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University of MN college students to participate in Alaska mission trip

April 7, 2016

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Our whole group at the Matanuska Glacier

Our whole group at the Matanuska Glacier

It is astounding to note how one week can play such a crucial part in your life and be so impactful. For most of us, we are bustling around day to day from our jobs, classes, or other obligations that take up so much of our attention and time. As students at the University of Minnesota, this is even more evident as we try to balance a variety of activities in our already packed schedules. With spring break passing, many students took the week to go down south and relax without the worries of school and left their responsibilities in Minnesota.  Instead of scurrying to the warmth, however, 16 students along with 3 mission leaders from Saint Paul’s Outreach (SPO) ventured off to Anchorage, Alaska to serve on a mission trip.

Upon entering Anchorage and being astounded by the beauty every day, you couldn’t help but notice the immense peace that was radiating from every angle of the city. However, starkly contrasting to this beauty was the overwhelming amount of people who were out on the streets, without homes, and sometimes without knowledge of where they would find their next meal.  It was an eye-opening experience to witness such beauty and tragedy juxtaposed in such an overpowering way. Though difficult to witness these hardships, I was encouraged to know that we were helping to alleviate some of these problems throughout our week in Anchorage. While on our trip, we had the opportunity to work with three different places, with the help of Catholic Social Services. These included Claire House, Brother Francis Shelter, and Beans Café.

Half of our group with the director of bean's cafe kitchen... Bean's is essentially a soup kitchen that serves both breakfast and lunch everyday.

Half of our group with the director of bean’s cafe kitchen… Bean’s is essentially a soup kitchen that serves both breakfast and lunch everyday.

While at Claire House, a home providing shelter and meals for homeless mothers and their children, we were able to spend a few hours each day with the children.  Though the ages ranged among the children, we were all able to match up with a few of them to create relationships, giving us the opportunity to make them feel loved and comforted. No words can describe the feeling of seeing these tiny little faces light up when we walked in the door. Though they were shy at first, by the end of the week, it was truly heartbreaking having to walk out of these children’s lives.

Another organization that we had the chance to work at a few times was Brother Francis Shelter. Though we mainly were in charge of helping in their spring-cleaning efforts (picking up garbage around the facility and cleaning some of the rooms) we were also privileged with the opportunity to speak to many of the people who were in and out of the shelter. Some of these people were frequent visitors, while others had just been struggling for a few weeks. It was incredible to hear the stories they had to share, as they often didn’t have the opportunity to voice their thoughts. A big take away for me was to understand how many different backgrounds these individuals had, and all the many different circumstances they came from. As Andrew reiterated to us throughout the trip, these people were all like us, they were our brothers and sisters, yet somehow they ended up in these circumstances while we were fortunate enough to not. It’s easy for us to look at these people, but it’s something more altogether to really see and appreciate them, something that is not often accomplished.

The last organization we served at was Bean’s Café, which serves breakfast and lunch to those who need meals. On a regular basis, this place is able to feed anywhere from 150 to 350 people. Because Brother Francis Shelter is only able to provide dinner to its residents, Bean’s Café is an opportunity for these individuals to get their other two meals taken care of. Thanks to the large donations from other organizations and people, Beans Café is able to provide these nutritious meals, largely due to their great staff and helpers. It was an amazing experience being able to put these meals together and to provide some positive faces for the homeless individuals, especially because they were all going through so much. Although they shared their thanks, it was truly us who were impacted, catching a glimpse of the people who need our help and who it is our duty to serve.

Our whole group making cookies with homeless children at Catholic Service's Clare House for homeless mothers and their children

Our whole group making cookies with homeless children at Catholic Service’s Clare House for homeless mothers and their children

In spite of working with these great organizations, the service opportunity that perhaps was the most impactful and stood out throughout this trip was our encounter with the homeless on the streets. Packing our lunches for the day, we split up into groups of three and brought two extra lunches with us. We went out into the streets of the city, each group walking around and encountering Christ in His people as we listened to the stories told and shared our food with our brothers and sisters.  Each encounter that we had was both unique and humbling, as we were able to see them for who they were, instead of ignoring them or avoiding them like most of the surrounding community did. Moreover, this experience challenged each of us, since this was something we could easily do back home in Minnesota where a comparably large community of homeless people live on the streets looking for hospitality.

Along with the service we accomplished, there was a tremendous emphasis on our prayer and spiritual life while in Alaska. As many know, entering a huge college campus can be difficult while trying to maintain your faith and stay true to our values. By surrounding ourselves in a community that shared our faith, and by prioritizing the holy sacraments throughout the week, we were able to grow in our relationship with the Lord in a deeper and more meaningful context. Much of this was due to our rigorous routine, which consisted of going to morning mass every day, followed by adoration. The rest of the day was filled with various quiet times to pray, along with group discussions in which we explored topics such as abortion and Theology of the Body, as we tried to relate these scrutinized topics into our daily college lives.

By surrounding one another in this open community filled with discussion, prayer, and silent adoration, we were able to refocus our lives and reevaluate our relationship with Christ. This was further made possible by our frequent encounter with the beauty that surrounded us each day. Just by waking up to the wondrous view of the mountains, we were in awe of the creation that the Lord blessed us with. Through our various excursions to Flat Top Mountain, the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, and Matanuska Glacier, we were truly astounded by the tangible encounter of God’s grace through His creation. By the end of the week, we all had been fully engaging in our faith in a way that set a foundation for ourselves for the upcoming weeks.

Half our group working at Br. Francis Shelter. We went around and did some "spring cleaning" outside, since a lot of garbage accumulates outside of it on account of the homeless.

Half our group working at Br. Francis Shelter. We went around and did some “spring cleaning” outside, since a lot of garbage accumulates outside of it on account of the homeless.

Finally, in addition to the service and prayer throughout the week in Alaska, what truly made this experience so satisfying and fulfilling was the community that formed throughout the trip. Coming into the trip, we were for the most part strangers to each other. Though some of us may have known one or two people, it was a trip into an unknown environment surrounded by unfamiliar people. That being said, we were the furthest thing from strangers when leaving this beautiful place.

It is incredible how fast we all came together as one. Now some of this was due to our close-knit quarters, but it was mostly a result of delving into our mission trip full throttle and taking advantage of the time we all had together. By entering into prayer together, by participating in service together, and by intentionally spending meals and other free time together we were able to develop meaningful relationships. A highlight of this time together was our daily family style dinners and going through the high points, low points, and our “God” moments, which were moments where we truly experienced or appreciated God’s presence. Through this sharing of food and memories, we were able to come together in a deeper community. Having this strong community built upon our shared faith helped make the transition back into our campus life that much easier, as we knew that we were still surrounded by such a great Catholic outlet. It was evident that these were people we could continue to count on even if we were not seeing each other every minute of every day from here on out.

So while we may have spent our spring break in an atypical destination, I can confidently say that the experience we all had on this mission trip truly helped mold and change us for the better. We were offered the chance to experience service, to engage more fully in our faith, and to create a solid Catholic community, all of which will continue to be helpful to us back in our every day lives at the University of Minnesota. We were blessed with amazing views, amazing people, and amazing opportunities to grow closer to God and to find out each of our individual vocations.

Bernadette Prickel is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota

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Double Helping: all-you-can-eat fish or the whole enchilada

April 1, 2016

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St. Matthew’s

stm

Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Matthew’s in St. Paul has been serving fish on Lenten Fridays for years. And a little bit of digging in ecclesiastical history finds St. Matt’s as one of the original daughter churches of the oldest church in St. Paul (Assumption), and one that predates the elevation of the diocese of St. Paul to an archdiocese by two years. With a short trip south of downtown St. Paul, you can see why they’ve been bringing in and returning happy guests. A sign on Hall Avenue sends you nearly to the door, where the courtyard captures the scent of fried goodness coming from the Social Hall.

Fish

St. Matthew’s features an all-you-can-eat banquet. And although you can serve yourself a heaping bowl of cole slaw, roll and butter from the central service table, your fish, fresh crisp green beans, and baked potato is brought to you at your table, not cafeteria-style handout. Baked or fried, it’s all good. (3 fish)

Service

As the only fish fry Fish Daddy visited with plated service, St. Matt’s volunteers were on top of all the comings and goings at the tables, asking customers for baked or fried fish (rumor had it there was a non-fish option, but after the heavenly courtyard aroma, it wasn’t in the cards). Once served, you could avail yourself of water coffee, or milk, or for a small amount, a glass of beer or wine at the bar. Small frys were about, clearing plates and tables, and a server wasn’t far away, returning with seconds for those who requested it. And while our tablemates had the inside scoop on an alternate dessert, a refreshing cup of vanilla ice cream was a unique and tasty finish to the meal. (4 fish)

Fishers of People

St. Matthew’s pastor, Fr. James Adams, was visiting with parishioners and guests at every table. Not only did our tablemates strike up a conversation about St. Matt’s, Fr. James encouraged us to return for Holy Week services as well. Their website (don’t forget the hyphen) was a tad out of date, but it didn’t take long to find the bulletin, and discover that St. Matthew’s is a clustered parish with nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Michael. Holy Week events cross all three locations, with Fr. Adams and Fr. Brinkman serving the faithful. (2 fish)

Value

$11 per person, 65+, $10, 5-12, $6, under 5 free. And they are also serving on Good Friday. But there’s more to value when your sister parish is right down the road, and plattering endless enchiladas with rice and beans.  And Fish Daddy had a hungry halibut at home. Shall we begin again? (3 fish)


 

Our Lady of Guadalupe

olg

Courtesy Fish Daddy

If you’re looking for conventional, leave your fish breath and baked potato at the door. Our Lady of Guadalupe feasts on an enchilada dinner on Lenten Fridays, and from the looks of the social hall, they have a dedicated following.

Fish

Nope. Enchilada Dinner!

Our Lady of Guadalupe serves Lenten enchilada dinner every Friday in Lent, including Good Friday. Whether you’re choosing the large dinner three cheese and onion enchiladas with rice, beans, drink and dessert, or the small one-enchilada offering, you’ll find a full plate of zesty goodness. (3 enchiladas)

Service

Courtesy Fish Daddy

Courtesy Fish Daddy

Although I didn’t opt for a second seated meal, An OLG volunteer quickly served my takeout meal with a smile. I peeked in the kitchen before leaving, and saw a small cadre of cooks and an enormous tray of steaming enchiladas ready to be served. Feeding a hungry crew? You can take out a dozen for $20. (3 enchiladas)

Fishers of People

You won’t go far at OLG without seeing a statue or picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from the fervent rosary in progress at the OLG altar, to the social hall, to the parish office hallways. They offer bilingual Masses, as well as faith formation. (3 enchiladas)

Value

Margaritas con mis enchiladas? Es posible? Si. And if there hadn’t been three austere Lenten crosses gracing the parquet middle of the social hall, you can be sure there would have been dancing, too. (3 enchiladas) Large dinner (3 enchiladas, rice, beans, and dessert) $10; Small (1 enchilada, rice, beans, and dessert) $6.  And they take credit cards ! (4 enchiladas)

St. Matthew’s 490 Hall Ave., St. Paul 952-835-7101. st-matts.org

Our Lady of Guadalupe 401 Concord St., St. Paul 651-228-0506 olgspchurch.com

St. Michael’s 331 Hurley St. E, West St. Paul 651-457-2334 stmichaelwsp.org


If you’ve enjoyed the Lenten Fish Fry reviews be sure to like Catholic Hotdish on Facebook. And advertise your fish fry event in the Catholic Spirit in 2017. Have a Spirit-filled Holy Week and a Blessed Easter!

Keep in touch at CatholicSpirit@archspm.org

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St. Edward fish fry raises funds for youth group trip

March 17, 2016

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sted

St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Bloomington is St. Edward’s. They don’t pull out the deep fryers every week in Lent like some of the previous parishes Fish Daddy visited. In fact, if you’re looking for a recommendation to visit St. Edward’s Fish Fry, you’ll actually have to wait until next year. But the event raised awareness and funds for a unique summer experience for the active St. Edward’s youth group.

Fish

St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. (2 fish)

Service

A hearty welcome at the entrance table, along with plenty of table service here, from the coffee and beverage refillers to the plate clearers. And St. Ed’s also had a nice guitar accompaniment with dinner, compliments of the youth group. And if you feel the need to sneak back for that second cookie or delicious slice of cake at the dessert table, you weren’t the only one. (3 fish)

Fishers of people

There are plenty of Lenten offerings at the church of St. Edward’s, from the post-food Stations of the Cross, to rosaries on Monday evenings and Potluck and Palm Braiding on Wednesday March 16. Visit their website to find out what’s going on for Holy Week, too.

The St. Edward’s youth group was well on their way to raising funds for their trip to Heifer Ranch in Perrysville, Arkansas. There, they will learn about sustainable solutions for hunger, poverty, and the environment. (3 fish)

Value

$35/family; $12 per person. Under 7 free. The family rate has put the smallest dent in Fish Daddy’s family wallet this Fish Fry Lent, but a repeat performance here won’t come until 2017. Be sure to check the listings at http://www.thcatholicspirit.com early in Lent to make sure you don’t miss out on that once-a-Lent fish fry. (3 fish)

St. Edward’s 9401 Nesbitt Ave S., Bloomington 952-835-7101. http://stedwardschurch.org

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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St. Albert the Great the ‘State Fair’ of fish fries

March 8, 2016

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St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

St. Albert the Great

If you like your Fish Fries like your State Fairs, you’ll find a home at St. Albert the Great. Father Joe Gillespie is Pastor and chief MC during Fridays in Lent at St. Albert the Great, and if he’s not calling your 50-50 number or giving a local TV interview, he’ll be telling you the story of the parish’s namesake saint. Fish Daddy arrived close to start time, and as I wound up the stairs, through the church, and into the Social Hall, before seeing a line, I quickly realized the hungrier you are, the earlier you need arrive. They seat thousands each week (one volunteer recounted 1600 one Friday evening last year with food still going at 8 p.m., and a packed coverall bingo game down the hall in the gym). With balloons on every table, and volunteers with top-hats or Mardi Gras crowns, these are clearly your street dance-visiting neighbors.

Fish

St. Albert the Great's hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great’s hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. A nice touch was a small ramekin of tomato basil soup or potato lobster chowder. Save room for the dessert tables, where you can choose the rich brownie bombs, or palate-clearing watermelon cubes. Or both. Pies, bars, cookies, and cakes made for some tough decisions. (3 fish)

Service

Aproned volunteers were chatty as they cleared a plate, sold you a 50-50 ticket, or just hollered and clapped a neighbor on the back. There were plenty of Risen Christ students about as well, helping with beverages, plates, or being gophers for whatever occasion. If it all seems too lively, you can make your way back to the church, where latecomers are serenaded with music, and wait for their “group letters” to be called for seating. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Stations precede the festivities on Fridays 3:15-3:45, but be sure to make it back on Sunday night for a Lenten movie series and discussion starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday March 11 and 20. And while you missed Dr. Art Zannoni’s Friday lectures earlier in Lent, you can make reparations by bringing a pair of new socks for the homeless to St. Albert the Great’s Potluck on Holy Thursday at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m., with an optional foot-washing. (3 fish).

Value

$11 adults, 65+ $10, youth 5-12, $5, and under 5 free. St. Albert the Great parishioners know how to put the fun in fundraise, so be ready! From Bingo to Silent Auction to 50-50, to drawings for goods and support for the youth group’s trip to Ecuador, it’s not hard to let a few dollars slip out of your pocket and serve others. (4 fish).

St. Albert the Great 2836 33rd Ave S., Minneapolis 612-724-3643. http://www.saintalbertthegreat.org/

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Tasty fish an ‘Epiphany’ at Coon Rapids parish

March 2, 2016

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epiphany1

“It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper,” writes Fish Daddy of his Feb. 26 fish fry dinner at Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

From the minute Fish Daddy approached the church hall door, and later took the tray from the PTO volunteer, whiffs of both tasty fish and parochial school upbringing hung in the air. It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper. Pink lemonade in a Styrofoam cup and a side of applesauce had me captivated. But that wasn’t all. With the size of the tray, it was unlikely anyone would need seconds.

Fish

Epiphany served up two Guinness-battered fish and the craic to go with it. The optional baked fish or non-Guinness-battered was also excellent, so I heard, as well as the choice of tater tots, straight-up cabbagey slaw, breadstick or roll, dessert tray selection and beverage. Fish Daddy’s guests found the potato a bit underdone. Epiphany’s cooks fire up a curveball, too. Cheese pizza is on the menu, specially for the 10 and under crowd. (2 fish)

Service

Students' artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany's fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Students’ artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany’s fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Two lines made the hungry dinner crowd at ease, and plenty of PTO help from serving to cleaning to offering refills on coffee, water, or lemonade made the meal go down smoothly. Pleasant young ladies and gents came by several times. Sixteen half cafeteria-length tables with two overflow rooms made for ample comfort, with well over a hundred guests seated during my stay. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Epiphany’s Stations of the Cross were scheduled following dinner at 7 p.m., and their adoration chapel is advertised as 24/7. There were several Lenten devotion notices well placed either in the church hall or on the website. The 3-day Parish Mission with Fr. Mike Schmitz is scheduled for March 7-9, and the Easter Cantata is on 7 p.m. March 18 and 1 p.m. March 19. And that’s just Lent. Father Thomas Dufner and his parish team offer plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and spiritually nourished (4 fish).

Value

A thrifty $10 gets you in the door, with youth and seniors paying $6, and under 5 free (3 fish).

Epiphany parishioners are clearly proud of their youth. From the many pictures on the website to pint-sized helpers to young artists who created many personalized colored placemats with fish themes, this parish rings out with parochial spirit.

And if you didn’t hear the national buzz around the snow altar built on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the help of some of the young adults of Epiphany, then check out the Jan. 23 Catholic Spirit article. Now that’s a catch!

Epiphany 1900 111th Ave NW, Coon Rapids. http://www.epiphanymn.org. 763-755-1020.

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? Email CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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The ‘Wild Goose’ is on the loose: Encountering the Holy Spirit

February 26, 2016

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Photo/Hickory Hardscrabble Licensed Under Creative Commons

Photo/Hickory Hardscrabble Licensed Under Creative Commons

“Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit?”

Not wanting to appear clueless (although I was!), I responded with a strong, “Yes.”

Not wanting to lie to a priest, I quickly changed my response to, “Um, I think so. . . Well, I’m not sure.”

That was nearly 20 years ago.

It was the fall of 1996 and I was a college freshman at Franciscan University sitting in a parlor in the friary meeting with Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka for the very first time. It seemed like such a personal question to be asking on our first encounter, but once you get to know Father Dave, you quickly learn he isn’t shy when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Upon further discussion (and the admission that I had no idea what he was talking about), I realized I certainly had intimate encounters with the Holy Spirit prior to that moment, but I had never heard the term “baptism in the Holy Spirit” before. Thus began my journey of a deeper, more intentional relationship with the Holy Spirit in my life.

Father Dave first taught me it is only by the Holy Spirit that we are able to pray (see Romans 8:26) which completely changed the way I enter into prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit” is how I start all my prayer times now and are the first words off my lips before reading Scripture.

Pivonka-Photo

Father Dave Pivonka, TOR

When I think of Father Dave I can’t help but think of the Holy Spirit because he’s so full of it.” Full of the Holy Spirit, I mean. So when I found out he was developing a series on the Holy Spirit, I was filled with great joy and excitement. Father Dave is one of the most sought after preachers and is an excellent teacher. I have been waiting with eager anticipation for the release of this series since he first made mention of it. The best part is that the series is totally free and easily accessible online.

Leave it to Father Dave to learn that the Celts called the Holy Spirit “The Wild Goose” and come up with a clever, catchy name to grab people’s attention. The title alone made me want to learn more. When I asked him why he decided to do the series, Father Dave said, “The idea was pretty basic, more people need to know about the Holy Spirit. I wanted to do something that would be engaging, beautiful and welcoming. I think that’s what the videos are. The response has been overwhelming.”

Over the course years, Father Dave has taught me about the power and gentleness of the Holy Spirit, but I’m a slow learner. I mean a really slow learner. It’s almost 20 years later and I’m just starting to “get it.” However, I am now convinced of the necessity of a relationship with the Holy Spirit in order to fully live out my faith.

This series in particular has reminded me that the Holy Spirit meets us right where we are at. Gentle or booming; whatever we need. A soft breeze or blazing tongues of fire or somewhere in between. It has also made me a better a hospice nurse. It reminded me that the Holy Spirit will give me the words to speak (see Luke 12:12) during difficult discussions with patients and their loved ones; often I will silently pray, “Come Holy Spirit” during these difficult moments and the words just come. That’s not me. That’s the Holy Spirit.

In recent weeks, I found myself in situations at work where I may have otherwise become frazzled, but was able to surrender those moments to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask for wisdom and peace. It has revolutionized the way I interact with my patients and their loved ones because I am reminded that I am not the one in control, the Holy Spirit is alive and active; present with me and my patients, always leading the way. For those who are open to it, the Holy Spirit has also given me the courage to pray with my dying patients and their loved ones as they prepare to leave this world and enter into the next.

If you want to live in greater freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit, check out this series. It does not disappoint!

The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

Who: The series is great for newbies or those who already have an established relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is appropriate for teens or adults.

What: A free online series on the Holy Spirit written by Father Dave Pivonka, TOR and produced by 4PM Media

When: Anytime! It’s available online 24/7.

Where: Wherever you have access to the Internet.

Why: To grow in your faith!

How: Each segment includes a video along with reflections, study guide questions and prayers.

Or you can do it the way I do: via Skype. I have a dear friend in Australia. We watch the videos independently and then discuss via Skype. We begin and end with a prayer to the Holy Spirit and in between discuss the study guide questions provided. The videos have rekindled my desire for a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit and have helped me be more mindful of the Holy Spirit in my daily life.

The Challenge: Simply watch the first video called “God’s Love Poured Out.” I’m convinced you’ll be hooked!

Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of your love!

Gina Barthel is a registered nurse who currently serves in hospice care and is the proud, self-proclaimed “favorite aunt” to 25 nieces and nephews. She is a parishioner of St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael, MN.

 

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Guardian Angels a ‘big fish’ in fish fry bowl

February 23, 2016

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Guardian Angels knows how to fill a plate, Fish Daddy found on his Feb. 19 visit. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Guardian Angels knows how to fill a plate, Fish Daddy found on his Feb. 19 visit. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

Guardian Angels, Oakdale

If you’ve ever noticed the iconic steepled church on the hill after traveling westward into Minnesota from Wisconsin on I-94, you’ve seen Guardian Angels church. But if that’s all you’ve seen of the parish, like Fish Daddy, you ain’t seen the half of it. The parking lot was my first clue. Not unlike what I might find at a local hotspot. Cars everywhere, long walk to the door. Fish Daddy even wondered if neighbor Best Buy was taking some of the parking spots. More likely to be the other way round. When I saw the line, I had a flashback to concert ticket lines from my college days, where you bring a deck of cards. Prepare to be amazed at the spread the Guardian Angels Men’s Club puts on.

Fish

Guardian Angels serves up a generous helping of fried or baked cod, but it’s far from fish on a dish. My plate was adorned with baby red potatoes with a delicate coating, crisp sautéed green beans with trillion-shaped red peppers, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and — wait, I’m out of room on the plate. The dessert deserves its own sentence: It’s a petite, crenellated toasted tart shell filled with chocolate mousse and a berry. Clearly not your average fish fry. Why? The Chef. John Schiltz, chef-owner of the nearby Lake Elmo Inn, brings his restaurateur skills to the table for the parish, to delicious effect. And when you have the cuisine and élan of the Lake Elmo Inn on your bench, not much is left to chance. (four fish)

Service

From the volunteer who opened the door, to those who rolled out dinner tickets, to the small army of volunteers festooned in Guardian Angels-themed fish dinner shirts, (not fish fry, as their tagline goes) it was clear this was a professional operation. With seating for about 400, there were helpers for coffee and soda, helpers for setting, helpers for clearing, helpers for dishing, a kitchen stuffed with food prep sous chefs, helpers for everything — except making the line go faster. And when that’s your only problem (it was at least a half-hour from door to table, and probably longer the later your arrival), then you have clearly mastered culinary management, and the limiting factor is your inability to open another Guardian Angels location! (three fish: service; one fish: wait time)

Fishers of men

Pastor Father Rodger Bauman was about, chatting with parishioners and nearly lost in the throng, which filled Peter O’Neill Hall and two overflow rooms. After the dinner, the parish prays Stations of the Cross, complete with ASL interpreter. It’s a fitting end to the evening, but you’ll want to return for the Lenten vespers service 7 p.m. March 6. They also have a healing service/sacrament of the sick 3 p.m. Feb 28. (three fish)

Value

A hearty meal for those of us who have fasted on Friday is welcome, and the price matches the presentation. $13 gets those over 13 in the door, and take $3 off if you’re over 65. Youth 6-12 pay $6, and the under 5 crowd is always free. You can take out your fish as well. Yep, there’s a separate team for that, too. (three fish)

Guardian Angels is clearly a big fish in the sea of fish fries. And would you believe Lenten schedules on table napkin dispensers? They’ve also got a snappy website with not only the Lenten and Easter schedule, but events throughout the year. If you’re looking for a feast to break the fast, you only have two more chances: March 4 and March 18; 4:30-7 p.m.. Get there early, and let me know how your card game comes out as well!

Details

Guardian-angels.org. 8260 4th St. N., Oakdale, MN 55128. 651-738-2223

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Hungry for more? Fish Daddy reviews the fish fry at Holy Cross, Minneapolis

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Local priest describes trip to Rome to become missionary of mercy

February 19, 2016

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Father John Ubel greets Pope Francis during his trip to Rome.

Father John Ubel greets Pope Francis during his trip to Rome.

By Father John Ubel

My brief trip to Rome began with a plethora of questions from an inquisitive Jewish woman sitting next to me on the flight from Minneapolis. Among them: “What do you mean by mercy?” and “But does forgiveness actually accomplish anything?”

While a great discussion starter, on this evening flight to Amsterdam, I was most interested in sleeping. But when the pilot kept giving us Super Bowl updates every 20 minutes just as I began to doze, I accepted reality! But, her pointed questions left me pondering some very basic concepts, and how I ought to be able to explain mercy in terms understandable even to those who do not share my faith.

After a two-hour layover at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, I arrived in Rome on Monday afternoon (Feb. 8) only to discover that my phone’s battery had inexplicably gone completely dead, even though turned off. My rusty Italian was enough for me to comprehend that it was indeed an expensive fix and I’d be better off seeing if it was under warranty back home.

On to Plan B. I said a quick prayer they had Wi-Fi at the Domus Paulus VI. This is the clerical residence for priests working in the Vatican near the Piazza Navona that also welcomes occasional priest guests. Pope Francis stayed there in the days leading to the conclave that elected him, and you may recall the photo of him returning to pay his bill!

Thankfully they had Wi-Fi, because in typical “Fr. Frugal” fashion, I was too cheap to purchase a data plan for my iPad. My simple but comfortable room looked right over a bus stop (if elected to the Italian parliament, I’d immediately sponsor legislation to outlaw scooter horns and pigeons), but the priests and staff were most gracious and welcoming of their American interloper.

When I mentioned at table that I was from Minnesota, I was met with deadpan stares. I clarified that it was six hours from Chicago — still nothing. Finally I said that I lived near Canada! I began writing this travelogue while enjoying my third (alright, perhaps my fourth) cup of cappuccino on Tuesday morning. I could get used to this! I had time to pray and go to confession, as well as purchase a few Holy Year related gifts. While visiting the tomb of St. Monica in the Church of St. Augustine, I prayed for my mother and all mothers, as they labor tirelessly to pass the faith along to their children.

The Holy Year theme “Merciful like the Father” and the Jubilee Logo are omnipresent, as are the pilgrims here to venerate the mortal remains of St. Padre Pio, brought here from San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia. The logo was emblazoned on a beautiful commemorative violet stole given to each priest, which I plan to wear in the confessional. St. Pio stands as a model confessor, humble and simple, and he reminds me that we must never tire of offering forgiveness. I have a special devotion to Padre Pio since my days at St. Agnes, when I prayed for his intercession at a critical time in that school’s history in 2007. He came through then, and continues to inspire.

On Tuesday afternoon, the universality of the Church was especially evident as nearly 700 priests designated as Missionaries of Mercy gathered at Castel Sant’Angelo for a solemn procession toward St. Peter’s Basilica to enter through the Holy Door. It was a prayerful walk as we recited designated prayers, gathering by language groups. The procession took us inside the Basilica, all around and back out again. We continued around the perimeter of the outside of the Basilica leading us to the Apostolic Palace and the Sala Regia (Regal Room). Completed in 1573 A.D., it is adjacent to the Sistine Chapel and was originally used to receive foreign princes and ambassadors. But the purpose of this meeting was quite different.

Without really trying, I wound up in the eighth row, as the room quickly filled up. Archbishop Rino Fisichella prepped us for the audience. Among other things, he encouraged a total fast from all food on Ash Wednesday and reminded us to silence all cellphones. His American assistant, my friend Father Geno Sylva from the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, then stepped to the microphone and asked those without headsets (for the purpose of providing a simultaneous translation for non-Italian speakers) to move to an overflow room just off to the side because the headset reception only worked in the main Sala. No, please don’t ask me to move! Since I had chosen not to take a headset, I was banished, and would watch the address on a monitor.

But as it turns out, the Holy Father walked right past me on his way to and from the audience, and on his way out I shook hands with him and greeted him. God provides — the last shall be first! During his address, the Holy Father exhorted us to be patient and kind confessors — and not to ask too many questions! He reminded us that the sacrament of penance is an encounter with our loving and merciful Father and that sometimes our words get in the way. It was sage advice and I plan on heeding it carefully. After the meeting, we were treated to a delicious dinner in the atrium of the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. It was after all, Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday), so I enjoyed it as well as meeting priests from various parts of the World, truly a highlight for me.

On Ash Wednesday, I had the rare luxury of not needing to set my alarm. The fatigue of travel and the excitement from Tuesday’s activities coalesced, enabling me to sleep in until nearly 6 a.m.! I made my way down to the refectory for a cup of coffee at 6:45, but it was still brewing. I said my morning prayers and patiently waited. Roman coffee is always worth the wait, and I took the time to finish writing a Cathedral bulletin column before emailing it back home. Later in the morning I visited with David Kirsh, a lifetime Cathedral parishioner and St. John Vianney College Seminary student, spending the semester in Rome through the University of St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies program.

Desiring to keep the rest of Ash Wednesday in a spirit of preparation, I neither shopped nor did any sight seeing. Instead, I spent some quiet time in prayer and reading at the Augustinianum, a Pontifical University right next St. Peter’s Square, specializing in Patristic studies. And where, I might add, I took the toughest oral exam I have ever had in my life 10 years ago — it still stings!

It was peaceful and prayerful, and I eventually made my way to St. Peter’s, thirty minutes ahead of our appointed time. But I was still far from first in line. The piazza was packed and people were trying to acquire tickets for Mass. One lady even asked if I would give up my ticket so she could attend with her toddler.

I politely declined, noting that the gold tickets were for concelebrating priests only. She was not impressed! We priests spent the next 90 minutes waiting patiently, as this is just part of the deal in the Eternal City. Those cobblestones really do a number on one’s back — a chiropractor could make a fortune in Rome! But it provided ample opportunity to visit with the other priests, whether Italian or English speakers, and I found this quite enjoyable.

A prayerful, yet jubilant spirit was kept throughout. While waiting I met Father Joseph Reilly from Newark, New Jersey, and learned that he was the rector of their Cathedral. I replied, “Father, you and I have at least two things in common — we’re both rectors and we are currently sharing an Archbishop!”

We made our way to the bronze steps where we waited for Mass to begin. There, final instructions soon followed in five languages (no, I did not need to be reminded to refrain from taking pictures during Mass!) and the long procession began. While I ended up toward the back of the reserved section for priests, it mattered little because we were all there together concelebrating with the Holy Father.

The Sistine Choir, composed of men and boys from the Basilica, provided the beautiful music. Readings, petitions and the gift bearers were provided by men, women and children from different countries, and the distribution of ashes began with Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of the Basilica, imposing ashes upon the crown of the head of Pope Francis. In Rome, the ashes are not placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross, but rather sprinkled on the crown of your head, recalling the Book of Nehemiah 9:1 in which the “Israelites gathered together while fasting and while wearing sackcloth, their heads covered with dust.”

The highlight for me was the commissioning ceremony at the end of Mass. The prayer asked the Lord to “watch over these your servants, who we send forth as messengers of Mercy, liberation and of peace. Guide their steps with Your right hand and sustain them with the power of Your grace, so that they do not come under the weight of apostolic endeavors. May the voice of Christ resound in their words, and in their gestures the heart of Christ.”

It was so clear that the human aspect of the encounter is central for Pope Francis, and even his commissioning prayer was a sober reminder of the role that we are called to play. I would not be surprised if he wrote the prayer himself. I will not soon forget this powerful exhortation and the brief, but extremely rewarding, time I spent in Rome. And, I felt uplifted by the prayers of so many from home and kept the good people of the archdiocese close in my prayers.

Father Ubel is rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. He was commissioned to be a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday in Rome.

 

 

 

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Franciscan Blessing Alive in Colombian Mission Work

January 21, 2016

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May God bless you with DISCOMFORT
at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships,
that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy ANGER
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
That you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with TEARS
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,
starvation and war, that you may reach out your hand to
comfort them, turning their pain to joy.

May God bless you with enough FOOLISHNESS
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
doing what others claim cannot be done.

CASFA and Cristo Rey students at dispensary praying before serving elderly Photo by Shelly Gill Murray

CASFA and Cristo Rey students at dispensary praying before serving elderly. Photo by Shelly Gill Murray

An unlikely partner resides a hemisphere away where mountains hover over a city in a bowl of ten million people, Bogota Colombia is intimately connected to Minnesota.  Fifty years ago Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Lourdes from Rochester, Minnesota opened a convent in Bogota.  They then started an all-girls school called Colegio Santa Francisca Romana or “PACHAS” now considered one of the top ten schools in Bogota.  Thirty years ago, they added a second school, Colegio Anexo San Francisco de Asis or “CASFA,” for children with limited resources.  CASFA students walk up and down the mountain to school every day.  They work to learn professional skills and go to school six days a week.

This vibrant community remains linked to Minnesota, both by its roots in Rochester and its friend Grace Strangis, the founder of Pathways to Children.  Grace, one of 12 siblings from rural Minnesota has two Franciscan sisters.  She founded Pathways to Children to support schools in Colombia, Ethiopia and India.  She provides trips for students who share her passion for mission work.  Unlike other mission programs, however, Grace recognizes those who give most abundantly are found in unlikely places…

The students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Minneapolis are also part of a unique program where students attend school four days a week and work the fifth.  In exchange for tuition payments, students train for the professional world working in a variety of industries.  95% graduate from high school and nearly all enter college.  However, the resume of these students does not begin to tell their story.

Last month, Pathways to Children brought 16 students from Cristo Rey across the Americas to learn about the culture of Colombia from CASFA students.   These students were chosen from 80 applicants.  When asked why they thought they were chosen, one said they may not know until the future. What is clear is they felt “chosen” not because they wrote a better essay or gave a better interview or had better grades or any other thing really-just Chosen. For some of them, it is probably the first time in their lives.  As he got on the bus to go to the airport, one student handed his phone to a parent because “This is a trip of a lifetime and I don’t want to miss a minute of it!”

Stepping off the bus onto the grounds of CASFA, the Cristo Rey students noticed a giant magnolia tree that somehow survived the surrounding sea of concrete.  Its single beautiful white bloom signified the positive outlook of the school community.  The older students and certainly the younger ones, likely don’t know the purpose of the plastic sheeting on the classroom windows to prevent injury from shattering glass caused by car bomb attacks in the 80’s.   More like a reunion than an introduction, the CASFA and Cristo Rey students became fast friends despite being from different schools, two countries, and four cultures: Colombian, American, Ecuadorian and Mexican.  Their connectedness allowed them to pass over the first-meeting awkwardness and dig into the work.  And they all gave as if they would never run out.

Early Thanksgiving morning the students headed up the mountain to build a playground out of old tires, paint, scraps of wood and rusty equipment. The work was heavy, hard and hot.  In five hours they transformed a gravel lot into a fenced brightly painted park with its own decorated Christmas tree!  Another day, students discussed political messages in music from both countries and took a CASFA student guided tour through Calle 26 known as the “street of murals” artists created to explain the peace process in the country’s 55-year civil war.  Then they went back to work in the southern suburb of Soacha.  This mining town grew from 200,000 to one million in the last seven years and it shows in the dusty streets surrounding the barrio’s single remaining tree.  The students’ task was to paint an after school haven for kids whose only fresh water comes by truck once a month and whose school recess was discontinued because drugs were being thrown over the playground fence to entice them to trade.

After several hours of work, one of the women in the community arrived with a huge pot of soup ladled with a hand-carved wooden “cuchara” the size of a dinner plate.  She planned to serve 50, but the steamy chicken and plantain broth aroma enticed those living nearby and the line grew.  The woman did not stop ladling bowls until 150 people were fed.  This modern “loaves and fishes” story serves as an apt metaphor for the students’ deep giving wells.  They might not know why they were chosen for the trip, but later recalling this memory, perhaps they will say it was the hand of God on the ladle and sense a deeper meaning in their presence in this place.

Some wonder why those who have less often give more than those with more to give.  How do CASFA teenagers walk up and down a mountain twice a day beginning at 6 am, work and attend class until 7 pm six days a week, have anything left to give?  The nightly check in with Cristo Rey students took on a theme of humble wonderment at the hospitality, acceptance and love they felt in Bogota.  Perhaps the answer lies in the Cristo Rey students’ capacity to receive the grace being offered.  Therein lies the definition of CHOSEN.

Shelly Gill Murray has visited Colombia many times over the last 18 years and dedicates significant time to mission work, including work with Pathways To Children.

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A 60-second case for Vikings hope

January 11, 2016

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The way the Minnesota vs. Seattle playoff game ended yesterday brought some surprisingly “religious” reactions from both Vikings and Seahawks players alike. One Seahawk bowed his face to the earth out of gratitude, while one Viking gazed at the heavens with agony and confusion in his eyes. Amazing how a playoff game as crazy as this one can evoke such spiritual energy in people.

The way we Vikings lost, so close, seconds away from a playoff win, surely must have had a reinforcing effect on our recurring memory of football failure which prompts musings such as, “Why can’t Minnesota Vikings eat soup? Because every time they get close to a bowl, they choke.” Yet the players responded to the resurgence of this nightmare with superstition and religiosity.

Will football failure, low football-self-esteem, and repeated treading upon the toes of our “Minnesota-niceness” bother us to the point that we Minnesotans begin to plead with the Lord for vindication?

I would like to suggest that to actually pray for a Superbowl win is not a ridiculous prayer, and is a prayer, if answered, that could both rekindle the faith of Minnesota in God and boost our confidence in the goodness of our identity as a little culture of orderly courtesy in traffic, smiles and greetings to passersby, proud customer service, and strong lifelong friendships.

Don’t just abandon ship and become a Packers fan because you can’t take repeated failure. Failure is purifying. Be proud of who we are. Be confident, and PRAY for a Superbowl win! Be not ashamed to do so, and God may vindicate us, with our help, and maybe a few more good draft picks. Skol Vikings!

Chris Vance, 21, is a seminarian from St. Joseph, West St. Paul, studying at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul.

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