Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pope canonizations

This guest post is by Fr. Dan Kampschneider, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, who was in Rome for the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Below he shares his canonization experiences with Spirit Catholic Radio.

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII
Courtesy: ncregister.com.
Coming to Rome for the Canonization Mass for Popes John XXIII and John Paul II has been an experience of a lifetime for me. I can recall as a seminarian attending the Canonization Mass of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in September 1975 after arriving in Rome a few weeks earlier. I had the unforgettable privilege of serving and carrying Pope Paul VI’s crosier at the Canonization Mass of St. John Neumann, a bishop from Philadelphia in June 1977.

The canonization of Pope John Paul II, in particular, has far more impacted me than those other canonizations. I had the opportunity not only to witness Pope John Paul’s election, but also to have his papacy profoundly my priesthood and our church entering the Third Millennium.

I had the privilege of leading 26 people on a pilgrimage for the Canonization Mass on Sunday, April 27. Ten members of our group are from St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, where I serve as pastor. We were extremely fortunate to stay at a religious sisters’ guest house about 150 yards from St. Peter’s Square. We watched people walking by day and night in large groups processing to St. Peter’s Square in anticipation of the Canonization Mass.

Once we arrived in Rome, we immediately walked to St. Peter’s Square where it was filled with milling people. On the front of the basilica hung two large tapestries with the images of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II. The line for the entrance into the basilica was over a quarter mile in length. This was already a few days before the canonization took place.

Everywhere on the side streets around St. Peter’s Basilica were posters of three popes – Pope Francis with John XXIII and John Paul II. Those posters said much, however, there was another pope that could be included, retired Pope Benedict XVI. There was a festive spirit among the people. As a priest wearing the Roman collar, I was asked frequently by people for directions to various churches or other questions about the significance of what is happening.

Our group went on April 26 to the village of Assisi, three hours north of Rome, in the Apennine Mountain range. It was a bright sunny day with rolling fog clouds moving across the mountain backdrop. Assisi is the home of Sts. Francis and Clare. There were extraordinarily large crowds of people at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, where St. Francis had lived and died. A guide who has worked in Assisi for about 45 years said these were the largest crowds they had ever seen as a guide.

While I was visiting with two priests from Poland in the sacristy before Mass, one priest mentioned he had been in Omaha at the Pope Paul VI Institute two weeks ago. They were both professors at the University of Lublin, where Pope John Paul II had taught. I congratulated them for their new Polish saint, and they responded, saying St. John Paul II is our new saint for the church.

Never had I seen such large crowds in the centuries-old village of Assisi. Long lines of buses and cars filled the roads. Something remarkable happened, however. There was no honking of horns and few frustrated drivers. If you have lived very long in Italy, you know there is little patience with delayed drivers. Even the milling people filling the Basilica of St. Clare and the Basilica of St. Francis were remarkably respectful of each other.

When we returned to Rome on Saturday evening, the cars were cleared from the major streets around St. Peter’s Basilica. Our guide said he had never seen the wide streets cleared of any vehicles. That evening and into the night, large groups of people processed by the hotel on their way to St. Peter’s Square. They were usually led by priests, accompanied by people waving their national flags and chanting religious songs. Early into the morning, the groups continued to come by. One group, in particular, was touching as they walked, singing a song to the Madonna, while they carried the Polish flag and the Vatican flag. In the back of the group walked a little boy, four or five years old, who was proudly waving a Polish flag.

I was very impressed by a number of people in our group who wanted to line up overnight for the privilege of attending the Canonization Mass. Very few tickets were given to the public for the Mass in St. Peter’s Square. After our Saturday evening dinner at 8 p.m., members of our group left throughout the night and into the early morning hours. They took along a warm coat, some food items and water, and a portable three-legged chair.

They joined thousands of other pilgrims at the only entrance to St. Peter’s Square. It was a very challenging situation where once you were in line you were continually pressed by other people throughout the night.

It turned out to be a physically demanding experience as people tried to stand, move forward, and were pressed on all sides for hours on end. People kept coming into the line every hour. It was said that Poland had sent 700 buses and left off at the outskirts of Rome. The police would not allow vehicles to drive in the central area of Rome. If there were up to 70 people in each bus, that would add 35,000 to almost 50,000 people coming every hour of the night. No wonder I kept hearing groups of people walking and singing by my window every hour of the night.

Standing in line for hours did not allow for actual breaks to eat, drink or rest, but members of our group told of wonderful kindnesses extended to them by strangers. A number of people became dehydrated and needed medical attention after they had fainted. Medical assistance tents were set up to support the people undergoing strain.

Early in the morning, the lines into St. Peter’s Square gradually opened up to groups of people. The weather was cool and cloudy. I was fortunate to have a ticket for the priest section near the front of St. Peter’s Square, and was seated about 250 feet from the altar and 300 feet from the pope’s chair. There were more than 1,000 cardinals and bishops concelebrating at the Mass. The priest section held about 5,000 seats. The square slowly filled each hour as people were allowed in by groups after their night-long vigil. A few members of our group actually got in the middle of the square while some others were close to the entrance of the square. There were large TV monitors placed where the thousands of people could view the Mass.

I met up with Fr. Dave Hulshof, a priest friend from my seminary days in Rome who is from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo.
I met Pope John Paul II about six weeks after he was elected in 1978, and Fr. Dave served as a deacon at a Mass shortly before the pope was shot in May 1981. We marveled how we had the privilege to encounter a saint of the church in our lifetime. We felt as if we had come full circle in our experience with Pope John Paul II over the years.

As the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began to ring with full force, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI came to be seated before the Mass. The crowd erupted with a standing ovation with fond appreciation for our retired pope. At the beginning of the Mass, Pope Francis made a point to come to Pope Emeritus Benedict and welcome him to this Mass, which held special meaning for him. Pope Emeritus Benedict had worked very closely with Pope John Paul II during his papacy.

Surprisingly, the canonization ceremony took place at the beginning of Mass with the Litany of Saints. The ceremony entailed three petitions: a request from the church for these two popes to be recognized as saints of the church, a request for the Holy Spirit to bless this process with the “Veni Creator Spiritus” song, and a request for the Holy Father to approve the two popes as saints of the church. When Pope Francis offered his approval, the crowd stood and erupted with loud cheering and sustained applause. Flags and banners waved merrily throughout the square in joyful jubilation and celebration. It was an unforgettable moment of joy and enthusiasm.

Up to this point, there had been dark clouds moving across the sky, and there had been drizzle at the beginning of the Mass. With the pronouncement of the two new saints, the clouds moved apart and the sun began to shine brightly for a few minutes. It was a moment where it seemed nature was honoring the two new saints as well! The readings for the Mass were in Italian, Latin, Polish and Greek. More than 600 priests distributed the Eucharist to the hundreds of thousands attending the Mass. The Mass was a little over two hours with comfortable cloudy weather.

After the Mass, Pope Francis met for almost an hour with special dignitary persons from countries around the world. No one could leave the square as the barricades were closed. Then the Holy Father got into the pope-mobile and rode through the aisles of the square and down the main street leading to the square for about 20 minutes. He waved as he passed through the crowds of people who cheered him enthusiastically. It took a long time for people to file out of the crowded square and surrounding streets. Again, we were pressed in by the seas of people around us.
Later in the afternoon, we were blessed to have an hour visit at the North American College located near St. Peter’s Square. Fr. John Norman, a newly ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and Matt Niggemeyer, a third-year seminarian from Omaha, offered gracious hospitality as we visited the seminary. That evening, members of our group shared their stories about their experiences with their overnight vigil for the Mass. They had been overwhelmed with their physically challenging situations but agreed they had shared an experience of a lifetime.

Afterwards I stopped at the entrance of the guest house where our group stayed and I saw a large picture of Pope John Paul II. He was shown in his later years when he was obviously weakened. His right hand was raised with a blessing. I wonder about the reason for this picture, among hundreds, which could be used to welcome guests. I realize it offers the reason for our love for him. He had a strong love for God and the church. Pope John Paul II would serve in an extraordinary manner for more than 26 years. His strength was exemplified even in his weakness with his powerful faith. No wonder the church has proclaimed him St. John Paul II!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday

Courtesy: Divinemercy.org
This coming Sunday is a very special feast day where the church celebrates the universal availability of Divine Mercy as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Divine Mercy Sunday – this year April 27 – takes place on the eighth day of Easter and is the day Jesus promised he would pour out his mercy on all who seek it.

“Divine Mercy Sunday is the culmination of Easter day,” said Father Michael Voithofer, associate pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha.  “It’s the whole point and purpose and heart of the Easter octave.”

Jesus shared his promise of complete forgiveness of sins and the remission of all punishment due to sin with St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, in the 1930s. He appeared to her several times, and each time she wrote his messages in her diary. Jesus asked St. Faustina’s to record everything he wanted mankind to know about his mercy before he returns to judge the world.

He asked her to paint the vision of his Merciful Divinity being poured from his Sacred Heart and specifically asked for a feast of Divine Mercy to be established on the first Sunday after Easter so mankind would take refuge in him.

Jesus also taught St. Faustina the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which consists of the recitation of prayers to God with the use of the rosary for the sake of Christ’s sorrowful passion.

In one of her diary entries, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her that on Divine Mercy Sunday, “the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy.”

To receive Jesus’ promise, one must go to confession near the feast day, receive communion on the feast day and pray for the pope’s intentions.

If a person dies after doing that, and is in a state of grace, that person will go straight to heaven, without suffering in purgatory, Jesus told St. Faustina. 

Connection to John Paul II
Devotion to the Divine Mercy was suppressed by the Vatican in 1959 due to misinterpretation of St. Faustina’s writings. But it spread again in 1978 at the urging of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, who six months later became Pope John Paul II.

St. Faustina was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, making her the first new saint of the millennium.

In 2003, Pope John Paul II announced that Divine Mercy Sunday would be celebrated universally the Sunday after Easter.

This year’s Divine Mercy Sunday is especially significant because on that day Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII will be canonized as saints. John Paul II was instrumental in advancing and promoting Divine Mercy and the canonization of St. Faustina.

God’s mercy
The mercy of God comes directly from the love of God, said Mike Kube, coordinator of Divine Mercy Sunday activities at St. Mary Cathedral in Grand Island.

“God loves us so very much that he is willing to die for us and is willing to forgive us of absolutely anything,” he said. “To have access to this infinite mercy, all we have to do is acknowledge our sinfulness, be sorry for it, and ask to be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation. In essence, we trust everything about God, especially his anxiousness to forgive us, to have mercy on us.”

Divine Mercy Sunday isn’t our devotion to God but God’s devotion to us, Father Voithofer said.
“God’s greatest attribute is his Divine Mercy,” he said.

That’s why Father Voithofer encourages Catholics to attend a Divine Mercy Sunday event, receive the graces that day and spread the message of Jesus’ Divine Mercy to others.

We are not only to receive the mercy of God, but to use it by being merciful to others through our actions, our words, and our prayers, he said.

“Accept God’s mercy, be merciful to others through prayer, words and actions, and completely trust in God,” he said.

For more information on Divine Mercy Sunday, go to divinemercy.org.

Divine Mercy Sunday activities in the listening area
St. Mary Cathedral in Grand Island
2 p.m. – Divine Mercy video, book/religious items for sale at Cathedral Square
2:30 p.m. – Eucharistic procession at Cathedral Square
2:55 p.m. – Welcome & explanation at Cathedral
3 p.m. – Divine Mercy Chaplet at Cathedral
3-4 p.m. – Confessions at Cathedral
3:45 p.m. – Divine Mercy Litany and Benediction at Cathedral
4 p.m. – Reception at Cathedral Square
4:15 p.m. – Divine Mercy talk at Cathedral Square
5 p.m. – Sunday Mass at Cathedral

St. Vincent de Paul Church in Omaha
2 p.m. – Divine Mercy reflection by Fr. Rob Kroll, SJ
2:20 p.m. – Examination of conscience by Fr. Kevin Barrett (video)
2:50 p.m. – Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
3 p.m. – Chaplet of Divine Mercy
3:20 p.m. – Benediction with eucharistic procession
3:40 p.m. – “Divine Mercy & Pope John Paul II” by Msgr. Joseph Hanefeldt
4 pm. – “Let us be merciful” (video)
4:30 p.m. – Family-led rosary
5 p.m. – Divine Mercy Sunday Mass with Fr. Damien Cook as celebrant
Priests will be available for confessions throughout; Childcare available
For information, call 402-498-9871.
Sponsored by the Apostolate for Family Consecration & Spirit Catholic Radio

Omaha Polish Community
At St. Stanislaus Church in Omaha
10 a.m. – Divine Mercy Chaplet & Litany of St. John Paul in Polish and English
10:30 a.m. – Procession & Mass with hymns in Polish and English. People in folk outfits are invited to march in the procession.
At the Polish Home in Omaha
4-7 p.m. – Dinner & presentation
Display of Pope John Paul II Museum items
4:30 p.m. – BBC tribute documentary film on the life of John Paul II
5:30 p.m. – Travel video & presentation on Wadowice, Poland, the birthplace of John Paul II.
Polish dinner available for $8
For information, call402-592-5117.

St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha
12:30 p.m. – Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
12:30-3 p.m. – Confessions
1 p.m. – Rosary
2:30 p.m. – Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction
3 p.m. – Procession and Mass with Father Patrick Harrison as celebrant

Call Rita Smedra at 402-556-0384 or Connie Johnson at 402-339-8253.

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

John Paul Hauser

Tracy and Tami Hauser prayed for a miracle – and it has come true.

John Paul Hauser, center in green, is
surrounded by his siblings in their
Omaha  home. John Paul, who has Trisomy 13,
wasn't expected to live past birth.
 Now 5, he's thriving, thanks to prayers
 from the community and
 the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
About five years ago, the Omaha couple reached out to their community asking for prayers for their seventh child, John Paul, who was three-months-old at the time. He was born Oct. 9, 2008, with a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13, which doctors consider incompatible with life.

Despite the bleak diagnosis, the Hausers, prayed for their son’s healing through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II, their son’s namesake.

I met the Hausers when they reached out to the Catholic Voice, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha, at which I was a writer at the time. They wanted to spread devotion to the late pope’s beatification and canonization prayer in hopes that he would intercede for them and grant them one of the three miracles needed for his canonization. They hoped 1,000 people would pray the beautification prayer daily with them. They distributed holy cards to their parish community at St. Margaret Mary, as well as neighbors, family and friends. They even dropped some off at the chancery.

In return, they received cards, letters and phone calls from people – some strangers – all over the country telling of prayers for their son, including one from Archbishop Emeritus Elden Francis Curtiss. They received a papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI and a letter written on his behalf telling them of his prayers for their son.

Now five, John Paul is doing well, goes to preschool and is thriving, and although he hasn’t been healed of his disorder, the Hausers said they believe soon-to-be St. John Paul has interceded.

“We have prayed the canonization prayer for the past five and a half years as one of our prayers before bed every night,” Tami said. “We may have to change our prayers slightly, but our commitment and attachment to our family patron in heaven will not waiver.  We are grateful for John Paul ll's intercession and we think of him as an extended family member now.”

Most children born with Trisomy 13 die before birth and a few that survive usually don’t come home from the hospital, Tami said. Those who do come home have a 50 percent chance of dying within the first six months of life and 91 percent chance of dying within the first year, she said.

In his first few months of life, John Paul overcame two episodes where he stopped breathing and recovered on his own, and he has no external or internal malformations, she said. Many babies born with Trisomy 13, which occurs when extra DNA from chromosome 13 appears in some or all of the body’s cells, have multiple abnormalities.

His breathing improved and strengthened over time and he hit most developmental goals.
The couple found out about John Paul’s illness six months into the pregnancy. That’s when they chose to name him after the late pope.

“I really didn’t think we were going to bring him home so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be a good person to look out for him in heaven?’” Tami said.

Tami said John Paul’s life has strengthened her family’s faith and has brought great blessings.
There have been hard things, but those times have shaped the Hauser family and strengthened their faith, she said.

“The prayers and outpouring of love have allowed us to see the body of Christ in action, his hands and his feet at work in our lives,” she said. “We recognize as a family that our hearts have grown, and we ourselves have a greater capacity to love because of this experience.”

This experience, Tami said, has taught the Hausers to wake up every morning and be thankful for what God has given them, to trust in his divine mercy, and to pay forward what has been shown to us, by trying to love their neighbor as greatly as they have been loved.

John Paul today 
John Paul attends morning preschool five days a week. Next year he will be in kindergarten in an Adaptive Curriculum Placement room, and will try a full-day schedule similar to the rest of his classmates, Tami said. 

This summer he will go to summer school for four weeks, and for the first time will attend Munroe Meyer's special needs day camp, at which four of his siblings volunteer.
John Paul wears glasses, but it’s a blessing, Tami said, because most babies with Trisomy 13 are born blind.

In December, he had cataracts removed from his right eye and an eye implant put in, which significantly improved the vision in that eye, she said. John Paul now notices and reaches for things that didn't hold his interest before, she said. He also has a better reference to where the ground is, and his balance has improved, which is critical for standing and walking, Tami said.
He continues to make strides with the walker he uses for balance, and likes to run around in gym and on the playground with the other children, she said.

And John Paul wears hearing aids and has trouble talking, so he uses language cards and hand gestures to communicate.

“He also shakes his head "no", oftentimes when we are trying to feed him green vegetables,” Tami said.

Currently, the family is implementing a talking board as an assistive communication device for John Paul. It has four sections for pictures to select from. The ideal goal is that John Paul will be able to decipher from four different pictures to be used in school for reading, math and science, and also for communicating wants and needs, Tami said.

Celebrating the canonization
The Hausers plan to attend a pre-canonization party at the Pro Sanctity Center near Elkhorn the night before the canonization, and then a Divine Mercy service at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Omaha the day of the canonization. They’ll also eat Papal Cream Cake, which Tami said is rumored to have been John Paul ll's favorite dessert, and renew their consecration to Mary through prayer.

Looking back over the past events, Tami said her family alone couldn't possibly have pulled this all together. They prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet throughout Tami’s pregnancy with John Paul, at the time asking God to be merciful and to help them through what they were being called to face, she said. 

“We had prayed the chaplet before, but didn't actually know that John Paul ll had a large role in instituting that and the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday,” Tami said. “We named our child John Paul before he was born, and at the time didn't know about the beatification and canonization prayer. It seemed so fragmented at the time, but as later events unraveled, it is far too complicated to be situational. It has the fingerprint of God all over it.”

The Hauser family have been committed to studying the life of John Paul ll, and have learned that many church leaders believe that the reason he was such an effective pope that impacted the church and the world so profoundly was because he was a radically converted man who had an enormous capacity to love – and God could did great things with that love, she said. 

“Words cannot adequately express what our hearts feel, but we have been touched by the outpouring of love that people have shown our family,” Tami said. “Many of these people are total strangers, that loved so greatly that they prayed and are still praying for our son, a child they have never met.  We have seen firsthand what God can do when people love greatly.”

Tami said her family wants people to know they are truly grateful for the prayers, and believe they have all played a part in the hastening of John Paul ll's canonization, and also for his intercession on John Paul’s behalf. 

“Our John Paul is a happy boy who laughs often and brings joy to our entire family,” she said. “We want all of those people to know that we feel connected to them and we pray for them, too. We ask God to be with them, to bless them, and to help them with whatever their struggles are.”  

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Triduum

Tomorrow marks the start of the three most important liturgical days in the Catholic Church – the climax to the Lenten season and the springboard into the Easter season.

Often referred to as the Easter Triduum (Latin for “Three Days”), Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday celebrate the central mysteries of our faith – the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Celebrated as one continuous liturgy, the Triduum takes us through Jesus’ saving events and gives us a deeper understanding of our redemption from sin and death to eternal life, said Father Chris Barak, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Seward.

“We look more closely with the special grace God gives us during these holy days at the effects of sin, and appreciate more and more the love God has for us that he would undergo terrible sufferings and death to save us from hell,” he said.

The Triduum begins at dusk on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and continues with Good Friday, when we gather to remember the Lord’s Passion and Death, and Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil Mass, the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. It concludes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.

At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave his followers his body, blood, soul and divinity, which renews the baptismal covenant bound between God and his people, Father Barak said. And the Eucharist expresses and enforces the unity between God and his people, he said.

Through the ceremony of the washing of the feet, which happens during Holy Thursday Mass, we reflect on Jesus’ call to serve others and to help people experience the love of God through our care and concern for others.

“With Jesus in them, the followers of the Lord are empowered to carry out the command of charity to wash the feet of others,” Father Barak said. “And Jesus initiates the sacrament of holy orders by ordaining the apostles as the first priests who will stand in his place and consecrate the Eucharist for future generations.”

After Holy Thursday Mass, we process with Jesus from the Upper Room to the Garden of Agony. Some people may spend time quietly with the Lord, comforting him in his agony to remain faithful through his sufferings to the Father’s will to redeem us, Father Barak said.

“This is a holy evening of gratitude to Jesus as we meditate on his arrest and his trial,” he said.

Good Friday is a special day when Mass is not celebrated. Throughout the day we meditate on Jesus dying and giving himself out of love to the Father, so the Father would forgive our sins and spare us from hell. During the celebration of the Passion of the Lord that evening, we read the Passion from John’s Gospel, venerate the cross, and receive the Eucharist.

On Holy Saturday we meditate on Jesus entering the dwelling of the dead to preach to all who had died before him, inviting them to choose to join him in heaven. That evening, the faithful gather for the Easter Vigil Mass during which the church welcomes new Catholics who have been preparing for months to receive the sacraments for the first time.

“The Easter Vigil helps us in the darkness of the night, symbolizing the darkness sin causes in our thinking, to focus on the Light of Jesus Christ the way to heaven, as symbolized in the flame of the Easter candle, which begins to dispel the darkness,” Father Barak said.

During the Mass, we hear the promises of a Messiah in the Old Testament readings, hear of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to new life, and sing praises to God, he said.

“We renew our baptismal promises to reject Satan and to accept God the Holy Trinity and the Catholic Church,” Father Barak said. “And we conclude with the foretaste of heaven by partaking in the Eucharist, which is the wedding feast of the Lamb of God who laid down his life so that we might choose to live forever with him.”

Father Dan Andrews, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk, said the best way to participate in the Easter Triduum is to attend Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday’s liturgy and the Easter Vigil Mass.

“We make time for what is important to us. What could be more important than the victory of perfect love over death?” he said.

The rites of the Triduum are powerful, Father Andrews said.

“All we have to do is show up and let them have their effect,” he said.

At home, Catholic families can enter into the Triduum by creating the right environment, he said. That could be turning off the television, minimizing or eliminating the use of electronics and observing the fast on Good Friday, he said.

Other suggestions for participating in the Easter Triduum include:

·         Read the Mass readings at home in quiet meditation and discuss what God wants us to understand from them.

·         Pray the Stations of the Cross.

·         Visit churches on Holy Thursday evening to pray with Jesus in the Garden of Agony that’s displayed differently at each church.

·         Go to church on Good Friday when the church is empty of the Eucharist, and sense the absence of Jesus and our need for him.

·         Make a thorough examination of conscience to discover our sins and then confess them to a priest.

·         Fast and abstain from meat not only on Good Friday, but also on Holy Saturday.

·         Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, especially on Good Friday at 3 p.m., which is when Jesus breathed out his Spirit from the cross and died.

·         Pray the rosary and meditate with Mary about the passion she felt in her heart along with Jesus’ Passion.

·         Have some of the Easter food blessed by the priest on Holy Saturday at the church.

·         Singing the “Stabat Mater” (“At the Cross Her Station Keeping”) on Good Friday and chant the “Regina Coeli” (“Queen of Heaven”) on Easter. 

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

School Folder Art Contest Winners Announced

Each year Spirit Catholic Radio provides approximately 25,000 colorful, two-pocket homework folders to Catholic elementary students, compliments of generous business underwriters
Students in our listening areas of Omaha, Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Northeast Nebraska, Central Nebraska and Western Nebraska are invited to use and enjoy the folders in whichever way best serves their needs.
The folders are printed with the artwork from the winners and runners-up from our annual Catholic Schools art contest. Each year, the winners’ artwork is printed on the covers and featured on our web site. Both students and teachers have their names announced on Spirit Catholic Radio in the spring and also win a variety of prizes.
The theme for our 2014 School Folder Art Contest was Encounter Jesus! It's the theme we've chosen to use for the radio network's 15th anniversary, which is this year. 
A big thank you to all the schools and students participating in the 2014 contest. There were tons of fantastic entries from talented students across the listening area. 
The artwork below will be featured on the 2014-15 school folder that will be distributed to all Catholic elementary students in the listening area in August 2014. 

First Place  |  7th-8th Grade Category  |   Marissa Salber, seventh grade, St. Stephen the Martyr in Omaha. Teacher: Mrs. Amy Cowman.
First Place  |  4th-6th Grade Category  |  Savannah Short, sixth grade, St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha. Teacher: Mrs. Clark.
First Place  |  K-3rd Grade Category  |  McKenzie Becker, Kindergarten, St. Joseph in Lincoln. Teacher: Ms. Fox.

Runner up  |  7th-8th Grade Category  |  Cecilia Schneider, eighth grade, St. Cecilia Cathedral School. Teacher: Mrs. Grala.
Runner up  |  4th-6th Grade Category  |  Kate Smith, sixth grade, St. Anthony School in Columbus. Teacher: Roger Krienke.
Runner up  |  K-3rd Grade Category  |  Jacey McConnell, second grade, St. Peter’s Catholic School in Lincoln. Teacher: Mrs. Peg Magnuson.

 Blogged by Kelly Miller, marketing and promotions manager.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Volunteers key in keeping Catholic radio on the air

Volunteers are a vital part of the mission of Spirit Catholic Radio. As a non-profit radio apostolate, volunteers allow the organization to do more, to be more places across the listening area and to reach more people with Christ's message.

There are a number of ways you can volunteer at Spirit Catholic Radio:

  • We need volunteers from across the listening area. This includes the Omaha area, Western Iowa, Northeast Nebraska, Lincoln area, Columbus, Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, Central Nebraska, North Platte and Chadron.
  • Spirit Catholic Radio has three physical studio locations in Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island. At these locations there is a need for clerical/office work as well as help with special projects such as putting together mailings and answering phones for the bi-annual Care-a-thon.
  • In all locations in the listening area we need volunteers who can deliver flyers, brochures and materials to their local parish; people who are willing to attend special events on behalf of Spirit Catholic Radio and distribute information; and more.

And volunteers are not limited to these areas. If you have special skills that you feel would be a good fit for Spirit Catholic Radio, please contact us. We'd love to have you join our family of volunteers that mean so much to us. 

If you'd like more information about volunteering, please call 855-571-0200 or e-mail Ann.