Pentecost is a day to consider what the Holy Spirit offers each of us
By Sr. Laura Hammel, O.S.C.
Special to The Catholic Weekly
SAGINAW — As Christians, we often hear references to “The Seven Gifts of the Spirit.”
The idea of spiritual gifts is found in this passage from Isaiah 11:3: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse; and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”
Before we look at our spiritual gifts, we need to understand what we mean by the “gifts of the Spirit.” These gifts come to us as the Holy Spirit touches our lives. We believe the gifts are important because they enable us to surpass our ordinary abilities. They are graces that give us more insight and ability to act as Christians.
All the sacraments are “acts of the Holy Spirit,” although the sacrament of confirmation is where spiritual gifts are specifically mentioned. Inspired by the words of Isaiah, the ritual of confirmation names the gifts of the Holy Spirit: “Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in Your presence.”
KALAMAZOO — Students at St. Monica School gathered on the sunlit lawn on Wednesday, May 1, to celebrate the first day of May with the school’s annual May Crowning ceremony.
In the Catholic Church, May is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and each child placed daisies, tulips, roses and other spring flowers at the feet of a statue of Mary that graces the school’s “Mary Garden.” The ceremony followed an all-school Mass, and the highlight came when eighth graders Molly Panico and Holden Rohloff crowned Mary with a wreath of fresh-cut roses and baby’s breath. Fr. Larry Farrell blessed the crown and led a short prayer service and fourth-grade teacher Cindi Westerhouse delivered an a cappella rendering of Schubert’s classic “Ave Maria.”
The ceremony closed as the students filed out of the garden, singing the classic refrains “Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May” from the age-old hymn “Bring Flowers of the Rarest.”†
By Mark Haney
The Catholic Weekly
GRAND RAPIDS — The Diocese of Grand Rapids’ 12th bishop — Fr. David John Walkowiak — comes to his new post with some idea what he’ll be doing.
After all, he served in the Diocese of Cleveland’s chancery for two decades.
That doesn’t mean the reporters at the Thursday, April 18, press conference announcing Fr. Walkowiak as the successor to retiring Bishop Walter A. Hurley knew. So one of them asked: What does this job entail? What does a bishop do?
“That’s the same thing Fidel Castro asked Pope John Paul II: ‘What do you do all day?’” said Fr. Walkowiak, 59 and a native of Westlake, Ohio. “I am certainly going to learn what that means. I have watched bishops as priest for almost 34 years. I’ve known bishops. Certainly the sacramental work of the priest continues (as a bishop). I am familiar with that. Then there is teaching, the whole notion of guiding and directing not just a parish but over 80 parishes and of being the chief liturgical leader of the diocese. So the bishop is really interested in doing those things.”
Being a good teacher, he said, is especially important in this “Year of Faith” declared by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“In order to be more confident and better evangelizers we need to know our faith better than we do,” Fr. Walkowiak said. “I think many of our people are insufficiently evangelizing, unwilling to share the great beauty and the great treasure our Catholic faith is.”
One solution to that problem is Catholic schools, which the new bishop fully supports. He runs a grade K-8 school in his parish, 2,000-plus-family St. Joan of Arc in Chagrin Fall, Ohio.
“I have found myself working very hard with the school community in the parish to keep that school at its best,” he said. “But that is what you have to do. You have to make sure the schools are offering an excellent education. The beauty of the Catholic school is the environment in which the education occurs. To be able to start the day on the P.A. system with prayer. To pray before meals. To be able to go to church for a school Mass. To be able to end the day with the act of contrition and the prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has provided. I think it is very important to do all that we can to strengthen the schools we have. It would be a great loss not only to our churches but also to this culture and this society if Catholic schools become very, very rare.
“I think Catholic schooling makes a person have a more balanced sense of Christian service, they are more likely to pray on a regular basis. And I think they would be more ready to consider a religious vocation. There are lots of great things Catholics schools have provided.”
At the same time, he said, he hopes to bring people back to the Church and give them reasons to be proud to be Catholic.
“One of the things that has been a concern of mine in my past seven years as a pastor is that I certainly wish more Catholics would come to worship on Sunday,” he said. “I certainly wish more Catholics would be comfortable and proud of their faith, to speak up for it. One of the challenges we face would be that we may have lost our lead in the community and the great treasure that the Church has been in spreading the Gospel mission and really enriching the world in which we live. That is why the Year of Faith is such an opportunity.
“I feel that if people were be more comfortable and confident in their faith then they would be more familiar with it and would invest themselves more deeply in it. Certainly in my reflections as a pastor, we have wonderful people in our parish but I think about all of the people who aren’t there.”
Some of them may have been driven away by the recent sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Church. Those things, the new bishop said, cannot happen again.
“I certainly believe it can never be business as usual again in the Church,” he said, “that we must always look to support and protect the vulnerable in our midst. And obviously children and teens fall into that category.”
Still, the new bishop sees his heightened role as a challenge.
“I am grateful to Pope Francis for presenting me with this challenge as bishop of Grand Rapids,” he said. “And his choice to me is a vote of confidence that enables me to look forward to being the bishop for and with this Catholic community. I deeply appreciate the very warm welcome and enthusiastic welcome I have received from Bishop Hurley. He has extended that to me from the very first day he learned of my assignment. And it is not really too early to acknowledge his fine work and to pay tribute to his wise and generous service to the people of this diocese for the past nearly eight years. I know he will be an invaluable help to me in the days ahead.
“When a new bishop comes, he comes with a different style, a different personality, a different background, a different set of points of emphasis. I certainly intend to build upon the very fine work of first Bishop Rose and then Bishop Hurley so there would be an organic development in terms of continuing to bring the Church forward and continuing to grow in vibrancy and effectiveness in proclaiming the Gospel.”
The people of the diocese have been on Fr. Walkowiak’s mind and heart ever since he learned on the Tuesday of Holy Week that he was to be the shepherd of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
“Ever since I learned of my appointment as your bishop, I have been praying for the priests, deacons, the seminarians, the religious and lay faithful of this diocese,” he said. “And I am eager to meet with you, to work with you, to serve you and to care for you as we move forward together.
“In regard to the role of women in the Church, in my years of experience as a priest, I have had many women who are colleagues and co-workers and I have collaborated with them and I believe they are very important and have a great role to play. We think of the religious orders, of course, that have greatly blessed this country in so many ways and in so many apostolates, and, of course, the very good and necessary development of the lay ministry has been a blessing to the churches of the United States. I assume those things are alive and well and will continue to grow here.”
One guiding light, he said, will be the man who named him a bishop.
Pope Francis, he said, “certainly has caught the attention of the world, for the very radical simplicity of the life he leads. It is something we all find attractive. I am sure we feel our lives are complex and we carry a lot of baggage around that we shouldn’t have to deal with. We all wish life would be simpler. Really what he is doing is pointing out to us something that is very important for spirituality, which is really a movement toward detachment and to create space so God can enter into our lives. … So I think the example of Pope Francis is going to have an impact on me and all of us, regardless of our vocation.”†
Blessed John Paul II Parish will be at 3110 17 Mile Road, near U.S. 131.
The property, which is the former home of Pioneer Christian Reformed Church, consists of a church, church hall and rectory on about 2.9 acres. The diocese also purchased approximately eight acres of adjacent vacant land that is part of a nearby industrial park lat 13911 Northern Springs Drive. Once the new parish community has grown, there is sufficient land for the construction of a new and larger church.
“This is part of the ‘Our Faith, Our Future’ pastoral planning process that we began in 2009,” said Bishop Walter A. Hurley. “We are using the resources available to us to react to the changing demographics of our faith community and provide services in areas where the population is growing.”
The diocese officially purchased the 17 Mile Road property on Jan. 24, but waited to take possession of it until last week, so the former congregation could celebrate Easter.
St. Margaret of Scotland Chapel in Harvard will continue to serve as a worship site until renovations of Blessed John Paul II Church are completed, at which time St. Margaret will become a chapel of the new parish used for special events.
In the coming months, the public will be invited to take part in the planning and organization of the new parish as a pastor is chosen, prior to the parish’s opening in early July.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids, which encompasses an 11-county area of West Michigan, serves more than 182,000 Catholics and 82 parishes as well as 27 elementary and four high schools with enrollment of more than 5,800 students. For additional information, visit www.dioceseofgrandrapids.org.†
GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids West Catholic High School will close out the yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary with music Friday and Saturday, June 14-15.
The highlight will be a performance by the Beatles tribute band, “1964 … The Tribute” on Saturday. The group will take the stage at Falcon Stadium, 1801 Bristol NW, at approximately 8 p.m. The band recreates an early 1960s live Beatles concert with period instruments, clothing, hairstyles and onstage banter. Tickets can be purchased online at community.fcse.grcss.org/wchsconcerts.
“’1964 … The Tribute’ is a huge draw all over the country,” said Michael Wolfston, executive director of the Foundation for Catholic Secondary Education of Greater Grand Rapids, which is working with the 50th Anniversary Committee on the weekend celebration. The committee expects to sell 4,000 tickets to the Saturday evening concert.
“If we can fill that stadium, and I know we can,” Wolfston said, “it will mean a significant contribution to the campaign.”
Proceeds from the concert will benefit West Catholic’s 50th Anniversary Campaign, with funds raised going to tuition assistance and capital projects that include a new entrance and media center for the school. The new spaces will allow for technology expansion and a collaborative learning environment.
The Saturday concert lineup also includes Academy Four, a group that came out of the first singer-songwriter programs for high schoolers at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy. Katie Larson, Savannah Buist, Taylor Fernandez and Elaina Burress came together after auditioning their original material and instrumentation in a national talent search. The 16- and 17-year-olds play 13 instruments, have over 30 credits on iTunes and have played hundreds of live shows, on radio and television.
The two-day event starts at 7 p.m. Friday, with a night of Polish food and Polish music until midnight in the school cafetorium. Gerry Kaminski’s Polish Network will supply the music and dancing. The ticket price covers entry, authentic Polish dinner and soft drinks. Beer and wine will be available for purchase (adults only).
The music starts from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, with the Battle of the Alumni Bands at Falcon Stadium. Competing for a chance to open for “1964 … The Tribute” will be Walt Gutowski and The Bridge Street Band (WC ‘80), Entourage — The Timmy Sanders Band (WC ‘73), The Legal Immigrants/Joe Bockheim (WC ‘04), and Chicago Drive — Alex Pummill/Matt Hermann/Molly Jones/Brad Lawrence (WC ‘08 and 01).
The big show goes from 6-10 p.m., with the West Catholic jazz band warming up the crowd at 6 p.m. followed by Academy Four and the winner of the Alumni Battle of the Bands. Then “1964 … The Tribute” takes the stage.
Now celebrating its fiftieth year, West Catholic High School opened in September of 1962. It has a current enrollment of 436 students. For more information on the 50th Anniversary campaign, go to community.grwest-catholic.org/wchs50yrs.†
By Lon Medd
The Catholic Weekly
ST. JOSEPH — In the 100 years since Boy Scouts of America was created, approximately 2.2 million Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
While that may seem like a high number, it translates to a little more than 2 percent of all Scouts earning the organization’s highest status.
So having four Eagle Scouts who all attend the same high school and the same church is a rare occurrence.
Andrew Graeber, Mitch Birk, John Golob and Joe Agay, are all seniors at Lake Michigan Catholic High School and members of St. Joseph Parish. All four started as Cub Scouts while in the first grade.
“It is unusual this many boys have achieved that rank,” said Michelle Agay, Joe’s mother and the committee chairperson of Troop 624 in St. Joseph. “But it is not unusual if you were to know these boys.”
Agay, 18, became an Eagle Scout after spending hundreds of hours locating unmarked gravesites at nearby Resurrection Cemetery. Using global positioning satellites and a ground-penetrating radar, Agay created a database of all marked and unmarked graves. Overall, Agay estimates he has spent over 500 hours creating the database.
“I spent every weekend for a year typing on the computer,” Agay said. “People were buried in every direction.”
Taking something already in existence that was disorganized and improving it was a theme that tied Agay’s and Graeber’s projects.
Two local parishes run a migrant ministry program, where parishioners donate clothes, kitchen items and toys for the families who come to work on the area’s farms during the summer. The donations are kept in a shed, but the ministry was in need of an organizational system.
“Basically it was a little collection in a small garage on the side of the church,” Graeber, 18, said.
Graeber, along with some of his friends and other adults, built shelves and got the place organized. It was Graeber however, who planned the project and coordinated gathering the materials.
“Being an Eagle Scout helped me out where I am now,” he said. “I seemed a lot more prepared to take on other projects.”
When Eagle Scouts take on a project, one of the skills they learn is going into the community and asking businesses to help with donating materials. Birk, 18, was able to get lumber and materials donated to help with building a new poultry barn at the Berrien County Youth Fair.
The project took a day to complete, but it took a couple of months to get the materials together.
“I felt like I had more responsibility,” said Birk, when describing his experience.
Birk had been showing poultry at the fair since he was 5. He overheard a discussion from some people who work at the fairgrounds and he volunteered to help with building the new barn.
Golob’s project was making a sign for a new Habitat for Humanity development in Benton Harbor. The sign measures at 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. Golob, 18, estimates he spent about 150 hours for the entire project.
“Habitat for Humanity had a design,” he said, “but I designed what the fixture holding that image would look like.”
The design of the sign would incorporate a lot of the same features as the homes in the development. Golob described his experience working with Habitat for Humanity as positive because they “were just really great people.”
With graduation just around the corner for these boys, their parents remember fondly seeing them start as Tiger Cubs many years ago and now they are young men going off in the world with an Eagle Scout rank on their resumes.
“It makes all of us parents proud,” said Sharon Graeber. “These four kept with it. They were able to help each other and support each other.”†
By Anne Seebaldt
The Catholic Times
LANSING — Danielle Lussier, Melanie Bruss and Theresa Ohaeri have heard the call to a religious vocation.
There’s just one problem: They have debts.
For a number of reasons, religious orders cannot accept candidates until they are debt-free. So the three women have to raise the funds to pay off their college debts before they can become nuns.
That’s where the Labouré Society of Egan, Minn., comes in. Established in 2003, the nonprofit helps those who wish to pursue a vocation learn how to raise funds ethically to pay off their debts.
Three women find they cannot deny God’s call to a vocation
By Anne Seebaldt
The Catholic Weekly
LANSING — Danielle Lussier, Melanie Bruss and Theresa Ohaeri each thought they were headed in one direction.
Then God turned them around.
Each of the three women — Lussier from the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Bruss from the Archdiocese of Detroit and Ohaeri from the Diocese of Lansing — had gone to college with thoughts of pursuing a secular vocation. Then God called them each to serve in the religious life.