Novena in honor of St. Cloud – Day 4

Residents of St. Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud joined together to pray Day 4 of the Novena in honor of St. Cloud. Please join in praying with them via video message by clicking on the link below.

To read about the life of St. Cloud and for full text of the novena, visit .






Stricken because of their wicked ways
and afflicted because of their sins
They loathed all manner of food,
so that they were near the gates of death.
They cried to the Lord in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them.
He sent forth his word to heal them
and to snatch them from destruction.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.
Let them make thank offerings
and declare his works with shouts of joy …
But he who pours out contempt upon princes,
and sends them astray through a trackless waste,
lifted up the needy out of misery
and made their families numerous like flocks.
The upright see this and rejoice,
and all wickedness closes its mouth. (Psalm 107:19-22, 41-42)


We are all called by baptism and confirmation to be healers. Many people in all walks of life cry out for healing. In one way or another, each of us suffers from the effects of sinfulness in the world. We are weak; often we stumble and sometimes lose our way. We are called like St. Cloud to practice a ministry of healing. The Church is not a safe harbor for the saved but a health center for all who are sick and weary and over-burdened. Everyone is called to practice the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

JESUS SAYS: (Lector)

“Then the just will ask him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison?’ The king will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.”‘ (Mt 25-37-40)

LET US PRAY: (Leader)

Heavenly Father, we know our own faults and failures, our own weariness and weakness. Help us to be mindful that those around us are also wounded and suffering physical and spiritual pains. Following the example of St. Cloud, make us wounded healers so that by Your grace we will experience Your healing power in ·our own lives by our efforts in binding up the wounds in our families, our communities, our nation and our world. This we ask through Christ our Lord.



Novena in honor of St. Cloud – Day 2

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.

To read about St. Cloud and for the full text of the Novena, visit


What is a novena? A video series leading up to the feast day of St. Cloud

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.

Timothy Johnston, diocesan director of the Office of Worship.

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.

Viewers are encouraged to pray along with the next nine videos in the series. To read about the life of St. Cloud and for the full text of the novena, visit


Nourish your soul

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.

Maggie and her friend at Steubenville conference in Rochester, Minnesota.

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!

Maggie Weber is a junior at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School and goes to weekly mass at St. Augustine Church in St. Cloud. She can be regularly seen at the 10am Mass and at the monthly Men’s Group Breakfast volunteering with her great friend Katie. She also sings with the Schola of Saint Cecilia occasionally at Mass. Maggie is well involved in her school in soccer, Student Council, Concert Choir, Link Crew and Project For Teens! Maggie is a lover of cats, naps, coffee and math!

“This is my body…this is my blood…given up for you.”

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.

Joan and Father Ben Kociemba visit the Guzman family.

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.

Sister Maricela, center, and Father James Peterson, with a sister friend at the airport.

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.
Known to her neighbors as “the Church lady”, Joan is a woman searching for God’s voice and beauty in the example’s of Divine Grace she meets in her day to day life. She is particularly grateful God has blessed her with work at the Newman Center which focuses on bringing the energy of college students into contact with the dedicated pillars of the community.

No one left behind

This blog post first appeared on the St. Benedict’s Monastery blog: S. Renee has graciously allowed us to publish it here as well. To read more from S. Renee and other Benedictine sisters, visit their blog at the link above.


Sometime ago, I had a dream in which I was one of a huge multitude of people. All of us had just been in a serious accident . . .but the surprising thing was that no one was afraid; rather, we were all smiling, talking animatedly, and helping one another . . .whether cleaning another’s wounds, giving water or meds to another or walking together along a very long path. No one seemed to need rest . . . but rather instinctively knew that, as we walked or limped, we were to leave no one behind! Apparently , all of us knew where we were going, i.e., to our Father’s House where we would surely see friends, members of our families, even those who made us suffer while on earth . . . Then I awakened!

Upon thinking of my dream, I realized it was expressing, for me, some thoughts on planting, watering and harvesting (of all unusual themes!). Quite literally, WE are the “crop”, the fruit of another’s labors in the family, the church, our society! I thought of the JOY on the faces of all in my dream; no one was sad! Were they so joyful because they were helping another? Welcoming another on the road? Allowing another to serve? Making sure no one would be left behind? Even more surprising to me was that everyone walked, fully confident that they were going HOME to the welcoming embrace of their Father and other family members.

I know that this dream expresses what I deeply desire—that we stand in awe of a God who depends upon us to bind up one another’s wounds or remind another of our undeserved privilege in being part of God’s family. It also expresses some of what I feel led to do: be a bridge of understanding and forgiveness, especially among the marginalized members of our society! How many more years will be given me? I don’t know. My friend, Fr. Rick Thomas gives an answer: “God speaks through circumstances. When He makes something possible, He wants you to do it; and when He makes it impossible, He wants you to quit.”

Have we reflected sufficiently on the circumstances of this day? What will I/you do so as to leave no one behind? With the Psalmist we can be sure that “ goodness and kindness will follow us all the days of our lives. . .”

Sister Renee Domeier has been a Benedictine for 60+ years. She loves to read at least one poem a day and write whenever time and inspiration are given her. She said, “I am very grateful for the gift of life within and around me!”

The Plan for the Pain

When your doctor tells you that you must have major surgery and that you will recover but that it will take two months or more, you cannot help but pause. You start asking questions fast. Is this necessary? Is there some other way? Could we reevaluate this? The answers come. You must have this surgery to solve the issues that put you in the doctor’s office to begin with. So, you make plans. You prepare those around you. You get people to schedule to help. You pack for the hospital stay. And, as a person of faith, you pray that you will be able to handle what is coming.

Waking up after the surgery, you are disorientated and there are complete strangers poking and lifting you. You look around and three angels, your people, sit in the chairs in the room. It all becomes a muddle as you fall back asleep wondering how the next days are going to go. Every time you wake up, they ask you how your pain is and you can’t tell. Nothing seems to not ache. And it hits you, in one of your more cognitive moments, is this an example of Christ’s suffering? Could this be a time for you to learn what His agony was like?

You let that go quickly because suffering in pain does not make you very popular. Besides, you are not SO holy that you would be good in physical distress. But the thoughts keep coming to you, especially when you pray. So, you give in and try to understand how this suffering can bring you closer to understanding the Cross. And you discover that pain is a nuisance. It binds you. It disturbs you. It grieves you. When people ask you how you are you repeat the same phrase hoping that they will just go away because you need to suffer alone. And again, you think of Jesus and how pain is isolating and emotional. No one can take away the pain.

Medication is a good thing. It’s amazing how medicine can change searing pain to a dull throb. Company is a healing wonder. People taking a moment to make a meal or do the dishes easies the pressure. Reading is a distracting consumer of time. Fiction about Newfoundland during 9/11, the writings of John XXIII, and a variety of things you don’t commit to reading in normal times all pass your way. Strange how they all have some form of suffering to their tales.

Jesus didn’t have any pain killers. He had some friends but they were unable to comfort him. Jesus could not be distracted. His mission was clear. Trust through this agony. Believe the Father’s plan for the pain. And there is the question. What is the Father’s plan for the pain? Will you walk out of this dying to yourself and be better? Will you now trust God, who is in our suffering, and know more of my Savior? Will you stop being ungrateful, unkind, and unavailable to others? Dozens of questions come to mind.

The contradictions of being under the influence of time and medication takes a toll on you. Should you really be reflecting on your life as you recover? Is this a good time for self-contemplation? And then you hear yourself laugh and you realize what God’s plan for your pain has been; to remember that the Cross is about love and that love is always around us, even in our pain. So, you sleep trusting and looking to the next day and the next plan.

By Guest Blogger Monica J. Simmons:

– Member of St. Michael Church, Motley.
– Crookston Native, Twins Fan, Nap Taker
– Has been in Youth Ministry for so long she forgets
– College & High School Grad, Perfect Attendance in 1st Grade
– Bible Camper, Retreat Admirer, Funniest Person in her home
– Single because Drums demand attention
– Wants a large dog really badly

Guest Blogger: “Come to ME”

Benedictine Sister Renee Domeier wrote this special reflection on June 23, the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
This morning, at Lauds, we prayed: “He has taken us and holds us deep in His loving heart!” Later at Mass on this feast of the Sacred Heart, we heard Moses tell the Israelites that God had set His heart on them; He first loved them. . . and us.  So, why do we doubt?  And not to be outdone by Deuteronomy, Jesus says, in the Gospel of Luke: “Come to Me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Indeed, according to St. Alphonsus de Liguori, “God is crazy in love with us”! So, why do we waver or hesitate to go to Jesus??
For the last 49 years, I have been reading and pondering the prophetic words of Jesus to Two Listeners. Perhaps you know these daily reading too!  He says to them….and to us: Do you at times feel weary, burdened, rejected, in need of assurance? Come to ME. “Cling to ME until My  Divine Life, by that very contact, flows into your being and revives your fainting spirit. Become recharged.  When weary, do as I did on earth–Sit by the well. Rest. Rest and gain power and strength and the work too will come to you as it came to Me. Rest till every care-thought has gone, and then let the Tide of Love and Joy flow in.”
Enjoy this precious Lover, even at this moment!
Sister Renee Domeier has been a Benedictine for 60+ years. She loves to read at least one poem a day and write whenever time and inspiration are given her. She said, “I am very grateful for the gift of life within and around me!”