streaming down their faces. An incredible event, and not the first time it has happened at St. Marys. The two choirs, under the direction of Eileen Farrell and Anna Mae Vagle, Eileen’s sister (no surprise that these two extremely talented women are sisters) set the stage for Robinson’s unparalleled performance.

With this recent history of remarkable performance art productions at St. Mary’s Cathedral one can only look forward to upcoming events including  the Block Party on September 10th; the joint performance of the Mormon Choir and St. Mary’s Choir on November 12th; Music at St. Mary’s Concert on November 20th; The Great River Chorale Concert on December 2nd; and the Ceremony of Carols Concert (SJU) on December 16 and 17. These are confirmed and scheduled with more to be added.

We have an incredible venue of performance art, yes FINE ART, right here in the center of St. Cloud. My congratulations and tremendous gratitude is extended to Eileen Farrell and the wonderful and talented artists she works with at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown St. Cloud.

Peter Donohue, a lifelong member of Holy Angels and St. Mary’s Cathedral parishes in St. Cloud, has been involved in theater and the arts for more than 50 years. Also a practicing attorney, he is active with the Black Box, Cathedral High School and St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Peter Donohue, a lifelong member of Holy Angels and St. Mary’s Cathedral parishes in St. Cloud, has been involved in theater and the arts for more than 50 years. Also a practicing attorney, he is active with the Black Box, Cathedral High School and St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Captivating hummingbirds inspire ambrosial confection

When the middle of April rolls around, I start anticipating the annual return of hummingbirds to our house. And, by early May the Ruby Throated males begin to arrive to claim their feeding territories. It’s always exciting to spot the first one scouting out his familiar “fueling station” by our kitchen window.

Throughout the spring and summer I enjoy preparing sweet nectar for our feeders and watching the awesome flying antics of these diminutive creatures. Sporting plumage that literally shimmers in the sunlight and weighing one-eighth ounce, on average, their heart beats around 1,200 times a minute while they are feeding.Hummingbird

I’ve read that they are the only birds that can actually hover — amazingly beating their wee little wings up to 220 times a second. Often referred to as “God’s tiny miracle,” they can fly backwards, straight up and down or even side-to-side at 30 miles per hour. (They’ve been clocked at up to 63 miles an hour when in flight!)

Recently, while paging through the diocesan Centennial Cookbook, published in 1989, I came across a recipe for Hummingbird Cake, submitted by Clara Scheierl, a member of St. Louis Parish in Paynesville. I was intrigued by the recipe’s name and could tell by the ingredient list — including pineapple, bananas, cinnamon and nuts — that it is scrumptious. Learning it is topped off with cream cheese frosting left no doubt in my mind!

It was interesting to trace the cake’s origin and engaging moniker to Jamaica, where it was named after the Red-billed Streamertail, a hummingbird indigenous to the island.

Clara is mother to Father LeRoy Scheierl, pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul parishes in St. Cloud, and Deacon Richard Scheierl, deacon at St. Augustine Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. She and her late husband, William, had four other sons and two daughters.

Their daughter, Debra Schreifels, remembers her mom always having something sweet waiting for her and her siblings when they got off the bus after a day at school. Her mom was a great baker and, over the years, made a multitude of cookies, cakes, pies and bread — generally fitting seven loaves in the oven at once.

Of course there are many variations of this cake, but after Debra’s endorsement of her mother’s expertise, Clara’s recipe seems a delicious place to start.

A Piece Of Hummingbird Cake With Pecans And Cream Cheese FrostinHummingbird Cake
Clara Scheierl

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 cups diced very ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13 X 9 X 2-inch pan (or three 9 X 1 1/2-inch round cake pans).

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs, oil and vanilla. Gently stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Fold in pineapple, nuts and bananas.

Pour into prepared pan/s and bake until set in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean — 45-60 minutes for 13 X 9 X 2-inch pan or 25-30 minutes for round pans. (Don’t overbake. The cake should be moist.)

Ice with cream cheese frosting, when cool.

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."
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.”