Diocesan Catholic Schools enter into 7-year curriculum review

By Madi Field/Freelance Writer, OND

It has been a joyful year of blessings in Catholic schools across the Diocese of Crookston. Two schools are starting building projects, and most have experienced growth in the last few years. In fact, since 2014, student enrollment in the diocese has grown 20 percent or 240 students.

“Gone are the days of referring to textbooks as curriculum,” said Tina Stanger, Superintendent of Diocesan Catholic Schools. “Schools now view the word ‘curriculum’ as all the resources a school uses to teach students. It now encompasses a plethora of online resources, staffing, and supplemental materials all brought in to help students meet standards. Diocesan schools view state standards as the “bare minimum” that we want our students to achieve. Therefore, they are doing a lot of work to ensure they go above the mark.”

The Diocese of Crookston’s Catholic Schools have joined together to begin a seven-year curriculum review cycle to improve their curriculum and keep it from being just a “binder on the shelf.” They recently went through an accreditation process, with one of the expectations being to review, maintain, and update curriculum so that it aligns with standards. The seven-year curriculum review currently underway is the diocese’s way of going above and beyond to unite the schools, and ensure their students receive an excellent education.

Stanger has been considering this method of curriculum revision for a few years, gathering insight from the Diocese of Duluth which has already started a similar seven-year cycle. She asked Andrew Hilliker, Principal of St. Joseph’s Catholic school in Moorhead, to take lead on this project, who, as she says, excels at the kind of work that this curriculum review entails.

“We knew this was a difficult and big thing to do, but we wanted to make sure we did it, and did it well,” Hilliker said. He is looking forward to collaborating with the other schools and building strong rapport though the process.

This first year of a seven-year cycle, an eight-member committee led by Hilliker worked on the social studies curriculum. Another committee of five led by Randy Schantz, principal of St. Bernard’s School, Thief River Falls, focused on physical education.

Each year, a new content area or two will be evaluated. Each committee will have a principal leading a collaboration of teachers in that subject area from schools throughout the diocese. The biggest challenge for this year’s committees was finding time to meet, however, they managed to gather on four or five occasions. There is a lot of work that goes into the review process, and after the year of focus is done, committee members go into the background, sending e-mails and working to implement the changes that were agreed upon in their schools.

Because the whole diocese is combining for the seven-year plan, it takes the pressure off one person having to accomplish it all themselves. Having different core committees meet each year to review the standards and desired outcomes splits up the workload. The biggest success has been willingness from each school to come on board with the idea.

“Each school does some things really, really well, and if we can pull together those strengths of each school, we are all going to be collectively better for it,” said Hilliker. “In addition, it is already alleviating some of the pressure and demand on individual schools to meet the accreditation standards, because we have this system in place and we are relying on each other to help get it done,” he said.

Stanger said the curriculum review’s purpose is “to make our schools deeply excellent. We already know that a lot of our test scores are coming out ahead of the local publics, but we really want to focus on making sure our curriculum is central to all we do, and that our decisions to purchase or hire are always in support of our curriculum.”

All of the schools, except St. Mary’s Mission School, now use Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing through Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), so data is the same across the board. “I can pull a report for all of us which makes it more meaningful, statistics-wise,” explained Stanger.

Not only are suggestions from the curriculum review process making data analysis easier, the schools are also saving on textbook costs because they are reviewing the data to know what area needs materials, instead of buying books because it is up next on the budget rotation.

The entire process will strengthen many areas because the schools are working together to reach a common outcome, and through the process, they will provide eachother with accountability and combine their resources.

The love of students is the reason these principals and teachers are so willing to put in extra work to improve the standard of learning. “A ministry is putting one’s whole self and lifetime of experiences into one’s work. That is what our teachers do. The Catholic schools teach the entire child; raise the child up to be the best person they can be in the eyes of God,” said Stanger.

Those involved are hopeful that this seven-year curriculum review cycle will bring the students in the Diocese of Crookston Catholic Schools to a greater level of excellence.

Moorhead MACH celebrates 20th anniversary

By Rachel Noel/Freelance Writer, OND

Fargo, N.D. -- Mothers And Children, more commonly referred to as “MACH” is a group of women who gather weekly to discuss their spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness. Mothers shape the future through one of the most difficult, yet significant jobs in the world, and on April 28, 25 mothers congregated at the Loretta building in downtown Fargo to celebrate 20 years of MACH.

The jubilant reunion featured MACH members past and present. It was evident through the moving stories exchanged by the women what a difference this group has made in the lives of many, and the impact it has had on generations. Currently, the Diocese of Crookston has active MACH groups at St. Joseph, Moorhead, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston; but it all started at St. Joseph’s.

In the fall of 1997, co-founders Carol Tepley and the late Roberta Johnson envisioned an openhearted, faith-based space of solace where mothers could come once a week to openly discuss whatever was on their minds and in their hearts. Studies have shown that stay-at-home moms are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than working moms, due to lack of adult comradery which can cause an endless feeling of anxious isolation. A majority of the current MACH women are stay at home moms, and several of those moms raved about the faith friendships they established by attending MACH every week. Childcare is provided on-site, which allows the mothers to enjoy two hours solely focused on kid-free fellowship.

Several current MACH members shared poignant, heartfelt examples of what MACH has meant to them and how the supportive group has carried them through trying times such as infertility, infant loss, and sacrificing successful careers to stay at home with their children. In witnessing these powerful testimonials, it is clear that Tepley and Johnson’s legacy is active and flourishing in the hearts of many. Tepley shared the story of how MACH came to be.

“I remember Roberta and I sitting in her dining room just planning things out and looking at the materials that we had borrowed from the Hope Lutheran moms’ group. We started discussing why the Catholic Church didn’t have a group for moms. We wanted a place to talk about motherhood, faith, family, and we asked ourselves where is the support for us? We decided that enough time had gone by. Two thousand years was long enough,” she joked.

Tepley also discussed the vision that she and Johnson shared from the start, and how they made sure MACH grew in a forceful stride to establish that their imperative mission would not be overlooked.

“Making friends, being able to talk openly about your faith, being excited about when you are going to have another baby, all of those things are so important. Part of the MACH ministry we decided to do early on was to attend different Masses, and if there was anyone in the pews around us that had a screaming baby, a fussy toddler, or if they got up and left the church more than twice, we would talk to those moms and tell them how much we appreciated that they brought their kids to church,” she said.

Although the Bible study material covered at MACH is Catholic faith-based, all religions are welcome. Tepley explained that it was established early on that all mothers would be welcome at MACH.

“Some of the moms had kids that went to school at St. Joe’s and some of them didn’t, but we welcomed everyone, regardless of belief. Our message was: be who you are and learn from us as moms. The love and laughter that flows through you will go straight to your kids, and directly into your homes.”

Capitol 101 events help Catholics work for the common good

By Ashlyn Daly/Freelance Writer, OND

St. Paul, Minn -- Pope Francis said, “Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.”

This year, the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) held three Capitol 101 gatherings at the Capitol in St. Paul to help Catholics learn how to serve the common good through politics in the state. During events in February, March and April, attendees experienced the law-making process, learned about faithful citizenship, identified key issues and prayed for legislators.

On April 17, roughly 60 Catholics – six of them from the Diocese of Crookston – came from around Minnesota to discuss how their voices can be heard in the state Capitol. The event focused on two main issues: human trafficking and commercial surrogacy.

“It is vital for us to have our voice in the mix,” said Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “We want to see Jesus’ mission lived in the world.”

“My voice, as a Catholic, matters,” said Rachel Herbeck, Outreach and Policy Coordinator with MCC. In her role, she helps others recognize their voices matter too.

As the voice for the Catholic Church in Minnesota, MCC supports the ministry of the bishops of Minnesota. The organization works to encourage political and community leaders to create legislation that protects human dignity and serves the common good. They also help citizens of the state contribute through education on issues and the political process. Capitol 101 provided the perfect opportunity for these goals to take action.

“Capitol 101 is an important opportunity where Catholics can go and have a voice in a place that we don’t always feel welcome,” said Bishop Cozzens.

Capitol 101 was a chance for people of all ages to expand their knowledge of how our government works. Shawn Peterson, MCC’s Associate Director for Public Policy, thoroughly explained the process of how a bill becomes a law. He also provided information about two key issues being discussed by state lawmakers.

Peterson spoke to attendees about the uncomfortable connection between pornography and human trafficking. Bill SF 2554 (Benson)/ HF 2967 (Lohmer) publicly recognizes the link between pornography and human trafficking. Making this connection helps by adding to the list of data that may be collected, thereby providing law enforcement better information to fight the commodification of human persons. This bill also directs fines collected for the offenses of child pornography and the dissemination and display of harmful materials to minors to the Safe Harbor Program. This bill does not make pornography illegal, limit free speech or redirect funds from any existing program.

The second bill Peterson discussed was The Surrogacy Abuse Prevention Act, SF 2740 (Benson)/ HF 2994 (Wills). This bill prevents exploitation of woman and commodification of children and forbids for-profit commercial surrogacy arrangements. This bill does not ban surrogacy.

“If surrogacy is allowed at all the goal is to make it look less like human reproduction trafficking and more like an adoption,” said Peterson.

Roughly 1,000 bills are introduced each month. Capitol 101 emphasized with that volume of legislation, legislators need the citizens of Minnesota to help them decide which are the most important issues to the public. It is critical for citizens to reach out to representatives to share their viewpoints, discuss problems and talk about how they can serve the common good. During Capitol 101, attendees set up one-on-one meetings with their lawmakers. These encounters help create a relationship and allow for sharing viewpoints and addressing concerns.

Taking time to pray for lawmakers and the issues impacting Minnesota was also a key component of the day.

Representative Joyce Peppin, Majority Leader for the Minnesota House of Representatives, spoke during Capitol 101. Part of her role as Majority Leader is to decide which bills are voted on.

“Catholics have to make it through the higher power to make those bills go to the floor,” she said.

For more information about MCC’s work, visit To receive updates and action alerts about current legislation in the state sign up for the Catholic Advocacy Network at

Catholics ‘reboot’ in Thief River Falls

By Rachel Noel/Freelance Writer, OND

Thief River Falls, Minn -- On April 18, more than 800 people filled St. Bernard, Thief River Falls, to witness “Reboot! Live!”, an event featuring internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, author, and founder of Real Life Catholic, Chris Stefanick. Stefanick is the man behind the movement to reignite a contagious conviction in the heart of every Catholic, and to spread the Gospel throughout a country which he feels has largely forgotten the Word of God. His life-changing media reaches more than 1 million people every month.

“Pope Francis recently said, ‘We are in the middle of a love story. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is,’” Stefanick began. “We’re here tonight to remember the love story so that we can be better Christians and so that we can live a better life. When you know your life is part of a love story written by the hand of God, then and only then can you have a peace that doesn’t depend on people, a joy that doesn’t come from your circumstances, and a hope that not even death can take away. Nothing can give you that except the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So why are you looking anywhere else?”

Throughout his presentation, Stefanick dissected the Word of God and connected it to everyday challenges and experiences with ease. He touched on spirituality, dating, marriage, parenting, health, illness, death, and eternal life.

“Who matters to you more than your spouse? Do you take them out to dinner and tell them that? Who matters to you more than your kids? Do you ask how their day was and then listen for the answer? And what could be more important than our faith? The most profound things in our lives just fade away when we don’t act like they matter,” he said.

Stefanick indicated that a heartbreaking 80 percent of young people stop practicing their faith before age 23.

“Most people who leave their faith, it wasn’t this radical decision. It just faded away,” he said.

He stressed five crucial habits of holy people that have been proven to change lives and redirect Catholics who may have forgotten the love story: love yourself, pray, share your faith with others, friendship, and reboot.

“Rebooting means making a clean break from the things that keep you from being the person you know you’re supposed to be. The only person with the power to hold the past over your head is you. God is inviting you to start over every day, and he offers you the power to do it through confession. We need to replace the negative thoughts we have about ourselves with the truth, which is: I’m blessed, I’m beautiful, I’m chosen, I am a child of God. The Holy Spirit is an advocate who wants to set you free,” Stefanick said.

A reoccurring theme in Stefanick’s dialogue was self-forgiveness. He encouraged all present to “re-write your name and re-route your life”.

“Pope John Paul II said, ‘You are not who they say you are, so let me remind you who you are.’ That love that created space and time, that love that we’re born to find is all around us, offering everything to us and asking us to give absolutely everything in return. And the gift of love that God gives you as he asks for your own heart in return is free, and you don’t have to have it all together to enter that love. That is the love that defines you. That is the love that tells the story of your life,” Stefanick explained.

Stefanick highlighted several examples throughout history wherein both Saints and laypeople changed lives through actively sharing their Catholic faith. 

“Back in the 1980s when AIDS broke out, it was a terrifying time. Some thought that by being sneezed on you might get the AIDS virus. In that climate of terror and fear, Mother Teresa started the first AIDS hospice in New York City. Before anybody else was there, the Catholic Church was there…because we don’t have to agree with everybody to love everyone and share the love of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Stefanick has been enthusiastically evangelizing hearts worldwide through his “Reboot! Live!” production which reaches more than 85,000 people per year, and his message to the audience at St. Bernard’s was clear: “You and I weren’t made for an ordinary life. We were made for an eternal life.”

For more information on Stefanick’s ministry, visit

Students of St. Joseph’s School, Moorhead, support clean water for life

OND Staff Report

Moorhead, Minn - The students of St. Joseph’s School accepted and met a challenge presented to them by the Student Council earlier in the school year. Students were challenged to raise $2,500 for the organization WellSpring for the World, whose mission is to raise money to provide safe drinking for those in need around the world. Monies raised by St. Joseph’s were matched by WellSpring in order to fund a well for a village in Africa that will provide approximately 300 people with fresh, clean water for life.

A few fundraising events were planned by the Council to help students accomplish the goal. Students made and sold $1.00 keychains, and donated money for Dress Your Way Day. These events brought in $1,018.48. A Coin War brought in $1,768.54, which helped the school surpass their $2,500 goal. An anonymous donor the stepped forward and matched the school’s contribution which means two African villages will receive wells for clean drinking water.

Formed proven to be a valuable tool for diocesan faithful

By Janelle C. Gergen/Associate Editor, OND

Formed is an online platform providing access to a wide array of faith formation resources and Catholic entertainment created by the Augustine Institute and Ignatius Press. Formed includes content from apostolates such as: Catholic Answers, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Sophia Institute Press, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the Knights of Columbus and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Formed has Bible and catechetical studies, movies and documentaries, cartoons, video presentations, audio presentations and books in downloadable and audio form. It also includes Spanish-language resources.

From October to December 2017, every person and parish in the Diocese of Crookston had an opportunity to try Formed at no cost and subsequently register for an annual subscription at a discounted rate.

Twenty-nine parishes have purchased subscriptions to Formed. Our Northland Diocese reached out to a few of them to discover what sort of impact this resource has had in the local Church.


How has your parish specifically utilized 

Nancy Goodman from St. Philip, Bemidji – “We have used it in Lenten bible study groups; we created and presented a specialized list of titles to our young families, marriage, and Knights of Columbus groups. We plan to do the same with other topics/groups, such as widowed, single, divorced, parenting, finances/stewardship, sacraments.”

Father Augie Gothman from Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston & St. Peter, Gentilly – “The parish has for decades had Wednesday evening Soup & Bread Suppers which have been a reason to gather for a simple meal and raise funds for the Care & Share Center in Crookston. It has also been typical to have some sort of input (speaker, etc) as a part of the evening. During the Lenten season this year, we utilized several of the videos in an effort to continue to raise awareness of the subscription, and to give people a concrete experience of the quality and ease of use of”

Shawn Erickson from St. Joseph, Moorhead – “RCIA uses Formed for teaching. Our catechists use Formed for religious education instruction. Some of our staff uses Formed in preparation of weekly Scripture sharing.”

How have individual parishioners utilized Formed?

Sarah Jack from Sacred Heart, Roseau – “As a Parish Coordinator, I make sure to use this tool as part of my vocabulary and make recommendations. As a parishioner, I rather enjoy the convenience of the program itself. Our study session has watched videos and enjoyed the reflections in the study packets. The Leader Guides even have a lot of background to offer on the material.

Shawn Erickson – “Grandparents use it with their grandchildren.”

Deacon John Zinniel from St. Peter the Apostle, Park Rapids – “I have personally used Formed in helping to provide some homily materials and back ground for homily prep.”

How has Formed impacted catechetical and evangelization efforts in your parish?

Father Gothman – “It is one more highly adaptable and easily accessible source for high-quality Catholic information and programming. I am thrilled to be able to make use of it, having shared links to videos with couples preparing for marriage, and with grandparents looking for a Catholic movie to watch with their grandchildren. We have used many of the videos as supplements to our Religious Education Programs, particularly in the High School grades (9-12) and with those in the RCIA.”

Jayne Miller from St. Bernard, Thief River Falls – “The individuals that utilize this resource seem very pleased with the wide choice of topics.  It’s just all really good stuff and a great place for everyone to visit because you can choose what is appealing to you based on where you are at in your spiritual life. The Body of Christ is made up of many dynamic people who have different prayer lives, learning and spiritualities that they are drawn into.  There are studies for the charismatics and the traditional Catholics. There are studies for individuals, small groups and large groups.  There are movies for young and old.”

To find out how to access your parish subscription, or learn how your parish can subscribe, contact your pastor or visit

Convocation, diocesan restructuring aim to support evangelization in parishes

By Janelle C. Gergen/Associate Editor, OND

In 2013, Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”). In response to the exhortation, the bishops of the United States convened a national convocation in Orlando during the summer of 2017 entitled, “The Joy of the Gospel in America.” Lay and religious leaders from every diocese in the country, including a delegation from the Diocese of Crookston, gathered to pray and reflect on enacting the new evangelization in the United States.

In an effort to help the faithful of local parishes become more comfortable and confident in spreading the vision of the new evangelization, the Diocese of Crookston and the Diocese of Fargo are partnering to host the Convocation of Parish Leaders: Evangelizing Missionary Disciples from Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Fargo, N.D. Bishops Michael J. Hoeppner and John T. Folda have directed that the convocation be a time for parish representatives to learn, pray and plan in order to develop practical ideas to launch or extend the new evangelization in their parish.

Pastors of every parish are being asked to form delegations by invitation for attendance at the event. Deacon Mark Krejci, a member of the planning team, says the convocation is meant to prepare parish delegations to return with “a focused number of ideas to enact in the year to spread the joy of the Gospel.”

To facilitate the formation of missionary disciples across the Diocese of Crookston, a restructuring of pastoral offices of the Curia will take place this summer. Deacon Krejci will become the Director of the new Office of Formation in Discipleship while continuing to focus on the ministerial areas of marriage, family and the respect for life.

A new full-time position, tasked with discipleship formation in adults and youth will report to Deacon Krejci. The new hire will serve pastors, parish staffs, parish leadership, and parishioners as they work to form intentional disciples in order to evangelize in the parish as well as reaching out to fallen-away Catholics and the increasing numbers who have no religious identity.

Brady Borslien will continue to serve the Diocese of Crookston as the part-time Youth Events Coordinator and report to Deacon Krejci. With this restructuring, rather than three director level positions, the work of the Offices of New Evangelization & Justice and Youth Ministry & Catechesis will be brought under the common vision of forming disciples who reach others for Christ.

Characteristics of Christian stewardship

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Dan Conway and published by GP Catholic Services, a leading fundraising consulting firm serving the Catholic Church. The firm specializes in designing and managing fundraising campaigns for dioceses, schools, parishes, religious orders and congregations. Its Senior Vice President, Dan Conway, is a globally recognized author, speaker, and leader in the field of mission advancement who has helped redefine the meaning of stewardship in the Catholic Church.

The American bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, describes a Christian steward as “one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, and returns them with increase to the Lord”. Thus, there are four characteristics of a Christian steward.

The first characteristic is gratitude. A Christian steward is “one who receives God’s gifts gratefully”. Gratitude assumes that we acknowledge God as the true owner of all that we have and all that we are. Gratitude to God, and to those who have shared themselves with us, helps us maintain a true sense of identity as Christ’s disciples.

The second characteristic is accountability. A good steward is “one who cherishes and tends God’s gifts in a responsible and accountable manner”. Accountability reminds us that we are responsible for what we do (or fail to do) with our time, our talent, and our money. As Christ’s disciples, we are responsible for building up god’s kingdom, and on the Last Day, we will be held accountable.

The third characteristic is generosity. A Christian steward is “one who shares God’s gifts with others out of justice and love”. Generosity propels us outside of ourselves – often in ways that contradict our own interests. The lives of the saints give us countless examples of individuals whose generosity won them true freedom and joy. Giving is good for us; it is also right and just to share what we have been given with others.

The final characteristic is the willingness to give back to the Lord with increase. God wants us to take his gifts and develop them. A Christian steward is called to be productive, to make a difference in the world.

Traditional Christian spirituality teaches us to give back to the Lord by means of the ascetical principles of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In prayer, we give back to God our time (and our hearts). By fasting, we deny ourselves the good things that we want and need; the more genuine our self-denial is, the more we flourish and grow. Thought almsgiving, we share what God has given us with others; if we give from the heart, we gain infinitely more than we have given away. Prayer, self-denial, and sacrificial giving are the essence of what Christian stewardship is all about!

Do you want to discuss the spirituality of stewardship in your parish? Contact Reathel Giannonatti, Director of the Diocese of Crookston’s Office of Stewardship and Development at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 218-281-4533 ext. 420.

St. Mary’s Mission receives grant to address suicide crisis

By Madi Field/Freelance Writer, OND

St. Mary’s Mission is bringing much needed attention to the high rates of suicide within the Red Lake Nation. The Mission, led by Father Jerry Rogers, received grant money from the Catholic Extension Society of Chicago to hire a qualified social worker who can begin addressing the crisis. Catholic Extension is a philanthropic foundation that has provided substantial support to the people of the Red Lake Nation for many years as part of its mission to build the Catholic Church in the poorest places across America.

Suicide rates on reservations are double that of the general population, with more than one factor contributing to this anomaly. Forty percent of residents live below the poverty line; unemployment hovers near 60 percent and Red Lake has high rates of crime, drug use and abuse. All of these factors contribute to high suicide rates, including copycat suicides, which are a growing concern.

In the grant request, Father Rogers wrote, “This year we have experienced a 16-year-old girl committing suicide after her mother was murdered in jail only two weeks prior to her release.” He said, “If we can teach these beautiful children that their lives are a treasure and that they are valuable to us, so much so, that suicide is something they abhor with us, then we will have achieved something. We are so grateful to Catholic Extension for providing the funding we need to face this crisis.”

Tashina Branchaud was an Administrative Assistant at St. Mary’s Mission School before she left to pursue a degree in social work. She was hired in February for the position of Suicide Prevention and Education at St. Mary’s Mission. Before the position was developed, there was no aftercare for families or formal suicide prevention program for those on the Red Lake Nation.

While working at St. Mary’s Mission School, Branchaud built strong relationships with Father Rogers, community members in health services, and the students. When she left to attend Bemidji State University, Father Rogers was interested in bringing her back after graduation.

“Just being able to come back and work within the same community and work with the children here is a pretty awesome full circle,” said Branchaud.

St. Mary’s Mission School Principal Mike Hougen agreed. “It is important that Tashina is someone who is from the tribe … and is a familiar face to many. She knows a lot of the family background stories and can talk to the kids about that. She knows where they are coming from. Tashina is not our school suicide prevention person; she’s for the entire Mission. We look at the whole tribe as our Mission. Everybody is one of our kids whether they go to school here or not and if she can help, we want her to be able to help. It’s great for us to be a part of that collaboration,” he said

In the school, which currently has 107 Native American students, Branchaud will train children in preschool through grade six about suicide warning signs. She acknowledged that “the language that we use in kindergarten is going to look a lot different than what we tell the second graders, the fourth graders and the sixth graders.”

“With her schedule she is only to do part time, but as a school of over 100 kids, we are able to offer counselors every day but one,” said Hougen.

He added, “working with all of the classes about mindfulness for our kids … that’s really important to talk about some of this mental health stuff with everybody, not just the people that are in that crisis scenario.”           

The position will also include working with grieving families in a structured manner over several weeks, as well as working with the Tribal Mental Health Department to provide prevention education and aftercare referrals. An additional goal is to initiate a suicide hot line with a competent liaison who has a native background to answer the phone 24/7.

Catholic Extension has provided two years of funding for the program. After the grant support expires, the team at St. Mary’s Mission will do everything they can to continue the program.

Branchaud is working with other local professionals to build a network of community resources to be utilized in addressing the crisis.

“We want to make it family-based, so the families can feel like they are a part of the solution because they are a big part of it,” she said.

Tashina has found online resources, and has spoken with groups about what has been effective and ineffective in their practices. She believes that this groundwork will help make their training and interventions successful.

Father Rogers, Branchaud and Hougen are building a structure for the program and creating implementation materials. This is an important step, because as Branchaud noted, even when parents recognize their kids are at risk, they are “afraid that they [the kids] will get taken away, somebody will get involved, the police will get involved and they won’t get to see them anymore. But I think it is important to have them [parents] understand that the resources are there to help and not hinder their abilities as parents.”

Along with giving students coping tools, Branchaud would like to see training for people who have already suffered a loss to learn to how to process and communicate their feelings, so those individuals might be a resource for people who are new to loss.

“I know the spiritual advisers around here will suggest prayer or sweat lodges; it’s a lot of self-guided activities that people do in order to get through it. I don’t think that there’s really one way that I’ve seen in the community that people deal with loss … I really want to let the kids know that it’s okay to be open, it’s okay to talk, that’s how you work through things because if you don’t bring it up how else are we going to know it is an issue,” explained Branchaud.

St. Mary’s Mission has already reached out to many places within the community including Indian Health Services. Branchaud has been added to a team of mental health professionals called the Headwaters Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

“They share what they can offer and how they can help. The school district will share what they are doing, Tashina will share what she’s doing and we all kind of share ideas so everybody can be on the same page so that we can work towards a solution. Because we are serving in a place that is a sovereign nation, there is no need to conform to the surrounding public school district. This provides freedom to create interventions that will work best for St. Mary’s Mission,” said Hougen.

Keynote speaker encourages middle school youth to ‘jump in’ to Church life

By Madi Field/Freelance Writer, OND

Nearly 200 youth attended this year’s diocesan Middle School Youth Rally held at St. Philip, Bemidji on March 18. The theme was “Fully Alive”. The diocese has been holding Middle School Youth Rally events since 2007. For the second year, they collaborated with the organization Partnership for Youth to plan and execute the rally. Partnership for Youth is responsible for coordinating the Steubenville Conferences held in St. Paul, Rochester and Kenosha, Wis.

The rally started with a few games and worship songs. Then Maggie Craig, a young adult speaker who graduated from the University of Steubenville, Ohio, began the keynote presentation. Many enjoyed her energy and enthusiasm. During her presentation, Craig joked with the audience by telling intense stories with exaggerated tangents to keep their attention and emphasize her points. Her catch-line was “Just kidding!,” which made the youth laugh and kept them engaged.

During the keynote, she spoke of how faith is something exciting. One youth reported her favorite part being when Craig said, “the person we are should not change in the different places we go.” The youth said it helped her realize that she could be herself at church. Craig encouraged this to be a time for all people to come alive through their relationships with God and the Catholic faith.

The rally included time for basketball, live music by Connor Flanagan and snacks. During the basketball tournament, many youth were excited as they chose names for their teams like “The Socks” and “Nuggets.” One of the coaches for the St. Joseph, Moorhead’s team said: “You know, our Catholic faith makes us winners, and that’s what we plan to do today with our basketball team.” A group of girls said they enjoyed having free time to talk with friends and have a few choices of activities. It seemed important to the youth to have day-to-day life activities mixed in with the sacraments and prayer at the rally.

One staff member realized that she has been helping with youth ministry for three generations of families. She said seeing students who have grown up and brought their own kids back made her realize there is a lot of hope in the Church.

The youth had time for Adoration and praise and worship during the rally and filed in for Mass at 5 p.m. It was a good time to center the focus back on why everyone was there. During the homily, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner spoke about God’s heart and his unconditional love that puts each of us at ease and keeps us totally connected to him and his Church. He said, “Jesus died on the cross to take care of what was standing in the way … our sin.”

As Catholics, part of our Lenten journey is taking up our own cross and carrying it as Jesus did.

“The beauty of the Cross, this is God’s gift to us … There are plenty of things in this life that we want that are good for us, but there are some things in this life that are not good for us and Jesus says; ‘Stay away from that’,” said Bishop Hoeppner. He also said obedience equals delight.

Before the final address, Flanagan led another praise and worship song. Many of the youth seemed to enjoy the incorporation of his music at the rally. One youth said the time of Adoration with praise and worship was one of their favorite parts of the rally.

When Craig returned to the stage, she was full of life, energy, and enthusiasm about the faith. She told a beautiful story of one of her friend’s engagements and again tricked youth into thinking that the story was going another way. She encouraged the crowd to ask God, “what do you want from me?” and to realize that his love demands a response just like her friend’s proposal required a response. Craig reiterated what she said earlier about the need to “jump in” to church life, just as she had jumped off a waterfall. She restated the importance of keeping faith the central point in life. “The church is for you,” Craig exclaimed. Her presentation was encouraging for the youth. She explained that when people feel alone, they need to cheer each other on.  When fellowship is lacking, people can look to the Saints in heaven. Just like athletes in marathons cheer each other on and support each other, the Church and all her Saints do the same.

Brady Borslien, the Youth Ministry Events Coordinator for the diocese, said he was grateful for all those who helped make the rally happen: youth ministers, those who helped with meals and set up, Bishop Hoeppner, all the other priests and deacons present, and all the youth for being open and willing to give Jesus the chance to draw them near to his heart.

Borslien requested that people throughout the diocese pray that the energy Craig brought with her to the rally will be extended into each heart that was present. He also requested prayers for youth ministers and the continuing development of the youth programs in this diocese, that everyone in the Diocese of Crookston may be fully alive in Jesus Christ.

Important things to know when receiving disclosures of abuse

// OND Staff Report

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. In light of that, the Diocese of Crookston’s Office of Safe Environment is providing the following information:

From Minnesota Statutes Chapter 625.556, Subdivision 3: Persons mandated to report. (a) A person who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2[1], or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, shall immediately (as soon as possible and within 24 hours) report the information to the local welfare agency, the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, police department, or the county sheriff if the person is: 

(1) a professional or professional’s delegate who is engaged in the practice of the healing arts, social services,  hospital administration, psychological or psychiatric treatment,  child care, education, correctional supervision, probation and  correctional services, or law enforcement; or

(2) employed as a member of the clergy and received the information while engaged in ministerial duties, provided that a  member of the clergy is not required by this subdivision to  report information that is otherwise privileged under section 595.02, subdivision 1, paragraph (c)[1]. 

 (b) Any person may voluntarily report to the local welfare agency, agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, the police department, or the county sheriff if the person knows, has reason to believe, or suspects a child is being or has been neglected or subjected to physical or sexual abuse.

Subd. 7.  Report. An oral report shall be made immediately by telephone or otherwise. An oral report made by a person required under subdivision 3 to report shall be followed within 72 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, by a report in writing to the appropriate police department, the county sheriff, the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, or the local welfare agency, unless the appropriate agency has informed the reporter that the oral information does not constitute a report under subdivision 10. Any report shall be of sufficient content to identify the child, any person believed to be responsible for the abuse or neglect of the child if the person is known, the nature and extent of the abuse or neglect and the name and address of the reporter.


6.1.1 When clergy and diocesan and parish or school personnel and volunteers file a report with civil authorities concerning sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric or one of the diocesan, school or parish personnel or a volunteer, the Moderator of the Curia is to be notified within twenty-four (24) hours and, if possible, supplied with a copy of the written report.


Guia para informarle a las autoridades civiles y eclesiasticas sobre la sospecha de abuso de menores from Minnesota Statutes Chapter 625.556 Subdivision 3. De las personas que por imperio de la ley están obligadas a informar.  (a) Todo aquel que supiere o tuviere razón para creer que un menor de edad ha sido objeto de descuido, o de abuso físico o sexual, como lo define la subdivisión 2[1], o bien si tuviere conocimiento que un(a) menor de edad ha sido objeto de descuido o de abuso físico o sexual dentro de los tres años anteriores, deberá informarlo inmediatamente (lo más pronto posible y dentro de las 24 horas siguientes); ya sea ante la dependencia de servicio social de la localidad a la que le corresponda hacer la evaluación e investigación de dicho informe, o ante el departamento de la policía, o ante el alguacil del condado si la persona que informa: 

(1) Es un profesional o profesional que por delegación le representa y que ejerce la medicina, o bien si es de los servicios sociales, o de la administración de un hospital, si proporcionare tratamiento psicológico o psiquiátrico; si trabaja en una guardería infantil o entidad educativa, o en la supervisión de presidios; o es de la oficina de libertad provisional o de los servicios correccionales; o bien si perteneciere a las autoridades del orden público.

(2) Si trabaja como miembro del clero y recibe información del abuso   durante   el  ejercicio   del cumplimiento de sus obligaciones ministeriales de conformidad con esta subdivisión; ya que los miembros del clero no están obligados a informar a las autoridades sobre la información que goza del privilegio de ser privada de conformidad con la sección 595.02, subdivisión 1, párrafo (c)[1]. 

 (b) Cualquier persona que supiere o que tuviere razón para creer, o que sospechare que un menor de edad está siendo o ha sido objeto de descuido, o que se le ha causado abuso físico o sexual; puede informarlo voluntariamente a la dependencia de servicio social de la localidad, o a la dependencia responsable de la evaluación  o investigación del informe, al departamento de la policía o al alguacil del condado.

Subdivisión. 7.  Del informe. Se debe dar el informe verbal de inmediato, ya sea por teléfono o por  otro medio. Después del informe verbal que hubiere dado alguna de las personas enumeradas en la subdivisión  3, se deberá presentar informe por escrito dentro de las 72 horas siguientes, quedan excluidos los fines de semana y días festivos.  Dicho informe por escrito deberá presentarse ante el departamento de policía correspondiente, ante el alguacil del condado o ante la dependencia encargada de evaluar e investigar el informe; o bien ante la dependencia de servicio social de la localidad; a menos que la dependencia correspondiente le hubiere respondido a quien informó, que dicha información verbal de conformidad con la subdivisión 10 no constituye informe.  Todo informe que se hubiere presentado deberá contener suficientes elementos con los que se pueda identificar al menor de edad, si se tiene conocimiento de la persona que se cree que es el(la) responsable del abuso o abandono de dicho menor, si es que se sabe quién es, la naturaleza y el alcance del abuso o abandono, así como el nombre y la dirección de quien lo informa.


6.1.1 Cuando un miembro del clero, de la diócesis de la parroquia o del personal de la escuela o voluntario presentare informe ante las autoridades civiles sobre el abuso sexual de un menor, por parte de alguien del clero o de la diócesis, o del personal, o voluntario de la escuela o de la parroquia; deberá notificársele al Moderador de la Curia dentro de las veinticuatro (24) horas siguientes; y de ser posible se le proporcionará una copia del informe escrito que se hubiere presentado

Feast of Divine Mercy observances

The following parishes in and near the Diocese of Crookston have planned special observances to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy on Sun., April 8.

St. Joseph, Bagley: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be prayed at 3 p.m.

St. Philip, Bemidji: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be prayed at 3 p.m. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will also be available.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston: Divine Mercy Prayer and adoration at 3 p.m.

St. Mary, Fosston: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be prayed at 3 p.m.

St. Michael, Grand Forks, N.D.: The Divine Mercy Sunday Celebration  begins at 2 p.m. It includes a guest speaker, Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Solemn Benediction at 3:20 p.m.

St. Clement, Grygla: The celebration begins at 3 p.m. It will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Confession and Benediction.

St. Joseph, Moorhead: Divine Mercy Sunday Service from 1:30-3 p.m., including exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction.

St. Joseph, Red Lake Falls: Divine Mercy Sunday Celebration beginning at 2 p.m. followed by refreshments.

Sacred Heart, Roseau: At 2 p.m., the movie “Divine Mercy and Mary” will be viewed followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Confession and Benediction.

St. Bernard, Thief River Falls: 3 p.m. exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Confession and Benediction.

The Diocese of Crookston celebrates consecration of the Chrism

By Rachel Noel for OND

During Holy Week each year in dioceses around the world, bishops, deacons, priests, and Christ’s faithful gather to celebrate the sacred Chrism Mass. This holy celebration manifests the unity of the bishop with the deacons and priests of his diocese, as well as the entire Catholic community, and is one of the most holy Masses celebrated all year.

The Chrism Mass is significant to the salvation of the Diocese of Crookston because it is the only Mass wherein the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens. Above all, it is the Mass at which he consecrates the Holy Chrism. These oils are used in sacramental anointing throughout the year in every parish in the diocese.

On the evening of March 26, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, joined by Bishop Emeritus Victor Balke, as well as deacons, priests, and parishioners of the Diocese of Crookston filled Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, to celebrate the sacred Chrism Mass in an exhibition of jubilation during the usually solemn Lenten season.

During the Mass, Bishop Hoeppner invited the priests of the Diocese of Crookston to rise and reaffirm their priestly commitments originally vowed at their ordinations, while the faithful present were called to renew their baptismal promises.

“As for you, dearest sons and daughters, pray for your Priests, that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to him, who is the source of salvation,” Bishop Hoeppner said.

During the homily, he said, “My friends, in the many various ways the Church describes it, we never tire of proclaiming the marvelous deed: salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, our firstborn brother.”

“In this Chrism Mass, we thank God for the gift of faith, which is the faith of the apostles, the faith of the Church. We thank God for our baptism by which we are incorporated into Christ’s family, the Church, and are called to glory, the glory of being now a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession to proclaim everywhere God’s mighty works,” Bishop Hoeppner continued. “What a beautiful, marvelous sight!  And the beauty is there in the words of blessing and consecration of oils we are about to hear.”

He went on to describe the importance of the Oils and all they convey to the faithful.

“Of the Oil of the Sick, by which we acknowledge and celebrate God’s care and consolation in the healing Jesus brings and the deliverance from every affliction. Of the Oil of Catechumens, by which we praise God who protects, gives wisdom and understanding and strength for accepting the challenge of Christian living, God who leads to the joy of new birth in the family of the Church.”

Bishop Hoeppner also explained what the consecration of the Holy Chrism and the many sacraments in which it is used mean to Christ’s faithful.

“The words of consecration of Chrism which tell of God’s love in which he gives us life itself and so many gifts; and of the sacraments that strengthen us and give our life fuller meaning; and Baptism in which we are made temples of God’s own glory, made to shine radiant with the goodness of life, endowed with royal, priestly, and prophetic honor, clothed with incorruption itself; of the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows the splendor of holiness to shine on the world from every place and things signed with Chrism,” he said.

Following the homily, the three vessels of oil were presented to Bishop Hoeppner to be blessed – the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Oil of the Holy Chrism. The Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens were blessed, the Chrism Oil was mixed with fragrant balsam, and Bishop Hoeppner breathed into the glass basin symbolizing the infusion of the Holy Spirit, in an act of sacred consecration. 

After Communion, Bishop Hoeppner invited representatives from churches throughout the Diocese of Crookston to come forward and receive the blessed oils to take back to their respective congregations. The bishop is then symbolically present each time his blessed Oils are used.   

This Mass is personal for many parishioners of the Diocese of Crookston. Eilleen Johnson of St. Joseph, Moorhead, attended her first Chrism Mass this year on behalf of her father, who passed away last fall.

“I have always heard people talk about this Mass and I felt that I needed to be here this year. What a special thing – to be able to witness the blessing of the oils for all the sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick,” she said after the Mass. “It can bring such comfort to a family in a difficult time. And the music at Mass tonight was just beautiful.”

Bishop Hoeppner stressed the importance of faith foundation and explained how the Chrism Mass is the perfect way to spread the word of God to everyone – especially those who have fallen away from their Catholic faith.

“My friends, so many, too many people in our world do not have that solid foundation for a meaningful and fulfilled life. They have no rock upon which to build. Our celebration of this beautiful Chrism Mass energizes us to bring the good news of God’s marvelous deeds to them.”

Bishop Hoeppner's Chrism Mass homily can be read at his blog HERE.

Photos from the 2018 Chrism Mass can be viewed HERE.

Diocese of Winona renamed with addition of Rochester co-cathedral

// OND Staff Report //

Winona, MN -- The Congregation for Bishops has decreed that the Diocese of Winona will now be called the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and that St. John the Evangelist Church of Rochester will be designated as a co-cathedral.

“This is a significant moment in our diocese’s history,” said Bishop John M. Quinn of the Vatican’s announcement. “My heart is lifted by this news as I know that the presence of a co-cathedral in Rochester will provide unique ways to share the gospel in our diocese’s fastest growing city.” 

The word “cathedral” is derived from the Latin word cathedra, meaning “chair.” The chair is an ancient symbol of apostolic authority. The Cathedral is generally located in the major metropolis of a diocese. At the time the Diocese of Winona was established, Winona was a key location, by the railroad and along the Mississippi River.  Now, 128 years later, populations have shifted. Rochester has become the third largest city in Minnesota, and three-quarters of the diocese’s population resides in the region between Rochester and Mankato. 

In 2015, an initial inquiry was sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, asking for the designation of a co-cathedral in Rochester. The Congregation for Bishops subsequently sent the diocese requirements for the process and directed the establishment of a diocesan planning committee. This committee determined that St. John the Evangelist Church should be elevated to the status of a co-cathedral. The co-cathedral committee, and other groups involved, considered the size of the church building, location, architecture and overall ability to function as a co-cathedral. Other factors included its proximity to the Mayo Clinic, the arts, culture, media, and industry, which provide an opportunity for further evangelization by our local Church. Also, St. John the Evangelist Church is the “mother church” of Rochester, being the oldest parish in the city.

The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona will not change in status. It will continue to be the seat of the diocese and will host diocesan celebrations and Masses, and ordinations.

A liturgical ceremony is scheduled for June 24, 2018, at which the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ delegate to the United States, will formally designate St. John the Evangelist Church as the co-cathedral. During this ceremony, a new cathedra, or bishop’s chair, will be blessed, bearing witness to the apostolic ministry of sanctifying, teaching, and shepherding. Details of this ceremony will be forthcoming.

The new title, “Diocese of Winona-Rochester” throughout the parishes, schools and diocesan institutions should be completed by July 1, 2018.

(Editor's Note: A letter from Bishop Quinn can be read HERE.)

Diocesan Teacher of the Year to be honored at 2018 NCEA Convention

By Janelle C. Gergen/Associate Editor, OND

Crookston, Minn. – Tamara “Tamy” Kraft of Cathedral School, Crookston, will receive the 2018 Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) for dedication and commitment to excellence.

Kraft is one of 26 recipients among nominated teachers, administrators, diocesan leaders and organizations dedicated to the nation’s Catholic schools. She will be recognized during the annual NCEA Convention & Expo that will take place April 3 – 5 in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to NCEA, the annual award “honors those whose ministry is Catholic school education and who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy, as well as exceptional ability, dedication and results”.

“It takes dedicated people in the schools, the dioceses, the parishes and the communities to carry out the mission of faith formation in Catholic schools. They are the living messengers of God’s purpose from generation to generation,” said Barbara McGraw Edmondson, Ed.D., NCEA chief leadership and program officer.

Kraft, who has taught at Cathedral School for 33 years, was selected as the first Diocesan Teacher of the Year, an award given at the Diocesan Schools In-Service Day in August 2017. Tina Stanger, Director of Catholic Schools, said Kraft stood out as a nominee in the diocese because she is not only active in Cathedral Parish and her summer parishes, but also Catholic education at the diocesan-level. She has been on more than one accreditation team visit to other schools and as a result, she has been able to bring back valuable information for Cathedral School’s strategic planning purposes.

Upon Kraft’s reception of the Diocesan Teacher of the Year Award, Stanger said, “She shows strength of character as well as adaptability to changes in her school.” 

A majority of the standards for the diocesan award were based on the NCEA’s criteria for the Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award. Kraft’s principal, Patricia Jones, felt she was deserving of the national honor, so with the endorsement of Stanger in the Office of Catholic Schools, Jones nominated Kraft.

Jones feels privileged to have Kraft as a co-worker, saying she is a dedicated educator, consummate professional and a faith-filled leader. “Tamy believes deeply that teaching is about the development and the maintenance of personal relationships with her students and their families; a belief grounded on her strongest relationship: her faith, trust, and devotion to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Jones.

Kraft plans to retire at the end of the school year. “I have always felt grateful to have a job that I have loved and enjoyed for 33 years. … So to have won one of these awards is just a beautiful way to end my teaching career at Cathedral School,” she said. She thanks her husband, Steve, and sons Michael and Mitchell for always supporting her teaching career.

When she considers her many years in Catholic education, Kraft says she will remember the children and the families the most. “It has been a joy to watch students from my early years have children and then send them to Cathedral School. When my former students have their children in our school, I feel that is an opportunity to continue to share the faith with coming generations,” said Kraft.

The Holy Spirit is at work through Cursillo

By Rachel Noel for OND

“Cursillos in Christianity,” more commonly referred to as the “Cursillo Movement” or simply “Cursillo,” is a retreat opportunity that can be described as a short course in Christianity. Cursillo originated in Mallorca, Spain in 1944 and was first introduced into the United States in 1959. Cursillo is now active in 60 countries worldwide.

The Diocese of Crookston holds four Cursillo retreats each year at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp near Fosston; two in the spring, and two in the fall. During the retreats, 20 to 30 men or women, from all different strides in their faith journeys, meet from Thursday evening until Sunday evening with a team consisting of priests and laypeople.

“Cursillo is a great retreat opportunity which gives an overview of our Catholic faith,” said Father Dave Super. “It is nice that there is a weekend for men and a weekend for women. It is okay that we as men gather and share about our faith and that women have the same opportunity with one another.”

While every attendee likely has his or her own personal goal they wish to achieve during a Cursillo retreat, Father Super explained his interpretation of the ultimate goal of the movement.

“I think the goal of Cursillo is to allow each person who participates to grow in his or her own faith and to see how powerful it is to be part of the community, parish, and the Universal Church,” he said.

“Every one of our hearts needs renewal and Cursillo is a sure way to get the medicine given by Jesus to have our hearts renewed, time and time again,” said Father Super.

You do not have to look far to find someone who has had an encouraging, life-changing experience at a Cursillo retreat. Many parishioners in the Diocese of Crookston have had their hearts set on fire for the faith from a Cursillo experience and have appreciated the immeasurable gifts of Cursillo long after attending a retreat.

Ray Hunt of Hallock is one such parishioner. He explains, “I really enjoyed the fellowship and prayer with other men at my Cursillo and have experienced more of this since then, here at St. Patrick’s.” He said, “It has allowed me to have a greater realization that there are a lot of good Catholics in every parish who are willing to help us in our efforts to become saints.”

Hunt also described how, prior to attending Cursillo, he felt a longing for God, intermingled with an uncertainty of how to acquire and maintain his salvation.

“I developed a spiritual ache that had a physical aspect to it. I worried about my salvation and my lack of ability to get on the right road to God. I knew what was the proper way to live, but didn’t have the ability to follow through,” Hunt said.

Parishioners attend Cursillo for many different reasons. Hunt credits his former pastor, Father Bill DeCrans, for sparking his interest in the retreat and drawing him out of his admittedly passive affiliation with the faith. He also credits his late mother for his deciding to attend.

“For many years I was a very lazy Catholic, lax in practice of almost all aspects of my religion,” he said. “Then, after Mass one Sunday, Father Bill DeCrans asked me to attend a Cursillo. While I had no desire to attend, I kept replaying in my head my mother’s often spoken words, ‘Never tell the priest no!’ Within an hour or two, I called Father Bill and told him I would go.”

Hunt continues to enjoy the gifts bestowed upon him from the decision he made to attend a Cursillo retreat. He has had the opportunity to continue his involvement with the Cursillo Movement by lending his assistance at several retreats since his first time in attendance.

“I get the biggest reward when I see the overwhelming positive effect it has on candidates as they go through the weekend. You can see the Holy Spirit at work,” said Hunt.

Many people experience ups and downs while attempting to lead the life God has planned for them. Cursillo is a structured and focused opportunity for growth.

“I am a God-loving, practicing Catholic today. I wasn’t before. I feel I have been given a gift from God when he allows me, in a small way, to help others in their faith,” explained Hunt.

“I still have to put effort forth each day to follow Christ, but I am back on the rails again and I feel my train is headed in the right direction now. It had nothing to do with my own efforts. It was made possible by the Holy Spirit and those people he chose to carry out his plan for me,” Hunt said.

He went on to explain what he wants people to know if they are considering attending a retreat.

“[Cursillo] is … an encounter with the Holy Spirit. … For me, it was a bit intense, but in a very rewarding way and it has really given me the grace I needed to continue and grow in my faith. The retreats are organized in a very special way, to maximize our encounter with the Holy Spirit,” said Hunt.

The men’s fall Cursillo is Thursday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 28. Father Super is scheduled to be the Spiritual Director for the weekend. He said, “I … know deer hunting season begins the following weekend, so this fits in very well with those men who like to hunt. I personally invite all men from around the diocese to sign up!”

The next women’s Cursillo retreat will be held Sept. 27 to 30. For more information, or to complete an application, visit

Recipients of local CCHD grants announced

// OND Staff Reports

Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations and stated, “Together with equality in the recognition of the dignity of each person and of every people there must also be an awareness that it will be possible to safeguard and promote human dignity only if this is done as a community, by the whole of humanity. Only through the mutual action of individuals and peoples sincerely concerned for the good of all men and women can a genuine universal brotherhood be attained; otherwise the persistence of conditions of serious disparity and inequality will make us all poorer.” The applications received for the 2017 CCHD Local Grant process demonstrate a great concern for the good of all in their communities and a true desire to work towards eliminating poverty.

The Diocese of Crookston’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Diocesan Committee met on February 22 to review and vote on the 2017 CCHD Local Grant applications.

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, the Office of the New Evangelization and Justice and the CCHD and CRS Diocesan Committee announce that the applications of the following parishes were selected to receive the Diocese of Crookston’s 2017 CCHD Local Grant: St. Mary’s Mission, Red Lake, “Curriculum for a Better Tomorrow”; St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Bemidji, St. Vincent de Paul Society’s project “Moving Ahead in Bemidji”; and St. Philip’s, Bemidji, St. Vincent de Paul Society’s project “Getting Ahead in Bemidji”.

The money collected from the CCHD collection, held each year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, is provided by the generous and sacrificial giving of many throughout the Diocese of Crookston and the United States. Seventy-five percent of the money collected from our diocese is submitted directly to the CCHD National Office, located at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to support projects around the country seeking to break the cycle of poverty. The remaining 25 percent of the amount collected remains in the Diocese of Crookston and is used in the form of the CCHD Local Grant, which is available every two years to assist with projects by parishes, schools and non-profit organizations within the Diocese of Crookston that are working to bring about a civilization of love and to eliminate poverty.

This year’s grant-cycle dispersed over $6,000 to qualifying applicants. The remaining funds will be added to the funds available in the 2019 CCHD Local Grant process. For grant requirements and additional information about this local grant opportunity, visit: or call 218-281-4533, ext. 439.

Formed under the Office of the New Evangelization in 2015, this committee is organized to assist the efforts of the Bishop and the Diocesan Director of CCHD and CRS as an advisory committee for the successful implementation of the initiatives and programs of CCHD and CRS in the Diocese of Crookston. Members of the Committee include Deacon John and Loree Bruggeman (St. Joseph, Red Lake Falls), Paul and Clarissa Dowhower (St. Joseph, Bagley), Stacy Loeslie (Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks), Chad Ryan (Diocesan Finance Officer), and AJ Garcia (Director of the Office of New Evangelization and Justice). The committee focuses on education, promotion and allocation regarding CCHD and CRS.

To learn more about charity and justice efforts in the Diocese of Crookston, visit


St. Michael’s School, Mahnomen, renames scholarship in memory of Sr. Yvonne Schafer

OND Staff Reports

Mahnomen, MN -- The St. Michael’s School Adopt-A-Student Scholarship was recently renamed in memory of Sr. Yvonne Schafer, principal of St. Michael’s School from 1990 to 2008.  The scholarship program will now be called the Sr. Yvonne Schafer Memorial Adopt-A-Student Scholarship.

During her tenure at St. Michael’s School, Sr. Yvonne Schafer was known for leading with a kind heart and unwavering strength. In her first year as principal, Sr. Yvonne led the school through its first accreditation process, a time of self-study for a nonpublic school to assess its strengths and weaknesses in an effort to maintain high standards of excellence.  St. Michael’s School was successful in this endeavor under Sr. Yvonne’s leadership and has maintained accreditation status since 1991.

Sr. Yvonne Schafer believed that every child deserved the opportunity to receive a Catholic education, regardless of the family’s financial ability to pay tuition. In an effort to make that happen, the Adopt-A-Student program was started at St. Michael’s School in 1997. For more than 20 years, the scholarship program has utilized donations received from alumni, parishioners, and community members to offset the cost of tuition for families who request funds and can demonstrate a financial need. In recent years, students have received up to 75% of their tuition through the Sr. Yvonne Schafer Adopt-A-Student Scholarship.

Sarah Chalich, Principal of St. Michael’s School, commented, “Our Mission Statement says what Sr. Yvonne’s scholarship program offers generations of students:  ‘In the presence of God, St. Michael’s School provides a nurturing environment, academic excellence and spiritual growth in order to prepare children to live wisely and serve faithfully’. … I invite all who may be interested in attending St. Michael’s School or wish to receive more information about the affordability of St. Michael’s … to contact me at 218-935-5222.”

St. Philip’s Conference of Society of St. Vincent de Paul receives grant for ‘Getting Ahead’ in Bemidji

OND Staff Reports

Bemidji, Minn. ― Individuals in need and wanting to create a better future for themselves in the Bemidji area will have the opportunity to participate in a program to help their situation thanks to a $5,000 grant from the National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

“Getting Ahead in Bemidji will be offered for the second time beginning February 2018 with 10 participants and two paid co-facilitators.  It will be the 16-week Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By-World program,” said Sue Young, president of the SVdP St. Philip’s Conference. “This is a facilitated program to help people build their own personal plan to get out of poverty and create sustainability.  The individuals are investigators who will do a self-assessment of the resources they have, investigate what community resources are available, look at the hidden rules of economic class, the theory and stages of change, and build their future plan.

This grant was one of 40 systemic change program grants distributed around the country through the Friends of the Poor® grant program. Grant applications are evaluated and awarded by a Vincentian review committee. Funding is provided by the general public and the Society’s members and is targeted to specific needs in each community.

 “We are pleased to be able to assist local Councils as they work to help those in need,” said Dave Barringer, National CEO of SVdP. “Our Councils are great examples of how a dedicated group of people can make a difference in alleviating suffering.” 

The St. Philip’s Conference is a part of the SVdP District Council of Crookston.  They have partnered with Village of Hope, a family homeless shelter in Bemidji, to offer this program.  One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul ( is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 150 countries on five continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals nearly 100,000 in 4,400 communities.

SVdP offers a variety of programs and services, including home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, education and mentoring, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, assistance with transportation, prescription medication, and rent and utility costs. The Society also works to provide care for the sick, the incarcerated and the elderly. Over the past year, SVdP provided over $1.2 billion in tangible and in-kind services to those in need, made more than 1.7 million personal visits (homes, hospitals, prisons and eldercare facilities) and helped more than 20.9 million people regardless of race, religion or national origin.

Sacred Heart Foundation receives $2.5 million grant from the Engelstad Family Foundation

OND Staff Reports


E. Grand Forks, MN — The Sacred Heart Foundation, on behalf of Sacred Heart Parish and School, is the recipient of a $2.5 million grant from the Engelstad Family Foundation. The grant, which requires a $500,000 match, will be used to add six classrooms and common area to the school.

“The Engelstad family has already done so much for our area. They give and they don’t seek a headline or parade. They certainly didn’t have to do this for Sacred Heart. But they did. … We will honor the gift by making Sacred Heart School the best it can be,” said Msgr. Mike Foltz, Superintendent.

Following the 2013 launch of Sacred Heart’s New Day Campaign, which successfully raised $6 million for investing in people and academic programs, the institution has been able to provide tuition assistance to families, increase staff salaries, offer merit-based pay and Masters-level education to faculty.

As a result of the campaign, school enrollment has increased by 100 students in the past five years, creating a need to expand classroom space at Sacred Heart School. Several facility adaptations have been made to meet the continued enrollment increases; however, a building committee concluded that an addition to the school was needed to meet the short and long-term needs of the students. The expansion will include six classrooms and commons areas so that each K-6 grade level can have two classrooms, freeing up adapted space for junior and senior high class options.

ICON Architectural Group of Grand Forks, N.D., has been hired to put a design and plan in place. Construction is expected to commence at the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year, with completion expected in time for the 2019-20 school year.

The Sacred Heart Foundation, a separate 501 (c) 3 corporation, was established in 2015. Its purpose is to make giving opportunities available that will sustain Sacred Heart School through capital improvement gifts, grants, scholarships and endowments. People interested in supporting the building project may contact Dennis DeMers, Executive Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..