Today, members of the Men of Mary (I heart MOM), members of the parish council and Father LeRoy Schik from Our Lady of the Lake in Battle Lake pray Day 2 of the Novena in honor of St. Cloud whose feast day is September 7.
As the feast day of the patron saint of the Diocese of St. Cloud approaches Sept. 7, Catholics around the diocese are invited to learn more about the prince who was forced into a life of solitude because of his uncles’ plot to kill him, all while growing in grace and wisdom.
Through a series of daily videos leading up to the feast day, people from around the diocese will read about the life of St. Cloud using story, Scripture, prayer and reflection excerpted from selections of the novena composed by Msgrs. Camille Thiebaut and Michael Kremer in the 1920s.
Director of the diocesan Office of Worship, Timothy Johnston, explains in today’s video what a novena is and why novenas are a rich and historic form of prayer in the life of the church.
Hello! My name is Maggie Weber and I just recently went on a trip with my church to the 2017 Steubenville Youth Conference in Rochester, Minnesota! I am 16 and just got confirmed this past May. I’m going to talk (apparently a lot haha) about the trip and the lead up to the trip with all that I felt.
We had to go to weekly Wednesday classes in order to be confirmed. One of the nights Nikki Walz handed out flyers talking about a Steubenville Youth Conference. My first instinct was nope, no way. I am not a Jesus freak and this is not for me. Slowly throughout the weeks, however, she kept mentioning it to us and it was growing on me, sounding more and more interesting each time. When it came to about April, I had to have my confirmation interview. We got to choose who we wanted to do it with and I picked Nikki since she’s super awesome and I knew it wouldn’t be awkward with her. Nikki and I talked about different things and went through the questions. She then asked me if I wanted to go on the Steubenville trip. I finally caved in and said yes. Oh man, am I glad I said yes!
About a week before we were to leave, I was really doubting if I was “Catholic enough” to go. My mom was telling me that it was okay and that I would have a good time. The big thing she told me was to nourish my soul. I kept talking about how I wanted to meet a cute, Catholic boy (as a joke lol) and she would laugh with me, but she kept telling me to first and foremost nourish my soul, and that stuck with me the whole conference.
Finally! The first day of the trip had arrived and I was excited to go with my good friends Katie and Becca. That first day we went to the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin. There we did some service work, I stained tables, and we walked up to the shrine which was/is AMAZING. 10/10 recommend you go see it someday! We then went to our hotel and had a good night of sleep to prepare us for the next morning.
The next morning we got in the three vans and drove up to Rochester, Minnesota, for the conference! After we had lunch at Culver’s, we had to pick popsicle sticks, like usual, to see which van we would be in for that leg of the trip. I chose a blue stick which was Father Scott’s car. It was me, Father Scott, and four other boys in the van. I was the only girl so I got to sit in the front seat next to Father Scott! The coolest thing then happened to me, I was next to Father Scott while he was driving and all, and I get a call from Old Navy with a phone interview!! I had applied to Old Navy in late May and I finally got a call from them in the middle of July! I got an in store interview and I got the job!! I love it there 🙂
Anyways, that afternoon we got to the hotel, unpacked, and then walked to the Mayo Civic Center as a group for the first night of the conference. That first night was AWESOME! The band Sonar was there playing music to lead us in worship. Paul J. Kim and Bryan Kissinger both spoke to us that night. That same night we had adoration for maybe 10-15 minutes and it was okay. We had to do adoration for our confirmation requirements and I didn’t really understand it.
The second day was VERY LONG yet amazing. The day started at 8:30 am and we didn’t leave until 11:30 pm. That day we had Katie Prejean McGrady, Father Mike Schmitz speak to us, and were in adoration for 2 hours. Yep, 2 hours. And may I say that changed my life. When I get bored I look at my watch all the time to see how long things are taking, during Adoration I never looked at my watch. I cried a whole lot, that sounds kind of crazy but once you experience it there’s like 200 other people crying, some were falling over, it was crazy yet insanely beautiful. Father Mike Schmitz was carrying around the monstrance to show everyone and I got really close to it. All of a sudden it was just like woah, that is Jesus right there in front of me, and so many things in my life just clicked and I realized why things happened or what feelings I had locked up inside of me. When we first started, I felt a surge in my body and it never happened again after that and I realized that that was the Holy Spirit coming through me. It thoroughly changed my life.
Oh yeah! I also got a fast-pass for Reconciliation since Katie and I were waiting in the line and never got through haha. The food was really great, the people were nice, and I told Nikki and Tricia that I wanted to go again next year already! Katie, Becca and I were in the same room and we CRASHED that night. The next day we woke up at 6:40 ish and went to Starbucks at 7:35, we didn’t get our drinks until 8:10 lol. The last day was only a half day at the conference and we had Matt Regitz talk to us and we also had Sunday Mass that day which rounded out the conference. We went back to our room and packed then left Rochester which was sad but I felt like a whole new person.
That night we went to Camp Victory and it was SO MUCH FUN! We played carpet ball, 9-square, mini golf, and shared stories in our cabin. I truly did not want to leave. The next day came and we had to pack up and leave after we had morning prayer. The final thing we did was visit Saint Paul’s Cathedral and it was GORGEOUS! We had Mass there and then we went on our way back home to Saint Cloud. This trip changed my life and I truly feel my soul has been nourished in a great way. If you’re reading this and think it sounds kind of interesting or you have kids who maybe would like to go, GO!! It will truly change your life for the greater good! Thank you for reading this and may God bless you!
This past Thursday was move-in day for St. Cloud State University freshmen. Our Newman Center pastoral team greeted 450 of these young people and their families personally as they were arriving. And so, just like that, another year of campus ministry begins in earnest!
In the days of preparation for this time, our pastoral team came upon an acronym that will help us stay focused on our ministry here at Christ Church Newman Center. That acronym is: WhAM!
The word wham is, of course, used to describe the sound of a powerful impact. The purpose of our ministry here at the Newman Center is to make an impact on the lives of young women and men during the transitional years of college life. The impact is made ‘powerful’ when it is characterized by the encounter with Jesus Christ still living in the company of his disciples, the Church.
The WhAM method of ministry is:
Warming hearts—this emphasizes the need for encounter in a place of care, concern, and support. Ministry begins with a welcoming hospitality and the witness of a gracious and joyfully lived faith within our community.
Accompaniment—this speaks of formation in the life of discipleship, which happens as we walk with one another, learning and mentoring, witnessing to our life of faith.
Missionary disciples—this is the goal of our ministry, the formation of one another as missionary disciples, sent out in witness to God’s faithful, abiding love for us in word and deeds of service, healing and reconciliation.
By warming hearts, accompanying one another, and empowering for missionary discipleship, we live fully our mission as the Catholic Community on the campus of St. Cloud State University and for, as well, St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
What an incredible privilege to share the joy of the gospel with young men and women at such a transformational time of their lives! Mother Mary, seed of wisdom, pray for us!
This line in Scripture from the account of Peter walking on the water always makes me laugh, because I can only imagine what my reaction would be if I were in Peter’s place: “Look around, Jesus! Have you SEEN these waves? Isn’t it a bit unfair to call me ‘you of little faith’ in this kind of a situation?!”
Hearing this line in the Sunday Gospel a few weeks ago, I was struck by how matter-of-fact Jesus’ question is. He asks Peter why he doubted because it should be so clear to Peter that Jesus can be trusted. This was an epiphany moment for me, because trust in God is always something I’ve struggled with. In fact, almost every time I pray, Jesus at some point says to me, “Trust in Me, Mija (My daughter).” It’s easy for me to look at Peter and recognize his lack of faith, but I quickly realize that it’s just a mirror of my own.
A few weeks ago I had the incredible privilege to see my best friend, Sr. Anne Thérèse (formerly Mary Wilder), make her final vows as a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville! It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever had the joy to witness, as she laid down her life completely for her Beloved, for the rest of her life. But it was also a poignant moment for me to reflect on all that God has done in my own life. You see, seven years ago I thought I would be there with her, at that altar, making my vows to Jesus as His Bride, alongside my best friend.
To make a long story short, Mary (Sr. Anne Therese) and I met my sophomore year of high school, when my mom signed me up for a ‘nun run’ with Fr. Greg Mastey (even though I had absolutely no desire to go and even begged to stay home!). On that trip, we visited the Nashville Dominicans, and Mary and I absolutely fell in love with them. I can honestly say I have never experienced more joy and genuine beauty than at the motherhouse of the Nashville Dominicans. They radiate Christ’s love in a way that I had never seen before, and it’s hard for me even now to put into words just how beautiful they are!
Mary and I became close friends on that trip, and a few months later while we were having a sleepover at her house, she confided in me that she felt like Jesus might be calling her to be a Nashville Dominican. I was stunned, mostly because I also was feeling like I might have a calling, but I hadn’t told her yet! I am so incredibly grateful that God let me meet her and that we were able to walk that journey of discernment together.
The October of our senior year we went on a retreat at the motherhouse together to continue to discern our call. She later admitted to me that on our way there she felt like one of us would leave overjoyed, positive that she was called there, and the other one of us would leave devastated, knowing that Jesus wasn’t calling her to enter. In her own words, “I know it was selfish of me, but I was praying I wouldn’t be the one to leave deastated!”
On that retreat, I was filled with a restlessness and lack of peace that penetrated deep, and Jesus made it clear to me that it wasn’t where He was calling me, even though I had already told my family and friends that I would be joining and had even started giving some of my things away! It was hard for me to accept at first, and I struggled with the feeling that God had rejected me. But now, looking back after seven years, I know it’s because He had greater plans for me than I ever could have imagined for myself!
This past year while I was leading RCIA for the parishes where I’m blessed to be a Faith Formation Director, I told my story to the group as we discussed discernment, and one of our sweet candidates said to me, “I can’t claim to know God’s plan, but it sure seems like God has you exactly where He wants you!” These words have stuck with me, because as much as I doubt God’s plan, He is constantly proving to me how faithful He is, how incredibly trustworthy, and how true those words are!
I’m currently in the middle of a 10-day self-guided retreat, and yesterday I read these words which made me smile, because I knew they applied directly to me:
“We misunderstand the goodness of our present state, and in turn, we fail to see the goodness of the process by which God is leading us into the future.”
I so easily forget that life isn’t a race. Sure, I’d love to be married right now, have kids, and “get into my Vocation already”, but God keeps reminding me that He wants me right here, right now, and He is working on my heart in my present state.
To be honest, I still don’t understand what He’s doing in my life most of the time, but I know I can trust that it’s good. He’s a faithful Father, and I can rely on Him with crazy, reckless abandon. He never reveals very much of the path at a time, but I’ve learned to concentrate on the next step- not the whole journey at once. If I had known then everything these last 7 years would bring, I really don’t think I would have been ready to receive it—my sickness and surgery on my stomach the summer before my freshman year of college which led to endless ER visits, the beauty and suffering of college and grad school, my job as a Youth Minister and now as a Faith Formation Director, the sickness of my mom, and everything else that God has brought our way in these past few years. He only shows us what we need to know right now—and then asks us to trust Him with the rest. And you know what, I think I prefer it that way! The more we get to know the heart of the Father, the more we learn that we can trust Him—we can walk out on the water, not because of how great we are, but because of how great He Is. He’ll never let us down.
Guest blogger Joan Spring, director of campus ministry at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud, recently visited Venezuela. Here, she shares a bit of her experience.
Alejandra knocked on the window of the truck and shook her head: more bad news. We were on a mission to find Omeprazole, a simple medication for ulcers that Alejandra’s mother badly needed. We had stopped at multiple pharmacies throughout the city and at each one we heard the same: none available. Fr. James Peterson threw the truck into reverse and started talking about other options. Magaly, hospitalized for a rare blood disease, needed only 5 days’ worth of the medication, surely it could be found somewhere.
Just two days earlier the Guzman family had welcomed us into their home in San Felix, Venezuela for delicious arepas and cake. The small house was adorned with images of the family, Pope John Paul II, and a few landscape paintings. Judi, Alejandra, Anita, and Raquel are all grown daughters of Magaly. They are all employed, three work for a Catholic school and one sells high end shoes in the market. Judi has two children: Jesus and Susje (Jesus backwards) and Anita has two daughters: Franchesca and Stiphani (do not call her Stephanie). Magaly, when not in the hospital awaiting blood transfusions, rests in the one room in their home that is air-conditioned. “Welcome to Minnesota,” they giggle as they lead us into Magaly’s room. She is curled up under a light blanket and it’s true—the room is reminiscent of a chilly fall day in Minnesota, a refreshing experience in the humid heat of Venezuela.
As we greet Magaly, her daughters all start talking at once but Anita catches my ear. She asks me eagerly if I know just how much Fr. James is part of their family. I’ve noticed how the four kids are very comfortable around Fr. James, teasing him and referencing inside jokes. I assure her how clear it is that Fr. James is part of the family. But she starts to insist as she grips my arm:
“su sangre es nuestro sangre” (his blood is our blood).
I look at Fr. James thinking I’ve misunderstood but he’s nodding right along. He starts to explain: Magaly needs monthly blood transfusions and there is a shortage of blood in Venezuela. So, once a month, he goes to the nearby hospital to donate his blood which is transfused into Magaly a few days later.
We drop Alejandra and her sister Judi at the hospital but Fr. James is still determined to find the medicine somewhere. He drives down the road toward the prison where a few of his parishioners are carrying out sentences for robberies. He walks by himself into the pharmacy but comes back out empty handed. “They have more than enough of the medicine,” he explains, “they won’t run out. But one day’s dose is 30, 000 Bolivares.” Earlier in the week he had explained that the monthly minimum wage in Venezuela is 90,000 Bolivares. I shake my head in disbelief.
All the time we spent driving around town looking for the medication has made us late to pick up the parishioners he agreed to drive to Las Josefinas. Las Josefinas are an order of religious sisters serving the poorest of the poor in a neighboring city. Because of diplomatic relations, one of the three religious sisters, Sister Maricela, has to return to her home country of Mexico. Sister Maricela is desperate to stay in Venezuela. She has fallen in love with the people she is serving. She sees the downward trajectory of the economy and the escalating violence in the country. She confides that although she has served in a number of South American countries during her 17 years as a religious sister, none have struck such a chord on her heart strings as the past two years in Venezuela. A number of the parishioners at Fr. James’ parish have grown to love Sister Maricela and asked Fr. James if they might join him in bidding her farewell.
As we drive through the barrios, event after event slows us down: a road is washed out, an elderly woman had the time wrong and needs 20 minutes to finish getting ready, a young woman reminds Fr. James he forgot to pick someone up. As the truck bed fills with people I fear Fr. James is nearing a breaking point: he is weary from the disappointment of the search for medicine and Sister has called asking why he is running so late.
But just 30 minutes later the day’s weariness is forgotten: in the small white chapel of Las Josefinas, Sister Maricela smiles through tears as two small children grip the belt around her pressed white habit. A chorus of young women raise their voices in perfect harmony. Father James lifts the simple wooden chalice and paten and prays the words of institution:
“This is my body…this is my blood…given up for you”.
My eyes dance between the white of the host and the white of Sister Maricela’s habit and I thank Jesus for her life, given up for the small children clinging to her side. As I raise the chalice to my lips, I thank Jesus for the gift of his most precious blood, for the sacrifice of his very self which has inspired others, like Fr. James, to hand over their own bodies in imitation. And as I kneel and pray in thanksgiving, I marvel at God’s Church in Venezuela, and how in the midst of crisis, God’s presence is so tender, so real, so familiar.
Last month, I cracked open my new Bible and journal and grabbed my favorite colored pens. I was about to embark on a newly launched scripture study for Catholic women and, with all my proper tools in hand, I was ready.
I was also spiritually ready. When I purchased the study journal weeks prior to the scripture study beginning date, I had no idea how in need I was to have my dryness and thirst quenched by the Word.
What I knew was that I desired to read more of the bible, to underline, highlight and memorize the passages, but in recent years my life season hadn’t brought me to much scripture beyond the daily readings. I needed to open those pages and prayerfully read the words while my heart and mind were truly ready to hear them.
God knew that in these weeks, while facing life’s summer chaos and busyness along with other life challenges, I would come to rely on the wisdom of His Word and the insight of the ladies who contributed to writing the journal. Every day I’ve added the short scripture passages, reflections to think upon and the short journal time to my morning prayer. I’m happy that I jumped on a Catholic bandwagon of women who led me to the Consider the Lilies scripture study.
All in His due season, things come to fruition. God knew that this six weeks of reading, praying and journaling would be the balm to my soul, the water to wet the dry earth, the restfulness and encouragement for this summer journey.
I just re-read the ‘Welcome’ page at the beginning of the journal this morning. Let me share a bit of it with you:
‘Maybe this is a hard season in your life-you’re overwhelmed by the burdens weighing you down, the crosses He’s asked you to carry. This study is for you…Or maybe you’re in a sweet spot. Life is really rather good right now. You’re not feeling any particular strain…This study is for you, too….In it, you find the words you need to console a friend, to empathize with the people around you who are suffering…This study makes you a better friend to the woman next to you, to the growing child who aches, to the spouse who despairs….This study is for all of us. We’re all in it together.’
I’ll be sad when these six weeks are over, but I have more confidence in opening up my Bible and finding the right words. I’ll be eager to start the next study set to begin in the fall. I invite you to join me. Maybe you’re looking for a new way to soak in scripture and share the journey with other women. Now may be the time that God has prepared the soil and opened your heart eager for His Word.
Take the next step and explore Take Up & Read whose mission is to “invite women to read, to ponder, and to respond to the word of the Lord”. Hopefully you’ll find yourself encouraged even by reading some of the past daily scriptures from the current study, Consider the Lilies, that I’ve been talking about in this post.
Have you already joined Take Up & Read? How has it blessed you? I’d enjoy hearing from you.
“All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. All the women whose heart stirred with a skill….” Exodus 35:25-26
At St. Rose of Lima parish, if you are a member, you are in a quilting group. Each year, the “chair” of the group is responsible for the organizing of the group and making sure there is a quilt for the auction at the fall festival. You can contract with a quilter to make a whole quilt, or buy fabric and have a quilt top made, then schedule a time with the quilting ladies (Tuesdays in the church basement all winter long!).
At Christian Women’s meetings when the talk turns to patterns like “lone star” and “wedding ring,” I smile and nod, pretending I understand. All the while, I am in awe.
Last year, I was a chair. I have no idea how to quilt. I spent a traumatic three hours at the quilt store, determined to find a pattern and fabrics that would make a nice quilt. I wanted to try. I ventured into terms like jelly rolls, fat quarter, sashing. I left with the necessary supplies (thanks to very nice and patient people who work there). I promptly delivered my purchases to an amazing lady, Monika, who I had contacted earlier to assemble the top.
When complete, the church basement ladies scheduled it for hand stitching on a Tuesday and I made sure myself and other members of my group supplied lunch. Months later it was sold at our parish festival, garnering a nice sum. That is, if you only consider the materials and some nominal sum for labor. In truth, if you consider the true labor costs – creating the top, hand stitching, binding (and all the other things I have no idea about) – whatever price received at auction seems low. Yes, the auction is the reason and yes, the proceeds from the auction are outstanding and contribute considerably to our parish finances. But what is the true reward? I contend it is not the final product – the quilts – but instead it is about the process, the tradition, the friendship, the women themselves.
An internet search tells me that dreaming of sewing signifies the development of a new thought. A dream of sewing is also associated with fixing, repairing, or renewing something in your life. “Renewal of something”… that sounds like Tuesdays in the parish church basement. It is about more than sewing and hand stitching around quilt frames each week (often two quilts at a time because that many women show up). It is about the quilts, but it is about the women just as much. The conversation. Jokes. Advice. Stories. Sharing. These quilts could be made in basements around the community, in solitude and by individuals. But the value this tradition brings to the parish is immeasurable. It is what their mothers did. Their grandmothers did. What they still do together. Bringing word of engagements, pregnancies, vacations, they rejoice together. Bringing worries, fears, stress, anxiety, in the basement, they are not alone. Grief, anger, fear, worry – these things cause our hearts to tear, requiring mending and sewing to make needed repairs.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is “a time to sew together.” I believe these women keep the parish stitched together literally and figuratively, binding together quilts and hearts.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Blogger’s note: Sunday, September 3rd @ 2 PM is St. Rose of Lima parish quilt auction. Come for a quilt and honor the work of these amazing women.
I enjoy baking. Besides cookies, breads are probably the thing I bake the most of. Quick breads, especially banana bread, is something I’ve been making since I was a young girl growing up in South Dakota. As a 4-H member, I exhibited many items in our summer “county fair,” called Achievement Days. I recall winning a purple ribbon (the highest you can receive followed by a blue, red or white ribbon) on my loaf of banana bread when I was in third grade.
Baking, competing, learning more about food and nutrition…it all interested me then as it continues to now. This year’s Stearns County Fair was no exception. I entered several baked items and did OK. My banana bread only took second this go around. I think buttermilk is the key to making it especially good. My cranberry orange bread gleaned the top spot. Orange juice and the zest of the orange rind helps give this bread its great orange flavor. These are my recipes. Enjoy!
CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD
4 cups all-purpose flour 3 cups white sugar 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 4 large eggs 1 bag of whole cranberries (fresh or frozen…you can chop ‘em a bit if you wish) 2/3 cup orange juice zest from 1 large orange 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well with mixer, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Pour into 3 large loaf pans that have been sprayed. Bake 350 for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean.
Makes 3 large loaves.
6 ripe bananas, mashed 1 ½ cups brown sugar 1 ½ cups white sugar 1 ½ cups buttermilk 4 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ½ cups vegetable oil 6 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, sugars, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and oil. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to banana mixture and mix well scraping sides of mixing bowl occasionally. Pour into 3 large loaf pans that have been sprayed. Bake 350 for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean.
Makes 3 large loaves.
Note: Watch for Rita’s award-winning chocolate chip cookie recipe in the Aug. 11 issue of The Visitor.