Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Spirit Catholic Radio!

The Spirit Catholic Radio Team
Front row (L-R): Cheryl Erker, Jim Carroll, Karol Carroll; Middle row (L-R): Wilma Ernesti, Jim Taphorn, Mary Beth Jorgensen, Kelly Miller, Sandy Smith, Mary Lempke, Matt Willkom; Back row (L-R): Mark Voris, Jen Brown, Bruce Prenosil, Bernie Schaefer, Bruce McGregor, Ann Eatherton, Irene Lempke, Lisa Maxson, Ryan Broker. Not pictured: Scott Bonham.

During this Christmas season, Spirit Catholic Radio is especially thankful for your listenership, prayers and support, which make the mission of this radio apostolate possible. 

May God bless you this Christmas and in the New Year 2014.

You're Invited to our Christmas Open Houses in Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island 
All listeners are invited to stop by one of our Christmas open houses on December 27 at the Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island studios from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy Christmas music, refreshments and record a Christmas greeting for your loved ones.

Open House Locations 
Omaha Studio | 13326 A Street 
Lincoln Studio | 2241 O Street 
Grand Island Studio | 828 N. Diers Avenue   

Tune in for Spirit Catholic Radio's annual Two Days of Christmas Music on Dec. 26 and 27. You'll hear beautiful music from a number of artists including students from the listening area.     

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cristo Rey Nativity Scene

Members of Cristo Rey Parish in Lincoln are literally preparing for the birth of Christ this Advent season.

Pepe Herrero, Pepe Casarin and about a dozen others have been assembling a nativity scene at the church that goes beyond most nativity scenes.

It’s 28-feet long and 12-feet wide and features four cities – Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Cana in Galilee. Based on the entire Gospel of St. Luke, it goes beyond the birth of Christ and also includes scenes of the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she will conceive a child, Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, the angel appearing to St. Joseph in a dream, the census, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt and the childhood of Christ as a carpenter.

Using special effects, the scene cycles through day and night every four minutes.

“We want to give as complete a picture as possible of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ, not just that he was born in a stable,” Herrero said.

For 10 days, he, Casarin and other volunteers from various faith and cultural backgrounds arrange the scenery, sometimes working until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a very physical activity, but it’s done with a tremendous amount of love, Herrero said.

“For ourselves, this time of year the true meaning of Advent comes into place,” he said. “We prepare the way of the Lord with lumber, cables, figurines, houses.”

Herrero, a lawyer, and Casarin, an engineering technician, said they want to offer the city of Lincoln and the state of Nebraska an opportunity to experience the birth of Christ in 3-D through the manger tradition. At least 1,000 visitors view the nativity scene each year, they said.

The nativity will be on display at the church, 4221 J St., from Dec. 22 through Jan. 12.

Sharing a tradition
The nativity project began nine years ago, not long after Herrero moved to Lincoln from Washington, D.C.  Collecting figurines and scenery for the nativity is a shared Christmas tradition for Herrero, who is from Spain, and Casarin, a native of Mexico. So when Herrero invited his friend to help build a “monumental” nativity scene – one that is too large to fit inside a home – Casarin said he couldn’t resist.

“I really liked the idea of sharing the nativity with not only the Cristo Rey people, but also with the entire community in Lincoln,” Casarin said.

They work as a team. Casarin has strong technical skills and creates the computer system, while Herrero is the artistic director. They both build the structures.

They experimented over the years with how best to create this type of nativity scene, and little by little added new elements that required greater skill. Herrero worked with the Association of Manger Builders in Spain for ideas and hints, and even traveled with them to Italy, Egypt and the Holy Land for inspiration. A rock he brought back from the Sea of Galilee is included in Cristo Rey’s nativity scene. The hand-painted figurines all come from Spain.

The nativity continues to grow because they try to add something new each year, Herrero said. This year it’s a new temple.

The main purpose of the nativity scene, Herrero said, is to evangelize, “to tell people in some way, ‘We’re going to put an image to the things you have read about.’”

One of his favorite parts of doing the nativity each year is watching parents hold children in their arms to look at everything, he said.

“They really share together the joy of the birth of Christ through all the little figurines, through the lakes, through the fish, all that we put on display,” he said. “It’s like a big train set or a big doll house. It combines the interest of children and adults all at once.”

Casarin and Herrero said they enjoy being a part of this tradition, and hope it will continue for years.

 “I tell God, give me the strength to continue doing this, but at the same time give me the strength to be able to convey the knowledge of how it’s built to other people, so when Pepe and I are old, we have others who want to continue this tradition,” Herrero said.

Want to go?
Herrero and Casarin said everyone is invited to view the nativity at Cristo Rey, located at 4221 J St, and they will offer tours at request.

On Christmas Eve, the nativity will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight. On all other days, it will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Each year visitors are asked to make a donation as a way to support the parish, which serves a large low-income population. This year half of the donations collected will go to the parish and half will go towards the construction of a Catholic church in Kenya, where Herrera has spent time doing missionary work.

For more information on the nativity, call 402-488-5087 or e-mail here. A video of the Cristo Rey scene can be seen on YouTube here.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Family traditions – new and old

When I was growing up, Christmas time was filled with traditions.

I always looked forward to frosting cookies with our family friends, listening to Christmas music by only the lights of the Christmas tree and watching countless Christmas movies. On Christmas Eve, we went to the children’s Mass where Santa quietly prayed in front the manger before heading out to deliver presents, had our annual bacon-wrapped steak dinner and drove around to look at Christmas lights.

On Christmas morning, my siblings and I woke up extremely early, passed out all the presents and opened gifts rotating from youngest to oldest. Then we ate our mom’s egg bake for breakfast and spent the afternoon with my mom’s side of the family at my Nana’s house.

Christmas just wasn’t the same if those things didn’t happen.

My daughter decorating a sugar cookie – one of several
Christmas traditions in our house.
I remember feeling a bit depressed that first Christmas away from home after being married when I couldn’t participate in our Christmas routine. As much as I enjoyed being with my new husband and his family for the holidays, I missed being with my family, doing what you were “supposed to do” on Christmas.

Now my husband and I have incorporated old traditions with new ones. We still bake and frost Christmas cookies and look at Christmas lights. But we also buy a new Christmas ornament that symbolizes something special that happened over the course of the year.

Whatever your traditions, it’s important to have some, said Laura Buddenberg, manager of youth care training at Boys Town.

Traditions give everyone – children and adults – something to plan for and look forward to at specific times of the year, she said. They also help families set priorities.

“If your family has a tradition of gather for Advent wreath prayer, for example, your children will prompt you to make time for that no matter how busy things get,” she said.

I know that to be true. A few times already my daughter has reminded us to do the Advent wreath in the evening.

Buddenberg said traditions teach children that family matters deeply and that some things are worth keeping and nurturing over time – the family Advent calendar, certain ornaments for the tree or participation in the parish Advent service project, favorite family recipes.

This year I made my dad’s favorite Christmas cookies – Ritz crackers and peanut butter covered in chocolate almond bark. I always think of him when I make them.

God creates families, and children learn who they from their families, Buddenberg said. Traditions provide some framework and structure for that identity, she said.  

“You can see kids light up when they talk about ‘what we do in our family at Christmas,’” Buddenberg said. “Traditions tell them they belong to people who love them.”

By definition, traditions are practices that are passed down from one generation to another. They provide a way to share an experience together in the present, while remembering loved ones who aren’t physically with us anymore, she said.

One of my treasured Christmas gifts is a book of handwritten Christmas recipes from my Nana, who died eight years ago. During the Advent season she baked goodies with her grandchildren, so whenever I make her peanut butter balls or chocolate mint cookies, I think of her.

What traditions to you celebrate during Advent and Christmas? Tell us about them on our Facebook page or by commenting on this blog.

You can find some great suggestions for honoring traditions, and creating new ones, on the Boys Town parenting website,

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrating Mary

This month we celebrate two Marian feast days: the Immaculate Conception, when Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb without original sin, and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which marks Mary’s appearance to a St. Juan Diego in Mexico.

I’ve always felt a special devotion to Mary because my middle name is Mae – and it grew even more after becoming a mother.

Now that my daughter is almost 3, I have grand plans of celebrating saint feast days in some form or another. I thought starting with a feast for “Holy Mary” as my daughter, Madelyn Mae, refers to her, was a perfect place to start.  

Our Blessed Mother
Photo credit: stockexchange/reichinger
We started the morning of the Immaculate Conception – which normally is Dec. 8, but this year was observed Dec. 9 – with white, powdered doughnuts for breakfast in honor of Our Lady’s purity. We colored a picture of Mary I found on the Internet in the afternoon. And for dinner we had a feast, which included chicken tortellini with alfredo sauce, broccoli and blueberry muffins, and white cupcakes for dessert, all in honor of Mary. 

We ended the day with a bedtime story about Mary and praying the Hail Mary.

I know Madelyn didn’t get all the connections to Mary throughout the day, but I enjoyed keeping “Holy Mary” the focus of the day.

And I plan to continue our celebration of Mary with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12. I won’t be able to do as much with it because I work that day, but I know we’ll have Mexican food for dinner. And perhaps color a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe for our evening activity. I’ll buy I’m sure we’ll end the day reading the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe (see below).

Incorporating the lives of the saints into our family life will be a great way for my daughter – and my husband, Jason, who was baptized just five years ago – to get to know more about the holy saints in heaven. 
Doing so will definitely be one of my goals for the coming year. I invite you to consider doing the same. 

Share your ideas on celebrating saint feast days with us by commenting on this posting.

If you’d like to learn more about the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, I’ve included a few paragraphs on each.

This excerpt is taken from

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain – that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings. 

When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). The phrase “full of grace” is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary. 

The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.” Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for “daughter”). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence. 

This is taken from the website for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Shrine in Port Arthur, Texas,

At dawn Dec. 9, 1531, on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian (canonized in 2002 as St. Juan Diego by Pope John Paul II). While on his way to attend Mass he heard sounds of chirping birds and beautiful music, wondering where it was coming from and its meaning. Then he heard a voice calling him. There she revealed herself to him as “the Ever Virgin Mother of the True God,” and made known her desire that a shrine be built there to bear witness to her love, compassion and protection. She sent him to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga in Mexico City to request her great desire.
The bishop dismissed the humble Indian without paying attention to his story. Two more times Our Lady appeared to Juan, requesting him to deliver the same favor. He did as she asked and finally the bishop asked for a sign. So, Juan reported this to her and she promised to grant a sign the following morning.

Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Photo credit: kconnors/ 
On Dec. 12, while on his way to bring a priest to his dying uncle, Our Lady appeared to him for the fourth time. She assured him of his uncle’s recovery and told him to gather fresh roses he would find growing on the frosty summit of the rocky and barren hill. This done, she arranged the castilian roses in his tilma (cloak) and hurried him to the bishop, giving him an account of their origin. This is what is known as “The Miracle of the pink roses.”

To the bishop’s amazement, when Juan opened up his tilma before him, there was painted upon it a miraculous image of Our Lady exactly as she had appeared on Mount Tepeyac. The bishop prostrated himself in veneration and soon after began the building of the shrine on the top of Mount Tepeyac. The basilica in Mexico City is the most important shrine to Our Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe in all the American continents.

Juan Diego’s cloak, marvelously preserved, can still be seen behind the main altar in the new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is near the original basilica site she requested. Millions from all over Mexico and the world make their way to venerate Our Blessed Mother and to implore her intercession. She stated to Juan, “Am I not here as your Mother?”

 Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Monday, December 9, 2013

WOWT Holiday Food Drive: Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

If we see someone who needs help, do we stop? There is so much suffering and poverty, and a great need for good Samaritans. - Pope Francis

Santa posed for a photo with Bruce, Jen and Matt.
Hard-working men from Two Men and a Truck.
Cindy Jandrain of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul;
Matt Willkom and Bruce McGregor of Spirit 102.7-FM; and
Joe Chiodo, Jackie Ochoa and Ross Jernstrom of WOWT.
Mary Jorgensen and Ross Jernstrom of WOWT 6 News. 

Spirit Catholic Radio's very own Spirit Mornings team embraced the frigid temperatures this weekend to join forces with WOWT 6 News for the annual WOWT NBC Omaha Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Spirit Mornings co-hosts Jen Brown, Bruce McGregor, Matt Willkom and Director of Underwriting Mary Jorgensen helped gather donations on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Hyvee parking lot at 51st and Center in Omaha. 

Donations were also being accepted at the Hyvee in Papillion at Shadow Lake Towne Center. Two Men and a Truck were on-site providing transportation for the food items.

Individuals from the community generously gathered non-perishable food items, household items and personal care items to be donated to those in need through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

Currently, the most-needed items include canned fruit, canned tomato products, peanut butter, canned vegetables, double roll toilet paper, rice and monetary donations for fresh meat and milk.

"Even though it was cold, the outpouring of love from the community warmed my heart," said Jen Brown.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was very satisfied with the outcome of the food drive. An astounding 16,000 pounds of food and $1,500 in cash donations were gathered on Saturday.

A Catholic lay organization, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to person service to the needy and suffering.

For more information about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and how you can get involved, please visit their website.

Prayer for the Hungry 
A Mealtime Prayer
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts:
The gift of food, for us and for others;
Of generosity, that when we have plenty
None should go hungry the whole world over;
The gift of hearts that grow in humility and compassion
For each of your children who suffers misfortune;
The gift of your love that extends our reach,
And would not deny your gifts to another.
Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Blogged by Kelly Miller, Marketing and Promotions Manager.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent – Patiently waiting for the coming of Christ

It’s hard to wait for Christmas, especially when stores display holiday decorations before Halloween, radio stations begin playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and Black Friday – and this year Brown Thursday – and Cyber Monday shopping sales push you to buy now and buy more.

But by focusing on the season of Advent instead of the Christmas decorations, holiday parties and presents, we can hopefully slow down and remember what Christmas is all about. And for what and for whom we are waiting.

Dec. 1 marked the first day of the Advent season – a season of waiting and preparing for the coming of Christ into our world and our lives. We prepare for the celebration of the mystery of God becoming one with our human condition in Jesus Christ.

During Advent, we also prepare for Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

“Christ has come to us in history. Christ comes to us in Word and sacrament and Christ will come in glory,” said Father Denny Hanneman, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue. “We stand in the midpoint and we dare to hope and, in fact, eagerly await his coming in the present and in the future.”

The themes of this season invite us to ponder our longing for the gift of salvation, the waiting with patience, and anticipation for the full realization of the Christian mystery, which we now hold in our hearts with hope, he said.  
Advent provides an opportunity to practice how we will respond when Christ comes again, and learn to recognize Christ and receive him whenever and however he comes into our lives, said Father Jim Golka, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in North Platte.

“Christ will be born in us if we accept the fact that we need him,” he said.

How much do you need Christ in your life? That’s something to ponder during Advent.

Advent also is the season of gift-giving. Now giving and receiving gifts can either make you crazy or it can help you share more fully in God’s life. How you celebrate Advent will make all the difference, Father Golka said.

“During this time of year we are contemplating the great mystery of our God who is by nature a gift-giver. God has given God’s self into our world to be one with us,” he said. “We give gifts because we are participating in the most wonderful gift ever exchanged: the life we are able to share in Christ Jesus.”
Celebrating the season

Advent provides ample opportunity for us to grow in our faith either as individuals or as a family. Both Fathers Golka and Hanneman suggested ways to celebrate Advent. Here are some ideas:

1.      Use an Advent Wreath, a Jesse Tree or pray together as a family. 

2.      The beauty of the season is captured uniquely in the Scripture readings for the days of Advent. Take the time to read and ponder these beautiful readings.  

3.      Use the themes of Advent and Christmas to deepen your understanding of our Church’s teachings on social justice. For example, Jesus who is born into straw poverty calls us to help care for all impoverished children and all who are less fortunate.  The birth of Jesus and the murder of the innocents call us to continue our work against abortion and to develop greater respect for the gift of human life. The miraculous pregnancy of Mary can provide an opportunity to speak about sex-education and especially the wonder and respect for our bodies and the reproductive process. The gifts of the Magi might help us better understand stewardship principles which call us to nurture and tend to God’s gifts in responsible and loving ways.

4.      Parents, take time to discuss with your children who Jesus is to you. Why have you decided to follow Jesus with your life? What helps you to better follow Jesus? What gets in the way of your following Jesus? Why is it important to you that your children know Jesus?

5.      Simplify Christmas preparations so that they don't become burdensome.  I think it's important to remember the reasons why we give gifts and try to focus on the importance of passing on Christmas customs to future generations.

6.      Advent is a good time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even though this season is not strictly penitential like Lent. What are the barriers that currently prevent me from receiving the Lord who comes?  What are the distractions that keep me from embracing the Lord who comes?

7.       Observe the family tradition of the Advent wreath at the principal family meal. Participate in the spirit of the season by buying gifts for the poor through local Advent Angel projects.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Welcome to the network, Chadron!

Spirit Catholic Radio is happy to announce that as of Dec. 1, Chadron's 89.3-FM is the newest signal in the radio network. 

Chadron is located in the Grand Island Diocese in northwestern Nebraska.

In honor of the launch, several local guests were on the air yesterday to welcome Chadron to the network including Bishop William J. Dendinger of the Diocese of Grand Island, Fr. Timothy Stoner of St. Patrick's Catholic Parish in Chadron and Colby Thomazin of Chadron State College's Newman Center.

“Spirit Catholic Radio is a blessing for the state of Nebraska,” said Bishop William J. Dendinger of the Diocese of Grand Island. “It allows believers and non-believers to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. I encourage those within the diocese to tune-in and invite their family and friends to do the same.”

Executive Director of Spirit Catholic Radio Jim Carroll recently shared the following message with listeners in Chadron:

"I am delighted to welcome the community of Chadron to the family of Spirit Catholic Radio listeners across the state of Nebraska. Beginning Dec. 1, you can hear Spirit Catholic Radio on 89.3-FM. With the addition of Spirit 89.3-FM Chadron, the Spirit Catholic Radio Network now has five stations that cover 76 percent of the population of the state and the three Nebraska Catholic dioceses and reaches into Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri. Spirit Catholic Radio is a non-profit radio apostolate. Our mission is simply to transmit the Good News of Jesus Christ over the radio airwaves. It is our hope that through the family-friendly programming we provide, we’ll help our listeners to develop closer, more meaningful relationships with Christ, learn more about their faith and feel inspired. We carry a variety of programs with nearly 30 hours a week of locally-produced programs in Nebraska, as well as from over 30 sources throughout the country including EWTN, Ave Maria and other networks. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy what you hear on Spirit 89.3-FM. On behalf of the entire team at Spirit Catholic Radio and our four additional stations—welcome to the family Chadron!"

The entire team at Spirit Catholic Radio wishes to extend a warm welcome to our newest listeners in Chadron and we look forward to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with you through the radio airwaves each day. 

Click here to download a program guide in Mountain Standard Time (MST).