Summer vocations events offer time, space to consider priesthood

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Throughout the summer, the Office of Vocations held events around the diocese for young men open to considering the priesthood.

Seminarian Mark Miller and Father Matt Schmitz led Come and See events at St. Joseph, Moorhead and St. Philip, Bemidji. The events were a chance for Catholic men to hang out, play games, talk about Christian manhood, pray, listen to stories of the seminary and priesthood, and ask questions. Miller made weekend visits to parishes to share about his discernment and attended youth events including St. John Paul II Camp and a Steubenville conference.

Miller grew up in Roseau and graduated from Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in May. He will begin graduate-level theology studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana, at the end of August.

One goal of Miller’s travel throughout the diocese was to build relationships with young people and allow them to see the “humanness” of a seminarian.

“I remember being surprised and excited that there were other young guys who were older than I was and who were more informed than I was pursing the priesthood and seeing them as human beings, getting to know them, getting to know what they’re like – that really allowed me to take a look at myself and look at them and say, ‘you know it’s actually possible for me to do this,’” Miller said.

The annual diocesan men’s vocation camp, Esto Vir, was held August 7-9 at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp near Fosston, Minnesota. The camp allows time for men age 16 and older to gather for fun and fellowship.

 “We have a lot of fun taking part in rigorous physical activity and games and things like that,” Miller said. “It allows both the seminarians and the priests and those coming to the camp to drop their walls throughout, just to get to know each other in a little bit more relaxed environment and allow for an opportunity to share about their life and about what they’re thinking.”

Miller said he had several opportunities during this year’s camp to be present to and share his experience with those who attended.

“I had the opportunity on multiple occasions this year to share some parts of my story that were pertinent to what other guys were going through, and it wasn’t in some sort of structured talk. It was just through casual conversation. It was fun to see all the guys there and it was fun to hopefully help them become more clear and comfortable in whatever their vocation may be,” he said.

Before his senior year of high school, current seminarian Samuel Hurst attended the first Esto Vir in 2011.

“That’s where the Lord spoke to me in a very concrete way, and that’s what led me to seminary,” Hurst said. He returned home and told his parents he would be entering seminary.

“Just being here is a really great opportunity for myself and the other guys to step away, be just in a group of Catholic men, kind of just being a fraternity as brothers,” he said. “That doesn’t happen a lot for a lot of Catholic men.”

He described the camp a chance for “iron to sharpen iron” as the men step away from regular life to spend some time relaxing, praying and focusing on the Lord’s will for them.

“They don’t have to think about other things for a couple of days and can really be open and vulnerable with each other about where the Lord might be calling them in a couple of years,” Hurst said.

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner celebrated Mass at Esto Vir on August 8. During his homily, Bishop Hoeppner spoke about discernment.

“This is such an exciting time in your life. Jesus is loving you and walking with you as you work out with him what his call is,” said Bishop Hoeppner. “It’s not a crisis or problem to be solved as much as it is a gift to be found.”

He encouraged the men to stay close to Jesus and develop the gifts God has given them as they consider where he is calling them.

“Do not be afraid. See what the Lord has in store for you. It will be right for you and it will be right for the Lord,” Bishop Hoeppner said.

For more information about vocations in the Diocese of Crookston, visit or contact Father Matt Schmitz, Promoter of Vocations at 218-773-0877 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CLICK HERE for additional images from Esto Vir.

Faithful of Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks, begin jubilee year marking 125 years as parish community

By Janelle C. Gergen/Editor, OND

E. Grand Forks – On Aug. 12, hundreds gathered at Sacred Heart’s A.I. Merth Auditorium in East Grand Forks for Mass to open a series of jubilee year events celebrating the 125th anniversary of the parish. Mass was followed by refreshments in the social hall.

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner concelebrated Mass with Msgr. Mike Foltz, Pastor of Sacred Heart; Father Matt Schmitz, Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart; and Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke, who resides at Sacred Heart. Deacons Steve Thomas and Mark LeTexier assisted with the liturgy.

“We thank Almighty God for the many, many blessings bestowed on those who have gone before us in the faith and on us here too, in our day,” Bishop Hoeppner said at the beginning of Mass. “You know those who have gone before you here in this place; hold them in your heart, carry them this day. In turn, we ask all the Saints and those who have been here before us to intercede for us, that we might be strengthened for a life of holiness in our turn, in our day, on our journey.”

During his homily, Bishop Hoeppner spoke about the beginning of the parish in 1883, before the Diocese of Crookston was established, quoting the diocesan history book, “Paths of Light”.

“The first recorded service in East Grand Forks was a Mass held by Father Jacob Schirra in the public school house. We have gathered for 125 years and now we celebrate Mass here in this place,” Bishop Hoeppner said. He reminded the congregation that Jesus continues to feed his people for their spiritual journeys.

“A parish is a group of believers who gather together to journey together, to rub shoulders with each other, to exchange the witness of faith and holy life, to help one another on the journey from here to eternity. The Holy Eucharist was the center of life as they [who have gone before us] journeyed from here to eternity, now it is the center of life today,” he said.

In closing, he said, “May our celebration help us to live as good disciples of Jesus. … May God continue to bless Sacred Heart Parish, and help all here to mold their hearts to be like the Sacred Heart of Jesus: poor in spirit, meek, humble, merciful, pure. May holiness shine in all our families, in our relationships with one another and in our young people as they learn how to live this way in the world.”

At the end of Mass, Msgr. Foltz thanked Bishop Hoeppner for presiding, and the Jubilee Committee for planning the celebration. He called for the parish to embrace the opportunity for spiritual renewal through reciting the Jubilee Year prayer, written by staff member Roger Pieper; singing the Jubilee Year hymn, composed by parish Liturgist, Daniel Ewens; and participation at events the parish will host throughout the jubilee year.

On Sept. 22, at 9 a.m., Sacred Heart will host a speaker and musician through Dynamic Catholic. A Called and Gifted Workshop will be held March 2, 2019. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 28, 2019, the parish will lead a Eucharistic procession around the Greater Grand Forks Community. The closing event will be Mass on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2019. More information regarding events celebrating Sacred Heart Parish’s Jubilee Year and a slideshow of the parish’s history can be found at


Diocesan website, communication efforts transformed

OND Staff Report

The Diocese of Crookston’s website, located at, relaunched in July with a fresh design and an interface that is more user-friendly. Added menu options and increased functionality for online giving, viewing the diocesan events calendar and consuming news published by Our Northland Diocese (OND) are main components that have changed on the homepage.

The site transformation is part of a larger strategic plan that began to take form after a diocesan communication survey was distributed to key stakeholders in 2016. The desire for both the Diocese of Crookston and OND to increase their digital footprint was expressed by nearly 70 percent of the clergy, parish staffs and key volunteers surveyed. This led to an expansion of OND’s digital offerings in 2017, as well as the beginnings of a diocesan social media presence on the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Goals of redesigning the site included more intuitive navigation features; multiple access points for safe and secure online giving; a direct menu to Safe Environment certification on the homepage; and easier access to resources sought out most frequently, including the events calendar, directories of contact information, official statements and news of the diocese.

The website redesign occurred in tandem with the transition of diocesan communication efforts moving from a management function to an office of the Bishop’s Curia, with Janelle Gergen assuming the role of Director of Communications, as well as Editor of OND. Gergen is in her fifth year of employment with OND and the Diocese of Crookston. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University, as well as nearly 15 years combined experience in marketing, publishing and parish ministry.

The mission of the Office of Communications is to create and deliver messages that are timely, coordinated, consistent and relevant to Catholics in northwest Minnesota. Increased oversight of diocesan communications allows for better integration of messaging across channels, such as the website, social media and news publishing.

Questions or comments regarding or diocesan communications can be directed to Gergen at 218-281-4533 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CLICK HERE for a video tour of the updated site.

Stewardship conference provides valuable experience

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Father Chuck Huck, Pastor of St. Philip, Bemidji and St. Charles, Pennington, and Maryhelen Chadwick, Director of Stewardship and Communication for St. Philip, were both presenters at a regional stewardship conference held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 26-27.

“It will be a joy to share the success we have seen here at St. Philip’s due to a richer understanding of the word ‘steward’,” said Father Huck in the days leading up to the conference.

The conference, attended by approximately 200 people, is connected to the International Catholic Stewardship Council. Each of the 10 dioceses in Region VIII – which encompasses Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota – was represented at the conference. Nine people from the Diocese of Crookston attended.

Father Huck said he and other members of the parish have had good experiences attending other ICSC conferences in the past.

“We have brought back to the parish valuable insights about being, and helping others be, good stewards of the gifts that God has given each of us. Not just the gift of treasure, but also the gifts of time and talent,” he said. “We gained an understanding of how these gifts, that each person has been given, are to be used in the faith community, but also in our environments of family, friends, work and community at large.”

Chadwick participated as a panelist discussing tools to build and maintain a strong stewardship program.

Father Huck’s two-part presentation, titled “Do You Speak Stewardship-eze”, was geared toward priests and deacons. He spoke about the impact of vocabulary used in homilies and during meetings when discussing stewardship. He also shared about parish events that can help parishioners understand the meaning of being stewards. The second part of the presentation was a panel discussion about best practices for preaching, communicating and living stewardship in a way that inspires discipleship.

“Sometimes priests hesitate to talk about money. I’m looking forward to the conversations coming out of his session,” said Melinda North, Vice President of Parish Services for the Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota. She led the conference planning committee.

North said the conference had a good mix of presentations for attendees no matter where their parish or organization is on the stewardship journey, from those with long-standing stewardship committees to those beginning formal stewardship work. The presentation topics included engaging millennials, running capital campaigns, stewardship’s relationship to discipleship and practical tools.

“I’m excited to see the Holy Spirit work in each person there,” North said.

The keynote speakers at the conference were Archbishop Emeritus Robert Morneau of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Bishop Donald J. Kettler of the Diocese of St. Cloud. They presented on the spirituality of stewardship and ways to nurture stewardship in small rural parishes and ministries.

“Bishop Robert Morneau has been speaking, living and teaching others about stewardship for many years. He is going to inspire on many levels,” North said.

“Father Bryan Kujawa, Deacon Michael Arey, Maryhelen Chadwick and I will be able to listen and learn from other priests, deacons, stewardship directors and vendors. We will share experiences, insights and stories about being effective leaders in helping parishes grow through the practice of good stewardship,” Father Huck said.

Five Sisters of St. Benedict celebrate jubilees

OND Staff Report

On July 26, five sisters of Mount Saint Benedict were honored during a private ceremony held in the Mount Saint Benedict Chapel. Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke celebrated Mass and the jubilarians renewed their monastic profession.

Sister Petronilla Hermann and Sister Rosella Dentz celebrated 75 years of monastic profession; and Sister Mary Jean Gust, Sister Agatha Hermann and Sister Laurian Lasha celebrated 70 years.

Sister Petronilla Hermann was born in rural Georgetown, Minnesota, the oldest of four girls. She attended elementary school in Georgetown. Her parents believed strongly in Catholic education and sent their children to Mount Saint Benedict Academy in Crookston for high school. Afterward, Sister Petronilla entered Mount Saint Benedict. In 1944, following novitiate, she enrolled in the St. Cloud Hospital School of Nursing in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, graduating in 1947.

Sister Petronilla was a nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital, Crookston. When Saint Francis Hospital opened in 1950, she was head nurse on the surgical floor, with on-call duty in the operating room. This assignment lasted almost 10 years.  In 1957 she filled in as the director of Saint Francis Hospital School of Practical Nursing while they searched for a candidate. She went to Catholic University in Washington, D.C., earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1961 and took the position long term. When Saint Francis Hospital closed in 1970, she became director of the Agassiz Valley School of Practical Nursing.

In 1980, Sister Petronilla received a master’s degree in spirituality and spiritual direction from Mundelein College in Chicago. She worked in the formation department at the Mount for one year and then did spiritual direction and conducted the spirituality component of the MSB Center Ministry Program. In 2000 she downsized her spiritual direction practice and the Mount became her place of residence. In 2010 she requested a move to Good Shepherd Hall, the community’s assisted living department. Sister Petronilla now lives at Villa Saint Vincent in Crookston.

Sister Rosella Dentz was born Sept. 5, 1924, the first of five children. She was baptized Rosella Julianna Dentz, at Saint Michael’s, Mahnomen. Her parents were strict Germans from Stearns County, Minnesota. Sister Rosella attended Saint Michael’s grade school for eight years until it burned down. She spent three years at Mahnomen High School. Her final year of high school was at Mount Saint Benedict boarding school.

It was difficult to leave home, but she very much wanted to be a sister. Rosella entered the Benedictine community on January 1, 1942, and made her final commitment on July 11, 1947.

Sister Rosella graduated from Viterbo College in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, with a bachelor’s degree and taught for many years in various schools of the Crookston Diocese.

Over the years, Sister Rosella heard from former students,  and it seems she has much to celebrate. She achieved what she strove for those many years – to be a good Benedictine sister and teacher.

Sister Rosella lives at Mount Saint Benedict where she has a ready smile for everyone.

Sister Mary Jean Gust is the third of George and Julia Gust’s eight children. Her childhood days in rural East Grand Forks were filled with peace. She preferred outdoor work, especially weeding the garden, to housework. When she was 11, she desired to become a Benedictine sister. Throughout high school at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks, she admired their dedication to each student. When she entered Mount Saint Benedict in 1946, she found the same work as at home – washing dishes and gardening – only on a larger scale.

After 18 years of teaching, Sister Mary Jean became principal of Sacred Heart Grade School. She loved working with teachers, students and parents. In 1978, she became Director of Schools and Religious Education for the Diocese of Crookston. She filled the position for eight years under the leadership of Bishop Victor H. Balke. For the three years after that, she worked for the Diocese of Fargo.

After 22 years of administration, Sister Mary Jean went to Belgium to help a group of contemplative semi-cloistered Benedictine sisters. After returning, she worked at Cathedral Parish. Nine years later, Father Roger Grundhaus asked her to go to Fertile as a pastoral presence and to assist him with the parish responsibilities. She served the parish for 17 years.

Sister Agatha Hermann was born July 1, 1928, and was baptized Angela Leonella Hermann, at St. John the Baptist Church in Georgetown, Minnesota. She believes that her parents must have been aware of the Benedictine motto: Ora et Labora, “Pray and work”.

“We worked very hard and we certainly seemed to do a great deal of praying together as a family,” she said.

The family had fun as well. In winter evenings they played a variety of cards and other games. During leisure time in the summer there were family horseshoe and softball games. These times were made special when her mother’s brother, a priest, and her two sisters, who were nuns, came to visit. She said her vocation story began with these times together. As a very young child she began to dream of following in the footsteps of her Benedictine aunt.

Her ministry started in the classroom teaching fourth grade. She loved those first years and later enjoyed the challenge of teaching teenagers in junior high. She retired after 53 years of teaching and administration and then worked as a volunteer in Pastoral Care at Villa Saint Vincent.

Sister Laurian Lasha tried to recall what led her to Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. Perhaps she received the call when she was learning her prayers on her mother’s lap. It may have come while attending summer vacation school in Dorothy, Minnesota. The Sisters of Saint Joseph read students stories about saints and instilled in her a desire to become a saint.

Her first encounter with Benedictine sisters came during eighth grade at St. Joseph’s School in Red Lake Falls. She first seriously considered becoming a sister while attending Mount Saint Benedict Academy in 1944. Their example inspired her to be like the sisters. She entered the community after graduation and never regretted it.

She participated in various ministries over the years – teaching, administration, library work and involvement in peace and justice. Her favorite ministry was librarian at Crookston Public Library where she had the opportunity to share God’s love with people from every walk of life. After retiring, Sister Laurian served as archivist at Mount Saint Benedict for many years.

To learn more about the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict, visit

St. John Paul II Camp: Forming disciples through prayer and service

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Park Rapids – For the second year, the Diocese of Crookston hosted two sessions of St. John Paul II Middle School Camp at Northern Pines near Park Rapids. They were held July 8-12 and July 15-19.

Each year throughout the camp – in addition to lakeside fun and games – middle school students listen to presentations about the Catholic faith, spend time in discussion and have many opportunities to deepen their prayer lives.

This year’s theme, “Wild and Untamed,” focused on the Holy Spirit. Brady Borslien, the Diocese of Crookston’s Youth Events Coordinator, said a song by Sonar Worship inspired the theme.

“When we live a life in union with the Holy spirit … our life becomes, in a sense, wild and untamed,” he said. The theme encompasses a call to live a missionary life as a disciple seeking to serve others.

“The theme exposes them to conversations about the Holy Spirit. We are able to identify who the Father is and who the Son is, but we aren’t able to really talk a lot about the Holy Spirit,” Borslien said.

Throughout homilies and presentations, youth heard about how to live an authentic Christian life. They were invited to encounter the Lord, then prepared to share Christ with others during camp, as well as in their families and parishes at home.

On July 12, the final day of the first session of St. John Paul II Camp, Luke Alexander, Director of Youth Ministry at St. Philip, Bemidji, spoke to campers.

“If you don’t have Christ as the foundation of your life, you are going to collapse,” he said. “Your house will shake and fall. Once you have Christ … as the foundation of your life, you will stand tall. You might be shaken once in a while, you might experience a few trials, but your foundation will be strong enough to withstand a powerful storm because Jesus is carrying you.”

“It’s hard to follow Christ outside of camp. It’s hard to become a disciple of Christ if you’re not around others who follow Christ. God is with you at all times. Do not be afraid, he is with you always,” Alexander said.

The camp includes a service day. Groups go into the community to serve people and care for creation in a variety of places including assisted living facilities, the library, a pregnancy resource center and highway ditches. Their service work included visiting residents, organizing inventory, picking up sticks or trash and painting.

Angie Haas delivered a presentation to campers at both camp sessions before they were sent to work. She grew up near Park Rapids and now teaches at a Catholic school in Duluth.

On July 18, Haas encouraged the campers to look beyond their assigned projects.

“Think about what you’re doing today, but also think about what you’re going to be doing when you’re back at home in your own communities,” she said. “Today we’re going to be serving the needs that are in this community, but I know your communities have needs of their own.”

She challenged campers to think of three ways to serve people and care for creation in their home communities.

Both sessions of St. John Paul II Camp concluded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner.

During the homily July 12, he spoke about the holy moments where campers experienced God’s love and how they need to bring that love home with them.

“Leave here with a very thankful heart. God has chosen you. God is so big that he has that personal love relationship with each and every one of us,” Bishop Hoeppner said. “We wake up in the morning and God is there loving us like we can’t imagine, ready to provide a holy moment, and then another, and then another.”

Near the end of the homily, he said, “Think about that as you leave here. God helps us and then we can help other people have a holy moment in our sacrifice, in our loving, in our kindness to them … that’s what Jesus did in the Gospel and continues to do.”

Janelle C. Gergen contributed to this article.

CLICK HERE for additional images from St. John Paul II Camp.

Practicing Natural Family Planning: A Male Perspective

By Deacon Mark Krejci, Ph.D. // for OND

With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual Natural Family Planning Awareness Week set to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the publication of “Humanae Vitae” in late July, three men from the Diocese of Crookston provided their perspectives on why they and their spouses practice NFP in their marriage. With less than 5 percent of married Catholics following NFP during their child-bearing years, these men serve as counter-cultural witnesses to following God’s plan for fertility.

Bill and Jen Wilke are members of St. Joseph, Moorhead, where they live with their family of 6 children ranging from twins in college to a four-year-old son. The Wilkes have served as a sponsor couple in the Couple-to-Couple League but have cut down on this work in recent years in order to focus more on their family. When talking about their family, Bill says, “Every time we asked for a child from God, we got one.” Their first five children were girls until their youngest came along which Bill explains as the one, “God knew we needed.” Bill says that through NFP he has learned to “Treasure my wife and how to treat her with love and respect.” He said that when couples practice NFP, they create opportunities for wonderful conversations about intimacy, fertility and family.

More couples, Catholic as well as others, are opting to use natural methods for fertility regulation. According to the online Catholic news agency CRUX, recent studies indicate that women are either turning away from hormonal methods of birth control or are becoming more interested in NFP methods. Jeremiah Johnson and his wife Ashley have one child and are also members of St. Joseph, Moorhead. They decided to practice NFP and, while they were motivated to follow the teachings of the Church, Jeremiah also believes, “why should I expect my wife to put chemicals in her body for something I can control inside of me?”

Dave and Kari Zavoral of Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks were introduced to NFP by a youth minister in their parish. She gave Dave a copy of Christopher West’s review of the Theology of the Body, “Good News About Sex and Marriage” and Dave read it “cover-to-cover.” He said that he “... came away from that book convinced that he wanted to follow God’s plan.” He believes that by practicing NFP he is following what is best for Kari’s body and her soul. As a husband and father, he claims that practicing NFP has helped him to learn to trust God’s plan in many areas of his life that go well beyond his sexual life with his wife.

In a culture where men all too often objectify women as sexual objects, the witness of these three men reflects a holy love for their wives that has been developed and sustained through the couples’ practice of NFP. As Bill Wilke claims, “The longer you practice NFP, the more open to life you become and the greater joy you will get out of life.”

To read commentary from Deacon Krejci regarding the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae CLICK HERE.

New Safe Environment training module now available

OND Staff Report

The 2018-2019 Safe Environment training module for the Diocese of Crookston is now available. The Safe Environment certification year began on July 1, and runs through June 30, 2019.

This year’s module is Component A: “Recognizing Child Abuse and Recommended Technology Guidelines.”

Safe Environment certification is necessary for every adult, age 18 or over, clergy, visiting clergy, employee, independent contractor, and volunteer in the Diocese of Crookston who has the potential for contact with children or vulnerable adults.

Certification includes a criminal background check, training related to recognizing and reporting child abuse, and agreement to abide by the Diocesan Safe Environment Policy and Code of Conduct.

The training module fulfills the certification requirement and consists of educational information and an interactive quiz. Please go online to to complete the training. When you start the certification process, remember that it has to be completed in less than 60 minutes or the session will time out and you will need to start over. When you complete the test and hit “submit” you should see your test scores with a message that says you are finished. If you don’t see this message you may have to try again.

If you have questions about the module or whether or not you need to complete it, please contact the Safe Environment Coordinator at your parish.

If you’d like more information about the Office of Safe Environment in the Diocese of Crookston, please contact the coordinator, Renee Tate, at 218-281-4533.

Sacred Heart School breaks ground for building addition

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

East Grand Forks – Twelve hard hats and golden shovels lined a table near the playground on the south side of Sacred Heart School on June 27, in preparation to break ground on a $3 million addition. The 10,865 square-foot space – with seven elementary classrooms and a commons area – will be ready for students by September 2019.

“It’s an investment, an investment not just in brick and mortar, as we all know. It’s an investment in people; it’s an investment in God’s people, not only for now, but for the future,” said Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner before leading a prayer service and blessing the ground where the new addition will be built.

The wing is dedicated to the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict in Crookston, who played a large role in Sacred Heart School’s 106-year history.

“The school existed for all these years because of faith and hard work, dedication and service from the families of this community and the Greater Grand Forks Area and, in particular, because of the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict,” said Superintendent Msgr. Mike Foltz during the event.

The school reports that in five years, their enrollment has gone up 30 percent – an increase of more than 100 students.

“Due to our recent growth and the hard work and generosity of many people through the New Day Campaign, the future of Sacred Heart School is very bright,” said Carl Adolphson, President of Sacred Heart School. “Thanks to the generosity of the Engelstad Foundation, we are going to have the space needed to continue our growth.”

The Sacred Heart Foundation was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Engelstad Foundation for the construction. Efforts are underway to raise $500,000 by Dec. 31 to secure the grant. Anyone interested in contributing to the project may contact Denny DeMers, Executive Director of Sacred Heart Foundation, at 218-773-0877 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

St. Lawrence, Mentor holds mortgage burning celebration

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Mentor - “Who has the matches?” Father Joe Richards asked while holding a stack of papers outside St. Lawrence, Mentor, on June 23. The parish hosted a mortgage burning celebration to honor their debt-free status 11 years after building the current church.

In 2003, St. Lawrence Parish purchased nearly 30 acres of property near Maple Lake for $49,000. The building was designed and constructed for $1.18 million. It was dedicated by Bishop Victor H. Balke in August 2007. In 2015, the bell tower was completed, and in 2017 the building was re-carpeted, new pews were installed and the sanctuary was tiled.

Father Richards said the parish paid off a $250,000 loan from a local bank in 2010, and this April made their final payment on a $250,000 loan from the Catholic Community Foundation.

After a Mass of Thanksgiving, around 130 people gathered for hors d'oeuvres on the lawn with live music and yard games for the kids. Prior to dinner, which was served in the parish hall, Father Richards burned a copy of the mortgage paperwork and led revelers in chanting “we’re debt free.”

“We just felt this was an appropriate time for us to celebrate everything that God has given to us at St. Lawrence and to celebrate as a parish family,” he said. “God is the one who deserves the gratitude. It’s all about him and what he’s accomplished, opening the hearts so they could pay off the church.”

Con Dietz attended the event. He lives in the area from May through September, heading to Arizona for the winter months. Dietz has been to churches around the country, but said St. Lawrence is his favorite because of the friendly people and welcoming priests.

“It’s surprising how quickly that mortgage was paid down,” he said. “It’s a tribute to the way people feel about this church.”

Fertile parish celebrates dedication of new church

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Fertile – Water. Fire. Sacred oil. Clouds of incense. Symbolic elements permeated the liturgy during the Mass of Dedication at St. Joseph, Fertile, on June 17.

“The Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is the seed and the beginning of God’s kingdom and God makes it grow. The dedication of a church is one of the most beautiful liturgies that the Church has,” said Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner during the homily. This was the second church he has dedicated during his decade as a bishop.

“We recommit ourselves to being holy, to keeping the sabbath, to being washed clean from sin, anointed with Chrism, consecrated, made glorious by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, made a pleasing fragrance to God and for the world to be a light for all to see,” he said.

During Mass, Bishop Hoeppner blessed water which was sprinkled on the faithful, the walls and the altar as a reminder of baptism and sign of purification.

Following the Solemn Prayer of Dedication, the altar and walls were anointed with holy oil.

“We now anoint this altar and this building. May God in his power make them holy, visible signs of the mystery of Christ and his Church,” Bishop Hoeppner prayed.

He poured Sacred Chrism on the center and each corner of the altar, consecrating it for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Bishop Hoeppner spread crosses of Sacred Chrism on the walls in four places, each marked by a wooden cross candle holder. These dedication candles will be lit during significant celebrations of the Church year.

A brazier was placed on top of the freshly anointed altar and filled with incense signifying the sacrifice of Christ perpetuated on the altar.

Deacon Tom Jirik of St. Andrew, Hawley, and newly-ordained Deacon Michael Arey, moved through the congregation, each swinging a thurible. The air filled with incense, representing prayers rising to God’s throne.

The altar was clothed by parishioners. They wiped the excess oil away, and placed cloths on the altar, and candles next to it to prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Plants were placed around the altar.

Deacon Jirik received the Light of Christ from Bishop Hoeppner and lit the altar candles, the dedication candles and the Easter candle with the flame.

“I thought the dedication was absolutely beautiful,” said Father Richards. He was particularly impacted by the anointing of the walls and the rising incense, as well as the 22 priests and Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke who attended the celebration.

“[The church] had a different feel walking into it on Tuesday morning for Mass after the dedication. This is now a much more sacred space,” he said.


The parish broke ground for the church in 2015 during their centennial celebration. Construction started in 2016; the first Mass was celebrated April 2, 2017. The building layout is based on St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead. Over the past year, construction was completed on St. Benedict Hall and the administration wing in preparation for the dedication.

The goal of the church design, with its high ceilings and arches framing the sanctuary, is to draw the eye and heart heavenward.

“We wanted to keep it a traditional style and yet at the same time, have everybody as close to the altar as possible,” said Father Richards.

He said two different stain colors were chosen for the woodwork throughout the church.

“Those things that have to do with sacraments or sacramentals we highlighted with a lighter color,” said Father Richards. The area around the tabernacle, the ambo, baptismal font and Stations of the Cross differ from the pews and other wood items.

In addition to more space and a parking area, the new building is accessible to everyone.

“I wanted to make sure everything we did was handicap accessible for both the priest as well as anybody else coming in,” said Father Richards.

For example, the large reconciliation room has space for a wheelchair in the priest’s area, and for a penitent using wheelchair to confess either behind a screen or face-to-face.

Father Richards said the fellowship area is called St. Benedict Hall in honor of Benedictine Sister Mary Jean Gust who served the parish for 17 years, and the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict. The Benedictine sisters allowed the parish to choose items from Marian Hall in Crookston before it was demolished.

The solid marble altar came from the chapel in Marian Hall. St. Joseph Parish also received many items for the new kitchen and cupboards for their work room from the sisters.

Father Richards said he hesitates to express thanks to any person or group because it was a parish-wide effort. Everyone from the building committee and financial contributors, to those who questioned or expressed doubt about decisions throughout the process played a role.

He said gratitude is entirely God’s for entrusting their parish with the project, guiding them through its completion and onward to continue building up his kingdom.

Father Gothman celebrates 25th anniversary of priestly ordination

By Rachel Noel/Freelance Writer, OND

Crookston -- On June 3, Christ’s faithful gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Father Augie Gothman’s ordination to the priesthood.

Prior to celebrating Mass, an open house was held in the Cathedral dining room to honor his selfless service to God.

Father Gothman has been altruistically evangelizing hearts throughout the Diocese of Crookston. He has served at 14 parishes, including his current assignment at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Peter, Gentilly. His other parishes were: St. Mary, Euclid; St. Francis, Fisher; St. Joseph, Moorhead; St. Stephen, Stephen; St. Rose of Lima, Argyle; St. John the Baptist, Alma; Assumption, Florian; Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks; Holy Trinity, Tabor; St. Mary, Warroad; St. Joseph, Williams and Sacred Heart, Baudette. Father Gothman also worked in the diocesan Office of Worship from 2007-2010.

During the open house, people could not say enough about his contagious spirit and fervent love of God.

“He has always been so warm and welcoming,” said Clarice Vik. “He is always happy. He always has a smile on his face. You will never see him without a smile.”

Following the time for fellowship, Father Gothman presided at Mass.

“I just wanted to thank you all for being here and being part of this celebration,” he said before Mass. “I know that some of you were here 25 years ago on a Saturday night … no, actually, on a Friday night. There was a wedding Saturday so I got bumped,” he joked.

Father Gothman shared memories of his ordination with the congregation.

“It was a beautiful day. I remember driving home in my 1983 Toyota pickup truck and Bishop Balke, of course, being Bishop Balke, when he was pouring the sacred Chrism into my hands, I noticed that he had a little smirk on his face, and he just kept pouring the sacred Chrism and pouring the sacred Chrism. This is the chasuble that I wore that day and finally, 25 years later, I think we have gotten all of the Chrism out of it. But the steering wheel of my truck was covered with sacred Chrism as I was driving home that day. There was so much Chrism, and my truck smelled like a baptistery for a couple of weeks,” he said.

Deacons, priests, and parishioners traveled small and great distances to mark Father Gothman’s silver jubilee.

Deacon James Lukenbill of Sacred Heart, Baudette; Deacon Denny Bivens of St. Peter, Gentilly; Father Joseph DeCrans of St. Joseph’s, Ada; Father Joseph Richards of St. Joseph’s, Fertile; and Father Vincent Miller of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston joined Father Gothman in celebrating his silver milestone.

Their efforts were not lost on him.

“I am truly honored that all of you made the trip, some of you further than others, and I feel truly blessed to be here with all of you today. Thank you,” he said.

Father Gothman acknowledged that the priesthood has presented him with some of the most rewarding moments in his life, and on June 3, he recognized that things had come full circle.

“Corpus Christi Sunday was the day I first celebrated Mass and as the calendar rolls around this year, it is also the day I celebrate Mass this evening with all of you,” he said.

Finding peace on God’s path to the priesthood

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Moorhead – Since receiving, and resisting, the call to become a priest in his early teen years, Michael Arey has been on a long, transformative journey. He took a big step forward during his ordination as a transitional deacon June 16 at his home parish, St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead.

“My hope is that the ordination in all its beauty and truth brings people closer to Christ and his Church. I pray the Holy Spirit melts my heart with the love of God on the day I become his servant,” Deacon Arey said.

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner welcomed all those gathered for the celebration, saying, “We thank our loving God this day. We rely on the help of our Lord God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we are about to do. By God’s grace may Michael be a holy and good deacon.”

Deacon Arey felt tugged toward priesthood when he was 12 or 13, but ignored it to pursue his own agenda.

 “After high school, I left the faith for many years, but for those years I was lacking true peace in my heart. I experienced many things in life, but still a void remained in my soul,” he said.

His parents, Beverly and Stefan Arey, knew of his calling and his struggles, and say they couldn’t be prouder of him.

The Areys adopted Michael through Catholic Charities in St. Paul.

“From the moment we held him, we knew we had a special child and the greatest gift from God,” Beverly said. “He loved being in church as a little boy, and was touched to tears at times during special rites, such as baptisms.”

Stefan said he had a feeling his son was called to the priesthood in his early teen years.

“He tried to stay away from it until five years ago,” Stefan said.

“He would tell us at least once a year he was being called by Jesus,” said Beverly. “He wanted marriage and a family very much, but nothing made him happy or at peace. Things were not working out in those areas.”

This lack of peace led Deacon Arey to read philosophy and visit churches. As he began reaching out to God, the familiar pull toward the priesthood returned. Events following the sudden death of Deacon Arey’s 21-year-old cousin catapulted his discernment forward.

Deacon Arey said, “Two weeks after my cousin’s death, I was lying in bed at my house on a Sunday night around 9:30 p.m., and I saw a vision of Christ on the cross. He lifted his head and I saw his lips move and he said two words: ‘Follow me.’ At that moment I also saw what appeared to be my cousin to the right of Christ, and I said aloud, ‘Ok Lord, I am done running from you.’”

Beverly remembers when Michael called to say he was entering the seminary. She said in a matter of months, he left his job, sold his home and started studies at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I entered seminary thirsty for God; I wanted to know him and know everything,” said Deacon Arey. “The intellectual formation at St. Paul Seminary has enhanced my love for our faith and the more I know the more I want to know. My thirst is quenched, while at the same time, I continue to thirst for him who called me.”

“It has been such a beautiful journey with Michael these past years,” said Beverly. “We see such peace and happiness in him. We have learned much from him and we have become stronger in our Catholic faith.”

Deacon Tim Cone, a recently-ordained transitional deacon for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, is one of Deacon Arey’s classmates.

“I’ve been so blown away by seeing a transformation in him from when we knew each other that first year versus now,” said Deacon Cone. “He’s come alive in his faith in a way that’s humbling for me to see, to see the power of Our Lord at work in his life, it totally transformed him ... his love for Our Lord will transform anyone he comes in contact with, as it should for all of us.”

Deacon Arey will serve at St. Philip, Bemidji, for the summer before returning for his final year of seminary this fall.

He looks forward to administering the sacraments of baptism and marriage, as well as bringing Viaticum to the dying and conducting funeral rites.

“In my younger years, I resisted God’s calling, but in my resistance I was resisting the ability to serve him, and as an ordained servant of God and his Church I am filled with the peace and joy of Christ,” Deacon Arey said.


To view additional images from Deacon Arey's ordination to the transitional diaconate CLICK HERE.

Official Appointments of the Diocese of Crookston - (rel. 06.13.18)

Effective June 1, 2018:

Deacon Tom Cerar, appointed to exercise ministry of a permanent deacon at St. Joseph’s, Moorhead.

Effective June 18, 2018:

Deacon Michael Arey, appointed to exercise diaconal ministry at St. Philip’s, Bemidji for the summer months.

Effective July 2, 2018:

Fr. Don Braukmann, granted permission to retire from his assignment as Parochial Vicar of St. Philip’s, Bemidji and St. Charles, Pennington, as a result of failing health.

Fr. Nate Brunn, appointed Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph’s, Moorhead, as well as Director of Moorhead Catholic Campus Ministries.

Msgr. Mike Foltz, appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart, E. Grand Forks; St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher and Holy Trinity, Tabor. This is in addition to his current assignments as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Crookston.

Fr. Xavier Ilango, granted permission for sabbatical.

Fr. Bryan Kujawa, appointed Parochial Vicar of St. Philip’s, Bemidji and St. Charles, Pennington, along with Newman Ministries.

Newly-ordained Father Brunn ready to bring the sacraments to God’s people

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Six years of prayer and formation came to fruition as Nate Brunn was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner on June 9 at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston.

“My friends, how wonderfully God blesses us this day. He blesses mother Church, he blesses this local Church, the Diocese of Crookston, he blesses you Nate Brunn as by the power of the Holy Spirit you are configured more closely to Christ as you are consecrated in Holy Orders,” said Bishop Hoeppner, at the beginning of the ordination Mass.

Father Brunn’s father, Leonard, remembers when Nate came home from teaching at St. Joseph’s School in Moorhead for Easter break six years ago and told his parents about his desire to pursue the priesthood.

“I said ‘oh, six years, that’s a long time’, but here today it came to a flourishing,” said Leonard.

Mildred, “Millie”, Father Brunn’s mother, was overjoyed. “This is really a dream that has been years and years in the making and to see that dream happen is … I don’t know what to do.”

She said the highlight of the ordination Mass was receiving the Eucharist from her son, and the realization that he had been part of consecrating it.

Millie said during his pastoral ministry training, her son struggled with not being able to provide the sacraments to people he encountered.

“The hard part was he was not ordained, so he couldn’t provide for patients what he really wanted to. Now he can. I’ll be happy for him to be able to hear confessions and to be able to consecrate [the Eucharist],” Millie said.

Father Peter Marshall, Director of Spiritual Formation, represented Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology at the ordination.

“After six years, I’m just happy to see that Nate has reached the end of his beginning formation and is beginning now with what God has grown in him like a seed, and it’s so beautiful to see that seed flowering and taking off now,” he said.

Father Marshall was struck by the portion of the Rite of Ordination where the bishop places a chalice and paten in the new priest’s hands, saying “receive the oblation of the people of God.”  The items are then taken to the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

“I thought that is, in many ways, how I see Father Nate. He cares so much about people and he is able to see in them their gifts and bring those to God in a unique and new way. I think that really will be the hallmark of his pastoral ministry,” said Father Marshall.

Prior to his ordination, Father Brunn said he looked forward to the anointing of his hands with Sacred Chrism. During the Rite of Ordination, the bishop uses the holy oil to consecrate the new priest’s hands for offering sacrifice to God.

“My hands will be used to bring about the sacraments,” Father Brunn said. “I look forward to allowing the Lord to use my hands to sanctify his people and the world.”

Father Brunn’s road to the priesthood was paved with many people’s prayers and encouragement.

“It was difficult to make the initial decision to enter seminary, but once I moved, once I tried it on, I knew that this is what the Lord was calling me to,” said Father Brunn. “Continue to pray for the Lord’s will to be done in your life and take a step!”

His parents echoed his advice.

“I hope anybody who is considering a vocation or having an inkling gives it a second thought and gives it a try,” said Millie.

They said the most important thing a parent can do is offer support and prayer for a son considering a vocation to the priesthood.

“He just needed the encouragement, not just from his parents, but grandparents, people in the parish, uncles, neighbors, everybody,” Millie said.


To view additional images from Fr. Brunn's ordination to priesthood CLICK HERE.

Citizen advocacy key to MCC’s 2018 legislative efforts

By Joe Towalski // The Visitor, Diocese of St. Cloud

The work of state lawmakers may be over following the end of the 2018 legislative session. But the work of citizens concerned about human dignity and the common good must continue, particularly with an eye toward elections this fall, said Jason Adkins, executive director of Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Minnesotans will elect two U.S. senators, a governor and the entire membership of the state House in November.

“These are going to be decisive votes in many ways,” Adkins said. “This is a great opportunity for Catholics to get to know and build relationships with elected officials and their opponents, who may get elected this fall, and talk to them about important issues.”

MCC, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, focused a lot of attention this session on helping Catholics to build those relationships and equipping them with the tools to educate and lobby lawmakers. It sponsored three “Capitol 101” sessions to inform Catholics about key issues and help them better understand the legislative process. And its Catholic Advocacy Network worked to keep people updated on policy topics and how to take action.

Adkins credited such efforts in helping to pass a human trafficking and pornography bill — one of MCC’s priorities this session — that requires authorities to further study the connections between human trafficking cases and pornography. The measure, signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton, also sends funds collected from child pornography convictions to the Safe Harbor program, which assists sex trafficking victims.

“It was phenomenal to see the discussion about the public health epidemic of pornography at the Legislature and people on both sides of the aisle unanimously coming together to get this passed,” Adkins said.

The effort illustrates the importance of citizens using their voices to create a sense of urgency on an issue, he said. And it shows that it’s possible to get something important done even when state government is divided between a Republican-led Legislature and Democratic governor.

“This is a perfect example of working incrementally to move the ball forward on key issues … to improve the common good,” Adkins said. “We didn’t ban pornography.

We didn’t solve the human trafficking problem. What we did is connect the two conceptually in the public eye and lay the foundation for future action in this arena. That is an extraordinary success in my view.”

More work ahead

Other MCC priorities faced more difficult challenges at the Legislature, but there were still successes on an educational level, Adkins noted.

• Commercial gestational surrogacy: This was the first session in which people concerned about surrogacy put forward a bill to regulate the practice and ban commercial arrangements in which the surrogates and their brokers would receive compensation.

“We had a lot of success in educating legislators and getting authors for our bill,” Adkins said. “We knew the governor was not going to sign it, so we really focused this session on educating people about the issue. The work on surrogacy will go on. We will continue to advocate for a strong legal framework for limiting it and especially banning the commercial aspect.”

• Wastewater recycling: The MCC supported a proposal to implement wastewater recycling and use so-called “gray water” in construction projects to cut down on waste and the reduce the burden of wastewater recycling on local governments. A bill was introduced but did not move forward. “It’s an ongoing discussion,” Adkins said.

• Affordable housing: Dayton signed a bonding bill that included $50 million in unrestricted bonds for affordable housing, $30 million for supportive housing for those with behavioral health needs and $10 million in General Obligation Bonds to protect and repair existing affordable housing, according to the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, which includes MCC.

• Physician-assisted suicide: There was no movement on this issue by proponents during the 2018 session, Adkins said, but “elections can change things so vigilance is ever required on the issue, and it will continue to be a key priority.” The MCC has worked against efforts to legalize the practice in the state, including as part of a coalition called the Minnesota Alliance for Ethical Healthcare. The future of the debate could be greatly impacted by whether the American Medical Association accepts a report by one of its subcommittees encouraging the body to retain its opposition to assisted suicide, he said. The AMA House of Delegates will consider the issue at its meeting June 9-13 in Chicago.

• Sports gambling: The JRLC network was able to stop a bill from moving forward that would have expanded sports gambling in Minnesota. It will likely return as an issue in a future legislative session. “Every dollar a parent spends on gambling is something that’s not being invested for their child’s future, for the well-being of their family,” Adkins said.

Having an impact

As the state looks ahead to the fall elections, Catholics interested in educating others — including legislators — on issues that promote human dignity and the common good can use the MCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network as a resource. Sign up at and click on “Join the Catholic Advocacy Network.”

MCC is also planning another Catholics at the Capitol event. It will be held on Feb. 19, 2019, at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, will be among the speakers. More details will be released at a later time. Last year’s Catholics at the Capitol drew more than 1,000 people from around the state to listen to issue briefings and meet with state legislators.

Registration open for 2018 Esto Vir camp

OND Staff Reports

The Office of Vocations is hosting the annual Esto Vir Camp at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp near Fosston, Minnesota, beginning at 10 a.m. Aug. 7 and ending at 3 p.m. Aug. 9.

The camp is intended to be an opportunity for young men who are open to the priesthood to come together and spend time in community with each other and the seminarians of the diocese.

Esto Vir includes sports, games, lakeside recreation, prayer, food and fellowship. The men also spend time discussing vocation, holiness and virtue.

Esto Vir is a Latin phrase that means “be a man”. It is taken from a quote by St. Josemaria Escriva: “Don’t say, ‘that’s the way I am – it’s my character,’ it’s your lack of character. Esto Vir! – Be a man!”

The deadline to register for the 2018 vocations camp is July 23. More information and online registration is available at There is no cost to attend Esto Vir.

Anyone with questions about the camp or who would like to speak with Father Matt Schmitz, Promoter of Vocations, about the priesthood can contact him at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 218-773-0877.

Memorial Mass celebrated at Crookston cemetery

By Katrina Genereux/OND Staff Writer

Crookston – Amongst graves freshly decorated with flags and flowers, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner celebrated Mass at Calvary Cemetery, Crookston, on May 29. This was the second annual memorial Mass held the Tuesday following the Memorial Day holiday. Those attending lined up their portable chairs of various styles in front of the altar located in the southwest portion of the cemetery.

The Mass was offered for the faithful departed, religious, priests, deacons and bishops of the Diocese of Crookston.

“Thank you for coming to pray. It is a good thing to pray for the dead,” said Bishop Hoeppner. “Today we remember those buried here in this holy ground. In a special way, we remember the bishops and priests who have served here.”

Bishop Hoeppner concelebrated Mass with Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke, Msgr. Michael Foltz, Father JohnMelkies Suvakeen, Father Vincent Miller, Father Xavier Ilango and Father Mario Prada.

The Class of 2018 graduates from Sacred Heart School

By Janelle C. Gergen // Associate Editor, OND

EAST GRAND FORKS – Many gathered at Msgr. A.I. Merth Gymnasium in East Grand Forks on May 25 for Sacred Heart School’s 2018 commencement exercises. Diplomas were conferred to 17 graduating seniors.

Roger Morton, retiring physical education teacher of 37 years, addressed the Class of 2018. He said the class was a unique group, at times having fought like brothers and sisters, but always loving one another like family.

Morton wished them luck on all future choices and said, “I hope you are lucky enough to find a career as rewarding as mine has been. … Remember that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that’s how I’ve always felt about my work,” he said.

He quoted his favorite scripture, which is Jeremiah, Chapter 29, Verse 11: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

After having shared some memories and highlights of his career, Morton asked any past or present students who he had taught over 37 years to stand. A round of applause took place at the witness of the generations represented and the number of lives impacted. In closing, Morton challenged those in attendance who continuously support Catholic education by saying, “Let us remember what we have achieved here together.”

Hannah Ruth Hollcraft, Valedictorian, spoke on behalf of the class. She referred to a recent talk given by the school’s chaplain, Father Matt Schmitz, on the importance of ending the school year – and the high school chapter of life – well. To end well, according to Father Schmitz, means having the courage to say “Thank you”, “I’m sorry” and “I love you”. Hollcraft articulated the reasons she is thankful for school staff and administration, parents, family members, and classmates and was apologetic for the times she and others in the class made mistakes.

Hollcraft quoted a portion of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans Chapter 12, Verse 6, which says, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them …” She listed her classmates by name, describing some of their particular gifts and talents. She expressed her gratitude and love for the unique qualities each person offers. In closing, she said, “My hope is that each of us can go on to the next chapter of our lives confident enough to use these talents and say, ‘This is me’. If we can do that, we can change the world.”

Principal Jodi Vanderheiden presented the class and called each member forward to receive a diploma. Cheers of congratulations from loved ones and friends were heard from the crowd.

The school band played recessional music as the Class of 2018 processed outside. The young men and women gathered outside for a celebratory tossing of their caps.