Thursday, October 31, 2013

Keep the "Hallow" in Halloween

It's Halloween, friends! And while in our culture Halloween is often synonymous with costumes and miniature candy bars, you may be searching for a way to incorporate your Catholic faith into this holiday.

How can you keep the "Hallow" in Halloween?
Bruce McGregor and Jen Brown of Spirit Mornings
 with several members of the Dulac family.

Today on Spirit Catholic Radio's morning show, Spirit Mornings, we featured the Dulac family. Dr. Michael Dulac and two of his children – Colette and Gabriel – were in our studio this morning talking about how they celebrate Halloween. Instead of dressing as ghosts and ghouls, the children dress as saints as a way to evangelize. This year Gabriel will be a soldier representing Father Vincent Capadanno, who is the process of being canonized a saint, and Colette will be dressed as an Egyptian princess, representing St. Barbara, an early Egyptian martyr. 

The blog Catholic Icing, has some great suggestions as well. In one post, the author talks about explaining Halloween to children. You can read that entry here also has a page with fantastic resources for Halloween including ideas for planning a Catholic Halloween party. You can read more here. You'll even find a recipe for a Halloween treat called "Soul Cakes." 

The website Catholic Mom has an entire resource page dedicated to Halloween activities, recipes and ideas to help families have a Catholic Halloween. Visit the page here. 

Finally, check out these creative, "Catholic" pumpkins from the Catholic Cuisine blog.
Photo from

However your family decides to celebrate, the team at Spirit Catholic Radio wishes you a safe, blessed and happy Halloween. 

Blogged by Kelly Miller, Marketing and Promotions Manager.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walk for Faith and Pro-Life Conference

I recently attended two really great events: the Walk for Faith and the Nebraska Pro-Life Conference.

I was only able to attend the beginning of the penitential walk but I wish I could’ve stayed for the whole thing. It was mighty cold, but the scenery, peacefulness and prayerfulness were amazing.

The 5.4-mile walk began at 8:30 a.m. at the 4-H camp near Schramm Park, and included repetitive prayers throughout - The Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Stations of the Cross, Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and petitions. It concluded at the Holy Family Shrine near Gretna with confessions and noon Mass. Each participant offered a private intention for the walk.

About 60 pilgrims participate in the Walk of Faith Oct. 19 near Gretna. 
Those who participated in the walk, confession and Mass also received a plenary indulgence because the shrine is a designated site for plenary indulgence during the Year of Faith.

Father Jim Buckley, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Omaha, coordinated and led the walk. He said he participated in a similar walk in Ireland and thought it was “very effective spiritually,” and wanted to bring it home to the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Many times during the walk, participants prayed, “I will attempt day by day to break my will into little pieces. I want to do God’s holy will, not my own.” Father Buckley said this was the purpose of the walk – to strengthen your will to do good things you don’t want to do.

Angie Krejci of St. Joseph Parish in Springfield came to the walk with her husband and five children because they wanted to participate in this “unique opportunity.”

“We live in this area. We love to hike and it’s beautiful out here, so when we heard about it, we wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I think it’s good for our kids to see us doing this together. Sometimes we do fun things as a family at the park or the zoo, but this was something that we could do together that was part of our faith.”

Father Buckley said he hopes to hold this walk again next year. If he does, I want to participate in the whole thing.

Pro-Life Conference
Titled “Life, Dignity and Disability: A Faith that Welcomes,” this year’s pro-life conference, which took place at Ramada Plaza Omaha, featured speakers and topics that focused on disabilities.

I arrived just before Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, gave the first talk of the day, which centered on the dignity of the human person. He said our culture needs a “re-introduction to Jesus,” who shows us the path of life by his actions – of accepting all people no matter their state in life.
He said we live in a society fabricated by the culture of death and we need to be humble yet bold in our proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, especially when it comes to abortion, euthanasia and other sins against life.

Nathaniel Cunningham, a member of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln, said he came to the conference this year to hear Father Boquet and the other speakers, including Peter Kreeft, a philosopher from Boston College, and Jeff and Sarah Schinstock, his friends from Lincoln.

Sarah and Jeff Schinstock of Lincoln share their story of raising a child with disabilities
at the Nebraska Pro-Life Conference Oct. 19 at Ramada Plaza Omaha.
I attended the Schinstocks’ breakout session on parenting a child with a disability and was moved by their honesty and deep faith. The couple spoke candidly about their relationship with their oldest daughter, Regina, who has severe autism – and the joys and challenges of raising a child with special needs.

“As Catholic Christians we have to recognize the dignity of every single soul, of every person created by God, and see them the way God sees them,” Sarah said. “It’s such a beautiful message to bring to the culture, which is such a culture of death, and to show them the beauty and the joy that these incredible gifts from God bring to our lives, especially our Regina, helping us to be less selfish and less prideful and grow in virtue.”

The annual pro-life conference is never a disappointment and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the dignity of the human person, relevant issues related to life and practical ways to fight the culture of death.

I just hope the conference and the walk won’t again be on the same day.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Superhero at Spirit Catholic Radio

A few weeks ago, we had a real superhero in studio.

John Short, a fifth-grader at St. John School in Lincoln, stopped by Sept. 30 with his dad, Bill, to talk about saving his sister’s life.
John Short

About a month earlier, 10-year-old John donated his bone marrow to his 11-year-old sister, Kim. In July, she discovered she had severe aplastic anemia, which causes her bone marrow to stop producing blood cells, and needed a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible. The best match for the transplant was a sibling, and John said he was eager to be tested and hoped to be a match.

He even wanted to be tested first so that if he was a match, his two other siblings –Katie, 13, and brother, Matt, 8 – wouldn’t have to go through the pain of being tested, John said. 

“I think God helped me with the decision,” John told Spirit Catholic Radio, adding that he wasn’t scared because he saw his sister already go through two bone marrow biopsies.

“We were really scared for Kim and very proud of John,” Bill said.

The Aug. 28 surgery, which took place at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, involved doctors making four small incisions near John’s hip bones and pelvis and extracting stem cells with 25 needles.

“The bag of cells they removed … that’s what life looks like,” Bill said. “I was literally going to see life poured into my daughter from my son.”

The surgery was successful and John’s recovery was quick. He spent two weeks at home to recover and build up his immune system before returning to school Sept. 3. Kim, who was released from the Med Center Sept. 23, is home in Lincoln and still recovering from the transplant. Her family is concerned with her catching an infection, Bill said, so she will remain out of school for some time.

When John returned to school, his teacher, Gina Steele, and his classmates surprised him with a party, cake and superhero cape.

Steele said she was impressed with the magnitude of John’s good deed and asked some moms from her classroom to sew the cape. A classmate designed the cape’s logo.

Steele said she begins every school year with a lesson on bullying and about what it means to be a good friend. Then her students spend the year doing random acts of kindness as a class. She said she used John as an example in these lessons of what it means to be a hero, or a good friend, by doing what needs to be done without expecting payment in some way. 

“I think this deed that John did for his sister is one of the biggest good deeds anyone could do,” Steele said.

Bill said that good deeds are something he tries to foster in his children, especially through scouting.

John Short and Bill Short
“The three tenants of scouting are duty to God and country, duty to others and lastly, duty to self. We try to instill that in our kids as character builders,” he said. “This is a pretty good example of someone putting someone else above their own needs … really fulfilling their duty to others.”

Bill said his faith and the faith of others have helped him and the family during this trying time. He admitted that before his daughter’s diagnosis, he was struggling in his faith. Divorced and raising four children, he said he was losing hope and “not feeling happy with my life.”

But once the news got out that Kim was sick, family and friends, including those from St. John Parish, where the Shorts have been members for 15 years, showered them with support and prayers, he said.

“The outpouring of support and thoughts and prayers from the St. John community and people at work has been wonderful and has renewed my faith,” Bill said. 

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spirit Catholic Radio Staff Bible Study

One of my favorite things about working at Spirit Catholic Radio is how prayer is incorporated into our work week. We come together as a staff several times a week to pray because it unites us in Christ and helps combat the devil’s desire to stop us from spreading God’s word.

We pray together for about 20 minutes in the chapel on Tuesdays and before most meetings. We also have Mass on Fridays over the lunch hour.

In July, we began doing a Bible study as a staff.  Led by Sue and Doug Barrett – Doug is a station board member and both are volunteers here – we meet Wednesdays over the lunch hour to do the Seeking Truth Bible Study. Through this 22-week study, we’re learning about the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At each session, we go over the homework questions, which are done on personal time, and watch a video presentation by Sharon Doran, who leads the study in Omaha.

Station manager Jim Carroll said he decided to offer the study this year because it is the Year of Faith and there are several new employees at the radio station.

“We were looking at what we wanted to do with our programs, particularly our morning show, in terms of informing, inspiring and inviting people in their relationship with Jesus Christ … and I said, ‘Wow! What a perfect opportunity for us as a staff. We’re at different places, we all have different backgrounds, we all have different relationships with Jesus and here’s a shared, common thing we can do as a staff that is only going to help solidify the unity that the church requires us to have.’”

By coming together as a staff and sharing the word of God with each other every week, hopefully it will help us when we run into difficulties in the office, Carroll said.

Ann Eatherton, coordinator of outreach and volunteers for the station, said she enjoys the prayerful environment as well.

“We are members of the same Catholic faith, and each day, all that we set out to accomplish is linked to proclaiming that same Good News to others,” she said. “It is through the grace of God that this radio apostolate exists. Therefore, for our faith to serve as an extension to others, we must be people of prayer and seek to know God’s Word.”

“Surrounded by the presence of Jesus, I experience a true peace within the chapel walls, as our shared prayer gives witness to our own vulnerability and humility before God. This expression of shared prayer unites us as a staff and joins our wills to accomplish all that God may be asking of us.”

I couldn’t agree more, Ann. 

 Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Interview with Andreas Widmer

Last month we had a special guest in our Omaha studios. Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Guard for Pope John Paul II, an international businessman and author of “The Pope and the CEO,” stopped by to be a guest on Spirit Mornings and later sat down with me to talk about the lessons he learned from the late pontiff, who is set to be canonized in April.

In the following article, I share Widmer’s story about faith, business and becoming saints.

Andreas Widmer hopes to one day join the saint he helped protect.

Photo courtesy:
He served as a member of the Swiss Guard for Pope John Paul II – who will be canonized a saint April 27, 2014 – and said he’s striving for sainthood and encourages others to do the same.

“Becoming a saint is absolutely possible, and in fact, it is required,” said Widmer, now director of entrepreneurship programs at Catholic University of the Americas in Washington, D.C., and author of “The Pope and the CEO: Pope John Paul II’s Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard.”

Everyone is called to sainthood but each person must become a saint in his or her own, unique way, he said. It’s about people being the best version of themselves, he said.

“I have to become a saint as St. Andreas Widmer, otherwise who will become St. Andreas?” Widmer told Spirit Catholic Radio during a visit to the studio Sept. 11. “God gave you specific gifts and circumstances. You have to become a saint with your talents and your situation.”

John Paul II, whom Widmer served from 1986 to 1988, knew that and lived his life to the fullest, Widmer said. He prayed as hard as he played, he said.

“I always knew he was a saint,” Widmer said.

Sainthood isn’t the only thing he said he learned from the late pope. Through encounters with Pope John Paul II, he also gained insight on business. Widmer said the pope taught him nine principles for business leadership, which he refined during his career as a successful business executive. Each is outlined in “The Pope and the CEO.”

In his book, Widmer also offers suggestions on how to integrate faith with work. He said he schedules 10 minutes for prayer during the workday, and prays for his employees, especially when he’s having a problem with one of them.

He also has a to-do list that includes such things as regularly bringing joy to important people in his life; identifying and reviewing God’s gifts each day; making time for hobbies, using up vacation time each year and resting on Sundays.

“These are my weaknesses,” Widmer said. “I’ve lived a life of not honoring Sundays, a life of just focusing on myself, a life of neglecting what I ought to do. This whole book is basically my guide and what I need to do and I’m sharing it with you. We’re traveling on this road together.”

Widmer, who was raised Catholic, said he experienced a conversion during his two-year stint serving Pope John Paul II.

“John Paul wasn’t my chum or buddy, he was the pope and so his discussions with me were always somewhat formal. But he knew I had a conversion, and I remember him saying at the end of my time with him, ‘You found Christ here. Now go and bring Christ out there.”

Widmer, who is married and has a 9-year-old son, said being in the presence of John Paul II and later making and losing a lot of money during his career helped him recognize the importance of God being in control of every aspect of his life.

“Conversion is about giving God full control of my life,” he said.

The lessons in his book came from reflection and prayer following Pope John Paul’s death in April 2005. He said he meditated on his life and the pope’s influence, and out of that came the idea for “The Pope and the CEO,” which took him three months to write.

Within 24 hours of the announcement of Pope John Paul’s death, Widmer said he was in Rome, standing in front of the John Paul’s body in the pope’s residence at the Vatican. He said he was overwhelmed with the privileges that came with being a former Swiss Guard, which also included being invited to speak on the radio, and he questioned the deceased pope about the special treatment.

“I’m praying there in front of John Paul II’s body saying, ‘Why did you give me this?’ and the answer was, ‘What are you going to do with this?’” Widmer said. “That’s when I said I’m going to start to become your witness. You give me all of this – I’ll share it. I will write a book. I’ll start to come out and say I’m a Catholic CEO. I’ll start to witness to my faith and how I met you and how you changed my life and maybe there can be the ripple effect.”

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Prayerful protest draws hundreds despite rain

Cold temperatures, wind and rain didn't keep hundreds of people – including Richard Majorek – from participating in yesterday’s annual Life Chain in Omaha.

Richard Majorek, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in 
Omaha, prays during the Life Chain Oct. 6 in Omaha.
“The devil is going to try to keep me from being here any way he can … he’s going to send this rain storm, but he doesn't know how persistent I am,” said Majorek, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha who has been coming to the Life Chain for nearly 10 years.

He stood by himself near 73rd and Dodge streets, without an umbrella, holding a sign that read “Adoption: The Loving Option.”

“I’m pro-life and my faith calls me to be here,” he said.

The Oct. 6 Life Chain, which took place from 2 to 3 p.m., extended along Dodge Street between 60th and 90th streets. Many, like Majorek, held signs with such phrases as “Abortion Kills Children,” and “Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation,” and praying for mothers considering abortion, unborn babies and conversion of hearts.

Megan Kangiser, a junior at Creighton University in Omaha, stood with other members of Creighton’s Students for Life group on the corner of 72nd and Dodge, praying the rosary and singing.
Several members of Creighton University’s Students for Life 
group participate in the Life Chain in Omaha. 

“Today’s about conversion,” she said. “I realize standing out here isn’t going to actually fix too much, but hopefully someone’s heart will be converted.”

In cities across the state – and North America – pro-life advocates lined streets Oct. 6 for an hour to pray for an end to abortion.

In Hastings, Neb., where it also was cold and windy, Michelle Sorensen stood with her children – Jack, 7, Paxton, 6, and Ava, 3 – along Burlington Street, hoping to get people driving by to think about abortion.

“The Life Chain is a great way to teach children about life and love,” said Sorensen, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Roseland.

The Life Chain is about being a witness in the public square for the cause of those killed or injured by abortion, said Ann Marie Bowen, president of Nebraskans United for Life.

“We come together in faith and from all faiths to prayerfully demonstrate our peaceful presence for the end of abortion,” she said.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Care-a-thon

As a listener-supported, non-profit organization, Spirit Catholic Radio relies on its friends and listeners to keep Catholic radio programming in Nebraska and Western Iowa. Last week we held our bi-annual Fall Care-a-thon membership drive. Each day we broadcast from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and listeners call in their pledges from across the heartland. 

This fall we were particularly blessed, as the organization exceeded its fundraising goal of $500,000. What can $500,000 do for Spirit Catholic Radio? It costs about $100,000 a month to run the radio network. This includes operational expenses such as utilities, salaries, licenses, production, programming, debt reduction and equipment. From research, we know that this is considerably less cost than a commercial network of the same size. 

Each Spirit Catholic Radio Care-a-thon is unique. And if you've listened to a Care-a-thon in the past, you know that they're a lot of fun. 

What made this year's membership drive special?

There was an on-air vow renewal by two of our favorite listeners.

Joan and Steve Ruskamp with Fr. Ken Borowiak,
who renewed their vows on-air.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York joined the Care-a-thon via telephone. You can listen to his interview here.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Archbishop George J. Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha blessed our chapel's new stained glass window live on the air.
Archbishop George J. Lucas blesses the new window.

It was our brand new Spirit Mornings co-host Jen Brown's very first Care-a-thon.
Jen Brown, Fr. Joe Taphorn, Ryan Broker
(and a photobombing Jim Carroll in the background).

There were dozens of amazing volunteers answering pledge calls.
Lesa and Margaret ready to take pledge calls.

We heard inspirational words from local guests including priests.
Fr. Ken Borowiak and Fr. Bernie Kimminau.

In addition to the sights, we can't forget the sounds of Care-a-thon, especially the parody songs written and recorded by our very own Matt Willkom of Spirit Mornings. Click here to download and listen to his "greatest hits."

The team at Spirit Catholic Radio wants to thank its friends and listeners for another successful Care-a-thon. Each and every person who prayed, pledged and participated is a huge blessing to the organization. We're looking forward to continuing to bring you Catholic programming that provides light for your journey and we want to remind you that we are your Catholic radio station.

Blogged by Kelly Miller, Marketing and Promotions Manager.