Archive | June, 2009

Bishop’s summer message

June 26, 2009

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I ran across a very interesting video the other day. It is a message by Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn. He addresses the youth of the diocese and offers tips for what to do during their summer vacation.

I really liked it. He was warm, personable and very encouraging, and I believe he will engage the young people of his diocese and draw them closer to God and their Catholic faith.
Rather than try to summarize his remarks, I will simply recommend that people watch it. Here’s the web address: http://www.dioceseofknoxville.org. Once you get on the home page of the Diocese of Knoxville, the link to Bishop Stika’s message is on the right-hand side of the page.
Generally, I like it when bishops and archbishops make videos. I think it can be a great tool to reach Catholics in a diocese and a great way to help people get to know their bishop.
Archbishop John Nienstedt has done that in this archdiocese and I have really enjoyed watching the videos he has made. In fact, I hope he does more. He is an excellent speaker and homilist and I think he comes across very well in a video. I’d be very curious to hear what his reaction to Bishop Stika’s video would be.
Perhaps, I can persuade Archbishop Nienstedt to produce a fishing video someday, and then I can help him with the task.
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Father’s Day banquet

June 22, 2009

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Father’s Day was different this year, but enjoyable nonetheless. For the first time, my Dad, Ray, had to be admitted to a health care facility due to some complications and weakness. He is under observation and the medical staff is trying to help him regain strength so he can return home.

So, two of my brothers and I decided to take the Father’s Day party to him. I made one of my top wild-game recipes — wild turkey/wild rice casserole — and brought it over as the main course. All of us were able to enjoy it, including Dad. I like to think that this is one of the noblest uses for wild game and I think even ardent animal-rights activists would have a hard time finding fault with our attempt to give Dad a home-cooked meal for Father’s Day.
Dad was in good spirits, although he still seems weak. We’re all hoping and praying he can regain his strength soon and come home. Yet, at age 87, we know there is no guarantee of a full recovery. All we can do is spend time with him and enjoy him as he is.
As it turns out, that is a very easy thing to do. My Dad always has had a great sense of humor and I’m happy to say that it still is fully intact. He even made a joke about turkeys and flapped his arms for emphasis.
We loved it. In fact, this was proof that there was nothing dark or dreary about this Father’s Day celebration, despite the thick clouds and intermittent rain that fell during our party. May God grant us many more family get-togethers as fun as this one.
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Talk around the dinner table? It’s in the cards!

June 22, 2009

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“The Meal Box,”
by Bret Nicholaus and Tom McGrath

So you want to have more meaningful conversations around the dinner table, something to counter the gobble-up-and-scatter tendency in too many of our homes?

You need “The Meal Box.”

You love your faith and you want your children to love it and to grow up with the values you cherish, but you could use some tips on ways to do that without seeming like you’re always preaching?

“The Meal Box” is there for you.

A product of Loyola Press, “The Meal Box” is being plugged as “fun questions and family faith tips to get mealtime conversations cookin’.” It’s all that and more.

Young and old can join in

Packaged like a deck of playing cards, it’s a plastic box with 54 cards, each containing a question that will get just about any age-group talking at suppertime.

Here are a few examples:
  • When it comes to things that make you really happy, what five things would you rank at the very top?
  • Suppose you were told that you could have one wish come true — but the wish you make would have to be for someone else, not for yourself. What would you wish for, and for whom would you wish it?
  • If you could have 100 of anything right now, what would you choose?

“Food for Family Thought” — the parenting/faith formation aids — comes on the flip side of each card. For the three examples above, the alternate side of the cards suggest:

  • When asked what it would take to get to heaven, Jesus said, “Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked.” That’s what parents do each day. It’s a paradox that our greatest happiness comes when we freely give of ourselves. Think about that the next time you’re fixing supper or folding laundry.
  • Empathy is a fundamental building block for all moral growth. Make it a family value to frequently consider how your behavior and choices affect others. When your child talks about other children’s experiences, gently ask, “And how do you think he/she felt about that?” This will nurture your child’s capacity for compassion.
  • One task of parents is to help their children develop the skills of discernment — that is, to make wise choices. This is better taught through example and be establishing limits than by coercion and criticism.

The opposite of ‘bowling alone’

“The Meal Box” questions are such a painless way for parents to connect with their children, to enrich family-time, and to counteract the tendency for family members to do their own thing and go off into their own little worlds.

The younger ones may even forget about whose turn it is to play Wii. Teens may pull the iPod earphones out for a few minutes to chime in with their thoughts.

And, if you’re empty nesters like my wife and I, you may find “The Meal Box” questions adding an engaging new feature into your day. Think about talking over dinner about “What is one seemingly impossible goal that you would like to see the world achieve during your lifetime?”

You may even skip watching “Wheel of Fortune” some nights to ponder questions like that! – bz

For purchase information, go to http://www.loyolapress.com.

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Walleye bonanza!

June 19, 2009

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Every once in a while, a fishing or hunting trip goes as well as I had hoped it would. This week was one of those times.

I took my wife, Julie, and our four kids to Upper Red Lake on Tuesday for three days of walleye fishing. The day before we got there, the protected slot had changed, going from 17-26 inches to 20-26 inches. Three inches may not sound like much of a difference, but it is huge. Anyone who has fished the lake will tell you that there are lots and lots of fish in the 17-20-inch range. And, it can be agonizing to have to release dozens of them in the search for keepers under 17 inches.
We were blessed with the ability to keep four fish each up to 20 inches. For our family of six, that’s 24 walleyes! Based on the reports I was getting before we left, bringing home our limit of 24 was a realistic goal.
I’m thrilled to say that is exactly what happened. The fish bit well enough for us to catch a limit to bring home, plus enough for a fish fry while we were there. We reached our limit of 24 by the end of the second day, then had a fish fry that evening in our cabin owned by Bear Paw Guides. Particularly satisfying for me was taking my wife, Julie, out earlier that evening along with my son, Joe.
How’s this for perfect timing — Julie bought her fishing license at 6 p.m. and was catching walleyes within an hour. Then, Julie, Joe and I came in with our three-person limit of 12 by 9 p.m.
One very nice amenity on Upper Red is the fish-cleaning service offered at West Wind Resort by a staff member named Paul. He does a fabulous job and only charges $1 per fish. In my book, it’s money well spent. Not only that, he gave us some great advice on where to fish. We followed it and it paid off handsomely.
Basically, he recommended traveling farther away from the public landing at the mouth of the Tamarac River to get away from the crowds. Many people fish within a quarter mile from the mouth of the river. In fact, that area has gotten fished heavily ever since the slot limit changed on Monday. There are estimates of more than 100 boats covering that shoreline on Monday. Among several who offered that number were a DNR game warden and Steve Brasel, owner of Bear Paw Guides.
Looks like a lot of people were paying close attention to the change in the slot. I suspect the lake will continue to get pounded until the fishing slows. The fish are shallow and close to shore now because the water is cooler than normal, but they eventually will move deeper and farther out. They may even move out of the eastern portion of the lake that non-Indians are allowed to fish.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that. I have lots of walleye in the freezer that should last for months. I carefully take care of the fillets, vacuum sealing them so they will last much longer in the freezer. I spent quite a while working on that last night and today, but it was well worth the effort.
What really made me smile was seeing such hefty fillets that I’m not used to handling from fish caught on Upper Red. I would say most of the fish we ended up keeping were between 17 and 20 inches. A few went 19 inches or more.
Some people are leery of keeping fish close to the upper limit of keeping size, but I take great care to use the proper measuring tool and the proper technique, so I am very sure of the correct measurment of the fish I catch. When a fish is longer than 19 inches, I am even more careful. In fact, I ended up having to release a beautiful 21-incher that I caught on a crankbait.
At the time, I was a little bummed out, but, in the end, things worked out very well. The third morning of our trip, in particular, was excellent in terms of the size of fish we caught. We needed six fish to replace the ones we had eaten the night before, so I had to take someone with me to get them. My son, Andy, was the only one willing to get up early, so he and I went out at 8 a.m.
Within an hour, we had our six fish and ended up staying a little longer to fish for fun. All six fish were longer than the previous slot of 17 inches and two of them stretched to 19 inches or more. Andy and I were all smiles when we pulled up anchor and headed back in around 9:45.
I thank the state DNR for relaxing the slot and, most importantly, I thank God for providing us with the opportunity to go on this trip and for blessing us with an abundance of walleye!
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Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere — and so will you

June 19, 2009

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“When’s God Gonna Show Up?”
by Marge Fenelon
Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere -- and so will youMarge Fenelon will tell you she doesn’t know when God is going to pop into every-day life, but she has a knack for finding the divine in just about every aspect of human existence.
Fenelon’s brief, two- and three-page stories come from the things that happen in her home, in the ophthalmologist’s office, as the van starts making a funny noise, you-name-it. They’re often funny, mostly poignant slices of the life of a 21st-century wife and mom, and they’re not unlike the incidents in your home and mine.
What Fenelon does, though, is find God lurking in the corner, creeping into mind, finding a way to influence her thinking and her actions in all those every-day moments.
Great conversation starter
Fenelon suggests you don’t read this book from cover to cover but one scoop at a time — a story a week. There is a lesson in each chapter/story, and each is worth savoring, processing, reflecting on. And those book follows the church year chronologically, with a special back section on feast days.
Each story ends with two elements to help readers get to that reflective end: They are questions — “What does Scripture say?” and “What does my heart say?” — that teach (the Scripture piece) and force readers to internalize the lesson.
I can see how a formal faith-sharing group could use a chapter as an easy way to get a discussion started, especially a moms’ group.
But I also can see spouses sharing this book — “Honey, you’ve got to read this and tell me what you think!” — and finding their communication blossoming.
Fenelon writes a regular column for the Catholic Herald, the Milwaukee archdiocesan newspaper, and thanks go to Liguori for getting this 163-page paperback into circulation.
The best thing about “When’s God Gonna Show Up?” is that reading Marge Fenelon’s wonderful book, you’re going to start finding God in your life, too. — bz
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Tales from Minnesota

June 15, 2009

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“Pilgrims to the Northland,”

by Marvin R. O’Connell

The story of the how a Catholic archdiocese took root on the bluffs along the upper Mississippi River is chock full of stories — stories about the people who planted those roots and those that nurtured them, stories that will enlightne you, force a chuckle out of you, perhaps even shock you.

Marvin O’Connell tells as many as he could fit into 615 pages of this early history of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Take this lovely anecdote:

When a German-speaking Benedictine priest served the fledgling Bohemian parish of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague back in 1859, a unique way to overcome the language barrier was devised so that the Czech-speaking parishioners could confess their sins via an interpreter. Father O’Connell writes:

“The priest faced the penitent, and both of them were separated from the interpreter by a thin wall. The priest enunciated in turn the Ten Commandments in German, which the interpreter translated loudly into Bohemian. The penitent either nodded — meaning he had transgressed in that regard — or shook his head in denial. Thus secrecy was observed and embarrassment avoided, and sacramental absolution could be duly administered.”

No mere ecclesial history

There is a minimum of the kind of statistical growth numerology that populates too many accounts of church history. Instead, Father O’Connell puts the history of the Catholic Church in the United States — and of U.S. Catholics — into its national and international perspectives, always with human touches.

So valuable are the introductory pages to each chapter that explain what was going on in the nation — or in the world — at a particular juncture in time between 1840 and 1962, where O’Connell ends this work. As much as he can the priest of the archdiocese and University of Notre Dame professor emeritus helps readers understand what shaped the church that straddles the Mississippi today, and especially what — and who — was responsible for making that happen.

Of course bishops and archbishops play major roles, with the iconic John Ireland taking over the stage by force of length of service from the community’s earliest days through the early 20th century, and by force of personality. It was Archbishop Ireland’s presence on the national stage as the spearhead of Americanization — that movement that promoted the concept that this new land of freedom was the best place for the Catholic faith to flourish, and that freedom and faith were the best of partners.

Not everyone agreed, including some in high places in the church both in the United States and at the Vatican.

O’Connell covers the controversy with balance, framing well the crucial questions that made the controversy so volatile. As European immigrants arrived, he asks,

“Did they, once landed in New York or Philadelphia, discard their language, their traditions, their folkways, in short their nationality? And did the Catholics among them, faced by a culture created and dominated for two and a half centuries by Protestant Anglo-Saxons an Scotch-Irish, discard their faith? These were the crucial questions confronting the American bishops in the 1880s. and they intertwined to form another: to what degree did the preservation of the immigrants’ faith depend upon maintaining the habits and customs of the old country?”

Ireland was of the mind that immigrants had to untie the apron strings to the old country and become American in order to be respected and take their rightful place in order that their faith influence American culture.

Heroes among the priests

The challenges that had to be overcome by the area’s episcopal leaders fills pages, to be sure, but O’Connell spends just as much if not more time on some of his priest heroes, people from the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese who have influenced both the world and the church. He lovingly gives credit, too, to the women religious — the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in particular — for their selfless service to the People of God not just in the Twin Cities but across Minnesota and the Dakotas, as the Diocese of St. Paul was originally defined.

Generous oil man Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy is granted his due in this history, too.

But two priests capture many pages, and deservedly so, because they influenced so many others, both clergy and lay.

There is the passionate teacher and advocate for social justice, Monsignor John A. Ryan, who grew up on a farm in rural Vermillion Township and became an adviser to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Labeled “The Right Reverend New Dealer,” Ryan was the architect and advocate of social justice principles that are now woven into the texture of American life: the minimum wage, a progressive income tax, the eight-hour work day, unemployment insurance, etc.

The early adopters of the Liturgical Movement, Benedictine Dom Virgil Michel, the St. Paul Seminary’s Father William Busch get well deserved notice, but historical ink tells us more about Father John Bussard, a founder of the Leaflet Missal and Catholic Digest, which in 1936 enjoyed a circulation of a million copies a month.

Bussard — in 1938 mind you — convinced Archbishop John Gregory Murray — to have the altar in the lower crypt of the new Nativity of Our Lord Church in St. Paul to be free standing, so that at Mass the priest faced the congregation and the worshipers could see and follow his actions at the altar and pray with him from their vernacular missals.

Father Bussard had argued, “The one thing necessary is to unite the faithful closely with Christ. Can that ever be done by a priest who stands with his back to them and reads Sacred Scripture to a wall?”

O’Connell faithfully reports the successes and the failures of archbishops Grace, Dowling, Murray, Brady and Byrne, but it is Paul Bussard and John A. Ryan who he calls “the two most influential Minnesota Catholics” during the middle third of the 20th century.

“Their influence spread far beyond the confines of their native state. Their approach to events and their manner of dealing with challenges, no less than the theaters in which they played out their roles, were very different. But a ‘golden thread of Catholic thou
ght’ did bind them together to a degree Bussard’s crusade for liturgical renewal — its insistence on the unity and participation of the whole worship community — possessed an unmistakable collective component, which Ryan’s tireless drive for social and racial justice derived directly from his conviction that Jesus had called for a communal solution to the problems of the ages.”

The war that changed everything

Archbishop Murray’s opposition to the Nazis is part of the history, including his invitation to his priests to volunteer to be chaplains during World War II. The archbishop promised that any curate (associate pastor) who volunteered to be a chaplain would be named a pastor after the “inevitable triumph” (Murray’s words). He kept his word.

It was the aftermath of World War II that changed Catholic status in the United States, O’Connell opines.

The G.I. Bill of Rights destroyed the traditional American class system. Young Catholics who before the war never dreamed of going to college or owning their own homes took advantage of the G.I.Bill to earn college degrees and enter the professions and management ranks, “and so participated fully in the expanding economy as they moved their big, bustling families into secure new homes.” O’Connell’s analysis?”

“In short, Catholics achieved what John Ireland had striven so hard for: they became part of the great American middle class. And in 1960 one of their own was elected president of the United States.”

Unfortunately a review can touch only a fraction of the topics and tales Father O’Connell shares, and that’s how it should be. Buy the book.

At $70, this University of Notre Dame Press tome is pricey, but it’s great reading. O’Connell has a marvelous literary style with clever segues and a timely sense of humor. For example, at the installation Mass for Coadjutor Archbishop Murray, there were 5,000 worshipers (“nine of whom fainted during the lengthy ceremony”), O’Connell inserts.

Some of the history is admittedly not what a public relations person might put forward, but then O’Connell’s task was history, not PR, and the author doesn’t shy from the seamy side of Catholic history. There were some disreputable characters in this neck of the woods over the course of the years.

The very best anecdotes are from priests he interviewed who shared the stories of their own encounters in the seminary, parish or chancery office that add in sight and color as to what Catholic life was really like.

Finally, Father O’Connell’s personal memories inserted into many footnotes add humanity to this scholarly work. Don’t pass them by. — bz

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Fishing tournament results

June 15, 2009

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The first Bishop’s Cup and Family Fishing Tournament is in the books and it was a success in several ways.

A total of 17 teams participated in the event, which took place Saturday, June 13 on Lake of the Woods in Muskeg Bay near Warroad. Bishop Michael Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston served as the host and his prayers for good weather were answered with sunshine and a high of around 70 degrees.
And, the fish were in a cooperative mood, with plenty of  fish to go around. The winning team weighed four fish that totaled 13.35 pounds (teams of up to four people were allowed to weigh up to four fish). The winners, David Steen, Brad Visser and Gary Visser were from St. Joseph in Ada and they also caught the biggest fish of the tournament, which weighed more than 8 pounds.
“It was fantastic,” said Jean LaJesse, stewardship manager for the diocese who helped organize the tournament. “Everybody had a good time… All 17 (teams) weighed in. Everybody caught fish. They all came in with four. It was wonderful.”
The plans are already set for next year. The second annual Bishop’s Cup will be held June 12, 2010 in Detroit Lakes and Holy Rosary in Detroit Lakes will serve as the host.
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Time to get out on the water

June 11, 2009

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I recently read that this week is national Boating and Fishing Week. With warmer weather finally arriving to make it feel like June, now’s the time to head to your favorite fishing spot.

I’m planning to go to a nearby lake this week to take my boat out for the first time. I want to make sure it’s in ship shape for my trip to Upper Red Lake next week with my wife, Julie, and four kids. It ran well last summer after I worked out a few bugs. Then, I winterized it according to the directions provided by Hannay’s Marine.
So, I’m optimistic that everything will work smoothly. Still, if I can take the boat out now for some testing, I’ll have time to fix anything that might be wrong. There’s nothing worse than having a boat that doesn’t work when you’re at a lake where the fish are biting. And, on Upper Red these days, if you can just get out on the lake, you’ll probably catch fish. During the early part of the summer when the walleyes are shallow and hungry, fishing doesn’t get much easier.
And, that is precisely why I chose this lake as a place to bring my kids. I’m hoping my 7-year-old daughter, Claire, will catch her first walleye on this trip. But, first, I have to help her overcome her fear of boats. I took her out last year with my wife and the trip ended only about 100 yards from the dock. I opened the livewell to show her and she panicked when she saw water flowing in it. She thought the boat was sinking and there was no convincing her otherwise. So, back to shore we went. I’m hoping she’ll do better this time.
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Will you have — is yours — the perfect marriage? Take the test!

June 10, 2009

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“PMAT: The Perfect Marriage Aptitude Test,”

by Mary T. Carty

Okay, I took the Perfect Marriage Aptitude Test.
I passed.

Good thing, after being married to the same beautiful blonde for 36 years!

According to my PMAT results I have an “ultimate response style,” which means I have “a willingness to collaborate, cooperate and compromise, as well as invest time and energy in taking positive actions that enhance the marriage.”

My prayer now is that that beautiful blonde I wed 36 years ago agrees!

Jesting aside, I hope Mary Carty and her publisher, Glitterati Incorporated, sell hundreds of thousands of this 144-page gem; marriages and the institution of marriage will be enhanced by what Carty teaches in her test.

As she points out, “There are no degree programs, internships, or required training for marriage,” and the quality of a marriage depends on “the choices couples make a on a daily, even minute-to-minute basis.”

Check your ‘response-ability’

Responses by both partners to those choices determine their “response-ability,” a phrase Carty uses as the focus for her Perfect Marriage Aptitude Test. There are 200 possible marriage situations and 600 multiple choice responses broken into eight themed areas. In taking the test you mark your answer on the supplied response sheet (read “scorecard”).

Add up your totals and you either join yours truly at the head of the class with an “Ultimate Response Style,” or find that your response style is either “competent,” “inconsistent” or “clueless.”

Often there is more than one good answer, and the scoring reflects that. There were only a few of the 200 questions in which I didn’t see a good answer in any of the three choices.

What the questions are doing, though, is teaching as you go, planting ideas for better ways to handle conflict, offering better approaches to those rubber-meets-the-road times that every married couple faces.

Why don’t we have any ice cubes?

What’s so good about the questions is that they are real-life situations.

I have to find out from Carty if she had a listening device in our kitchen during the mid-1970s when my spouse and I wrestled over who took the last of the ice and did not re-fill the ice cube trays!

And does every couple stress over attending the spouse’s company holiday party?

With a background in psychology and counseling, Carty frequently writes on marriage, parenting and relationships, and this book is intended to establish a dialogue between a bride and groom. But it’s also a useful toolkit for those already wed.
Carty echoes other marriage experts in noting, “Respect is the number one ingredient in a healthy relationship,” and, after the test portion, her book winds down with 28 pages of helpful material about communicating, collaborating, strategies to overcome roadblocks, and a number of useful lists that beg to be scissored out and taped to the refrigerator door.

I especially liked Carty’s A-B-Cs to keep life in perspective and the superb list of statements she advises readers review before taking the PMAT, including such simple-but-succinct thoughts as:
  • No two people think exactly alike.
  • You cannot read your partner’s mind.
  • Your partner cannot read your mind.
  • We are human and make mistakes.
  • It takes courage to forgive.
  • No one is perfect.
  • Love conquers fear.

Since acts, not just words, are so important, PMAT has a parting “gift list” of 100 ways to show active love. Some I thought were great, others not so much. Make use of the ones that make sense for you and your spouse.
And finally, answering the questions in the PMAT made me realize the difference between how I responded in these situations now — after 36 years of marriage — and how I actually ACTED when I faced some of them throughout the past 36 years. Needless to say, I didn’t always have the “ultimate response style.”– bz
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Why Catholic managers shouldn’t fear unions

June 9, 2009

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“Catholic Administrators and Labor Unions,”
by William Droel and Ed Marciniak

Labor unions should be seen as making employees partners with management in carrying out the mission of Catholic institutions and ministries.
That’s the teaching of a little, 49-page, pocket- or purse-size booklet produced this year by the Chicago-based National Center for the Laity.
It’s a tract, really, that takes its foundation from an essay the late Ed Marciniak wrote in 1983.
Marciniak was a towering figure in the labor movement and Catholic lay movement in Chicago for more than 40 years, and Bill Droel – Marciniak’s colleague at the National Center for the Laity – has updated his work, adding recent references, particularly thoughts of Pope John Paul II.

Filled with facts
Catholic teachings with regard to labor begin with the dignity of every person and see collective bargaining as upholding and even furthering that dignity. This booklet makes the point over and over that union activity should be regarded as a necessary societal experience, not one to be feared or deplored.
Rather than management seeing labor organizing as a sign of failure on its part, the fact that employees want a union can be accepted as a development in the skills and the commitment of employees.
Church-related institutions are advised to model good labor relations by participating in good-faith bargaining; as the authors put it, “Preaching the gospel necessitates living the gospel.”
Workers cannot be exploited just because they choose to work for the church or a Catholic entity, a point the booklet makes clear:

“There is simply no basis in Catholic teaching for workers or employers to conclude that collective bargaining is excluded from the church, no matter how dedicated and holy are those workers or employers.”
Where unionizing and contract bargaining is sometimes perceived as an adversarial relationship, the authors say union activity can hold Catholic employers to high standards for transparency and thoughtfulness. In contentious issues, a contract allows policy – not personalities – to prevail.

Mutual benefits
What happens as well is creation of a partnership style of management – labor together with management – where a “respectful connectedness” is allowed to blossom. When union members and management partner, a mutual responsibility for the mission is created.
The booklet reminds:
“A union, in Catholic doctrine, is more than an economic agent to negotiate wages. It is supposed to be a community of persons who . . . claim responsibility, grow in the exercise of freedom and contribute to a spirituality of work.”
And it works to the benefit of all.
“A fair amount of evidence links humane management with profitability,” the booklet notes, “or, in the case of non-profits, other measures of excellence.”
Where some might fear the forming of a union as something that will drive the company or institution out of business, good managers instinctively understand that, especially in rough times, a company needs as many interested participants as possible, particularly from its employees. It is a mistake as well to conclude that managers are more invested in the institution than the employees, the authors warn.
Catholic doctrine demands that persons conform to the will of God by nurturing others. We sustain and spread faith in God through participation in family life and social groups, and doing so is not an option. “Catholics are obliged to join intermediate groups because they are essential to a relational (Trinitarian) expression of Christianity,” Droel and Marciniak note.
Voluntary groups are prized by Catholicism as a best harbor for freedom and human development, the thinking that brought John Paul II to say, “Unions are indispensable in society.”

Caveats expressed
Here are just a few take-aways for Catholic managers from a text full of take-aways:
· A labor tactic may be legal but not morally justified.
· Taking advantage of loopholes in the law will generate a hostile work environment.
· Getting reputable and competent advice for negotiating with a union is recommended, but bringing a union-busting firm on board will tarnish – perhaps permanently – a Catholic entity’s Catholic identity in the minds of all fair-minded people.
· Managers need to see unions as a vehicle rather than an obstacle.

While the intended audience for this work is Catholic managers, I would think the teaching about labor and management applies to every workplace, Catholic or secular.
In a reference appropriate for 2009, the booklet notes that while Catholic doctrine does not say every workplace must have a union, it does say that employees must be allowed to decide if they want to have a union.
“A Catholic (an employee, an administrator or a stakeholder) with an informed conscience can say, ‘This union is not right for this workplace,’ The same person cannot say, ‘Unions are bad.’ That some Catholics say, ‘Unions are bad or outdated,’ carries the same moral credibility as a Catholic who says, ‘Abortion is a matter of opinion or of individual choice.’”– bz

“Catholic Administrators and Labor Unions” is available for $3.25. Check http://www.catholiclabor.org/NCL.htm for details.

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