Tag Archives: Minneapolis

Statue has new home at Minneapolis Institute of Art

April 19, 2012

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And this time St. Paul the Hermit faces the right way — upward in prayer

Art lovers won’t want to miss the beautiful sculpture of St. Paul the Hermit that’s on display — the right way now — at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The larger-than-life-size work of 18th century Italian artist Andrea Bergondi was acquired by the MIA nearly 40 years ago, but until this year the piece wasn’t displayed the way it is now presumed was originally intended. Credit goes to the folks at MIA for rediscovering the proper positioning and not only fixing it but being very public about the misplacement.

Read about the details here, but the short version is that, the way the piece was displayed before, it looked as if the bearded old hermit was diving off a cliff, as a wonderful display explained for several weeks. That display — now down — showcased the Bergondi work in a separate room, with the story of the statue’s restoration and realignment explained in storyboards along the walls of the room.

What the correction did was turn the statue so that the saintly one was seen to be praying upward to God — which seems more appropriate than for him to be going for a dip in a lake.

Find out more about St. Paul the Hermit here, but the back story behind the piece that comes to us from early church tradition is that St. Anthony Abbot found the body of St. Paul the Hermit frozen in prayer. That’s exactly what you’ll see today in the marble image on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Photo credits go to The Catholic Spirit’s Dave Hrbacek.

 

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Catholics, time to brush up on things about your faith that you used to know — or thought you did?

March 21, 2012

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We walk into church and the first thing we do is reach our fingers into the Holy Water fount.

Why?

Even better questions are, what benefit are we supposed to be getting, and, what are we supposed to be thinking about when we do it?

Johan van Parys, a Minneapolis liturgist, has the answers to those questions and more.

The director of liturgy and the sacred arts at the Basilica of St. Mary, he’s packaged them nicely in 150 reader-friendly pages in “Symbols That Surround Us: Faithful Reflections.” (Liguori Publications, $16.99)

Folks who haven’t had any exposure to things Catholic will find explanations for everything from church architecture to garb, from gestures to sacraments. But if it’s been some good while since Sister Mary Whats-her-name taught us that blessing ourselves with Holy Water upon entering church is a reminder of our baptismal vows, that we are members of Christ’s church, that we’re entering a holy place, a different atmosphere than the rest of the world, then you’ll get something out of reading this, too.

Van Parys reminds us that those ordinary elements of water, fire, bread and wine are symbols that “enable us to communicate on a deeper level . . . to express our faith in ways that would not be possible if we were to rely exclusively on words.”

He’s right on the money when he adds, “Although we may not always be aware of them, symbols surround us, connect us to sacred images found in our churches, remind us of our faith, and support us in our private and public prayer.”

Much to learn — or re-learn

Like a good teacher, van Parys sets the stage for comprehension by helping readers grasp the concept that nonverbal communication and symbols touch us everyday. Body language, for example, flowers on Mother’s Day, a hug to a grieving friend.

He quickly moves from the secular to the sacred, explaining, “When it comes to our faith, we use symbls even more readily to approach that which by definition cannot be explained or captured by words: the mysteries of creation and salvation. . . . The liturgy and the sacraments of the Catholic Church use symbols to share meaning and reveal deeper meaning.”

After that, the author is off and running, effectively quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, the documents of Vatican II and other authoritative works.

There’s much to grab onto here, the what and why of vestments worn at Mass, the meaning behind the use of the various oils during sacramental rites, how sacred art can connect us to God and the saints, and of course, the superb symbolism of bread and wine.

Bread, he simply writes, that becomes the Body of Christ, is for Catholics “weekly nourishment on our journey of faith.” And he’s honest enough to note this about the use of wine at Mass:

“Wine has been ascribed medicinal qualities: It was used to settle an upset stomach and to clean out wounds. Still, the principal quality of wine is to add festivity to a gathering and emphasize unity among those who share the cup.”

Perfect for discussion by groups

He’s unafraid to explain how some Catholic ritual evolved from pre-Christian peoples.

And there’s a marvelous chapter on sacred architecture as symbol that tackles why our churches look the way they do and how they’ve changed through 2,000 years. The book is richer for the personal anecdotes van Parys relates: I loved the one about the choir members who tossed their coats casually on the altar only to have the pastor come by and sweep the coats off in one fell swoop!

Each of the 10 chapters ends with a brief reflection and three questions to ponder and/or discuss.

After reading “Symbols That Surround Us” I could easily see it serving as the text for a small group for a number of sessions and as the focus of an adult faith formation series. Those who facilitate gatherings for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) might find it a nice supplementary resource.

But let me go back to my very first thought: I wasn’t halfway through “Symbols That Surround Us” when the lightbulb was turned on: I’d forgotten so many of these symbolic connections that enrich Catholic life. Reading van Parys’ little book will remind those of us in the over-50 crowd of some what we used to know — or at least had studied for the religion class test!

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Prolife ‘billboard people’ aiming higher

January 24, 2012

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“The Billboard People” sponsored 6,500 prolife billboards in 42 states last year, but they want to do more.

“Our goal is 7,000 billboards,” Prolife Across America founder Mary Ann Kucharski told supporters in an email blast, “because we know that the more ads that are out there, the more people reached and babies’ lives saved.”

Changing hearts in order to save babies lives has been the purpose behind Prolife Across America since the Minneapolis-based nonprofit started up 23 years ago as Prolife Minnesota. The heartwarming photos of babies adds an emotional tug to the outdoor marketing’s messages of information and alternatives to abortion, including adoption and post-abortion help.

The group is in the midst of a “Father’s Campaign” (photo above) that began in mid-October with more than 1,900 billboards on that theme, (see them all here), Kucharski told The Catholic Spirit.

She added, “You may be interested in knowing that we will have at least one on University and Vandalia (near the new Planned Parenthood building in St. Paul, MN), thanks to an anonymous donor.”

The e-blast to supports invited donations to reach the 7,000-billboard goal.

“So often our 800# Hotline for Help may be the only visible sign of hope and help to someone on the brink of an abortion decision,” Kucharski wrote. “Please help us do more in 2012.”

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Catholic Community Foundation award winner sees love and creativity in groups that serve others

October 27, 2011

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Sue Morrison is a tiny bit of a woman, but she does great things.

Morrison heads up a committee that gives relatively small grants to nonprofits who serve the poor and needy around Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Again, although the dollars aren’t large, they have a huge impact.

Most of the grants awarded from the Catholic Community Foundation’s Community Priorities Fund are in the $1,000 to $5,000 range. But the groups that receive them are so appreciative and do so much with the money that it makes Morrison ‘s involvement especially rewarding.

She especially likes to visit the sites of the organizations that apply for grants to check out their operations and see just what they are doing to care for at-risk children, young mothers and elderly people who are living independently.

“I love the opportunity to see what loving and creative people dream up to serve the underprivileged,” Morrison said. “I get lifted up by the good hearts and the creativity of those who work on behalf of the less fortunate.”

Charity alive, but needs growing

Morrison’s remarks came Oct. 26 after Archbishop John Nienstedt and CCF president Marilou Eldred presented her with the Catholic Community Foundation’s Legacy of Faith Award for philanthropic leadership that supports the spiritual, educational and social needs of the Catholic community. A crowded ballroom at the Minneapolis Club gave her a standing ovation.

She made two good points with a connection you’ll get right off:

  • From her observations, Catholic grassroots charity is alive and well.
  • The need keeps growing; CCF has three times more applicants for grants than it can fund.

Surprise: People read their Catholic paper

Oh, and she opened her talk by expressing amazement at how many people read The Catholic Spirit. When the archdiocesan newspaper carried a Q & A with Morrison after it was announced that she’d be the Legacy of Faith recipient she said her phone rang off the hook. “Someone even sent me flowers!” she exclaimed.

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Hair today, gone tommor…well, gone Aug. 14: You may want to get in on this priest’s ‘heady’ challenge.

August 3, 2011

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Here’s $10. Get a haircut.

That’s how it started, says Msgr. Sharbel Maroun.

The pastor of St. Maron Maronite Rite Church tells the full story of his Hair for Hope fundraising campaign.

You’ll not only want to read it, you’ll want to hit the DONATE button to help the Minneapolis priest reach his goal of $200,000 to support children suffering from cancer and Lebanese television.  As of July 31 Monsignor says he’s deposited $14,405 in the fund.

The Hair for Hope Haircut Celebration is planned by Sunday, Aug. 14, so you’ve until then to help out. Following the 10:15 a.m. Divine Liturgy at St. Maron (602 University N.E., Minneapolis) on the 14th the parish is having an angel hair pasta (Get it?) dinner. Monsignor will entertain for a bit, then an auction and the hair cutting is scheduled.

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Love those prolife “baby” billboards? There’s more reason to love ‘em

April 8, 2011

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One of the very best prolife activities, I think anyway, are you billboards of smiling, happy babies that Prolife Across America produces and pays to have scattered near and far.

And founder mary Ann Kucharski passed alnog some good news recently.

First, there’s Baby June Clare, who is featured on over 500 new Billboards!

“With your prayers and support,” Kucharski noted in an e-mail, “she will appear in hundreds of cities and states all across America! Thank you for helping to make it possible!”

Next, a recent independent audit report showed that over 93.6% of every dollar donated to PROLIFE Across AMERICA goes directly to the life-saving outreach.

Many know that the organization started as Prolife Across Minnesota. Kucharski, BTW – from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Anthony –  is a past recipient of The Catholic Spirit’s Leading With Faith Award.

So, for lots of good reasons, you can feel good about donating to keep babies on billboards — great reminders that life in the womb is in fact life. Here’s a link to donate: 

 

http://prolifeacrossamerica.org/donations.htm

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Minnesota Catholic paper starts second century with a head start on reaching audience in the digital world

January 7, 2011

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(The following is the text from Bob Zyskowski’s talk at The Catholic Spirit newspaper’s 100th anniversary party in downtown Minneapolis Jan. 6. His talk included a seven-minute video that demonstrated the new http://www.TheCatholicSpirit.com)

Many of you know Father John Malone. I see from the chuckles that you do.

Well, Father Malone has a brother named Jim.

Jim Malone came home from the office one day, and before he could get his coat off his wife, Kath, who worked for years in the office at Hill-Murray, said, “Jim, you gotta read this.”

She held out a copy of the Catholic Bulletin to him.

“Could I take my jacket off first,” Jim asked.

“Nope. You gotta read this.”

Turns out a column I’d written had touched Kath, and she had to share it with Jim because she knew it would touch him the same way.

That was more than a few years ago, but touching lives is something that has happened pretty regularly over the last century, thanks to the Catholic Bulletin and its successor, The Catholic Spirit. And we know that because people tell us we touch their lives.

A catechist in Hopkins let us know she uses The Catholic Spirit to prepare teenagers for Confirmation.

A teacher in Woodbury orders 25 copies each school year so that everyone in his class can keep up to date with the news of their church.

A small faith-sharing group in Maplewood — a RENEW group that still meets — uses articles from The Catholic Spirit as discussion starters.

A pastor in Roseville told me at every parish meeting he goes to somebody brings up something they read in The Catholic Spirit.

These are just some of the anecdotes that confirm in my mind a philosophy I’ve pushed our staff to live by: I don’t want The Catholic Spirit to be liberal or conservative – I want it to be useful.

It’s a philosophy that has earned The Catholic Spirit national recognition. Over the past century this newspaper has done tremendous work, but during the past six years The Catholic Spirit has become one of the very best diocesan newspapers in North America. For this medium-size archdiocese out on the prairie to have its Catholic paper named No. 1 four times – and never lower than third – in competition with New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Baltimore — says a lot about the newspaper, but it says so much about you, our readers – about the excellence you expect from us.

What’s more important than recognition by Catholic journalism judges is that you appreciate what we do. You truly are friends of The Catholic Spirit. Your being here tonight to celebrate with our board and our staff is testament to the fact that you understand the need for our church to communicate in the best possible ways.

There are lots of friends of The Catholic Spirit. We hear from readers all the time that as soon as the paper comes in the mail they read it cover to cover.

But we also get this type of note, and

Stephanie Anderson, sent this, and it’s printed right off a computer screen.

“Being a single mother of two very active and smart kids, I don’t always have the time to read the actual paper when it comes in the mail. It’s nice to be able to read articles online through Facebook.”

While so many of us appreciate holding our reading material in our hands, a growing audience lives in the digital world, and our church must as well.

For us, the future has arrived. TheCatholicSpirit.com this year was named the best diocesan newspaper website.

But we’re not resting. Shortly after we came back from New Orleans with that award in June, our web guru, Craig Berry, told me he was dumping the old site and creating something new. By September that “best website” has been completely revised. As we take a look at it today you’ll get a peek into how The Catholic Spirit is spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ as it begins its second century.

We’ve jumped into social media so that we can touch even more lives. We push out our stories by promoting them on Facebook.

We send an e-newsletter to several thousand folks, giving them the headlines and the gist of stories and a link they can click on to send them right to that story.

And as of yesterday morning, TheCatholicSpirit had 18,540 followers on Twitter. That means that every time we post a story 18,540 people get a tweet with a link to our website.

As Catholic newspapers have for 100 years, Catholic media today – through e-mail and video and smart phones and iPads and Facebook and Twitter and whatever comes out next, as well as through printed publications – will have the same charge:

  • Spread the Gospel and the teachings of the church.
  • Form consciences and values.
  • Deepen spiritual and prayer life.
  • Challenge Catholics to live morally and justly.
  • Connect Catholics to their faith, to their parishes, to their fellow parishioners, to the archdiocese and to the wider church.
  • Report stories that affirm others’ faith and inspire even more noble acts.
  • Celebrate Catholic traditions, strengthen Catholic identity and enliven the Catholic community.

I’ll be honest. There are days when I wish I were five years older and could have retired before all this new technology entered our lives.

But most days I’m excited to be part of this great movement in Catholic journalism. God is giving us a great opportunity to reach and inspire not only those faithful readers of The Catholic Spirit but thousands more who see our work on their computer screens.

It’s a great way to start a second century, don’t you think?

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Father John Forliti’s new book offers ‘Ten Anchors’ every Catholic — especially teens and young adults — ought to know and cherish

December 8, 2010

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New book by Father John Forliti

Father John Forliti wants to make it difficult for teen and young adult Catholics to miss out on the satisfying, hope-filled, “anchoring” gift that Catholic life offers.

The retired pastor who is now a high school chaplain believes that young people will grow personally and both the church and society will benefit if younger folks know more about their church, if they see the good that people of faith have brought to the world, and if they realize that the church values what they value.

Already the author of a double-handful of books, many which deal with values and choices, Father Forliti has put together a compact, 75-page paperback that may just be an answer to keeping younger Catholics from drifting away from their baptismal faith.

At the heart of Catholic life

“Ten Anchors” presents just that, 10 solid values, ideas and elements of Catholic life that are key “for navigating the sea of life,” as Father John puts it.

Each chapter offers the long-time priest-educator’s reflection on a dimension of the church that he considers at the heart of the Roman Catholic experience:

  • Compassion;
  • Social Justice;
  • Moral Tradition;
  • Jesus;
  • The Eucharist;
  • Reverence for Life;
  • Respect for the Mind;
  • Easter People;
  • Roman and Catholic;
  • Mary and the Saints.

Much good news to share

As with most of the writing by this 73-year-old priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “Ten Anchors” is filled with stories – and they’re “good news” stories. That’s a strength, because as Father Forliti notes, secular sources readily share all that can discourage young people from being connected to religion.

“In its 2,000-year history,” he notes, “the Catholic Church has done it all, both the best and the worst. While others may choose to write about its failures, this book will focus on its successes.”

Readers will learn, for example, about the compassion of the founders of religious communities, about the work of Catholic Charities, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the values embedded in the Ten Commandments, the Catholic scientists throughout history who have enlightened humankind, the rationale for Catholic belief on the sacredness of life.

Father Forliti invites his readers to “walk with me through the Mass from beginning to end,” explaining the major parts of the Eucharistic liturgy “and how it might speak to you.”

Textbook-like usefulness

Each chapter concludes with three brief sections that solidify the teaching on that chapter’s topic.

First there are a handful of lines that concisely summarize why that dimension of the church is so important.

Father John follows with suggestions for how to incorporate that dimension into one’s life. These are down-to-earth suggestions: Memorize the Ten Commandments; study Catholic history – don’t be satisfied with hearsay; read a biography of an American saint; choose an agency or cause you can support with prayers and financial help, “no matter how small”; choose a Gospel and “walk” through it, noting the words, actions and feelings of Jesus. “What is it he is saying to you, what is he doing that impresses you, and what is he feeling that inspires you?”

Finally, each chapter concludes with a short prayer.

“Ten Anchors” is a book that will make a great add-on to any faith formation efforts for those in the later years of high school and older teens and young adults. Youth ministers and young adult ministers may want to check it out as a 10-week series. Older adults will find it valuable as well as a refresher course.

It’s a well-written, well-edited capsulation of the dimensions of Catholic life that, from his years on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas, as pastor of St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis, and now as chaplain at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Father Forliti knows must be handed on to the next generation. — bz

“Ten Anchors” is available from the author for $12.95. Contact Father Forliti at jeforliti@comcast.net. It is also available at http://www.lulu.com.

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