Tag Archives: St. Paul

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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Builder of first church in St. Paul had no easy life

July 27, 2010

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Galtier biography cover

“Lucien Galtier — Pioneer Priest,”

by Marianne Luban

Minnesota history buffs, and especially Minnesota Catholic history enthusiasts, will appreciate the research that author Marianne Luban has gathered for this first biography of the priest who built the very first log church in St. Paul.

A street, a school, a plaza, an apartment tower and a handful of other entities in the Minnesota capital bear the name Galtier and pay homage to the interesting French missionary who saw a promising future for a bend in the Mississippi River and had the wisdom to force the former Pig’s Eye Landing to be renamed after the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

Father Lucien Galtier’s letters are the major source for this story, along with the letters of the pioneer bishops and priests who established the church in the Upper Midwest and historical records of the dioceses in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Luban does an excellent job of getting across this tale of hardship and suffering, and her research gives new insight into the iconic figure whose name lives on long after his death in 1866 at the age of 54.

The French missionaries arrived in the New World zealous to convert the “barbarian” native people to Christianity, and they suffered greatly in their efforts. Luban helps us see Galtier as a somewhat different missionary:

“Galtier clearly did not view himself as an expendable sacrifice to the cause. He was a man who knew his own worth and became troubled when he thought his talents were being wasted. He did not shrink from his duty, as he saw it, but preferred to do it with a modicum of dignity. Comfort, of course, was out of the question, but the sheer deprivation Galtier face year after year seemed to him in aid of nothing but the breaking of the spirit.”

A complex man

The bulk of Galtier’s letters, then, are complaints to his bishop — nagging, whining and demanding. But Luban helps us see another side of the missionary through other sources.  The priest is said to have had a remarkable personality and power — “the face of a Caesar and the heart of a Madonna” — a strong, rich singing voice. And he was a workaholic.

We learn that although Father Lucien was sent to Minnesota to convert the Indians, he struggled with the Sioux language, and found that he preferred ministering to those who were already committed Catholics. Sent to build a church in Keokuk, Iowa, he took over an old house, “covered part of the back room, made a door, placed a small window, laid out a wood floor and plastered a little,” he wrote to Bishop Mathias Loras in Dubuque, but as was his want, he added:

“I don’t want to be all the time a plasterer, a carpenter, a cook, and others, but only a priest, a holy priest, and a priest a little more involved than in Keokuk.”

As interesting as the reading is and as informative as it is about the pioneer church in the mid-19th century, the material has the potential to be a much more.

What if…

First, the work needed a stronger editor and proofreader. There is a bad typo that moves an action inexplicably from 1843 to 1943. Also, no professional editor would have allowed an author to acknowledge that she asked an astrologer to come up with a personality profile of her subject.

No editor worth his or her salt would have allowed the text to go off on so many tangents.

Time after time Galtier’s biography wanders, sidetracked by anecdotes about other priests of the era. A good example is the tale about the  priest who shot one of the early bishops of Winona, MN. It’s as if in her research the author came across some juicy tidbit and couldn’t resist putting it in the book that was ostensibly a biography of just one priest.

Second, this really is good material — great research — but I couldn’t help but wonder how much impact it might have if done in another literary genre. Rather than the biography of one priest, the captivating stories of the lives of several priests who served the Upper Midwest in pioneer times would make an interesting and very readable historical novel.

Because Galtier wrote no autobiography, Luban has been led to make assumptions about him. That’s fodder more for a work of fiction, not biography. Second use of the material? — bz

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Lovers of the written word will love “The Florist’s Daughter”

May 23, 2008

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THE FLORIST’S DAUGHTER,
by Patricia Hampl

Scanning through radio stations while driving, I happened upon Patricia Hampl reading from her latest memoir. The life she brought to the words she read instantly made me stop the scan function, and for the next I don’t know how many minutes I was mesmerized by her storytelling.
I knew I had to get the book.

“The Florist’s Daughter” proved even better as a read.

The woman can flat out write.

Details of her life growing up in St. Paul, Minn. after World War II serve as the structure for Hampl to tell us what she really wants us to know, and that’s who her parents were and what her relationship was with them.

She does that so well that you feel you know her chain-smoking Irish-American mother and her handsome, reserved Czech father — the florist of the title — well enough that you could write their obituaries if asked to. In fact, maybe that’s what Hampl has done — at book length.

So much of the book is about what the author was thinking during the events of those growing-up years, how she reacted to the events of life that her family lived, and especially how she both remained the same and yet grew.

How many adult children might empathize with Hampl when she writes about agreeing out of a sense of duty to travel with her elderly mother to Ireland — to “offer it up,” as she inserts — only to acknowledge afterward that her mother turned out to be the best travel companion ever.

Can’t you just picture a middle-aged woman sneaking a bottle of chardonnay and a pack of Merit 100s into the senior living center so her mother can enjoy those forbidden pleasures?

Later on she tells of visiting her mother on her death bed this way: “She would hang by her fingernails from the ledge of life.”

Hampl makes it ease to picture the flooded streets of St. Paul’s old Italian levee neighborhood by describing them as “suddenly Venetian.” Minnesota itself, she writes, is situated “at the nosebleed north of the country.”

During car trips in the family Ford, she and her brother would be “enacting the turf wars of the backseat.”

Catholics will be teased throughout as memories of religious practice float through the text, and — because she grew up in its shadow, the Cathedral of St. Paul almost takes on the role of a character as Hampl crafts this wonderful story out of, to use her phrase, “the delicate scrim of daily life.”

There is a sense of place that this University of Minnesota professor has preserved for us, first for the very Catholic hometown of her childhood, perhaps best explained with this quote from the book:
“Ours was a pre-freeway St. Paul, a time-place where it was possible to spend an entire lifetime without straying over the Minneapolis line where the Scandinavians went about their Lutheran business.”

But there is another sense of place Hampl brings us to, the place of a daughter, the roles that fall to daughters, and maybe this paragraph sums it up:
“I sit with my mother, as has been destined since time began because a daughter is a daughter all her life. We stay like this, hand in hand. We have all the time in the world — world without end, amen. Words we recite by heart when she asks me to say the Rosary with her, the last phrase of the Gloria, the little prayer at the end that puts to rest all the Hail Marys.”

Thanks, Patricia. — bz

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