Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. Paul Street Evangelization

St. Paul Street Evangelists Harold Blake, center, and Amber
Vinton speak with Josh Ferdico of Omaha Aug. 16 at
Lincoln's Haymarket Farmer's Market.
Photo by Lisa Maxson
Joe Keaschall arrived last Saturday, Aug. 16, at 9 a.m. at the Lincoln Haymarket Farmer’s Market not to shop or browse the booths, but to help spread God’s love.

He and three other members of Lincoln’s newly formed St. Paul Street Evangelization team stood near a street performer on the corner of 8th and P, ready to engage in conversation with passers-by about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

It’s something they’ve done every Saturday since the Farmer’s Market opened in May, and they’ll continue to do so this fall before Nebraska Cornhusker football games.

“The church has so much to offer and why not go out and share it with people,” Joe, a research scientist and member of St. Mary Parish in Denton, told Spirit Catholic Radio’s Lisa Maxson. “If you really love your faith, you need to share it, you need to share your love.”

The team’s interaction with others is non-confrontational and friendly. Oftentimes it begins by offering someone a rosary or Miraculous Medal or asking people what they think of Pope Francis, Joe said.

“Being out here isn’t something that comes natural to me, but I think if you pray about it and try not to do too much yourself and let the Holy Spirit work through you, it seems to work out,” he said.

On this particular morning, there are few personal encounters, but that doesn’t mean the seed of the Catholic faith isn’t being planted when people see them or the A-frame signs nearby that have pictures of Mary, Jesus or Pope Francis on them, said Wayne Ringer, founder of the local team and also a member of St. Mary Parish in Denton.

Joe Keaschall, right, and Wayne Ringer,
center, both St. Paul Street Evangelists,
talk with Patrick Tines of Lincoln
Aug. 16 at Lincoln's Haymarket Farmer's
Photo by Lisa Maxson
“You never know how the Holy Spirit works,” he said. “Think of how a company sells a product. They know they have to put their product in front of you 20 times before you’re going to buy it. So we may be the 12th time, the first time or the 20th time someone hears about Jesus or the Catholic Church. But it’s important to be that time because they all add up.”

This spring, Wayne learned about St. Paul Street Evangelization, which started in Michigan in 2012, through Facebook, and it reminded him of hearing Pope John Paul II’s call during World Youth Day in 1993 to evangelize on street corners and from the rooftops.

After talking with his pastor, Msgr. Mark Huber, and getting approval from Bishop James Conley, Wayne began recruiting members – many of them friends through the Denton parish and the Regnum Christi movement.

Currently there are more than 100 St. Paul Street Evangelization teams across the country. The Lincoln team has 12 active street evangelists and 30 more people committed to praying a weekly Holy Hour for the apostolate. Street evangelists also commit to a weekly Holy Hour.

The national apostolate provides on-line training resources, but anyone can become a street evangelist, said Wayne, owner of Ringer Roofing and Skylight in Lincoln. All Christians are called to evangelize because of their baptism and confirmation, he said.

“The best way to learn something is to teach it, so when you have to come up with answers or find the answers to questions, that helps you to internalize it and it helps you to spread your faith outside the parameters of this apostolate,” he said.

Mary Ringer kneels to talk with passers-by during Lincoln's
Haymarket Farmer's Market.
Courtesy photo
Amber Vinton, a stay-a-home mother of eight and member of St. Mary Parish in Denton, said being a street evangelist, making a weekly Holy Hour and talking openly with others about the Catholic faith have had positive impacts on her own faith.

“Just pausing in your life and taking the time to spend an hour in prayer in a quiet place is amazing what it can do to your spiritual life,” she said. “And conversing with people about God and how much he loves them makes you realize how much he loves you, too.”

Howard Blake, a member of the local team and of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Lincoln, became Catholic in 1997, and said he wants to share the joy he has found through the Catholic Church with others.

“I just want to bring as many people into the church as I can and maybe answer some questions people have,” he said.

Wayne’s wife, Mary, who wasn’t at the Haymarket last Saturday, said in an email to Spirit Catholic Radio that she initially thought an evangelist was someone who knew his or her Catholic faith really well and could quote Bible verses on the spot.

The St. Paul Street Evangelists hand out
rosaries, pamphlets, holy cards and
Miraculous Medals.
But that’s not entirely true, she said.

“People are more moved by my personal relationship with Christ and how he shows his love for me – the very love he wants to give to them if they open their hearts to him,” Mary said.

Wayne said he encourages lay people to get involved in the St. Paul Street Evangelization team in one of three ways – either as a street evangelist, prayer warrior or financial supporter.

As a street evangelist, one receives on-line training and commits to going out with another evangelist at least once a month and praying a weekly Holy Hour for the apostolate. Prayer warriors commit to praying the Evangelist’s Prayer every day and making a weekly Holy Hour. And because rosaries, literature, CDs, holy cards and other materials distributed on the street cost money, financial assistance is needed, Wayne said.

“We have a small group now, but we hope to grow,” he said.

The team will have an orientation gathering Saturday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at St. John XXIII in Lincoln.

For more information on St. Paul Street Evangelization, visit www.street To join the local team or to provide financial assistance, contact Wayne at 402-430-6972 or Mary at

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feast of the Assumption

"De hemelvaart van Maria", Rubens, circa 1626
Today is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily Assumption into heaven before her body could begin to decay.

Because it signifies Mary’s passing into eternal life, it’s considered one of the most important Marian feasts and is a holy day of obligation and Catholics must attend Mass that day.

Catholics are usually brought closest to the celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, said Fr. Brian Kane, pastor of St. James Parish in Mead and superintendent of Bishop Neumann Jr./Sr. High School in Wahoo. It’s customary to pray for a deeper devotion to Our Lady when meditating on the Assumption, the fourth Glorious mystery, he said.

“This devotion to Mary is especially important, as we pray in the Hail Mary, at the ‘hour of our death,’” he said. “Asking Mary to help us to have a holy death is a special way of deepening our devotion to Mary and the Assumption.”

Mary’s life on earth came to a conclusion with her body and soul being assumed into heaven …. a fitting end to her “fiat” or “yes” to the will of God, Fr. Kane said.

“Our goal in life is the same, that we may dwell forever in the house of the Lord,” he said. “Mary’s Assumption gives us hope for a holy death and eternal life in heaven.

“If you find yourself at the bedside of a loved one who is near death, don’t be afraid to ask Mary for the gift of a happy death. She will bring that holy request to her son, Jesus,” Fr. Kane said. 

The Feast of the Assumption is a very old feast of the church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. It was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word meaning “the falling asleep.”

The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary's body was assumed into heaven dates from the fourth century, in a document titled “The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.” It’s written in the voice of the Apostle John, to whom Christ on the cross had entrusted the care of his mother, and recounts the death, laying in the tomb and assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Tradition variously places Mary's death at Jerusalem or at Ephesus, where John was living.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. On Nov. 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, exercising papal infallibility, declared in “Munificentissimus Deus” that it is a dogma of the church "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."

As a dogma, the Assumption is a required belief of all Catholics; anyone who publicly dissents from the dogma, Pope Pius declared, “has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic faith.”

Pope Pius XII, in the text explaining his definition of the dogma of the Assumption, refers repeatedly to the Blessed Virgin's death before her Assumption, and the consistent tradition in both the East and the West holds that Mary did die before she was assumed into heaven. Because the definition of the Assumption is silent on this question, however, Catholics can legitimately believe that Mary did not die before the Assumption.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states: “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” 

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her son’s resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.

Some information from

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Kolbe
Today marks the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish priest who offered himself to die in place of a young husband and father at the concentration camp at Auschwitz AND one of Spirit Catholic Radio’s patron saints because he is the patron saint of media.
He also is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, prisoners and the pro-life movement.
Maximilian was born in 1894 in Poland and became a Franciscan. He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he remained frail all his life.
Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to Mary. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine titled The Knight of the Immaculata and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world.
Fr. Kolbe went to Japan where he built a comparable monastery and then on to India where he furthered the Movement. In 1936 he returned home because of ill health.
On Dec. 8, 1938 - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - Fr. Kolbe opened radio station SP3RN (102.7 - it still exists today). The station broadcast sermons by Fr. Kolbe, as well as music from the friary's orchestra. It is likely that Fr. Kolbe, with his technical background, was the designer and operator of the station, as well as one or more amateur radio stations at the friary. He used his amateur radio skills to vilify Nazi activities through his reports.
After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. But in 1941 he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner's escape, 10 men were chosen to die. Fr. Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst and neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Please join us in praying the novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe for the success of the Spirit Catholic Radio expansion by clicking here.

Archbishop Lucas' 5th anniversary in Omaha

Last month marked Archbishop George J. Lucas’ fifth anniversary as archbishop of Omaha. He recently met with Spirit Catholic Radio’s Lisa Maxson to reflect on his time here since his installation July 22, 2009, and to share his thoughts on the future of the archdiocese.

So you’ve hit the five year mark. Does it feel like it’s been five years since your installation?
The time goes by very fast but I feel very much at home, too. It’s hard to tell. Some days it seems like a long time; sometimes it seems like just yesterday, but I very much enjoy the privilege of serving here, so it’s been a good five years for me.

What are some highlights of that time?
The highlights are always, for me, the opportunity to be with the people of the archdiocese I have the opportunity to visit parishes pretty often, a number of times for confirmation throughout the year, but then also for parish anniversaries and other parish events. To be able to celebrate Mass with people and then get to know people in the various communities. We have around 140 parishes and over 23 counties, and so I can’t get to all of them all the time, but I keep on the move pretty much, so I enjoy those parish visits, and the opportunities to visit schools and celebrate Mass or have interaction with the students. It’s part of the bishop’s responsibility, but I enjoy it. There are administrative responsibilities that keep me in my office, but I also look forward to the opportunities to get to parishes and schools.

What have been some of the challenges?
The first challenge is just getting to know a new place, getting to know the priests and the people, getting to know the blessings of the archdiocese and then also what are the pastoral challenges we’re facing currently. But there have been a lot of pleasant surprises in terms of I’ve really just enjoyed getting to know the priests and to work with them. I can’t say enough good things about our priests.

Then we’ve done some pastoral planning, looking at schools and parishes and thinking about how we can best carry out the mission of the church in the coming years. I’ve been really pleased with the level of participation in those processes.

Decisions are easier for me and I think for everyone else if we have the chance to share the same information. If we look at the facts, and look at the challenges together and then think about the resources that are available or the resources we can make available. And then we can talk together about what’s possible.

We not only did a planning process of our parishes and schools, but with the parishes we had a transition process, so we had a plan for where we wanted to go but then spend a couple of years with the leadership of two parishes that would be merging to plan to the extent we can what the future would be like for them so they could have ownership of it.

In all cases we want to build up the living church. Sometimes structural changes or organizational changes are necessary but we’re not doing that just for the sake of the organization but so that for the future we can better serve the church’s mission.

How would you describe the Archdiocese of Omaha to others – the people, parishes, schools, etc.?
The first thing I say to people is it’s a very vibrant, local church. And that most of the time I feel like I’m running to keep up with the expressions of faith and with the ideas people have for how we might live or proclaim the Gospel. Some of that is within parish structures, but there are other apostolates – Catholic radio is a good example – of where lay people fulfilling their own baptismal vocation and seeing opportunities and having their gifts from God they want to use in a way that will help the church.

I got to learn about all those things over the last five years and still just very excited to know of all the activity that goes on here in the lives of Catholics and very proud to be associated with it myself.

How have you grown personally over these five years from the experiences you’ve had?
I’ve gotten older. (laughs) Well, to become acquainted with the church in a new place – because every diocese has its own history and its unique personality, you might say, and none of us gets exposed to the whole church. Maybe the pope has a better shot at that than most of us do – to be able to have the privilege of being welcomed into a local church, a diocese that I wasn’t associated with before, to become part of that, to be able alongside the priests and deacons and leaders to be able to serve the people here – that expands my experience of the church and gives me other opportunities to be of service, I hope.

There’s a great vitality in rural Nebraska, so that’s been – I’m a city boy myself. I served in a rural diocese before I came here, but this is different in some ways. There’s a vitality and an openness and welcoming spirit that I’ve come to know and appreciate.

What are your hopes for the Archdiocese over the next five years?
I would like to work together with others here to make concrete the call that we’ve had in recent decades to a new evangelization. That means among other things that we’re not just minding the store, we’re not just keeping going the things we have going but we look for opportunities to engage either more people or people who are already involved in the life of the church in a more personal way. We know that Jesus wants to have a deeper relationship with each of us, with all of us together than what we’re letting him have so far but that requires engagement for all of us. What I look forward to over the next five years are the opportunities for more of us priests and people together to become engaged in the responding to Jesus, which means we grow in faith ourselves but also look for ways to share the faith with others.

The new evangelization means allowing ourselves to be renewed but then also looking for new opportunities to share the faith with others. Because the Catholic Church traditionally is so very strong here, we can be taken up really with keeping things going and we want many things to keep going but we also have to be aware of how the Holy Spirit might be calling us to opportunities to meet new challenges.

I think what I would look forward to is an opportunity to engage in a more formal kind of formation in the faith for those of us who are involved explicitly in the work of the church, so for priests and deacons or for Catholic school teachers or religious educators, for those who serve on parish staffs or the diocesan curia. We have very dedicated people – that’s not the question – but the question is if we’re going to be involved in this work – it’s the Lord’s work really – then we need to be explicitly nourishing our own faith, our own understanding of the faith, our life of prayer, and then our willingness to share faith with other people we are collaborating with.
We’ve started over the last several years to do some times of formation with our curia staff. I think there are a number of parishes that do that already, so again, this is not something that isn’t happening, but I think it’s something we need to focus on.

We just finished the first year of inviting the School of Faith to offer faith formation for our Catholic school teachers. That effort’s going to be expanded to all the metro schools this coming year and then all the schools in the archdiocese the following year, so it’s taken three years for us to phase it in, but I foresee it being a permanent part of the life of our schools so that’s a very positive way to offer formation in the faith to all of our teachers for their own sake, first of all, but also then so they can strengthen each other in the faith and then they have the opportunity to be part of a more explicitly Catholic culture in our schools.

We can’t do that in exactly the same way for religious ed teachers because of the part-time nature of that work but we are offering online opportunities and other ways for them and in continuing some of things that have been happening in that regard in the past.

One of the initiatives we are funding with the Ignite the Faith initiative is YDisciples. There again it’s a way to form adult leaders and then help them engaged smaller groups of young people in a relationship that leads to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
The very first truth is a relationship – the Trinity and so from that comes God’s plan and it’s all done relationally. Programs help that and structures assist that or not but it’s the relationship with Jesus and the relationship he wants us to have among ourselves as believers and then with the world outside of the church.

Who has been most influential during your time here?
Certainly Pope Benedict, who appointed me. Just the appointment itself was influential, but I really became acquainted with him – we’re not personal friends at all but I was in his presence several times and really felt my responsibility to have a relationship with him of praying for him, certainly, but also of listening to him. He’s the person to whom I’m most accountable. And now for the last year Pope Francis. I don’t know him. I’ve never met him personally but I feel very close to him. I think lots of people do. But the truth of this relationship in the church is I’m here serving as archbishop of this diocese because I have a mission from the Holy Father to do it.

Did you read a lot of Pope Benedict’s writings?
Yes, I did. He had this series on Jesus, which I read and got a lot of talks out of. But I think one of my biggest joys and sort of one of the big influences is the collaboration I have with the priests of the archdiocese. There are some I work with day by day, some I have  regular contact with who are on the Priests Council, for example, but I try to be available to priests as well as I can hope I can offer them encouragement. But I can say the priests have been a good influence on me.

Is building vocations still an important focus for you?
It is. It has to be ongoing. I have a couple of applications on my desk for new seminarians. Fr. (Paul) Hoesing is the one who gets to know them and takes them through the process of applying but ultimately then I have to be the one to accept them as seminarians. It’s a great joy to be able to do that. We have a good number of seminarians and they’re a good quality. I think we could use more. I think we could use more priests. That’s part of my prayer every mornings – I tell the Lord I want more. It’s his church and I know we’ll receive what we need for the life of the church. But family life and parish life is so strong in this archdiocese I just have a sense that there are more young people who could come to know a call to the priesthood or religious life and how to amplify that call for them and give them courage is an ongoing hope of mine.

Do you have any regrets while serving as Archbishop? If so, what are they?
I really don’t. Even as I look over my whole life. There’s things I’ve had to apologize for and so I fall short. I get confused or get short of patience or whatever it might be. God made me a human being so I don’t regret that at all.

Part of my own spiritual challenges is to sometimes have the tendency to make the project – whatever the project – my own and not rely enough on the Holy Spirit and not see it as the Lord’s work that we’re collaborating with him in the church. To the extent that my own pride or my determination to get the job done or whatever, sometimes that gets in the way of my being the most effective shepherd that I can be. So I’m sorry for that and try to ask for forgiveness. From God I do every day, but from the people I see that I’ve fallen short or offended them, but that’s part of the give and take of life. And forgiveness is always available in the church.
The way the Lord has established the church there’s the opportunity for us to seek forgiveness and to receive it from one another but from him always. We need to make use of that. If we don’t, we get stuck in regret and guilt.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I would add my gratitude to the people of the archdiocese for their kindness and their prayers and support. I found a great spirit of cooperation here that isn’t my making. It’s part of the fabric of life here. So when there’s a need I find and we invite people to help with something that’s important, we get the help. We’re in the middle of the Ignite the Faith campaign and it’s going well. It’s a lot of work in one sense but we’re trying to obtain resources to meet some important pastoral needs. We took a long time to think about them and consult about them. I’m very, very grateful, overwhelmed really, by the response of people to that and in many other ways too.

I don’t think I can say thanks enough to God or to people I have the opportunity to work side-by-side with. If there’s a theme of wrapping up these five years it’s gratitude.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Church teaching on suicide

In light of Robin Williams’ recent suicide, I think it’s important to understand what the Catholic Church teaches about suicide.

The following is an explanation from Jesuit Father William Byron, a professor of business and society at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. It was published in his monthly “What Would You Like to Know?” feature for Catholic Digest.

Robin Williams
No one can appreciate the unimaginable pain that is the ultimate explanation for such a tragic action. No one, therefore, can judge a person whose choice we cannot fathom, whose life we can remember, but cannot restore, and whose pain we cannot understand. This is how the Church tends to look upon suicide today.

The Church teaches that suicide is wrong; it is contrary to the Fifth Commandment. It is an action that runs counter to the proper love of self, as well as love for God, the giver of life. We are stewards of our lives, not owners. The person who takes his or her own life also wrongs others — those who remain experience loss, bewilderment, and grief. You won’t find anything in that teaching about going to hell.

Pity, not condemnation, is the response of the Church. Prayers are offered for the deceased. Mass is celebrated. Burial with dignity, in consecrated ground, is provided for one who dies this way. Not that long ago, Christian burial was denied to those who took their own lives. There may have been another denial at work in those days, too — denial of our inability to understand the pain. We assumed that those who chose to take their own lives were acting freely and under no psychological distress or illness. Or worse, there may have been a denial of responsibility to try to understand the pain. As your son said in the note he left behind, he just didn’t know what else to do.

So for those of us who remain, the Church encourages paying attention to the pain that produced the action. Then, look forward, not back, to pain within ourselves and pain in others, especially when we see no signs and hear no calls for help.

Why do we avoid speaking to one another about inner pain? Why are we not more sensitive to the pain in others’ hearts, or able to read the pain in others’ eyes? Why do we spend millions for “pain relief ” over the counter or by prescription, but not spend the time it takes to encourage those who may be hurting to open up? This kind of thinking is all now part of the Church’s pastoral response to the tragedy of suicide.

It seems to me that there has to be some mysterious insulation enveloping those who commit suicide. Tragically, their minds cannot be read by those around them, nor can they reach out and ask for help. Again, the unimaginable pain.

The Church teaches through liturgy, and the liturgy on occasions like these stresses divine mercy. Take a look at Psalm 103, and recall the dimensions of God’s mercy — as far as the east is from the west, as high as the skies are above the earth.

The Church still teaches that there is a hell, but leaves it to God to decide who should go there. And divine decisions, in this regard, are filtered through divine mercy. Tragedy at the end of this life is no sure sign of an eternal tragedy in the next.

Reposted with permission from Fr. William J. Byron, S.J.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heartland Family Festival

Aug. 2 was the Heartland Family Festival, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Omaha and Spirit Catholic Radio, at Creighton University’s soccer stadium. My family was among the nearly 600 people who attended the 6 ½-hour event.

The day included kids’ games, bouncy houses, vendor booths, an arts and crafts show, entertainment by Jonnie W., Mike Mangione and the Union and Collin Raye and a 12-minute fireworks display. 

We had a blast, and really enjoyed being together as a family.

Organizer Peter Kennedy of the Archdiocese of Omaha said that while he was disappointed in the number of people who missed out on the event, the joy of the Gospel was experienced in a new way that day.

"Confessions were heard, prayers were said, the flag was raised in honor of our troops, our police, and our firefighters. Jonnie W. taught us to laugh and sing as we spread the Word of God and Mike Mangione showed us how art can be more powerful than mere words," Kennedy said. "I rarely saw a cell phone unless it was to snap a picture." 

Kids were playing games with their parents on the soccer field ALL DAY, he said, and little girls played with princesses and danced in circles together to the music.  

"The kids came and sat with Archbishop Lucas and watched wide-eyed as their parents danced to their wedding songs played live by Collin Raye," Kennedy said. "Alcoholics celebrated their recovery to the tune of 'Little Rock' and we ended the day with the most amazing fireworks display that I think I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Bellino Fireworks."

"On the Monday after the event, the Chancery had already received word that someone had decided to enter the Church because of what they had witnessed there," he said. "The Spirit was moving that day."

Here are some photo highlights from the day.

The Spirit 102.7 game booth was a huge hit! 
(photo by Ann Eatherton)

Here Spirit Catholic Radio's Ann Eatherton helps kids play the Catholic matching game. 
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

A beam from the North Tower of 1 World Trade Center destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, was on display.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

Girls make bracelets at one of the many booths at the festival.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

Spirit Mornings co-hosts Jen Brown and Bruce McGregor pose with the Chick-Fil-A cow.
(photo by Ann Eatherton)

Me and my sister had to try out Spirit Catholic Radio's Jesus photo board.
(photo by Jason Maxson)

The kids zone was filled with bouncy houses.
(photo by Catherine Schroeder)

Kids play soccer and other games on Creighton's soccer field.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

Spirit Catholic Radio intern Dan Bost and Spirit Mornings co-host Jen Brown.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

My daughter, Madelyn, got a butterfly painted on her face.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

My daughter and nephews watch Anna and Elsa from the movie "Frozen" perform "Let It Go."
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

Spirit Catholic Radio listener Catherine Schroeder with princesses Belle and Snow White.
(photo courtesy of Catherine Schroeder)

Nikki Schaefer, wife of Spirit Catholic Radio's Bernie Schaefer, and daughter, Sophia, with their Prayer Pillows and other items sold at the arts and crafts show.
(photo by Catherine Schroeder)

Spirit Mornings co-hosts Jen Brown and Bruce McGregor with Spirit Catholic Radio listeners Matt and Andrea Mack and their sons, Aaron and Jared, from Grand Island.
(photo by Ann Eatherton)

My sister, Alicen Brandl, and I with singer Collin Raye.
(photo courtesy of Lisa Maxson)

Mike Mangione and the Union
(photo by Catherine Schroeder)

Singer Collin Raye
(photo by Catherine Schroeder)

A great fireworks display ended the festival.
(photo by Lisa Maxson)

The Archdiocese of Omaha has photos from the event on their facebook page and will add more here as they get permission. View them at!/pages/Heartland-Family-Festival/455621694566759.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Local religious sites

Ahh, summer.

It’s a time for family outings and spending time outdoors. Of course you can always go swimming or visit a state park, but think about also making a trip to one of several religious sites in or around our listening area.

Spirit Catholic Radio, Omaha

If we’re going to have a list of Catholic destinations in our listening area, we must start with our own studios in Omaha. Located at 13326 A St., our studios are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stop by during business hours for a tour, meet our staff and pray in our beautiful chapel. Consider joining us for Mass on Fridays at 11:30 a.m. or participating in eucharistic adoration on Wednesdays.

Spirit Catholic Radios is the area’s only Catholic radio station heard across most of Nebraska, western Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.

You can listen to us at 102.7-FM in Omaha, Lincoln and Western Iowa; 91.5-FM in Central Nebraska; 88.3-FM in Northeast Nebraska; 90.1-FM in North Platte; 99.3-FM in Columbus and 89.3-FM in Chadron., 402-571-0200, 855-571-0200 (toll free)

Holy Family Shrine, Gretna

The mission of the Holy Family Shrine, as a Catholic Chapel on the highway, is to be a gateway to heaven for pilgrims and travelers to experience the healing presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit that awakens them to God’s will in their journey through life. 

Created in 2002, the shrine receives more than 20,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

The shrine is located at 23132 Pflug Road, between Omaha and Lincoln off I-80, exit 432-south on Hwy 31 (1.3 miles) west on Pflug Road (1 mile).

It includes a visitor center and gift shop, a 45-foot crucifix that overlooks the prairie and a chapel made of wooden beams and glass. Mass is held there every Saturday at 10 a.m., except on Holy Saturday.   

Visit, where you can watch a virtual tour of the shrine.

Museum of Religious Arts, Logan, Iowa

The purpose of the Museum of Religious Arts is to preserve and exhibit religious arts, tradition and culture, fostering an appreciation of religious history for our enrichment and that of future generations. The Museum is housed in a 20,000-square foot building, giving ample room for numerous religious displays.

It includes artwork by Akaine Kramarik, who in 2005, was 11 when she created the paintings; life-size wax figures portraying nine Biblical scenes; Crosses on the Hill outdoor display; Holocaust artwork and a Jesus Walking on the Water sculpture.

Located at 2697 Niagara Trail in Logan, Iowa, it’s open on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 712-644-3888

Trinity Heights, Sioux City, Iowa

Trinity Heights offers more than two dozen shrines, memorial garden spots and quiet corners for prayer and reflection amidst 14 acres of spacious walkways and soft green spaces. It sits on the spacious grounds of former Trinity College and high school.

Two statues anchor Trinity Heights on each end — the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A life-size carving of the Last Supper is located in St. Joseph's Center across from the Marian Center Gift Shop.

You will also enjoy shrines to the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Way of the Saints honoring 60 saints in the Catholic Church, the Outdoor Cathedral area leading to Jesus, and the Trinity Gardens adjacent to Mary Queen of Peace. Flowers, plantings, trees and birds create an ideal setting to stroll, pray and reflect.

People of all faiths visit Trinity Heights. It is Catholic in its theology and ecumenical in its intent and appeal.

Located at 33rd and Floyd Blvd in Sioux City, the shrine is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 712-239-8670

Boys Town and Fr. Flanagan’s gravesite, Omaha

Boys Town, formerly Girls and Boys Town and Father Flanagan's Boys' Home, is a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for its children and families, with national headquarters in the village of Boys Town, Neb. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

The original Boys Town was founded as a boys' orphanage in 1917 by Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, a Roman Catholic priest working in Omaha whose sainthood cause is currently underway. The "City of Little Men" pioneered[3]development of new juvenile care methods in 20th century America, emphasizing social preparation as a model for public boys' homes worldwide.

Visitors to Boys Town can visit the Hall of History, Garden of the Bible and Fr. Flanagan’s home, as well as attend Mass at Dowd Memorial Chapel, which houses the Fr. Flanagan Shrine. Boys Town's famous founder is entombed in a bronze vault that briefly tells his life story to thousands of visitors every year.

Boys Town is located near 138th and Dodge in Omaha. Call 1-800-625-1400 for more information or to book a tour.

Grotto of Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

Located about 3 ½ hours from Omaha in Northwest Iowa, the Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world. It is comprised of nine separate grottos, each depicting a scene in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The theme of Redemption gives unity to this sacred space.

The Grotto of the Redemption is the inspiration and life work of the late Fr. Paul Dobberstein, a Catholic priest. For a decade, he gathered rocks and precious stones from around the world and began construction in 1912.  

The grotto was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2001.

To watch a virtual tour, visit or visit

300 N Broadway Ave., West Bend, IA, 515-887-2371

If you have suggestions that could be added to this list, please comment below! We'd love to hear from you!

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.