Tag Archives: Archbishop Nienstedt

Hope amid upheaval

July 2, 2015

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The Cathedral of St. Paul, cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

The Cathedral of St. Paul, cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

I woke up the morning of June 15, and in typical morning fashion I scrolled my newsfeed. The first story I came across was the news that both Archbishop John Nienstedt and Bishop Lee Piché had resigned. I then read the comments that followed. Some were of those who had been advocating (and hoping) for resignation, and others were from those who felt they were mourning the loss of their shepherds.

I then began to examine my own conscience.

“What opinion do I have of this situation? What opinion should I have? I work in the trenches of the Church daily. My co-workers, our parishioners, the teens I serve — they will be talking, and Michelle, you need to be ready. You need an opinion — and a good, well-articulated one! What will you say if you someone asks you if it was right that they resigned?”

Neitzke

Michelle Neitzke

After some self reflection, I realized I didn’t have all the answers I wanted. I want to believe that truth will have its reign, that justice will be made known and that mercy will follow. I want to trust the decision of the bishops who resigned and that they were cooperating with their consciences. I want to trust that the Holy Spirit will appoint the right bishop to serve our archdiocese.

As of yet, those were the only conclusions I could come to. I resolved that this situation was, in a way, beyond me. I want answers just as much as the next person, but as of now, I still remain a spectator.

The questions that became pertinent to me were: How do I minister to the faithful who may be confused or hurt? How do I as a faithful daughter of the church, speak hope and truth to a local church that is bruised and hurting? How do I show them that I have trust and faith in the Church, the hierarchy, and the office of the episcopate, but yet at the same time realize the humanity and frailty of those who are appointed?

How do I show them that the church is constant, strong and as history shows, capable of enduring a storm? How do I tell of a God, who is full of mercy and who weeps with those who weep, a God whose heart beats with love and that bleeds with compassion for his children?

And yet, I know the world is watching, and local Church is asking:

Will the archdiocese recover?

Where do I place blame?

Can the Church withstand this?

In times turmoil, angst and scandal it is easy to look to the outside for answers and consolation. The answers do not come from the outside, but from the inside, and not even within those who hold offices in the Church, but in the Church herself, and how she prevails against the cursory and transient epochs of her time here on earth.

I believe that there is hope amidst upheaval and that the Church will endure.

The church can withstand this — but not because of the actions of man, but by the power of Christ and what is promised to us. The Church is not merely an institution — who is certainly subject to the struggle and sins of her human members — but a body of believers, who groan and travail until our final sanctification.

She exists now, and there at the same time.

She is in time, but rooted eternity,

is immanent, yet transcendent.

Suffering, while at the same time gloriously triumphant.

A shelter for its members, but is not contained by her walls.

She is ever ancient, and ever new.

And until the end of time, she will remain so.

And she will prevail.

I have promised and I will do it, says the Lord.

I really do believe this. I realize to many the beliefs I hold and the life I live is one of wonder. I have spent six years studying theology. I’m in my 20s and I have chosen to work for the Catholic Church, and so far, I have dedicated my career to it.

Many people unabashedly ask me, “Why would you work for that Church? The Church that can’t stay out of the headlines, and has many times been wounded by its own members?”

My answer to them is the same as it is to those who are angry, hurt and confused by the current events in our archdiocese.

The Church is a human body, but also a mystical body — mystical because its head is the one who is Glory Himself. Our Church is a pilgrim, susceptible to the failings of its members but never defeated by them. Imperfect now, but perfect then, and continually holding on to the promise of restoration and renewal. Christ will not abandon his church and the Holy Spirit will not be quenched. Renewal and sanctification are not far off possibilities but obtainable realities.

Hope is not mere sentimentality but a virtue, which certainly requires humility and trust. Hope demands that we trust not in ourselves, but in the power of God. Hope is not weak, but rooted in an expectant faith. Hope believes that God will deliver what he has promised. We hope in the glory to come, but are also aware that this glory can be present here and now, just as the sun  peeks rays of its light, God will show his glory through cloudy and dim circumstances. He will make things new.

My prayers are with the Church, and those who are confused, suffering, hurt and lost.

My hope is in Christ.

Michelle Neitzke is the director of senior high faith formation at All Saints in Lakeville.

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Where are the Women?

April 13, 2013

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Creative Commons license by wonderline

Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.

 

During the conclave I happened across a group of protesters outside of the Archdiocesan Chancery office.  As I was leaving the Cathedral parking lot, I noticed a woman parking her car.  She paused to pull a sign out of her trunk.  I watched in amazement as this woman took advantage of the free parking in the Cathedral parking lot (Intended for visitors to the Cathedral) while she took the opportunity to stand in some sort of protest against the Catholic Church.   Talk about taking advantage of Christian hospitality.  I would have towed her car!

As I left the lot and took a look at the signs they were carrying. They said, “Hey Cardinals, where are the women?”  I almost pulled over my car, jumped out and said, “I am right here!”

 

There are so many things wrong with this scenario – I felt compelled to set it right.

  1. First off – there is no Cardinal inside of the building they were protesting.  Just our Archbishop.
  2. If they took the time to check – they would find out that Archbishop Nienstedt has more women in his Cabinet (roughly equivalent to a board of directors) than most Fortune 500 companies.  These are strong woman in decision making positions.
  3. The fact that women are not ordained  in no way diminishes the role of women in the church.  Priests have a certain role in God’ s plan for the Church just as married couples, single people, religious orders and yes – women!

If you haven’t ever read Pope John Paul’s letter to women, you can find it here.  When I first read it I was able to realize that being a Catholic Feminist (In the context of the new feminism – much like the new evangelization) is not an oxymoron.

Pope Francis even dedicated his first Wednesday audience talk on women in the church.   http://www.news.va/en/news/audience-the-fundamental-role-of-women-in-the-chur

As the Pope notes, the first witness of the resurrection were women.  In fact Jesus and the founding Fathers of the Church elevated women in a way that was unprecedented in their time,  Christ spoke to the Samarian woman, had women disciples, and the early church was supported by women. Besides the more familiar names of Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene, check out Pricilla and Lydia, the maker of purple cloth. Women have shaped the church from it’s origin.

Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. – Luke 8:3

Let’s not talk of ancient history only.  Throughout the history of the church we have many women who have served the church.  The list of saints are full of them.  Four  women are considered Doctors of the Church (This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.” Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings.) Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen.  All of these saints are models of women in the Church. These aren’t wimpy women.  They all faced hardships of their times and helped to shape the Catholic Church we know today.

Let’s move on to present day.  Women have been aiding the mission of the Church locally and in a very tangible way through the work of the Council of Catholic Women.  This year they celebrate 81 years of service to the Catholic church.  Check out the topics at their convention in May – Be the Voice of Catholic Women.

I couldn’t talk about women in the church today without mentioning one of my heroins: Helen Alvare.  Here is her Bio:  Professor of Law at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches and writes in the areas of family law and law and religion. She is a consultor to Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, a consultant for ABCNews, and the Chair of the Conscience Protection Task Force at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. She co-authored and edited the book, Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak For Themselves. Professor Alvaré received her law degree from Cornell University and her master’s in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America.

In addition to the credits above she started the movement “Women Speak for Themselves.

I was blessed to hear her talk recently for the Siena Symposium.  Instead of me trying to share her wisdom and spirit – see it for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYM-FbOU5Hw&feature=share

She reminds me that women can have it all.  If we know what “all” means.

Like I said – She is my hero!

I hear there is a “Women’s Argument of the Month Club coming soon.  The idea is women getting together to learn and discuss what it means to be a Catholic woman.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Catholic Faith Formation more information can be found here.

So in answer to the question posed on the protest signs; “Where are the women?”  My answer is: “We are right here!!”

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Bishops elect Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Pates committee chairs

November 14, 2011

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The USCCB is reporting the election results out of Baltimore today. Archbishop Nienstedt and former St. Paul/Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates currently of Des Moines, Iowa have been elected committee chairs.

 

Read more: Archbishop Nienstedt chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine

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Cadavers at St. Kate’s: New lab gets archbishop’s blessing

September 23, 2011

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Archbishop John Nienstedt blesses one of two new human anatomy labs in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University Sept. 19. (Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop blesses new anatomy lab at St. Catherine University — and yes, Catholics may donate their bodies to science

As far as unique events go in the life of an archbishop, this one might find a place near the top of the list: Blessing a lab where medical students will dissect human remains in the interest of science.

That’s what Archbishop John Nienstedt did this week at the invitation of St. Catherine University, which dedicated two new human anatomy labs in Mendel Hall on the school’s St. Paul campus.

The labs will be used by physical therapy students — who previously had to travel to the University of Minnesota to dissect cadavers — as well as eight other academic programs, including nursing and biology. More than 500 students are expected to participate in classes in the labs this semester.

Studying anatomy using real human bodies offers students an educational experience and research opportunity they can’t get from books and computer models alone.

But is it something the church approves?

Yes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that if a person freely gives proper consent, “donation of organs after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a manifestation of generous solidarity.”

And the U.S. bishops state in their “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” that “Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death.”

Bodies used for scientific research must be treated with reverence and respect and the remains properly interred afterward. St. Kate’s plans to start each semester with a religious service to give students an opportunity to express thanks for the gift provided by each donor.

The new labs are a place where faith and science meet — something that Archbishop Nienstedt noted at Monday’s blessing:

“In educational circles, one of the big themes today is the relationship between faith and science. So often people think that there is no relationship. What we are doing here today really is the highlight of the complementarity of these two forms of learning, these two forms of living — because it’s our faith that really gives us the profound reverence and respect that we have for each human person as a son or daughter of God. And the science helps us, it leads us to foster [and] promote the discovery of that human body — what makes it tick, what makes it run — and to promote, in the end, therapies for healing and discoveries that will give us new insights into how we can live better. And, so, it’s very appropriate it seems to me that we ask God’s blessings upon this work today because it really is the best of what we’re about, bringing faith and science together.”

Read more about the labs in next week’s issue of The Catholic Spirit.

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Where are the men in the Church?

February 25, 2011

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The following was written by Bill Dill, who is in the Office of Marriage, Family and Life for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Where are the men in the Church? On Saturday, March 12th many Catholic men will be filling the Cathedral of St. Paul under the leadership of Archbishop John Nienstedt. On Saturdays men might be found doing a variety of things – some more noble than others. I believe that God is calling thousands of men to come to the Cathedral that day to worship Him, to be fed, to be healed, to be inspired and to inspire and to stand up as a witness to love of God. God calls us every day to be near to Him and to receive His love. He also calls us to go out and bring other men to Himself. In last week’s gospel, Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth. Salt in the wound doesn’t feel very good, but it does heal. I’d like to encourage you to be salt to every man you know. Invite them to this year’s men’s conference.

We have a great line up of speakers. Archbishop Nienstedt will address us regarding the important role of men in the Church. Dr. John Buri is a professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas and author of “How to Love Your Wife”. Beside his professional training and experience Dr. Buri has years of experience leading men in their path toward holiness and in particular in being the man their wife needs them to be. David Rinaldi spend several years as an Air Force pilot before giving up this career to serve as program director for NET Ministries. One of his primary responsibilities is forming young men and women into mature Christian disciples who are truly ready to give one year of their life to bring Christ to high school and junior high students. Both of these men will talk about what they see in today’s men – their struggles, their weaknesses and their strengths. More importantly they will talk about how to become the men that God is calling us to be and that the Church needs us to be. They will also be addressing how we can serve in the formation of other men in our lives. What’s the goal? How can we reach it? What do I have for support?

The new chaplain for the Archdiocesan men’s apostolate, Fr. Bill Baer, will also be speaking. Fr. Baer has a great gift for public speaking and particularly in the realm of encouragement. Once the mission is set before us, he will gives the motivation to pursue it with all of our will. We will also hear briefly from Minnesota Wild favorite Wes Walz. Though most don’t it, Wes is a very devoted Catholic man. He’ll talk to us a bit about being a Catholic  man and a hockey player.

The Archdiocese has been sponsoring men’s events for 10 years now. This year, however, is the first year a men’s conference will be held at the Cathedral itself. After every event we have sponsor, we hear, “This was great! Why weren’t there more men here?” This year, I hope the answer to that question is, “ There just wasn’t any more room.”?

Click here for more information on the event.

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Archbishop Nienstedt’s remarks at 100th anniversary of the Catholic Bulletin/The Catholic Spirit

January 14, 2011

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(Remarks of Archbishop John Nienstedt at The Great Catholic Get-Together of 2011, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Catholic Bulletin/The Catholic Spirit – January 6, 2011.)

As we celebrate 100 years of The Catholic Spirit, we could point to so many achievements. Imagine the number of words that have been written over that time! The moments of great joy and deep sorrow that appeared on the pages. Life changing events for our world and the Church that were captured by a camera. And the discourse of a few archbishops!

While we cannot minimize these human achievements and the manifestation of the creative talents of so many, what is it really that The Catholic Spirit has meant to the hundreds of thousands of Catholics, and others, who have read its pages week after week?

Above all else, The Catholic Spirit has been and continues to be a tool to bring the faithful into closer relationship with Jesus Christ. The Catholic Spirit is at its best when it unpacks the news of the day through the lens of the teachings of the Catholic Church. It helps Catholics really understand how to live out their faith in the workplace, at school, at play, in the public square. It does this by telling stories – the important stories that are present in our parishes, in our Catholic schools and in places great and small throughout this archdiocese. And the hope is that in each story, column or editorial, the reader encounters Jesus, is strengthened by his presence and brings the fruits of this encounter to those around him.

In November, the Pope himself affirmed the irreplaceable role Catholic newspapers play in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the Church’s viewpoint on contemporary issues. Where the secular media often takes a relativistic and skeptical attitude toward truth, Benedict tells us that the Church must bring the truth of Christ to the world and the Catholic newspapers play in encouraging dialogue among readers as a way to form “critical and Christian consciences.”

The Catholic Spirit strives to be this formative influence in the life of this archdiocese. As publisher of The Catholic Spirit, I am grateful for the care the staff takes in ensuring that the truths of our Catholic faith shine through on the pages of the newspaper – and on the website, Facebook and Twitter, for that matter. And as the words written by those who contribute to The Catholic Spirit will most certainly be delivered in very different ways in the future, the purpose of those words – to bring all who encounter them closer to Jesus – will never change.

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