Most Reverend Harry Joseph Flynn, Archbishop Emeritus, Dies at Age 86


by Bob Zyskowski - As reported in The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop-emeritus of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Harry Flynn died Sept. 22 in St. Paul at age 86.

Prolific storyteller, ardent battler of racism, in his leadership of a seminary and two widely distant and different dioceses, he came to embody a genial combination of East Coast graciousness, Southern hospitality and Midwestern progressive populism.

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Albany, New York, he served parishes in his home diocese, was rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In 2002, he served as chair of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee that developed a charter for the protection of children and vulnerable adults in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis that rocked the Church across the country.

After his retirement, however, questions were raised by some about whether he did enough in the Diocese of Lafayette and in the Twin Cities to investigate clergy sexual abuse allegations.

He retired to archbishop-emeritus status May 2, 2008, after serving as archbishop in the Twin Cities and surrounding counties for 13 years. Until his ministry was curtailed by failing eyesight and his battle in recent years with cancer, he continued to assist in the archdiocese with confirmations and liturgies. He also led retreats across the country.

Services are scheduled for:

Sunday, Sept. 29, Saint Mary’s Chapel, Saint Paul Seminary

  • 5:30 p.m. – Reception of the body

  • 6 p.m. – Evening prayer

  • 6:30 p.m. – 7 a.m. (Monday) Public visitation/vigil for the deceased

Monday, Sept. 30: Saint Mary’s Chapel, Saint Paul Seminary

  • 7 a.m. – Morning prayer

  • 7:30 a.m. – Transfer of the body to Cathedral of Saint Paul

  • 8-11 a.m. – Public visitation

  • 11 a.m. – Mass of Christian burial

  • Following Mass – Immediate transfer of the body to Resurrection Cemetery, Mendota Heights

  • Right of committal and burial at cemetery

Public is invited to learn and discuss alongside Minnesota bishops

by Joe Ruff - The Catholic Spirit

When Tim Carney, commentary editor of the Washington Examiner, traveled the United States, he found areas facing marked declines in marriage, voting, church attendance and volunteer work.

People appeared to be facing their problems alone, without civic and faith engagement. The research he conducted and the data he collected became a book published this year, titled “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.”

The book and the issues it raises, with Carney as keynote speaker, will be the focus of Minnesota’s bishops when they gather Sept. 4 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Carondelet Center in St. Paul for their annual Fall Study Day.

The public is invited to attend the discussion, which will include four local panelists offering their thoughts on the fracturing of public life, challenges of building vibrant communities and opportunities for faith communities to address the issues.

“We are delighted to have an outstanding journalist and engaging young Catholic like Tim Carney keynote the Fall Study Day,” said Jason Adkins, Minnesota Catholic Conference executive director. “‘Alienated America’ is one of the most talked about political books of 2019, and we think it has a lot to tell us about reaching those on the social and economic margins, as well as the existential peripheries of our day.”

All seven Minnesota bishops, including Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, along with Adkins and lay and religious MCC committee members will attend the presentation. The conference is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.

The panelists will be Laura Bloomberg, dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; Charles Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns,based in Brainerd; Deacon Steve Pareja, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud; and Brad Finstad, Minnesota state director of rural development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bishops John Levoir of New Ulm, Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, John Quinn of Winona-Rochester, Paul Sirba of Duluth and Donald Kettler of St. Cloud will join Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens.

The event is free but online registration is required. For more details and to register, visit

Statement from Bishop John M. LeVoir of the Diocese of New Ulm Regarding Settlement in Bankruptcy Case

NEW ULM (June 26, 2019) - The Diocese of New Ulm, area parishes, and victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse have reached a $34,000,000 settlement in our bankruptcy case. The settlement represents our commitment to finding a fair resolution for victims and survivors of sexual abuse while continuing our ministry for those we serve throughout south and west central Minnesota.

The settlement funds are made up of insurance coverage settlements and cash and property contributions from the diocese and parishes, including parishes that do not have claims against them. When claimants approve the settlement plan, it will result in a “channeling injunction”, which will prevent claims against the diocese and parishes based on events that occurred before confirmation of the plan.

When approved, the settlement will resolve our Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The Diocese of New Ulm filed for financial reorganization under Chapter 11 in March 2017. Since then, under the supervision of the Federal Bankruptcy Court, we have worked with representatives for victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse to resolve fairly claims made against the Diocese of New Ulm and parishes within the geographic area the diocese serves. These claims were filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on historical childhood sexual abuse claims for a three-year period ending in May 2016.

The next steps are for the diocese to file with the court the formal plan of reorganization and a disclosure statement, which will provide the claimants the information they need to decide how to vote. The bankruptcy judge will then review the disclosure statement and approve it if it provides adequate information. Then, the plan and disclosure statement will be sent to the claimants who will respond by sending in their ballots. When two-thirds of voting claimants approve the plan, it will be up to the bankruptcy judge to determine if all of the requirements of the bankruptcy law have been met. When they have been met, then the judge will issue an order confirming the plan. After confirmation of the plan, a trust will be created consisting of the assets described in the plan. We expect this process will be completed by the end of this year. A plan trustee, approved by the court, will then make payments to the claimants.

The Diocese of New Ulm remains committed to preventing sexual abuse, holding accountable those clergy who are credibly accused of abuse and helping victims and survivors find healing. For more than 15 years, all priests and deacons, diocesan staff, parish and Catholic school employees, as well as volunteers having regular or unsupervised interaction with minors have been required to meet safe environment requirements. These requirements include adherence to a Code of Conduct, undergoing a criminal background check that results in no disqualifying crimes in a person’s history and participation in sexual abuse awareness and prevention training.

In addition, the diocese has committed to disclosing the names of all clergy with credible claims of abuse made against them. The diocese also follows strict standards for determining suitability of clergy serving in the diocese, starting during the seminary formation process and including verifying the credentials of priests visiting from other dioceses or from religious orders.

The diocese promptly contacts law enforcement to report any allegations it receives regarding sexual misconduct by clergy or others involved in ministry within the geographic area the diocese serves. Diocesan representatives have been in contact with local law enforcement officials regarding procedures for handling any such allegations in the best possible way.

We continue to encourage anyone who has suffered sexual abuse to report such abuse to local law enforcement, regardless of when it occurred. Victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse are also encouraged to contact the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator at 507-233-5313 or at 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073 for counseling or other assistance in healing. I invite victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse to meet with me if they wish as part of their healing process.

I wish to thank all those involved in this process toward finding a fair settlement, including attorneys representing the claimants and the insurance companies, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kressel who oversees the case and retired U.S. Judge Gregg Zive, who provides mediation assistance. Most of all, I wish to thank claimants for their courage in coming forward to tell their stories, their perseverance in pursuing justice and their patience during this very thorough process.

I again extend my deepest apologies on behalf of the Diocese of New Ulm to victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Victims and survivors have courageously worked to raise awareness about the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse and how we must address it. I hope and pray that today’s settlement helps victims and survivors on their healing journey.



Statuary returns to The Way of the Cross New Ulm; Shrine to be tourist destination again

By Edie Schmierbach - Mankato Free Press

NEW ULM — Nuns 115 years ago pushed wheelbarrows to haul the bricks used to create hillside niches along a steep path to the Sorrowful Mother Chapel.

On Monday volunteers at The Way of the Cross made that same 700-foot-climb riding in a cart behind a John Deere garden tractor. Their arms encircled fragile religious statues being returned to the shrine's meditation spots.

The century-old statuary depicting Jesus' path to crucifixion had been removed for a monthslong restoration project. Read more about the statues and the historic Shrine.

Bishop LeVoir celebrates May Crowning Mass with St. Raphael students

SPRINGFIELD, MN - On Friday, May 3, students and teachers of St. Raphael Catholic School in Springfield (Pre-K through 6th grade) gathered for a May Crowning Mass celebrated by Bishop LeVoir. A "May Crowning" is a traditional Roman Catholic ritual that occurs in the month of May.

Prior to Mass students entered the church each carrying a flower that they placed near the statue of Mary, followed by the traditional placing of a crown on Mary’s head.

Following Mass the bishop visited classrooms and later joined the students for lunch.

(Click here for photos)

Advocacy and Adoration - an opportunity to speak with and pray for your legislators

ST. PAUL – Join the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) on Tuesday, May 7, at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul any time between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for an opportunity to speak with your legislators and spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for your legislators. MCC will have a private room set up for adoration. Whether you come before or after work, on a lunch break, or make a day of it in the Twin Cities, you are welcome to stay and pray as your schedule permits. For those who may be driving in for the day, you may also want to tour the Capitol and visit any of the nearby churches for Mass.

Your action is needed in these final days of the legislative session. Not only do your legislators need to hear from you on a number of important bills, but they also need your prayers as they discern how to vote.

For those who feel they need some direction on how to speak with their legislators, MCC will be offering brief, “Lobbying 101” talks at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

For further details and resources visit:

The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. MCC supports the ministry of our state’s Catholic bishops by: Working with political and community leaders to shape legislation that serves human dignity and the common good; educating Catholics and the public about the ethical and moral framework that should be applied to public policy choices; and mobilizing the Catholic community to make its voice heard in the public arena.


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput gives address to over 1,000 who attended Catholic's at the Capitol

COMMENTARY: If we don’t try to shape our times with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then evil will shape the times, and ultimately shape us and those we love.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

This address was delivered Feb. 19, 2019, at “Catholics at the Capitol,” an event in St. Paul, Minnesota, sponsored by the Minnesota Bishops’ Conference.


Earlier this month, on Feb. 8, the Tim Tebow Foundation sponsored an event called “A Night to Shine.” It involved 622 churches and 200,000 volunteers in 40 countries honoring 100,000 guests. All of the guests were persons with special needs. They came from every kind of background and age group. They had every kind of disability, from mild to severe. And all of them were surrounded for the entire evening with love. It’s a beautiful event, and Tim Tebow has been doing this for five years. In his devotion to these special human lives, Tebow uses his celebrity as an athlete to serve others. While he’s not a Catholic, he’s a committed Christian. And to those guests with special needs and their families, he’s also the truest kind of hero.

I mention this because a number of my friends have children with special needs. They’ve taught me quite a lot about love. None of them is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about their situation. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism. It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that works its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their hearts anyway, no matter what the cost, and to trust in the goodness of God.

Of course that decision to trust demands not just real love, and not just real courage, but also real faith. We can’t trust a God we don’t believe in. Faith matters because hope and love can’t bear the weight of the suffering in the world without it. Faith matters because it reminds us that there’s good in the world, and meaning to every life; and that the things that make us human are worth fighting for. Faith matters because it drives us to do what’s right.

And that leads to four simple points I’d like to share.

Here’s my first point. We have — and we need — heroes for a reason. They remind us that we’re more than the sum of our failures and weaknesses. We remember people like Edith Stein and Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, because they devoted themselves to the good, the true and the service of others. Their lives became a moral witness. The whole idea of “moral witness” comes from the assumption that good and evil are real, and that certain basic truths about humanity don’t change. These truths are knowable and worth defending. One of these truths is the notion of man’s special dignity as a creature of reason and will. We humans are part of nature, but we’re also distinct from it.

The philosopher Hans Jonas once said that three things have distinguished human life from all other animal experience since early prehistory: the tool, the image and the grave. [1] The tool imposes man’s knowledge and will onto nature. The image – man’s paintings and other art – projects his imagination. It implies a sense of beauty and memory, and a desire to express them. But the greatest difference between humans and other animals is the grave. Only we humans bury our dead. Only we humans know our own mortality. And knowing that he will die, only man can ask where he came from, what his life means and what comes after it.

The grave then is an expression of reverence and hope. When Christians talk about “the dignity of the human person” and “the sanctity of human life,” we’re putting into words what all people instinctively know. Unique in nature, and unlike any other creature, something elevated and sacred in men and women demands our special respect. When we violate that human dignity, we do evil. When we serve it, we do good. And therein lies one of many modern ironies. We live in a society that speaks piously about protecting the environment and rescuing species on the brink of extinction. But then it licenses the killing of unborn children and the abuse of human fetal tissue as lab material.

This leads to my second point. As a people, we Americans are pragmatists. We put a high premium on material progress and practical results. Science and technology get those results – often very positive results — and because they get results, they exert a heavy influence on law-making, public policy and the spirit of our culture.

But good ends – like eliminating birth defects — can never justify wicked means, like killing infants and unborn children. Evil actions always poison the good they’re intended to serve. Knowledge and power without the virtues of wisdom, prudence, mercy and, above all, humility, to guide them are not just unhelpful. They’re dangerous. We’re never as smart as we think we are, and we humans have an unhappy track record when it comes to preventing the worst abuses of our own best intentions. In the end, trying to explain and serve the human person with thinking that excludes the reality of the spiritual, the dignity of the religious, and the possibility of God, attacks man himself. To put it another way, we can destroy what we mean by “humanity” while claiming, and even intending, to serve it.

This leads to my third point. The Founders of our country presumed the existence of natural law and natural rights. These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by a Creator; by “nature’s God,” to use the words of the Declaration of Independence. Such ideas are out of fashion in much of legal theory and social science today. But they’re very much alive in the way we actually reason and behave in our daily lives.

Most of us here today believe that we have basic rights that come with the special dignity of being human. These rights are inherent to human nature. They’re part of who we are. Nobody can take them away. But if there is no Creator, and nothing fundamental and distinct about human nature, and if “nature’s God” is squeezed out of the conversations we allow in the public square, then our rights become the product of social convention. And social conventions can change. So can the definition of who is and who isn’t “human.”

American public life needs a framework friendly to religious belief because it can’t support its moral claims about freedom and rights with rational and secular arguments alone. In fact, to the degree that it encourages a culture of unbelief, democracy undermines its own grounding. It causes its own decline by destroying the public square’s moral coherence. [2]

That leads to my fourth and final point. In Catholic belief, all human life, no matter how wounded, flawed, young or old, is sacred because it comes from God. And we have an obligation to defend it. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God. Catholic teaching on abortion and sexuality is part of the same integral vision of the human person that fuels Catholic teaching on immigration, economic justice, racism and the search for peace.

In the American tradition, people have a right to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic and political problem facing their community. For Catholics, that’s not just a privilege. It’s not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel, and a practical application of Christian faith to the realities of daily life. We have a duty to treat other people with charity and justice, even when we disagree with them. But that can never be an excuse for our own silence on matters of importance.

Believers can’t be silent in public life and faithful to Jesus Christ at the same time, any more than they can claim to be “Christian” and then kill – or quietly allow others to kill — an unborn child with Down syndrome. Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not a form of coercion. It’s honesty. It’s an act of truth-telling. It’s vital to the health of every democracy. And again, it’s also a duty — not only of our religious faith, but also of our citizenship.

We have a full agenda, so I’ll close with just a few final thoughts.

Especially on a day like today, we need to remember that all law has moral content. It’s an expression of what we “ought” to do – and not do. Therefore law teaches as well as regulates. Good laws can help to make a nation more human; more just; more noble; more compassionate. But ultimately even good laws are useless if they govern a people who, by their choices, make themselves callous, selfish and shallow.

It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our moral convictions in the public square. Anything less is a kind of cowardice. And it’s even more important to live what it means to be genuinely human and “prolife” by our actions. That requires a life of fidelity to God, love for spouse and children; loyalty to friends; generosity to the poor; honesty and mercy in dealing with others; discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.

We create a culture of life in the measure that we give our lives to others. That’s what we really mean by heroism. That’s what we love in our heroes. That’s what a real hero is and does. The deepest kind of revolution never comes from violence. Even politics, as vital as it is, is a poor tool for changing human hearts. Nations change when people change. And people change through a witness of nobility, dedication, and love from other people — people like each of you here in this room.

St. Augustine is one of my favorite saints, and he lived in a very difficult world much like our own; a time when a lot of things seemed to be falling apart. He was very aware of human weakness and the power of evil because of his own sinful past. But he had no patience with despair. When his people would complain to him about the darkness of the times, he would remind them: We are the times. We make them; we shape them.

The lesson for us today is simply this: If we don’t at least try to shape our times with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to do it with all our hearts and energy, then evil will shape the times, and ultimately shape us and those we love. That’s why today matters. It matters because all of us are here today to live, to work, and to struggle together for the dignity of the human person — all human persons, from the unborn child, to the poor, the weak, the immigrant and the suffering.

This is why God made us: to be his witnesses that every life is precious; that there’s good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for with a clean heart and a right spirit. To borrow a thought from J.R.R. Tolkien, “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” [3]

Scripture tells us to choose life, and in being here today, that’s the choice you’ve made. May God bless each of you and those you love. I’ll pray for all of you — and please remember those of us who are bishops in your own prayers that God will help us to be the kind of pastors the Church needs.

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., is the archbishop of Philadelphia.


[1] Hans Jonas, “Tool, Image and Grave: On What is Beyond the Animal in Man,” 1985 essay]

[2] See Colgate University political scientist Robert P. Kraynak, Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, 2001

[3] From The Two Towers

Joint Statement from Bishop John M. LeVoir of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas

NEW ULM - In December 2018, as part of preparation for a clergy sexual abuse disclosure report, the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, became aware of allegations of sexual abuse of two minors made against Fr. William Sprigler in 1976. At the time of the allegations, Fr. Sprigler was a priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

In 1983, Fr. Sprigler entered the Diocese of New Ulm where he was assigned in parishes until his retirement from assigned ministry in 2016. In 2002, when gathering information for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Study (a national report on clergy sexual misconduct) commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Diocese of New Ulm contacted the Archdiocese of San Antonio asking if there was any record of allegations of sexual misconduct made against Fr. Sprigler. In response, the archdiocese indicated that there was no documentation of sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct in Fr. Sprigler’s personnel file.  

Since his retirement in 2016, Fr. Sprigler continued to celebrate Mass and provide other ministry within the Diocese of New Ulm while pastors were on vacation or otherwise needed assistance. For the past two years, he has provided similar temporary ministry at parishes in the Diocese of Orlando and the Diocese of Venice in Florida during the winter months.

On Dec. 26, 2018, the Archdiocese of San Antonio reported their discovery of sexual abuse allegations against Fr. Sprigler to the Diocese of New Ulm. The Diocese of New Ulm immediately instructed Fr. Sprigler not to engage in any public ministry. Then, on Jan. 3, 2019, following further investigation, the Archdiocese of San Antonio informed the Diocese of New Ulm that it had determined that the 1976 allegations against Fr. Sprigler were credible. The Diocese of New Ulm has not received any allegations of sexual abuse of minors against Fr. Sprigler during the time he has provided ministry within the diocese.

The Diocese of New Ulm Review Board, which consists primarily of lay professionals with experience or training in law enforcement, health care, mental health treatment, and law, has reviewed the information as reported by the Archdiocese of San Antonio. They have recommended to Bishop LeVoir that Fr. Sprigler be permanently removed from public ministry. Bishop LeVoir has accepted the recommendation. Accordingly, Fr. Sprigler will be included on the list of priests who have a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against them. This list is posted on the disclosures page on the Diocese of New Ulm’s website and includes Fr. Sprigler’s parish assignment history within the Diocese of New Ulm. Letters will be mailed to all parishes where Fr. Sprigler was assigned in the Diocese of New Ulm. The Dioceses in Florida where Fr. Sprigler has provided ministry have also been notified.

Because the sexual abuse is reported to have occurred within the Archdiocese of San Antonio, any law enforcement investigation would need to be undertaken in Texas. The Archdiocese of San Antonio has communicated what it knows about the allegations to local law enforcement in Texas and has offered to cooperate fully in any investigation.

The Diocese of New Ulm and the Archdiocese of San Antonio are sharing this information in the interest of full transparency and accountability. Both Bishop John LeVoir and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller express their remorse for the grievous harm resulting from clergy sexual abuse. They are committed to preventing sexual abuse within the Church, holding abusers accountable, and aiding in the healing of victims and survivors. They invite any victim of sexual abuse by clergy to meet with them so that  the bishops may not only properly understand and respond to the suffering, but most importantly ensure that the victim’s voice is heard in a personal way.

Please pray for all those harmed by sexual abuse.

Diocese represented at annual March for Life at State Capitol

ST. PAUL - Hundreds of abortion opponents gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol Jan. 22 to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The annual March for Life is sponsored by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Marchers also attended the ecumenical prayer Service for Life at the Cathdral of St. Paul, which took place right before the march. St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop, Bernard Hebda led the prayer service and he was joined by Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth. The prayer service was organized  by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family, and Life.

Several parishes and schools in the Diocese of New Ulm sponsored bus transportation (both adult and student) to the march including Holy Trinity Catholic School, Winsted and Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm.

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Bus ride to the march included the Rosary led by the youngest of the passengers.

Statement by Bishop John M. LeVoir

NEW ULM (Dec. 17, 2018) – Church leaders must do all we can to prevent the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by those entrusted with ministering to them. Disclosing the names of clergy accused of sexual abuse and barring them from public ministry pending the outcome of a law enforcement investigation are important steps in the protection of young people and in the healing journey of abuse victims and survivors.

That is why I support Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda’s December 14, 2018, letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis calling for the completion of the 2014 investigation into Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, former archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis (2008-2015) that was commissioned by the archdiocese.

I also call for resolution of the investigation into allegations reported and made public in 2016 against Archbishop Nienstedt relating to an alleged incident involving minors in 2005, when he was bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm (2001-2007).

In accordance with diocesan policy, Archbishop Nienstedt is not free to exercise public ministry in the Diocese of New Ulm pending the resolution of past allegations against him.

I want to reinforce the fact that no allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, to my knowledge, has been made against Archbishop Nienstedt since 2016. However, the status of the old allegations must be resolved to ensure the Church is transparent with Catholics and the public and accountable to them about allegations of abuse and inappropriate conduct by clergy.

This is a difficult situation, but it is one that must be addressed directly in order to find the truth and rebuild trust. I remain committed to meeting with victims and survivors as part of their healing process. Please pray for all those harmed by abuse and ask for the Lord’s guidance for the Church as we work toward hope, healing, and peace.


Bishop LeVoir celebrates Feast of Our Lady at St. Pius X in Glencoe

(CLICK above for more photos.)

The matachines danced down the center aisle to the sound of a constant drum beat as they led the Bishop and the faithful into the church prior to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at St. Pius X in Glencoe on Sunday, Dec. 9. Adorned in velvet and silk fabric, the dancers’ outfits displayed an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe along with hundreds of noise-making shells.


On the weekend of Dec. 8-9, parishes in the Diocese of New Ulm (Montevideo, Litchfield, Marshall, Fairfax, Willmar, Hutchinson, Glencoe, Gaylord, and Litchfield) celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In what began primarily as a religious feast day in Mexico, the day is now celebrated in countries throughout Latin America and in the United States. In 1945, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe “Queen of Mexico” and “Empress of the Americas,” a position re-affirmed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Bishop John M. LeVoir presided at Mass on Sunday, Dec. 9 at St. Pius X in Glencoe. Several hundred predominantly Latino/Hispanic faithful attended the feast day Mass. Bishop LeVoir and the faithful processed into the church led by a group of dancers – known as the matachines. Adorned in velvet and silk fabric that included an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe along with hundreds of noise-making shells, the matachines danced down the center aisle to the beat of a large drum. Some parishioners who came to worship carried flowers to be placed in front of a painting of Our Lady.

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe commemorates the appearance of Mary to Juan Diego, a poor Mexican laborer, on Dec. 9, 1531. When Mary appeared, she identified herself as the Mother of the True God, Creator of all things, and asked Juan Diego to request the Bishop of Mexico to build a church on the site of the apparition. The bishop at first hesitated, telling Juan Diego he would like to see a sign from the Virgin Mary.

Three days later, she again appeared to Juan Diego, sending him to the top of the hill to gather an assortment of roses miraculously blooming in mid-December. Juan Diego placed the flowers inside his tilma, a poor quality cactus cloth, and went back to the bishop. Standing before him, Juan Diego opened his garment. As the roses fell to the floor, they revealed an image of the Holy Mother on the tilma.

The bishop was convinced and built the first sanctuary in 1533. The current Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built in Mexico City in 1976. According to a website dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, an estimated 10 million people visit the site every year, making it the most popular Marian shrine in the world. Juan Diego was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002, with his feast day celebrated Dec. 9.

Catholic high schools in diocese gather for third annual band festival


WINSTED - For the third consecutive year the Catholic high schools from within the Diocese of New Ulm held a joint band workshop and concert on Wednesday, Nov. 7. This year, band students were hosted by Holy Trinity Catholic School of Winsted.

Participating schools included Holy Trinity High School in Winsted, Cathedral High School in New Ulm, and Saint Mary’s High School in Sleepy Eye. Band students spent the day in workshops and rehearsed for a combined afternoon band performance in the Holy Trinity school gym. The performance was open to the public.

Guest instructor was Dr. Janet Heukeshoven Dr. Heukeshoven serves as conductor of the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, Music Education Program Director, Department Chairperson and Applied Flute Instructor at SMU.

She holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (D.M.A. in Instrumental Conducting), the Boston Conservatory (M.M. in Flute Performance), and the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis (B.S. in Music Education). Heukeshoven also teaches Artscore (An experiential arts appreciation course), and coaches small chamber ensembles.

Ed Wendt, Holy Trinity's band and choir director was pleased with the performance of all the students during the festival. “They had a great time meeting new people, performing new pieces of music, and to sharing the joy that music brings into their lives,” said Wendt.

Wendt was also joined by Tom Bierer, Cathedral high school band director and Rachel Moldan, band director of St. Mary's high school band.

6th annual Friends of San Lucas Gala a success - over $125,000 raised


MANKATO - Over 300 people came together at the Verizon Center in Mankato on Saturday, Oct. 7 to support the life-changing work being done at the mission in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala.  Bishop John M. LeVoir, bishop of New Ulm offered the opening prayer. Mike Greene, a Friends of San Lucas Advisory Council member, was the featured speaker and Jim and Linda Fahey conducted the auction.  Over $125,000 was raised to continue the programming in San Lucas that touches the lives of over 20,000 people each year.  To find out more visit

Saint’s relics tour draws faithful to the Cathedral in New Ulm

by Christine Clancy, Prairie Catholic

NEW ULM – A half dozen relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina drew faithful from throughout the Diocese of New Ulm to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm on Sunday, Oct. 28 for veneration and prayer following the 10 a.m. Mass co-celebrated by Bishop John M. LeVoir, bishop of New Ulm and Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

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Widely known as Padre Pio, the Italian-born priest gained a following because of his devotion to prayer and mystical abilities that included healings.

The relics, brought from Italy to the United States, were part of an historic national tour sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation. The tour commemorated the 50th anniversary of the popular saint’s death in 1968.

The relics, including a fingerless glove soaked in the saint’s blood were displayed in ornate reliquary cases. Also on display were St. Pio’s crusts of his wounds, cotton gauze with his blood stains, a lock of his hair, his mantle, and a handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.

According to Fr. Aaron Johanneck, director of Worship for the Diocese of New Ulm, the practice of venerating relics is very ancient in the Church. “Relics help us to feel connected to the saints in a real, tangible way.” said Fr. Johanneck.

“They also help us to understand that the stories of the saints are not legends, but are the stories of real men and women throughout the ages who devoted their lives entirely to God,” he said.

Saint Pio was born Francesco Forgione in 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy to peasant farmers. He first expressed his desire for priesthood at age 10 and entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking the name Pio. In 1910, at the age of 23, he was ordained a priest. He was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

It was in 1918, at the age of 30 when the priest reported bleeding from his hands, feet and side – the stigmata wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. The wounds were said to have lasted 50 years, until his death.


Editor’s note: The Saint Pio Foundation is a premier national charitable organization that promotes awareness of Saint Pio and his mission by working with institutions and individuals who share the same vision to serve “those in need of relief of suffering.” Funds raised by the Saint Pio Foundation are used to provide grants to American Catholic healthcare, educational, social, religious, and cultural partner organizations. Visit


Major renovation effort underway for Way of the Cross shrine in New Ulm

NEW ULM – A major effort to restore the Way of the Cross shrine located in New Ulm is underway. Completed in 1904 and entrusted to the Diocese of New Ulm, the historic shrine is a pathway of 14 stations depicting scenes of the crucifixion of Jesus. The statuary of the Way of the Cross was made by the Bavarian Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Germany. Each station is labeled in both German and English.

Restoration will be no simple task. According to Earl LaPlante, a member of the Way of the Cross committee and one of many caretakers of the 114-year-old shrine, the statuary was removed Aug. 23 following a condition report provided by the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis. “The statues have been sent to Restorations Plus in St. Louis where they are being repaired, cleaned, and stripped of the existing paint, paying close attention to detail so they can be brought back to their original condition and color when they were first installed in 1904,” LaPlante said.

LaPlante said that the niches that protect the statuary have already been repaired, cleaned, and painted by a local company, resulting in the appearance of their original look. “A number of the interior of the niches had moisture damage,” LaPlante said. “The damage has been removed and the interior repainted close to the original light blue color,” he said.

Due to weathering and wood decay, LaPlante said that all the arch top windows of the niches are being replaced, also by a local company. “The new windows on the front of each niche will replicate the original windows and provide improved weather and insect protection to the interior of the niches and statues,” he explained.

LaPlante expects the statuary to be back in place hopefully by January if the weather conditions permit. “Snow or ice would make conditions dangerous. Therefore, install would need to wait until spring,” he said.

The Way of the Cross shrine is located at 1500 5th North Street, behind the Medical Center in New Ulm. The estimated cost of the restoration project is $34,866. Funding will be covered by donations and/or grants. Contributions can be sent to Diocese of New Ulm, Way of the Cross, 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073.

Bishop LeVoir announces new pastoral assignments; two retirements

At the recommendation of the Priests Personnel Board, Bishop John M. LeVoir has made the following appointments:

Effective April 18, 2018
Dcn. Michael McKeown appointed to exercise the ministry of permanent deacon at the Church of St. Mary in Sleepy Eye and to assist in the Divine Mercy Area Faith Community under the direction of Msgr. Eugene Lozinski.

Effective June 26, 2018
Sr. JoAnne Backes, OSB, to retire from ministry as pastoral administrator and return to her Benedictine community in St. Joseph, Minn.

Fr. Anthony Hesse appointed pastor of the Church of St. John in Morton and the Church of St. Catherine in Redwood Falls, in addition to his current duties as pastor of the Light of the World Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Lucan, the Church of St. Mary in Seaforth, the Church of St. Anne in Wabasso, and the Church of St. Mathias in Wanda.

Fr. Jeffrey Horejsi appointed pastor of the Shepherd of Souls Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. John in Darwin, the Church of St. Philip in Litchfield (including the Church of St. Gertrude in Forest City), and the Church of Our Lady in Manannah.

Fr. Dennis Labat appointed parochial vicar (senior associate pastor) of the Our Lady of the Prairie Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Michael in Milroy, the Church of St. Mary in Tracy, and the Church of St. Paul in Walnut Grove, and the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall in the Bread of Life Area Faith Community.

Msgr. Eugene Lozinski appointed pastor of the Church of St. Paul in Comfrey and the Church of the Japanese Martyrs in Leavenworth, in addition to his current duties as pastor of the other parishes in the Divine Mercy Area Faith Community, the Oratory of St. Joseph in Clements (canonical), the Church of St. Michael in Morgan, and the Church of St. Mary in Sleepy Eye, and chancellor of the Diocese of New Ulm.

Fr. Mark Mallak appointed parochial vicar (senior associate pastor) of the Church of St. Michael in Milroy and the Church of St. Mary in Tracy in the Our Lady of the Prairie Area Faith Community, and the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall in the Bread of Life Area Faith Community, with responsibilities for the Spanish Mass in Marshall and Hispanic ministry.

Fr. Gerald Meidl appointed parochial vicar (senior associate pastor) of the Holy Cross Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Gregory the Great in Lafayette, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm, the Church of St. Mary in New Ulm, the Church of St. John the Baptist in Searles, and the Church of St. George in West Newton Township.

Fr. Robert Mraz appointed parochial vicar (senior associate pastor) of the Light of the World Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Lucan, the Church of St. Mary in Seaforth, the Church of St. Anne in Wabasso, and the Church of St. Mathias in Wanda, and the Church of St. John in Morton and the Church of St. Catherine in Redwood Falls.

Fr. Bruno Santiago, OSB, appointed parochial administrator of the All Saints Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Andrew in Fairfax, the Church of the Sacred Heart in Franklin, the Church of St. Willibrord in Gibbon, and the Church of St. Francis de Sales in Winthrop.

Fr. Paul Schumacher to retire from full-time active ministry and stay living in the rectory at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Winsted, while providing limited pastoral assistance as needed.

Fr. Mark Steffl appointed pastor of the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall in the Bread of Life Area Faith Community, and the Our Lady of the Prairie Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Michael in Milroy, the Church of St. Mary in Tracy, and the Church of St. Paul in Walnut Grove.

Fr. Joseph Steinbeisser appointed pastor of the Heart of Jesus Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Mary in Bird Island, the Church of St. John in Hector, the Church of St. Aloysius in Olivia, and the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Renville.

Fr. Craig Timmerman appointed pastor of the Church of St. James in Dawson, in addition to his current duties as pastor of the other parishes in the Good Teacher Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Peter in Canby, the Church of St. Eloi in Ghent, the Church of St. Edward in Minneota, and the Church of St. Leo in St. Leo, and assistant director of the diocesan Office of Vocations.

Fr. Paul Wolf appointed pastor of the Church of St. Anastasia in Hutchinson and the Church of St. Boniface in Stewart, with responsibilities in the St. John Paul II Area Faith Community, which includes the Church of St. Pius X in Glencoe, the Church of the Holy Family in Silver Lake, and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Winsted.