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First monastic profession 

Sister Jayne Erickson made her first monastic profession on Friday, Sept. 17, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at evening prayer.

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The duration of first monastic profession is three to six years. It is a time of fuller immersion in the Benedictine way of life, a time for the sister to deepen her spirituality, to study the rule of St. Benedict and the monastic profession, and to become more fully integrated into the community, which in this case is St. Scholastica Monastery of Duluth. 

Sister Jayne grew up in Cloquet as a middle child of five. She and her family belonged to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish (now Queen of Peace) in Cloquet. As an older teenager, she was active in Catholic youth group, where she first got to know Sister Barbara Higgins, her first introduction to the Duluth Benedictines. Following high school, Sister Jayne explored her talents by working and going to college at University of Wisconsin-Superior and the College of St. Scholastica. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry from St. Scholastica.

Submitted photo

After college she worked in a variety of ministry jobs in Minnesota and Iowa, then returned to college for a teaching degree and taught for 15 years in Iowa schools. She retired early and came home to Cloquet. She became an associate in December 2017. Sister Jayne became an affiliate on July 8, 2018, and on Dec. 2, 2019, she was officially welcomed as a postulant in a special service with the community.

Sister Jayne’s ministries include helping in liturgies as sacristan, eucharistic minister, cantor, and lector, working at the information desk, and helping on Benet Hall. One of her passions is writing music. She develops her talent by composing songs for liturgical celebrations for the monastic schola and contemporary group to sing or as a quiet meditation during Communion. 

Beyond Respect Life Month: Combatting the throwaway culture every day at every stage

By the Minnesota Catholic Conference 
Inside the Capitol 

“Watch out, stay alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is” (Mark 13:33). St. Mark reminds us in his Gospel that we know not when the Son of Man will return. We can apply this to our call to be faithful citizens – our call to be advocates for life, dignity, and the common good does not rest. As faithful Catholic citizens, we need to be that alert voice who has been building relationships with their legislators in order to be a credible witness at any appointed time. 

Catholics across the nation are particularly alert to issues impacting life during October, aka Respect Life Month. But we must remain vigilant and take action to protect life and dignity by combatting the throwaway culture every day at every stage, whether it is advocating for laws that respect the lives of those who may be nearing the end of their time here or advocating for those whose lives have just begun in the womb. 

To aid you in your efforts to remain alert, we want to encourage you to join the Minnesota Alliance for Ethical Healthcare. This partner organization of the Minnesota Catholic Conference is a coalition of 80 organizations plus individuals who advocate for compassionate alternatives to the legalization of assisted suicide in Minnesota. 

The reality is that the issue is not going away, making it even more important for Catholics to remain vigilant and prepare by promoting life affirming alternatives that are truly compassionate. By joining the alliance, as an individual, a parish, or an organization, you will receive updates on how to take action to ensure real care throughout life’s journey. Visit ethicalcaremn.org/join-us for details. 

Efforts to undermine the dignity of life unfortunately do not remain solely at the state level. We must also speak up on the national level in support of reforms that can truly help women and families throughout pregnancy and speak out against efforts that will further endanger the lives of the unborn. 

The so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act” (H.R. 3755), which is now in the hands of the U.S. Senate, is not about protecting women’s health. Instead, this falsely named bill would allow abortion on demand nationwide at every stage of pregnancy. It would ban pro-life laws in every state and local government, force all Americans to support abortion with their tax dollars, and eliminate conscience protections for doctors. 

As Catholics, it is not enough to simply be alert or feel angry about the taking of innocent lives and the lack of support for pregnant women. We must realize that now is the appointed time for which we are called to be a voice for the most vulnerable. Contact your senators today and urge them to vote no on the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act” and instead work towards policies that support pregnant women and help families flourish. Visit the USCCB’s action center to send your message today: www.votervoice.net/USCCB/home

Prudence dictates church stance against legalizing recreational marijuana

By Joe Ruff 
The Catholic Spirit 

Marijuana in itself is not evil, but people can easily abuse it, so prudence, or good judgment, dictates it not be legalized for recreational use. 

That is the basic teaching of the Catholic Church when it comes to making pot legal. It comes into play particularly now in Minnesota, because last May the Democratic-controlled House voted 72-61 to pass HF 600, which among other things sets up a regulatory framework for people 21 and older to buy and sell weed. The second of this session’s two years opens Jan. 31, leaving plenty of time for the Republican-controlled Senate to hold hearings, debate, and vote on the bill. 

The legislation does not have the support of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which represents the public policy interests of the state’s bishops. The conference has argued that legalizing marijuana will widen its use, make it more available to people under 21, and increase dangers on the road from drivers impaired by the drug. 

“HF 600 is a bad bill,” Ryan Hamilton, MCC’s government relations associate, told the House Commerce, Finance, and Policy Committee Feb. 1. “This bill is bad for adolescents, bad for our brothers and sisters with substance abuse problems, bad for those that use our highways, and bad for the common good.” 

Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, a spiritual director at The Seminaries of St. Paul in St. Paul and a moral theologian with a specialty in medical ethics, told The Catholic Spirit Sept. 16 that marijuana is not “intrinsically disordered,” or something that by its very nature is not right with God, such as the acts of abortion, euthanasia, and contraception. But “for most people, most of the time,” using marijuana is not a good idea, Msgr. Rohlfs said. With the best interests of individuals and society in mind, the church opposes its recreational use. That can be said for many drugs, including alcohol and prescription medicines, he said. 

“No drug out there is always and everywhere wrong, as a substance,” Msgr. Rohlfs said. “It’s part of God’s creation. It has some good to it. The church is opposed to recreational drugs as a prudential decision. For most people, most of the time, it is not a good idea. Whatever drug ‘X’ is. You can always give me a case it would be good for this person at this particular time. The problem is generalizing that.” 

Pope Francis has spoken strongly against recreational use of marijuana or other drugs, including a 2014 address to an International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome and 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. 

“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem with drug use is not solved with drugs,” the pope said at the drug enforcement conference. “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.” 

Nor does legalization work on a practical level, the pope said. 

“Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects,” Pope Francis said. 

At World Youth Day, the pope proclaimed to the crowd that “the scourge of drug trafficking, that favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires society as a whole to act with courage,” adding that legalization would not yield “a reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction.” 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses drug use, as well, stating “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law” (2291). The Catechism also demands protection by the political community of the family against such threats to security and health as drugs, pornography, and alcoholism (2211). 

Father Chris Collins, vice president of mission at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and a systematic theologian, or one who seeks to arrange religious truths in a consistent whole, emphasized the dignity of each human person and God’s plan for human flourishing. 

“Any abuse of a substance is not good for the person,” Father Collins said. “Every person should be weighing those considerations. Is this helping me be fully alive?” 

Social considerations include protecting the mental health of young people, including concerns about a sense of isolation and lack of desire to do meaningful work that recreational drugs can bring, he said. 

Father Collins acknowledged the need to discuss the issue of marijuana and the changing landscape as medical use of marijuana has come into play. 

“Medical marijuana has been seen as a potential good,” he said. “But the next step is recreational use? That is definitely more problematic.” 

Even as MCC speaks out strongly against recreational marijuana, the conference has been neutral on medical use of the drug, which has been legal in Minnesota since 2014. Not taking a stand one way or another is a nuanced position, Msgr. Rohlfs said. 

“People who oppose it [medical marijuana] will say this is a slippery slope. Which is right,” he said. “And if you deny it [medical marijuana], people will say, ‘You want this person to suffer.’ It just depends. It is a prudential decision. Would use of this medical marijuana be a prudent decision at this time? And the church doesn’t want to get into how you regulate that.” 

MCC urges people to consider the dangers of recreational marijuana

By Joe Ruff 
The Catholic Spirit 

When the Minnesota House passed HF 600 on a vote of 72-61 to legalize recreational marijuana May 13, it brought the state one step closer to joining 19 other states, including Michigan and South Dakota, as well as the District of Columbia.

Marijuana plants are seen in a file photo. (CNS photo/David McNew, Reuters)

With Gov. Tim Walz in favor of the legalization, only the Minnesota Senate stands in the way as lawmakers prepare to open the second year of the biennial session Jan. 31. 

It is a step the Minnesota Catholic Conference, representing the public policy interests of the Catholic Church in the state, does not want the state to take. 

“Our direction on this issue comes from the pope himself,” said Ryan Hamilton, MCC’s government relations associate, in an email exchange with The Catholic Spirit. “In his 2014 address to the International Drug Conference in Rome, Pope Francis said, ‘Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”’ 

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, the legislation’s sponsor, has argued for legalizing recreational marijuana in part because he believes law enforcement efforts against the drug have failed. The drug is readily available across the state, and Blacks are disproportionality arrested and penalized for marijuana possession compared with whites, a racial injustice, Winkler told The Catholic Spirit. 

“In all my conversations, and I have had a lot of conversations on this issue, I have not had anyone say that the current system we use is much benefit to anyone,” Winkler said. 

In addition, many states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and he thinks Minnesota should step up now to create a regulatory structure that can address legitimate concerns about youth access, health, and road safety. 

“The change is coming,” Winkler said. “As states around us legalize recreational marijuana, it will not be viable for Minnesota to be an island.” 

The politics 

Winkler held 15 town hall meetings in communities across the state on recreational marijuana before introducing his bill in February. He consulted with Walz and 13 state agencies, held 250 meetings with individuals and groups, and the bill made its way through a dozen House committees before getting to the floor. 

But the Republican-controlled Senate did not allow a hearing. HF 600’s companion bill, SF 757, has languished. Then-Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake has stepped down from his leadership position to mount a campaign for governor. Republican Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona will be the new majority leader. 

“Jeremy Miller may have a different outlook and be more willing to put it up for discussion,” Winkler said of the marijuana bill. The legislation does have bipartisan support, he said, citing the fact that six Republicans joined Democrats to pass HF 600. 

MCC’s Hamilton said he doesn’t think the Senate will pass SF 757 in 2022, but the push to legalize marijuana will not go away. Miller might open the door to debate on the Senate side this session, Hamilton said. 

“He has said only that he has ‘concerns’ about legalizing recreational cannabis,” Hamilton said. “He has not provided the type of clear and firm statements of opposition that we received from Sen. Gazelka.” 

And while Winkler is running for Hennepin County Attorney in November 2022, he said he intends to remain majority leader through this legislative session. 

The fact 2022 is an election year could impact the attention given to legalizing recreational marijuana, Hamilton said. “We [MCC staff] imagine the attention on legalizing marijuana will take the form of proponents pressuring the Senate to act on the Winkler bill and blaming any lack of movement toward legalization on their political opponents,” he said. 

What HF 600 would do 

Winkler’s bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess in public up to 2 ounces of cannabis and up to 10 pounds in their homes and cultivate up to eight plants, four of which could be mature. 

Among other things, it also would focus on developing micro-businesses and a craft market, in an effort to keep large companies from taking over. To address racial inequities in previous law enforcement actions against marijuana, the bill would expunge most cannabis convictions, Winkler said. The bill would fund public health awareness campaigns, youth access prevention, and substance abuse treatment. It would provide grants, loans, technical assistance, and training for small businesses in the trade, require testing and labeling of products, and restrict packaging for dried cannabis and infused products based on dosage size. 

While some argue that the black market will undercut a legal market every time, Winkler said HF 600 is not set up as a state revenue engine through its tax structure of marijuana businesses and transactions. 

“The goal of our bill is not revenue,” Winkler said, and that should keep costs down. 

Hamilton said the bill’s regulatory structure fails in the area that matters most: potency limits on THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. 

“Recreational marijuana products tend to be extremely potent,” Hamilton said, with some concentrated oils, waxes, and edibles at up to 90% TCH. “This is not the low potency ‘grass’ of yesteryear, making it more dangerous. The truth is, the average potency of marijuana has skyrocketed since the 1970s, and research demonstrates it is associated with substance abuse disorders, drugged driving crashes, lower IQ, and other negative consequences.” 

A study published in Biological Psychiatry in 2016, “Changes in Cannabis Potency over the Last Two Decades (1995-2014) — Analysis of Current Data in the United States,” backs Hamilton’s claim, finding that potency of illicit cannabis plant material alone had increased from about 4% in 1995 to 12% in 2014. “This increase in potency poses higher risk of cannabis use, particularly among adolescents,” the report concluded. 

Some cannabis concentrates sold in Colorado, Oregon, and other states with legalized recreational marijuana have potency rates of 60% to 80%. 

Racial inequity found in marijuana enforcement is a concern, Hamilton said, but it can be addressed in separate legislation. There is no need to set up a for-profit industry that can take advantage of the vulnerable, he said. 

“Our view is that the House legalization bill misleads Minnesotans of color by perpetuating the myth that the only solution to disparate enforcement of current marijuana laws is full legalization and commercialization,” said Hamilton, who is Black. “Even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, a Black person is almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Meanwhile, the facts reveal that African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana in Colorado and Washington, both states that have legalized recreational use and sales. 

“As an omnibus bill, HF 600 conflates credible demands for social justice and criminal justice reform with the profit motives of a small group of privileged investors,” he said. “Social and criminal justice reforms related to marijuana can be implemented as stand-alone policy measures without necessitating the legalization of recreational marijuana use and enabling a for-profit industry to prey on the poor and vulnerable.” 

Dr. Vic Vines, a former Midwest regional medical director in Center City for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s addiction and mental health services, said recreational marijuana is problematic because while cannabis doesn’t have a reputation for being addictive, it can lead some people into dependency. 

“Addiction is not dependent on the particular characteristics of a substance, but on that substance’s impact on a given person,” Vines said. “Some people can occasionally use heroin and not become addicted. But most people can’t. Some people can use moderate or even heavier amounts of alcohol and not become addicted, but depending on a person’s genetic makeup, others will become addicted.” 

“The issue concerning me is that when we make something available recreationally, we give some idea it is not a problem. But in some, [marijuana] can lead to dependency, mental illness, and learning disabilities,” Vines said. “Especially young people.” 

Medical vs. recreational marijuana 

Minnesota legalized medical marijuana in 2014. Until this year, it was one of the strictest programs in the country, because it required all products to be in liquid, oil, and pill forms. It also was relatively expensive. That changed May 18 with passage of a bill that beginning March 1 — or until appropriate testing is in place for dried raw cannabis used as medicine — will allow patients to smoke the dried plant, a less expensive product. The state’s medical marijuana manufacturers are LeafLine Labs and Vireo Health. 

MCC has been neutral on medical marijuana, arguing that whether it is an “effective therapeutic is a question of some debate, and one best left between doctors and individual patients,” Hamilton said. 

“That said, the Legislature’s decision this year to allow smokeable medical marijuana seems incredibly imprudent and will have to be well monitored to prevent it from turning into the backdoor legalization of recreational cannabis,” he said. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration “has not found smoked marijuana to be either safe or effective as medicine for any condition, let alone anxiety or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Hamilton said. 

The federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug but has largely left enforcement to states. 

The primary difference between medical and recreational marijuana is the prescription required by a doctor, Hamilton said. Conditions currently allowed for treatment by medical marijuana in Minnesota include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorders, chronic pain, sickle cell disease, and autism. 

But it’s important to note that studies show the “average medical marijuana user is a 32-year-old white male with a history of cocaine and alcohol abuse and no history of life-threatening illness,” Hamilton said. “In states with medical marijuana, less than 5% of users have cancer, HIV, glaucoma, or terminal illness, which are among the most commonly cited reasons for medical marijuana use,” he said. 

Statistics from the medical cannabis program in Minnesota, kept by the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, show that as of Dec. 31, 2020, about 7% of patients in the program were suffering from cancer, 1% had HIV/AIDS, 1% had glaucoma, and 1% had a terminal illness. 

About 63% of patients reported having intractable or chronic pain, 25% had PTSD, and 11% had severe and persistent muscle spasms. 

About 24,724 patients in the program, or 86.7%, were white, the office reported. About 6% were Black, 3.4% American Indian, 3.2% Hispanic, 1.3% Asian, and 2.4% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or “other.” 

Some proponents of recreational marijuana also use medical conditions as arguments for legalizing recreational use, such as suggesting that Minnesota’s medical marijuana system was overly restrictive and doses were too expensive. Winkler said recreational marijuana could be a form of self-medication, but one that could be carried out under the care of a doctor. Even as self-medication, marijuana carries low risks of harm compared to other alternatives, Winkler said. Hamilton and MCC have criticized those arguments. 

“Allowing recreational use as a means of self-medicating is a bandage, not a solution,” Hamilton said. “It seems that reform of the medical marijuana system would be the logical step.” 

MCC’s continued involvement 

MCC will continue to oppose efforts to legalize recreational marijuana because Catholics must help lawmakers understand the principled reasons for opposing legalization of a recreational cannabis industry, Hamilton said. Odds are good that if the effort to legalize fails this session, similar bills will be introduced in 2023, he said. 

“We want to make sure legislators, and their constituents, are hearing from more than industry proponents who only give one side of the story,” he said. 

“MCC’s opposition moving forward will be based on standing up against an industry that has proven to do more harm than good to the poor and vulnerable and the common good,” Hamilton said. “Specifically, this means we will be working with our partners to dispel myths about legalization, expose false binary [dual] choices which proponents so often portray as the only way, and share empirical evidence of the harmful effects of legalization.” 

Legalizing marijuana 

Colorado and Washington first legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Since then, 17 other states, with Connecticut the latest, June 22, and the District of Columbia, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have followed suit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Others are: Alaska; Arizona; California; Illinois; Maine; Massachusetts; Michigan; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Oregon; South Dakota (tied up in court challenge); Vermont; Virginia. 

Thirty-six states, including Minnesota since 2014, as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories allow for medical use of cannabis products. In November 2020, voters in Mississippi passed a ballot initiative to allow for medical use, but it was overturned by the state Supreme Court. 

Sister Lisa Maurer: What God has planted 

By Sister Lisa Maurer 
Guest columnist 

Isn’t it something? Scientists cannot really explain how life began on our planet. Most agree that life began more than 3 billion years ago, but just how it began is an elusive unknown. One scientific theory is based on a spark of electricity. Another gives credit to aliens. As people of faith, we know that God is the creator and author of life. But how the first living organisms exactly appeared in still a mystery.

Sister Lisa Maurer
Guest Columnist

Maybe the same can be said about vocations. They are a mystery. No one can really explain how one begins. Surely every sister, brother, or priest has been asked, “How did your vocation start?” I have been asked that question myself. I do not look to scientific theories of extraterrestrials or big bangs for an explanation. Rather, I often answer with stories about an upbringing in a Catholic family and attending Catholic school. I talk about the witness and example of holy religious like my fourth-grade teacher and the administrator of the nursing home I worked at in high school. But as far as pinpointing where it actually came from, I do not know what to say other than it is what God has planted. 

Deep inside every person is a desire to do something important, to be something to someone, and to make a difference. The vocations that God plants within us are fulfilling that desire. Here some ways to tend to what God has planted. 

Trust that you were created for a purpose. It is not your imagination to think that God has planted something special within you. It is true! It is real! God loved you into being, has had a plan for your life and wants to reveal it to you. We need to believe like St. John Henry Newman, who wrote: “God has created me to do him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.” 

Accept God’s love. Pope St. John Paul said that every vocation is an extraordinary gift of God’s love. A vocation is not some command or mandate to be robotically followed. It is an invitation to love! Really, it is! Tending to what God has planted is to open up to God’s love and in turn be willing to share that love with others. 

Listen and pray. Since a vocation is not our will but something planted by God, we must attune ourselves to God’s voice so that we can hear his call. Prayer is how we primarily listen to God’s voice. Oftentimes we know we should pray but don’t know how. Don’t worry! Just do it! The Lord longs to be with you in prayer and will help you. 

Cooperate with God. Even once we know of God’s love and desire for our happiness, it is not uncommon to feel unable or unwilling to give ourselves completely to him. Even when we start to see the fruit of what God has planted, we are afraid to move forward. We cannot let that stop us! We must be ready and willing to work with God in trust and confidence. 

If you or someone you know believes they are being called to life as a Benedictine (sister, oblate, live-in associate, volunteer), call Sister Lisa at (218) 723-7011, email [email protected], or visit www.duluthbenedictines.org/vocations. 

Editorial: Parents are the principal educators of their children

Conflicts over education have arisen across the United States, often manifesting in tense school board meetings at which parents voice their concerns and sometimes express their anger over perceptions on how schools are handling issues including race, human sexuality, and mask and vaccine policies. Sadly, according to reports, some of these situations have even become violent or included violent threats, a topic being debated all the way to the halls of the U.S. Congress. 

These issues are undoubtedly important and at times complicated and difficult. Strong feelings about them are understandable, and parents certainly have a right to make their voices heard, in a reasoned and morally sound way. It’s equally certain that violence and violent threats are completely out of bounds. 

However, one principle that has come into dispute in these matters has to be made crystal clear: “Parents are the principal and first educators of their children” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1653). This is a God-given right because it is first a God-given duty, rooted in the sacrament of matrimony. Parents have been entrusted by God with the duty to teach their children, handing on “the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life.” 

They are, of course, supported in this important duty by schools, which are immensely important, and which we all want to be excellent. But that is the role of the school — assisting parents in the mission of educating their children, not supplanting them. 

That is one of the main reasons the Catholic Church in the United States has been so supportive of school choice, making it more possible for parents to choose schools, including Catholic schools, that teach in accord with their values. 

This truth of the natural law has been increasingly questioned in our society. It’s important that Catholics come to a clear understanding of it, not only so that it may be defended when it is undermined but so that it can be more fully lived by all parents as they seek to raise holy, flourishing children for this life and the next. 

Bishop Felton celebrates annual White Mass

By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

Duluth Bishop Daniel Felton celebrated the annual diocesan White Mass Oct. 17 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth.

Bishop Daniel Felton blesses those who serve in the medical field as well as some medical instruments at the diocesan White Mass Oct. 17 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Gordon Harvieux)

The annual Mass honors those in the medical profession and is organized in conjunction with the St. Raphael Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, the chapter of the national organization that is active in the Duluth Diocese.

The liturgy included a blessing of those who serve in the medical field and some medical instruments that had been brought to the Mass, and following the Mass, Bishop Felton and Father Anthony Wroblewski, the cathedral rector, led a rosary for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and other intentions.

In his homily, Bishop Felton reflected on verses of a hymn, “The Servant Song,” by Richard Gillard, noting that those in the medical profession live out in a particular way the call of Christ in the Gospel to be servants of all. He called that service a “vocation in life. It’s not just your job.”

He said that while this is always true in the medical profession, it’s been especially so over the past couple of years with the ongoing pandemic.

Bishop Felton said that service is about what Jesus does in and through those serving.

“And why it’s important to know that a vocation in the medical profession is always connected to the great physician, to Jesus Christ, is that sometimes not only are we ministering to those who are suffering, but sometimes we in the medical profession ourselves are suffering, as well, from the great fatigue, from the overload, from being overwhelmed,” he said. “And yes, as Jesus said, I will even give my life for the ransom of many, there have been those in the medical profession who have died this past year because they were being of service to all, and they were ready to lay down their life for the healing of all.”

He said the call really was about grace and God’s bounty. “God would never give us a calling in his life that he does not bestow the grace that we would need to fulfill that purpose and to accomplish that mission,” he said.

Stella Maris completes purchase of high school site

By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

When Stella Maris Academy, the Catholic elementary and middle school operating across three campuses in Duluth, announced early this year the intention to begin offering high school classes in 2022, few would have imagined that instead of making room at one of the existing campuses, by the end of the year the school would own a large, well-equipped facility adjacent to one of those campuses to house the high school.

In October, Stella Maris Academy purchased The Hills Youth and Family Services, which will provide a space for a new high school beginning in the fall of 2022. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross) 

That possibility unexpectedly opened up when The Hills Youth and Family Services, next to the St. John’s campus, closed June 30. School officials quickly expressed their interest and submitted a purchase offer, which was accepted Aug. 23. After a series of hurdles and necessary approvals, the purchase was completed in early October.

The purchase marks a kind of homecoming for the facility, which was originally opened in 1910 as St. James Orphanage, operated by the Diocese of Duluth. The late Father Richard Partika, who lived at the orphanage as a child, celebrated his first Mass in its chapel.

The diocese sold the property in 1971 to Woodland Hills, where it provided residential treatment from youth around the region until its closure in June. Over the years it has had multiple renovations and additions.

Stella Maris president Andrew Hilliker says that while renovations will be needed to get it ready for the first classes in the fall of 2022, the facility has 140 acres, a beautiful (and already equipped) gym built in 1998, a cafeteria, a chapel in which to celebrate Mass, and a secure facility, all things a Catholic high school would need.

“All of these things exist with this property,” he said.

He added that there is ample space in the main building for other mission-minded organizations to rent out. And apart from the main building, there are multiple outbuilding, like a barn and an activity center.

Hilliker, who is in his first months as the academy’s president, said when he took the job, one of his concerns was about where they were going to put the high school, and it’s something he’d been praying about. He said God answered those prayers “with abundance.”

Money raised by private donors

At $4 million, the purchase was a significant one. Within the church, it required approval from diocesan committees and even the Vatican.

But Hilliker said although there will be operating costs, the money for the purchase was raised entirely through private donors and came quickly, with a sense of divine providence. “$4 million within a week, I would say,” he said.

He said offering Catholic high school in Duluth and in the diocese has been a conversation and a hunger for decades, and the facility makes it “really real” that it’s happening.

He said faculty, staff, families, and the whole community have been supportive.

The academy’s leadership team is already largely moved into the facility, the property is being prepared for winter, and work is being done to determine how best to phase in high schools classes in the fall — the first traditional Catholic high school in the city in 50 years.

Also yet to be determined is a new name for the high school, which Hilliker says will come “in the short term.”

“Many people have been working hard and praying for a long-term, viable place to welcome students to high school in the Fall of 2022,” Hilliker said in a news release. “This property is bringing our efforts and goals to a very real and meaningful place. Our students will feel the benefits of this for years to come and we are forever grateful for the opportunity.”

Washington cardinal ordains deacons from North American College in Rome

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington ordained 21 men from the Pontifical North American College to the diaconate Sept. 30 in St. Peter’s Basilica. One of them was Deacon Daniel Richard Hammer, 27, of the Diocese of Duluth.

Deacon Daniel Hammer

Hundreds of family members, friends, and students attended the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s, watching the joy-filled liturgy rich in symbolic tradition.

Those concelebrating the Mass included U.S. Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Australian Cardinal George Pell, former prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy. Also in attendance were U.S. Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, retired grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a former rector of the U.S. seminary in Rome, and several U.S. bishops, among them Duluth Bishop Daniel Felton.

Deacon Hammer, the son of Dr. William and Teresa Hammer, is from Baxter and comes from St. Andrew Church in Brainerd. He is studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Two of the new deacons studying at the college are Australians; one was ordained for the Archdiocese of Sydney and the other for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The 19 Americans were ordained for 15 different dioceses across the United States, with three from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Cardinal Gregory, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis 10 months ago and took possession of his titular church in Rome at the end of September, delivered the homily.

“The church has always had exceedingly high standards when it comes to choosing those whom she summons to sacred orders,” he said. The order of diaconate is an important “transitional moment” for those who will continue to prepare for the priesthood, and it is an important opportunity to grow in Christ and humbly serve God and his people.

The office of deacon is associated with “the ministry of charity,” he said. A deacon must be “a man of charity, [with] real and heartfelt compassion and concern for the poor, the neglected, and the marginalized members of our world. A deacon without a heart for charity will be a hollow and worthless son.”

“Deacons are called to visit the sick, to work for justice, for immigrants, to comfort those who are in sorrow, to help the hungry find food, the naked clothing and the homeless a dwelling place. Deacons must visit those in prison and in nursing homes,” the cardinal said. “Deacons are never far removed from those that the Lord Jesus has identified as the least of his sisters and brothers.”

However, their ministry is much more than “mere social work” because they are filled by the Holy Spirit with the grace of their office, he said.

They can offer the bread of eternal life from the Lord’s altar and proclaim the Gospel, sharing God’s invitation to seek his kingdom.

“Today you become preachers, please do so with fidelity to the truth of the Gospel and the church’s tradition,” Cardinal Gregory told the new deacons. “People are looking for inspiring preachers who challenge them, encourage them to deepen their faith, and help them discover God’s presence in their lives.”

He asked them to “be attentive celebrants of the church’s liturgical life, consider carefully the details of the rituals so that people will be edified by the church’s worship and sanctified by the sacraments and the church’s prayer” and never distract them by being “too casual or too obsessive.”

Their embrace of the gift of celibacy will be less burdensome, he said, when they live like Christ with transparent modesty, great simplicity, and draw strength from constant prayer and conversation with God.

“When your prayer life is strong and faithful, when your lifestyle is unencumbered by too many possessions, comforts, and distractions, your living and your loving will reflect the same appearance as Christ himself provided for people who found his teaching and his ministry so compelling,” the cardinal said.

Deacon Kyle Eller contributed to this report.

Pope names auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis to Crookston, Minn.

By Catholic News Service

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis to head the Diocese of Crookston.

Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis is seen in this undated photo. Pope Francis appointed him to head the Diocese of Crookston Oct. 18, with his installation Mass scheduled for Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He has been an auxiliary bishop for the Minnesota archdiocese since 2013. A native of Denver, he was ordained a priest for St. Paul and Minneapolis in in 1997.

His appointment to Crookston was announced in Washington Oct. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Cozzens succeeds Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, whose resignation was accepted April 13 by Pope Francis. As requested by the pope, Bishop Hoeppner, 71, resigned following a 20-month investigation into allegations that he mishandled claims of clergy sexual abuse.

The pope appointed retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, to serve as apostolic administrator of the Crookston Diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.

Bishop Cozzens, 53, will be installed as the eighth bishop of Crookston Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Crookston. Prior to the installation, he plans to celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving Nov. 28 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

“I am grateful to our Holy Father for entrusting to me this important mission, and my heart is already filled with love for the faithful, the priests, and the religious of the Diocese of Crookston,” he said in a statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Oct. 18. “I have great excitement for this opportunity to serve.”

“At the same time, I also grieve the fact that I will be leaving my home,” he said.

“After almost 25 years of serving in the archdiocese, I have immense love and gratitude for the innumerable ways the people, priests, religious, and bishops have blessed and formed my life,” Bishop Cozzens said.

“The life of the church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is vibrant, and in many ways, unparalleled in our country,” he said.

“I have experienced personally that God is doing incredible things here through so many good people who love Christ and his church, and I expect that to grow as the archdiocese brings the synod to completion and begins a new phase of evangelization,” he added.

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said the archdiocese is honored that Pope Francis has chosen “our auxiliary” to be Crookston’s shepherd.

“I am not surprised that Pope Francis would have seen in him the extraordinary priestly gifts that have long been recognized by the priests and faithful of this archdiocese who have come to know him and love him as an energetic and capable shepherd with a huge heart, sharp intellect, and unfailing love for Christ and his church,” he said in the archdiocesan statement.

Born Aug. 3, 1968, Andrew Harmon Cozzens is the son of Jack and Judy Cozzens and the youngest of three children.

He is a graduate of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he grew in faith through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Prior to entering the seminary, Bishop Cozzens served from 1991 to 1992 as a team leader of NET Ministries, a traveling missionary outreach to youth. NET stands for National Evangelization Teams.

His first NET Ministries assignment was to the Crookston Diocese. The following academic year, he was co-director of campus outreach of St. Paul’s Outreach, a college campus ministry. Both NET and St. Paul’s Outreach have their headquarters in the Twin Cities.

As he discerned priesthood, Bishop Cozzens and a small group of other men formed the Companions of Christ, a fraternal community of priests and seminarians that has since established communities in the Archdiocese of Denver and Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. The organization received canonical recognition in 1992.

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Cozzens has assisted Archbishop Hebda in leading the archdiocese and has been at the helm of several initiatives, including as chairman of the executive team for the 2022 archdiocesan synod, a process that began in 2019.

He has served as vicar for Catholic education and overseen the archdiocesan offices of Latino Ministry, Evangelization, and Marriage, Family, and Life.

He served as interim rector of St. Paul Seminary from June 2018 until January 2019 and has long been a leader in national efforts to strengthen seminary formation.

He is president of the board of directors of the Seminary Formation Council and also is the president of the corporate board for the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha.

He is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, and in that position is leading a three-year National Eucharistic Revival that will begin in June. He also serves as chairman of the board of NET Ministries and St. Paul’s Outreach.

Bishop Cozzens’ episcopacy has coincided with exposure of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

As an auxiliary bishop, he helped lead the archdiocese through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy from 2015 to 2018 that involved more than 450 abuse claims and resulted in a $210 million settlement with victim-survivors.

He also was involved in working to resolve criminal and civil charges filed against the archdiocese in 2015 related to its handling of clergy sexual abuse. That case and its settlement brought about serious, positive reform in the archdiocese’s culture and safe environment efforts, Bishop Cozzens has said.

A month after he was ordained bishop, he also became involved in an internal investigation of sexual misconduct against Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, who led the archdiocese from 2008 until he resigned in 2015.

Bishop Cozzens later called that investigation “doomed to fail” because it was conducted internally and without its leaders having authority to act. He joined other U.S. prelates calling for a national, independent structure to investigate bishops accused of wrongdoing.

A structure was ultimately established worldwide through Pope Francis’ 2019 legislative document “Vos estis lux mundi,” which revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable for protecting abusers.

In his statement, Archbishop Hebda praised Bishop Cozzens for “his steadfast advocacy for those who had been hurt in any way by the church, his passion for Catholic education and evangelization, his creative guidance of our synod process, and his love for immigrants, refugees and those on the peripheries.”

These qualities have “have all left what I hope will be an indelible mark on me and on this archdiocese.” He added.

Located in northwest Minnesota, the Diocese of Crookston was established in 1909. It comprises 17,210 square miles and 14 counties.

According to its website, it has about 35,000 Catholics in 66 parishes served by 41 diocesan and three religious order priests; eight Catholic grade schools and one Catholic high school; and three Catholic hospitals and two Catholic nursing facilities.

It is considered “entirely rural in nature,” the diocese’s website states, with farming, logging, and tourism as its main industries.

Contributing to this story was Maria Wiering, editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.