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125th anniversary

Coat of ArmsToday marks the 125th anniversary of the formation of the Diocese of Duluth, and a year-long observance begins this weekend with the Diocesan Assembly Oct. 4 and a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Sirba at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. There is still time to get in on these events!

Upcoming events

Fall is heating up with events in the Diocese of Duluth, with the Diocesan Assembly, two events sponsored by the Office of Marriage and Family Life and a Mass to mark the beginning of the diocese’s 125th anniversary celebration all coming in October.

The Diocesan Assembly will be held Oct. 4 at Marshall School, featuring speaker Thomas Smith, and a mini-retreat for newly married couples will be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary Sunday, Oct. 5. That same Sunday at the Cathedral, Bishop Paul Sirba will celebrate a Mass to mark the diocese’s 125th anniversary at 4 p.m.

While early registration deadlines have passed for both the Diocesan Assembly and the mini-retreat for newly married couples, it is still possible to register. See the diocesan website for details.

Also, on Oct. 19, the diocese will host an anniversary Mass and luncheon for couples celebrating marriage milestones of 10, 20, 25, 30 and 40 ... years of marriage. Early registration is Oct. 6, and lunch reservations close Oct. 13, but the event may fill before then.

Thousands of prayerful witnesses dwarf black mass turnout in OKC

Catholic News Agency/EWTN News — Thousands of Catholics across Oklahoma responded to a sparsely attended black mass in Oklahoma City with prayers, eucharistic processions and demonstrations, as the city’s archbishop emphasized God’s love and mercy.

“We are gathered as witnesses to hope at a time when darkness seems to be gaining ground both here and around the world,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said in a homily for a Holy Hour at Oklahoma City’s St. Francis of Assisi parish on the afternoon of Sept. 21 attended by more than 2,000.

Eucharistic procession
Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City carries the Eucharist in procession Sept. 21 to counter a black mass held at the city’s civic music hall. Credit: Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

“We know that Christ is victorious! He has conquered Satan. He has destroyed the reign of sin and the power of death through his holy cross and glorious resurrection.”

Archbishop Coakley said the black mass is a “blasphemous and sacrilegious ritual,” “a mockery of the Catholic Mass,” and that it requires “the corruption and desecration of the Eucharist” because “Satanists, and their master, know who is present.”

“They acknowledge the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, not to adore him, but only to mock and to scorn in hatred.”

“We are not here, however, to protest,” he added. “Let us put aside, for the moment, our outrage. We are here to praise and to adore. We are here to give thanks for the gift of our faith and the priceless treasure of the Lord’s abiding presence with us in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.”

Archbishop Coakley said that Catholics gather before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament “to listen to his holy Word and open ourselves to the promptings of his Spirit so that we might become more faithful and authentic witnesses of his love and mercy in the midst of our broken and suffering human family.”

He and many other Catholics took part in a eucharistic procession following the Holy Hour.

Just two miles away and a few hours later, thousands of Catholics and other citizens stood outside the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall to protest the black mass. Some held crucifixes, while others held statues of the Virgin Mary. Many held pre-printed signs saying “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church”; some protesters had taken buses from Kansas.

“[It is] shocking to think that they worship the devil instead of God,” protester Estefani Martinez told the Oklahoma City television station News 9.

In Tulsa, Bishop Edward Slattery led a eucharistic procession, as well as exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Family Cathedral in reparation for blasphemy.

“We’re doing this to strengthen the faith of our people, and to give them an opportunity to react in a very positive way to the announcement of the black mass,” Bishop Slattery told the Tulsa World.

“This is a way of exercising their faith and an opportunity to pray together in a reaction to what is really a curse and blasphemous because we believe the Blessed Sacrament is God himself.”

The bishop said that black mass organizers “embrace evil and anger and revenge” while Catholics preach “God loving humanity. Forgiveness, love, mercy and peace.”

“We counteract hate by forgiveness, by love and by showing what is beautiful.”

Michael Ortega, who attended the Tulsa event, told the Tulsa World he came “because of the love and support of my church, and the love and devotion that I have for our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The occult group Dakhma of Angra Mainyu had scheduled a black mass at the city-run music hall. A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony that invokes Satan and mocks the Mass, involving the desecration of the Eucharist, generally by stealing a consecrated host from a parish and using it in a profane, sexual ritual.

Adam Daniels, who organized the event, had claimed to have in his possession a consecrated host mailed to him by a friend. However, on Aug. 21 his attorney gave the reputed host to a priest of the Oklahoma City archdiocese after a facing a lawsuit that charged the host was stolen property.

The lawyer whose California firm filed the lawsuit said that the return of the host “gutted” the intended event and that the approach can limit similar publicized black masses in the future.

The tickets for the black mass, which cost $15 each, had sold out.

However, only about 40 people attended the black mass itself, though the theater in which it was held has capacity for about 100 persons.

The event began at 7 p.m. with a three-member music band. Daniels came on stage dressed in a black and red robe to talk about the ritual. He said its purpose was to destroy fear of the church by mocking the items it uses, News 9 reports.

Some demonstrators outside the civic hall supported the black mass, saying it expressed freedom of religion.

Bishop Cupich named to succeed Cardinal George as Chicago archbishop

By Joyce Duriga / Catholic News Service — The Archdiocese of Chicago now knows who will succeed Cardinal Francis E. George. Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, as the ninth archbishop of Chicago.

The appointment was announced Sept. 20 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Cupich, 65, will be installed in Chicago Nov. 18 during a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Archbishop Cupich
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich addresses the media during a news conference Sept. 20 at the Quigley Center in Chicago. Pope Francis named the prelate, head of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, since 2010, to succeed Cardinal Francis E. George as head of th e Chicago Archdiocese. He will installed Nov. 18 at Holy Name Cathedral. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World

Cardinal George is 77, two years past the age when bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope. He retains the office of archbishop until his successor’s installation.

The cardinal was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006 and had a recurrence of cancer in 2012. In August, the archdiocese announced that he was participating in a clinical research trial for a new cancer drug.

His health concerns stepped up the process of searching for his successor as archbishop of Chicago.

Cardinal George introduced Archbishop Cupich (pronounced “Soo-pich”) during a news conference held at the Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center in Chicago the day the appointment was announced.

“Bishop Cupich is well prepared for his new responsibilities and brings to them a deep faith, a quick intelligence, personal commitment and varied pastoral experiences,” Cardinal George said.

The new archbishop is no stranger to Chicago, having served on the board of Catholic Extension since 2009. The Chicago-based organization supports the work and ministries of U.S. mission dioceses.

Archbishop Cupich said his appointment “humbles and encourages” him and his priority as the new archbishop is to be attentive to the way God is working through the people in the archdiocese.

He learned of the appointment 10 days before the announcement and said he felt overwhelmed and surprised when Archbishop Vigano called him.

Some in the media describe Archbishop Cupich as a moderate but when asked about the description, he said, “Labels are hard for anybody to live up to, one way or another. I just try to be myself and I try to learn from great people. You’ve had great people here in this archdiocese pastor you. And I’m following a great man.”

When asked if his appointment — the first major appointment made by Pope Francis in the United States — sends a message about the pontiff’s agenda, Archbishop Cupich said no.

“I think the Holy Father is a pastoral man. I think that his priority is to send a bishop, not a message,” he said.

That Archbishop Cupich’s new flock is a lot larger than his present flock is not lost on him.

“This is an enormous upgrade, so to speak,” Archbishop Cupich told the media. “We had a hundred thousand Catholics in eastern Washington and I had 27,000 Catholics in South Dakota.” There are 2.2 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago, which is the third largest archdiocese in the nation.

When pressed on what tone he will bring to the archdiocese, the new archbishop said: “I think it’s really important to keep in mind that it’s not my church, it’s Christ’s church. I have to be attentive to his voice in the lives of the people and the word of God and the way that he communicates to all of us through the pointers that he gives.”

In an interview with the Catholic New World following the new conference, Archbishop Cupich thanked Catholics in archdiocese for their warm welcome and said he looks forward to visiting parishes and communities.

“I really am sincere in saying I know that I can only do this if I have their support and prayers. I want to be very pronounced in asking, begging for their prayers,” he told the archdiocesan newspaper.

Archbishop Cupich did his doctoral work on Scripture readings used in the liturgy and that remains a part of his spiritual nourishment, he said.

“I find that, not just the word of God in the Bible, but the convergence of how the texts are put together in the liturgy is a source of my own spiritual life.”

Born March 19, 1949, in Omaha, Nebraska, he is one of nine children and the grandson of Croatian immigrants. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975. He was named bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1998. In 2010, he was appointed to Spokane. He speaks Spanish and lives at the seminary there.

He has degrees from what is now the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and The Catholic University of America in Washington.

He served as secretary at the apostolic nunciature in Washington and was pastor of two parishes in Omaha. On the national level, he currently chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and is former chair of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Following Archbishop Cupich’s remarks at the Sept. 20 news conference, Cardinal Francis George told the media he is grateful to Pope Francis for accepting his resignation and is relieved.

“I’ve been a bishop for many years and before that I was a religious superior. And in a sense, in those jobs, as you can imagine, you are hostage to what hundreds, even thousands of people do over which you have no control,” he said. Every morning he would check the news to find out what happened that he was accountable for. “I have to confess, it will be a relief not to read the paper with that vision in mind but just to get information.”

When reminded that he has frequently said it was his goal to retire and meet his successor, something not accomplished by any other archbishop of Chicago since all died in office, Cardinal George pumped his fist in the air and smiled.

He said the appointment is also a relief to him because of his health problems.

“Others who have retired I’ve asked them how it went and they’ve said, ‘Well, it’s strange. One moment you’re at the center of everything and the next moment you’re not.’ You have to adjust to that,” he said.

Cardinal George is the first native Chicagoan to serve as archbishop of Chicago. Born in 1937, he attended Catholic schools in Illinois before entering the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1957. He was ordained a priest Dec. 21, 1963. He was his order’s vicar general in Rome from 1974 to 1986.

He was bishop of Yakima, Washington, from 1990 to 1996 and archbishop of Portland in Oregon for less than a year before being Pope John Paul II named him archbishop of Chicago in 1997.

He was made a cardinal Jan. 18, 1998; and until he turns 80, he remains eligible to vote as a member of the College of Cardinals. He was president of the U.S. bishops’ conference from 2007 to 2010.

Duriga is editor of the Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese.

Registration deadline approaching for Assembly

This year's ninth annual Diocesan Assembly is slated for Oct. 4 at Marshall School in Duluth, and the deadline for early registration is fast approaching: Monday, Sept. 22. The featured presenter at this year's assembly is international speaker Thomas Smith, co-author of Walking Toward Eternity. Registration available here.

Suspension of Fulton Sheen’s cause expected to be temporary

By Elise Harris / Catholic News Agency / EWTN News — In the wake of the suspension of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s cause for canonization due to an ownership dispute of his remains, the office promoting his sainthood says it doesn’t expect the halt to last long.

Postulator Dr. Andrea Ambrosi “has been aware of the issue regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains but does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment,” his office said in comments made to CNA Sept. 4.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Archbishop Fulton Sheen

He expects “that the suspension of the cause will be temporary, since there are many people still committed to this cause and the beatification of Archbishop Sheen,” they explained. “At this point, however, he cannot give a timeframe as it depends upon negotiations between others.”

Dr. Ambrosi was chosen by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation a number of years ago to serve as the postulator for the cause, and represents it before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The suspension of Archbishop Sheen’s cause was announced “with sadness” by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, president of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, in a Sept. 3 statement published on the diocese’s website.

Explaining how the Holy See “expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken,” the statement said that the Archdiocese of New York had denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria.

“After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the congregation’s historic archive.”

The diocese recognized explained that Bishop Jenky was “personally assured on several occasions” by the New York Archdiocese that “the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time.”

“New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the cause had reached a significant stage,” the statement read, explaining how Bishop Jenky has “prayed and labored” for Archbishop Sheen’s canonization for the last 12 years.

“The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts.”

Dr. Ambrosi’s office explained that although “issues like this between two dioceses that lead to the suspension of a cause at this point in the process are very rare,” they believe “that this matter can be resolved.”

“Negotiations on this particular issue of the transfer of the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen have been handled primarily between the representatives of the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York,” they said.

On how the postulator has been “aware of the issue regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains,” the office said that he “does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment, but that the suspension of the cause will be temporary.”

In 2012, retired pontiff Benedict XVI authorized a decree that recognized the heroic virtues of the beloved host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the ABC television show “Life is Worth Living.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen authored many books and headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He served as an auxiliary bishop of New York and as Bishop of Rochester.

He continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death in 1979 at the age of 84.

His cause for sainthood was opened in 2002. An authenticated miracle is now needed for Ven. Fulton Sheen to be beatified, the last step before canonization.

Despite the immense sadness on the part of Bishop Jenky and the Church in Peoria at the delay of Archbishop Sheen’s cause, the diocese affirmed that “saints are always made by God not by man.”

“Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest.”

Alan Holdren contributed to this report.

U.S. Bishops offer Labor Day statement

This year Pope Francis canonized Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. Both made immense contributions to the social teaching of the Church on the dignity of labor and its importance to human flourishing. St. John Paul II called work "probably the essential key to the whole social question" (Laborem Exercens, No. 3) and St. John XXIII stressed workers are "entitled to a wage that is determined in accordance with the precepts of justice" (Pacem in Terris, No. 20). Read more >>

Black mass organizers face lawsuit over stolen Host

Catholic News Agency/EWTN News — Organizers of a satanic black mass slated to take place in Oklahoma City next month face a lawsuit on grounds that the consecrated Host used for the sacrilegious event is stolen.

“We are honored to represent Archbishop [Paul] Coakley in this fight against the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament,” attorney Michael W. Caspino told The National Catholic Register. “The archbishop should be lauded for his courageous stance against the enemies of the church.”

“Our legal theory is very simple,” he continued, “a consecrated Eucharist belongs to the church.”

“The church has exercised dominion and control over the Eucharist for 2,000 years. The Satanists procured the consecrated Host by illicit means, by theft or fraud. We are simply asking the court to return the stolen property to its rightful owner, the Roman Catholic Church.”

The lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma City District Court July 20 on behalf of the local archdiocese by Busch & Caspino.

On Sept. 21, a black mass is scheduled to take place at the Oklahoma City Civic Center music hall.

Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, a black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Invoking Satan, the ritual is centered around the desecration of the Eucharist, which is generally done by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic church and using it in a profane sexual ritual, or defecating and urinating on it.

The event organizer Adam Daniels said the purported Eucharistic Host was “mailed to us by [a] friend.”

“As far as I know, the host mailed to me is consecrated,” he told the Catholic news site Aleteia Aug. 6.

In July, an official with the city music hall defended the decision, citing the hall’s neutrality policy. She told CNA that as long as no laws were broken during the event itself, the city hall was not concerned with whether laws may be broken in obtaining a consecrated Host ahead of time. She said that similar events scheduled in previous years had poor or no attendance.

Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City has called on the civic center to reconsider hosting the event, which he described as “grievous sacrilege and blasphemy of the first order.”

Black masses, he told CNA in July, revolve around “taking what is most sacred to us as Catholics and mocking it, desecrating it, in vile, often violent and sexually explicit ways.”

“It’s obviously horrendous ... what they intend to do with that consecrated Host is offensive beyond description.”

Archbishop Coakley and other bishops in nearby dioceses have called for novenas of prayer and fasting to stop the black mass.

A similar event scheduled by Harvard Extension School’s Cultural Studies Club in May was “postponed indefinitely” amid protest among students and the local community.

Faith, prayer sources of strength for slain U.S. journalist, his family

By Catholic News Service — In April 2013, the parents of slain U.S. journalist James Foley attended a prayer vigil at Marquette University in Milwaukee to pray for their son, who at that time had disappeared in Syria.

Before Diane and John Foley had confirmation that spring that their son was missing, Diane said she just felt it — he had missed one of his usual phone calls home — and once they knew for sure, the couple said they were relying on their Catholic faith to cope and leaning on prayer to bring him home.

James Foley
CNS photo/Nicole Tung, courtesy GlobalPost via EPA — American journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in November 2012 in Idlib, Syria, is pictured in an undated photo. Foley, a freelance war correspondent from New Hampshire and Marquette University alum, was killed at the hands of the Islamic State militant group.

“Faith has been part of family life, but this has deepened my faith because there is our hope. Our hope is that God will take care of Jim,” she told the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee at the time.

That strong faith will likely help the couple, who are members of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Rochester, get through the fact that their 40-year-old son was beheaded by militants with the Islamic State extremist group, known as ISIS.

According to an AP story, U.S. officials confirmed a graphic video released Aug. 19 that showed ISIS fighters beheading Foley, a 1996 graduate of Marquette who had been a freelance journalist for the past several years, mostly in the world’s trouble spots. In 2011, he was kidnapped on a Libyan battlefield and held captive in Tripoli for 45 days.

Sometime in late 2012, he went missing in Syria. The last time the Foley family heard from him was before Thanksgiving that year.

A statement about his death attributed to Diane Foley was posted on a Facebook page originally set up to urge James’ release. Family members “have never been prouder of him,” it said.

“He gave his life trying to expose the suffering of the Syrian people,” the statement said, which also urged the militants to release others they are holding hostage. “Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.”

ISIS said they killed James Foley in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on the militants’ strongholds and the group said it would kill another U.S. hostage.

News of his grisly death has sent shock waves around the world, eliciting prayers and statements of support for the family from Catholic leaders, the Marquette community, reporters’ organizations, fellow journalists and many others.

“The brutality of this act is itself evidence of an unspeakable evil that is rampant and inhuman,” New Hampshire Bishop Peter A. Libasci of Manchester. “To the prayers that have been offered since his captivity almost two years ago, we now add our prayers for James’ eternal rest and, in Christ Jesus Our Lord, James’s future resurrection to eternal life.”

“Our prayers also must accompany a sorrowful mother, a grieving father, a deeply pained family and countless friends who have kept vigil all this time,” he said. “May we also pray for those who have embraced the way of darkness and death, that they may turn away from this terrible evil now and forever.”

News reports said the Foleys’ pastor, Father Paul Gousse, was at the family’s house for about 45 minutes Aug. 19. He left without speaking to reporters. The parish posted a notice that the church would be open to all to join in prayer for Jim, his family, friends, colleagues “and all who are still in danger.”

Besides Facebook, his family has been using Twitter and other social media to express their sorrow and ask for privacy.

In her statement on Facebook, Diane Foley said: “We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

James’ sister, Kelly, took to Twitter asking others not to watch the video that shows his beheading: “Please honor James Foley and respect his family’s privacy. Don’t watch the video. Don’t share it. That’s not how life should be.”

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said on Twitter that anyone sharing the images of the event would have their accounts suspended. “We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you.”

In 2011, after he was let go by his kidnappers in Libya, James Foley wrote an article for Marquette magazine on how prayer, specifically the rosary, got him through captivity in a military detention center in Tripoli.

He had been captured with two colleagues, he said. “Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.

“I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.”

Foley began to pray the rosary.

“It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused,” he wrote. “Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.”

Foley also describe his experience at Marquette University, which he said “has always been a friend to me. The kind who challenges you to do more and be better and ultimately shapes who you become.” He added that Marquette had never been “a bigger friend to me than when I was imprisoned as a journalist.”

Marquette posted a link to his article along with a statement about his death on the university’s website:

“The Marquette community is deeply saddened by the death of alumnus and freelance journalist James Foley,” the university’s statement said. “We extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for healing to James’ family and friends during this very difficult time.”

James Foley had majored in history at the Jesuit university, then enrolled at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and earned a master’s degree in 2008.

“(He) had a heart for social justice and used his immense talents to tell the difficult stories in the hopes that they might make a difference in the world — a measure of his character for which we could not be prouder,” the Marquette statement said.

A campus prayer vigil to remember Foley and to support his family was scheduled for Aug. 27 on campus.

Diocesan Assembly

The Diocese of Duluth’s ninth annual Diocesan Assembly will be held Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Marshall School auditorium in Duluth. The speaker will be Thomas Smith from Ascension Press on “Walking Toward Eternity: Making Choices for Today.” Participants will learn to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through the daily exercise of love, faithfulness and prayer. Smith, a former Protestant minister, is an international speaker and a guest on EWTN and Catholic radio. This is a day to gather with the bishop and others from throughout the diocese to grow in faith and to become better equipped to hand the faith on to others. All are invited to attend.

Teachers, catechists, parish staff and parish leaders are especially encouraged to participate. Registration deadline is Sept. 22. Registrations after Sept. 22 are not guaranteed lunch and materials. Visit the diocesan website for registration fees. Registration is open at Contact Annette Merritt at (218) 724-9111 for more information. Marshall School is handicapped accessible.