Browsing News Entries

9 Days for Life Unites Faithful in Prayer, Action around Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON — A period of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage Jan. 17-25 will mark the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout pregnancy. The “9 Days for Life” novena encourages nationwide solidarity in prayer for daily intentions, including for couples experiencing infertility, those mourning the loss of a child through abortion, children in need of adoptive homes, and for an end to abortion and use of the death penalty. Resources for the novena are available in numerous ways, including an app.

The initiative is part of the 2014-15 Respect Life Program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) with the theme “Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation,” which is adapted from the words of Pope Francis’ 2013 Day for Life greeting. In addition to the prayer intentions, each day of the program raises awareness on issues such as domestic violence, post-abortion healing, pornography addiction and end-of-life matters.

USCCB graphic“Pope Francis reminds us constantly of the loving concern Christians have for all people at any stage of life who’ve been cast aside or forgotten by society,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “The 9 Days for Life novena offers a chance to join in prayer and solidarity with the unborn, victims of violence, those suffering from addiction, and those whose hearts ache to be part of a family.”

There are four ways to participate in the program for both English and Spanish speakers: subscriptions to daily content through email or text messages; the “9Days for Life” app; and downloadable print materials. Content will also be shared via a Facebook event (accessible from and other social media with the hashtags #9daysforlife and #9díasporlavida.

Catholics are also encouraged to participate in local events such as Masses, blessings for pro-life pilgrims or a parish holy hour for reparation and healing for all affected by abortion.

More information is available at and

Bilingual resources for diocesan and parish leaders, including a guide for youth ministry (including ideas appropriate for other age groups), logos, ads for web and print, a flyer, additional prayer resources, and a social media kit are found at

Danielle Rose releases new video

On Jan. 15, Duluth-based Catholic musician Danielle Rose released a new music video for the song “Little Flower,” from her album “Culture of Life.” Rose said the video “radiates God’s love for people often considered to be of little value.” She said in China, this mindset of treating some people as of little value “has led to a social crisis in the form of the One-Child Policy.”

In collaboration with Spirit Juice Studios, “Little Flower” was filmed on location in China with the children of China Little Flower orphanage in order to help build a culture of life.

View the video at

View a short behind-the-scenes video about how the music video was filmed:

Rose’s website is

Gift from heaven? Pope receives unexpected visit from St. Therese of Lisieux

Catholic News Agency/EWTN News — During his flight to the Philippines, Pope Francis thanked a French journalist who gave him an image of St. Therese, saying that instead of giving the usual rose when he asked for help, St. Therese came to him herself.

“I have the habit of, when I don’t know how things will go, to ask of St. Therese the little child, St. Therese of Jesus, to ask her if she takes a problem in hand, some thing, that she send me a rose,” the pope told journalists during his Jan. 15 in-flight press conference from Sri Lanka to the Philippines.

Pope Francis receives image
Alan Holdren/CNA
Pope Francis receives an image of St. Therese of Lisieux from journalist aboard papal plane.

“I asked also for this trip that she’d take it in hand and that she would send me a rose. But instead of a rose she came herself to greet me.”

The image of the St. Therese, which was given to the pope by Paris Match’s journalist Caroline Pigozzi, was a bas-relief, or carving, that appeared to be in silver.

After the pope received the framed image, he thanked Pigozzi for the gift. “Thanks to Caroline and thanks to little Therese and to [all of] you,” he said.

Born in Alençon, France, in 1873, St. Therese is frequently referred to as “The Little Flower” or “Therese of the Child Jesus.”

A Carmelite nun, St. Therese entered her convent at the age of 15 and dedicated herself to living a simple life of holiness, doing all things with love and childlike trust in God.

Although Therese struggled with life in the convent, she committed herself to making the effort to be charitable to everyone, especially those she didn’t like.

The saint performed small acts of charity throughout each day and made little sacrifices regardless of how unimportant they seemed. These acts helped her come to a deeper understanding of her vocation.

She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997 — 100 years after her death. She was the third woman ever to receive title, following in the steps of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila.

Since her death, millions have been inspired by St. Therese’s “little way” of loving God and neighbor.

Many miracles have been attributed to her intercession, which coincides with the prediction she made during her earthly life that “my Heaven will be spent doing good on Earth.”

In one of her writings, the saint said, “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

Bishop Paul Sirba: Say ‘yes’ in 2015

In this new year, take advantage of parish and diocesan opportunities to encounter Jesus anew

“Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say ‘yes’ to the message of the angel. And cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. That is so much our life: saying ‘yes’ to Jesus and running in haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor. Let us keep very close to Our Lady and she will make that same spirit grow in each one of us.”

— From Mother Teresa’s final letter, written on the day of her death.

The Church begins the New Year celebrating the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It is a Holy Day of Obligation, or rather, a holy day of opportunity! There is no better way to begin our year than to thank Almighty God for His goodness to us, and there is no better way to say “thank you” than celebrating the Eucharist.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

I extend to all the readers of The Northern Cross my prayers for a blessed New Year flowing from the love of Our Lord, for you and for your families!

As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said in her last written words on earth, and now sings forever in her life of beatitude in heaven, surrender to the love of Jesus Christ in your life. Follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother.

The New Evangelization begins with our encounter with Our Lord. It has to be personal. We cannot give what we do not have. Our Lady’s mission was to accept Jesus into her life. Once she did, then she proceeded in haste to give Him to others. Mary bought Him to St. John the Baptist, to Elizabeth, to shepherds and Magi and ultimately to all of us. We are called to do what Mary did.

If our love of Jesus has grown cold or become impersonal or if we don’t have the courage to express our gratitude for what He had done for us, then we must ask God, beg God, the Holy Spirit, for mercy. We beseech Him to rekindle our love and to fan it into a new flame.

We pray for the gift of true repentance from our sins. Then Jesus will do what He does best. He will save us. He does not disappoint, give up on us or leave us without help. In the joy of our new encounter we share the good news of Jesus.

Consequences apparent

Sadly, our world remains in darkness. It becomes increasingly so. As people make the choice to forget God, we see the fruits of the choice: selfishness, broken relationships, violence, persecutions, loneliness and unhappiness. Because Jesus is the solution to all our problems, we need to invite others to encounter Him. He is the Savior of the world. He has overcome the world.

Mary never felt ashamed of Jesus. She proclaimed Him. At Calvary she stood by Him because her love was so deep. She is the Lord’s greatest disciple.

In the coming year of God’s grace, go deeper with Jesus.

Your parishes and our diocesan programs will provide many opportunities for you and your families to grow in your encounter with Jesus.

From Sunday Mass to service of the poor, from Symbolon to Men’s and Women’s Conferences, newly married retreats, the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from parish Bible studies to RCIA, from Tobit to Newman Center Masses, from Eucharistic adoration to our Diocesan 125th Celebration on Sept. 12.

Take advantage of the opportunities!

Merry Christmas from the Diocese of Duluth

NativityClick here for a short video greeting from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Offices at the Pastoral Center are closed December 24-25 for the Christmas holiday.

Bishop Paul Sirba: Family, marriage, consecrated life all in the spotlight

Bishop Paul SirbaRecently, our Holy Father announced he was coming for his first visit to the United States to attend the eighth World Meeting of Families in September 2015. “I wish to confirm according to the wishes of The Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.” Read more >>

Upcoming diocesan events

Some of the deanery events marking the 125th anniversary of the Diocese of Duluth, which began in October, are coming into focus. Here is an update for each of the deaneries:

Brainerd: A holy hour, blessing of volunteers, meal and more will be held at St. Francis Church in Brainerd Sunday, Aug. 16, in the afternoon.

Cloquet: To be announced.

Duluth: Events will be held Sept. 12 at the DECC. Additional details to be announced.

Hibbing: A holy hour and history presentation will take place at St. Joseph Church in Grand Rapids March 8, beginning at 5 p.m.

Virginia: Mass and a history presentation will take place March 1 at St. Martin in Tower, beginning at 3 p.m.

Men's and women's conferences

Also keep the upcoming men's conference and women's conference on your calendars.

The Duluth Catholic Men’s Conference is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Marshall School Auditorium in Duluth. The featured speaker is Deacon Ralph Poyo, from North Carolina, a sought-after speaker for Franciscan University Steubenville Youth Conferences and a founder of New Evangelization Ministries. Register online at

The third annual Catholic Women’s Conference is scheduled for March 7 at Marshall School Auditorium in Duluth. The two features speakers are Hallie Lord, author, editor and founder of the Edel Gathering, speaking on the beauty of the church’s teaching on the vocations of marriage and authentic womanhood, and Kelly Wahlquist, assistant director of the Catechetical Institute for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Register here.


125 years of sharing the story of Jesus

By Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross — Bishop Paul Sirba, diocesan clergy and a group of the faithful gathered for Mass Oct. 5 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary to mark the 125th anniversary of the Diocese of Duluth, kicking off a year of commemoration.

Bishop Sirba had transferred the diocesan patronal feast, Our Lady of the Rosary, from its normal date on Oct. 7 for the occasion. In his homily, the bishop gave a brief view of the earliest history of what became the Diocese of Duluth, with Mass probably first being offered around 1741 in Grand Portage by a Jesuit professor of mathematics. After a few successors, there was no Mass for about a century, he said, until the arrival of Ven. Frederick Baraga.

Bishop Sirba gives homily
Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross
Bishop Paul Sirba preaches at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary at a Mass launching the 125th anniversary of the Duluth Diocese Oct. 5.

After that came great figures like Msgr. Joseph Buh and Mother Scholastica Kerst. The first bishop of Duluth, James McGolrick, was ordained Jan. 12, 1890, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Now, the bishop noted, the faithful were gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary to join their line.

“My brothers and sisters, you and I are called to add our names to the rolls of those who have gone before us to tell the story of salvation in Jesus Christ,” he said.

He used the Blessed Virgin Mary as our example and help and also cited the witness of Pope Francis.

“As we know, Mary, our mother, first encountered Jesus through eyes of faith,” he said. “She readily believed the words of the angel Gabriel, and she conceived the Word. Later, at his birth, she was able to embrace the Word in her arms.”

“She experienced joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the inner delight of knowing that she was loved by God. And because she knew that, she was able to love God with her whole heart, her whole mind, her whole soul and her whole strength, and her neighbor as herself. She teaches us in this beautiful dialogue.”

He said Pope Francis’ emphasis on the joy of encounter and embracing those who are poor, outcast and vulnerable is a call for the church.

“It’s not something new, but I think in our age it’s become a little tarnished or forgotten,” Bishop Sirba said. “We would rather deal with smartphones or electronics sometimes than people. People get messy.”

As a result, he said we have a society that disposes of people, taking innocent life and pushing people to the margins of society when they become inconvenient.

He said Catholics in 2014 have a “gift to share” of hope and encouragement and an embrace.

“I encourage all of us to redouble our efforts to pray the rosary daily, to share it, to teach it, to pray it in our families and to introduce others to the mysteries of the rosary,” he said.

With it, the faithful can pray for peace, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation of both our sins and those of the whole world.

“We beg the Lord to teach us to be modern-day missionaries, because our world is so in need of hearing the proclamation of the good news,” he said.

Father James Bissonette, diocesan vicar general, led the faithful in the rosary prior to Mass, and the Mass was followed by a reception and historical presentation.

Additional events commemorating the diocese’s 125th anniversary will be held in each deanery, and next fall there will be a larger diocesan celebration. Watch The Northern Cross and the diocesan website — — for details as they become available.

In Turkey, Pope Francis got a look at Christianity on the margins

By Francis X. Rocca / Catholic News Service — Ankara and Istanbul were gray and cold, at least compared to Rome, during Pope Francis’ Nov. 28-30 visit to Turkey. And the general reception, outside of the pope’s official meetings, was hardly warmer. There were none of the enthusiastic crowds that usually greet him on his trips, no masses waving signs of welcome along his motorcade route or behind police barriers at the stops.

Pope Francis, who seems to thrive on contact with the public, especially with the young, the aged and the infirm, seemed dispirited by the lack of it this time. Despite his relatively light schedule — six speeches over three days, compared to 14 during his three-day visit to the Holy Land in May — he looked attentive but increasingly weary at his public appearances.

Pope releases dove in Istanbul
CNS photo/Stoyan Nenov, Reuters
Pope Francis releases doves prior to celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul Nov. 29.

There was an obvious reason, unrelated to the pope himself, for the general indifference to his presence. An observer did not need to know that Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim to see that both cities he visited are dotted with the domes and minarets of countless mosques, miniature versions of the great monuments, Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, that he toured in Istanbul.

Even a brief experience of Christianity’s marginality in that part of world makes it easier to understand why Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, whom Pope Francis traveled to Turkey principally to see, is the papacy’s best friend in the Orthodox Church and an eager participant in ecumenical dialogue.

Although Patriarch Bartholomew is traditionally considered first among equals by Orthodox bishops, his Greek Orthodox flock in Turkey is estimated at no more than 4,000 people, fewer than in many American Catholic parishes. Turkish authorities have kept his church’s only seminary closed for more than 40 years. Just across the border, in Syria and Iraq, Christian minorities are being slaughtered or driven from their homes by militants of the Islamic State.

Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that Patriarch Bartholomew would tell Pope Francis Nov. 30: “We no longer have the luxury of isolated action. The modern persecutors of Christians do not ask which church their victims belong to. The unity that concerns us is regrettably already occurring in certain regions of the world through the blood of martyrdom.”

In other words, necessity is the mother not only of invention but ecumenism, which also makes it easier to understand why Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who leads tens of millions of Russian Orthodox and is closely allied with his nation’s government, can maintain his predecessors’ stance of refusing even to meet with the bishop of Rome.

Rome obviously is a far less lonely place than Istanbul to be a Christian. But Pope Francis follows St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in recognizing that the West is, increasingly, Christian only in name. His Nov. 25 visit to the European institutions in Strasbourg, France, where he arrived to find the streets practically empty, was a recent reminder of that reality in the church’s traditional heartland.

The impressions of Christian culture that the Muslim world encounters through globalization are not the work of missionaries. Leaving Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs in Ankara after the pope’s visit there Nov. 28, reporters passed a luxury shopping mall decorated with lighted Christmas trees (reminding an American present that it was Black Friday in the U.S.).

In response to the secularism of Europe and other wealthy societies, Pope Francis has taken a different tack than his two immediate predecessors. The current pope denounces a “throwaway” culture of abortion, euthanasia, unemployment, economic inequality and environmental pollution. But he rarely speaks of secularism, and his teaching focuses less on the failings of contemporary society and more on the church’s own shortcomings as impediments to evangelization.

Whatever the advantages of this pastoral strategy, Pope Francis clearly does not expect short-term results in Europe, which he described to the politicians in Strasbourg as a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant” but “elderly and haggard.”

To see the church’s future now, the pope must look elsewhere, such as the Philippines, where in 1995 St. John Paul celebrated a single Mass in Manila with a congregation of more than 5 million.

Pope Francis travels there in January.

Pope appoints Wisconsin bishop to head statewide Diocese of Boise

By Catholic News Service — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise, Idaho, and appointed Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, to succeed him.

Bishop Driscoll, who has headed the statewide diocese since 1999, is 75, the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope.

Bishop Christensen

CNS photo/Mike Brown, Idaho Catholic Register
Bishop Peter F. Christensen, left, the newly named bishop of Boise, Idaho, sits next to the retiring Boise Bishop Michael P. Driscoll during a Nov. 4 news conference in Boise. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Driscoll, who is 75 years old, and as his successor appointed Bishop Christensen, 61, who has headed the Diocese of Superior, Wis., since 2007.

Bishop Christensen, 61, has headed the Diocese of Superior since 2007.

The changes were announced Nov. 4 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Christensen will be installed in Boise at a Mass Dec. 17 in St. John Cathedral. Until then, Bishop Driscoll will continue to oversee the daily governance of the diocese.

“This is a wonderful and diverse state with beautiful mountains and prairies, deserts, rivers and green valleys,” the Wisconsin bishop said at a news conference at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Boise.

“Yet nothing reveals the love of God for this community more than the good works and faithfulness of his people,” he continued. “I look forward to seeing the beauty of creation through the holiness and love of Idaho Catholics, and hope that you see God’s love reflected in me in the same way.”

Bishop Driscoll applauded the pope’s choice for Idaho’s new bishop, saying he was “thrilled with the selection of Bishop Christensen.”

“He is a man of energy and prayer and love for the church, and will find in Idaho a community of committed and faithful Catholics willing to serve and follow him in the years ahead. I am also very grateful to Pope Francis for granting my request for retirement,” Bishop Driscoll said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time serving the people and the Catholic Church of Idaho.”

Bishop Christensen was born Dec. 24, 1952, in Pasadena, California. He studied at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, at the University of Montana in Missoula, at St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 25, 1985.

His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Olaf Parish in Minneapolis. After four years there, he became spiritual director and counselor at St. John Vianney Seminary, serving in that capacity from 1989 to 1992, followed by a seven-year tenure as rector of the seminary. He was pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul from 1999 to 2007.

In June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Superior. His episcopal ordination and installation was in September of that year.

Bishop Driscoll was born Aug. 8, 1939, in Long Beach, California. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles May 1, 1965, and ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California, March 6, 1990.

St. John Paul II appointed him bishop of Boise City Jan. 19, 1999.

The Boise Diocese has a Catholic population of close to 176,000, which is 11 percent of the total population of the state of about 1.6 million people.

The Superior Diocese covers close to 16,000 square miles; out of a total population of 437,000, about 73,000 people, or roughly 17 percent, are Catholic.