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Jun 22, 2014

In addition to my primary service as your pastor, I help out with Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE). I believe that as a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis I also have a responsibility to assist in the ministry of the larger Church.

Every priest has the choice as to what his “secondary” ministry will be. Back in 2008 I decided to participate in CEE, for I have always enjoyed helping to prepare “starry-eyed” engaged couples to understand and embrace their upcoming Catholic marriage. With all the demands on my time here at St. Edwards, I no longer have the time to handle the pre-marriage counseling required of our engaged couples. Instead, I work with these couples through CEE: consequently, two weekends each year I step away from my parish ministry to serve as a leader of a CEE retreat. This Saturday and Sunday is one of these weekends as I will be absent from the parish at a CEE Retreat at King’s House Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota. Please include me, our retreat leaders, and our engaged couples in your prayers. May this be a meaningful experience for these couples as they explore Catholic/Christian Marriage.

The CEE motto is — “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.” Check out the following CEE info:

What is Catholic Engaged Encounter? — CEE is a weekend retreat program that gives couples preparing for marriage the opportunity to examine their lives together through verbal and written communication. Retreat weekends emphasize Christian values; commitment and responsibility to marriage, God, prayer; and faith community. Retreatants are given time to share openly and honestly with each other about feelings, hopes, disappointments, joys and frustrations. CEE fulfills the retreat portion of marriage prep in many dioceses.

What happens on the Weekend? — A team of two married couples and a priest will guide you as you explore many topics including: relational communication, conflict resolution, finances, intimacy, forgiveness, decision making, marriage as a sacrament, God and prayer. After each presentation, you and your fiancé will be given time to privately share thoughts and ideas.

Do you have to be Catholic? — No. CEE welcomes engaged couples of all faiths preparing for marriage. Please note that our weekend does follow the Catholic Church’s teachings.

Weekend Details — Four meals, one night lodging and supplies are included. The retreat begins at 8:00am on Saturday and ends at 4:30pm on Sunday (It is a busy two days, so come rested and ready to work!). The facility is handicapped accessible. The cost is $225 per couple. Scholarships are available.

Contact Info
Email: ceeminnesota@gmail.com
Web: www.ceemn.org
Facebook: facebook.com/ceemn

Regardless of whether a couple is being married in the Catholic Church, CEE is a wonderful opportunity for an engaged couple to prepare for their upcoming marriage. If you are a parent or grandparent of one of these “starry-eyed” individuals, perhaps you might consider offering them a gift certificate to a CEE weekend. What a wonderful wedding gift!

Summer blessings, Fr. Brian

This coming week we celebrate two big events within our parish community. While I am hoping that no one guessed the Minnesota State Fishing Opener, I am also wise enough to know not to enter into this annual debate; instead, I will leave this discussion up to each family and be the eternal optimist and believe that everyone guessed Mother’s Day and Confirmation.

Do you realize that these two celebrations actually have something important in common? Quite simply, both celebrations involve an individual making a conscious choice — one to be a parent and the other to be a Catholic.

Mother’s Day involves the celebration of both our mothers; namely, our birth mother and the mother who raised us. For most of us these roles were handled by one person; and yet, this is not always the case. In fact, some people had numerous women who guided their formative years. Before a debate begins, we have to acknowledge that all women have the potential to bring a child into the world. This can be done with little or no thought or planning. Regardless of the details of our creation, on Mother’s Day each of us should celebrate our birth mother, whether she was/is a saint or a sinner, we would not be here on this earth if not for her choice to allow us to be born. In addition, we should honor the woman/women who made the commitment to help raise us. Clearly, conscious choices have been made by the mother(s) in our lives — whether they are birth mothers, step mothers, foster mothers, or simply women who have played a formative role in our development — on Mother’s Day we honor these women. Therefore, be sure to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for the mother(s) in your life.

The Sacrament of Confirmation will be celebrated this Monday, May 12th at the Cathedral of St. Paul with some forty of our 9th grade students. This will be the first time in the lives of these young people that they will have the opportunity to confirm the decision their parents and godparents made to bring them into our Catholic/Christian faith. Each student will be completing their formal education; that is, the Church will no longer require that they participate in our formation programs. While we hope they will continue to involve themselves in our various education and service opportunities, now the decision is up to them. (Of course, when I grew up my parents had the rule that as long as I lived under their roof and expected financial support from them, then I was expected to go to Church. I still believe in and promote this principle for all families.) Therefore, please keep these young students in your prayers as they celebrate their Confirmation. May God bless them as they become fully initiated members of our Catholic Church. Also, remember that our role as the adults responsible for guiding their religious formation now changes, but does not end. If you have been blessed with having such a young person in your life, please continue to be a good role model for the faith and to invite them to be actively involved in our parish community.

Yes, God asks each of us to make conscious choices in how we will live out the gift of life we have received.

Whether it involves being a parent, a person of faith or simply a good role model, let us all continue to work hard to grow in and share our faith with the people God has placed in our lives. This is what the Easter season is all about, namely, the ongoing support of the Church and our family. This is how we build the kingdom here on earth.

Easter blessings, Fr. Brian

February 27, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

Our Thursday was jam-packed. We went out into the countryside with Padre Eliar and our friend and head of the Pastoral Ministers, Vilma.

photo-001We went to have a Mass with the campesinos of the Chapel at San Sylvestre de Patastillal. Money from St. Ed’s helped them finish this chapel, so families with children and elderly would not have to walk so many hours through the mountains to get to Mass.  As one of our group put it, their dedication to make such a difficult journey just to go to Mass (something we take for granted and may sometimes even complain about) made her want to cry. It can be very emotional. These very poor people are so appreciative for their chapel and the help that made it possible!

They even announced on the radio that the people from St. Edwards were coming (and the date photo 2-001and time) so people would know when and where to come to show their appreciation! While we sat up in front of the church facing them, they shared with us their prayers and their music with of all kinds of “mariachi” style guitars, trumpets, and accordions. They brought up used plastic pop bottles filled with water and statues and pictures for Padre Eliar to bless, then they sang some more songs. Finally, they put on a fine lunch only for us and their leaders.

photo 3-001All of this is important, though somewhat uncomfortable, in order for them to feel they are doing their part for us in this sister parish relationship and not only receiving — it honors their dignity. We all noticed how kind, polite, and welcoming they all were, even when they have so little. What they all give to their offertory is so much greater of a percentage of what they have, most likely, but still they give to the church. It is a very humbling experience. We try to be very present for them, noticing them, acknowledging them, making them feel respected and cared about. That’s part of what our pilgrimage is about.

photo 4-001We visited another chapel too. On the way back we visited Tepayac, the church of their beloved Padre Ordorico. He was a priest who was from Italy who came to serve a community right outside Jinotega (San Rafael) and did so many good works for the poor people there. He is very important for the people all over this region for how he cared for the poor. Our own Padre Eliar is part of a committee working toward canonizing him as a saint. It is very important work to him. We saw Padre Ordorico’s tomb. They say that when they moved his body to this tomb after being in a different tomb for over 16 years that his body had not decayed — a miracle. So people pray to Padre Ordorico to intercede for them for their needs. When their prayers are answered, they bring back a tiny pin — symbol of their answered prayer — and leave it at his tomb in thanksgiving. There were many such pins. Some of us prayed at his tomb as well and may have to return one day with our pins of thanksgiving!

photo5-001When we returned, tired as we were, we went to the one year anniversary of the death of our hotel owner’s mother, where we prayed the rosary with them and participated in the celebration. A long day — but another wonderful step on our pilgrimage journey.

Peace — MaryPat

February 26, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

We spent Wednesday trying to get our plans organized. The only visit we made was to the Nursing Home for the elderly, which is incredibly poor compared to those we have in Minnesota.

Sue Kellett has a special friend there, Raimunda, and we also supply some FMSC food for them to have better nutrition on a regular basis, but not every day. Raimunda is a woman that Sue found living on the street with her husband some years ago. They were already very elderly – Raimunda’s probably over 90 now – and the entire lower part of her leg was one big infected sore. Sue was able to arrange for some medical attention and to find a way to build a simple small home for them. One of St. Ed’s long-time parishioners helped to support this couple for a long time. Her husband has since died, and now she lives at the “Home of the old ones.” We just had to bring her some cheer. She was very excited that they are building a chapel for them that will be right next to her room that she shares with about 10 other women. God bless her heart.

And that was the most interesting part of that day.

Good-bye for now!

MaryPat

Pope Francis seems to be a Pope for the people – well-loved, humble, plain and simple.

His inspiring words and surprisingly compassionate actions have touched the souls and hearts of so many around the world. Here at St. Ed’s we have embraced the hope he brings to our church. My husband affectionately calls him the ‘Hope Pope.’ This is a time within our world church, and our local archdiocesan church, and even our home church when Hope is welcomed; hope is a breath of new life that leads us forward.

Last Fall we began our year of Adult Faith offerings with Jackie Witter nourishing us with the “Ignatian Theology of Pope Francis.” Some folks who were at that retreat, said that the Ignatian Theology of Pope Francis is about “Humbleness – Being Christ – truly living the gospels;” it’s about seeing God as a “God of Surprises” and we need to “be available to God. Take to the streets andPope Francis get to know people by name;” it’s about “My God lives in me, walks with me, wants me to live the Gospel in the world and to be open to his surprises!” “How fortunate we are to have a Pope who cares. Especially for the poor.” Pope Francis wrote a fabulous Apostolic Exhortation called “The Joy of the Gospel.” (Evangelii Gaudium) This document encourages, warns, explains and challenges Catholics, and as William N. Patenaude in the Nov. 27, 2013 Catholic World Report says, “all rooted in a pastor’s love for the flock.” Pope Francis is concerned about the “consumer” church of today and “warns that worldly forces will crush adherents to lukewarm, highly interiorized, and personalized Christian spiritualities that seek only their own ends—their own salvation. Such spiritualities impede the mission of the Church. Symptoms of these closed-in attitudes include the expectation that Mass must entertain; that the Church is a means to personal, worldly gain; or that the Gospel must make no demands on one’s life.” (William Patenaude) Oooh — that’s harsh. But it is a reality in churches like ours around the world.

Pope Francis also recognizes threats from society that keep folks from truly living the Gospel – or even hearing it properly.

This document cites threats like an “economy of exclusion,” where “[h]uman beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded” (EG 53-54); the “new idolatry of money,” which derives from “the denial of the primacy of the human person” (EG 55-56); a “financial system which rules rather than serves” (EG 57-58); rampant “inequality which spawns violence” (EG 59-60); and an array of other cultural concerns (EG 61-67) such as secularism, the breakdown of the family, and the viewing of marriage as a means to “mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will” (EG 66).

But Pope Francis finds hope in the Joy of the Gospel that calls us to live the love that Jesus showed us so well in his example in the Gospels. He says in his document, “Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is nothing else than the culmination of the way he lived his entire life. Moved by his example, we want to enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world. But we do so not from a sense of obligation, not as a burdensome duty, but as the result of a personal decision which brings us joy and gives meaning to our lives” (Evangelii Gaudium, 269).

Here at St. Ed’s, our many ministries of outreach to the poor and marginalized show that we take seriously this call to live a life of love of neighbor, of charity and justice.

From our many collections of food and other necessities, to hosting homeless families here for a week at a time through Families Moving Forward, even to our conscientious distribution of our Tithing money, we at St. Ed’s are answering this call to share the Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis offers a Vision of JOY, a vision of HOPE, and a vision to be a “Church for and with the poor.”

Pope Francis says. “Be a Joyful Messenger.” So, here at St. Ed’s, on Sat. March 8, our Adult Faith Committee offers one more chance to get to know our new ‘Hope Pope.’ Fr. Greg Welch will present a morning on “Pope Francis: Plain and Simple,” from 9:00-11:30 am. We hope you will join us to embrace this new Pope who teaches us how to live the joyful Gospel more intentionally, every day, and in every way. Please call the parish to register, 952-835-7101.

MaryPat Potts (Director of Adult Faith, Community Life and Social Justice & Charity)