Tag Archives: St. Paul

Who was ‘O’Shaughnessy,’ anyway?

October 23, 2014

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That Great Heart-coverBy Bob Zyskowski

In St. Paul, the name “O’Shaughnessy” graces a handful of buildings at the University of St. Thomas, including the library, education center and football stadium, and at St. Catherine University there is the architectural masterpiece of the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium.

Who this O’Shaughnessy was and how he came about the financial means to support Catholic higher education — plus an amazing variety and staggering volume of charities and individuals — is told in an enlightening new book, “That Great Heart: The Story of I.A. O’Shaughnessy.”

It’s a rags-to-riches tale: Ignatius Aloysius O’Shaughnessy, born in 1885, the youngest of 13 children of a Stillwater bootmaker, graduates from the then College of St. Thomas, becomes the largest independent oil refiner in the United States, makes millions and gives millions away.

Where he started, how he grew his businesses, how and to whom he donates — and especially what motivates him — gives readers an insight into the man behind the buildings.

It makes for good-paced reading, thanks to the journalist’s writing style of author Doug Hennes.

Hennes, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas and a former reporter and editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, never met O’Shaughnessy.

He was a freshman at St. Thomas in the fall of 1973; O’Shaughnessy died at 88 in November that year. The oilman’s funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and a memorial Mass was held on campus.

“I remember looking out a window from one of the buildings at St. Thomas at what seemed to be an endless procession of black limousines,” Hennes said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the guy.”

Decades later Hennes wrote about O’Shaughnessy for the
St. Thomas magazine and helped with a video about him. That sparked an interest in Hennes to learn more about I.A.

Boxloads of letters

At the Minnesota History Center he discovered 14 boxes of O’Shaughnessy’s correspondence and newspaper clippings, all in files organized alphabetically.

The material painted a picture of the man who is likely known to few who enter the buildings that bear his name.

“Some material even surprised family members,” Hennes said.

IA-St. Thomas football portraitThose surprises include facts such as:

— O’Shaughnessy played on the first St. John’s football team that beat rival St. Thomas, was dismissed for drinking beer (at age 16), went to St. Thomas and became a star for the Tommies.

— As part of a marketing effort, his Globe Oil Company sponsored a basketball team, and players on the Globe Refiners made the bulk of the U.S. squad that won the gold medal in the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

— For a short time he was a part-owner of the Cleveland Indians.

— He was offered the post of U.S. ambassador to Australia but turned it down.

How O’Shaughnessy made his millions is interesting: He borrowed money to finance drilling and refining projects and either paid back investors or bought them out when the projects succeeded.

He played a major role in the development of the oil industry in the Oklahoma and Kansas area, risking building a refinery at the height of the Great Depression.

He eventually used a vertical marketing strategy to not only drill for oil but to refine it for multiple uses — gasoline, kerosene, burning oils, turpentine and lubricating oils and greases — and to distribute it under the Globe trademark to 600 independent dealers in 12 states in the middle of the country and into Canada.Globe Oil truck

“He was pretty sharp,” Hennes said. “He had a shrewd business sense — he had an instinct about what would work and what wouldn’t. And he hired really good people to run the operations.”

O’Shaughnessy was an early adopter of new technologies and methods, and also understood the need to keep employees happy. After starting to give Christmas bonuses, he felt compelled to continue the practice even in years when the company lost money.

Generous beyond measure

Still, it is O’Shaughnessy’s charitable contributions that are the real story behind the man.

“He gave to everything,” Hennes told The Catholic Spirit. The files contain letter after letter of requests for loans and donations, he said. If he decided he would give, he’d write yes and an amount right on the bottom of the letter and write the check right away. Many are for $100 here, $200 there.

“If he was saying no,” Hennes said, “there would be a letter, because he’d always say why.”

 

IA-St. Thomas library mortar work

Outside the O'Shaughnessy Education Center at St. Thomas.

Outside the O’Shaughnessy Education Center at St. Thomas.

While O’Shaughnessy donated millions for buildings at the University of Notre Dame as well as St. Kate and St. Thomas, he often donated only if organizations  raised a matching sum.

“He really saw himself as trying to leverage other gifts,” Hennes said. “He was willing to give, but he wanted to get other people involved, too.”

His faith and his understanding of stewardship both come into play in giving.

Hennes quoted him, “The Lord has been good to me, so I figure I might as well spread some of my money around where it will do some good.”

There’s much more, including O’Shaughnessy’s part in the war effort during World War II, his commitment to his parish —
St. Mark in St. Paul — and the meeting with Pope Paul VI and Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh that led to O’Shaughnessy financing one of the pope’s dreams, the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in the Holy Land.

I.A. O'Shaughnessy and Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh at a private meeting with Pope Paul VI at Castelgandolfo.

I.A. O’Shaughnessy and Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh at a private meeting with Pope Paul VI at Castelgandolfo.

About the book

“That Great Heart” by Doug Hennes, Beaver’s Pond Press, Edina, Minn., 2014; 259 pages.

Events

Doug Hennes (2014)A book launch will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium on St. Thomas’ campus in St. Paul. The event will include a reading, reception and book signing by author Doug Hennes.

Other “That Great Heart” signings include:

— Noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, bookstore, Terrence Murphy Hall, St. Thomas’ Minneapolis campus, 1000 LaSalle Ave.

— 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, Anderson Student Center, St. Thomas’
St. Paul campus.

— Sunday, Nov. 9, after 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses, St. Mark’s Church, 1976 Dayton Ave., St. Paul.

— Saturday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m., St. Patrick’s Guild, 1554 Randolph Ave.,
St. Paul.

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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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Thrills & chills at Cathedral of St. Paul

January 13, 2012

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Red Bull Ice Crashers event that skirts the Cathedral of St. Paul — skaters actually go down a ramp atop the cathedral steps —  are bringing cold-weather sports fans out to see the excitement of this daredevil extreme sport — and bringing folks into the  cathedral itself. They’re likely coming to warm up first — it was 13 degrees out there when these photos were taken early Friday afternoon — but plenty of people are looking around as they do at this architectural beauty. Below, those steeples in the distance are the Church of the Assumption downtown. This photo was taken from the front doors of the cathedral. You can read more about the Red Bull Crashed Ice event here.

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Greetings from sunny Minnesota — FYI: It won’t last

January 11, 2012

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For several weeks now on my drive in to work I’ve been seeing this view of the just-risen sun hitting the facade of the Cathedral of St. Paul. I finally stopped, grabbed my camera and tried to save the scene, because after living in Minnesota for 28+ years I know this respite from winter weather isn’t going to continue. Snow forecast in the next 24 hours.

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Vern Schultz has saved glimpses of St. Paul back in the day

November 15, 2011

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If you’d enjoy a trip down memory lane through St. Paul 60-70-80 years ago, you might look for Vern Schultz’s “Memoirs of a Left Hander” (Amazon.com).

The self-published book about growing up in the Frogtown neighborhood preserves some history worth saving about the 1940s and ‘50s.

Schultz, who lives in Prior Lake now, taught at St. Agnes High School in the early 1950s, and for many years officiated sports, including in the Catholic Athletic Association.

Catholic to the core, Schultz recalls both highlights and low-lights of Catholic life in those pre-Vatican II days. In more recent times, room in the Schultz home was rented to the pastor of St. Michael Church in Prior Lake!

No abortion for them

Schultz’s faith pours through when he writes about how he and his wife Toodie reacted when, after a genetic disorder took the lives of their first two children and a doctor recommended she have an abortion when they found themselves expecting again.

There is their gratitude, too, when Catholic Charities came to their rescue to help them adopt the family they so wanted.

Writing a memoir is no easy task, of course, and while the middle years of Schultz’s life get short shrift, that weakness doesn’t detract from the very pleasurable reading of his earlier years. Those are great memories of a time and place that need to be remembered and cherished, a Schultz has a nice writing touch.

Allow me, though, to offer advice for others putting down their life history: Get a proofreader. My teeth grind when I read “to” where “too” is required and “complemented” when “complimented” is the proper word. — bz

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Grief for guys — a man writes about the loneliness of loss

August 27, 2011

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Bill Cento was called “the last hard-nosed newsman” at the St. Paul daily paper he helped to edit, so he surprised me with his amazingly sensitive book — most of it in poetry, of all things.
Cento has updated the first version of this short work, adding 22 pieces, yet it’s still only 90 some pages in small, paperback form.
It’s a unique book uniquely written and uniquely packaged to be helpful to others — perhaps men in particular — who have lost the love of their life.
The poetry is from the gut guy stuff, hard, honest and edited to the evisceral. Cento puts his anger and his ache into words like you’ve never read before. You’ll be wiping the wetness from your eyes.

Behind the hurt, hope

Each poem gets the briefest of introductions, with Cento usually explaining what was going on in his life that he had to get out.
He admitted that the writing was therapuetic for him, but his real reason for publishing it — and he’s self-publishing at this point — is to help others see that they are not alone, that they can get through their grief — and loneliness, especially the loneliness.
It’s a frankness we don’t get from most men, which makes “Alone: For All Those Who Grieve” valuable reading for those suffering a loss. But read it just for the beauty of the writing.

Few have written about the love in a marriage like this.

Many will appreciated the hope he offers to all who ache for a loved one who has left too soon.

Order it now on Amazon.com.

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Catholics, imagine if St. Paul had had e-mail

August 23, 2011

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Just think how much the Evangelist Paul would have been able to accomplish if there had been e-mail back in his day.

That’s just what Kathleen T. Choi did. Check out her clever column from the Hawaii Catholic Herald at http://bit.ly/nEixsl.

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Joke — no joke — just for Catholics

August 5, 2011

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Jim and Jennifer were at their wedding rehearsal on a Friday night when a tornado struck the church, collapsing the walls and roof and tragically killing them both.

They’d led good lives and went straight to heaven, where they asked St. Peter for a favor: Could they still get married?

St. Peter said, “Well, sure. Tell you what: I’ll come and get you when we can do that.”

Jim and Jennifer were pleased, but it was five years before St. Peter showed up and said they could get married.

And so they had their wedding. It wasn’t too long though that the couple realized they’d made a mistake. The went to St. Peter and asked if they could have a divorce.

“Well, we frown upon that here,” St. Peter said, “but let me see what I can do. I’ll call you.”

After waiting five years to get married, though, Jennifer was concerned that it might take just as long to start divorce proceedings. “How long will it take?” she asked.

St. Peter was miffed. “It took five years to bet a preacher up here. Who knows how long it will be before a lawyer shows up!”

AND HERE’S THE NO-JOKE:

Joseph’s Coat, the St. Paul walk-in center for the homeless and needy, will be doing it’s annual distribution of school supplies and backpacks Aug. 29 and 31, so there’s still time for all of us to donate so some kids feel good about going to school this year because they have a new backpack and school supplies like the other kids.

I’ll be taking the backpack pictured here and picking up crayons, pens, pencils, markers, 3-ring binders, looseleaf paper — all that good stuff you use to love to have — and dropping it off at 1107 West Seventh in St. Paul.

Donations are accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m to 2 p.m.

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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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