Friday, May 31, 2013

Medjugorje: A Personal Account

On June 24, 1981 a group of young people saw a shining figure that seemed to call to them, but they did not approach. The next day they, and many villagers who had heard the story, gathered at the base of the hill. Six young people, later known as the visionaries, began to quickly climb the hill. The went up so quickly that no one else could keep up with them. When the rest of the villagers arrived they found these six kneeling as they had their first close apparition with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One of villagers, Suzana Mixan, is one of our parishioners and she was there that day. She was six years old and on Apparition Hill that day. Years later she was a Tour Guide at Medjugorje and that is how she met her husband, Joe Mixan. Earlier this Marian month Suzana and Joe spoke to the Kindergarten through Second Grade students at St. Columbkille Catholic School. It seems appropriate to post on this day when we celebrate the Visitation.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Priests don't grow on trees

It's time to celebrate.

One of our parishioners, John Norman, is about to be ordained to the priesthood. He should be congratulated for his faithfulness to God's plans for his life. And his family should be congratulated, too.

After all, priests don't grow on trees.

That saying is supposed to be about another type of treasure, but it applies to priests as well. Money doesn't come out of thin air, and neither do vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

So where do priests come from? Families, of course. John's parents, Joe and Joan Norman, have provided a rich soil in which a religious vocation could grow. Now that it's ordination time, we should consider the role of families in encouraging vocations to the religious life.

Valerie Conzett, director of the Archdiocese of Omaha's Family Life Office, offers her insights:

"Parents are instrumental in being the first people with the greatest opportunity to begin to direct our lives toward others and to understand that we have a purpose in God’s creation and in fact are called to be the body of Christ.

"In a home where the faith is actively practiced through regular and consistent participation in the Sacramental life of the Church and through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy practiced in daily life, a child begins to see a life ordered in a particular way; a way that is grounded in prayer and relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and with Mary as our Mother who models a response of 'yes' to God. The child comes to know that each of us matter to God and to each other.

"It’s pretty basic stuff . . . and fundamental. Like a favorite poem states, 'a child lives what he learns' and it begins at home”

Father John McCloskey, a nationally known speaker and writer, has some tips for parents:

"Catholic parents who want to produce vocations for the Church have to be ready to be heroically counter cultural. As the old Beatles song put it, 'It don't come easy.' Putting it mildly, the world appears designed at the moment to thwart people, particularly young people, from even entertaining the thought of complete dedication to God."

First of all, McCloskey says, love your children unconditionally.

"Your children should know that you pray for them every day, that they be holy and happy and generous to whatever God calls them. They must know that while you are concerned with their education, health, achievements, career prospects, these are all secondary to their being virtuous and happy in this life and saved in the next."

Some of his other suggestions:

"Foster a simple life of piety in the home adjusted to the condition and ages of the children. It should leave the children asking for more, not begging for less. The Cure of Ars was once asked by parents what they could best do for their children. He said simply to bring them frequently to Jesus in the Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Penance. Figure out how you can do this respecting their freedom yet making it attractive."

Lead a devout life as an example for your children, he says. "They will watch you pray, go to Mass, go to confession, read the Sacred Scripture, pray the Rosary, and so on. They will see that the liturgical calendar is the most important one for their family and that you celebrate accordingly. They will also see you make sacrifices in order to do so. Pleasing God, not men, will thus become the priority in their life also."

"Teach them to value poverty and detachment. Keep them short on money. Do not let them indiscriminately acquire things or to measure people by the amount of their possessions. Teach them to make things last and how to go without happily. Teach them how to share cheerfully. Make sure they spend their summers productively. That often times will mean they work and/or spend time in generously serving others less fortunate than themselves."

Raising faithful children who are open to God's call might seem daunting, but take heart, parents, says Father Joseph Hirsch Director of Vocations Diocese of La Crosse:

"Christ asks you to be a holy parent, not necessarily a perfect parent. Seek to sanctify your spouse and children by your loving and nurturing—God will do the rest. Trials will inevitably occur within your family. You preach your most powerful sermons during times of difficulty. The saints have said that a holy family is a struggling family. When the Apostles were in the midst of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus told them not to be afraid. If we have Jesus in our boat—home life—he will get us through. Your witness of trust in those times will speak a thousand words."

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Off the "To Do" List

He'll be ordained a priest on Saturday and today Dcn John Norman joined us for Mass.

Durning Mass, Fr. Vogel blessed his chalice and paten praying:

With Joy, Lord God, we place on your altar this chalice and paten for the celebration of the sacrifice of the new covenant: may the Body and Blood of your Son, offered and received by means of these vessels, make them holy.
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that, celebrating the unblemished sacrifice, we may be renewed by your Sacraments on earth and endowed with your Spirit, until with the Saints we come to delight in your banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Glory and Honor to you for ever.

Then Fr. Vogel used the chalice and paten to celebrate Mass.

This had been the chalice of Monsignor Robert Gass who was the long time pastor at Christ the King and passed away on June 11, 2010. As a child, John recalls going to Monsignor Gass for confession during a Reconciliation service.

Inscribed on the outside of the chalice are the words, "Hic Est Enim Calix Sanguinis Mei." This is the Latin phrase in Mass when the priest quotes Jesus saying, "This is the chalice of My Blood." John had the bottom of the chalice inscribed thanking God for the gift of Joseph and Joan Norman and his family "the Domestic Church."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A New Door

When the church was designed, the eastern doors were seen primarily as fire exits. But they have become heavily used over time.

 The new door for the South East corner of the church arrived yesterday.

It gives a different look from the inside ...

... and the outside.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chaplain Kapaun

Father Emil Kapaun, was born in Pilsen, Kansas in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas on Holy Thursday, April 20, 1916.  He was ordained as a Priest for the Diocese on June 9, 1940 and entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944. Separated from the service in 1946, he re-entered the Army in 1948 and was ordered to Korea in 1950.

Communist forces surrounded Chaplain Kapaun’s outfit near Unsan the night of November 1, 1950. Fr. Kapaun was captured but escaped when his captors were shot by allied soldiers. He was captured a second time the next day when he went back to be with the wounded.  He and the other POWs were marched for days to the prison camp at Pyoktong. Father had difficulty walking because of his frostbitten feet. At the prison site, the officers were separated from the enlisted men and on a hill above the rest of the camp. Fr. Kapaun would sneak down the hill to tend to the sick and wounded, and he would even sneak out of the camp to scrounge for corn, salt, millet, and soy beans for the starving POWs. He prayed to St. Dismas before every one of these missions. He gathered sticks to make fires to heat water in the twenty-below-zero temperatures of February 1951. Using talents he learned on the farm in Kansas, he fashioned vessels out of old iron sheeting so he could have containers to launder the clothing of the wounded and a place to store purified water.  

He led the prisoners in prayer for their daily material and spiritual needs and for their deliverance and liberation.  He even led prayers for their captors. His favorite prayers were the rosary, prayers from the Mass and the Stations of the Cross. He also conducted services for the Protestant POWs. After prayers he made his rounds in the camp, burying the dead and tending to the sick and dying. He boiled water in his home-made vessels and laundered the soiled clothing of the weak, incontinent POWs, and he bathed those too ill to do so themselves. Then he reported to indoctrination where his Chinese captors taunted him that his God must not exist since He would not rescue him. Prisoners were buoyed by Fr. Kapaun’s retort to the communists that, “God is as real as the air they breathed but could not see, as the sounds they heard but could not see, as the thoughts and ideas they had and spoke but could not see or feel.”

Chaplain Kapaun, suffering from a clot in his leg and an infection in his eye, led Easter services for the prisoners in 1951. He employed a cane to help him walk, and his infected eye was covered with a black patch. Shortly after Easter, Fr. Kapaun was immobilized on the floor of the prison so that he could heal. The POWs who visited him knew he had to be suffering great pain, but Fr. Kapaun rarely let on that he was hurting. Over protests of the other POWs, the Chinese captors ordered Fr. Kapaun to the prison hospital. Everyone knew that hardly any prisoners came back alive from the hospital. 

Sources differ on the exact date and cause of Fr. Kapaun’s death. The U.S. Army records indicate that he died of pneumonia on May 6, 1951. His fellow prisoners insist that he died on May 23, 1951, and that the cause of his death was malnutrition and starvation.    

The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization. In 1993, it was announced that Fr. Kapaun would receive the title of "Servant of God." Earlier this year President Obama awarded him the Medal of Honor.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday

God's incredible love is totally incomprehensible. We can try to imagine it, and we can compare it to the love we experience as human beings, but the reality is that God's love is so overwhelming and unconditional, that it will never be possible for us to comprehend how great God's love is. That's why the feast we celebrate today, the Most Holy Trinity, can leave us with more questions than answers. In truth, any theologian who has tried to plumb the mystery of the Trinity, whether saints like Thomas Aquinas or Augustine, or contemporary scholars like Karl Rahner or Gerald O'Collins, may write page after page, but in the end is still left standing before the mystery.

One of the most famous images of the Trinity, the icon by the Russian master Andrei Rublev (ca. 1360-1430), is an image of hospitality. The three persons of the Trinity are represented by angelic beings seated around a four-sided table inviting the viewer to come and take a place to dine with them. When we encounter the love of God and truly experience it, this is in effect what happens to us: we are seated at the table and enveloped in God's love.

In the icon, the place at the table is empty, because it is there for anyone and everyone. It is not just my place or yours. Everything that the Father has, is also of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And so it is with the place at the table. When God invites us in, it is not to the exclusion of others, but to the welcome of all. We may question how this is even possible, since as limited creatures we parcel out our time, our resources, and even our love. God does no such thing. And the more we are caught up in God's love, the more we are able to express that love to others.

©2010 Liturgical Publications Inc

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Questioning Archbishop Lucas

Archbishop Lucas, in 4 minutes or less, can you give us a sense of Catholic Social Teaching?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Praying for Oklahoma

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City (@ArchbishopOKC) tweeted the picture above with the message, "Spent yesterday in Moore. Terrible destruction. Even in suffering their hope is unshaken. Pray for this community!"

He also tweeted this picture saying, "Grateful for the prayers, messages and gestures of support from brother bishops and Catholics around the country."

This weekend we will take a second collection to assist the US Bishops as they respond to this tragedy and to other natural disasters that may take place this year.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Summer Challenge

Summer vacation is here.

It's time for playing, swimming, grilling, vacationing, reading, relaxing -- and deepening your relationship with God. This summer my challenge for St. Columbkille families is go to Mass on more than Sundays. Make weekday Masses part of your routine.

You might be thinking that you have no time during the week to go to Mass. Be creative; try to squeeze in one extra Mass a week. It will change you.

St. Columbkille offers Masses at 8:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and at 6:20 and 8:15 a.m. on Fridays. Other parishes celebrate Mass over the lunch hour. A Web site,, could help you find a time right for you.

Jamie Mundt, a mother of four at St. Columbkille, is one of dozens of parishioners who have discovered the value of attending Mass daily if possible. Her kids or husband, Brian, often go with her.

The Mass has become a priority in her life. "It's what I look forward to," she said. "It just helps my day flow right."

"It's a daily miracle. If God, the God of the universe, wants to become one with me in the Eucharist, why would I not want to be there?"

I discovered several years ago that I could make time for morning Mass after I dropped kids off at St. Columbkille School about 8 a.m. I was awake and already had any babies, toddlers or preschoolers up and out the door with me. Why not just swing by church? Sure, we still might be groggy, with some of us wearing whatever we slept in, but why not? As my children grew, it became easier for me to get to the evening Mass.

With the young kids, we often headed to the cry room. I could relax there, let the children make a little noise, keep busy with toys, sip on a sippy cup or eat a few Cheerios. I worried that we might disrupt other worshipers, and sometimes we did. But they were patient, friendly and welcoming toward us. Most of the people at daily Mass were parents or grandparents themselves. One was an elderly man named Lee who happened to look a lot like Santa Claus. (Rest in peace, Santa Lee.) He even had a handful of candy to give to children after Mass. My kids learned that when Santa wasn't busy making toys at the North Pole, he was adoring Christ at Mass.

Others who frequent daily Mass at St. Columbkille continue to teach and inspire us with their faith. They are a great influence for adults and children alike. Like Jamie, they can attest to the graces Jesus pours out to them. Our popes and saints spoke often of the power of a single Mass:

"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer." -- Pope Paul VI

"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy." -- St. John Vianney

"It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass." -St. Padre Pio

"Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass; they will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain." -- St. John Vianney

"What graces, gifts and virtues the Holy Mass calls down." -- St. Leonard of Port Maurice

"One single Mass gives more honor to God than all the penances of the saints, the labors of the apostles, the sufferings of the martyrs and even the burning love of the Blessed Mother of God." -- St. Alphonsus Liguori

Who can argue with the truth? You can make the glorious Mass the most important part of your day. God won't mind if you squeeze Him in this summer before swimming lessons, during your lunch break or after soccer camp. Your schedule will not become more hectic. Instead you will find our Lord's peace and grace for your busy day.

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Day of School

As school dismissed today for the summer, students, parents and staff gathered for ice cream bars, to remember the year and to say farewell.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kindergarten Graduation

Today was Kindergarten Graduation at St. Columbkille Catholic School. Students began in their classrooms getting their graduation caps on.

 A lot of people came to watch.

Principal McGuire gave us our diplomas.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Because 12 Ain't Enough

We're getting another deacon. On Friday seminarian Matt Capadano will be ordained a transitional deacon and will join us in June, living with Fr. Vogel. In the fall he will return to Mount St. Mary Seminary in Maryland before, God willing, being ordained a priest next summer.

Matt says he is "excited" to spend the summer with us serving as clergy in a "hopefully forgiving parish." He doesn't know quite what Fr. Damian and Dcn. Lauber have planned for him or what to expect, but he is approaching the summer with an open heart and mind.

Before he even knew he was spending the summer with us, he asked Dcn John Norman to vest him at the ordination Mass. Then Dcn. Capadano will be the Deacon of the Altar at then Fr. Norman's First Mass on June 2nd. So we shall get a preview of him before he joins us for the summer.

This means that, for the summer, Deacon Graef won't be our most recently ordained deacon and Deacon Krueger won't be our youngest.

Please do welcome Deacon Capadano when he joins us this summer.

Award Winners

Congratulatios to our 4th through 8th graders who received awards following our last All-School Mass of the 2012-13 School year.

Along with the recognition of 8th Grade Scholarship winners, Fr. Damian recognized Mrs. Galing as she retires.

Mrs. Galing was first involved in the school as a parent. She was asked to work for the school for a "short time," and we're sad to see that time end.