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Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 2

July 19, 2017

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For all married couples

Lord, God, we ask your very special graces and blessings upon all married couples. Help them to grow in their understanding and in their love for the virtue of chastity and purity. Lord, help those couples who have never heard about natural family planning to be led to this information. Shower special graces upon your people, O Lord, that hardened hearts may be softened to hear your message of the Good News about the Gospel of Life and Love. Help all married couples develop the virtue of self-control and a total self-giving love. Help them to contemplate and meditate upon the Most Holy Trinity and to imitate the Godhead in their love for one another and for their family. We ask for your special aid and graces for those couples who are striving to live chaste lives but are finding it difficult amidst the temptations and the confusion wrought by this world. Help those couples who are practicing Natural Family Planning to persevere and to always maintain a generosity to life. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into the hearts, minds and souls of all married couples that they may live their marriage vows with dignity and with respect to the moral order for the greater honor and glory of God. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us. 

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

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Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 1

July 18, 2017

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For all priests, bishops, cardinals, and our Holy Father

Lord, God, thank you for the gift of holy priesthood. We ask you to take each one of your most precious sons into the depths of your most Sacred Heart where they may be protected from the world’s contagion and from the deception of the evil one. Help them to cultivate a strong devotion and love for their most pure and holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Give strength and courage to your chosen ones that they may defend life always and promote marital and virginal chastity especially when it seems difficult to do so. Grant to them a greater understanding and love for the Most Holy Trinity so that they may see within the Godhead this mystery of total self-giving and self-sacrificing love that brings forth and sustains all life. Give them a great zeal and ardent desire to bring You pure and chaste souls. Strengthen them and grant them the grace to remain always faithful to the total vow of chastity that they have taken for the sake of the Kingdom. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into their hearts, minds and souls that they may go forth and preach the Gospel of Life and Chastity to every soul whom they have been entrusted with. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us.

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

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Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity July 18-26

July 7, 2017

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Join the Marriage, Family and Life Office in praying a novena for chastity and purity in the world. We will begin this novena on Tuesday, July 18 in preparation for the USCCB’s NFP Awareness Week and complete the novena on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne.

The prayers for the day on each day of the novena will be posted here daily at CatholicHotdish.com and the complete novena may be found at archspm.org on the event’s page.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us.

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Behold, I am the hostess (in training) of the Lord

June 8, 2017

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While my Mama is ever learned in the gentle art of making others feel welcome, her natural flair for hospitality has not passed along very easily to her youngest child. Sure, I’ve always received complimentary coffees and extra bathroom towels with deep gratitude. But my linear-minded self tends to error on the side of modest (and sadly stingy) hospitality. Less food means less waste! My guests can’t expect me to stay up past my usual bedtime, right? And nobody scrubs floors in college apartments anyways…  Striving for simplicity has left my hostess abilities pitifully lacking, much to the chagrin of my poor guests.

Kate Anderson

Kate Anderson

The saving grace for any future visitors of mine was at hand when I accepted an invitation to the Behold Retreat. This beautiful day sparkled with speakers, resources and lovely surprises for young women in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The talks I heard at Behold cast a warm new light on the welcoming domestic churches which my Mama and countless others have always beautifully kept.

A theology of hospitality began to unfold as wife and mom Justina Kopp and Sister Eileen Leon spoke from their unique vocational experiences. These women shared a foundational cornerstone long upheld by the Church to make sense of many a thing: God is the perfection of beauty, truth and goodness. Every beautiful thing, from cathedrals and sunsets to clean homes and joyful families, points us to God. A sacramental worldview opens our eyes to the divine dimensions of life which cannot be seen at a mere surface glance. Understanding the purpose of beauty strengthens our spiritual eyesight — but the real joy in seeing beauty anew is sharing that vision of goodness with others!

Since hospitality happens to be all about ‘”the other,” Dia Boyle put our renewed appreciation of beauty to work with her talk on “the others” we encounter in the domestic Church. She explained that the home can be an instrument for beauty because home is the place where we are most influential. Members of a home naturally return to this physical structure out of need. Whether those necessities are rest, resources or relationships, homes ideally meet the needs of those who dwell there. We become people of influence through words and actions we extend toward friends and family in this ordinary place called “home.”

Now people of faith can certainly be influential showing extraordinary love in abysmal conditions, as St. Teresa of Calcutta and countless others have taught us! But knowing what we know about the good, true and beautiful God, couldn’t most of us put a little more effort into creating homes that point others to him? There’s a difference between houses filled with “stuff” and homes that only contain what is beautiful or useful. Rather than trying to impress others with wealth or false appearances, a beautiful home can be an instrument for blessing others.

Warm spaces with cozy lamps and flickering candles invite people to linger. Guests will hope that conversations last longer in a place that is smells fresh and feels clean. And company will always stay later if dessert is served! With this encouragement to remain together, our investment of time yields a harvest of influence. My worries about hospitality becoming an occasion for vice were soothed by the wise words shared this day, because a clean space, plentiful meal and lovely home will always lead our hearts and minds back to our perfectly pure, generous, and beautiful Father.

These beautiful musings from the Behold Retreat explained the theology of hospitality I have long encountered but never understood. Lovingly decorated Christmas cookies, freshly laundered sheets and tastefully selected paintings are the little things which give way to big truths. Hospitality brings us back to our fundamental need for relationships, with Christ and our neighbors. And if warm coffee cake and fresh flowers help us point others to God, then goodness truly is beautiful!

Kate Anderson is a young Catholic with an old soul who spends her days in the Twin Cities learning about banks. 

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A family shares story of mother’s deportation — and what it took to get back

May 18, 2017

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Lorna and Javier in 2017, choosing not to show their faces — and to use only their middle names — to protect their identity. Courtesy Lynda McDonnell

Lorna and Javier in 2017, choosing not to show their faces — and to use only their middle names — to protect their identity. Courtesy Lynda McDonnell

“We were all sleeping. It was like six in the morning. You could hear someone yelling. They came in, took my mom, took several other people. I didn’t know much of immigration at that stage in life. Never knew that they would come and do that to a person… We thought somebody did something wrong and that’s why they were there. We thought they would let my mom go eventually, but that wasn’t the case.”

Jesse was 14 and about to start high school when immigration agents pushed into his family’s home that summer morning in 2005.  His mother Lorena was a 34-year-old cleaning woman and the single mother of 12-year-old Teresa, seven-year-old Javier and Jesse.  Their experience sheds light on how deportation of undocumented immigrant parents may affect their estimated 4.5 million citizen children.

Because Lorena’s children are U.S. citizens, they were not arrested with her. Two friends agreed to care for them, but no one had money to hire a lawyer to argue Lorena’s case. So after spending two months in detention, she was flown to Honduras, the country she left at 17 to find work in America and help the impoverished family and infant son she left behind.  She considered getting a passport and ticket for Javier, her youngest, but decided that would only fracture the family further.

“In my mind, I am coming back,” Lorena says. “I wanted [that] they stay together.”

She had struggled to make a life in America without family to support her. The children were the family she created, but their fathers had left her and provided little help.

“When are you coming?” the children asked whenever she called. “One day,” she promised. “Soon.”

The journey back to Minnesota was long and dangerous, but within a week of arriving in Honduras, Lorena was headed north. “I need to coming back because I love my kids and my kids they need me.”

Meanwhile, two friends living in different Twin Cities’ suburbs shared the job of caring for Teresa, Javier and Jesse. One took them during the week, the other on weekends. They alternated the arrangement every six months to ease the burden. The frequent switching of homes and schools led Jesse to fall behind in school. Eventually he quit altogether.

“At first I was doing okay,” he says. “Then I slowly started not having stability, moving from house to house.  I ended up cheating myself out of an education because I would never have that stability or finish the school year in one school. I was constantly moving.  I would have to start all over with certain credits.”

Arrested crossing the border in California, Lorena was sent to a detention center. She worked there to buy phone cards and call the children so they could hear her voice. Her friends and the children wrote letters pleading that immigration officials let her come home to them. But there was no money to hire a lawyer and argue for a humanitarian visa. After nine months in detention, she was flown again to Honduras. Now a felon, she was banned from ever returning to the U.S. But she would not abandon her children.

In phone calls, Jesse often blamed his mother for her absence. “What crime do you have?” he asked angrily. “Why do you leave us?”   Teresa excelled at school, but Jesse struggled and Javier often misbehaved. “I didn’t have to listen because they weren’t my mom or dad,” he says.

Lorena’s second trip through Mexico and across the border was even more harrowing. She was held for ransom in Mexico and walked two days across the Arizona desert, guided by a coyote and relying on crackers, tuna and two gallons of water to survive. They passed the bodies of immigrants who had died in the desert.  But staying with the bodies, waiting for help, meant risking dying themselves.

Finally, 16 months after she left, Lorena arrived one cold winter morning at her friend’s house. There were tears and celebration, but also damage that could not be undone. Still angry, Jesse refused to leave her. Javier’s face had lost its boyish brightness. He looked older, angrier, and resisted going to school, fearing that men in uniforms would take her away again. At 19, he still mistrusts authority. “I thought cops were bad, anything with authority was bad. It’s been that way, even now.”

Twelve years later, both sons are working, and Teresa will soon graduate from college. Jesse understands the risks his mother took to return to them. Javier is convinced that he’d be in jail if his mother had not returned. “Not letting her down. That’s the main thing.”

Lorena still cleans houses and guides her children with a strong example and clear messages: Trust in God. Work hard. Help others. “I pass[ed] a lot of bad things to come back to you,” she tells them. “We need to do good things.”

With deportation threats increasing, the children’s worries about losing their mom have returned. Lorena worries more for younger families. “My kids growing up. They don’t need me. But what happens with the other women with the little ones?

“Don’t think for the parents. Think for the kids,” she urges. “You deport the parents from the kids. What do you think will happen to those kids? Do you think it will make a better country?”

Lynda McDonnell

Lynda McDonnell

Lynda McDonnell is a writer and journalist and a member of Incarnation/Sagrado Corazon de Jesus in Minneapolis. Her blog – A Pilgrim’s Way – and other information can be found at  http://www.lyndamcdonnell.com

Editor’s note: To protect the family’s privacy, family members’ middle names are used in this account.

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A doctor’s experience: the evil of abortion

November 8, 2016

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In this election season, in an attempt to help us vote informed by Catholic principles, I emailed a video YouTube link from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that defends religious freedom to friends and family (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpPh6ymIhjg). In follow-up responses, the topic of abortion came up for discussion. The word “abortion” wasn’t mentioned in the video, but it was implied by references to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are being forced by the U.S. government’s Health and Human Services mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion and contraceptives in their health care plan. The Little Sisters do not want to be forced to support the abortion industry.

By way of introduction, I have been a practicing Minneapolis physician now for 28 years. Here is my medical background and experience with abortion.

I have always been driven to get at the root of things. In medical school I was intrigued and driven to find out and see with my own eyes exactly when human life begins. I wanted to see cells and molecules divide … and molecules combine. I was amazed by what we are able to see with current technology! One great day in medical school, I witnessed human conception taking place on the big screen: egg meeting sperm — the tremor — exquisite combination of maternal and paternal DNA — tremor — and the subsequent division of a brand new one-celled organism into two, then four, then eight, 16, 32, 64, 128, … into a morula, blastocyst, and on and on until a human heart is beating only 18 days after conception. Yes! Life is defined as consisting of both growth and cell division. Fact: Human life begins at conception. All scientists now agree with this truth.

Another truth I learned later: Abortion is a grave evil. This surgical (or chemical) procedure intentionally destroys a human life. Of the many factors leading to the escalating violence in the United States, I firmly believe the current violence is directly linked to abortion on demand—legal in the United States until baby is full term or the mother is 40 weeks pregnant. Abortion is a grotesque killing of a baby and a silent killing of families. Abortion kills a vulnerable human life growing inside the protective womb of the mother. The surgical procedure is the most evil technique I have ever seen. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court thinks women should have access to it for all nine months of pregnancy.

I think we can do better for women and for families. We are doing much better at Abria Pregnancy Resources where I am now medical director. I review daily prenatal ultrasounds from the Abria clinic office (across from Planned Parenthood on University Avenue). Women are counseled, supported, cared for and loved at Abria instead of being rushed into killing their child at the mega Planned Parenthood right across the street.

As a pathologist at St. Paul Regions Hospital, I would work alongside surgeons and guide their surgeries while patients were anesthetized nearby in the operating room. Depending on what I determined from microscope/imaging/staining techniques from tissue surgeons submitted to me during procedures, surgery would proceed in the proper direction. During surgery, we (surgeon and pathologist) consulted. I would describe tissue: malignant or benign, cholesterol plaques, absence of stones, ischemic bowel, etc. I also received various other tissues after surgeries.

One of the most common surgical procedures was abortion. My job then was to carefully reassemble the baby body parts to make sure nothing was left behind in the woman’s body by the aborting surgeon. Most babies were seven to eight weeks old and it was easy to identify body parts. I literally had to put the baby body back together to see if all baby pieces were there. There were also many much larger babies (12 to 28+ weeks). If I couldn’t account for all body parts, the surgeon would have to go back in and recover them in order to try to prevent life threatening infection in the mother. Baby parts were left behind routinely. I had to notify the surgeon the same day when pieces were missing. This was an eye-opening, sad experience. I was unable to prevent the killing already done as tissues came to the lab. I was 25 at the time — assembling dead baby parts will always be part of my experience. It is a grisly business and our tax dollars pay Planned Parenthood millions of dollars annually to fund this ongoing horror. You must know abortion is a grave evil. I have had to work up close to abortion in the industry, using my medical gifts to minimize the harm to women resulting from abortion. Imagine touching dead babies for weeks on end. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 voted to legalize abortion. It was the worst legal decision our country has ever made — the worst decision ever for women, for sure.

Later, as a private medical practitioner, I saw thousands of women who suffered latent effects of the abortions they had. I’d treat them for severe depression or anxiety, asthma, diabetes, back pain, or abdominal pain for weeks. I diagnosed and treated thousands of cases of herpes, warts, and chlamydia also.

When trust was developed, women often could open up and tell me they still felt great regret, anger, or anxiety and suffered sleepless nights over one or two or three abortions from their past. They were miserable. I also had thousands of young women in to see me telling me their boyfriends, families, or husbands were forcing them to have abortions. They were afraid from the pressure and were often rushed through the abortion without being informed of other options. Most of my patients were also on contraceptives of some sort that failed. Many were on the pill, and many were using the IUD or Norplant. I’d see them every year for a Pap smear, and also three or four times a year for either a bladder infection or depression flare-up.

The common theme I heard from them is that they felt depressed and used by boyfriends in their life. Since they were deemed “chemically infertile” by contraception, there was no fear of pregnancy among their male partners who would often take advantage of them. Women were too weak and/or afraid to say “no” to sex. This was extremely common in women college students. They felt “used” instead of loved — yet, they still wanted their prescription for the pill … . Contraceptives lead to abortion as casual sex is encouraged by doctors, schools, media, culture. Contraception hurts women by enslaving them to lives of sex without love. The more contraceptives prescribed to women, the more sexually-transmitted infections, false relationships, failed classes, anxiety and abortions. Guys get what they want in college and high school and dump the women off at Planned Parenthood for morning-after pills, RU486 or whatever.

We do have an amazing, beautiful alternative to contraception: Natural Family Planning (NFP). It is equally effective to the pill in postponing conception (99.4 percent) and respects the beautiful dignity of a woman’s body without the artificial steroid hormonal side effects of the pill, increased risk of cervical cancers, breast cancer, hypertension, migraine, stroke, etc.  I taught NFP in my previous medical practice and now my daughter Callie teaches it with her husband Tim Doran.

Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote a beautiful, short encyclical in 1968 (15 pages) titled “Humanae Vitae.” In it he predicted with 100 percent accuracy what would befall women should contraception become widespread. Every prophecy has come true. Look it up online. It’s an easy read.

One prophecy: “Man may lose respect for the woman and may consider her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer his respected and beloved companion.” Another: “Conjugal infidelity” would increase; divorces would increase. Another: General lowering of morality. Another: Governments may force women to use contraception. There are more, and all have come true today!

My medical experience has led me to believe that contraception is one of the worst things to force on women. Why are so many Planned Parenthood clinics in black neighborhoods?  Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger called our black brothers and sisters “human weeds.” Yet the contraceptive philosophy continues to enslave women and keep them depressed and sick. It has enslaved women in other countries, too. Vulnerable women use contraception and are routinely used and abused. Contraception has taken away women’s freedom, not supplied it. Ask any women in college. I have seen it in my dear patients. When I have taught them NFP for marriage preparation, it’s amazing how happy they look during follow-up clinic visits. Confidence is returned. Shoulders back up. Dignity restored.

We must be willing to be politically incorrect, labeled self-righteous, etc., to protect those who have no voice. We need women like Helen Alvaré—a beautiful woman, lawyer, teacher and mother who is morally courageous.

I have found that the most vocal proponents of abortion have either had or paid for abortions themselves. These victims of abortion need our compassion, love, understanding, and support, not cold judgment.

In the meantime, we must fight this grave evil without resting, until our growing love supplies every need and reaches to embrace every vulnerable unborn child.

The basic building block of society is the family. Once the family is destroyed, the rest of society will be destroyed. My beloved father Tom Olson told me this and the reality never left me. He was a strong opponent of abortion not only for the baby, but for the damage in the couples he was counseling for marital difficulties. He and my mother left the Democratic Party because of its abortion platform. Interestingly, in the United States, rates of depression have risen dramatically in the last 50 years. (See “American Journal of Psychiatry” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) That’s the same time the pill has been around — 50 years. Women are much more likely to have a mood disorder (depression/anxiety) than men; however, men suffer from this disease at epidemic rates as well. One of my dear male patients is on hospice care now for major depression/suicide risk.

Let us be courageous and stand up with real strength. Let us take on the courage of St. Thomas More, King Henry VIII’s foe, who died for the sake of truth and moral courage in defending God’s plan for marriage and family.

We need to talk truths in this election — as hard as they are. I need you all to know how gravely evil abortion is. I am an eye witness. On the scale of evils, abortion ranks right at the top. As current medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, I have learned much. For example, my/our time on this earth is very short.  I now live like this is my last year.  When I go before our heavenly Father, I don’t want to tell Him that I never spoke up for His most vulnerable.

Dr. Nancy T. Miller, a parishioner of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, serves as medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, and as medical director at Abria Pregnancy Resources in St. Paul. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. You can reach her at doctor@Mantlehealth.com.

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An Irish Catholic girl reflects on St. Peter’s Square in Rome

June 7, 2016

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I came not expecting to be moved by this place.

I came expecting crowds and gimcracks and jabbering people with fanny packs and cameras. I am surprised. I was wrong. I cannot help but be moved by this place. St. Peter’s Square is, first of all, big. It is breathtaking and majestic. It is grand. I am surrounded by immense, imposing statues who hover over me, standing guard — the saints, the martyrs, the twelve apostles. All around me as I sit in the Square I hear voices, a multitude of languages, some I don’t even recognize. All around me I see nuns, bishops, women in their wedding gowns. I have landed smack dab in the middle of the “catholic” Catholic Church. From the very lively babies babbling in their strollers, to the nuns laughing together about something, to the teenagers posing for pictures with their “selfie sticks,” to the seminarians quietly doing their morning prayer, to the Chinese family saying a rosary together — in Chinese — everywhere I see a Church that has somehow survived every attempt to obliterate it. It is a Church which has survived even the grievous sins and moral failings of its own members.

Jesus Christ made two promises when he founded his Church: first, that when the Church speaks as Church, it will not teach error, and second, that the Church would not disappear from the face of the earth before he returned. Sitting here, I see everywhere the fulfillment of those two promises.  How, given its “colorful” history, the strings of “interesting” popes and cardinals, the concerted and skillful attacks of its many enemies — how has this Church survived? Money alone could not have sustained it for two thousand years. Power alone could not have sustained it for two thousand years. Only love — transcendent love — can account for this place, here, today — because only transcendent love could have created and sustained it.

Not our love for God, although that love is visible everywhere here. Every statue of Peter reminds me of his enthusiastic love for his Lord. Every statue of Paul reminds me of the inexhaustible energy with which he proclaimed the kingdom of God. They were martyred on the same day: Paul beheaded because he was a Roman citizen, Peter crucified because he was a Jew, and upside down because he asked for that, declaring himself unworthy to be murdered exactly as Jesus had been. Were they afraid? Of course they were. En route to his own beheading, Paul asked a woman if he could have her scarf, so that he could prevent himself from seeing the blade come at him. Peter convinced himself at one point that he ought not be martyred at all, that he should leave Rome alive and continue to evangelize. Only a vision of Jesus himself as Peter was on his way out of town prevented him from running.

They were both terrified. They were human. What can account for them, and for so many other flawed and frightened human beings, to allow themselves to be flayed, grilled, torn to pieces, pressed to death, crucified, beheaded? What can account for a Church that has survived its own popes sometimes: Borgia Popes, de Medicis, the popes who bought their office and used it for their own personal gain, Pope Julian III, who dug up his predecessor, Pope Formosus, and put him on trial, dressed in his papal regalia and dead as a doornail, this pope who found his dead predecessor guilty of all crimes and then tossed him in the Tiber? What can account for a Church that embraces both Peter and Julian III, while often disapproving heartily of both of them? What can account for me, standing here a few miles from the place where Paul was killed, standing on top of the place where Peter was crucified, looking at the obelisk he almost certainly was looking at as he died? It has to be God’s love — for the Twelve, for the Jews, for the martyrs, for every single one of us—for our corrupt, striving, beautiful, flawed, sorry human selves — only God’s perfect love could have created and sustained this place.

Peter’s bones are buried beneath the ground on which I sit. Beneath me, scratched into the wall of a crypt containing the bones of many martyrs, are the words, “Peter is Here.” Next to those words, in the wall, are a collection of bones, but there are no foot bones. When someone is crucified upside-down, they cut the dead body off the cross, leaving the feet behind. As I sit in the Square, Pope Francis enters and mounts the stage for his Wednesday audience. And here am I, an Irish Catholic Girl from Chicago, three days into a semester in Rome — cold, homesick, tired, confused — and yet, I am filled with joy and peace in this place. Surrounding me and grounding me and soaring over my head is evidence of the faith in which my Irish Catholic father from Chicago, Jack Maloney — my papa — raised me. And here I sit, atop Papa Peter, listening to Papa Francesco. And I am home.

Anne Maloney is department chair and an associate professor of philosophy at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

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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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