Category Archives for "Catholic Social Teaching"

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 21

Rainbow of hope

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

Recently I was invited to attend a meeting of dialogue for people of different political persuasions for the purpose of understanding and finding areas of common ground.

I did not respond immediately, only to receive a follow-up email saying they were still looking for participants, but they had enough people who considered themselves “blue” (liberal) and needed more “reds” (conservatives). It made me wonder how long we have used these two primary colors in that way.  Red and Blue states took off from the maps shown on TV news of our country in the 1996 Presidential Election.  And clearly, it has stuck.

So what color AM I?  I am in the mishmash of purple.  And not the fun of saying ‘Purple Pride” as a Vikings fan, but more of the purple that can come in bruising from a world so divided (and of course being a Vikings fan has a bunch of associated bruises as well).  I try to inform my politics through Catholic Social Teaching and a What Would Jesus Do philosophy.  So is that red or blue?  Again, I turn to purple, a color of Advent and Lent.  We are in a time of repentance, knowing our lives are flawed and that there is no perfect candidate or party.  So when we turn to Catholic Social Teaching and Christ, what colors do we see?

Blue can remind us of the waters of our Baptism, and Red the fire of the Holy Spirit from Confirmation.  The Catholic Social Teaching of Life and Dignity of the Human Person can be the brightness of yellow, and the glow from the ultrasound machine showing a life being knitted in the womb.  This beautiful dignity of life is also seen in a sunny smile when an elderly person finds joy in the simple.  Catholic Social Teaching challenges us that the poor and vulnerable need protection, so I think of the silver of a shield, as well as gold representing the sharing of our treasure.  And green can represent our care for God’s creation.

So the world is not simply black or white… or red vs. blue.  I believe God was trying to teach us that things do not boil down to just two colors when he sent us the rainbow of hope.

Deb Forstner is daughter of Bob and Joan Forstner of Fargo, ND. She is a graduate of Fargo Shanley High School, the College of St. Benedict, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and St. John’s School of Theology. She worked for many years in the St.Cloud Schools as a school psychologist. She currently serves as a NACC-certified chaplain at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, MN and is a member of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church. She is the owner of two rescue dogs; one of which is a certified therapy dog who at times accompanies her in ministry, named Deacon.



Oct 13

No to violence, yes to peace

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

What I really want, dear reader, is to encourage you to watch the film, Romero, starring Raul Julia as Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who is to be canonized this weekend in Rome!

Paulist priest, Bud Kieser, the indomitable producer of the film faced equally indomitable conditions as he searched for information and a place to shoot the film in this Central American country that continues to be rife with violence, poverty, and militarism these 40 years since Romero was martyred along with too many other priests, educators, religious women who suffered death for their collaboration with those who are still under the yoke of institutional violence.

This is the official image of soon-to-be St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Msgr. Rafael Urrutia shared the official prayer card image during a meeting with San Salvador’s archbishop and others, and someone posted it to social media. (CNS photo/Twitter via @arzobispadoss)

When Father Bud was cautioned that his film would receive wider viewing if it had a happy ending rather than that of Romero’s brutal death, he countered: “The ending is, Romero lives on, in the people he served.”  And Jim McDermott recently noted that Romero, indeed,  lives on in the Salvadoran people but also in broader contexts: those ideas can be regularly heard  in the teachings of our present Holy Father, Pope Francis (America 10/3/2018).  Who do you suppose uttered words such as these?  “When we speak for the poor, please note that we do not take sides with one social class.  What we do is invite all social classes, rich and poor, without distinction, saying to everyone: ‘Let us take seriously the cause of the poor as though it were our own’.”   Or as on the day before his death, March 23, 1980, when Romero made an appeal to the men in the military: “Brothers, each one of you is one of us.  We are the same People.  The farmers and peasants that you kill are your own brothers and sisters.  When you hear the words of a man telling you to kill, think instead of the words of God, ‘Thou shalt not kill!’ No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the Law of God. In His name and in the name of our tormented people who have suffered so much, and whose laments cry out to heaven: I implore you! I beg you! Stop the repression!”  Is the canonization of Archbishop Romero but one more signal as to where Pope Francis wishes to lead the church?

Do watch the film, Romero, and be grateful to those who continue to cry out in the desert: “NO to violence, YES to peace.”

Note: The film, Romero, will be shown on Channel EWTN on 10/13 at 3 p.m. CST and on Monday, 10/15 at 12:30 a.m. CST.

Sister Renee Domeier has been a Benedictine for 60+ years. She loves to read at least one poem a day and write whenever time and inspiration are given her. She said, “I am very grateful for the gift of life within and around me!”













Aug 10

Catholic Social Teachings: The Bread and Butter of Community

By From the Heart | Catholic Social Teaching

Did you know that the term “bread and butter” was first used in the 1700’s to mean one’s basic needs?  Later it became associated with one’s livelihood or income (i.e. a mechanic may say “automobiles are my bread and butter”); but it began must broader (and at the same time simpler) than that.  The fundamentals or very basics of what would help an individual or family survive – “their bread and butter.”

A few months ago I learned an important lesson about bread and butter.

My husband and I were at a dinner theatre.  We were at a table with six strangers, and were enjoying our meal before the show.  The bread was exceptionally good!  We had all had a slice, and with a few left over, some at the table even got a second piece.  Enjoying it, and knowing that not all of us had had seconds, I asked the wait staff if it was possible to get more.  She checked the kitchen, and shortly returned with a basket that contained five more slices of bread, which she promptly set down right in front of me, the person who had asked for it.  Not quick enough, the woman to my right grabbed a piece first and then proceeded to pass the basket to her right.  It went around, each person taking one, until it had only one slice left.  The next woman took the basket, looked at the last slice, and kindly asked the woman next to her if she’d like to split it, which they did.  That left only my husband and I, who had asked for the bread, without a second (or in some cases, third) piece.

I will admit, it was not my finest hour, and I was furious!  I stopped muttering under my breath and complaining in my husband’s ear about how rude it was for just a few seconds when a glimmer of hope appeared – the gentleman across the table recognized the problem.  He asked us if we’d gotten any bread, and acknowledging that we were the ones who had asked for it, apologized that we didn’t get any.  But he had already finished his latest slice.  Then looking at the woman sitting next to him, whom hadn’t finished hers yet, he along with the rest of us watched as she buttered and ate her bread without a seemingly second thought to those of us who were going without.

Again, I was furious.  It was honestly not the drama I had come to the theatre for, and the situation left my whole evening feeling far less enjoyable all the way to the end of the final act.

But as I thought about the situation more, I realized how common this situation really is.  Not the dinner theatre and bread situation exactly.  But the situation of people around us, sometimes even ourselves, recognizing a need, knowing that not everyone has as much, seeing that there are inequalities and injustices.  But not knowing what to do about it.  Here was a woman who had seen and heard that not everyone at the table had equal bread; yet despite being well aware, she couldn’t quite make the connection that she could do something about it.  She couldn’t quite figure out the next steps of how to help by offering her bread up or splitting it as the other women had, to make things a little better.

How often do we see this?  Those who hear about racial discrimination, but don’t know how or where to speak up against it.  Those who see homelessness and hunger, but don’t know where and how to make a difference.  Those who see injustice and abuse done to people or the Earth, but aren’t sure what impact they can make.  Those who know there are neighbors near and far who go without their “daily bread,” but aren’t sure how they might share, pass and help everyone at the table have their “bread and butter” needs met.

This is where the Catholic Social Teachings come in.  By following the Catholic Social Teachings, our communities can help not only to see various areas of needs, but also know our call to do something.  These themes are the “bread and butter” of community, the basic needs that our communities require to survive and thrive.  They are the steps that tell us what to do when we recognize needs, how to help when we know there is injustice, what to do when others are missing their daily bread. (Click here to watch a three minute video.)

Our faith calls us not only to gather as community at the Eucharistic Table, but to go forth to broader communities to share the abundance.  Our church calls us to live out our faith within our communities.  And in order to do so, we need these basic, fundamental guidelines – these Catholic Social Teachings – the “Bread and Butter” of being successful communities.

In the sometimes-dramatic scenes of our lives and this world, this is the bread and butter that will make life far more enjoyable for all as we journey together towards the final act!

For more information on the Catholic Social Teachings or how to live them out in your parish communities, contact the Office of Social Concerns at Catholic Charities for the Diocese of St. Cloud at 320-229-6020 or  or visit their website at:


Kateri Mancini is the director of social concerns with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud. This role, along with those of wife, mother and parishioner, has her days filled with the intersections of Church and family, theology and community, justice and daily bread.