Category Archives for "Community Contributors"

Nov 13

Aging Gracefully: Loving Our Family and Ourselves Through Life

By From the Heart | Community Contributors

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Guest blogger Peter Mullin writes about “Aging Gracefully,” in a chapter of his latest book, False Financial Finish Lines. Peter grew up in St. Cloud. He brings his expertise as a professional together with his personal experiences to this idea of aging through retirement. The heart of “Aging Gracefully” is about accepting one another – including ourselves – as we are.

President Ronald Reagan is famous for many things. A part of what became his story after his presidency is his battle with Alzheimer’s. He wrote a letter where he said his thanks and farewell to the nation while he still could do so. What a hard letter to write. I can’t imagine sitting down. I imagine Reagan’s loyal spouse, Nancy, at his side. He writes succinctly. He wants to tell the nation that he is not afraid. He writes, “When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

Good for him. I’m sure that letter had to leave him with a sense of peace. And it certainly did bring awareness to the condition that confronts many Americans. We likely all know someone who has suffered or suffers some form of memory illness.

My Grandpa Tabor saw Alzheimer’s Disease set in during at least his last decade of life. He treated those with mental illness. He retired late in his life. Grandma spent his remaining years shielding him from minor mistakes at first. Those minor social miscues became significant.

Once grandpa walked off at a family dinner. The local police helped us find him blocks away. Eventually, Grandpa moved to the care of a memory unit at a nursing facility. I remember seeing him there. A smile on his Polish face. (He loved that he was Polish and pierogis and his Catholic-Polish Pope, Saint John Paul II.) There was still love in his heart.

It was tough to see the door shut to Grandpa’s unit when we left. It was like watching the door shut on me for the first time, as I dropped my son off at daycare. We were helpless. He was under the care of providers and his Lord. I took another peek through the narrow window on the door to the memory unit. Grandpa was already asleep in a recliner. By the way, these changes for Grandpa didn’t come about with ease.

The strain of being a caregiver wore on Grandma, I think. She was strong up to Grandpa’s last day and at his funeral. Then something changed. Grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Then came dementia. My grandma, with the biggest heart in the world, was receiving care.

First by drop-by caregivers. Then the caregivers were present 24/7.

Grandma continued to live in her home throughout her remaining years. The stories remained around her, and the visits continued. Often the visits and the photos our family continued to share with her were enough to share our love. She kept the photos of her great-grandchildren next to her recliner.

Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, and ill health in general, can afflict those we love. It forces us outside our comfort zone. Any illness –– be it mental or physical –– is difficult and calls for an ocean of grace.

I write about the late years of our lives because it’s helpful to begin with those final years in mind. How would you want to live? What would you want your family to know? What would you want to say to your community and loved ones if you no longer knew who they were?

When we imagine retirement from our early years through our 50’s and 60’s, we likely imagine our active years. We’ll catch up with friends. We’ll play 36-holes of golf and have an early dinner. We’ll chase our grandkids around wherever they may be. We’ll reignite that passion we had for music, crafts or sports. We’ll discover new hobbies like painting.

While you’re busy living, consider planning for your late years, too. Now, I have no idea what it takes to age gracefully. I know all sorts of folks that lead examples of what aging gracefully might look like. I’ve listened to some of those from The Greatest Generation. I’ve heard inspirational stories about seniors on TV. A great tale teaches aging. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is about a man who becomes ill with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. An old student who was caught up in the fast pace of life reconnects with his teacher. Morrie speaks candidly about life, joy, pain, and relationships.

So strive to age gracefully. Then write to me when you find out what that entails.

I have some ideas of what it means. It means deciding and reaffirming early and often that you will accept help from loved ones. That you will cherish the opportunity to relate your experience to all who will listen. That you will give up your driver’s license.

It means realizing that you have immeasurable worth.


Significant excerpts of this article are taken from, False Financial Finish Lines, a book by Peter Mullin. It is published with permission. Please contact Peter Mullin for permission to copy or distribute. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC.



Nov 09

Sharing in the healing mercy of God

By From the Heart | Community Contributors

Current and retired health care professionals from around the diocese gathered Nov. 4 in the Sacred Heart Chapel of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph for a special “White Coat” Mass in recognition of their dedicated work. The Mass, which takes its name from the white coat most commonly worn by those in the medical field, was held to acknowledge the caring outreach practiced by health care professionals. The event was sponsored by the Diocese of St. Cloud, Sisters of St. Benedict, St. Cloud Hospital and St. Benedict’s Senior Community in partnership with the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. The following is the homily given by Father Tom Knoblach at the Mass.

20 years ago, I was living in Houston, Texas and going to grad school in philosophy. The study of Schopenhauer and Kant does indeed stimulate thoughts and questions … for instance: What on earth am I doing this for? Where is my life heading when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and I am reading about Dasein – being there – which ironically simply makes me think of lots of other places I would rather be?

Photo of the “White” Mass for healthcare professionals Nov. 4 at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph. Dianne Towalski/The Visitor

I needed some diversion from Plato and Hegel, and so I answered a postcard on the philosophy department bulletin board, looking for a volunteer to take an older couple on local errands once a month. And that is how I met Dr. Marian Krzyzaniak in Houston. If you are a diligent student of business economics, you may have heard of him – a Polish native, a published economist, a retired professor from Rice University after some 30 years, by then largely forgotten, struggling towards the end of his life with Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Most striking, though, he had survived 4½ years in the concentration camp of Auschwitz during World War II. You could still read clearly his prisoner number tattooed in blue on his forearm. One day, as we got to know one another better, he told me the story of his arrest. He was a young officer in the Polish Army, leading a squad of his men through the woods, when they were captured. Though he spoke fluent German, he pretended not to know a word of it. So a young German soldier who knew Polish was brought in as an interpreter. Dr. K was amazed to hear this young man lying to spare him … no, he was NOT an officer, it was a borrowed uniform, this man knows nothing important. For some reason, the interrogators believed him; and after they had left, Dr. K. asked this young German soldier, “Why did you do that? Why did you lie to save me?” The young man said simply, “Because I believe in God.” There, in the face of fear and torture and the threat of death, in the midst of such a dark time in human history, the light of God’s love shone through, and Dr. K found, against all odds, one who loved him in a way that literally saved his life that day. And, while he had many other terrible experiences at Auschwitz, because it began this way, with hope and faith and a demonstration that divine love could reach even into that misery, he managed to survive where so many others did not.

This is the Love that is at the heart of all ministry – love for God that flows over into love of neighbor, and love for those around

Photo of the “White” Mass for healthcare professionals Nov. 4 at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph. Dianne Towalski/The Visitor

us that leads us back to God, our common origin and end. Whether we praise God or serve one another, we are called to live immersed in this mystery of divine love, made visible, tangible, salvific … just as your patients and families and all those you serve encounter through your service, and just as Dr. K experienced it from a man he never saw before or after, and never even knew his name.

 “No one dared to ask him any more questions,” Mark tells us; and indeed, questions are an occupational hazard of being human and being a disciple. We may wonder many things that seem hard to reconcile with our faith, and you deal each day with questions that admit no easy answers. Factual questions are sometimes easy enough … the lab results, the clinic hours, the room number. But there are other questions not so simple … what do I do now with this cancer diagnosis? How can I get over this addiction? Why did this happen to my child? Those are questions answered best, not with professional knowledge and the possibilities of technology and pharmaceuticals, but with compassion, human concern, a listening heart … with love.

Photo of Father Tom Knoblach at the “White” Mass for healthcare professionals Nov. 4 at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph. Dianne Towalski/The Visitor

We bring our skills and our answers to serve those who are sick, troubled, uncertain, fearful, angry, sad … but even more, we bring our questions and theirs to the mystery of the Cross, where death becomes life, loss becomes victory, and human pain becomes the occasion to reveal God’s redeeming love. Thank you for that witness … the Gospel lifted off the page, brought to life, and sharing in the healing mercy of God. Love, received and given, assures us that we are not far from the Kingdom of God.

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!”













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.


Aug 21

Surprised by God, a vocation story

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

Have you ever been surprised? I have…sometimes by joy, sometimes by grief. Among life’s unexpected happenings, being surprised by God has opened me to experiences and perspectives I could have never even imagined. Here are a few musings from my journey of discernment, seeking peace and purpose in my life.

Born in Forest Lake, Minnesota, I was the eldest of six children. My love for nature was nurtured by growing up on a farm; I especially loved working with horses who taught me much about relationships. My ability to work collaboratively with others was strengthened by participating in 4-H. As I grew into adulthood, my assumption that I would get married, have children, and become a veterinarian or an engineer did not happen!

Instead, in college the Franciscan friars at Steubenville, Ohio, inspired me by their joy and authentic Gospel witness. At the friars’ invitation, I became a Secular Franciscan and later helped begin a new fraternity of enthusiastic young adults in Minneapolis/St. Paul. We were committed to common prayer and service among those who were poor and marginalized; still, I yearned for a more intensive shared life, prayer, and ministry. I was haunted by a relentless restlessness, a hunger for something more.

In time, I discovered that what I had resisted for so long (religious life) was actually what I wanted with all my heart! When that became clear, I responded and became a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls. Now 31 years later, I am grateful for communal living, seeking to live in communion with God and fostering community wherever we are. In religious life we, together with Associates, friends and partners in ministry, and whomever we live and work among, share in a collective quest for God, and seek to foster right relationships with others and with the gift of creation. I love it! This is worth living for!

Hawaiian Luau celebration with Franciscan Community Volunteers, Companions and Sisters at Welcoming House

My service over the years has ranged from parish ministry in Fargo, North Dakota to accompaniment in a barrio of Managua, Nicaragua, and from parishes/retreat centers in the Bay Area of California to our Sister Community (the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph) in the Homa Bay Diocese in Kenya. Currently I serve through our community’s Franciscan Life Center and Companioning Ministry, and am part of the Franciscan Community Volunteers program in St. Cloud. What a blessing to live in an inter-generational community of Franciscan Sisters and young adult men and women—all of us committed to spiritual growth, communal living and service!

Indeed, life is an adventure in ongoing conversion as we turn anew to God and to our neighbors. We are invited each day to deepen our spiritual lives, increase our capacity for mutual relationships, and give ourselves in service through life’s challenges and joys. From the earliest biography of Saint Francis of Assisi we hear:

Living within himself and walking in the breadth of his heart, [Francis] prepared in himself a worthy dwelling place of God. (1 Celano 43).

So may each of us prepare within ourselves “a worthy dwelling place of God”, risking to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

Sister Michelle L’Allier is a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls who writes from the Franciscan Welcoming House in St. Cloud where she lives in a mixed community of Sisters and young adult Franciscan Community Volunteers. Currently she serves at the Franciscan Life Center based out of Little Falls by offering retreats, workshops and spiritual direction, as well as in Companioning Ministry as she accompanies persons in vocational discernment.

Aug 17

Former principal Sister Adela Gross has lived an amazing life

By From the Heart | Catholic Culture

This story is written by guest blogger Tom Hintgen, eighth grade student of Sister Adela at OLV in 1961-62.

Former Our Lady of Victory School Principal Sister Adela Gross, known in Fergus Falls as Sister Mary Peter in the 1960s, has fond memories of her service to others. She is 87 and resides at the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls campus.

After leaving Fergus Falls in the late 1960s she served as a missionary in Peru, worked with migrant farm workers in south Texas and other areas and served the Hispanic community in Melrose.

The aforementioned would deserve praise in itself. But it doesn’t stop there for Sister Adela.
From 1991 to 1997 she served with the Catholic Bishops Conference in Washington, D.C., coordinating ministry to people on the move.

“Part of our work included assistance to those who ministered to carnival and circus workers,” said Sister Adela to some OLV parishioners who visited her at her residence in Little Falls on May 5.
“Over the years I’ve been so thankful for the blessings of good health and a satisfying ministry,” she said.

Sister Adela never forgot her years in Fergus Falls at Our Lady of Victory School. She returned for OLV school reunions over the years and has kept in touch with former students and members of the OLV congregation.
Former students at OLV remember Sister Peter bringing her class to the audio-visual room and seeing on TV the launch of astronaut John Glenn on Feb. 20, 1962. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.
Others recall the annual OLV eighth grade class trip to Duluth.

She always strived to attain more education, and in 1980 completed a Master’s Degree in religious education from Fordham University in New York.
Sister Adela traveled to China and for two weeks she assisted with the Catholic Church ministry in that country.
She never slowed down. Even in her late 70s she continued to minister to Hispanics in and near Melrose. She served close to 200 Hispanic families.

Her duties in Melrose included arranging for priests to celebrate Catholic Mass every week in Spanish, head sacramental preparation and religious instruction, and perform outreach.

On top of that she assisted with translating, helping people with forms and assisted those applying for housing and medical assistance.

She was a nun highly respected all across the Diocese of St. Cloud. In 2000 Sister Adela was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Office of Migration and Refugee Services in recognition of her service to migrant workers.

Her life has indeed been a life well lived in service to others.

Guest blogger Thomas Hintgen is a semi retired newspaper reporter who writes part-time for area weekly newspapers in Otter Tail County. He previously worked full-time for Fargo Forum, Fergus Falls Daily Journal and Pelican Rapids Press and spent several years in public relations for Otter Tail Power Company. He and his wife Sharon are members of Our Lady of Victory Church in Fergus falls and have two adult sons, Mark and Paul.


Aug 12

Encountering the Love of God

By From the Heart | Community Contributors

Steubenville.. How is one to explain the experiences had there? I know for most everyone who has ever been to a Steubenville youth conference, they would explain it to be life-changing. No matter where you are at in life, during this conference you will learn more about your Faith, how to defend it, and you will find truth in it. This youth conference for me personally has become something I greatly look forward to every summer. This past July at the Steubenville retreat in Rochester, the Holy Spirit taught me how to step out in faith and trust fully in God’s plan for my life. On this trip, I met so many wonderful people who have blessed me in more ways than I could have imagined. The talks that were given related to my life and helped me answer many questions and doubts I had about my Faith. Even adoration was filled with excitement! I think people sometimes put adoration into the stereotype of boring silence that teens don’t want anything to do with, but that’s not true at all! At Steubenville you will see hundreds of teens on fire to just be with Jesus for that short time of Adoration.


Attending the women’s talk.

No matter where you’re at in life, whether you aren’t interested in your Faith, not sure how you feel about it and want to learn more, or excited to grow deeper in it, God will meet you where you’re at. So I truly encourage you to just open your heart to Him.


I know many are hesitant to go on this trip at first, but I can also tell you that 95% of them, by the end of it are excited to go back the next year. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit works in ways we can’t see at times. So if God is giving you the opportunity to attend this trip, do not run from this invitation. Be bold, be brave, step out in faith! You have been made for greatness!


Sophia Bates is the youngest of 4 kids. She has been homeschooled her whole life and will be a sophomore in high school this fall. Sophia enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with friends!

Jun 26

Out of Our Minds and Into Christ’s Heart

By From the Heart | Community Contributors

For this blog post, I am going to focus on these two lines from the Gospel of Mark (3:20, 22):

“Jesus came HOME with his disciples…. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

So, the event of coming back home for Jesus was not one marked with joy, acceptance, and love.  How ironic, and yet in some ways how sadly typical, that his own relatives labeled Jesus as ‘out of his mind.’

Therefore, if anyone has ever told you that YOU are out of your mind, you are in good company with Jesus!

But of course, Jesus was very much in his right mind.  It is the mind of Jesus, as well as his heart, that provide our best examples for living.  Indeed, to have the heart and thoughts of the Lord Jesus is what we all attempt to strive for, day by day.

However, the relatives of Jesus apparently did not see it that way.  They judged him for being different… perhaps they were threatened by the big following he had;  maybe they didn’t appreciate his uniqueness;  and sadly for them, they did not want to learn from this man who was also Divine.

We also may have experienced times in life when we were not understood.  Because of daring to be different, we also may have been called putdown names such as ‘crazy’ and ‘out of our minds.’  Please know that it is okay to be different, and that each and every one of us is unique.

In our modern day, with advances in psychiatry, we know there are real biological conditions, referred to as mental illnesses, that have to do with brain chemistry and the uptake of neurotransmitters.  These illnesses can be helped through appropriately prescribed medications.  Mental illness diagnoses are more common than many might think.  In fact, in most church congregations, there is a prevalence of approximately 1 out of every 4 or 5 people sitting in the pews suffering from some form of mental illness.

So please note, having a mental illness is not a sign of weak character, a punishment from God, a sign of being possessed by the devil (as Jesus was accused of), an indicator of poorly developed faith, or a lack of trying.

We need to be respectful with our language (unlike how Jesus’ relatives spoke of him!), and it can help so much if we are willing to be open to talking about mental health.  We also need to be supportive of the struggle and recovery of others, by encouraging others to seek the help they may need.

Another situation where we might personally feel like we are “out of our minds” is in the midst of grief.  Each one of us grieves our life losses differently.  Sometimes we can go through periods where we would like to cry, but we can’t.  Other times it may seem like we cry continuously, and we wish we could stop.  All kinds of grief reactions are normal, and are a sign of great love.  However, grieving is hard work, and at times you may wonder if you will ever again be back to your “right mind”… whatever that might be!  By grieving, you actually will not go back to normal, so to speak, but will grow into a new normal.  And you come to realize you will survive.  But please, reach out for help… perhaps through a counselor, a support group,  your pastor, or a chaplain.

Remember that the shortest but one of the most profound verses in Scripture is  “Jesus wept.”  Jesus too experienced grief… in this verse Jesus cried in response to the death of a friend..  and He was not afraid to show his feelings.  Such truth there is in the song, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  Jesus truly “gets us.”  Allow Jesus into your thoughts and hearts, and he will help guide you.

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, Minnesota, 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.

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