Category Archives: Uncategorized

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Planting Mustard Seeds

About two decades ago I made the choice to be a catechist. Every Sunday night, I went to Saint Vincent’s and helped to lead a group of eighth graders in talking and learning about the faith. Now was every eighth grader on fire to talk about religion on a Sunday night? No. But do I believe those youth learned more about their faith? I do. I was helping as part of a team to pass the faith on, and over that year, I grew as a person, and my hope is that those youths, now in their 30s, grew too in their understanding of the faith. Just as growth sometimes takes place below the surface and we don’t always see it, the same is true with our faith. Sometimes growth is obvious – and you see it as a catechist. Other times it’s a little more hidden. Both types of growth involve the Holy Spirit, and people who are willing to help the growth happen. That’s where you come in.

We need a team to help pass the faith on to our young.

As you know we rely on an army of catechists to come and help pass on the faith to our young people too during the school year when we have faith formation at our parish.

Right now, we have a need with 82 positions to fill.

These include:

 Catechists, who lead small groups of students throughout the year and plan pre-selected lessons; along with substitutes to fill in and provide support; hall monitors who help maintain safety in the halls as well as monitoring the entrances to the building; gym supervisors who help supervise gym activities, and people to help set up for faith formation night.

We also have need for volunteers to assist with the Youth EXPO, in particular on the 2nd and 4th Sunday evenings of September through April to help lead small group discussions and activities. (No lesson planning required)

For our confirmation program, we are in need of people to help with the retreat. Needed for this is a small group facilitator to lead discussions; a hospitality crew to prepare snacks and lunch and a registrar to greet and get youth checked in. For the program throughout the year we are also in need of presenters who present on predetermined topics that they go over with the director, and mentors to help develop and maintain a pastoral relationship with candidates and help guide the candidates on their faith journey.

Finally we are also looking for people interested on being in the Youth EXPO and Confirmation Committees as our programs are always being fine tuned.

When you become a catechist, you will make a difference and play an important role in helping to pass on the faith. If you talk to some of our veteran catechists or those who have journeyed with youth through confirmation, they’ll have plenty of stories to share of how the faith began to come alive in our youth. For others, it might be a number of years from now and they return to the faith in part because of the mustard seeds that you helped plant. Whether you are leading a group, monitoring the hall or helping on a retreat, by simply giving of your time you are making a lasting impact on living out what Jesus told us, to go and baptize and make disciples of all nations.

I hope you will prayerfully consider getting involved in faith formation which begins Sept. 6thYou can sign up on the board as you leave Mass, or by going to our website and following the tabs to faith formation, or emailing or contacting Esther Jaeger at 651-423- 4402 x 3225.

By working together, we can do so much to help fan the flames of faith in our young people. Thank you for considering this important ministry!

God bless,   ~Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Journeying Forward as a People of Hope

One of my favorite courses in seminary was an elective class we had on the virtues and their corresponding vices. The virtues are the gifts we are given from God at our baptism and by virtue of being born into this world. Among them is the virtue of hope.

Now when I say “hope” to you what comes to mind?

I suppose on any given day I’d say as a Vikings fan I hope the Vikes win and the Packers lose. As one who can’t stand winter I’d say I hope winter does not come this year. I’d use it to talk about things I’d like to see happen, but that’s not what hope is about.

Hope can be summed up best as we have a hope for heaven, but we live out that future hope right here in this world in the here and the now. As such, we do not say as Catholics “I’m saved.” Certainly we are loved by God, but talk is cheap. It needs to be backed up by action. A Christian who is on fire with hope is someone who is so in love with God that they want to go to heaven, but take seriously the words of Jesus to wash the feet of one another and to love others as He loved them. Jesus was focused on the Father, but that meant living out His mission here on earth.

So what of His mother, Mary? We venerate Mary quite a bit as Catholics, but just like with hope if asked what hope is, we might have a hard time defining Mary exactly. Particularly you may find confusion among Protestants (though Martin Luther who began the reformation had a deep Marian devotion, more on that perhaps for a future column). Some might think she isn’t all that significant; others the fourth member of the Trinity, or perhaps some super saint above the rest. Really though Mary for us is a sign of someone who lived out faith, hope and charity, the theological virtues. Someone who didn’t know where God was leading her, but put all her trust into God by bringing Jesus into the world.

After that “yes” at the Annunciation, Mary lived out her faith in so many ways. In the Gospel for the Assumption, we see an example in the story of the Visitation, where Mary visits Elizabeth. She goes out of her way to help her cousin, not something she was required to do, but something she wanted to do. As the years go by, Mary will always be close to her Son. Even on Good Friday, when the sword pierces her heart, she remains faithful to God. Her reward for this is sainthood, being assumed body and soul into heaven. Her uniqueness is being born without original sin; but she had free will her whole life, and her choice was trust. Commitment. Love. Dedication.

You won’t find the Assumption in the Bible. This is where the big “T” comes in: Tradition. It was always celebrated for centuries, and declared a dogma by Pius XII in 1950.      Quite a good time for it if you look at history, with wars raging, the Iron Curtain descending on Europe, and numerous problems all over the world with racism and violence. Pius in declaring this dogma which was already held by our Church (for had Mary died and not been assumed, certainly the early Christians would have venerated her tomb) Pius gave the world a sign of hope – someone to look to.

So what that means for us is to look to Mary, but to challenge ourselves. To not be content doing the bare minimum our faith requires, but to always ask ourselves how can I take it to the next level. How can I be better at how I live my faith. How can I be a person of charity and love. How can I overcome the nagging sins in my life. Like Mary, how can I be a sign of love in this world to all from those under my roof to the people at work and school to the new people I will meet. Inside us all is such power to be like Mary, the Theotokos or “God Bearer.”

Finally, Mary also does so much for us too to bring us closer to God. As someone in heaven who was always close to Jesus, we ask for her intercession. This is why we pray not “to” Mary but “through” Mary. We ask her to pray with us and to help us, much like we do with our earthly mothers too. Most Catholics know the words to the “Hail Mary,” but as such a familiar prayer it’s worth thinking about the actual words from time to time that we pray. Mary is holy and can help us become holy; Mary prays for us as sinners because she loves us; now and at the hour of our death meaning she is always with us as she was with Jesus. Mary is full of grace and we are too with the Holy Spirit. The Lord is with her and is with us. Mary helped Jesus through so much in His life and the same is true with us.

This Tuesday, August 15thwe honor our blessed Mother with the Assumption, a Holy Day of Obligation. We’ll have two Masses, at8:30 am and then again in the evening at 6 pm

Have a blessed week,   ~Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Our Fall Mass Schedule

One of the things that we continually look at as a parish is ways we can improve ministries for everyone and encourage people to live out their faith. To do this, we have to look at our resources, and also at the question of what will be the best fit for our parish.

The most important things that happen at any parish are the sacraments, in particular the celebration of the Mass on weekends. It is here that the community comes together.

I have to say, I really love our liturgies at Saint Joe’s. Sometimes as a priest you hear stories of things that need adjusting liturgically in that a parish isn’t following the instructions for Mass given to it by the universal Church, or has developed odd traditions that have become a problem, but not so at Saint Joe’s. I find our music uplifting, the lectors do a great job proclaiming the Word, and that we all come together to truly create a vibrant liturgy that lifts the soul closer to God. It’s a joy to offer Mass here, and Bill Bradley has done such a great job that he gives meaning to that old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” With Bill and our worship commission, we do look at ways to always enhance worship or try new things, but our worship experience is extremely positive.

However with the experience, we also want as many people as possible to experience it. So a question for the priest is to also consider not just the content of the Mass and how it is celebrated, but when too.

With that in mind, one of the things I have been considering for some time is our liturgy schedule, and making a slight adjustment.

Specifically, we will be moving the 6 p.m. Mass on Sunday night, to an early Mass on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., starting the weekend of September 9th & 10th. This decision was made after consulting with some of our parish staff, trustees and also the parish council at large. I approached them over the summer, wanting to make this change for fall.

There are a few reasons for this change.

First is attendance. We do Mass counts at each Mass, and we have consistently found that the Sunday night Mass is about a third of the attendance at the other 3 Masses. While this would be fine if this Mass catered to a specific group (e.g., a “youth” Mass), it does not.

Second, we also consider the Mass schedules at nearby parishes. Saint John Neumann, about a 5 minute drive from our parish, has a 6 p.m. Sunday evening Mass. Saint Thomas Beckett, which is also 5 minutes from Saint Joe’s, has a 5 p.m. Sunday evening Mass. Finally Risen Savior also has a Sunday evening Mass October through April. However neither one of these parishes have an early Mass – the earliest offered is

8 a.m. Some people do have a lot of activities going on on Sundays in their family, so this would give people an option who would like to start their day early.

Third, we each have different worship styles, meaning our prayer experiences that are most impactful differ based on the individual. With that in mind, what will be a little unique about the 7 a.m. Mass is it will be more quiet. Other parishes have a Mass on Sundays that do not have singing. While this will also make the 7 a.m. Mass shorter, it will also make it unique for those who prefer more quiet at Mass.

Lastly, for years our parish has had a retired priest assist on weekends. Unfortunately Fr. Bob’s recovery from surgery has not gone as expected, and there are currently no plans for a second priest. Though I am admittedly more of a night person than morning person, having the 3 masses closer together will also help me personally to have a lot more energy for all of them.

While I know some people really do enjoy the 6 p.m. Mass, I really do think this will be a positive change for our parish.  Please remember the new schedule will start the weekend of September 9th & 10th.  Thank you for your support for our parish and for living out your faith by coming to Mass.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

No, I’m not referring to “long haired freaky people need not apply,” the sign referred to in
the song by Five Man Electrical Band. But sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice if we had
signs that were clear like that, especially from God? Signs that were clear in the sense
that we had clear direction with respect to what to do?

In the readings we had at daily Mass last week on Monday, Jesus, in response to a
demand from the Pharisees for a sign, states “no sign will be given…except the sign of
Jonah the prophet.” The point here is that God does not typically do overt signs like
sending kind of magician; but rather if you look deeply and take some time, there are
plenty of signs there. The sign of Jonah was resurrection; he went from the belly of the
big fish and being lost to a new life; the town he preached to, Nineveh, went from the
darkness of sin to repenting and converting in their ways.

How, then, does God speak to us? Well, I think if we look all around, we can see signs
of God in our lives.

When we want signs about what to do, where we ask God a direct question. How can
we know the answer?

For me, I think back to my journey to the priesthood. In college, I was active as a
Catholic, but I had a restless heart. I wasn’t quite sure what God was calling me to do.
But gradually, I discerned a call to the priesthood. The “signs” were the advice of a good
priest and confessor who helped me to understand that call. But in 2 subtle signs that I
remember looking back, one was in the cathedral. I was waiting to go to a dinner at the
residence of the archbishop for perspective seminary students. I was praying silently in
front of the statue of the Sacred Heart, and felt calm and peaceful, like I was just in the
right place at the right moment. The second was when I nearly didn’t go to seminary. I
sometimes brood excessively over a decision, and one morning found myself thinking I
just could not go to seminary so soon after college. (It was literally a few weeks
turnaround graduating in summer of 2001). Three times I attempted to call the seminary
to speak to the vice rector; three times I got his voice mail and was unable to reach him.
Calming down and thinking it over, I realized that this would be OK and while it was a
big unknown, I knew what I needed to do.

Sometimes though there are signs we least expect, when we aren’t asking God for a
sign, but they come along anyway. For me, this came during my first pastorate. There
were a lot of blessings, but also signs in my life where I knew that maybe I needed to
look at a new assignment, and that I had done what God wanted me to do. Making a
request for the new assignment, I was then sent to Saint Joseph’s 2 years ago. And
since then, there have been many signs that I truly believe I’m in the right place. I’m
overall much more happy and at peace, and I truly feel so connected to the parish like
being part of a big family. Sometimes things come along in life that tell us it’s time to
make a change in our job, or our lifestyle, and these are signs we have to read too.

We must remember too we can be a sign to other people. One of the big ways I’ve
learned about the faith is seeing it in action and lived out through people like my mom
and dad and grandparents. At funeral Masses, one of the things I reflect on is how our
loved ones who have died continue to inspire us to become better people. Even when
people drift from the faith, they may come back later in life or start thinking more about
how to be a better person or serve others because their parents and grandparents were
signs to them of how to live.

Lastly, sometimes prophets come to us in the form of other people. As I’ve discerned
where God is calling me, family, friends, and other priests have helped me quite a bit in
discernment. It’s important to have people who will “give it to us straight” and tell us not
what we want to hear but what we need to hear in life.

Indeed, signs are all around us. We spend a lot of time talking, but listening is even
more difficult. Spend time time in silent meditation in a church or in your living room at
night or outside. Talk to people who will help guide you. Pray. Look at the blessings
you’ve been given. And be patient. God is a part of your life and loves you so very much
– just because we can’t physically see Him doesn’t mean we can’t hear Him.
Blessings,

Fr. Paul

Saint Joe’s Needs You

By now you’ve probably seen the slogan around the parish or heard of the saying “We are Saint Joe’s.” It means that all of us by pitching in make a big difference.

The thing of it is, the work never ends, because our parish always has needs throughout the year. So I’d like to take some time this week to highlight some needs we have right now and that are ongoing.

For one, we are really looking for a couple of people who would like to help make a good first impression for our parish on the weekend. Our Sunday helpers have moved out into the gather space but our numbers have dropped to 6. It’s nice to have at least 8, this way they get scheduled 1 time every other month. This is a wonderful ministry,  please call the parish or email Patty Stibal if interested.

We only get one chance to make a good first impression.

We are also getting really close to the figure we need for hymnals. We’d love to be able to purchase these soon so please consider donating in honor of a loved one.

Faith Formation is right around the corner. Thus far, sign-ups have been a bit sluggish. As I preached on last week, we can’t think of God as one thing among many, but have to keep God first. That means learning about Him and what our faith teaches. It’s so important kids get the message that God needs to come first. We are also in need of volunteers to help pass on the faith to our young, and it’s made possible by so many great people willing to give of their time. As a former volunteer of 8th grade faith formation, I can tell you that yes, it can be a bit scary at first, but the parish provides you with great materials and great support to help you, and talk to many catechists and they’ll share with you how rewarding it is to see the faith grow in our young people over the course of a year.

We also have an ongoing need for liturgical ministries. Each weekend we need people who are willing to lector, to be an Altar Server, to distribute Holy Communion as a Eucharistic Minister, or to serve as an usher. So many are so faithful to these ministries, but each week can also pose challenges. Sometimes people forget they are scheduled, or end up out of town and could not fine a sub. These ministries are very important to the flow of Mass each week, so please consider them.

RCIA/RCIC is also coming up. In the summertime you may run across people in your travels or among friends and extended family who have thought about the Catholic faith. Lori Hannasch, one of our “super” volunteers, has done so much in this ministry to help bring people into the faith. If you’d like to get involved in RCIA or know someone who would like to know more about our faith, please let us know.

St. Joseph’s is once again participating in the annual Leprechaun Days Parade on Saturday, July 29th.  Please come join us and walk in the parade. (More info on pg. 6)

Lastly, we have our Harvest Festival coming up in September. Bridget Samson has been working very hard on this, and we’re looking forward to a great meal, great music and great fellowship again. We’ll be needing lots of help though so we hope you can consider being a part of our volunteer army for the festival. Please drop Bridget a line at

Bridget.samson@stjosephcommunity.org

Thank you for all you do to make our parish thrive!

  One final pastoral note, lest rumors fly that I have been re-assigned, I will be away the first week of August (1-8), and be away for 3 Sunday nights coming up, so you may be seeing a familiar face at Mass and we’ll also be having a missionary visiting the weekend of August 5th and 6th. Hopefully you too can get away and enjoy our wonderful summer weather.

Have a great week!

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Death, Crossing Over and the Limits of Medicine

Perhaps in recent days you have seen the name “Charlie Gard” in the media.

Little Charlie is in the terminal stages of a disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion

syndrome. Charlie is one of only 16 people to have ever had the condition.

He has been at the center of some media attention due to doctors stating he should be

allowed to die in dignity, and arguing his ventilator should be shut off. His parents and

supporters are striving to give him a final chance, raising more than a million pounds to

have him sent to America for treatment. In recent days the pope has offered the

services of the Vatican’s hospital and spoken up for him, as has President Trump.

A small bulletin column is much, much too small a space to get into the specifics of the

case. I am certainly not competent to give an opinion on it not knowing the specifics of

Charlie’s condition, his medical records, and going by just what I have read in the

media. From what I have read I think it’s clear that if there is any chance to help save

his life, it should be taken, so it was nice to see both the pope and president speak up

for life. But at a deeper level, even if only 16 people have ever had what Charlie has, all

of us will eventually die. And for some of us, or for loved ones who care for them, the

question of when can we allow someone to die is one that we have to think about, for

medicine has it’s limits.

To be sure, the Catholic Church is strongly against euthanasia or assisted suicide. I’ve

read chilling stories of a person even being assisted in their death by the state in

Europe. More commonly this is done when a person has a terminal diagnosis. We

cannot hasten death; a miracle cure is always possible, and a person should be made

to feel comfortable, but we cannot act to take their life.

It is also important that a person receive treatment for a condition that is treatable. For

instance if a person were just diagnosed with cancer, and the physician recommended

treatment and was hopeful, I’d urge that person to receive treatment and contend it is

morally obligatory.

Now, what if we are further down the line? It could be that treatments have failed, and a

person wants to stop receiving them. At a certain point, that is acceptable. But what is

not is a person doing nothing, and certainly parents and guardians of someone need to

seek treatment when there is a reasonable chance for a person overcoming a disease.

In doing some research for this article, I turned to the National Catholic Bioethics

Center, which has some helpful information for Catholics as they look at how to deal

with end of life issues. The following is taken from their publication “A Catholic Guide to

End-of- Life Decisions.” Specifically, they note:

One of the most important moral distinctions in end-of- life situations is that between

what is morally obligatory and what is morally optional. What is morally obligatory we

are bound to perform; what is morally optional we may include or omit at our own

discretion.

Generally, a medical procedure that carries with it little hope of benefit and is unduly

burdensome is deemed “extraordinary” and is not obligatory. For example, in some

circumstances, a person may judge in good conscience that the pain and difficulty of an

aggressive treatment for cancer is too much to bear and thus decide to forgo that

treatment. Whether a particular treatment is excessively burdensome to an individual

patient is a moral question that may require the input and advice of others. Individual

patients and their families should seek the guidance of the Church whenever there is

any doubt about the morality of a particular course of action.

Most medical treatment received during the course of one’s lifetime is routine and does

not raise serious moral questions. Sometimes,however,medical circumstances require

considerable reflection about what procedures are appropriate for a given medical

condition and time of life. When aggressive and experimental methods are

recommended by a physician, the Church teaches that we are free to pursue such

treatment whenever there is a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient. We are also

free, however, to refuse treatment when it is of dubious benefit or when its burdens are

significant. The use of extraordinary means always remains optional, and the moral

obligation to conserve life obliges us simply to act in the most reasonable manner. For

example, I might want extraordinary medical means used to extend my life in order to

receive the sacraments of the Church, or to see friends or relatives one last time,

or to be reconciled with someone from whom I have been estranged.

To make sound moral decisions, a patient must receive all relevant information about

his or her condition, including the proposed treatment and its benefits, possible

risks,side-effects, and costs. The patient may also consider the expense that the

treatment may impose on the family and the community at large. It is important to know

of all the morally legitimate options that are available. Normally, the patient’s judgment

concerning treatment should guide others in their decisions, unless the treatment is

medically unwarranted or contrary to moral norms. Ideally, the patient, in consultation

with others, decides the course of medical treatment. There should be a presumption in

favor of providing food and water to all patients, even to those in a comatose state,

but there are exceptions. Obviously, when the body can no longer assimilate food and

water, they provide no benefit and may be withdrawn. Sometimes placement of a

feeding tube may cause repeated infections. Some patients with advanced dementia

may display agitation at the sight of a tube and may pull it out repeatedly. Certain

patients may experience other burdensome complications, such as repeated aspiration

and the constant need for suctioning of the throat. All of these are factors that may

cause one to reevaluate the placement of a feeding tube.

When there are no exceptional circumstances, tube feeding should be considered a part

of ordinary care. Normal care always remains morally obligatory, but refusal

of additional interventions deemed extraordinary is not equivalent to suicide. Such a

decision should be seen instead as an expression of profound Christian hope in the life

that is to come. An instruction to “avoid heroics,” when communicated ahead of time to

family and friends, may give great comfort to loved ones during emotionally stressful

times.

The bottom line is that these issues are important to think about and pray about.

Certainly basic care is a must; when there is reasonable hope of success treatment

should be sought. But there comes a point when it can put a great burden on a person

too – and each case is unique. Through it all, we have the hope of the resurrection, and

the presence of Jesus who journeys with us through our Good Fridays.

Each case is unique, and requires prayer, thought, and counsel. Do think about these

issues when planning a will or end of life directives, and don’t be afraid to talk about

them. Saying goodbye to loved ones is among the most painful things we experience,

but we are not on this earth forever, and neither is a goodbye one that lasts forever, but

a crossing over into the love of God.

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Saint Joe’s Pickers

Apparently there is a reality show on the History Channel called “American Pickers.”

Just why there has to be reality TV on a channel that once upon a time had great

documentaries about history per the title of the network is now a bunch of reality shows

is beyond me, but perhaps that can be another bulletin column for a week when I have

writer’s block. I’m sure the TV executives know more than I do, so with respect to this

show my sense is people enjoy it because it focuses on two guys who go to sales

around the country or other places where one mans trash is another man’s treasure.

Well, perhaps we could start our own show here at Saint Joe’s on Rosemount Public

Access. This past week, we converted our gym and much of our school into a

warehouse for our first rummage sale.

To get the ball rolling, Paula Krekelberg, Patty Casurrella, Brian Zuege, Joan Somes

and John Peterson formed a committee to plan the sale.

Katie Johnson and Kelly Roche also assisted from the school, and Esther Jaeger had a

couple volunteers from her Confirmation class. On top of this, there were volunteers. A

LOT of volunteers. There were about 100 total. Pretty amazing when we are finally into

the nice time of year weather wise and so many are on vacations and enjoying summer.

Though my suggestion was initially to use the funds from the sale to put a down

payment on a future priest’s vacation residence along Lake Superior with perhaps a

winter retreat in the Miami area (really wanting to think of the future priests who will

follow me of course), after getting input and talking things over, we found a much better

way to spend the proceeds. Namely, we’ll be doing the following:

1)  Flatscreen and dvd for the Gathering space.  $2500 committed.  This should cover

installation and networking as well.

2)  Reimburse the Parish accounts for the $2500 spent to refurbish the cross in the

main cemetery. This makes the entire project, new Corpus and refurbished cross a

donated-funds effort.

3) Everything over $5000 goes to the new preschool.  Mrs. Kelly Roche indicated her

top priority was $2000 to cover the curriculum.  So we can support that with funds to

spare for other materials, furniture, etc.  The pre-school folks also "appropriated" toys

and books for the kids, and this adds to the donated funds total.

While we are still tallying up the final total, it looks like we brought in about $8000 due to

this sale. That’s a great total and a huge success for our first year. That will go a long

way to helping our parish and our new preschool.

I just want to thank the committee, the volunteers, and all who were involved in making

this sale a reality. If you had a chance to visit, you saw how much time went into set up,

running the sale and cleaning things up. Lots of good feedback was received from

people as well, and hopefully we can have another sale in the future. (Perhaps funding

that rectory bowling alley? Just a thought).

This sale is just another example of how so many say “we are Saint Joe’s” and give so

selflessly of their time and talent. No one here says “what’s in it for me” but rather “how

can I help,” and because of that our parish thrives. Thank you for making it such a great

success, and thank you all for how much you give to our parish.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Venezuelan Mission Support is a way we Live out the Eucharist

Last weekend, we celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, and one of the

effects of the Eucharist is that it helps us to open up our eyes to helping our brothers

and sisters in need, for we are all equally loved by God. Our archdiocese lives this out

in many ways through charity, which our funds support each year through the Catholic

Services Appeal, but also through ongoing contributions to help the less fortunate.

In 1970, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis resolved to establish a mission

in Latin America as a response to the directives of Pope John XXIII.

Currently, our archdiocese supports the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado with a parish

priest, Fr. James Peterson, and we have ongoing efforts to help those in need. And if

you’ve seen the news of late, the needs in Venezuela are great. An estimated 65,000

people people live in the 11 distinct barrios or neighborhoods within the parish.

This part of Venezuela suffers from high unemployment. The unemployment rate in the

parish of Jesucristo Resucitado is an estimated 73%. High unemployment is the main

cause of domestic violence, delinquency, high malnutrition, alcoholism and prostitution

that plague much of San Felix. At the parish of Jesucristo Resucitado, the Archdiocese

of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is responding to the spiritual and physical needs of the

people.

In 2001 Bishop Richard Pates, auxiliary bishop from Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and

Bishop Mariano Parra, bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, consecrated the new

church of Jesucristo Resucitado Parish. In 2006, construction was completed of a

church and parish center containing a medical clinic, dentist office, medical laboratory,

computer center, youth room and various classrooms for catechesis, as well as for

teaching people skills to start their own businesses.

Lay volunteers from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have been active in

different projects over the last 40 years. The parish center at Jesucristo Resucitado has

a fully furnished apartment which can house up to 12 guests. Groups from various

parishes across the archdiocese have visited and worked on a regular basis, as have

students from High Schools, the colleges and seminarians from St Paul Seminary.

In sharing the love that the Lord has for each of us, we continue to walk together as

brothers and sisters, as members of the Church in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and

Minneapolis and in the Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, sharing the gifts and talents we

have been blessed with and building the friendships that have been growing for 40

years.

The archdiocese helps to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the people.

Every weekend there are seven Masses celebrated in the parish – two Masses in the

church and five in the barrio chapels. More chapels are needed so Mass can be

provided for the people in their own neighborhoods.

The parish center has space to address medical needs of the people with a medical

clinic, dentist office, and medical laboratory. However, more funding is needed to

support this too.

So, too, does the archdiocese help with education. The parish center provides space for

a computer center, youth room, and classrooms. They teach catechesis and the basic

skills to people to start their own businesses. At the parish center people have taken

classes on baking, cake decorating, cutting hair, basic accounting, basic computer

skills, and pharmacist assistant among others. Additionally, the daycare center is under

remodel to serve as a study center with access to the internet for the youth in the barrio

of Campo Rojo.

The parish also feeds people. The soup kitchen prepares 150 lunches Monday through

Friday for mostly children and elderly. Around 70 people eat at the soup kitchen and the

rest of the food is delivered to people’s homes.

The parish also collaborates with the neighboring Salesian parish of Don Bosco which

runs a home for abandoned and homeless boys. This home is located in our parish and

is currently home for 12 boys ages 11 to 18 years old.

As you can see, the parish we support has endless needs. On the front lines of service

here is Fr. James Peterson. Over the summer, he is spending weekends at parishes in

our archdiocese to offer Mass, and share in his homily about the good work but also the

need that is needed to continue this work to help our brothers and sisters in Christ in

Venezuela. This weekend, he will be here at Saint Joseph’s to celebrate all of our

weekend Masses.

One of the things that has been so uplifting about being here at Saint Joseph’s is to see

the generosity of this parish in so many ways, in our support of the Services Appeal, to

the scores of volunteers, to the financial generosity of so many that helps our parish

continue to provide ministry. Thank you for welcoming Fr. James this weekend and for

your generous support.

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Paul

PS – Much of the content for my article this week was taken directly from the

archdiocese website. For more information on the mission, check out the website at

http://venezuela.archspm.org/.

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Like Saint Joseph, Fathers Quietly Do so Much

Besides being the patron saint of fathers, Joseph has many other patronages as well.

Countless churches are named after him. And I think it’s safe to say if asked “who was

Saint Joseph” far more people can answer that question than say, who was Saint Justin

the Martyr?

Interestingly though while Joseph may be one of the most known of our saints, what we

know of him is very little. Unlike other saints, there’s no writings that have been handed

down. He says nothing in the New Testament. All that is told of him is that he is a just

man, and he trusts in God’s plans over his own, and is there for Jesus and Mary until at

some point he dies before Jesus begins His public ministry.

The thing of it is though is that while Joseph doesn’t have to say or write much for us to

know who the man is. What we know is enough – that he was there day in and day out

to support Mary and Joseph, and that he played his part in God’s plan, and did so much

to make the Holy Family holy.

In many ways, I think our earthly fathers are a lot like Joseph. They say “yes” to the

vocation of being a dad and trust that even though their child does not come with an

instruction manual, things will work out. They look to their spouse as their partner and

equal in raising their child. But perhaps more than anything, every day they are just

quietly there for their children, from working a job to keep a roof over their heads, to

going to the ball games, giving them advice and guidance, and in a million small ways

day in and day out helping a child to realize they are loved, and that God has a plan for

them too by giving them the guidance they need to chase their own dreams and fulfill

that plan.

This weekend, we also celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. One of the

things we believe as Catholics is that Mass is a sacrifice, a re-presentation of what

happened at the first Mass, on Holy Thursday, and on Good Friday, when Jesus gave

Himself for us all out of love. It’s a perfect liturgical feast to coincide with Father’s Day,

because our father’s do the same for us.

In my life, I’ve been blessed with two great parents. With respect to my dad, what I think

about when I think of him is someone who is always there, and who has worked so hard

over the years for our family. Growing up, every day he’d go to work to support the

family, but when he got home he was there with us too. Some nights there’s be things to

do around the house; other nights we’d go to the park together, but through it all he

never was off doing “his own thing” with his friends but there for me growing up, as he

still is today. But he was also there for others, too. He’d be the first to be over at my

grandparents house to help with lawn cutting, snow shoveling, getting groceries for

them when they couldn’t drive, and he is also active in our parish too. He’s given me

much good advice over the years, but through his actions I’ve learned so much about

what the faith looks like in action.

Whether you are a father or not, you certainly have one. Hopefully it has been a good

relationship. If it hasn’t, strive to pray for him, and to work through emotions by

acknowledging them rather than burying them, remembering that God’s love can do so

much, and this continues even after we die too. If you’ve lost your father, remember that

death does not separate us forever. We may not have the person physically present

with us, but we are connected. They live on in God’s love, but we can still learn from

them too by emulating their good qualities. If you are fortunate to have your dad still

here on earth, give him a gift that he’ll treasure, namely the gift of your time, by making

time to visit and regularly see your father and grandfather. And if you are a father

yourself, never forget that all those many things you do for your families, even if they

aren’t always seen at the time as being important or appreciated, do so much to help

your children to come to know the love of God and how to respond to that love.

In a world where so much time and energy can go into wanting to be noticed by others,

fathers stand as an example that the most important things we do may be hidden from

the world, but truly leave a lasting impact in changing others for the better. Our fathers

help make us who we are, and they show us so much by quietly living out the faith day

after day and helping us to see God’s love through them, and helping us respond to that

love on our own journeys through life. May God bless them.

Have a blessed Father’s Day,

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Our Flag: Something to Honor, and Remind us of our Blessings as Americans

I’ve always been fond of Johnny Cash. He’s a great singer, and while he might be best known for songs like “One Piece at a Time” or “Ring of Fire,” this is one my favorites. If you haven’t heard it, the lyrics are worth putting on your refrigerator or desk, as a little reminder of how lucky we are to live in America.

Sometimes people love to bash America. But think for a moment the sacrifice made by our Founding Fathers, signing the Declaration and becoming instant criminals. Think about the sacrifice made by soldiers from the Battles of Lexington and Concord to Shiloh to the Bulge. And then, think about how because of that, how we are free to worship freely and talk openly about our faith, to speak our mind, and express our opinions.

Our flag in a special way represents that, which is why we show it respect. I’m always moved at the funeral of a veteran when the Legion Honor Guard is present, and the folded flag is handed to the family of the veteran.

It can be so easy to take our freedom and our wonderful country for granted. So the next time you see the flag, especially this Wednesday as our nation marks Flag Day on June 14th, think of how lucky we are to live in this great country. I think these words from the Man in Black express that so very well about an old man on a park bench who opened a visitor’s eyes to what our flag means:

RAGGED OLD FLAG

I walked through a county courthouse square,

On a park bench an old man was sitting there.

I said, “Your old courthouse is kinda run down.”

He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town.”

I said, “Your flagpole has leaned a little bit,

And that’s a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it.

He said, “Have a seat”, and I sat down.

“Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?”

I said, “I think it is.” He said, “I don’t like to brag,

But we’re kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag.”

“You see, we got a little hole in that flag there

When Washington took it across the Delaware.

And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key

Sat watching it writing  “Oh Say Can You See:.

And it got a bad rip in New Orleans

With Packingham and Jackson tuggin’ at its seams.”

“And it almost fell at the Alamo

Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on through.

She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville

And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.

There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,

And the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag.”

“On Flanders Field in World War I

She got a big hole from a Bertha gun.

She turned blood red in World War II

She hung limp and low by the time it was through.

She was in Korea and Vietnam.

She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.”

“She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,

And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home.

In her own good land she’s been abused —

She’s been burned, dishonored, denied and refused.”

“And the government for which she stands

Is scandalized throughout the land.

And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin,

But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in.

‘Cause she’s been through the fire before

And I believe she can take a whole lot more.”

“So we raise her up every morning,

Take her down every night.

We don’t let her touch the ground

And we fold her up right.

On second thought I DO like to brag,

‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.”

I hope you are proud of our flag as well, and pray for our country and for our troops as well.

Have a blessed week!
Fr. Paul