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

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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.

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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

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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

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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 sanlucasmission.org.

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 http://www.saintpiofoundation.org.

 

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.