Thursday, January 30, 2014

Catholic Schools

I’m proud to say I’m a product of 12 years of Catholic education. Thanks to my parents and their commitment to Catholic schools, my siblings and I attended Blessed Sacrament School and Pius X High School, both in Lincoln.

While I may have taken my Catholic education for granted at the time, looking back, I know it made a real difference in my life. Not only did I receive a quality education, but Catholic schools – along with guidance from my parents – also established a strong foundation on which to build my faith. There I learned about church teachings, prayers and saints, as well as values and morals based on the Gospel of Jesus and the importance of having a servant’s heart. Everything was centered on Christ and being Christ-like to others.

This week is National Catholic Schools Week, an annual celebration of Catholic education in the U.S., and it’s a good time to reflect on the impact Catholic schools make on the lives of so many. Catholic school students at St. Albert in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the 117 Catholic schools in Nebraska and others across the country have been celebrating this week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and the community at large.

The following are comments from Catholic school alum about the impact Catholic education had on their lives.

Greg Zuerlein, placekicker for the St. Louis Rams
Attended St. Joseph School and Pius X High School, both in Lincoln
“My life has been greatly impacted by my Catholic education and by many of the great teachers that work in them.  Looking back on my grade school days, I realize the great value that a Catholic education gave me. What I was being taught at home was reinforced and built upon at school, which is not the case in public schools where God is not talked about and sometimes even shunned. The foundation my Catholic schools gave me of faith, family, morals and treating all people with respect set a great foundation for the rest of my life from a young age. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my best friends are the friends I grew up with in grade school and high school. The Catholic school system in Lincoln set me up to grow with my peers in a Catholic setting, making it easy for all of us to share our beliefs and talk to one another.

“Another, and in my opinion the most important, part of why a Catholic education is so great is because of the ability to regularly receive the sacraments. In grade school our whole school would go to Mass every single day of the week! We also went to the sacrament of reconciliation once a month. I feel that being able to regularly receive the sacraments and receiving God’s grace is imperative to grow each individual’s relationship with God. Going to Catholic schools fulfilled all of this for me, and while I am by no means even close to perfect, I feel the Catholic school system set me down the right path.”

Patrick Slattery, superintendent of Catholic schools for Archdiocese of Omaha
Attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through his undergraduate degree at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass.
“I credit my Catholic education, along with the spiritual guidance provided by my parents, with allowing me to become the Catholic adult I am today. That is to say, my strong faith life, my commitment to church teachings, and my general desire to build a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ all stem from the foundation I received in Catholic schools. 

“Catholic education strives to bring our students to a realization that possessing strong values and character, having compassion for the marginalized, knowing God, and understanding and living out church teaching are all superior goals than is scoring well on the ACT.”

Sarah Kroenke, junior high English Language Arts teacher at Westside Middle School in Omaha
Attended St. Wenceslaus School in Dodge
“My teachers at St. Wenceslaus Catholic School in Dodge were the best. They taught us how to sing, how to be creative artistically, and gave us a strong foundation academically by making us write, read and compute! My favorite spiritual activities mostly happened in fourth grade when Sister Monica Kopecky taught us how to act out the stations, read ‘The Miracle of Marcelino’ to us aloud, and led prayer services with us where we would go into our ‘heart room.’”

Father Scott Hastings, priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha in graduate studies in Rome
Attended St. Wenceslaus and Creighton Prep schools in Omaha; Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.; University of Dallas; St. Louis University and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, both in St. Louis; Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Taught at Norfolk Catholic Schools and St. Leonard School in Madison
“I’ve been in school for 23 ½ years. I’ve been in Catholic schools for all but three of those. That’s almost two-thirds of my life sitting in a desk. Most of my closest friends come from those times and so many rewarding experiences as a priest come from the classroom or from school life. I did not expect to be studying again after ordination, but being in 23rd grade is still lively and interesting. What I’m aware of, having taught and having been a pastor, is that there is a great deal of selflessness in our teachers and administrators. They really are interested not just in imparting information, but forming the whole person sitting in front of them. What separates Catholic schools from other schools is that they can use Our Lord as their model. When that works well, it gives the student a tremendous gift.” 

Jeremy Petry, dealer service manager for Exeter Finance Corp.
Attended St. Albert Catholic Schools in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He is the head baseball coach and 5th grade girls basketball coach at St. Albert, and his three children attend St. Albert.
“I feel the Catholic education I received from St. Albert helped me pave the path to where I am today by providing me the support of not only my classmates and the administration but my faith to help me make the right decisions.    

“One of the many things I like about St. Albert is the family atmosphere throughout the school.  I also like the cradle-to-college philosophy at St. Albert with the daycare and the high school all under one roof.   
“We moved from West Omaha in 2009 to Council Bluffs and there was only choice for us for our children for school and that was St. Albert. We like the faith-based education our children received at St. Albert with the religion classes and Mass every week.” 

Gabi Feldner, senior at Kearney Catholic High School, Kearney
“The teachers at Kearney Catholic have been with me every step of the way, and I love how every one of them knows me by name. I was definitely able to make some great friends and lasting memories. But Kearney Catholic was able to offer me even more in the ways of my faith. Every student has religion classes at least three times a week, and during the junior and senior years are required to do service projects outside of school. We also have the opportunity to attend an additional weekly Mass on Thursdays, and reconciliation twice during the year. I have learned so much from my experiences and classes at Kearney Catholic, and I know it has prepared me for the next step in my life. I am so glad to have been able to call it my home away from home for the last six years.” 

Wallace Kruce, operations general manager at Chicago Union Station for US Equities Asset Management
Attended St. Wenceslaus School and Bishop Neumann High School, both in Wahoo, and DePaul University in Chicago
“My Catholic education, through the gift of faith, prepared me to make sacrifices for those I love. This confidence to look beyond short-term discomforts has allowed me to achieve important goals in life, like an education, establishing a fulfilling a career and most important starting a family.

“To pass this opportunity on to our children, my wife and I send ours kids to our parish school.” 

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Superstar Catholic Schools

Spirit Catholic Radio is proud to announce the ten 2014 Superstar Catholic Schools. These schools were chosen based on voting in our annual Superstar Catholic School Contest that took place Jan. 13 through 18.

We wish to thank everyone who voted in the contest and send our gratitude to all Catholic schools, teachers, staff, administration, students, parents and volunteers. Thank you for your work in educating our youth.

We'd also like to wish you all a happy Catholic Schools Week!

2014 Superstar Catholic School Winners
All interviews noted below will take place during the Spirit Mornings show--6:40 to 9:00 a.m. CST.
Omaha/Iowa Metro Superstar Catholic Schools
St. Stephen the Martyr School - Omaha  |  Interview on Monday, Jan. 27
St. James/Seton School - Omaha  |  Interview on Tuesday, Jan. 28
St. Vincent de Paul School - Omaha  |  Interview on Wednesday, Jan. 29
Mary Our Queen School - Omaha  |  Interview on Monday, Jan. 27
Northeast Nebraska Superstar Catholic Schools
St. Mary School - O'Neill  |  Interview Monday, Jan. 27
Holy Family School – Lindsay  |  Interview on Wednesday, Jan. 29
Central/Western Nebraska Superstar Catholic Schools
St. Michael School – Hastings  |  Interview on Tuesday, Jan. 28
McDaid Elementary School - North Platte  |  Interview on Wednesday, Jan. 29
Lincoln Area Superstar Catholic Schools
St. Teresa School – Lincoln  |  Interview on Tuesday, Jan. 28
Lourdes Central Catholic Schools - Nebraska City  |  Interview on Thursday, Jan. 30

Friday, January 24, 2014

March for Life

Earlier this week, thousands of people – a majority of them young people – endured frigid temperatures and slippery snow as they marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest legalized abortion in this country, which has claimed the lives of more than 55 million unborn babies since 1973.

Group from the Lincoln
Diocese with Bishop Conley.
Among them were nearly 600 youths from our listening area, including Jacinta Benton, a junior at Pius X High School in Lincoln. Benton said the Jan. 22 March for Life, which marked the 41st anniversary of the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, was a positive and joyful way to give a voice to the voiceless children who have been aborted.

“We held signs and chanted things like ‘We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how ‘bout you?’:)” Benton said.

She said in addition to bringing back fun memories and new experiences from D.C., she came home with a deeper respect for life and for Catholics.

“Sometimes you forget there are other Catholics in the world who are as on fire with their faith as you are,” Benton said. “It was very refreshing and hopeful to see how many others agree and hope for the same thing: the end of the genocide called abortion.”

While many of us were unable to go to the March for Life, we can do something similar by participating in the Nebraska Walk for Life Jan. 25 in Lincoln. The 10 a.m. walk will begin on the north side of the State Capitol Building and conclude at the UNL Student Union. There Emily Horne, a legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, will speak about how Texas closed abortion facilities and stood up to pro-abortion forces at the Texas State Capitol last summer.

A pro-life Mass, sponsored by the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, will precede the walk at 9 a.m. at St. Mary Church on 14th and K streets in Lincoln. Bishop James Conley of Lincoln will preside at the Mass, with Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island concelebrating. Father Walter Nolte, chaplain to the Respect Life Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Omaha and pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Omaha, will be the homilist.

Jeff Schinstock, director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Lincoln, said he tells people to go to pro-life marches because “seeking justice brings people to seek Jesus Christ.”

While a march may not affect or change the abortion laws in this country, it does change hearts, he said.
“It serves as a beautiful seed that leads to flourishing spiritual lives,” Schinstock said.

More important, it is a large and loud step towards protecting the vulnerable, he said.

I agree. A large group of people walking through the streets of a city, holding signs about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness makes bystanders think. Hopefully it changes the hearts and minds of pro-abortion advocates or those indifferent to the abortion issue.

I’ve participated in several local and national pro-life marches, and I do it to be a voice for the voiceless, for my all those babies who weren’t given a chance to live because they were aborted. I march for the moms who choose life even when it’s not an easy choice, for the parents who choose adoption over abortion, for those women who want to be mothers but can’t because of infertility, and for the couples who have been hurt mentally, physically and spiritually by abortion. 

I also march for those organizations that help pregnant women contemplating abortion choose life. It’s one thing to protest, but it’s another thing to sit next to a scared, pregnant woman and promise to help her through her pregnancy. I think it’s just as important to support pregnancy care centers, which provide all sorts of assistance to mothers and fathers, including free pregnancy tests, medical services, educational programs, baby items and ultrasound screenings.

So, let’s not give up. Continue the good fight to end abortion. Pray, speak out and support life from conception to natural death. 

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Steve Ray

Encounter Jesus. This is the theme Spirit Catholic Radio has chosen to represent our 15th year of broadcasting the Gospel message throughout the heartland.

To kick off this special year of helping others Encounter Jesus, we were blessed to have best-selling author, speaker and friend of the network, Steve Ray, join us on Sunday and Monday in Omaha and Lincoln.

Steve spoke to approximately 800 people at St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha on Sunday, Jan. 19 and a crowd of approximately 600 at St. John the Apostle in Lincoln on Monday, Jan. 20. 

His talks surrounded the Gospel of St. John and were engaging and rich with interesting facts and Scripture. 

If you would like to hear Steve's talks, they are available for download on his website for a donation of $5. Click here for more information.

The team at Spirit Catholic Radio wishes to thank everyone who joined us at the Steve Ray events. We are blessed to have you as listeners and look forward to working together this year to help others Encounter Jesus. 

Steve Ray talks to the crowd at St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha.

Steve Ray talks to the crowd at St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha.

Steve Ray talks to the crowd at St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha.

Karol Carroll, Steve Ray and Executive Director
Jim Carroll at the Omaha event.

Emily Carroll, daughter of Executive Director Jim Carroll,
helped out at the Omaha event.

Steve speaks to the crowd in Lincoln.

Steve speaks to the crowd in Lincoln.

Steve receives a blessing by Fr. Adam Sughroue
before speaking in Lincoln.
A large crowd at St. John the Apostle in Lincoln.
Steve speaks at St. John the Apostle in Lincoln.
Steve speaks to the crowd in Lincoln.

Blogged by Marketing and Promotions Manager, Kelly Miller

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Superstar Catholic Schools

Spirit Catholic Radio is proud to support Catholic education. That's why we created the annual Superstar Catholic School Contest, which is taking place right now for the second year. The contest was created to take place in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week and to honor the Catholic schools in our listening area.

How does the contest work? All Catholic elementary schools in the Spirit Catholic Radio listening area are eligible to win and listed on our website. From Jan. 13 through Jan. 18, the public is encouraged to go to the website and vote for their favorite school. The top two schools from the Central Nebraska region; top two from the Northeast Nebraska region; top two from the Lincoln region; and top four from the Omaha/Iowa Metro region will be named Superstar Catholic Schools. Those schools will receive a custom banner, an interview on the Spirit Mornings show which will air during Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 27 through 31 and a feature on our website.

As an added bonus, everyone voting for their favorite school will be entered to win one of two mini-trips to the Regency Lodge in Omaha or the Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.

Last year, approximately 8,000 people voted for their favorite schools and this year we're expecting just as many, if not more. Spirit Catholic Radio is thrilled that so many of our listeners are taking the time to show their support for Catholic education. 

To vote for your favorite school, don't forget to visit our website by Saturday, Jan. 18 at midnight. Share this contest with your friends and family and help us recognize the amazing work done by those involved in Catholic schools. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Spirit Catholic Radio

Today marks Spirit Catholic Radio's 15-year anniversary. 

For the past 15 years, this non-profit radio apostolate has been spreading the Gospel message over the airwaves. The mission? To bring Christ to people and people to Christ--allowing others to encounter Jesus.

During 2014, Spirit Catholic Radio has a number of special events planned in honor of this special anniversary year and has selected "Encounter Jesus" as a theme.

The radio network wishes to thank all listeners, volunteers, donors and prayer partners who have made the past 15 years possible. And of course, glory and thanks be to God!

As a fun way to thank our listeners on this anniversary, enjoy the video below featuring a song by Spirit Catholic Radio's very own Matt Willkom, who has become famous on the network for his wacky parody songs. 

Without further further ado, we bring you "The Monk."

Monday, January 6, 2014


It’s been nearly 10 years since I traveled to Italy on a pilgrimage, yet I can still remember the vibrant-colored facades in Venice, the peacefulness of Assisi and the overwhelming excitement I felt seeing the late Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

That 10-day trip not only took me to amazing and holy places, including Florence and Padua, but also brought to life the lives of the saints. I saw the stone on which St. Anthony laid his head while resting in the garden, prayed in front of the crucifix from which Jesus spoke to St. Francis of Assisi, the room where St. Philip Neri levitated while in meditation, the incorruptible bodies of St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Catherine of Siena and the chains that bound St. Peter.

For me, that Italy pilgrimage made a huge impression on my faith life, and it’s something I’ll always cherish.

You have a chance this fall to make a pilgrimage and walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, when Spirit Catholic Radio sponsors a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate the station’s 15th anniversary. Steve Ray, an author, producer and Bible scholar, will lead the Oct. 31-Nov. 9 pilgrimage, which will take you to Athens, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Ephesus, Pergamum, Corinth, Patmos and Istanbul, with an optional trip to Rome, Lanciano and Manoppello.

After many years of planning pilgrimages, Steve has developed a unique itinerary that you won’t find anywhere else. Most cruise lines serve a mix of secular and Biblical attractions, but the ports on this cruise have been handpicked by Steve and are all focused on the Bible.

Joining Steve will be Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln; Father Michael Voithofer, associate pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha; Father Scott Courtney, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Steinauer and Sacred Heart Parish in Burchard; and Jim Carroll, executive director of Spirit Catholic Radio. 

Steve and his wife, Janet, are the writers, producers and hosts of the Footprints of God video series. Steve is the author of five books, speaks around the world and is a guest on many radio and television programs. 

If you’re interested in the pilgrimage, you can find more information on our website,

 Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Spiritual Resolutions

With the new year here, it’s time to think about resolutions. Each year I make a concerted effort to make both physical and spiritual goals, and this year isn’t any different.

Like most people, I hope to get in better shape physically in 2014 by eating better and exercising regularly. I want to run a 5K sometime this year, too. I also want to focus more on the blessings in my life, so I’m going to keep a thankful journal and write in it each night before I go to bed.

It’s equally important that I grow in my spiritual life this year. So I plan to read the Bible for 10 minutes and pray a decade of the rosary every day and go to the sacrament of reconciliation at least once a quarter.

Father Robert Barnhill, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Beatrice, said both physical and spiritual resolutions are great to consider each new year.

And you can combine them.

Physical well-being resolutions regarding food intake or exercise could include a spiritual component, such as praying a rosary during the exercise time, he said. You also could fast with a spiritual focus by not eating a dessert as a form of self-denial.

“Deny yourself some sensual or appetite pleasure each day,” Father Barnhill said. “The late Bishop (Glennon Patrick) Flavin taught me to leave the last bite of your favorite food on your plate as an act of self-denial.”

Some people might want to select one thing to focus on, such as the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation or Mary, and form their spiritual resolution around that, he said. You could focus on the Eucharist by regularly attending Mass on a weekday, visiting to the Blessed Sacrament or making a Holy Hour, Father Barnhill said. Or concentrate on the sacrament of penance by going to confession once a month and making an examination of conscience each night before bed, he said. Those who want to focus on their relationship with Mary could pray the rosary, carry a rosary in their purse or pocket and pray a decade of the rosary each day, Father Barnhill said.

Whatever you choose as your spiritual resolution, keep it simple, said Missionary Benedictine Sister Carole Ann Clark of Norfolk.

“You may quit any of your resolutions by March if the resolution is not made with the Holy Spirit to bring you to deeper intimacy with God,” she said. “And that should be the motive for anything you may choose to do this year.” 

Sister Clark had several suggestions for spiritual resolutions, including trying to live your day with the “grammar of gratitude, not the mumble of grumble.”

She also encouraged people to meet everyone with hospitality.

“Remember Christ is in each person, friend or enemy,” Sister Clark said.

Another recommendation was to make an examination of your day to see where you could do better at the good you already do. This will help you automatically improve inner attitudes at your job and your family life, she said.

Sister Clark suggested setting aside time for journaling. Perhaps one of the readings at Mass was powerful for you. How? Why? Write it down, she said.

Another option is to practice living in the presence of God, practice the “Jesus Prayer” – “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” – sit for a set time in Centering Prayer, pray an hour of adoration each week, or pray the rosary regularly, she said.

There are so many little ways to pray and become more intimate with God, Sister Clark said.

“To become holy, we just need the resolve to do them, and be grateful for the grace to even begin.”

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, Senior Writer/Reporter

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Spirit Catholic Radio would like to wish you and your family a blessed New Year 2014. Thank you for your listenership this past year and for your continued support in 2014. With your help, we look forward to bringing more people to Christ by spreading the Good News over the radio airwaves.

A Family New Year's Prayer
From Loyola Press
God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.