Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week has been the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The celebration starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2019 is January 27 - February 2. Each year during this special week, Bishop John M. LeVoir schedules time for a pastoral visit to a number of the Catholic schools in the diocese. This is an opportunity for the bishop to celebrate Mass, visit with the students, and offer his personal support to the parish pastoral leaders and school faculty. In January, Diocese of New Ulm seminarians also made school visits. Pictured from left, seminarians Tanner Thooft, Joshua Bot, and Nathan Hansen tell the first grade and preschool students at St. Anne’s in Wabasso about their life in the seminary. The men fielded many questions about their prayer life, hearing the Call, and their favorite foods! (More Catholic Schools coverage in the Jan.-Feb. Prairie Catholic)
On Sunday, Dec. 9, Bishop John M. LeVoir led the annual Advent Prayer Service, a special time for people of the diocese to gather to pray and focus on Advent in preparation for the birth of Jesus. This year the Church of St. Anastasia in Hutchinson hosted the event. Families, especially with young children, were encouraged to bring the baby Jesus figure from their home nativity set to be individually blessed by the bishop. Jamie Anglin and her children Easton (left) and Isabella from St. John parish in Darwin, brought the baby Jesus figure from their home nativity set to be blessed. In keeping with the Advent season, a “swaddling clothes” collection was taken for babies in need.
NEW ULM - Third graders Patrick Gillis (left), Taylor Lamecker, and Anna Hoffmann from St. Anthony Elementary School in New Ulm pray the Rosary with other students from around the Diocese of New Ulm at the Children’s Holy Field Trip Oct. 3 at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm. Students from seven Catholic elementary schools as well as home school programs in the diocese attended the annual event led this year by Msgr. Douglas Grams, rector of the Cathedral. The morning included the Rosary, a homily from Msgr. Grams, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and Benediction. (Photo by Christine Clancy)
In September 2018, our shepherd Bishop John M. LeVoir celebrated a decade of leadership in the Diocese of New Ulm. Pictured, Bishop LeVoir stands inside the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm, the mother church of the diocese. Bishop LeVoir is the fourth bishop to lead the diocese since it was formed in 1957.
SLEEPY EYE - Family, friends, and well-wishers gathered on Saturday, April 21, at the Church of St. Mary in Sleepy Eye as Bishop John M. LeVoir ordained six men as deacons for service in the Diocese of New Ulm. (Photo by Christine Clancy)
ALEXANDRIA - Over 200 spirit-filled people gathered in Alexandria on April 13 and 14 for the regional V Encuentro (Fifth Encounter), an initiative of the U.S. bishops, calling Catholic leaders to “listen with profound attention to the needs, challenges, and aspirations that the growing Hispanic/Latino population faces in daily life.” The April gathering included people from the U.S. Church’s region 8 which covers Minnesota and North and South Dakota. It was the next step in the process following the New Ulm diocesan V Encuentro last September and a precursor to the national V Encuentro planned for September 2018 in Grapevine. Texas.
April/May 2018 Prairie Catholic
NEW ULM – Each year as Lent begins, the Church celebrates the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion as part of the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA. Its focus is on two groups of people: catechumens, or unbaptized people seeking the three sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; and candidates, those baptized in a separated ecclesial community who wish to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, or those baptized Catholic but previously uncatechized adults who wish to complete their Christian initiation through the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. During this year’s Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion held Feb. 18 at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm, Bishop John M. LeVoir welcomed five catechumens and 46 candidates from 17 parishes in the diocese. As part of the liturgy, parishes come before the bishop bearing the Book of the Elect that catechumens had signed at their parish during what is called the Rite of Sending. Pictured, Mary Grack, director of Faith Formation for the Church of St. Peter in St. Peter looks on as Bishop LeVoir signs her parish’s Book of the Elect.
ST. PAUL – Despite the snowstorm, more than 1,000 gathered at the State Capitol Jan. 22 during the March for Life, sponsored by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. The annual event marked the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion. Prior to the march, a slightly smaller-than-usual crowd attended a prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Paul led by Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Heavier snow in southern Minnesota prevented some groups from making the trip, including many from the Diocese of New Ulm. Bundled in jackets and hats, march participants Ann Hagens, left, of St. Peter in Richfield and Beth Boyle of St. Bonaventure in Bloomington make their way through the snowy conditions from the Cathedral of Saint Paul to the State Capitol in Saint Paul.
NEW ULM - "Blessed . . . are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: They are hands that bring hope," said Pope Francis in his message marking the first World Day of the Poor on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. Hoping to raise the visibility of the most vulnerable, the Holy Father challenges each of us to engage in the work of ending poverty, homelessness, and hunger. In response, parishes in the Diocese of New Ulm were to consider collecting items for their local food shelf and continue to so throughout the Advent season. Students in the Holy Cross Area Faith Community faith formation program, (Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm; St. Mary, New Ulm; St. John the Baptist, Searles; St. George, West Newton Township; and St. Gregory the Great, Lafayette) stepped up to the task. Standing next to collected food shelf items are students of one of the St. Mary's third grade faith formation classes. Pictured left to right, Crosby Batt, Rowan Schlagel, Joey Wise, Shelby Serbus, Christian Arndt, Skylar Lyimo, and Elaina Brown.
MANKATO – On Oct. 3, 2017, St. Mary’s Sleepy Eye junior and senior high school principal Andrew Bach and teacher Neil Kirchoeffer led their 9th and 10th grade students in praying the Rosary while standing in front of the Planned Parenthood facility in Mankato. The group made the school trip to Mankato as part of the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign to end abortion. The goal of the quiet and peaceful assembly was to educate and inspire the community about hope and options like adoption for women who may be challenged with a difficult and personal decision that may first arise during a visit to the clinic.
LAKE BENTON – Alecia Rolling of Lake Benton has developed a Vacation Bible School curriculum for young children. Called CREDO Summer Faith Camps, Rolling piloted her new program this past summer at the Church of St. Genevieve in Lake Benton which is part of Christ the King Area Faith Community including the parishes of St. Peter and Paul in Ivanhoe, St. Dionysius in Tyler, and St. John Cantius in Wilno. Rollings (left), teaches songs with actions to help camp goers remember such things as the Corporal Works of Mercy. Pictured back row, (l-r) are students Jack Skordahl, Andrew Landsman, and Justin Nunez. Front row, (l-r) Grace and Emma Skordahl.
NEW ULM - Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis,
made a pastoral visit to the Diocese of New Ulm on Tuesday, May 30. This was the archbishop’s
first time in the City of New Ulm. He was treated to lunch, visited the Pastoral Center, walked the
Way of the Cross and Loretto Park, and visited the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The day concluded with Mass and dinner at the convent of the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in
New Ulm. Pictured (left), Earl LaPlante points out details in the statuary of the first of 14 stations during the archbishop’s tour of the Way of the Cross. Also pictured is Paul Hillesheim and Bishop John M. LeVoir (far right). Both LaPlante and Hillesheim serve on the Way of the Cross and Loretto Park Committee and are two of the numerous caretakers of the over 100-year-old shrine.
FOREST CITY - On Sunday, March 26, 2017, Bishop John M. LeVoir celebrated the last Sunday Mass with parishioners and friends of the Church of St. Gertrude in Forest City. Pictured with Bishop LeVoir are the oldest and the youngest parishioners who are present. They are (l-r): Millie Turck and Tattrie Ficker, and Tyler Randt (back).
VESTA – Redwood County native, Mike Dolan of Edina, stands in front of a seven-foot-tall corpus of Christ, depicted on a 30-foot-tall cross that was erected in August of 2016 on land he owns just a few miles southwest of Vesta, Minn. Since then, Dolan has heard a lot of positive reaction to the newest Rewood County landmark. Read more in the April Prairie Catholic.
On March 3, 2017, the Diocese of New Ulm filed for financial reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This filing allows the diocese to reorganize its finances and establish a plan to pay its creditors, who are victims and survivors of sexual abuse as minors by clergy, while continuing its operations. (Read more in the March issue of The Prairie Catholic.)
Bishop John M. LeVoir of the Diocese of New Ulm explains the design of his crosier to first and second graders Feb. 1 at St. Raphael School in Springfield. The bishop celebrated Mass, visited classrooms, and ate lunch with students at the school to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, which ran Jan. 29 through Feb. 4 this year. St. Raphael was one of eight Catholic schools in the diocese to receive a visit from the bishop during the week.
(More Catholic schools coverage can be found on pages 8-9 of the Feb. 2017 Prairie Catholic).
Pope Francis gives his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing in St. Peter’s Square on Christmas Day 2016. In his traditional message “urbi et orbi” (“to the city and to the world”), the pope prayed that the Child Jesus, who is also the Prince of Peace, would bring a real and lasting peace to those suffering from violence and conflict around the world. He prayed specifically for areas of the world which are affected by violence, including Syria, countries that make up the Holy Land, various parts of Africa, Myanmar, Colombia, and Eastern Ukraine.
(For more on the pope’s Christmas message, see page 11 in the January Prairie Catholic.)
NEW ULM - Faithful of the diocese greet Bishop John M. LeVoir as they exit the the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the conclusion of a Mass celebrated by the bishop to end the Year of Mercy. As Holy Doors closed in churches and basilicas around the world, including in Rome, it is estimated that over 20 million people participated in the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican – and a billion people may have participated in churches worldwide. For photos of the diocesan event, visit www.dnu.org/bishop/.
Read more about the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on page 1 of the December Prairie Catholic.
Faith for the future
Jeff and Ann Franta (top and bottom left) are this year’s chair couple for the Diocesan Ministries Appeal, which kicks off in parishes Nov. 12 and 13. Parishioners of the Church of St. George in West Newton Township, the couple provides their unique perspective on this year’s theme, “A legacy of faith, a future of hope,” in the DMA video. They are shown here with their son Ryan and his wife Chelsey teaching their grandchildren Leah and Sean about Jesus and Mary in front of the pieta at the back of their church. (Photo by Dan Rossini)
For more on this year’s DMA, see pages 6-8 in the November issue of The Prairie Catholic.
NEW ULM - Keshia Koch (right) meets Linda Reising, executive director of First Choice Pregnancy Center, outside the non-profit’s building in New Ulm. According to Koch, the love and mercy she received from family, the community, and First Choice helped her to change directions in life after she experienced an unplanned pregnancy.