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The Northern Cross - Local News
Pope’s message ends up as theme of education dinners
By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
The annual diocesan education dinners got an unexpected (and indirect) endorsement from a very special VIP — Pope Benedict XVI.
Photo courtesy of L'Osservatore Romano
Duluth Bishop Dennis Schnurr meets with Pope Benedict XVI on a recent trip to Rome. During the visit, the pope commented on Catholic schools in a message Bishop Schnurr brought to the annual diocesan education dinner in Duluth.
Bishop Dennis Schnurr, commenting after the keynote speaker in Duluth, Jeff Cavins, had given his address — one of the themes of which was Catholic schools giving children “the pearl of great price,” from a parable in the Gospels — mentioned a recent visit with the pope.
Bishop Schnurr said the Holy Father had asked him two questions, one about vocations, the other about what the church in Duluth is doing for its young people. When told about the schools, Pope Benedict had replied, “Our schools, they offer the pearl of great price.”
“That is what we are about here this evening,” Bishop Schnurr said.
Father Anthony Wroblewski, the keynote speaker at the dinners in Brainerd and Chisholm, used the same image for the schools.
Cavins, a speaker who travels around the country, opened his remarks by noting how often the diocese comes up in his travels. “Duluth is one of the bright, shining stars around the country right now,” he said, echoing remarks he made at last year’s Catechetical Assembly.
His presentation focused on three observations he had made about Catholics and how they related to Catholic schools: that people have lost what he calls “the narrative thread of their lives,” that many people don’t see the faith as an “organic whole” and that many people have difficulty trying to “bridge the gap between faith and everyday life.”
He said Catholic schools could address all three and teach people how to seek authentic happiness in their lives. He also emphasized that Catholic schools give students access to “the name of Jesus,” giving access to all the power in heaven.
“We’re giving them the password,” he said.
Another highlight of the Duluth version of the dinner was that of the 230 people who registered, 52 came all the way from Pine City. Father David Forsman had stumped for a good showing and arranged to have the contingent transported on a school bus, complete with snacks.
He hopes to have an even bigger group next year.
“We get a good return on this fundraiser,” he said.
The dinners in Brainerd and in Chisholm ended up having a speaker in common: Father Anthony Wroblewski, now a priest of the diocese and pastor of the cluster of parishes in Brainerd. He was the planned speaker for Brainerd but filled in when the original speaker could not make the Range event.
Father Wroblewski focused on stories of his own experience growing up in Catholic schools, which influenced his vocation. He also spoke of his experience as pastor in parishes with a school and of his experience working at the diocesan level with the schools.
Citing an invitation raised by a University of Notre Dame study to consider what the church would look like without Catholic schools, he said: “Notre Dame answers by stating that there is no substitute for spending 35 hours every week in an educational environment that is permeated by faith and Gospel values. I couldn’t agree more — anything else, I believe, is a compromise.”
He challenged those assembled on what they were doing to convince others “we have the pearl of great price right in our back yard.”
The Duluth dinner netted about $34,000. The Range dinner drew 63 people and netted about $6,000. The Brainerd dinner, called the Foundation Dinner, drew 108 guests and netted more than $13,000.
Superintendent's Circle ($2,500)
Benedictine Health System
Benedictine Sisters - St. Scholastica Monastery
Principal's Leadership Circle ($1,000)
Innovative Living, Inc.
The College of St. Scholastica
Friends of Catholic Education ($500)
ABE Environmental Systems
Architectural Resources, Inc.
Catholic Aid Association
Catholic Mutual Group
Catholic Spirit Publishing Company
Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist
Jim Perrault Construction
Johnson, Killen & Seiler PA
Kevin W. Treacy, MD, Eye Physician & Surgeon
McGladrey & Pullen LLP/RMS McGladrey Inc.
North Shore Bank of Commerce
Voyageur Bus Company/Minnesota Coaches
Lakehead Trucking Inc.
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