Category Archives for "Catholic Education"

Nov 07

The Catholics

By Tim Welch | Catholic Education

The Catholics descended upon my household again.

Actually, I call them my Leaf Angels, but my neighbors call them “The Catholics” and threaten to convert to our church… though they haven’t quite yet.

With my wife in a nursing home due to radiation injury from a brain tumor, I am continually amazed by the support network I need, and receive, from my faith community… my larger faith community.

The Catholics are from St. Francis Xavier School. They have been coming for a few years now. They have raked leaves from our massive silver maples, mowed the fall lawn, cleaned up my poorly kept gardens, and even washed windows. They are such help! One year I had hand surgery; last year it was hernia surgery (is this TMI?). In both cases I really needed the help physically, still it was very humbling for me to let go of my desire to be self-sufficient.

This year was different. My need stems more from being overwhelmed. As my wife’s status slowly declines, I need to make her my priority over housekeeping and yard work. And this year, on the day of the descent of The Catholics, Mandy, sister-in-law and another Angel, had asked my wife to co-host a niece’s baby shower at the nursing home. What a gift! Mandy knew she would be doing the work, but she wanted to involve my wife as much as possible. And I needed to be there to host as I could.

So here were The Catholics, giving up their Saturday, while I left them working in my yard. I felt bad and worked out at least a small bit of time to help them help me. I finally got out there, and offered a meager bit of time. A lead Catholic said, “No this is for you. We have plenty of help.”

The phrase “this is for you” really touched my heart.

I wanted to graciously accept their help, so I went back in, took a few surreptitious photos for this post, and pondered their gift. I mulled over how they were making real the Reign of God right in my front yard. Regardless of their theologies, ideologies, or backgrounds, they came together in a working community and reached out, not only to my wife and me, but as a witness to my neighbors, all those who saw them working together, and those who see the “Saints in Service” sign in my front yard as I write this post. Maybe I should add “The Catholics in Community”.

Since that Saturday, I have pondered more about making real the Reign of God. Faced with so many societal and church challenges, could that be the solution to shaping our environments? Rather than spending time festering on opinions and polarizations, maybe I can simply ask myself, how can I, like The Catholics, DO more to make real the Reign of God?

What would God’s dream be for the Reign Jesus announced? What is God asking of me in terms of immigration, life issues, ecology, healing, and justice… and even church issues like parish planning? My priority is shifting from having to know the right answers to trying to do the loving thing. All because of The Catholics.

How can I thank them? My guess is that they don’t need my thanks… that making real the Reign of God is enough thanks for them. They are, after all, The Catholics.

 Photos were created with Photofunia. While some of the effects are simply ‘fun’, it is another graphics program to become familiar with to add to your repertoire as a digital storyteller. It is good to have a number of tools at hands for 'that right moment' as you create your posts.

Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).

Oct 12

The spirit is a movin’

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

The last five months have been a whirlwind, lots of moving. Moving from Kent to St. Cloud. Moving from parish ministry to diocesan ministry. Moving from pastoral associate to associate director of lay leadership formation. Moving from a well-established position to a brand-new position that I had no idea where it was heading.

Moving. It makes me think of that song, “The Spirit is a movin’ all over, all over this land,” complete with actions from my adolescence. It was never one of my favorite songs, but it stuck. Now I think of it and it speaks to me of what is happening in our church. The Spirit is moving.

The Spirit may be moving through our church, but we may not be feeling it. We have reached a time in our church where many of us are angry, frustrated, sad, hopeless, and many other adjectives that describe our feelings about the latest chapter in the abuse crisis. We are worried about what the pastoral plan for the diocese may mean for our parishes. What will it mean when we do not have enough priests? What do we do about the number of young people who are leaving the church? What do we do about the dwindling mass attendance? What do we do when, for every one person who joins the Catholic Church, six leave?  Some have chosen to walk out the door with the others. Some have chosen to stay, but not with any enthusiasm. Some have chosen to stay and find the good again.

All of these worries have us wondering what the leadership of the church will do. I know I sit and wait for the next bombshell to drop and ask, “why don’t our leaders step up and do something about all of this?”  They have to change something or things will continue to get worse.

Let’s be honest, when we think of the leaders of the church, we quite often think of the popes, the bishops, the priests, and the deacons. The ordained. And while they are leaders, they are not the only leaders. My job title is associate director of lay leadership formation. If that is in my job title, doesn’t that make me a leader, too? Leadership indicates some form of responsibility. That must mean I am also responsible for the life of the church.

I am a leader and I am responsible. Not because I work for the diocese. Not because my position has a long title. Not because I have a Master of Divinity degree. I am responsible because when I was two months old my parents brought me to St. James Catholic Church and I was baptized into the Body of Christ, the Church. I was given a “share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1268)

We are all given a share in the priesthood of Christ at baptism, in his prophetic and royal mission. Priest, prophet, and king. These are leadership roles; therefore, we are all called to be leaders in the church, lay and ordained, by virtue of our baptism. We are, as Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009 “co-responsible” for our church. [1]  We are co-responsible for the mission of our church.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20). We do this through our words, our witness, and our service.

We are being moved by the Holy Spirit to become a church of co-responsibility. No longer can we expect to simply show up for Mass or expect the priest or his staff to be at everything and do everything. If we want to see change in our church, to make our way through our struggles, to find the hope again, we must work together, lay and ordained. We need to embrace our share in our common priesthood and lead the church into the future. Allow yourself to be moved by the Holy Spirit to become co-responsible for your parish.

[1] Benedict XVI, “Opening of the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome on the Theme: ‘Church Membership and Pastoral Co-Responsibility’ Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI,” May 26, 2009.

Kristi Bivens is the associate director of lay leadership formation for the Diocese of St. Cloud. Originally from Crookston, MN, she moved into the diocese to attend the College of St. Benedict to study elementary education and hasn’t left. She has served in ministry for 8 years as a Catholic School teacher in Staples and Elk River, took a break to earn a Master of Divinity from St. John’s School of Theology/Seminary, and most recently served as pastoral associate in Breckenridge and Kent. Outside of ministry, Kristi loves to read, travel, and spend time with friends and family, especially her only niece, Leigha, who lives too far away in Texas.

Oct 10

Born to be Mission

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

“Mission”… In general, one may define the word mission as a task or goal in life that is driven with conviction.  How many times have you heard people talk about “being on a mission!”?  I can get behind that, but there is also so much more!!  What mission does God call us on?  Aren’t we told to “go out to love and serve the Lord” at the end of Mass each Sunday?  How do we do this?

I believe we are called to walk in solidarity with our brothers and sisters here, and all across the world.  What might that mean, you ask?  I believe we are called to really get to know and walk with all people who may appear different from us, but in all reality are created just the same.  How can we understand human beings from a different culture, race, economic background, health situation, etc. if all we are doing is watching the news or believing what we read on the internet?  Don’t you really learn about a person by getting to know them personally?  I believe it is our job to focus on relationships and get to know our brothers and sisters from all over the world in a personal way.

The St. Cloud Diocese has long standing partnerships with the Diocese in Homa Bay Kenya and the Diocese in Maracay Venezuela.  Over the years, friendships based on mutual respect have been created.  They have visited us here and we there.  As a matter of fact, we are planning a trip to the Homa Bay Diocese in March, 2019.  16 of us will be immersed in the culture there for 2 weeks.  Our relationships will be nurtured and strengthened.

October is the month of mission.  We celebrated World Mission Rosary Day on October 5th.  Go to our Facebook page (St. Cloud Mission Office) to see pictures of this happening right here in our Diocese as well as a video of people from around the world praying the World Mission Rosary.  This rosary honors the work of mission, our call to be missioners, and world unity and peace through its special emphasis on each of the Earth’s regions, where prayers are needed and our brothers and sisters in Christ live and play and pray just like each of us!  Each region is represented by a different color; it is not only a beautiful rosary, but rich in symbolism.

On October 21st we will celebrate World Mission Sunday.  Through the work of our Diocesan Mission Office/The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the World Mission Sunday celebration and collection connects us with the loving work of missionaries throughout the world as well as encounters taking place here in our own diocese.  It is the combination of these great encounters happening each and every day that mark us as true Christian disciples, true Missionary Disciples!  This year’s theme is “Born to be Mission”.  As always, World Mission Sunday collection funds will go to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a world-wide Catholic network of mission cooperation, which enables the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach some of the most marginalized of our brothers and sisters on all ends of the earth.

I love to help people find and understand what their “mission” in this world is.  Who are you called to be in relationship with?  Come on over to the Mission Office and we can chat!

Katy Lentz serves as the Mission Educator at the St. Cloud Mission Office. She is married to her husband, Mike. Together they have five children – 3 in college, 1 in high school and 1 in middle school. Katy has worked in ministry 11 years and is very involved in the Central MN TEC program. She loves to walk with others to encounter Christ. When not working, she loves to read books, soak in the sunshine at the beach and spend time with her family.


Jun 15

Engaging Minds, Creating Saints

By From the Heart | Catholic Education

Catholic schools have been a staple of our country and communities for over 200 years.  The first Catholic school in the United States was created by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland in 1809.  It is crucial for us to understand the history, role and challenges of our Catholic schools. My hope with this blog is to educate you about Catholic schools, challenging us to better understand the role of Catholic education and engage in a conversation on how to strengthen our Catholic schools.

It is important to have a grasp on the history of Catholic schools in our country.  Here is a brief history with key events:

During the mid 1800s, more and more immigrants were crossing the Atlantic Ocean to come to America.  Many of these immigrants were trying to find a new home and a new opportunity for their family.  In the United States there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the community and specifically in the schools.  Public schools viewed their role as educating young children and also helping them to assimilate into our country but also learn about the Protestant faith.  Of course this didn’t sit well with Catholic families, priests and community members.  Specifically in 1875 the United States passed the Blaine Amendment which didn’t allow any government money to be used in a non-public school.  The Blaine Amendment was aimed directly at Catholic schools and was the government’s way to try and eliminate Catholic schools.

During this time, the United States Catholic Church was growing and responding to the ever changing political landscape.  The Catholic Church called three national meetings for all Bishops to be held in Baltimore in 1852, 1866 and 1884, which was called the Council of Baltimore.  These meetings discussed various aspects of the faith and Catholic education.  There were a few key agreements/requirements passed at the Council of Baltimore:

  • 1852: Bishops are strongly encouraged to have a Catholic school in every parish
  • 1866: Every parish should have a school
  • 1866: Parents should make every effort to send their children to Catholic schools, if they are unable or choose not to, then those children must participate in faith formation at the parish.
  • 1884: Every parish is required to have a school.

After the meetings in Baltimore, priests went back to their home parishes and started creating and building Catholic schools.  Many times when a new parish was created in a new community a school was built first and then a church was built.  Enrollment grew during the early and mid 1900s.  The peak enrollment for Catholic schools was in the 1960s with roughly 5.5 million students attending the schools.  Now we have 1.8 million students attending Catholic school in the United States.  Obviously there has been a decrease in enrollment, and that has been for many reasons.

What challenges do you think our Catholic schools face today? In my next blog I will discuss some of those issues our principals, teachers, staff, pastors and parents have to deal with in the 21st century.

Kevin Powers was hired as the first superintendent of Catholic Community Schools in the spring of 2017. He studied Business at St. Anselm College, earned a Master’s in Education at the University of Notre Dame and earned his masters degree in Educational Leadership from DePaul University. Kevin was a classroom teacher for 5 years in Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL, and then was the principal at St. Margaret of Scotland School for four years in Chicago, IL. Kevin is married to Molly, and they have two girls:  Clare (4) and Mary Colette (2).