Archive | September, 2010

Missionaries of Charity photos

September 30, 2010


Bishop Lee Piche and Father Thomas McCabe concelebrate Mass for the Missionaries of Charity in the sisters' chapel in San Felix, Venezuela.

Bishop Lee Piche and Father Thomas McCabe concelebrate Mass for the Missionaries of Charity in the sisters' chapel in San Felix, Venezuela.

Missionaries of Charity, from several continents, sing at Mass in their chapel in San Felix, Venezuela.

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Fooling the bishop!

September 30, 2010

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Bishop Lee Piche offers a hand to stabilize a man walking in a home for abandoned elderly men. The bishop soon found he was the victim of a ruse: the man who appeared to be losing his balance was pretending, and when a Missionary of Charity called him on it, the sly senior winked.

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Mother Teresa’s nuns bring love to Venezuela

September 30, 2010

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Sister Laura Cecilia leads five other Missionaries of Charity in caring for those dying of AIDS and abandoned elderly men in a barrio in San Felilx, Venezuela. The sisters also teach children to help bring them up to speed to be able to attend regular school.

Sister Laura Cecilia’s face sparkles with the joy of life, perhaps not what you might expect from one who runs a hospice for AIDS sufferers and a home for abandoned elderly men.

On the second day of our visit to the Venezuela parish where priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have served for 40 years, she and five other Missionaries of Charity made room for us Minnesota visitors in the tiny room that’s their chapel this morning. The perspiration dripped off our North American faces, but the heat and humidity — even at a 7  a.m. Mass — didn’t seem to phase the women who are following in the footsteps of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Bishop Lee Piche presided. He noted how much he appreciated being able to lead our prayer in English, since that’s the main language of Mother Teresa’s order and since he’s still working on his Spanish.

Afterward the bishop actually got along pretty well understanding the Spanish-speaking AIDS patients and “grandfathers” — that’s what the Missionaries of Charity call the abandoned elderly in their care — when Sister Laura Cecilia gave us a tour of their facility in a crowded barrio in San Felix.

A hospice full of life

The Missionaries of Charity have served the poorest of the poor there for 12 years now, and although death is never far off in the work the sisters do, the plant-laden inner court of the hospice is filled with the sounds of chirping parakeets, crowing roosters, clucking chichens and a parrot that says “Hola.” Grapes grow on vines draped above for shade, patients roll around in wheelchairs, and “grandfathers” are quick to wish you a “Buenas dias” and reach to shake your hand.

One even pulled a fast-one on our bishop.

An elderly man with a cane who was creeping along the inner pathway seemed to be losing his balance, and our ever-helpful auxiliary bishop reached out and steadied him, helping him walk until there was a place for him to get a hand-hold.

“He’s pretending!” Sister Laura Cecilia said. And sure enough, the sly old grandfather winked. He was just looking for attention, and he found the perfect sympathetic foil!

How can these nuns do it?

I couldn’t help but ask this smiling nun why she does what she does, caring for those that society can’t get far enough away from, taking in those even their families don’t want, and giving them all the love you would give to the person you loved the most.

“It’s for Jesus,” she said simply.

“I have realized that Jesus hides himself in the disguises of these gentlemen. Since I believe that God loves everyone, then God loves them, and that means they are of great value, even though society may not value them at all and shows them no dignity. It is such a privilege to help them recover that dignity.”

Of course, despite her smile, Sister Laura Cecilia said there are trying times in the kind of mission work she and her sisters do with the men, especially when they are dying and cannot be helped.

“Many times they get angry and depressed, and in their anger and frustration they throw things at you. And that’s when I remember what Mother said: ‘Love until it hurts.'”

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Hola from Venezuela

September 29, 2010


Bishop Lee Piche arrived in San Felix, Venezuela, today, Wednesday, with a group of Minnesotans ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our archdiocesan mission to this South American country.

Several St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocesan priests who have served here over the past four decades have come down too to be part of the anniversary festivities.

Father Dennis Dempsey was made to feel right at home as he walked from the rectory the two or three blocks to Jesucristo Resucitado Church.

Hearing voices in the courtyard of one of the homes in the Guaipara barrio, he shouted hello, and the folks there shouted “Hola Padre Denny.”

They recognized their former priest right away and told him how glad they were to see him.

How long has it been since you worked here? I asked Father Dempsey.

“Twelve years.”

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Jackie Robinson, Lucy and the quest for a better tomorrow

September 28, 2010


As two events draw near — Major League Baseball’s playoffs and the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — I thought this might be a good time to revisit a column from a few years back that connected the great American pasttime with something many will need to deal with  — change. — bob z

 By Bob Zyskowski

Jackie Robinson, more than half a century ago, knocked out one half of an analysis that defines my belief about life.

The other half of the definition comes from Lucy, the dark-haired girl in the Charles Schulz cartoon strip “Peanuts.”

Robinson, the Hall of Fame ballplayer who was the first black to play in the Major Leagues, said back in 1950 that he was given that opportunity “because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past to discover the truth of today, and perhaps find the greatness of tomorrow.”

In other words, we can change.

Lucy, however, pitched the curve ball.

In the first panel of a cartoon she says that nothing happens until someone changes.

Linus responds in the next panel: “But I have changed.”

Lucy’s retorts in the final panel: “I meant for the better.”

Can we ever know?

That’s the dilemma I keep bumping into today.

In our country.

In our workplaces.

In our communities.

In our church.

We have the potential to change, but we’re uncertain if the change will be for the better.

I’m not sure we can know.

But should not knowing – not being absolutely certain of the consequences – freeze us from ever allowing ourselves the opportunity to improve? Should it prevent us from the opportunity to – as Jackie Robinson said – find greatness?

 Who needs power windows?

Back in the 1970s, when our young family was forced to look for a new car, finances dictated that we settle for basic transportation. No bells or whistles.

Power windows?

What for? I never had a problem rolling them up before.

Skip ahead 30 years. Middle son is out in the work world and needs a car.

He sees an ad in the paper for what looks like a good deal and asks me to go with him to check it out.

The advertised car is definitely basic transportation.

It’s a case-study of the bait-and-switch sales technique.

The car comes with n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

No air conditioning.

No power steering.

Not even a radio.

And windows you have to roll up and down manually.

I recommend against buying the car.

The clincher was the windows.

 Accept conditions – or change them

Other changes in our lives and our society haven’t worked out as well as power windows on automobiles.

To take just one example, the pre-Sexual Revolution mindset that treated human sexuality as “dirty” was less than healthy in denying the positive qualities of this great gift from God; however, some of the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – sex without commitment, using others to sate one’s own sexual appetite, abortion, single parents and children in poverty, sexually transmitted disease – are evidence that change can sometimes go too far.

That some change goes wrong, however, cannot be allowed to paralyze us into accepting a situation that can be improved.

Author Denis Waitley once wrote, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

Several generations earlier, Catholic commentator G.K.Chesterton skewered hard-liners on both sides of the change/no change issue:

“The whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

 Start with a question mark

A mentor for me was the late Archbishop John R. Roach. A former president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops who for 20 years led the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he was asked once if his was a “liberal” diocese.

“I don’t know if we’re liberal or not,” Archbishop Roach answered, “but we move.”

If the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results, the sane choice may very well be to move, to do some things differently than the way we’ve done them in the past.

From my perspective, that doesn’t mean change for change’s sake. As cartoonist Schulz says through Lucy, the goal needs to be change for the better.

But staying the course when the course is not leading to satisfactory results, being bound by tradition when traditional ways aren’t working any longer, that’s just as wrong as taking change too far.

Start with a question mark, Bertrand Russell suggested.

The philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning writer offered, “In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

We need to do that questioning regularly, no matter where on the ideological spectrum our personal feelings lie.

A mover if not a liberal, Archbishop Roach told of forcing himself to question his own thinking. He was among the leaders in promoting the approval of the document that would become the landmark 1983 U.S. Bishops “Peace Pastoral,” but Archbishop Roach said he could never persuade New Orleans Archbishop Phillip Hannan that the pastoral was right.

“I had to ask myself, does he see something I don’t see?” Archbishop Roach said.

 Toward a better future

We’re in that situation with any number of issues in our lives, and especially in our church: The failure to hold onto teens and young adults who were raised in the faith is one example; our stewardship of parishes and schools is another. Keeping a pat hand isn’t the answer. Some of the things we are doing just aren’t working.

Neither is going back to the way things used to be. A century ago another archbishop of St. Paul proclaimed the fault in the kind of thinking that would have us to revert to the way things have been done in the past.

“I see no backward voyage across the sea of time,” Archbishop John Ireland said. “I will forever press forward. I believe that God intends the present to be better than the past, and the future to be better than the present.”

So we can change, and we must.

We may make mistakes when we do, and we may fail at changing for the better.

But doing nothing is failure just the same; it is failure to seize the opportunity to improve.

And perhaps to find greatness.

 Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit.

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Equipment failure

September 28, 2010

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Before each hunting season, I always make it a point to test my firearms and make sure they are operating smoothly and firing accurately. I also do it for others, like my kids and, this year, my brother, Paul.

I took his 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun to my gun club to sight it in over the weekend. The previous time, we couldn’t get it zeroed in, so I went back to try again. I had the same problem, so I took it to a gunsmith.

In a matter of seconds, he  had the problem diagnosed. There was a piece loose that attaches to the barrel and serves as the scope mount. It’s called a cantilever and the gunsmith was able to wiggle it from side to side. That explains the problem because it was the left/right adjustment (called the “windage”) that was off. The up/down adjustment (called “elevation”) was fine. In fact, I had that adjusted just where I wanted it.

The gunsmith said it’s an easy fix, and he’ll have it ready by the end of this week. So, when we take it out to the range over the weekend, we should get it zeroed, and Paul will be ready for the November firearms deer opener.

I also was able to sight in my son’s .308 caliber rifle. It was shooting about an inch low at 100 yards, and I brought it up to about an inch high. That should make it good out to about 200 yards before the bullet starts dropping below the bullseye.

This is the gun I’m hoping to have my son, William, use for his youth deer hunt in Wisconsin Oct. 9 and 10. It’s the lightest caliber rifle we have, beyond a .22. Hopefully, the recoil won’t bother him. Ideally, I’d like to have a .223 or .243 caliber. When he goes out to Montana in late November, Grandpa Bob Guditis should have one of these waiting for him to use.

Another important task was continuing to help my dad get ready for his disabled veterans deer hunt at Camp Ripley, which starts next Wednesday. I took him out to the range as well, and had him shoot a .22 at a cutout deer target with the vital areas (heart, lungs, liver) marked. I think that is a good step up from just a standard target because it helps people learn where to aim at a deer, then see if their shots hit the vital area.

My dad took five shots with a .22 and one each with my 12-gauge and my son’s 20-gauge, which he will use as a backup to my 12-gauge. All of his shots hit the vital area, which tells me dad is ready to hunt. He has been practicing aiming at the target at home, and it shows. I’m confident he’ll be able to make a kill shot on a deer.

If he is successful, he will tag his first deer ever at age 89. I’ll bet there aren’t too many hunters who bag their first deer at that age. Maybe, he’ll be the first.

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Great tips for photographing cities

September 21, 2010


I’ve always admired the photographers for National Geographic magazine. They have produced some of the most spectacular photography in print and on the Web. A lot of their work is documenting life in cities around the world. Check out their photo gallery: How to Take Photos of Cities. Each photo has a great tip, click on the photo to see the tip. We might not all be magazine photographers, but we can still get great photos of cities we visit! Here are a couple of favorites from my travels. The first one is The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls from a trip to Rome and the second is the Cathedral in Ulm, Germany.


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Fun at the Fair

September 20, 2010

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One of my favorite outdoor events took place over the weekend — the Nativity County Fair. A few years ago, I became the official photographer of the event, which takes place at my parish, Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul.

I was able to get to the fair with my camera all three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Way back in June, the priests at the parish started praying for good weather. And, God answered their prayers. It was mostly cool, with just a few raindrops, but nothing that came even close to chasing people away.

In fact, right at the end of the outdoor Mass on Sunday, the sun poked through and stayed out the rest of the day. We couldn’t have asked for better. There were smiles and fun everywhere, and the smell of delicious food filled the air.

It’s a privilege to be able to capture the sights of the fair every year, and I’m grateful and humbled that the folks in charge continue to ask me to serve in this capacity. I’m so glad I have a meaningful way to use my gift of photography.

If only the Vikings had won later that day when I returned home, the weekend would have been about perfect.

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Follow the editorial staff on Twitter

September 16, 2010


twitterBe sure to check out our editorial staff on Twitter.

We’ve even made a Twitter list to make it easier 😉

Bob Zyskowski – @zyskowskir

Joe Towalski – @towalskij

Dave Hrbacek – @FaithOutdoors

Julie Carroll – @carrollj

Maria Wiering – @mariawiering

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Website Changes

September 14, 2010


It’s been 2-years since we last re-designed The Catholic Spirit website – and you may be wondering why we did, considering the recent Catholic Press Association award we won for it. Behind the scenes however, there were some significant technical considerations that prompted the change, and it was also time for us to create a more modern design.

Here are just a few of the improvements you’ll find on the site:

  • Increased use of social media and social networks. It’s no secret that social networks (e.g. FaceBook & Twitter) have revolutionized the web, and we want to make it easier for you to interact with our site in a way that is conducive to this new reality. You’ll find links to follow our social network presence and also share any article with a wide-range of social networks.
  • Related Content. Using our ‘Topic Tags’ and ‘Related Articles’ links, you’ll be able to find more relevant content on the site.
  • Better ‘readability.’ We’ve made it a focus to make the new site easier to read.
  • Larger and more photographs and images.
  • Optimized for smart-phones. Droid and iPhone visitors will see the website in a way better-suited to small screens.
  • Read the current PRINT version on the web.

Change is difficult

We understand that not everyone enjoys change and some may not like the new changes we’ve made. We hope you’ll give it a try, and if you have suggestions on how we can improve the experience, feel free to send us an email at

Where can I find…?

All of our website content from September 2008 through September 2010 can now be found on the ‘old’ version of our website:

We use a custom search engine from Google to help you find articles on our website, but please be patient – it might take a couple days for the changes to take effect.

Looking for something from our print archives?

What next?

We’re glad you asked! Our website is a continual work-in-progress, and you can look forward to many new features on this site – and others – over the coming days and weeks. We just launched the MN Catholic Directory and we also have plans to this COMMUNITY site.

Lastly, if you’d like to stay current on changes at and all the local news and events in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, you can:

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