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Bishop Paul Sirba: Our political involvement begins with prayer, and change begins with us

I begin my monthly column in The Northern Cross encouraging a nine day novena for our state and for our nation. Praying is what we do as Catholics, and it flows from who we are. In fact, the greatest thing we do is give praise and glory to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our prayerful, active participation in preparation for an election is an opportunity for us to love our neighbors by electing representatives who will hopefully promote human dignity and the common good. Our prayers will make a difference.

The Bishops of Minnesota, through the efforts of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, have provided an array of articles, voter’s guides and information on a well-formed conscience that complement the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” Check out as you get ready to cast your vote.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

But most importantly, I think, we need to pray.

Numerous people have expressed their frustration with our choices for political office. Some desire to check out of the political process. Many feel politically homeless. The answer is prayer and encouragement. Please reflect on the many resources on the MCC website or get fired up by Archbishop Charles Chaput’s speech at the 2016 Tocqueville Lecture at the University of Notre Dame. Prayer will help us keep things in perspective and act wisely. Almighty God offers us the grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to assist us in all our needs, if we ask Him.

“Nine Days for Our State and Nation” begins Oct. 30 and runs through Election Day. The novena highlights issues surrounding the dignity of the human person, the common good and our need for action. We pray for the right to life, especially for the unborn, the elderly, the poor and vulnerable. We pray for jobs and just policies for employers and employees. One day is dedicated to strengthening marriage and family life between one man and one woman. We beseech God’s help in preserving our religious liberty, working for immigration reform, the care of God’s creation, education and health care. Although not exhaustive, the novena gives a teaching each day, offers a prayer and poses a discernment question for us to ponder.

A worthy alternative to the “Nine Days for Our State and Nation” could be offering nine rosaries for our state and nation. The Feast of our Lady of the Rosary, our patronal feast, is Oct. 7. Praying Our Lady’s Rosary, brought victory at the Battle of Lepanto against all odds. The greatest victory today begins with the conversion of our own hearts. If we want change for the better in our beloved country, it begins with you and me.

October is Respect Life month. Thank you for your pro-life vote, and thank you for the great work taking place in the Diocese. Thank you to the many organizations in our area: the Women’s Care Center, Sandstone Options for Women, Guiding Star, the Walker Area Pregnancy Center, Northland Family Programs and Lake Superior Life Care Center, just to name a few.

Life and Dignity weekend is Oct. 15-16. Please sign up to become part of the Catholic Advocacy Network to help keep other parishioners informed of important legislative activities and ways to help make a difference. I will be saying Mass at 10:30 AM at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in support of Life and Dignity.

A White Mass will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral. Join me supporting all of the healthcare professionals in their calling to support life. Peter Kreeft, a Boston College philosophy professor and world-renowned apologist, will speak at a dinner following the Mass. Dr. Kreeft will also be giving talks Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Go to for more information and to sign up for the dinner.

Please hold the priests and deacons in your prayers at the beginning of the month of October, as well. We gathered for our annual clergy conference in Grand Rapids Oct. 3-6. Sherry Weddell, the co-founder of the Siena Institute, presentedg on “Making Disciples.” Our Diocesan Assembly on Oct. 8 features Sherry Weddell, as well.

And on Oct. 14, Dr. Collette McCarrick Geary will be inaugurated as the new president of the College of St. Scholastica. We congratulate her and warmly welcome her to the Diocese of Duluth as she begins her work as president of St. Scholastica! Let’s hold Dr. Geary in our prayers. St. Scholastica and St. Benedict, pray for us.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.