Archive | From the Pews RSS feed for this section

A doctor’s experience: the evil of abortion

November 8, 2016

2 Comments

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.

Continue reading...

The pastoral imagination of Pope Francis and the gospel according to Giovanni Guareshi

August 2, 2016

0 Comments

Many Catholics remain amazed, fascinated or frustrated by this new-style Pope who speaks in ways we simply do not expect to hear coming from the Chair of Peter. Biographies and analyses are selling like hot-cakes as people try to understand “Just where is this Pope coming from?” But, if one just listens closely, he does provide an abundance of clues.

For instance, last November, Pope Francis journeyed to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence to address the Fifth Convention of the Italian Church. In his address he provided both exhortation and admonition to the assembled bishops, priests and pastoral workers. Among his remarks the following especially catches one’s attention:

The Italian Church has great saints whose examples can help her to live the faith with humility, disinterest and gladness, from Francis of Assisi to Philip Neri. But let us also think of the simplicity of fictional characters such as Don Camillo who was paired with Peppone. It strikes me how in Guareschi’s stories the prayer of a good priest merges with the evident closeness to the people.

Who is this fictional character the Holy Father ranks with the likes of Francis of Assisi and Phillip Neri as a model for the Church’s pastors?

Turns out that Don Camillo was created by the Italian writer and journalist Giovannino Guareschi. The fictional character is loosely based on an actual Catholic priest, Don Camillo Valota, a World War II partisan and concentration camp detainee who, following the war, ministered primarily among displaced Italians in southern France.

Father David Haschka, S.J.

Father David Haschka, S.J.

The Don Camillo stories were first published in the Italian weekly magazine Candido during the years immediately following World War II. They eventually amounted to 347 in total and were put together and published in eight books, only three of which were published while Guareschi was still alive. Subsequently they were made into comic books and a television series that appeared throughout Europe including the United Kingdom. Most Europeans over a certain age are well familiar with the Don Camillo character.

By 1960, English translations of four of these books had been published in the USA and become a staple of American Catholic school libraries and hence influenced the imaginations of many a Catholic school boy who, perhaps, went on to become priests. One might expect that, in the same era, the Italian editions were a staple of schools in the immigrant Italian community in

Buenos Aires, perhaps exercising a similar influence on the imagination of a young Jorge Bergoglio.

Guareschi’s Don Camillo is physically imposing with size 12 shoes and hands like shovels. His physical immensity is also matched by his personality which is by turns playfully mischievous and furiously vengeful. Peppone, the village’s Communist mayor is Don Camillo’s equal in both size and temperament. He serves as Don Camillo’s bête noire but, paradoxically, also as his trusted friend.

Although he is a devout man of God, Don Camillo is not averse to committing little sins if it means thwarting Peppone’s political schemes. While Peppone, although he is a devout Marxist, is not averse to practicing the faith if it means retaining the affection and political support of the villagers. Despite their political differences, the pair have a deep respect for each other – one they unsuccessfully try to mask. In many of the stories, they have to declare a temporary cease- fire in order to look after the interests of the people.

Some of these stories could be read as archetypes for the sometimes stormy relationships between Archbishop Bergoglio and the Argentine Presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner during Bergoglio’s tenure as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

What is most attractive and fascinating about the character of Don Camillo — aside from his regular failures at impulse-control — is his regular conversations with Jesus who speaks to him from the crucifix over the altar of the village Church. Here, Don Camillo finds solace in his mo- ments of defeat but also and not infrequently scolding in his presumed moments of triumph. Here one finds the “gospel” according to Giovannino Guareschi.

In Florence, Pope Francis gestured to the image of Christ in the frescoed ceiling of the cathedral and posed the question: “What does Jesus tell us?” The image on the ceiling was of Christ the Universal Judge seated on the throne of judgment and the proposed words of Christ were those from the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel.

But perhaps somewhere in the imagination of the Holy Father is a somewhat different image, the image of Christ on the Cross in a small Church in a small village near the river Poe in northern Italy during 1947. He speaks to a humble but very human pastor who had just vented his frustration with the materialistic tendencies of his people:

“Fret not, Don Camillo,” whispered Jesus. “I know that men wasting God’s grace looks to you like a mortal sin, because you know that I got down from a horse to pick up a breadcrumb. But you should forgive them because they do not mean to offend God. They search desperately for jus- tice on earth because they no longer have faith in divine justice, and just as desperately go after worldly goods because they have no faith in the recompense to come. They only believe in what they can touch and see. The flying machines, they are the angels of this infernal hell on earth which they are trying in vain to turn into a paradise. It is a body of ideas – a culture – that leads to ignorance, because when a culture is not supported by faith, there comes a point where man sees only the mathematics of things. And the harmony of this mathematics becomes his God, and he forgets that it is God who created this mathematics and this harmony.

“But your God is not made of numbers, Don Camillo, and good angels fly in the skies of your paradise. Progress makes man’s world ever smaller: one day, when cars run at 100 miles a mi- nute, the world will seem microscopic to men, and then mankind will find itself like a sparrow on the pommel of a flagpole and will present itself to the infinite, and in the infinite it will rediscover God and faith in the true life. And mankind will hate the machines which have reduced the world to a handful of numbers and it will destroy them with its own hands. But all this will take time, Don Camillo. So do not worry, your bicycle and your scooter are in no danger for now.”

Jesus smiled, and Don Camillo thanked him for putting him on earth.

(From the story “Rustic Philosophy” as it appears in The Complete Little World of Don Camillo published electroni- cally in 2013 by Pilot Productions, Piers Dudgeon – Editor, Adam Elgar – Translator)

Indeed, Pope Francis, if not physically large, is still a powerful and imposing personality. He sometimes finds himself in conflict with similarly powerful ideological adversaries but with whom he shares a deep concern for the welfare of God’s people. He must surely also experience occasional frustration with the increasingly pervasive secular materialism of today’s Catholics. One wonders, does Pope Francis not also, in the privacy of his chapel, receive words of both encouragement and admonition from his crucified Lord along with the occasional smile.

 Father David Haschka, S.J. grew up in Visitation Parish in south Minneapolis and entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1965. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. Among a variety of assignments over the years, he has served in this archdiocese as pastor of the Church of St. Luke in Saint Paul from 1994 – 1999 and as founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in south Minneapolis from 2005 – 2011. He currently serves as senior associate pastor of St. Olaf Catholic Church in downtown Minneapolis.

Continue reading...

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

June 7, 2016

0 Comments

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.

Continue reading...

University of MN college students to participate in Alaska mission trip

April 7, 2016

0 Comments

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

Continue reading...

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

April 1, 2016

0 Comments

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

><(((°>

Continue reading...

St. Edward fish fry raises funds for youth group trip

March 17, 2016

0 Comments

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.

><(((°>

Continue reading...

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

March 8, 2016

0 Comments

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.

><(((°>

Continue reading...

Tasty fish an ‘Epiphany’ at Coon Rapids parish

March 2, 2016

0 Comments

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.

><(((°>

Continue reading...

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

February 26, 2016

0 Comments

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.

 

Continue reading...

Guardian Angels a ‘big fish’ in fish fry bowl

February 23, 2016

2 Comments

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.

><(((°>

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

Continue reading...