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Bishop Daniel Felton: The change of seasons is a spiritual exercise

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Greetings to you in the name of the Lord of all time and the Savior of every season! It is hard to believe that the new Autumn season will soon arrive, as it quickly discards the days of summer. I have to admit, Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons: crisp and cool evenings, homecoming gatherings, bonfires, beautiful leaf colors, and the beginning of the football season! 

Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News

It is no wonder that the perfect Mass preface for this time of the year simply proclaims: “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God. For you laid the foundations of the world and have arranged the changing of times and seasons ….” 

Who would have imagined that the changing of a season is of God? For that reason, every change of season can be understood as a spiritual exercise. With the beginning of the season of Autumn, God invites us to hit the reset button. As nature changes seasons, God invites our human nature to a change of heart, and perhaps a change in attitude. Every change of season affords us the opportunity to let go of bad habits, sin, attitudes, grudges, and resentment and to begin anew — not by our doing, but at God’s seasonal beckon. 

As we move into the season of Autumn, beginning anew with the help of God’s grace, we also are accompanied by the seasonal celebrations of saints and days like the Exaltation of the Cross; St. Matthew; St. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael; St. Therese of the Child Jesus; St. Francis of Assisi; St. Teresa of Jesus; St. Luke; Sts. Simon and Jude; All Saints Day; Thanksgiving Day; Christ the King; and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to mention a few. All of these occasions remind us that the saints are praying for us in every season to begin anew with the help of God’s grace. 

It is also during the season of Autumn that we celebrate the patroness of our Diocese, Our Lady of the Rosary, on Oct. 7. This year’s celebration of our patroness will be even more special, as I will ordain Jacob Toma to the Holy Order of the Diaconate. What a beautiful manifestation of an answer to our vocational prayer, which always concludes with, “We commend our prayers to our patroness, Mary, Queen of the Rosary.” 

Finally, as we change time with our clocks “falling back” an hour, I would invite you to make a special Holy Hour with that extra hour. Spend some time, not only resetting your clocks, but resetting your life and love of God. 

So, goodbye, Summer, and welcome, Autumn. With the beginning of a new season, what needs to change in your heart and attitude? What must you leave behind with a Summer ending, and embrace anew with the onset of Autumn? Treat this change of season as a spiritual exercise, and you will be amazed at the outpouring of God’s blessings on you and your relationship with the Giver of every gift and the Source of our blessings. 

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth. 

Ask Father Mike: Can I have my ashes scattered in the Boundary Waters?

I am hoping to be cremated when I die. I would also like my family to bring my ashes up to the Boundary Waters and scatter them there, since it is where I feel closest to God. Is that OK? 

Father Michael Schmitz
Ask Father Mike

Thank you so much for asking these questions. I am very grateful that you are taking the time to find out whether or not your plans and wishes correspond with what the church asks of those who are disciples of Jesus. 

I do not want to gloss over that point: You are asking in order to live as a member of the Body of Christ. This is no small thing. We know that members of a family have a relationship with each other. Because of this relationship, they have certain rights. They can ask each other for help. They have a degree of access to each other. At the same time, real relationships also have real responsibilities. Because of this, the church can also ask things of her family members. This is where obedience comes in. 

Obedience is not blind. Nor is obedience slavish. As Catholic Christians, we are called to have the obedience of loved and respected sons and daughters (who in turn love and respect those over us). Loved and respected sons and daughters can ask for the reasons behind what is being asked of them. Many of us do that. And then we are called to act on what we have been called to do. 

I say all of this because your question indicates that you already have a desire to be cremated and for your ashes to be scattered. In the first case, that is permissible. In the second case, that is not allowed. Let me try to explain why. 

You are your body. And you are your soul. In fact, one item of belief that distinguishes Christians from other religions and worldviews is our view of the human person. We believe that a human person is a body-soul “composite.” It is what we are. This is one of the reasons why death is so “obscene” (to use a phrase from Dr. Peter Kreeft): It is the separation of what is meant to be a unity. 

A soul without a body is a ghost … and a body without a soul is a corpse. A human person is the soul and body united. Therefore, you are your soul and you are your body. This belief is professed (even if obliquely) every time we utter the words, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead.” We believe that all of us will ultimately get our bodies back. Some of us to the resurrection of glory in heaven, and some of us to the resurrection of condemnation in hell. 

All of these assertions add up to the fact that we care for our bodies even in death. Since we believe that our bodies are an essential part of our selves, and since we believe in the resurrection of the dead, we treat bodies (even dead bodies) with dignity. 

For years, the church prohibited the cremation of dead bodies unless absolutely necessary. The reason behind this prohibition was the fact that many cultures the church was evangelizing had a vastly different view of the body. For many cultures and worldviews, the body has been seen as a “trap” or a “cage” for the soul. Therefore, death was seen as the liberation of the “true self” and cremation was seen as a sign that a person was finally freed from the shackles of their body. Because of this, Christians were not allowed to choose cremation, since the people around them could see it as a validation of their low view of the body. 

Now, however, there are very few people who would associate cremation with this worldview. Far more people would choose cremation merely for its economic benefits or for some other personal reason. For this reason, the church allows people to choose cremation. 

At the same time, the church demands that Catholics are interred in holy ground. Whether it is the body of the person or the cremains of the person, Catholics may only be buried in ground that has been designated for the purpose of burial. Therefore, Catholics may not scatter the ashes of deceased person who is Catholic, nor may they keep the ashes of a loved one in a vase or in a locket or other keepsake. This burial gives witness to the fact that the body is sacred and is destined for resurrection. 

Of course, there are bodies that get lost at sea or are destroyed by fire or some other calamity. There are times when there is very little of a person’s body to recover and bury. But even then, whatever remains we can treat with dignity we will treat with dignity. Every person’s body will likely disintegrate and will become dust once again, but we affirm the resurrection when we do what we can to keep the body intact. 

Many people will ask about the relics of saints. There are many saints whose bodies have been divided and distributed among the faithful. If a person can do that with a saint, why can’t one do that with a loved one? For at least two reasons. First, the relic is placed in a reliquary and is meant to be regularly venerated (thus affirming the dignity of the body). Second, the church no longer approves of this practice, and it is prohibited unless special permission has been granted. 

All of this is to say: if you want, you can choose cremation as long as you do not have the motive of minimizing the dignity of the body. But you may not ask for your ashes to be scattered. Hopefully enough reason why has been offered so that you can follow this teaching in good faith. 

Father Michael Schmitz is director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

Vatican Unveiled draws more than 4,000 visitors 

By Deacon Kyle Eller 
The Northern Cross 

Vatican Unveiled, the fundraiser showcasing Father Richard Kunst’s massive collection of papal and other historical artifacts, drew more than 4,000 people to the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Aug. 19-21, organizers said.

A letter relating to the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and a piece of a cassock of Pope Pius VII were a highlight moment at Vatican Unveiled. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)

Father Kunst, the pastor of St. James and St. Elizabeth parishes in Duluth, said he thought Sunday was the busiest and that a “ton of kids” went through to see his collection of papal memorabilia, amassed over many years, which he says is the largest outside of Rome itself. In addition to the numerous artifacts relating to popes — which range from letters and documents to items of clothing, chalices and first class relics — the exhibit also included a relic of the true cross, a relic of the original chair of St. Peter, and items relating to numerous saints and, occasionally, other historical figures such as the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Father Kunst gave presentations throughout the weekend, and even on the last day, he seemed to enjoy greeting the many people pouring through the DECC to get a glimpse of his collection.

A volunteer explains to visitors items relating to St. Gianna Molla and St. Damien of Molokai at the DECC Aug. 21, as a part of the Vatican Unveiled exhibition. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)

“I have come to realize that this exhibit was much more than a fundraiser, that the response from the people, often an emotional one, was worth the effort of the whole thing,” Father Kunst told The Northern Cross in the days after the display. “I know many people were greatly affected by seeing these things so connected to the history of our faith and our church.” 

“My hope is that The Vatican Unveiled becomes an avenue to have something more permanent for Duluth and our diocese,” he added. “These sacred and historical items need to be somewhere other than in a box, but available for people to see and appreciate. It is another form of ministry from my perspective, a form of ministry unique to our diocese.” 

Monica Hendrickson, one of the event organizers, said that in addition to the more than 4,000 people who came through the large exhibition, the event “raised over $350,000, and we are still receiving donations online and in the mail.” 

The event was arranged as a fundraiser, with the proceeds going to benefit Stella Maris Academy — Duluth’s city-wide Catholic school spread across four campuses — and the Star of the North Maternity Home, which has locations in Duluth and on the Iron Range serving mothers in need.

Father Richard Kunst shows visiting bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota items from his papal artifacts collection in a special showing after Vatican Unveiled took place at the DECC. (Submitted photo) Items from Pope Leo XIII, including an inkwell and a chalice used for Mass, were on display at Vatican Unveiled at the DECC in Duluth in August. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)

Ojibwe artist’s beadwork selected for display at U.S. Embassy to Holy See

By Maria Wiering 
Catholic News Service 

With a needle and thread and painstaking attention, Jessica Gokey “paints” images of flora and fauna, two tiny beads at a time. 

As she has developed her art over the past decade, her elaborate work has earned her a Minnesota Historical Society fellowship and attracted private collectors. 

Now it’s garnered its highest accolade yet: a place in the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. 

“It’s the highest honor,” said Gokey, 36, who lives and works in Inver Grove Heights, a suburb of the Twin Cities. “It’s so awesome. … The pope as a leader, he might actually lay eyes on my artwork.”

Jessica Gokey of Inver Grove Heights is seen in this undated photo. The Ojibwe artist “paints” images of flora and fauna sewing two tiny Czech seed beads at a time onto wool fabric. Her piece titled “A Dance with Florals” will be on display at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit )

The piece that will be displayed at the embassy is called “A Dance with Florals,” and it features a blue waterlily surrounded by other blooms and juniper. 

She created it specifically for the embassy, after U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly, whom the U.S. Senate confirmed for the post in January, expressed interest in a similar piece on her website that she had already sold, she said. 

Donnelly officially began his duties April 11, presenting his letters of credential to Pope Francis. 

Gokey, who is from the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe near Hayward, Wisconsin, roots her art in traditional Ojibwe beadwork. 

A lifelong artist, she began working with beads a decade ago. A 2013 fellowship at the Minnesota Historical Society was pivotal for her art, she said. For six months, she studied traditional beadwork in the historical society’s collection. 

“I’m a self-taught beader,” she told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “Everything was research online, museum collections, studying photos, studying historic photos, talking to elders, talking to mentors, to try to figure out how to bead, how to do the traditional designs.” 

The fellowship’s deep dive into traditional beadwork inspired new techniques in her own work, she said, as she shifted from simple, “flat” images to more realistic designs with color gradation and iridescence. She moved to the Twin Cities following the fellowship. 

A former game warden in Hayward for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Gokey draws on her knowledge of plants and animals and behavior she’s observed. One of her works, “Companions,” was inspired by a male and female otter she once watched play. 

She began beading when she was a game warden as a “creative outlet,” she said. “I was protecting nature and I’ve always had an interest in florals and plants.” 

Now it’s her full-time work. She wakes at 3 a.m. to begin beading, often for 10 hours a day. One piece takes weeks to months to complete. She uses Czech seed beads and, for most of her works, a high-quality wool from Teton Trade Cloth, a company that specializes in Native American textiles. 

She first draws the design on stitch-and-tear paper, which guides her beading and is removed when the piece is finished. 

When she began beading, most of her work was for Ojibwe regalia, bags, or other utilitarian items people could wear, she said. Now she works on pieces that are meant to be framed for the wall. 

She has sold most of her work to private collectors. Her piece “Native Food Table Accent” is on exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society and is part of its permanent collection. She’s also exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 

Among the Ojibwe people, “there’s a lot of beaders,” Gokey said, “but not a lot of beaders do what I do. I consider my beadwork a fine art.” 

One of her works in progress, “Generational Memories,” aims to express her belief that her talent has been handed down through her ancestors through DNA. 

Gokey announced May 23 on her website, jessicaleighgokey.com, that “A Dance with Florals” had been selected for display at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See through “Art in the Embassies,” a cultural program of the U.S. State Department. 

“U.S. Ambassador Joe Donnelly and Mrs. Donnelly chose Jessica’s work to be displayed in the embassy in Rome for the duration of his tenure as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican,” the news release stated. 

The artwork was shipped in late May and is expected to be on display in an embassy reception room. 

It will be on loan for two to three years, Gokey said. She plans to visit the Vatican to see it, and she said it’s especially meaningful that her art was chosen for the U.S. Embassy because of its proximity to the Vatican Museums’ world renowned art collection. 

“I strive to show the world that traditional Ojibwe beadwork or just traditional Native American beadwork should be held as high as any other type of art today. Most people look at it as a craft or folk art, but I consider it a fine art,” she said. 

“To have it in a place like the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican, to actually be there and have world leaders and everyone see my art is just amazing — not to mention all the history of art in the Vatican,” she added. “I just want to cry. I can’t wait to go see it.” 

Wiering is editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

Pope names Fairbanks, Alaska, bishop to head Diocese of New Ulm

By Catholic News Service 

Pope Francis has named Bishop Chad W. Zielinski of Fairbanks, Alaska, to head the Diocese of New Ulm. 

Since 2014, the 57-year-old prelate has served as the fifth bishop of Fairbanks. The diocese covers over 409,000 square miles of Alaska’s northern region, or about two-thirds of the entire state. It is the largest U.S. diocese geographically.

Bishop Chad W. Zielinski of Fairbanks, Alaska, is seen in this 2019 file photo. Pope Francis appointed him to head the Diocese of New Ulm July 12. Bishop Zielinski will succeed Bishop John M. LeVoir, who resigned Aug. 6, 2020, after heading the diocese for 12 years. Bishop LeVoir was 74 and just a few months shy of 75, the age when bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

In New Ulm, he succeeds Bishop John M. LeVoir, who resigned Aug. 6, 2020, after heading the diocese for 12 years. He was 74 and just a few months shy of 75, the age when bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope. 

Bishop Zielinski’s appointment was announced July 12 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S. His installation Mass will be Sept. 27. 

“It is with great joy that I received the news of Bishop Zielinski’s appointment,” said Msgr. Douglas L. Grams, who has served as New Ulm’s diocesan administrator since Aug. 10, 2020. “The bishop brings pastoral experience and is known for his humility and compassion as a shepherd.” 

“I am most grateful to our Holy Father for entrusting me to serve as the shepherd of the Diocese of New Ulm,” Bishop Zielinski said in a statement. “As I leave the vast expanse of northern Alaska, I am fully aware of the countless blessings I received from 46 parishes. 

“The faithful of the entire Diocese of Fairbanks patiently helped form me to be the shepherd I am today.” 

Of the diocese’s 46 parishes, only nine are accessible by car. The remaining parishes are located in Alaska Native villages and have to be visited by bush plane, boat, or snow machine. 

Established Aug. 8, 1962, the northern Alaska diocese currently has 22 priests, 22 deacons, four religious sisters, and two religious brothers. 

“Our Native Alaskan brothers and sisters have opened my mind and heart to the cultural beauty and richness of their traditional way of life,” Bishop Zielinski added. “I come to the Diocese of New Ulm with the same open heart and mind, eager to learn and encounter new blessings as I visit parishes and families in this beautiful prairie land of south and west-central Minnesota.” 

“Guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said, “together we continue our journey of faith into a new era of peace filled with hope in Jesus Christ.” 

Father Robert Fath, vicar general for the Diocese of Fairbanks, thanked Bishop Zielinski for his years as shepherd to the faithful of northern Alaska, saying he has been “a blessing” to the diocese and its communities. 

“Although we are saddened by his impending departure, we send our best wishes and prayers with him to Minnesota as he begins this next chapter in his ministry to the people of God,” the priest said. “We pray that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will quickly appoint a new shepherd for the faithful of the Diocese of Fairbanks.” 

Duluth Bishop Daniel Felton welcomed the appointment with “great joy” on behalf of the Duluth Diocese. “I rejoice for the people of the Diocese of New Ulm, who have been without a bishop for 23 months,” he said. “May the blessings of God be abundant upon their new shepherd, Bishop Zielinski.” 

At a news conference in New Ulm, Bishop Zielinski said it was “great learning the Native Alaska culture, hunting and fishing with them” and he looks forward to touring his new diocese. “It would be great if somebody let me drive their tractor,” added the prelate. 

On a more serious note, he urged the faithful of the Minnesota diocese to let their hearts “be filled and consumed with Christ.” 

“Have hope,” Bishop Zielinski said. “There are people all around full of darkness and evil. Give hope to those that don’t have it. You’re created in the likeness of God. You are important. Be a light for others in this world.” 

Chad William Zielinski was born Sept. 8, 1964, in Detroit and grew up on a farm in Alpena in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan. He is the eldest of five children of Donald and Linda Zielinski. 

After graduating from Alpena High School in 1982, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and, while stationed in Idaho, attended Boise State University. 

It was at this time he felt a call to serve God as a priest, so when he completed his tour of duty in 1986, he entered Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in philosophy in 1989. 

He was accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Gaylord and entered Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit to complete his spiritual formation and theological studies, receiving his master of divinity degree in 1996. 

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Patrick R. Cooney at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord June 8, 1996. 

After ordination, he served as associate pastor for Immaculate Conception Parish in Traverse City, Michigan. In 1998, he became pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Empire and St. Rita-St. Joseph in Maple City. He was elected to serve on the priests’ council in 1999 and became pastor for administrative affairs of the diocesan mission to Hispanics in 2000. 

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, then-Father Zielinski felt a strong need to minister to those in military service. Aware of the great need for Catholic military chaplains, Bishop Cooney released him to serve in the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. 

In 2002, he began his chaplaincy at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. 

From 2003 to 2005, he was stationed in Suffolk, England, before returning to the United States, where he was assigned to the Air Force Recruiting Service headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base in Schertz, Texas. 

In 2009, he was appointed chaplain to the Catholic cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2012, he served as chaplain to the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. 

In the course of his military career, Bishop Zielinski served three tours of duty in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“I guess the church has prepared me for the military and the military has prepared me for the church,” he once wrote. “We receive orders and we go, whether coming from a general or the pope.” 

He has received numerous military awards and decorations for his service, and was promoted to the rank of major in July 2013. 

Established Nov. 18, 1957, the Diocese of New Ulm is home to nearly 50,933 Catholics. Considered one of the most rural dioceses in the country, it is comprised of 15 counties in south and west-central Minnesota. 

There are currently 59 parishes, served by 32 assigned diocesan priests, 17 permanent deacons, 13 Catholic elementary schools and three Catholic high schools. 

Making abortion unthinkable: The uphill battle on Capitol Hill

By The Minnesota Catholic Conference 
Inside the Capitol 

The overturning of Roe is not an end, it is just the beginning. This has been the refrain from the pro-life movement since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. So, if this is just the beginning, how do we get to the end where abortion is not simply illegal but truly unthinkable? 

The Dobb’s decision calls Catholics to double down on our existing efforts to walk with moms in need. This work has already been underway for decades through the tireless and selfless efforts of countless individuals, and especially of our pregnancy resource centers. Together, we must cultivate a civilization of love that cares for both the mother and child before and after birth. And we must assist our elected officials in implementing policies that will truly make abortion unthinkable. 

Unfortunately, in Minnesota where abortion remains legal, the battle on Capitol Hill for hearts and minds will continue to be uphill. 

In the week following the Dobb’s ruling, 46 percent of Governor Tim Walz’s official Twitter posts were not about being One Minnesota but instead expressed his staunch support for abortion and maintaining its availability in Minnesota. Two of his recent tweets read: 

”I know Minnesotans share the fear and pain people across the country are feeling. But we never back down from a challenge. Today and every day, I stand with Minnesotans in the fight to protect access to reproductive health care and abortion.” 

”Let me be very clear: This ruling changes nothing in Minnesota today, tomorrow, or as long as I am governor. We will not turn back the clock on reproductive rights.” 

Governor Walz went beyond social media rhetoric to the pronouncement of an executive order commanding state agencies “not to assist other states’ attempts to seek civil, criminal or professional sanctions against anyone seeking, providing, or obtaining legal abortion services in Minnesota.” 

The desire to further enshrine the taking of innocent life into our state’s laws was also seen among legislators, with Speaker of the House Rep. Melissa Hortman issuing a statement calling for the election of more pro-choice lawmakers. 

That passion was met with a tepid two-sentence response issued by Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, in which he committed his caucus “to working together to find consensus on protections for babies and support for moms and families who choose life.” 

What is most concerning about these statements is what our elected officials have failed to say — precisely that we must make abortion unthinkable. We accomplish this by passing life-affirming policies such as increased funding for the Positive Alternatives Grants program, family leave policies, and economic supports such as a child tax credit, just to name a few. 

With so many possibilities, now is the time for Catholics reinvigorated by the overturning of Roe to passionately continue up the hill to advocate for policies that make sure no woman ever feels the need to think about abortion. 

Action Alert 

Equipped for Life — Saturday, Oct. 1 

Learn to respond to the toughest pro-choice arguments in ways that can actually change hearts and minds. Join the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as we host this training by Emily Albrecht from the Equal Rights Institute. 

Visit: MNCatholic.org/EquippedforLife for tickets! 

Betsy Kneepkens: Healing the family is essential to stopping the violence

It was about 92 degrees outside, gas prices were nearing $5 a gallon, I needed groceries, and the store was about one mile from my home. I was frustrated, and I can get stubborn sometimes. I grabbed a water bottle, put on my walking shoes, and headed out that door. No way would I fill up my gas tank at that price. 

Betsy Kneepkens
Betsy Kneepkens
Faith and Family

t was undoubtedly warm on the walk downhill to the store, but I managed the trip with determined vigor. The trip back, uphill with groceries, was a different story. Perhaps I am a bit headstrong, and my protest was backfiring in the heat, but I had no plans to give up. When I was nearing the top of the hill, about three-quarters of the way home, three separate individuals stopped their cars and asked if I needed a ride home. One very kind gentleman passed me, turned around, and came back to ask me if I needed a lift. Maybe I wasn’t looking well, and I don’t know, it was hot outside. 

I thanked these good people and explained that I had intentionally chosen to walk and was grateful for the offer. My decision to walk wasn’t going to budge. In hindsight, even if I was unwell, getting in a car with a stranger is considered unsafe. Unfortunately, safety is a bigger issue than allowing unknown individuals to help each other? What a shame! 

My regular column readers know that I am a native Chicagoan. I was horrified when the mass shooting in Chicago’s Highland Park happened on July 4. I was not raised in that part of the city, but I certainly was familiar with the area. I can say that if a mass shooting can happen in that neighborhood, we all need to realize this sort of situation can happen everywhere. 

The last few times I traveled back home, I can sadly say the Chicago I remember is not the Chicago of today. Shootings happen regularly in this region, and reporters share the violent news like they list scores for professional sporting competitions. The Highland Park area was one of the parts of the city that I would consider the last to be infected by such unspeakable violence. I was deeply disheartened to learn about the senseless carnage on the day citizens are willing to come together to enjoy a Fourth of July parade. We need to be honest about making changes in this country. 

Again, after one of these mass shootings, we hear pundits and politicians proclaim the solution to this problem is to restrict gun access. I am not an expert on guns. I can see both sides of the argument, and I fall right into the middle. 

I am, however, convinced that the best solution to this horrible violence and all other societal messes is not the laser strike legislation we usually do. It seems passing legislation gets at the symptoms and not the cause. The honest answer to these problems is not the federal government and new laws. Moving toward a resolution is attainable, and it rests with the collective will to live and sacrifice for the sake of others. No country in the world has more potential for overall greatness than the United States. At some point in our history, we decided to put the burden of peace and prosperity on the government and not ourselves. 

The government now seems to be involved in nearly every aspect of our lives. When I point this out to my children, who think the government should solve these problems, I say, “how is this working for us.” We must stop expecting the government to solve our individual bad choices. There is no question that the government plays an essential role in our country. However, much of this brokenness must be repaired by individuals and our way of life. 

Catholics teach a concept called subsidiarity, which means nothing should be done at a higher level than can be done well or better at a lower level. These mass shootings are unacceptable. Not being able to accept a ride from someone you don’t know because it could be unsafe is dispiriting, and taking your life in your hands when you attend a parade is unspeakable. We can’t allow this evil to get much worse, or every one of us will be imprisoned by the dysfunction caused by our sins. 

I believe the real problem is we won’t admit we all have an individual part in correcting this mass waywardness. When Catholics talk about subsidiarity, they usually mean neighborhoods or local governments. However, the root of our wretchedness comes from a place much smaller than our neighborhoods. The place is our families. 

We can no longer tolerate our society being in so much pain and blaming others. The solution must be bold actions, willing to accept and understand that everyone carries some cross or difference in this world and even with this cross move forward. 

We must realize that the lack of emphasis on intact families is the heart of this upheaval. We must be able to speak compassionately yet openly that it matters if children have the benefit of their mom and dad in their home. We must proclaim the good news that the unconditional love a mother and father pour out to their children mimics, in an earthly way, the love that awaits us in our heavenly life in an endless and unlimited way. 

God’s plan for the family is purposeful, intentional, and valuable. A family gives a child the security of roots, knowing they’re loved, and teaching them how to love others. God wants his children to know they are never alone and that we can and should depend on and care for others. All relationship formation is attained most successfully in a family and is critical. Without the vast majority of our population formed this way, ending violence and maltreatment of others seems impossible. 

Men must hold other men accountable if they are not parenting their children, and couples must acknowledge that marriage is difficult. All measures must be taken to keep mothers and fathers together (unless there is abuse or death) to raise their children. Our churches in every neighborhood need to make supporting marriage and family life central to their ministries. As a society, we must admit that the vast majority of extreme violence can be linked back to family situations that are dysfunctional and fractured. As Pope St. John Paul II said, “as the family goes, so goes society.” The alarm bells are blaring. 

When you are walking home, even if you are bullheaded, you should feel safe accepting help from a kind person who offers you a ride. When you go to a parade, you should not feel like your life is in danger. An individual should not be so alone and unconnected that they find the only way to be seen and significant is by taking unsuspecting, innocent lives. 

God’s design to give individuals the formation to live peacefully together, on earth, is the family. Our decision to minimize and reduce the significance of intact families is the cause of the extreme violence we are experiencing. Looking to make the change by laws that adjust the symptoms prolongs a solution. The way our society is living is not working for us. 

God’s family design was not happenstance, its intention was a cooperative effort between him and humankind, to well form his children to love, care, and teach us to live in harmony with each other. As a church, we must start speaking loudly for intact families and providing the tools to help married couples raise their children in homes filled with love. 

Betsy Kneepkens is director of the Office of Marriage, Family, and Life for the Diocese of Duluth and a mother of six. 

Editorial: The extraordinary attack on pro-life pregnancy centers

In the aftermath of the June 24 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, perhaps nothing has so perfectly encapsulated the inarticulate rage against America’s pro-life community as the targeting of pro-life pregnancy centers. 

Not only have they been the target, across more than 20 states, of vandalism, firebombing, or threats of violence, they have also been denounced by governors and U.S. senators. In some places, laws have been proposed targeting these facilities. Members of Congress have pressured Internet search giant Google to doctor its search results and ads to suppress them. And of course there has been plenty of biased media coverage joining in the pile-on. 

What makes it all of this so extraordinary and bizarre is simply what these facilities do. Consider, for example, the Lake Superior Life Care Center in Duluth and Superior. Their website lists client services like these: classes on pregnancy, birth and delivery, infant care, toddlers, and parenting; free pregnancy tests; free OB ultrasounds; two clinic days a month offering free medical services, including physicals, prenatal exams, labs, X-rays, and mammograms; and material assistance to help with baby needs, including items like diapers, wipes, formula, clothing, strollers, and high chairs. 

The world would be a better place with more such places rather than fewer and if their budgets were multiplied rather than drained by vandals and hostile politicians and if more mothers in need knew about them rather than fewer. By any objective standard, these facilities are the sort of thing people of a broad spectrum of views about abortion should be able to come together and support. 

So it beggars the imagination how even the most vehement advocate of legal abortion could look at the landscape of American pro-life activism, with all its many facets, and choose crisis pregnancy centers — the places that exist to help women in difficult circumstances get the resources they need to choose life for their children — as the focal point of hatred and intimidation. 

For decades the lie has persisted that the pro-life community only cares about children before they’re born. How extraordinary, then, that so much anger has been directed toward the very people in the pro-life community for whom that is most plainly untrue. 

Please do your part to support pro-life pregnancy centers, with your prayers and with your donations. They deserve it. 

Bishop Barron installed as bishop of Winona-Rochester

By Edie Heipel 
Catholic News Agency 

Bishop Robert Barron, the founder of the Catholic media apostolate Word on Fire, was installed as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester at St. John the Evangelist Co-Cathedral in Rochester on Friday. 

Appointed by Pope Francis earlier this summer, Bishop Barron is returning to the Midwest after almost seven years as auxiliary bishop in the Santa Barbara region of Los Angeles, California.

As a young priest serving in Chicago, Barron broadcast h

Bishop Robert Barron shares the document appointing him bishop of the Diocese of Winona Rochester at his installation Mass July 29. The Mass took place at the diocese’s co-cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester. (Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester) 

is homilies on a local radio station, attracting the attention of Cardinal Francis George, who urged him to share his talents with the wider world. 

With George’s support, then-Father Barron founded the nonprofit Word on Fire media apostolate that shares the traditions of the Catholic faith through a multimedia platform that includes artwork, theology, and philosophy. In the form of daily blog posts, articles, videos, and an archive of hundreds of online homilies, Bishop Barron’s ministry has reached millions across the globe. 

In an installation Mass which took place at the Co-Cathedral on Friday, apostolic nuncio to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre recognized Bishop Barron’s dedication to spreading the Gospel around the world, adding that he hoped his commitment to evangelization would “continue to be of great fruit.” 

It is no surprise that evangelization featured prominently in Bishop Barron’s homily during the Mass, a theme that has defined the pursuit of his vocation. 

Noting his delight that the Mass took place on the Feast Day of Sts. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the bishop explained that the lives of the three “friends of Jesus” reflected the model he desired to bring to the diocese. 

Drawing on a quote from Pope Benedict XVI, the bishop explained that the three tasks of the church are to worship God as Mary did, serve the poor with the commitment of Martha, and evangelize by exemplifying the life of Lazarus, who was one of Jesus’ most effective witnesses. 

Like Lazarus, the bishop said, “those whom Jesus has liberated and untied will most powerfully convey the truth of [him] to others.” 

Bishop Barron called on parishioners to strengthen their devotion to corporal and spiritual acts of mercy, noting that he couldn’t help but see a correlation between the diocese’s location near the Mayo Clinic and the need for the church to be a place of “spiritual healing.” 

In particular, the bishop noted the urgent need to draw young people back to the Church, citing that the disaffiliation rate is at least 50% among young Catholics. 

The Winona-Rochester Diocese serves over 136,000 Catholics, including 23 Catholic schools and St. Mary’s University. 

Bishop Barron was ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986. In his new appointment, he succeeds Bishop John M. Quinn, whose resignation and title “emeritus” became effective at the Mass on Friday. 

One of the goals of Word on Fire is to reinvigorate Catholicism in the modern world by highlighting the “truth, beauty, and goodness of our ancient faith,” a mission that has attracted many to the faith. 

In a statement regarding his new appointment, Bishop Barron assured followers that Word on Fire’s work would continue, reflecting that “it is a blessing for me to work with you to introduce people to Jesus Christ and invite them to share all the gifts he wants his people to enjoy.” 

Father Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins win Cardinal John P. Foley Award

By Chaz Muth 
Catholic News Service 

Father Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins of Ascension Press are the recipients of the 2022 Cardinal John P. Foley Award from the Catholic Media Association. 

The Foley award recognizes demonstrated excellence and innovation in Catholic storytelling in the preceding year, with work presented on various media platforms, including — but not limited to — video, podcasts, photo spreads, blogs, or a multimedia melding of platforms. It’s one of the highest honors given by the CMA.

Jeff Cavins, left, and Father Mike Schmitz of Ascension Press, seen in this 2022 photo, are the winners of the 2022 Cardinal John P. Foley Award from the Catholic Media Association. The award, one of the highest honors given by the CMA, was announced July 6 at the Catholic Media Conference in Portland, Ore. (CNS photo/courtesy Ascension Press) 

The announcement was made July 6 during the 2022 Catholic Media Conference in Portland. 

Father Schmitz and Cavins won the award for their joint project, “The Bible in a Year” podcast, which boasted an audience of about 450,000 daily listeners in 2021. 

Father Schmitz and Cavins were not in attendance to accept the award in person. 

“If you ask Father Mike and Jeff, they will say that the Holy Spirit deserves all of the credit; it is God’s story, after all,” said Lauren Joyce, Ascension’s communications and public relations specialist, in her nomination letter. “But we humbly submit that God’s story is most powerful when spirit-filled storytellers bring it to life and tell it anew in their own time and place.” 

The late Cardinal Foley, who died in 2011, was admired for his media expertise, serving as an editor of Philadelphia’s archdiocesan newspaper, a host and producer of the “Philadelphia Catholic Hour” on WFIL radio, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Also, for many he was known as the Vatican’s “Voice of Christmas” in his role as English-language commentator for the pope’s midnight Mass for 25 years. 

Greg Erlandson, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service, has called Foley an “indefatigable supporter of the Catholic press” who always “remained a journalist at heart, and he believed strongly in the importance of this professional vocation for the life of the church.” 

Father Schmitz and Cavins were two of 10 finalists for the 2020 Foley award. 

The other eight finalists were Tony Ganzer of the “Faith Full Podcast”; Gabrielle Gleason, communications specialist for the Diocese of Syracuse, New York; Jonah McKeown, staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency; Bridget O’Boyle, social media marketing consultant for Aleteia; Kate O’Hare, editor for Family Theater Productions; Joseph Pelletier, video producer for the Archdiocese of Detroit; Matt Riedl, director of media production for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia; and Carol Zimmermann, Washington correspondent for Catholic News Service. 

“The Second Vatican Council invited all Catholics to read the Bible, and yet many still struggle with understanding this ancient text and connecting it to their daily lives. In 2021, Father Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins vaulted this hurdle with excellence, captivating hundreds of thousands of listeners with their innovative ‘The Bible in a Year’ podcast,” said Ed Langlois, managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, when he announced the Foley award winners.