Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel named founding director of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership at the Saint Paul Seminary

OND Staff Reports

Father Joseph Taphorn, Rector and Vice President of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, recently announced the appointment of Merylann (“Mimi”) J. Schuttloffel, Ph.D., as founding director of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership.

The newly established Institute for Catholic School Leadership provides comprehensive education and formation for those entrusted with the leadership of Catholic schools. This distinctive formation equips leaders to nurture a vibrant Catholic identity and community, cultivate spiritual and academic excellence in faculty and students, and apply executive management skills to grow and improve their schools. The Institute for Catholic School Leadership serves Catholic school teachers, who aspire to move into leadership positions, and current principals in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and the upper-Midwest. The institute will launch its inaugural program, a graduate-level certificate in Catholic school leadership, in the summer of 2019.

“I have always believed that the preparation of Catholic school leaders requires more than an academic program and that a critical piece includes the meaningful and effective collaboration with the pastor,” Dr. Schuttloffel said. “That is why I am particularly pleased that the Institute for Catholic School Leadership has been established at The Saint Paul Seminary.”

Dr. Schuttloffel grew up in the Detroit Lakes and Callaway area, graduating from Holy Rosary School in Detroit Lakes and Mount Saint Benedict High School in Crookston. She is recognized internationally as a leader in Catholic education. With more than 40 years of experience in parochial and public schools, Dr. Schuttloffel has taught every grade from preschool through graduate school in urban and rural settings. Most recently she served as Professor of Educational Administration and Policy Studies in the Department of Education at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. (1996-2018). From 2003-2018, Schuttloffel directed CUA’s Catholic Educational Leadership and Policy Studies doctoral program in addition to the Catholic School Leadership MA and Advanced Graduate Certificate programs. Schuttloffel served as Chair of the Department of Education from 2006-2016. Upon her retirement, Schuttloffel was designated Professor Emerita.

Dr. Schuttloffel’s research explores the intersection of Catholic identity, leadership and culture. Her concept of contemplative practice is a leadership model specific to Catholic educational contexts. She is an expert on faith formation and Catholic identity formation within Catholic schools. She has presented at numerous national and international educational conferences, and she has written extensively on the importance of recruitment, formation and retention of Catholic educational leaders.

Dr. Schuttloffel is the author of Character and the Contemplative Principal (1999) and co-author of Weathering the Storm: Moving Catholic Schools Forward (2009), both published by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). Dr. Schuttloffel’s new book, International Explorations of Contemplative Leadership in Catholic Education (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group) will be published in 2019.

Dr. Schuttloffel is the NCEA recipient of the C. Albert Koob President’s Merit Award for her national contributions to Catholic educational leadership preparation and the Teresan Citation Award for her leadership and service from the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. She has served as a delegate to several national and international seminars on Catholic education, including the World Congress for Catholic Education (2015), convened by Pope Francis, and the White House Forum on Catholic education (2012), hosted by President George W. Bush.

Dr. Schuttloffel has consulted with numerous American dioceses and religious congregations, as well as dioceses in Belgium, Chile, England, Netherlands, Poland and Australia. For 10 years, she taught courses in Belgium for the Brothers of Charity as part of CUA’s program in Special Education and Nursing. She is also an advisor to the Cardinal Martini Leadership Institute at Bethlehem University, West Bank Occupied Territories.

“I am thrilled to appoint Dr. Mimi Schuttloffel as the founding director of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership,” said Father Taphorn. “This institute responds to an urgent need in the Church today, namely, helping our Catholic school administrators to create a culture in their schools where students can be formed into disciples of Jesus Christ.” He also noted that the Institute for Catholic School Leadership will be a strong addition to the seminary’s effort to become a national center of formation for both clergy and lay leaders.

The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas has a twofold mission: as a seminary, to prepare men for ordination to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church; and, as a graduate school of theology, to prepare women and men for service and leadership in the Church and society. Since its founding in 1894 by Archbishop John Ireland, the seminary has been a regional center of formation for dioceses throughout the upper Midwest.

Camp used by diocesan groups for 41 years is sold

OND Staff Report

On Dec. 27, the Diocese of Crookston sold Camp Corbett.

The property, which included 1,400 feet of shoreline on Big Elbow Lake in Becker County, was purchased by the diocese on May 3, 1973.

It was named for the Diocese of Crookston’s first prelate, Bishop Timothy Corbett, who led the diocese from its creation in 1910 until 1938.

According to an OND article from August 1973, obtaining a lake front camp was discussed by the Diocesan Priest Senate for more than a year leading up to the purchase.

The articles states: “The intent was to have a facility where parish groups or groups of parishes could carry on a variety of programs such as parish picnics, leadership conferences, religious education programs and specialized programs.”

With a lodge, chapel, six cabins, a bathhouse and playground area, as well as space for tents and campers, the nine-acre property fulfilled those purposes. For 41 years it served as a gathering place for diocesan groups and family reunions. Volunteer groups also gathered for maintenance projects and many donated items such as boats, beds, and other furnishings.

It was open through the summer of 2014. The camp closed because it was not financially sustainable. A 2015 diocesan press release stated: “Camp Corbett was closed this past season because the revenue generated was not sufficient to continue operating. The Diocese of Crookston does not have resources available to subsidize the camp or make the necessary repairs and improvements for viability.”

Area college students deepen faith, encounter Christ at national gathering

By Madi Field/Freelance Writer, OND

Indianapolis – From Jan. 3-7, nearly 17,000 people including over 400 priests from across the United States traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana for a conference put on by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). Participants from Minnesota State University, Moorhead; North Dakota State University, Fargo; University of Mary, Bismarck; and Bemidji State University attended SEEK2019. FOCUS hosts a large SEEK conference every other year and a Student Leadership Summit (SLS) for training and formation in between.

This year’s theme was “Encounter Something More.” Some of the best Catholic speakers were brought in to highlight the subtheme of each day: purpose, love, encounter, follow and share. Everyone came together in the morning for Holy Mass followed by a day of events including a large-scale game of Family Feud, men’s and women’s sessions, breakout sessions with various topics and speakers, adoration, confession and time to visit with dozens of Catholic organizations. The atmosphere was full of life as people encountered the living God and met various priests and religious orders from around the United States.

Megan Jones, originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, has been a missionary with FOCUS for three years and is currently serving in Nashville, Tennessee.

“As a missionary, SEEK is an incredible time to accompany our students as they experience the conference,” said Jones.

Students choose to attend SEEK for many reasons, such as setting aside a time to encounter God, learn, grow, have fun, meet Catholic role models and build authentic friendships with other Catholics.

Megan Fuglseth, originally from Fertile, Minnesota, is a student at University of Mary. She enjoyed attending SLS2018 last year and said, “I have seen the fruits of this on my own college campus, and it has convicted my heart to never stop evangelizing, to never stop growing the Church, and to always make sure my friendships are authentic and leading others closer to Christ. I decided to attend SEEK2019 because I wanted to continue encountering the Lord with others on my campus, and from that encounter, to start investing in the relationships I would form with those attending the conference.”

Alexander Burkel, of Badger, Minnesota, is a student from Bemidji State. He did not have a strong desire to attend SEEK2019, but after the conference he said, “It's hard to put into words and explain something that opened your eyes wider than you thought they could open.” When asked about his favorite talk he said, “Deacon Harold-Burke Sivers gave a talk about what being a man is, and why the Church needs more strong Catholic men. I used to think I was an aspiring Catholic man but I was barely scratching the tip of the iceberg. God certainly spoke to me through him and was reminding me of the ways I am called to become a man instead of staying a boy.”

After lunch each day, there was free time to pray at the all-day Adoration chapel, go to confession or visit vendor booths before attending a breakout session. The variety of breakout topics was beneficial to the students. Topic included: discernment, suffering and healing, addictions, abortion, praying with people, the Mass and many more. Fuglseth’s favorite talk was titled “The Virgin Mary: The Masterpiece of God,” delivered by Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception Donald Calloway.

“The main takeaway that I got from Father Calloway's talk was the importance of developing a relationship with Mary,” she said.

The evening session Jan. 5 included Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This was a favorite part for many retreatants who had powerful experiences of confession whether they attend regularly or have not gone in years.

“I had never realized that I wasn't participating in reconciliation to its fullest until that day, and I know it was one of the best confessions I've ever given,” said Burkel.

SEEK2019 was also a powerful time for priests.

“From my perspective, I saw a lot of people who were falling in love with Jesus Christ! Some for the first time, others it was a renewal.  My favorite part would be gathering with others to pray for and with them: gathering with the priests to pray for the time in adoration and confession, gathering with students to pray for their needs, and gathering with leaders to pray for their ministries.  It was a beautiful sense of life, love, and joy,” said Father Nate Brunn, Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph, Moorhead.

The last day’s subtheme was “share” to prepare students for their return to campus. Fuglseth was filled with zeal as she left the conference.

“I get to take everything we have learned, experienced, and encountered over the past week, and we get to actually apply it to our lives. We get to choose how we are going to make changes in our lives,” Fuglseth said.

“I thought that it was a great conference!  The keynotes were very well done and very professional,” Father Brunn said. “I have seen a sense of joy in the students. Upon our return, those who went have been talking about how great of an experience it was for them.”

View presentations from SEEK2019 HERE and HERE.

Diocesan native teaching with The Haitian Project

By Katrina Genereux / Associate Editor, OND

In Haiti, 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. Rachel Thelen of St. Mary, Two Inlets, is there working to empower students as part of The Haitian Project (THP). The organization is building a network of schools throughout the country, so its students can build a better Haiti.

After graduating from University of St. Scholastica, Duluth, with degrees in math and art, Thelen sought a way to serve others. Part of what led her to Haiti was the experience of her parish supporting a school in Haiti. St. Mary and Our Lady of the Pines, Nevis, have a relationship with Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Baudin, Haiti. She was also drawn to THP’s mission.

“I just have a desire to serve and help, and in researching organizations this one matched up with that the best,” she said. “I believe in education being a strong aid or a strong way to help lift people up and empower them.”

Thelen originally volunteered for a two-year commitment beginning August 2013. In October 2014 she returned home because of a family medical issue.

“I’ve felt in the past year that God is calling me back to be part of The Haitian Project again,” Thelen said. “In Haiti at Louverture Cleary School, I’ve felt the most purpose.”

She was contacted by Deacon Patrick Moynihan, President of THP, and asked if she would be interested in managing the women’s volunteer house.

“It’s really amazing because some of my students that I had when I was there are now junior staff members, which mean they are in college or at university and working and living at the school,” Thelen said.

Since returning to Haiti, in addition to managing the women’s volunteer house, Thelen teaches classes, assists with extra-curricular clubs and provides support for female volunteers.

“My direct job is providing for the spiritual health and positive wellbeing for our volunteers,” Thelen said. She lives in the women’s house with another volunteer and two Haitian staff members and plans morning and evening prayer as well as spiritual formation for the group through studying theological books and church documents.

Some of the challenges faced by volunteers include being away from family and adjusting to a different lifestyle. They eat three meals a day, but there is no snacking. Showers are cold, bathroom facilities are different, and the drinking water is treated with bleach.

“Once you get over these things, and are helping in your community, you feel your needs getting met,” she said.

Louverture Cleary School (LCS) is a tuition free Catholic secondary boarding school near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It serves 350 students who stay on the campus during the week and return home on weekends. In September, THP announced plans to build a network of 10 schools spread across the country. When the project is complete, the network of schools will have a capacity of 3,600 students.

“Our students are selected on a need and academic basis,” Thelen said. “If they were able to pay for school elsewhere, they would not be admitted.”

Students have a rigorous academic schedule. They study French, Creole, Spanish and English. They also attend classes in sports, technology, physics, advanced math, and French literature.

Thelen said the neighborhood surrounding LCS is low on the poverty scale.

“Poverty in a developing country is vast and drastically different than our version of poverty in the U.S.,” she said. Thelen described it as a very physical poverty. Many families live in one-bedroom houses without reliable electricity and lack a fresh water source. She said most Haitian families believe in education as the way for their children to have a better life.

“Once you get to our school – it’s quiet and it’s filled with trees and it’s beautiful – it feels like an oasis in a desert surrounded by trash,” she said. “Our students are really dedicated to keeping the campus clean and that’s part of their expectations.”

Students and staff maintain the campus and do work projects during the week, including community service work on and off campus.

She said Matthew 10:8, the school’s student-chosen motto, is central to their mission: “What you receive for free, you must give for free.”

“It is one of the basic principles for our charism and how we live our lives. They know that they have received this education for free and they are excited and willing to share it with their communities and country. It’s pretty amazing,” Thelen said.

According to a press release from THP, in Haiti, children are more likely to die before age 5 than finish high school. Historically, 98 percent of LCS students pass Haiti’s national exam and, thanks to a scholarship program, graduates have support to continue to university. Thelen said 76 percent of graduates from LCS have a university degree.

Another marker of LCS’s success is 90 percent of graduates continue to live and work in Haiti.

“That’s a huge number, because it shows that they are willing to stay to work in their country to make it a better place for the people around them,” she said. “That’s how we have empowered and lifted them up.”

Many of the students go on to work for private businesses, some become medical doctors or nurses, others return to LCS as teachers or administrators. Thelen said many of their graduates are in demand because of their translation skills.

According to THP, the students often come from families that make less than $1,000 annually, but several years out of university, alumni earn an average of $12,000.

“The reason we are so confident in the positive multiplier of education is not just because of our own mission’s success, but because of the Church’s long history providing education to immigrants, marginalized and disadvantaged people around the world,” said Deacon Moynihan in a press release announcing the expansion of THP schools. “We are joining a legacy in Haiti started 150 years ago by groups such as the Christian Brothers, Salesians and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny to name a few. The Church has every reason to be proud of its second mission – education – and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

The plan to expand throughout the country is not an end unto itself but is an opportunity to support and direct more funding to education throughout Haiti.

“Education is something that can never be taken that gives them pride in themselves and develops the individual,” Thelen said. “The individual is the true resource of a country.”

For more information, or to support The Haitian Project, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Get involved: Teach with The Haitian Project

10-month teaching positions are available in Haiti, beginning August 2019.

Community life: Volunteers witness to the ideal of sacrifice for others. They live at the school and spend time with the students. Since students live away from their families during the week, time spent with volunteers outside the classroom provides stable adult interaction.

Work: The primary responsibilities are in the classroom teaching language, religion, laboratory science or computers. Volunteers also teach physical education, lead extracurricular activities and monitor study hours.

For more information, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The state of stewardship in the Diocese of Crookston at the close of 2018

By Reathel Giannonatti for OND

With the conclusion of 2018, we reflect on the relationship parishioners have with their diocese as gifts of time and talent are recognized and gifts of treasure have been accounted for. Relationships between diocesan offices and faithful donors have been built over time through a commitment to open and forthright communication, trust and mutual affection. Unlike the very personal relationships of parishioners to their parishes, where the trust and affection of volunteers is so visible and immediate, much of how we determine the health of diocesan relationships to donors is determined by the bottom line.

At the end of November, 266 lay parish leaders left their families, jobs and other commitments to spend two days at the Convocation of Parish Leaders in Fargo. This group of parish delegates committed to work diligently to evangelize the unchurched and the fallen away. Lay people, priests, pastors and deacons listened with fixed attention. The event was an extraordinary expression of stewardship of the faith and a profound connection between parish volunteers interfacing with diocesan ministries.

The Mount Saint Benedict Foundation is providing up to five years of funding for parish leaders to continue their work as “missionary disciples” through a grant to the Catholic Community Foundation. The Office of the Bishop and the Office of Formation in Discipleship have built a strong bond of mutual trust, cooperation and communication with the Mount Saint Benedict Foundation Board. The sisters are stewarding this work, with our lay leaders and pastors acting as their “boots on the ground.”

At the Chancery, we set the 2018 Diocesan Annual Appeal (DAA) goal at $900,000, which along with grants and parish assessments provides the funding to meet the annual budget of $2.3 million. We are 2% away from our goal in gifts and pledges. Year end for the 2018 DAA is January 31.

In November, Bishop Hoeppner made his annual appeal to support St. Mary’s Mission at Red Lake. Our pastors, (who continue their ministry in the face of media attacks and the shame we all share in the recent disclosures of abuse and subsequent cover-up) stepped up and encouraged parishioners to support the poor and especially St. Mary’s Mission which experienced a horrific fire and the loss of their parish building in 2017. By Jan. 1, 2019 gifts for school operations from more than 1,000 donors totaled nearly $160,000. This represents more donors and larger gifts than the Mission has ever received in any past St. Mary’s Mission Appeal. This total does not include gifts received from donors outside our diocese, many whom give in response to our mailing. These gifts have been coupled with major additional gifts restricted in use for a new parish building. Catholics are generous to those in need.

The work our pastors have done in building the Seminarian Education Endowment is equally humbling. The Office of Stewardship and Development created a brochure to encourage individuals, parishes and organizations to commit to building the Endowment. Seven parishes began a new burse, eight parishes funded an existing burse, many individuals made gifts large and small to existing burses or opened new burses in their own or a loved one’s name. The Seminarian Education Endowment has grown by just under half a million dollars over the past three years; clearly an expression of confidence in our future and trust in the institution. The Catholic Extension Society of Chicago has awarded the Diocese of Crookston a $25,000 seminarian education matching grant for 2019 in recognition of this excellent work.

The Father’s Day Collection for retired priests which provides health insurance coverage and reimbursement for other medical and dental expenses exceeded the previous year’s totals by over $10,000. Msgr. Michael Patnode was featured in our OND ad, as he had recently retired from ministry. He continues to serve in parishes nearly every weekend.

In a year fraught with troubling revelations and doubts, lay and ordained Catholics continue to be stewards of their faith. We have set out on a path to repair relationships with the fallen away and to grow the faith. Parishioners give their time and their talent. The joy and the energy of the gathered lay faithful at the Convocation in Fargo was palpable. Faithful donors continue to support their parishes and diocesan ministries. Parishioners across the diocese never seem to forget the needs of the poor. While stewardship messaging and timing are never quite perfect, and the gratitude expressed to the faithful and the pastors who lead them is always inadequate, we have been successful in 2018. The Holy Spirit is with us, leading us to a new place, where no matter what we face, we will not only survive but thrive.

Reathel Giannonatti is the Director of the Office of Stewardship and Development.

Karlstad family is joyful witness to God’s work through life

By Katrina Genereux / Associate Editor, OND

Karlstad, Minn. – “Sometimes it is difficult to imagine something unless you live it,” said Lynette Cudnik. “I could never have imagined that I would be a mother of eight kids with two sets of twins.”

Dave and Lynette Cudnik, parishioners of St. Edward, Karlstad, live just outside town. Their first four children were born over seven years. The first set of twins arrived in 2016 and the second set followed 21 months later. The lively, boisterous household is filled with symbols of the Catholic faith – from the children’s names to images of the Blessed Mother – and conversation about the “big twins” and “little twins”. In a world often hostile to embracing life, the Cudniks have found grace and joy in the challenges of raising their family.


In 2002, friends introduced Dave and Lynette while they were students at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Lynette graduated in 2003 and began working as a youth minister at Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks. Dave graduated in 2004 and moved to Grand Forks. During this time the couple began seriously considering marriage. A key aspect of their discernment was a weekly hour of Eucharistic Adoration. The couple married July 9, 2005 and continued this practice through the first year of their marriage.

In 2006, shortly after the birth of their oldest, they moved to Texas where Dave went to graduate school. Seven years ago, they came back to the area. Dave now works at Central Boiler and Lynette stays home raising and schooling the children.

“We’ve always been open to life and our families have always been supportive,” Lynette said. She comes from a family of six children and expected they would have a large family. Dave never had a specific family size in mind but hoped they would have some children.

“In a way, having a large family doesn’t seem like its large from the inside out I suppose because we’ve seen it develop from one up to eight,” Dave said. “We can understand how it looks big from the outside in.”

Dave said after their first set of twins, they found out many people have twins in their families. Lynette said since the birth of the second set of twins they have already met two people who also have two sets of twins.

“I guess if you have one set of fraternal twins, your chances of having another set of twins is four times greater,” Lynette said. “Now that I’ve had two sets of twins, my chance of having twins again is even greater than it was the second time.”

The Cudniks remain open to life and have used Natural Family Planning throughout their marriage.

“We haven’t always had an easy time conceiving,” Lynette said. NFP helped the couple figure out what might be causing problems when conception was delayed. They tried for a year before conceiving the first set of twins and they said the second set of twins was their only “surprise” pregnancy. “Everybody is at least two years apart, but the sets of twins are 21 months apart,” Lynette said.

Now the couple is using NFP to postpone pregnancy for the time being.


“People say ‘Oh, I can’t imagine life like that,’ and I don’t know if I could have either, but now it’s just our reality,” Lynette said. “It is busy, it’s chaotic and it’s overwhelming sometimes, but we always try to remember that it’s not always going to be like this.”

Routines, teamwork, and schedules for everything from chores to who’s turn it is to hold a baby during morning rosary keep the household running smoothly.

“Lynette is very organized. I don’t think she could do what she does on a daily basis … without having a very organized mind,” he said.

Lynette’s mother helps one day a week, as does her sister-in-law and a couple ladies from the parish. Lynette said having help with the youngest four children makes it possible for her to home school the older four.

Francis, 12, and Rose, 10, are old enough to do a lot of schoolwork on their own. Lynette teaches Teresa, 7, and Kateri, 5, in the mornings while helpers watch twins Kolbe and Gianna, 2; and Ignatius and Xavier, 10 months.

After the second set of twins, the family was supported through meals made by family and friends in the area.

“I think there was about six weeks where I didn’t have to cook. We would pull something out of the freezer,” Lynette said.

“I feel like this is a really grace-filled time in our lives because it really is a lot,” Lynette said. “Somebody needs a question answered over here and somebody needs something over there and somebody is screwing off and jumping on the couch over there so, yes, it’s overwhelming, but we know there is going to be an end to this time and just trust in God to give what is needed.”

She added that where grace is needed, is where it abounds.

“I feel like this time in my life, since they [the second set of twins] have been born, I ask for something and God answers it right away,” Lynette said.

For any parent feeling challenged – whether by their first baby or subsequent children – the Cudniks said it helps to take things one day at a time.

“If you take things one day at a time, even one moment or one situation at a time … the difficult times don’t last forever,” Dave said. “The baby won’t be crying through the night forever … the young years won’t come back once they are gone. Each stage has its own beauty.”

“There are times that I remind God that he gave me all of these children to take care of and now he needs to give me the patience, wisdom, time, energy or whatever it is I am in need of at that moment, and faithfully he does provide. His grace is abundant, and we feel it very active in our life right now,” Lynette said. “For those that feel overwhelmed with whatever life has given them, know that God’s grace will meet you where you need it most; we just need to ask for it.”

Area youth enthusiastic about National Catholic Youth Choir

OND Staff Report

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by the National Catholic Youth Choir.

Collegeville, Minnesota - When Fletcher Biby (NCYC Alum 2018) of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Moorhead, Minnesota went to a youth choir camp, he knew there would be lots of singing. What he found was so much more: fun, friendship, and faith. “I really enjoyed this camp,” he said. “I learned a lot about how to use my voice and had fun with other kids my age. The music we sang was challenging, and the campus was beautiful! The rehearsals were long and tiring but rewarding because we knew we were making progress and learning lots.”

The National Catholic Youth Choir, which meets on the grounds of Saint John’s Abbey and University in central Minnesota, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019. Since the choir’s founding in 2000, more than 300 young Catholic singers have participated in the nine-day summer camp. They have all shared a powerful experience of singing sacred music, studying the Bible and their Catholic faith, learning some music history, and making new friends.

“It’s a positive, joyful experience of being Catholic that really speaks to young people,” said founding director Benedictine Father Anthony Ruff.

During the camp the choir members pray with the Benedictine monks and sisters, including the Rosary and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They end each day by chanting Compline. After the intense music rehearsal on campus, the choir goes on tour singing at parish liturgies and offering sacred music concerts.

Membership in the selective choir is by audition. Online applications are accepted from across the U.S. All young singers with note-reading ability and choir experience are invited to apply. For the 20th anniversary choir will be larger than ever – and they will be joined at the final Mass by dozens of alum singers from the past 20 years!

“The NCYC provides opportunity for every person to grow spiritually, intellectually, and socially into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. I am so very happy to have taken part in it,” said Remy Mumby (NCYC Alum 2016) from Lansing, Michigan.

For information about the choir, including how to apply, go to

Area student earns University of Mary 2018 Student Nurse of the Year honors

OND Staff Report

Editor's note: This press release was published by University of Mary on Dec. 13.

Bismarck, N.D. – The University of Mary chapter of the Nursing Student Association (NSA) has recognized Moorhead, native Julia Johnson as the Student Nurse of the Year (SNOY) for this school year. The SNOY award is to recognize an outstanding nursing student, to stimulate interest in the NSA, to promote communication between schools and students across North Dakota, and to stimulate public interest and awareness of nursing student activities.

“I am humbled to be chosen to represent the University of Mary as the student nurse of the year,” said Johnson, whose future aspirations include working somewhere as a hospice and palliative care nurse in home health care. “It is a great honor and I pray that the Lord guide my words and actions so that others may see the true beauty and sacrifice in the vocation of nursing. I am so thankful for all of my professors and fellow classmates who encourage the daily pursuit of excellence in all that we do.”

Johnson’s career plans and passion for helping others don’t end there, however. She’d like to return to school to earn her master’s in nursing education.

“I also have a heart for international mission,” she added. “So, I want to continue giving myself in this fashion by helping to lead and organize international medical missions for college-age students.”

Johnson was chosen through a three-part process: faculty selection of six junior nursing students; a classmate vote limited to three candidates; and a three-panel interview of candidates by career professionals. Other nominees included juniors, Bailey Dix, Aberdeen, SD, and Ali Gellner, Langdon, ND. The junior nursing class voted for their top three candidates — who were then interviewed by a panel of judges.

Personal and professional criteria for receiving this distinction include ability in public speaking; potential to develop physical, mental, emotional and spiritual qualities necessary for success as an individual and a nurse; the ability to express views on current events and problems; the ability to meet physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social needs of patients; belief in elevated standards of nursing care demonstrated by word and actions; leadership; understanding of the principles behind nursing care; and loyalty to the profession.

As SNOY for the local chapter, Johnson will serve as a chairperson for recruitment into the school, conduct next year’s SNOY contest, and also attend and actively participate in local chapter events.

Grant from Mount Saint Benedict Foundation will fuel evangelization

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

The Mount Saint Benedict Foundation is granting up to $250,000 to the Catholic Community Foundation to support evangelization in the Diocese of Crookston. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner announced the grant Dec. 1 during the Convocation of Parish Leaders in Fargo. The sisters plan to distribute the grant in $50,000 increments over the next five years.

Sister Shawn Carruth, Prioress of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, said the gift is being given in honor of the community’s 100th anniversary.

The Benedictine monastery in Crookston was founded May 4, 1919. By supporting evangelization, the sisters hope to continue and honor their legacy in the Diocese of Crookston.

“We are going to try to have events and acknowledgments throughout the year,” said Benedictine Sister Anita Whalen, a member of the Mount Saint Benedict Foundation Grants Committee.

“Over the past 100 years, the Sisters of Saint Benedict have blessed the diocese with their prayers, their hospitality, their works and their financial resources,” said Bob Noel, Formator for the Office of Formation in Discipleship. He and Deacon Mark Krejci, Director of the Office of Formation in Discipleship, put together the grant proposal.

Sister Carruth said during the discernment process and meetings with various diocesan personnel, the phrase “helping move parishes from maintenance to mission” struck a chord with the sisters on the Mount Saint Benedict Foundation Grants Committee.

“That’s something we would like to support for the diocese,” she said.

The Convocation of Parish Leaders held Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 in Fargo, brought together more than 700 representatives from parishes across the dioceses of Fargo and Crookston. It flowed out of the national Convocation of Parish Leaders held in Orlando during the summer of 2017. 

According to the grant request, the purpose of the local convocation is to unite the delegates under the common purpose of responding to the call of evangelization as missionary disciples.

“I was really inspired by that,” Sister Carruth said. “I was really persuaded that they had something that they were excited about and plans to draw other people into it – parishioners – to a broader kind of leadership in it and that just spoke to us.”

“The grant is being awarded to the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Crookston for the express purpose of supporting on-going efforts by delegates to the Convocation of Parish Leaders and to the Youth Leadership Formation Program,” said Deacon Krejci.

The grant request states that $40,000 of each year’s funding will be available to convocation delegates to support post-convocation evangelization plans. Using micro-grants, they can pay for materials, hospitality, or evangelization opportunities.

Delegates who apply will be required to have the consent of their pastor and a purpose that clearly supports evangelization. A one-page grant application form will be developed, and recipients of funding will be expected to complete a one-page summary and accounting of the use of funds. The system should be in place by January.

Each year, the remaining $10,000 will go to support the Padre Apla Leadership Program. The program’s goal is to help diocesan young people grow as leaders and missionary disciples. It is named for Blessed Stanley Rother, a priest who served the Tz’utujil people of Guatemala for 13 years before he was martyred on July 28, 1981.

The program is divided into three phases: formation, the Guatemala experience and a guided leadership project. Participants will take part in formation retreats leading up to a ten day visit to Guatemala for service, cultural exchange, study and pilgrimage. Following the trip, participants will create and execute a project taking on a leadership role in their parish.

The sisters were inspired by the convocation’s purpose to build up evangelization in the diocese and grateful to see people stepping forward to do the work.

“We are willing to support this financially and prayerfully and as cheerleaders, but we cannot be the ones that are managing this program,” said Sister Carruth. “That’s just very comforting for us to know that we can give what we can give and not be expected to do what we really can’t as far as overseeing it and all of that.”

“For 100 years, the sisters of Mount Saint Benedict were some of our biggest and best evangelizers as they served in the schools and hospitals in the Diocese of Crookston,” said Vicar General Msgr. Mike Foltz. “Now in the years when they are not able to be on the front lines, they are enabling others to be evangelizers by allowing their foundation to help the Diocese of Crookston Catholic Community Foundation with grants to form missionary disciples across the diocese. The sisters just keep on giving and giving. I am humbled and my heart is full of gratitude.”

Noel said it was important to announce the grant during the local convocation.

“We want to share with the delegates that the sisters believe in what we are doing. We want the delegates to also get a sense that the convocation is the beginning, but evangelization will be ongoing,” he said.

Convocation of Parish Leaders delegates share perspectives

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

During the Convocation of Parish Leaders held in Fargo Nov. 30-Dec. 1, delegates – who were selected by their pastors – prayed, listened to presentations about evangelization and shared experiences with each other.

They were also invited to make action plans identifying a person or group of people in their parish or community and creating a list of possibilities for outreach.

Delegates from each deanery shared their thoughts about the convocation with Our Northland Diocese:

“I found the breakout sessions to be good sources of common sense ideas: just ask, have meaningful conversations with whoever God puts in front of you … always bring it back to prayer.”

Mary Johnson – Sts. Peter and Paul, Warren


“I have learned that evangelization is not a scary word. I have learned that all I need to do is be myself and share my love for Jesus with others.”

Beth Huschle – St. Joseph, Bagley


“I hope and pray it makes me a lot busier. As people (the laity) evangelize, my job of bringing sacraments to the people will become a great blessing.”

Father Bill DeCrans – Pastor, St. Joseph, Ada; St. William, Twin Valley; Holy Family, Halstad


“I’m excited about the fact that there’s a whole group of us from the church now that are of the same mind.”

Nate Triebwasser – St. Andrew, Hawley


“I hope to focus on teaching others about how to speak up when opportunities present themselves and how we are called to be evangelists.”

Tiffany Long – St. Patrick, Kelliher


“I hope to be an example to my students as someone who is a person of faith, loves Jesus and her Catholic Church. I want to be a facilitator in helping my students encounter Jesus and grow in their faith.”

Principal Cathy Larson – Holy Rosary School, Detroit Lakes


“It [missionary discipleship] should transform us from the ‘go to church and home’ type of Church to a family of believers who share what they love with others.”

Deacon Dean Roberts – St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead


“I hope to witness my faith to my students without being preachy. I would like to see my students be witnesses to other students and their families.”

Teresa Zettel – Teacher, St. Michael’s School, Mahnomen


“I loved the whole thing – the speakers on Friday opened my heart and mind and made me want to grow in my love for Jesus and give that to others.”

Carol Schlief – St. Ann, Blackduck


“For me, working at Walmart, it’s a very big place that has a lot of diverse religions and I always just have to talk to people ... they always ask about my cross and I’m never ashamed to talk about it.”

Alonzo Cruz – St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead


“We tend to make things complicated, but it’s just one simple thing: If you have Christ within you and you love Christ, then share that.”

Lynette Triebwasser – St. Andrew, Hawley


“Since I work with the youth, I see a lot of the college kids leaving the Church and never coming back. I want to remind them that we are their Church family, to try and get them to come back and participate and be part of the Church.”

Monica Lisburg – St. Joseph, Fertile


“Making the decision daily to grow in our faith will allow others to renew their love for God and receive his love to share it with those outside of our circle of community.”

Deacon Aaron Kaiser – St. Joseph, Bagley


“To not be afraid to talk about and share your faith with others and to help my personal family and parish family grow in their faith.”

Mike Johnson – Sts. Peter and Paul, Warren


“I am really excited that for the first time this is not just another task for us priests to add to our unending list of things to do. The laity are finally being shown clearly what is their role and responsibility in the Church and it seems like they are excited to take on this most meaningful role. This will make my ministry truly fruitful and joyful.”

Father John Kleinwachter – Pastor, Sacred Heart, Roseau; St. Mary, Badger; St. Philip, Falun


Click HERE to view photos from the Convocation of Parish Leaders.

Crookston, Fargo Dioceses join forces to form missionary disciples

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Fargo, N.D. – In his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, Pope Francis wrote: “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.”

More than 700 people from parishes throughout the dioceses of Fargo and Crookston gathered to continue down the path of discernment during the Convocation of Parish Leaders: Evangelizing Missionary Disciples. It took place at the Avalon Events Center in Fargo from Nov. 30 – Dec. 1.

The local event flowed from the National Convocation of Catholic Leaders that brought 3,500 delegates from across the country to Orlando in July 2017. Following the national convocation, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner and Bishop John T. Folda discussed joining forces for a local event to continue the mission of the national convocation.

“We will pray, reflect and discern how we, as individual disciples of the Lord and as God’s Church in this place … may bring the good news, the ‘Joy of the Gospel,’ as Pope Francis directs us, to the people of our age in a more effective way,” Bishop Hoeppner said during the Convocation’s opening Mass.

The first keynote speaker, Palottine Father Frank Donio, is the Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center. As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Father Donio collaborated on the document “Living as Missionary Disciples: A Resource for Evangelization.” Convocation Delegates were encouraged to study this document before attending.

“There is a method that Jesus used and a method that could be seen as missionary discipleship. It starts with the encounter with the Lord. The supreme encounter is what we just did together, the Mass. The Eucharist is the supreme encounter,” said Father Donio. “How do we build that relationship and maintain that relationship throughout our day, throughout our week, throughout our life? Through our personal prayer, through our study of faith, and through our care of our brothers and sisters.”


The second keynote was presented by Msgr. Thomas Richter, pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Dickinson, N.D.

“The truth is that one does not need to be a scripture scholar … a master teacher, a theologian or have all the answers to evangelize,” he said. “Evangelization is simply about one starving man who has found where the bread is and wants to help others find it.”

He said through a deep relationship with Jesus, evangelization can naturally flow into daily encounters because people share what they love.

Delegates, who were chosen by each pastor to represent their parish, found inspiration in the keynote presentations.

Theresa Zettel, a parishioner of St. Michael, Mahnomen who teaches at St. Michael’s School, said, “The reminder from Msgr. Richter that we need to be in love with Jesus to witness to others,” stood out to her. She also appreciated the time spent in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and hearing others’ stories.

Rob and Monica Lisburg of St. Joseph, Fertile, appreciated Msgr. Richter’s emphasis on evangelizing in everyday situations.

“I live my life to the best that I can, but you can always do more,” said Rob.

“When God sends you someone, don’t turn away; be aware that this is probably a mission for you,” Monica said.

Lynette and Nate Triebwasser, delegates from St. Andrew, Hawley, had a similar takeaway.

“We tend to make things complicated, but it’s just a simple thing: If you have Christ within you and you love Christ, then share that,” said Lynette.

“He said you’re living in your head too much, get out of your head, you’re putting too much stress on yourself,” Nate said.

“I have learned that evangelization is not a scary word. I have learned that all I need to do is be myself and share my love for Jesus with others,” said Beth Huschle, a delegate from St. Joseph, Bagley.

“[The keynotes] opened my heart and mind and made me want to grow in my love for Jesus and to give that to others,” said Carol Schlief, a delegate from St. Ann, Blackduck.

“This has been an excellent time of formation and very powerful prayer,” said Deacon Dean Roberts of St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead.

He appreciated hearing the stories of other delegates throughout the convocation. He said it will help him refocus on those who feel like outsiders.


In addition to presentations and prayer, delegates participated in panel discussions and focused conversations in parish and diocesan groups.

The first breakout session focused on evangelization. Groups of panelists from various backgrounds including clergy, Natural Family Planning practitioners, college students, parents, and youth ministers shared their stories.

The second round of panel discussions focused on five themes: the domestic church, youth and emerging adults, evangelization in rural parishes, the peripheries and bringing people back to the Church.

Rachel Herbeck, the Outreach and Policy Coordinator for the Minnesota Catholic Conference spoke on the panel titled “On the Peripheries”.

She said people think evangelization means going far away, but the peripheries are close to home.

“The reality is in all of our lives as Catholics, there are people on the peripheries that we are called to be in relationship with,” she said. “Identifying peripheries is simply seeking out the places that are devoid of the Gospel.”

Her work with MCC has led her to view the state Capitol and political arena as a periphery.

“As Msgr. Richter said, the primary vocation of the laity is to bring the Gospel into the public square. Not only the Capitol, but in discussion about politics,” Herbeck said. “We see politics right now where everything is so separated out. There is room for the Gospel there. There is room for Catholics to have influence there and so that’s a particular periphery.”

She encouraged delegates to ask God which marginalized people they are called to serve, whether it’s those in prison, the lonely, or building relationships with legislators.


During Mass on the second day of the convocation, Bishop Folda spoke about how the Holy Spirit transformed the Apostles from a group of frightened fishermen to fearless evangelists and invited delegates to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“Our Lord has called us to be with him. That’s the very meaning of the word convocation – a gathering together,” Bishop Folda said. “He sends us out to friends, family, coworkers and fellow students and even perfect strangers, so they too might have the hope that we have. Hope that’s founded on the love and the mercy of Christ. Hope for eternal glory, looking on the beautiful face of God.”

The final hours of the Convocation of Parish Leaders were spent in parish and diocesan work groups. Delegates discussed how to use their convocation experience to impact their parishes and communities. Each delegate identified a person or group and created an outreach plan.

Grants have been received from the Mount Saint Benedict Foundation and Our Sunday Visitor to support evangelization projects in the Diocese of Crookston.

Vickie Anderson of St. Joseph, Beaulieu, said she plans to be more prayer-focused and be open to sharing Christ with people outside the Church, especially those she meets in community organizations.

Her parish group discussed ideas for welcoming people back to the parish, ways to become more visible in the community and how to share their increased love and enthusiasm for God.

“There have been many benefits to attending this convocation for me on a personal level, but to work closely with our other parishioners who are here is inspiring and reassuring that there are many who are passionate about our Catholic faith and want to share it with others,” said Cathy Larson, Principal of Holy Rosary School in Detroit Lakes.

Beth and Matt Huschle of St. Joseph, Bagley, plan to reach out to other young families with an invitation to participate in the growing religious education program.

“[We have] renewed confidence that we have what it takes to share with others and build our parish community,” Beth said.

Father John Kleinwachter appreciated seeing the Holy Spirit working throughout the event.

“The convocation really helped all of us to see concretely that evangelization is an everyday action,” said Father Kleinwachter. “Before we always heard that it was not preaching on a soapbox, but we never had such a number of witness talks that convincingly demonstrated that evangelization is down to earth and ordinary and doable by all members of the Church.”

Click HERE to view photos from the Convocation of Parish Leaders.

Click HERE for delegate perspectives across the Diocese of Crookston.

Registration open for youth formation workshop featuring Everett Fritz

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

On Jan. 26, the Office of Formation in Discipleship will host a workshop featuring Everett Fritz at St. Mary, Fosston, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The workshop is open to youth ministers, catechists, priests, parents, volunteers and anyone who works with youth. The cost to attend is $10 and will be collected at the event. Registration is available at Lunch is included.

Fritz is author of The Art of Forming Young Disciples and founder of St. Andrew Missionaries, an organization dedicated to training and equipping Catholics in discipleship of young people.

“About 79 percent of people who identify as ‘not affiliated’ left the Church by the age of 23,” Fritz said.

He noted this trend has continued even with churches investing more in youth formation.

Fritz has worked in youth ministry for 12 years. Five years into his career he was successful at running large youth programs. Despite his apparent success, most youth he worked with still left the Church. Only 10 out of 100 teens he brought to a Steubenville conference were practicing their faith three years later.

“These kids were all engaged in youth group, in youth ministry, but it wasn’t enough to have kids going through a program or in a large environment,” Fritz said. He realized the 10 who were still practicing were those he had the closest relationship with. “I did Bible study with them, I mentored their prayer lives, I knew their families well, I spent the majority of my relational ministry time with those teens. Those were the ones who went on to flourish in their faith, not only practice, but are really engaged, devout Catholics.”

This realization led him to focus on creating small groups who build relationships by meeting regularly for prayer and fellowship.

“We have at this point an 80 percent success rate of those who continue to practice their faith into college and their adult life,” Fritz said.

Bob Noel, Formator for the Office of Formation in Discipleship said last year youth ministers and directors of religious education throughout the diocese were given a copy of Fritz’s book.

According to Noel, it was well received. It was decided to offer the workshop and open it to anyone who is involved with young people.

“We felt it would be a good fit for our diocese to really empower youth ministers and pastors, volunteers and catechists to equip them with mentoring skills as they minister to young people,” Noel said. “I hope anyone who works with young people or is curious about how to minister to young people would make the trip to Fosston that day.”

Fritz said the goal of the workshop is to evaluate the effectiveness of ministries and whether they are forming lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ and to advocate for best practices. He will focus on engaging parents in the process, and the role of small groups and mentors.

“A lot of parents are frustrated with their church’s efforts as far as providing ministry for their kids. I talk to a lot of youth ministers who are frustrated with how to get parents engaged and we should put these two groups together because they can work together,” Fritz said.

He hopes anyone concerned about the loss of young people in the Church who wants to be part of the solution will attend.

For more information about Fritz and St. Andrew Missionaries, visit and

St. Mary’s Mission seeks to inspire hope

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Each November, the Diocese of Crookston holds the St. Mary’s Mission Appeal collection in parishes across the diocese on the weekend following Thanksgiving. The annual collection supports the ministry and work done in the Red Lake Nation through St. Mary’s Mission and School. Over the past year, the school has expanded to seventh grade, the community has been working to address the suicide epidemic and the parish is dealing with the aftermath of the loss of their church in a fire last December. St. Mary’s Mission is rising to the challenges and providing faith-filled support to the people of the Red Lake Nation. To view the 2018 St. Mary’s Mission Appeal video and give to the appeal, visit


St. Mary’s Mission School has expanded to include seventh grade and, according to Principal Mike Hougen, they hope to add eighth grade as well.

A few years ago, Father Jerry Rogers, Pastor of St. Mary’s Mission, noticed the graduating sixth graders looked sad. When he asked them why, they said they did not want to leave St. Mary’s School. Father Rogers told the students when the entire school was reading at grade level, the school could expand.

“Our reading scores have been consistently improving. Last year 91 percent of our students were reading at or above grade level,” Hougen said.

He and Father Rogers felt it was a good time to add grades to the school.

The addition of seventh grade was finalized last fall and announced to the school during the winter.

“Our plan is to add eighth grade next year, so our students can transition right to high school instead of having to transition from St. Mary’s to a middle school then to a high school,” he said.

“Seventh grade has been a great addition to the school,” Hougen said. “The students have been doing a great job of being engaged in learning as well as being leaders in the school.”

The addition has come with a few growing pains.

“We have the nice problem of being full in all of our classes and space has been an issue in every grade level,” he said.

The former rectory building has been converted to classroom space for the seventh grade.

“Our faculty and staff are tops and visitors to our school remark about how contagious is the spirit to learn and how impressed they are as the kids live up to the high standards of behavior we set for them,” Father Rogers wrote in the school’s fall newsletter. “St. Mary’s Mission gives our students and people the opportunity to imagine their world at Red Lake in a much better way, where the Kingdom is experienced and lived.”


Thanks to a grant from Catholic Extension Society, St. Mary’s Mission has had a Suicide Prevention and Education Worker since February. Tashina Branchaud worked as an administrative assistant at St. Mary’s Mission School before pursuing her degree in social work and returning to the Mission to help address the suicide crisis. She works with school students and community members.

Suicide rates on reservations are double that of the general population. Within the Red Lake Nation, 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line, unemployment is around 60 percent and there are high rates of crime and drug use or abuse.

“We have had eight potential suicidal situations in the past 10 months, and we have been able to help the students get the help they need,” St. Mary’s Mission School Principal Mike Hougen said.

He said there is a community effort with assistance from Branchaud, tribal programs and Red Lake Public School.

“The suicide problem is too big for any one person or program to be the solution. On a reservation where suicide is too much of an option, suicide prevention provides other options and our students are choosing other options,” Hougen said.

Branchaud is someone students can speak to about their problems confidentially.

“The students and families trust her and she is able to offer support and advice that myself or the teachers can’t,” said Hougen. “She is able to work with our students and give them tools to help themselves.”

He said through Branchaud’s support, a group of seventh grade girls had the courage and language to speak to their friends about stopping destructive, self-harming behavior.

“The girls showing leadership is a good development and a clear sign that the suicide prevention counselor and group counseling sessions that our social worker does are having a positive impact,” Hougen said.

Branchaud is part of the Tribal Suicide Prevention Task Force comprised of people from St. Mary’s, the public school, tribal programs and community members.


Feelings of shock and mourning filled St. Mary’s Mission in the days following the loss of their church to a fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2017. The church, built in 1888, burned to the ground.

Father Jerry Rogers, Pastor of St. Mary’s Mission, said the fire was caused by an electrical failure due to lightning strike the month before. A power surge following an outage on Dec. 2 ignited the building.

Mass for the First Sunday of Advent was held in the gymnasium the day following the fire.

“We will rise up from the ashes,” Father Rogers told the congregation during that Mass.

The community continues to celebrate Mass in the gymnasium while plans are made for how to proceed with building a new church.

Principal Mike Hougen said the lack of a church building has been hard on the students of St. Mary’s Mission School. The school has had to shuffle around classroom space and utilize parts of the former rectory. They have also lost some of their gym space to store materials needed to celebrate Mass.

He said holding special events such as the Christmas program has also been tricky in the wake of the fire.

“We use all of the gym for seating and need to quickly move tables and chairs for fellowship afterwards,” he said. “Our families have been understanding and it is great to see everyone pitch in and help set up tables and move the stage. Our community comes together like a big family and it is a blessing to see everyone work together to support the school and the church.”

“I told the people that out of the ashes a church will be built. Never did I realize that that fire ignited the spark in my people to be Church,” said Father Rogers in the 2018 St. Mary’s Mission Appeal video. “They were without a church, a building, but they rediscovered themselves as the Church. That spark was ignited and that has been the response ever since the fire.”

Hougen said the necessary building meetings, feasibility study and beginning stage planning work has brought the parish community together.

“The community has come together after the loss of the church,” he said. “When we rebuild, we will be rebuilding in a stronger parish.”

Teens at Senior High Youth Rally encouraged to anchor lives in Christ

By Rachel Noel/Freelance Writer, OND

E. Grand Forks – On Oct. 28, 2018, more than 300 diocesan youth and chaperones gathered at Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks, for the annual Diocese of Crookston Senior High Youth Rally.

Keynote speaker Ennie Hickman emceed the event which was organized by Diocesan Youth Events Coordinator, Brady Borslien and Partnership for Youth. Christian musician Abraham Gross from St. Paul performed throughout the day.

“Wherever you are in your faith journey, it is great that you are here today,” Hickman said, “Today is about you and God. Ever since I started to understand who God really is, my life has been incredible. It hasn’t been easy, but Jesus never said, ‘Come, follow me, it’s going to be easy.’ He said, ‘Take my cross upon your shoulders and follow me.’”

Hickman explained that young people are continuously pulled in different directions and it affects their relationships with God.

“Kids today are so stressed out and when I ask them why, they say ‘I need to make good grades because I need to get into college so that I can graduate from college so that I can get a job and make money.’ Some of you are 14 years old and are stressed about making money when you’re 22. Take a break and breathe,” he said.

The theme of the afternoon was “Anchored in Christ”. Hickman explained that in Scripture, the anchor symbolizes God and faith – that which keeps us persistent and provides unwavering courage through life’s inevitable storms.

“Luke 8:8 says: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ The question is, do you even have ears to hear it? God wants to give us life to the fullest and there’s no way we do that without opening our ears and asking God, ‘How can I be anchored in you?’,” he said.

Hickman emphasized that God’s love for us is specific, and he loves each of us individually.

“If I asked, ‘God, do you know Jenny?’ he would say, ‘I love Jenny! I love the way she does her hair, and I love how she snorts when she laughs.’ Realize that you were made in God’s image and you are a child of God. He does not show favoritism, he loves YOU just as much as he loves St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and he wants to free you, and anchor your soul.”

Hickman stressed the idea of being anchored in God and looking to him for guidance during troubling times.

“The scripture today comes from Hebrews 6:19 and it says, ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ The idea of an anchor is something that keeps us in place and holds us tight from swaying into the rocks. What is the anchor in your life? Do you feel like you are swaying away from God? We want him to be our anchor and nothing else,” he said.

As a recent high school graduate, Joshua Johnson understands it can be tough for students to stay anchored in the Catholic faith. Johnson is in his first year of studies. He and three other diocesan seminarians from Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona were present for the youth rally.

“One of the tough parts of high school for me was keeping that element of faith alive and actively participating in it. When I was younger, the youth rallies allowed me to have a few more of those experiences,” Johnson said. “It is fun being back here as a seminarian and helping out with everything from a different perspective.”

Partnership for Youth Event Coordinator, Sarah Prudhom said it was her fifth event collaborating with the Diocese of Crookston.

“It’s important to provide rallies like this at the diocesan level because it brings kids together from all over and gives them a broader idea of the greater church. It shows them that there are other kids just like them that are interested in hearing God’s message. It’s also a great way to reiterate the importance of the sacraments. We provide them with the opportunity for confession and they get to celebrate Mass with the bishop,” she said.

Many parent chaperones and youth ministers were also in attendance.

“When my daughter heard about this event, she was so excited and she really wanted to come. She has attended JPII camp the last couple of years in Park Rapids and really loved it, and she made friends from other towns at those events and was so excited to come here and see them today,” said Beth Merschman from St. Joseph, Bagley.

“We have 14 10th graders in our church who have attended the JPII camps and the Steubenville conferences and they know some of the kids from the other churches, so when we told them there was a senior high youth rally, all 14 of them wanted to come, which is a lot for our small church. We were very fortunate this year,” said Lori Balstad, Youth Coordinator at St. Mary’s in Fosston.

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner concelebrated Mass with seven area priests.

During his homily, Bishop Hoeppner said, “Our loving God is so big, he has a personal relationship with every human being that ever was and ever will be. He knows you, and he knows me better than we know ourselves. He is working on a life to bring us home so that we can be happy. Getting home happens through a personal relationship with Jesus. There is no other way to get home.”

Following Mass, Formator for the Office of Formation in Discipleship Bob Noel presented the St. Timothy Award for Excellence on behalf of the Diocese of Crookston. Teens who exemplify Christian service, Catholic leadership, and live as disciples of Christ, setting a positive example for fellow youth are nominated by their youth ministers, then two recipients are selected.

“The St. Timothy award is an important award, if nothing else, for all of us to hear this verse from 1 Timothy: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for others in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.’ I kind of cringe when I hear people say, ‘Young people are the future of the church.’ Whenever I hear that I say no, young people are the church. This award recognizes the fact that right now, among us, in our everyday lives, we have young people who are being the body of Christ to their classmates, families, parents, and to their communities,” he said.

Tobias Glen of St. Philip, Bemidji, and Anadia Cruz of St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead, received the award.

“It’s important to me to be someone that the younger kids in the church can look up to while they strive to be more involved in our faith,” Glen said.

“I try to show the younger kids that Christ is the one to follow and just show them the way by helping them throughout their faith journey,” Cruz said.

CLICK HERE for additional images from the Senior High Youth Rally.

Multi-faceted approach key for creating safe environments

By Katrina Genereux, Associate Editor, OND

A recent on-site audit of diocesan Safe Environment practices was conducted by Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York. The firm found that the Diocese of Crookston is compliant with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the audit period of July 2017-June 2018. The Charter was drafted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. Dioceses around the country are audited each year to determine adherence to the Charter.

An on-site audit occurs every three years. Members from the Stonebridge audit team come to the diocese, interview individuals involved with safe environment administration, check records and processes and visit parishes. Between on-site audits, data audits are conducted. During a data audit, the diocese sends required information to auditors for review.


One area scrutinized by auditors is the training offered to students in Catholic schools and religious education programs. The Charter mandates that children be trained for their safety. Since 2015, Catholic schools and religious education programs throughout the diocese have been using a curriculum called Circle of Grace. During the 2018 audit period, 4,389 youth were trained in the Diocese of Crookston.

“We train children and youth on how to recognize and report abuse,” said Renee Tate, Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese of Crookston. “This program not only teaches safety and well-being, it also teaches children and young people to understand their own sacredness and the sacredness of others and how to get help through trusted adults.”

The curriculum is based on the idea that the space around a person is their “circle of grace.” It helps children understand – in an age-appropriate way – what does or does not belong in their circle. A variety of lesson plans are provided for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Margaret Rasmussen is the Director of Religious Education at St. Bernard, Thief River Falls, and the parish Safe Environment Coordinator. Coordinators keep records of adult and youth training and report them to the diocese. She also teaches Circle of Grace lessons in the school and religious education program.

“It teaches that God is present in their lives and surrounds them with his grace and wants them to be safe. It also teaches that the Holy Spirit will nudge us and to listen to what he is trying to tell us if it is not a safe situation,” Rasmussen said. “I like how each grade is a little different in the lessons so that as the child grows, they get a little something new each year.”

Kari Rath is a teacher at St. Bernard’s School. Her 9-year-old son, Samuel, has received Circle of Grace training.

He said, “The Circle of Grace training has taught me more about my heart and soul, how to be safe, and who is in my circle – who to trust and who I can tell if something bad happens.”

“I think the Circle of Grace training is important because it gives students a knowledge and plan of what to do in potentially difficult and confusing situations,” Kari said. “It teaches students to respect themselves and others. It is important for students to know what safe and unsafe touch is, be able to identify who the trusted adults are in their lives and how to make good choices.”

Annette Haas appreciates the theme of respect in the curriculum. Haas is the Youth Ministry and Faith Formation Coordinator and Safe Environment Coordinator at St. Peter the Apostle, Park Rapids.

“I think it is important for our students to make the connections that respect for ourselves and others is part of God’s plan. If someone is infringing on our personal boundaries, the program also shares what we need to do,” Haas said.

Diane Heath has taught first grade religious education at St. Peter for nine years. Each year she covers Circle of Grace curriculum in 1.5 to two class periods.

“I think they understand – even the little ones. We explain it to them and I think by the time we are done they understand what we are talking about,” she said. “It’s a pretty good program.”

Her 15-year-old daughter, Alicia, has taken part in Circle of Grace training. She said considering the body as a temple and dwelling place of God was emphasized.

“Some kids might be scared to share if somebody entered their bubble and made them feel uncomfortable they might be scared to tell an adult,” she said.


A second area assessed by the audit is church personnel training and certification in the parishes and schools of the diocese.

The bishop, priests, deacons, employees and volunteers who interact with children are required to complete Safe Environment training each year. Background checks are part of the certification. The first time a person is certified, a background check is conducted; it is renewed every five years, unless there is cause to repeat it sooner.

“When you are safe environment certified, you are saying you will abide by the policy and the Code of Conduct for Church Leaders in the Diocese of Crookston,” Tate said. “Our safe environment program teaches adults how to recognize and report abuse.”

2,521 people completed safe environment certification during the audit period.


Another aspect of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is providing a Victim’s Assistance Coordinator.

Cindy Hulst, LSW, is the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Crookston. She is available to assist victims of sexual misconduct on the part of a priest, deacon, or individual representing the Diocese of Crookston, its parishes or its schools. She can be confidentially reached 24 hours a day by calling 218-281-7895.

For more information about Safe Environment in the Diocese of Crookston, visit

Diocese seeks to build seminarian endowment, fund education

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by the Reathel Giannonatti, JD, Director of the Office of Stewardship and Development. It has been edited for style and clarity.

The Seminarian Education Endowment is a group of 168 burses gifted to the Diocese of Crookston Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) for educating seminarians. Thirty-seven parishes have seminarian education burses, some begun decades ago, 29 parishes do not. Many named burses have been gifted by families, couples or in memory of a loved one. Several burses are major gifts from estates, and many of our retired priests and bishops have burses as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity to create a legacy for a parish, family or individual.

Two years ago, the office of Stewardship and Development and CCF entered into a soft campaign, meeting with potential donors and parishes about building up the Seminarian Education Endowment which currently has $2.5 million invested. It needs to be at $5 million to fully fund projected expenses for our seminarians’ education. Currently much funding for seminarians comes from the Diocesan Annual Appeal and assessments to parishes. Every parish without a burse is encouraged to begin one. Those with burses set up years ago are encouraged to continue adding to their investments.

There are two reasons why this initiative is critical for all of us. First, the thing that threatens the future of many parishes is not the ability to care for itself financially or to keep buildings in good repair. Church buildings have been carefully cared for by pastors, volunteers and professionals keeping them in excellent condition. What threatens the future of our beloved parishes is the availability of a priest. Presently, nearly every priest in the diocese has more than one parish or ministry to attend to. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner says we need to give every young man who hears the voice of God an opportunity to discern a call to the priesthood. This means being able to support that young man during seminary. Not every call will fully form and express itself in a vocation to the priesthood, but we must be able to provide those opportunities.

Second, building up the seminarian education endowment takes pressure off the diocesan budget, avoiding raises in Diocesan Annual Appeal goals and parish assessments. This takes pressure off parish budgets. Burses are never spent but are invested conservatively in funds that are harmonious with Catholic social principals. Interest from the investments is used exclusively for books, tuition, room and board for seminarians and for the expenses incurred by the Office of Vocations. When the endowment is at $5 million, we should be able to fully fund those expenses with the interest.

It is important to note that when the Holy Spirit moves a young man to enter seminary, we are incredibly joyful! At the same time, it takes careful financial planning and reserves to financially accommodate that call. Major seminary – which is graduate school in theology – for which the diocese assumes full financial responsibility, currently costs $50,000 per year. We contribute a modest $15,000 per year for those students in undergraduate school, also referred to as minor seminary.

I am available to meet with parish finance and pastoral councils to discuss opening or building a burse. Families interested in opening a burse can contact the Chancery for an appointment.

The most gratifying part of the soft campaign is that when a family or a parish opens a burse, they become committed to the mission of educating our seminarians. Many who began a burse are contributing again in the second year, revisiting their gifts and providing additional funding. They have kept the seminarians in their thoughts, prayers and financial plans! It doesn’t get any better than that.

Contact Joe Noel, Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 218-280-6858 with questions.

Celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 4-10

OND Staff Report

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week the first full week of November. Its purpose is to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew prayer and support for those considering one of these vocations.


The Diocese of Crookston has six seminarians discerning the priesthood.

  • Deacon Michael Arey was ordained a transitional deacon June 16. He is in his fourth year of postgraduate theology studies at St. Paul School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minnesota. His home parish is St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead.
  • Mark Miller is in his first year of postgraduate theology studies at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana. His home parish is Sacred Heart, Roseau.
  • John Wilebski is in his fourth year of college seminary at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. His home parish is Blessed Sacrament, Greenbush.
  • Samuel Hurst is in his third year of college seminary at St. Mary’s University. His home parish is St. Joseph, Moorhead.
  • Solomon Liebl is in his third year of college seminary at St. Mary’s University. His home parish is St. Joseph, Fertile.
  • Joshua Johnson is in his first year of college seminary at St. Mary’s University. His home parish is St. Joseph, Moorhead.


O loving and gracious God, Father of all, you bless your people in every time and season and provide for their needs through your providential care.

Your Church is continually in need of priests, sisters and brothers to offer themselves in the service of the gospel by lives of dedicated love.

Open the hearts of your sons and daughters to listen to your call in their lives. Give them the gift of understanding to discern your invitation to serve you and your Church. Give them the gift of courage to follow your call. May they have the spirit of young Samuel who found fulfillment in his life when he said to you, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.


If you have questions about the seminary or vocational discernment, please contact Father Matt Schmitz, Promoter of Vocations, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 218-773-0877.

Click HERE to learn more about the diocesan Office of Vocations.

Marriage Celebration Day highlights glory, holiness of sacrament

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Married couples, widows and widowers from across the Diocese of Crookston gathered at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, for the 23rd annual Marriage Celebration Day.

“We have to recover a posture of enchantment,” Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner said during the homily. “That’s why we’re here today, because you are enchanted in your marriage relationship. It’s exciting, it’s beautiful,” he said. “God is working in your hearts. They’re not hardened, they’re full and they continue to be so.”

Clara and Eugene Manecke of St. Mary, Fosston, who have been married 60 years were the honorary couple and received Bishop’s Medals during the Mass.

Bishop Hoeppner highlighted the Manecke’s reliance on prayer in good times and bad, as well as their involvement and dedication to their parish.

Prayer is something that has been key for the honorary newlywed couple as well. Kasey and Jackie Stevens are both from different towns in the Diocese of St. Cloud, but met during a Moorhead Catholic Campus Ministries event at St. Joseph, Moorhead in 2014. As freshmen at Concordia College, they were in line for a free meal for college students following Mass. They started talking, quickly became friends and began dating a few weeks later.

The couple turned to prayer while discerning the future of their relationship.

“We spent a lot of time in the Adoration chapel together,” Jackie said.

Each of them considered religious life, or priesthood in Kasey’s case, but determined they were called to marriage.

Jackie said they spoke with priests, their parents and other family in addition to prayerfully discerning their vocation.

They were married August 4 at Jackie’s home parish, St. Henry, Perham.

The couple requested half an hour of Eucharistic Adoration before their wedding Mass began.

“It was important for us to spend some time alone and together with our Lord Jesus Christ as individuals before becoming one flesh. We wanted to thank Jesus personally before celebrating with a Mass of Thanksgiving with family and friends,” Jackie said.

Kasey said married life has been different and challenging but good.

“It’s a great vocation. I’m sure a lot of people would agree. It’s really cool to know this is where God wants us, especially because that’s something that I think both of us have struggled with for a long time,” he said. “To know that this is where God wanted us to be the whole time, I find a lot of peace in that.”

“Once we got married and I got to come home to Kasey all the time, it was really nice to know … God has given me this gift to come home to and be blessed with every single day of my life,” Jackie said. “It’s a new adventure.”

Jackie graduated from Concordia in May and teaches junior high science, eighth grade classroom and religion at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Breckenridge, Minnesota. Kasey is in his final semester of studies at Concordia.

They have both been active with MCCM, Catholic Cobbers and ministries at St. Joseph, including teaching Theology of the Body to ninth grade religious education students.

Bishop Hoeppner blessed each of the honorary couples and at the end of Mass, married couples as well as widows and widowers received special blessings and rosaries.

Richard and Lorraine Deschene traveled from Argyle to attend the event, they celebrated their 67th anniversary on Oct. 3.

“We’ve been coming here quite a few years,” Richard said.

“It’s spiritual and you meet different people and learn from different people,” Lorraine said.

They enjoy hearing the stories of the honorary couples and spending time visiting during the meal served after Mass.

“The Lord has blessed us very much over the years and we notice it more as we grow older,” Richard said.

CLICK HERE for additional images from Marriage Celebration Day.

V Encuentro is opportunity to grow in missionary discipleship

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Five members of the Diocese of Crookston joined nearly 3,500 Hispanic/Latino Catholics for the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas. Cyntia Lopez and Francisco Valenzuela of St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead; and Lucina Mello, Maria Moronez and Jose de Leon of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, took part in the event.

Encuentro, meaning gathering or encounter, is a four-year process of reflection across the nation, that will continue through 2020. “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love,” is the theme of this Encuentro. The process, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is an invitation to intense missionary activity and consultation to guide leadership and ministry development. The goal is to help the Church respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence and strengthen their response to the New Evangelization. Local and regional meetings were held leading up to the national gathering.

“Being part of this event not only allows us to meet other people who are doing the same thing, but it also allows us to open up to new perspectives, to new ideas, to know better approaches. I think this is going to be a very good personal enrichment that later would be beneficial for the ministry we are doing in our parishes,” said Sister Lucy Perez-Calixto. Sister Lucy is the Guadalupe Minister at St. Francis de Sales. She has been involved in the local and regional processes but was not able to attend the national Encuentro.

The scale of the national Encuentro impressed members of the diocesan delegation. Cyntia Lopez was grateful for the chance to speak with several of the more than 100 bishops who attended.

“My favorite part was being able to talk to the bishops face-to-face,” Lopez said. “They were so open to talk to the youth, to talk to us … they were right there with us.”

They had many opportunities to gather for prayer and worship. Delegates heard keynote addresses from: Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre; Bishop Oscar Cantu, Diocese of Las Cruces; Sister Ana Maria Pineda of the Sisters of Mercy; Bishop Daniel Flores, Diocese of Brownsville; Bishop Arturo Cepeda, Archdiocese of Detroit; and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archdiocese of Newark.

They also viewed a video message from Pope Francis on Sept. 20.

The pope described the process as a way for the U.S. Church to go beyond comfort, becoming the leaven of hope for young people and families in the peripheries.

“I am also pleased to see that the Fifth Encuentro, in continuity with the previous Encuentros, recognizes and values the specific gifts that Hispanic Catholics offer today, and will continue to offer in the future, to the Church in their country. This experience of Encuentro goes much further, it is part of a much larger process of renewal, of missionary impulse to which all the local churches, the particular churches, are called with their rich human and cultural diversity,” Pope Francis said.

Delegates also participated in break-out sessions and group discussions with members of their region and those working or volunteering in the same type of ministry.

“The discussions were really good,” Lopez said. “It is not only in our church that we are having this kind of trouble, like how to work with the youth … to get them involved in the church.” She said discussions focused on formation of leaders in the parish and young people.

Lopez learned many things that will help her in ministry to the youth of her parish.

She learned that building a foundation with the youngest members of the parish is important, because if they don’t connect with the church, it will be hard to keep them involved as they grow. She said giving special attention to teens was also emphasized.

“We have to pay special attention to kids from 13 to 18 because there is a lot of depression and they need love. They need us to listen to them,” Lopez said. “We have to pay special attention to that age group and make them feel at home.”

Jose de Leon said one of his takeaways was that everyone is part of the Church because they are called by God.

“God called us there because we need to do something, not only to sit … we need action, not only words,” he said.

He said it is important for people to be involved in their parishes.

“Everybody needs to do something in the Church,” he said.

He said another part that stood out was continually asking for things that are needed.

“Too many people only ask one time and no more,” he said. “Some people change to other churches because [they think] father doesn’t give them attention … this is not good.”

Francisco Valenzuela said the experience was amazing.

“My favorite parts were the homilies at Mass … the bishops talked to us from their hearts and we actually learned some good advice on how to live our life and how to be a good missionary disciple,” he said.

Key themes he noted were learning to walk with the Holy Spirit, sharing the Gospel and evangelizing with happiness and love.

“We hope to bring this new energy to our parish and work as one in unity – Hispanics and Anglos – because we are all one church, the universal Church, the Catholic Church founded by God through his beloved son, Jesus Christ,” Valenzuela said.

Lopez hopes to see more formation for leaders in her parish, and she is determined to work for change.

“We came back filled with the Holy Spirit and I know this is going to help our community,” she said. “We can’t let this fire extinguish.”

Faith for Tomorrow fall grant cycle announced

OND Staff Report

The Board of Directors of the Diocese of Crookston Catholic Community Foundation announces the beginning of the Fall 2018 Faith for Tomorrow Grant Cycle. Parishes and Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Crookston may begin submitting grant applications on Sept. 27, 2018.  Grant applications may be submitted through Nov. 2, 2018. Grant applications submitted after Nov. 2 will not be considered.

For more information, go to There you will find information and instructions for preparing a grant application. Pay close attention to the heading for “FFT Funding Priorities” especially priorities 1, 2 and 4. Priority 3 titled “Catholic School Subsidies” is being attended to in this cycle with $5,000 grants awarded to each of the eight Catholic Schools in the Crookston Diocese. These school grants are awarded through the Catholic Education Endowment and the General Endowment. Both endowments are held in the Foundation. Catholic schools may still request grants for specific needs that follow the other three priorities.

Grant requests must be done using the 2018 Grant Application on the website. No grant request will be considered without the “Pastor Endorsement Form” also on the website.

The Foundation has made $51,000 available for grants in the current cycle. For budgeting purposes it is recommended, but not mandatory, that grant requests be for projects in the next fiscal year. Projects in the current fiscal year that you deem important but didn’t include in your budgets are acceptable.

If you have any questions, please contact Joe Noel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or on his mobile phone 218-280-6858.