A Heads Up about a Net Flix 4 Part Series about Our Holy Father Francis

Pope Francis

On his path to becoming Pope Francis, Father Jorge Bergoglio pursues his religious vocation in a country ravaged by a brutal military dictatorship.  

We invite you to watch this film/not documentary, but probably accurate depiction of the military background from which our Holy Father came to us.

Not at all different than Pope St. John Paul II, coming from Nazism and Communism, Jorge Bergoglio emerged from the horrors of  war that caught him watching the deaths of priests, nuns and lay people dedicated to the most vulnerable of Argentina’s people, the poor.  While we don’t have reviews on this 4 part series, we have our own reviews to assure you that if you have access to Net Flix, do yourselves a favor, and watch this series.  It will endear you to our Holy Father.

Call Me Francis

Call Me Francis, is a 4 part biographical miniseries that chronicles Pope Francis’ life, his controversial political leanings, his remarkable humanitarian work and his ascent to Papacy starring Rodrigo de la Serna, Mercedes Morán and Muriel Santa Ana.

The miniseries opens with Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s early years in Buenos Aires in the 1960’s and depicts his journey through the height of Argentina’s “Dirty Wars” during the 70’s and 80’s, culminating in his appointment as Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope in history, in 2013.

Call Me Francis is a Taodue production, co-created by Daniele Luchetti and Martin Salinas, and produced by Pietro Valsecchi.


A Message from Father Rich on the Feast of Christ the King


Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

An autographed blessing signed by Pius XI. It is a hand-colored photo of him sitting at his desk. It is in an ornate frame that has cross keys and a tiara as part of the frame itself.

If you are unaware of this avocation of our pastor, I’d invite you to peruse his Collection to study, to browse, to enjoy the Collection to which he has devoted himself for the purpose of education, primarily.  Father Rich believes you cannot love what you do not know.  This Collection might help you to love and know our Church.

Visit Father Rich’s incredible Collection of Papal Artifacts.  Here is a link to his Collection:

Home Page

About the Commentary:

89-year-old Encyclical Holds Key Lessons for Us Today

Encyclicals are letters of high importance. Traditionally issued by any bishop, in recent times they have become an exclusive activity of the Bishop of Rome.

They are generally written to the entire church, and often a pope’s first encyclical will give a pretty clear indication where and how he wants to lead the church. As of this writing, Pope Francis has written one encyclical. Pope Benedict XVI wrote three, and Pope St. John Paul II wrote 14, but the pope with the most is Leo XIII (1878-1903), who wrote 85!

Often the letters are beautifully written and really speak to the issues of the day, but sometimes it is worthwhile to go back in history and see what some popes in the past have written and how prophetic these writings can actually be.

One encyclical that is particularly pertinent for today was written 89 years ago by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). His encyclical Quas Primus (Latin for “In the first”) is pertinent for the month of November because with it, Pius established the liturgical feast day known as Christ the King, which almost always falls in November, because it is celebrated the last Sunday of ordinary time, right before Advent begins.

But Quas Primus is significant to much more than just this month. One would think in reading this encyclical that Pope Francis wrote it just yesterday. It is an amazing read!

The encyclical addressed what Pope Pius saw as a growing secularism in the world. Given that he wrote it in 1925, he probably wouldn’t even know where to start today.

He wrote that Christ needs to be king in every aspect of life: over persons, families, institutions, the state and even the whole universe. In reading this incredible letter, two quotes in particular stand out as extraordinarily appropriate for today.

Pius wrote, “While nations insult the beloved name of our redeemer by suppressing all mention of him in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity.”

Read that a couple times and think about it. We cannot say “Merry Christmas” because it is offensive. We can only have “holiday trees” on public property. The 10 Commandment monuments that once were all over the country are being stripped from any government building. Most public schools in the country are no longer starting their school day with the “Pledge of Allegiance” because the words “one nation under God” are included. And heaven forbid that the government allow prayer in any school activity, whether it be sports or graduation ceremonies. And in recent years there has been a growing call to remove “in God we trust” from our coinage.

A second quote worth addressing from Quas Primus should hit a little closer to home, because Pius gives the reasons we got this way: “This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks.”

I would have to say that, second only to pornography, the most confessed sin I have heard in general terms is the times people are too timid to speak up for the church when she is being mocked or attacked by friends, family and co-workers. People are afraid to get into any conflict in defending the church. They do not want to speak out, choosing to keep silent.

This is certainly not only an issue for laypeople. We priests, I think, are even more timid in preaching on tough subjects what the church holds to be true. So often our own parishioners are at odds with the church on the “hot button” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion and artificial contraception, to name a few, so we priests do not want to preach about these issues. We are so often, as Pope Pius XI said, good people, but timid.

I am not condemning my brother priests, because I am one of them. It takes a great amount of courage to get up in front of everyone and tell them the truth when it is very unpopular, but we need to have courage.

I am not sure that even one percent of the Catholic population reads the pope’s encyclicals when they are published, but we certainly should. And I would even encourage you to go back in time to see some of the past encyclicals. Some of them are as pertinent today as they were the day they were written.

Christ the King, be king over us today and always!

–Father Richard Kunst

Ten Things to Advance the Pro-Life Cause While Waiting for the Law to Change

The logo of Crux

There is a real risk that disillusionment will follow the expectations invested in Donald Trump by pro-lifers: if ever he can deliver — and he has promised little — it will be slow getting there. So here are 10 ways of nurturing a true pro-life culture in the meantime.



Donald Trump campaigned as the pro-life candidate while Hillary Clinton not only supported Planned Parenthood but was also unapologetic about allowing late-term abortions. While many Catholics considered Trump unqualified and undesirable, they thought Clinton’s pro-abortion position even worse.

Yet while Trump trumpeted his pro-life position, he never said he would try to outlaw abortion.

We should be realistic. It is unlikely that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal for states to prevent abortions, will be overturned any time soon. Abortion is a terrible crime; but the pro-life cause is about more than outlawing abortion.

Of course, those engaged in attempts to overturn abortion laws should not give up the fight. But while the national battle against abortion is going on, there are ten positive things that ordinary people can do to advance the broader pro-life cause.

  1. Education. We must continue to share with the world not just an anti-abortion message, but the whole Catholic pro-life message. This includes positive and pro-active education about the Theology of the Body, the dignity of every human person from womb to tomb, and the deep and beautiful message of fully integrated, chaste and positive human sexuality. This education must be in our homes, our schools, our parishes and our world. Only as we understand the full meaning and dignity of the human person will we understand why abortion is so evil.
  2. Personal Chastity. Abortion ends an unwanted pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies are most often the result of sexual promiscuity.  Each of us has a responsibility to pursue chastity in our own lives. We should be ruthless with ourselves when rooting out every trace of unchaste behavior. We must pray for the grace to embrace chastity in marriage, chastity in families. Chastity for single people. Chastity for married people. This chastity will not be weak and sterile, but full of an integrated and mature masculinity and femininity-abundant in life and combining purity and power. Pornography must not be tolerated. Adultery and co-habitation cannot be tolerated. Not out of negativity and condemnation, but because they are the enemies of the chastity and purity that conquered the world.
  3. Support Women. Pro-abortion people like to say, “You pro-lifers only care about the fetus. You don’t care about poor women in crisis pregnancies.” This is, of course, totally untrue. There is a wide range of women centers that offer help, but we must support them and expand their services. The pro-life movement must be even more visibly pro-women. We must be active in compassionate and positive support, rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty in service of those women who choose life
  4. Supporting Children. The pro-life cause does not end at the gates of the abortion clinic. We need to love children and put our money where our mouth is. We need to support good Catholic schools and day care. We need to fund youth workers and positive activities for children. We need to provide excellent care for children who are needy, sick, abandoned and abused. If we are pro-life, then we love children from the moment of conception through to adulthood. Children are expensive, but there is nothing better in which to invest than our children.
  5. The Adoption Option. I once met a Baptist couple who had just adopted a severely disabled child. They said, “Father, in South Carolina there are about ten thousand children who need adoption or fostering. There are about ten thousand Baptist churches in South Carolina. What if each church adopted or fostered just one child?” If we have courageous families in our parishes who have adopted or fostered we need to support them, helping others to step up and make the choice to adopt. Adoption is often financially prohibitive. We need to pressure politicians to provide funding to take care of the legal fees to make adoption easy, safe and affordable, and extra tax breaks should be offered to families who foster and adopt.
  6. Contraception and Sterilization?If you say you are pro-life, why do you continue to use artificial contraception? If you say you are pro-life, why do you consider sterilization? If you are pro-life be pro-life. Avoid the contraceptive culture of death. Children are a blessing. I know so many couples who, when times were difficult and they could see no way forward, chose sterilization. They regretted it afterward. The most common complaint is “We can’t afford another child.” Really?
  7. Lobby Locally. We may not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade anytime soon, but there are plenty of good efforts at the state and local level that seek to restrict and control abortion. We should lobby our local politicians about this and about legislation that supports women in crisis pregnancies, supports adoption, supports families who choose to adopt. Maybe we are called ourselves to enter the political arena and stand for public office. Why not?
  8. Campaign and Give. March for Life, Forty Days for Life, Life Chain-all these keep the abortion issue alive and in front of people. Make sure you take a stand in the protest movement against abortion, but also in favor of life in all its abundance. The pro-life movement requires funding. Give generously to the pro-life charity of your choice and stay involved, both financially and prayerfully.
  9. Be a Happy Warrior. The pro-life movement must continue to be joyful, confident, young and strong. Do not be discouraged, but continue to support life with joy and confidence. Sour faces, angry protests, gruesome videos and violence are never the way. Think of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was not angry and violent in the face of evil. She reacted with confident joy and the power of purity.
  10. Have Faith. Sometimes we tend to despair and think the battle will never be won. Do not despair. Fear not. Truth will always triumph. Goodness will always prevail. Life will always win. Remember history. The battle has always been grim and the forces of evil do not sleep. Take heart. Have faith. Work hard. Pray more. Be joyful and be blessed.

Here is a link to the fairly new on-line Catholic magazine of which John Allen is the editor:


Father Rich Is Leading a Tour to the Holy Land: February 13-23, & An Interview of Fr. James Martin, S. J.

The Holy Land

The Holy Land

As anyone who has ever accompanied Fr. Rich on a tour can tell you, you couldn’t have a better experience than to travel with him.  Here is your opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the sites where our faith began.

Father Rich:


Other than Rome, my favorite place to visit is Israel.  Every four to five years I host a tour of the Holy Land, because I think it is an important opportunity for people to visit the places our Savior lived and died.

My love affair with the Holy Land grew out of my time in the seminary when I spent six months in Israel studying the scriptures.  I am embarrassed to say that before that experience my scripture classes were about my least favorite subject to take in seminary.  After the time I spent in Israel the opposite was true.  Studying the Scriptures came to life and I took as many classes as I possibly could.

Once again on February 13-23, I will be bringing a group of people to the Holy Land.  This trip will be open to the public and will be advertised widely, but here in our parishes first.  I am deliberately choosing February, because that is when the prices are lowest. and also because it is right before we enter into the season of Lent, which is a great way to start that sacred season.

The single most misunderstood aspect of visiting the Holy Land is that people think it is dangerous; the opposite is true.  In fact, I would say it is safer to travel to Israel than it is to just about anywhere because the security is over the top.  I would feel much more secure in Israel than I would walking downtown on First Street.  So if security reasons have prevented you in the past from going to the Holy Land, you can honestly put that to rest.  It is as safe as any place you will visit because of the immense security.

If going to the Holy Land has been on your bucket list, contact the office for a brochure.  I would love to have as many parishioners as possible.—Father Rich

Here is a link to more information about the Holy Land from FR James Martin, author of FR Rich’s latest favorite book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage:

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Father James Martin, S. J.

Father James Martin, S. J.

Full Episode: December 24, 2015

October 22: The Feast of St. John Paul, & Commentary by Father Rich


john paul ii statue


This weekend, Saturday, October 22nd, is the feast day of my favorite saint Pope John Paul II. I have long been fascinated by the lives of the saints all the way back to high school, and I remember even years ago saying that as soon as John Paul II dies he will automatically be my favorite saint.

The influence he has had in my life is hard to measure, and that is from before I had the opportunity to meet him, which I did on seven different occasions. If it were not for his example, I am not sure I would be a priest today. He made that much of an impact on me.

He was the preeminent priest role model for my generation. I remember when I was in the seminary one of the priests on staff made the comment that if a novelist tried to invent the character of John Paul II, it wouldn’t be believable. His story growing up under Nazi occupation and then Communist rule through most of his life, only to be thrust into the papacy, followed by having one of the most instrumental roles in bringing the Iron Curtain down without the shedding of blood: his life is almost beyond believable.

In the case of this great saint, we certainly see God inspiring the right person at the right time in history for his greater purposes.

St. John Paul II, pray for us.   –Father Rich


First Class Relic of St. John Paul II

First Class Relic of St. John Paul II


September 14: The Exultation of the Holy Cross with Commentary by Fr. Rich

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the site in Jerusalem that is built over the site of the crucifixion.  Please read Fr. Rich’s commentary about this ancient chruch.









In Search of the True Cross of Christ: A Commentary by Father Richard Kunst

Father Rich


If you have ever had the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, you have probably visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a beautiful and ancient church that is built over the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Believe it or not, this same church is claimed to have been the tomb of Adam, who, according to tradition, was buried below where the crucifixion took place. This is why so many old crucifixes have a skull and crossbones below Jesus’ feet. According to the ancient tradition, some of Christ’s blood seeped into the ground and touched Adam’s skull, bringing the old Adam to life briefly with the blood of the new Adam.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also associated with another historical event. On the lowest level of this ancient church is a chapel dedicated to St. Helena, mother of Constantine.

This unique chapel is clearly in what was an ancient stone mining area, and the claim is that it’s the site where the saint discovered the true cross on which Christ was crucified. Sept. 14 is the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross, also known as The Triumph of the Cross. It is the anniversary of St. Helena’s finding the cross of Jesus in the area of this humble little chapel in the bowels of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The accounts of St. Helena’s finding of the cross do differ in some details, but the basic outline says that when her son the emperor made Christianity legal, she went to the Holy Land to look for relics associated with the life of Christ. Apparently the Jews had torn down the original site on the spot of the current church and buried it with a mound of dirt and rocks.

During the digging, three crosses were found with no markings that showed one of them to be the cross of Christ. So the bishop of Jerusalem, a man named Macarius, claimed to have heard from God that they were to bring the three crosses to the bedside of a woman who was at the point of death and touch the crosses to her body. The third cross cured her. By means of this miracle, the saint determined that the cross that cured the woman was indeed the true cross Jesus died on.

From there St. Helena took the true cross (along with other relics she found) back to Rome, where a church was built to house them. To this day you can go to Rome and visit the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and see the relics St. Helena collected.

Since that time, the church has often distributed small slivers of the cross that St. Helena found to monasteries, bishops, royalty and others for the devotion of the faithful. But over time it seemed as though so many of these relics were distributed that, as the 16th century humanist Erasmus said, “if all the fragments were collected together, they would appear to form a fair cargo for a merchant ship.”

That comment from Erasmus was the impetus for an investigation of the known relics by a 19th-century French scholar named Charles de Fluery. De Fluery was determined to discover exactly how much of the supposed true cross really was distributed. De Fluery’s findings were surprising for even the most ardent supporters of the relics.

He calculated the entire cross to weigh approximately 220 pounds and have a volume of 10,900 cubic inches. After exhaustive research and travel to all the known shrines that claimed relics of the cross, his findings were that the total volume that he had measured came to 240 cubic inches. Surprised himself by this finding, he estimated quite liberally that the smaller fragments in private hands were 10 times the known larger fragments, coming to the figure of 2,400 cubic inches, which was less than 20 percent the estimated size of the cross Jesus would have been crucified on. De Fluery came to the tested conclusion that the surviving fragments of the true cross could not possibly be large enough in volume to crucify a man on.

All this being said, there is still room for some valid skepticism. No doubt there are a lot of spurious relics out there that are a cause of skepticism. Like any relic, relics of the true cross need to have valid documentation before they can be venerated in a public setting. Perhaps we should take President Ronald Reagan’s advice to “trust but verify” when it comes to relics claiming to be from the true cross of Christ.

Still, these relics are meant to move us more towards faith than skepticism. So if you see one of these purported relics, it is better to pray than to doubt.

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration.  —Father Richard Kunst

The Northern Cross: What Can I do to Help My Children Stay Catholic

Father Mike Schmitz

Father Mike Schmitz

The following column from the September 2016 issue of the Northern Cross is being used with the permission of Father Mike Schmitz.  It is a subject that is pertinent to Catholic parents and contains, some very power things you can choose to do that will make a difference in your children’s lives.

We thank Father Mike for his willingness to allow us to re-print his column here.






Father Mike Schmitz:

The Question:

I keep trying to do all that I can to help our children know of God’s love for them.  I want them to be truly “Catholic”; not merely in name, but as their deepest identity.  In the face of a seemingly hostile culture, what can I do?


Thank you so much for asking about this.  While there are no fool-proof “strategies” for passing along the Faith to your children, there are some very powerful things that you can choose to do that will make a difference in your children’s lives (and their eternities).  In fact, I will name four here.

First, teach your children how to pray.  I have a friend who lamented the fact that, as Catholics, we “have been taught how to repeat, not how to pray”.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, but a recent study indicated that upwards of 47% of Catholics in America state that they are not absolutely certain that a personal relationship with God is ever possible.  Reflect on that for a moment.  The entire basis of Catholicism is centered around the fact that God broke into this world in Jesus Christ, and that He continues to animate and engage us through the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis.  As Catholics, we have unprecedented access to the Father.  And it has even been revealed that God is not some distant “power”, but that He has become our Father when we were made His children through Baptism!  And yet, almost half of the Catholics in this country are not aware that we can have a personal relationship with Him.  Teach your children how to pray.  Teach them that God is their Father and show them how you talk to Him.

Second, speaking of fathers, there is something that is often entirely missed in our culture: the power of a father’s blessing.  Dads, bless your children.  Did you know that, in God’s original plan for the people of Israel, every father of a family was the priest of the family?  At the golden calf incident, this was obscured and in many ways lost.  But in the new covenant, the father of the family is the priest of the “domestic church” (aka “the family”).  This means that there is power in a father’s blessing.  This was brought home to me in a real way when I was having a conversation with a priest who is an exorcist in another diocese.  He described to me the case of a young woman who had been cursed by her father.  While the exorcism was freeing her through the power of Jesus Christ, there was a bunch of “push back” because her father continued to curse his own daughter.  He noted how powerful that curse was because it was her father who was doing it.  After staring at him in shock that a dad would do that, a thought suddenly came to my mind.  I said, “If that is the case with a father’s curse, what does that mean if a dad blesses his child in the Name of Jesus?”  He looked at me and said, “You can’t imagine the power of grace that a dad’s blessing has over his children.”  Fathers, pronounce the blessing of God over your children.  It can be a simple sign of the Cross traced on their foreheads…or if they are far away from you, raising your hand in their direction and praying, “Bless you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  It might not be “Sacramental” in the way a priest’s blessing is, but it is part of the “primordial sacrament”.

Third, there is very little can compete with an authentic witness to Jesus Christ and His Church.  When moms and dads give witness that they truly strive to live what we profess on Sundays, there is power.  This does not mean being overly strict or demanding with one’s own children.  In fact, St. John Paul testifies to the authentic witness of his own father.  He wrote, “The mere fact of seeing [my father] on his knees had a decisive influence on my early years. He was so hard on himself that he had no need to be hard on his son; his example alone was sufficient to inculcate discipline and a sense of duty. He was an exceptional person.”   He went on to state, “…his example was in a way my first seminary”.  For another incredible example, Saint John of the Cross cited his mother and her willingness to raise him and his brother in the Faith despite the great sacrifices she had to make in order to be Catholic.  It was her example that inspired him and his brother.  Many mothers have had that sanctifying effect on their children. 

Fourth, we must not underestimate the power of prayer.  As many people know, Saint Augustine was absolutely opposed to the Catholic Faith of his mom in his early years.  An incredibly bright young person, he seemed to delight in throwing his mom’s faith in her face (and seemed to despise her desire to share Christ with him!).  But she remained steadfast in prayer.  But here is something we often overlook: she did not merely “throw up a few prayers”.  She begged God on behalf of both of her sons.  She prayed.  She fasted.  She was so vigilant in her prayers that Saint Ambrose once famously told her, “As you live, it is impossible that the child of such tears should perish.”  A father’s blessing is powerful.  A mother’s prayers have power as well.  If you desire this conversion, be gentle with your child, but be strict with yourself.  This might mean fasting for them.  The spirit of this age is alive and well.  It can often only be driven out of your children with prayer and fasting.  Fast for your children.  This might be a fasting from food.  But it can be any mortification.  Offer up your grief and your sufferings for your children.  You can even ask God to accept whatever suffering you experience as you age and approach death for the salvation and sanctification of your children. 

You may not see the fruit of these four powerful tools in your life.  But you are a person who knows that there is more to this life.  Do not lose heart.  Never lose heart.  God desires the salvation of your children even more than you do.  Trust in Him.

in Christ.



A Message from Father Rich about the Rich Tradition of the Holy Year of Mercy

The following column was written by Father Rich at the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy.  We are re-printing it for you towards the end of this Holy Year and invite you to read it and view the documentary recommended below.  A trailer is provided and some information about it, too.

Don’t miss history being made in Holy Year of Mercy



Last December, 2015, was  the start of a pretty big deal. Several months beforehand, Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, starting Dec. 8 and running through 2016.

A Holy Year is very different from other themed years. You may remember the Year of St. Paul or the Year of Consecrated Life just concluding. These and others like them are simply different themes the recent popes have asked the church to focus on in any given year, but a Holy Year is a completely different animal with much greater significance.

When Pope Boniface called the first Christian Jubilee in 1300, he intended to keep the same biblical themes of forgiveness and the remission of sins. So too, Pope Francis has called for this to remain the same for the new Holy Year, which we will commence this month.Though the first Catholic Holy Year was established by Pope Boniface VIII for 1300, the concept of the Holy Year goes back to the Old Testament, when every 50th year was a year of “Yobel” (meaning “ram’s horn”), because the special year was proclaimed by the blast of the ram’s horns. In these years, slaves were to go free and debts were to be forgiven. In the Christian era, the word “Yobel” was transliterated to “Jubileus” (“jubilee”), meaning “joyous festivity.”

There are two types of Holy Years, “ordinary” and “extraordinary.” An ordinary Holy Year is one on the regular interval of every 25 years, so the next ordinary Holy Year will be in the year 2025. This 25-year interval was established by Pope Paul II in 1475. Before that, there was no set rule for the frequency.

Then there is the very rare extraordinary Holy Year, which is called outside that normal interval. We have had three previous extraordinary Holy Years in all of church history: 1390, 1933 and 1983 — and now 2016.

As far as the ordinary Holy Years, there have been occasions throughout history in which they were either suspended or greatly curtailed for political reasons in which the church was threatened. For example, 1825 was the only Holy Year of the nineteenth century in which the Holy Door was opened.

The primary symbol of the Holy Year is the Holy Door, which is strictly symbolic, showing that God’s mercy is open to everyone who seeks it. These Holy Doors are in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, and they are always bricked up and closed off except during the Holy Year.

The most significant of the doors is at St. Peter’s Basilica, but the other three major basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls have the same tradition. Each of these churches will have an ancient ritual played out to open the Holy Year. In the case of St. Peter’s, it will be the pope symbolically knocking on the door (often with a hammer) to open it. At each of other three major basilicas, a cardinal will do the same.

One of the other ancient traditions associated with the Holy Year is the acquiring of Holy Year bricks. There are approximately 3,000 bricks blocking the Holy Door of St. Peter’s.

In the early years of the celebration, when the pope and his assistants would open the sacred door at the beginning of the year there would be a frenzy by the public, scrambling to acquire full bricks or even portions of bricks relics. Often people would get hurt in this scramble, and at times even the pope got caught up in the crowd. For the opening of the Holy Year of 1575, eight people actually got trampled to death, and several of the pilgrims got through the door before Pope Gregory XIII did!

In recent years the Holy See has chosen different methods of distribution to avoid the unseemly behavior that may seem more like “Black Friday” shopping than an ancient papal ritual.

As a personal aside, I have a brick from every Holy Year since 1775 in my papal collection, as can be seen on http://www.papalartifacts.com/

So, early this month we will be able to witness history being made in the truest sense of the term, and although it may be a blip on the screen to the secular media, it is indeed monumental in the life of the church.

May this extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy inspire all of us to give thanks to God for his great mercy shown to us, and then in turn show it to others.

About the Documentary Featured Here:

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Having recently viewed this incredible documentary, Jubilee, 700 Years Seeking Forgiveness, I can honestly say I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I was literally spellbound by the amount of detail and stunning images of the major basilicas in Rome and by the history of the Jubilee.  Watching it did more to acquaint me with a major tradition of our Church, that most of us probably are not aware of, than anything else I’ve read or heard about it.  You will know you’ve been in the presence of a holy celebration afterwards.  And here we are, in this Jubilee of Mercy, with the chance to participate in it, even on a diocesan level, for our own Cathedral has a Holy Door, where we might pass into sacred space to partake of this beautiful tradition.
Please take the time to watch the trailer and consider buying or renting the documentary.  You will be satisfied!
This is not just any year in Rome. Thousands of pilgrims are coming to the heart of Christianity because it is the Holy Year of Mercy. The tradition, dating back more than seven centuries,  now has a documentary.
“This is Pope Francis’ first Holy Year so 700 years of Jubilee traditions are being collected, but with their own label: the Jubilee of Mercy.”
The documentary by television news agency, Rome Reports, delves into the origins of the Jubilee, from its first announcement in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII to the extraordinary Jubilee this year.
“I grant a plenary indulgence to all Christians who come to Rome to visit the great shrines of St. Peter and St. Paul.”
To enrich the story, here is a collection of some of the most authoritative voices, including the spokesman for Pope John Paul II, the organizer of this Jubilee and the Vatican Secret Archives historian who discovers some clues hidden so far within the depths of history.
“The world knows nothing of these documents because no one has studied them in depth. Researchers have been carried away by the charm of that magical air and mystery.”
The almost 50-minute documentary delves into the problems Jubilees have faced throughout history, from floods in Rome to political problems with the new Italian state.
“On one side external religious manifestations were forbidden, they could not hold processions, parades, nothing religious in the streets of the city.”
The story reaches the last Jubilees, with the success of years 1950 and 2000, and the special emotion that a sick John Paul II found in Rome with millions of young people.
It also explains the novelty of this Holy Year of Mercy in comparison to all previous Jubilees.
‘Jubilee: 700 years seeking forgiveness’ can be seen on Vimeo in English, Spanishand Italian. It is a way to comprehend the great historical weight of this celebration for the Church before passing through the Holy Door.


Life in the Womb: I Am 26 Weeks Old & Two Pounds


I am 26 weeks old!

I am 26 weeks old!

The network of nerves in our baby’s ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear  our voices  as we chat with each other. He’s inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs. These so-called breathing movements are also good practice for when he’s born and takes that first gulp of air. Our baby is continuing to put on baby fat. He now weighs about 1 2/3 pounds and measures 14 inches (about the length of a scallion) from head to heel. Since we are awaiting the birth of a  boy, we know his testicles should soon begin to descend into his scrotum – a trip that will take about two to three months.

We continue to embrace this time of waiting for our baby’s birth–scheduled to arrive on Christmas.  Until then, let us remember to pray for all babies and the safety of their prenatal lives.

“For a child’s arrival is God’s invasion, loves renewal and a joy celebration.”


I am 24 Weeks & my lungs are developing.

I am 24 Weeks & my lungs are developing.




You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to be

How Our baby is Growing

Our baby is growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at about 1 1/3 pounds. Since he’s almost a foot long (about the length of an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he’ll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing “branches” of the respiratory “tree” as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.

I am now 22 weeks old.  Look how I have grown:

At 11 inches and almost 1 pound (about the size of a spaghetti squash), and I  look like a miniature newborn. My  lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct, and I’m  even developing tiny tooth buds beneath my gums. My  eyes have formed, but the  irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment.

If you could see inside your womb, you’d be able to spot the fine hair (lanugo) that covers my  body and the deep wrinkles on my skin, which I’ll sport until a padding of fat  fills them in. Inside my  belly, my  pancreas – essential for the production of some important hormones – is developing steadily.


Here I was at 18 Weeks:

I am 18 Weeks Old!

I am 18 Weeks Old!

18 Weeks: I have ears and can hear you!

18 Weeks: I have ears and can hear you!

18 Weeks: I have fingers!

18 Weeks: I have fingers!

Week 18: I am the size of a bell pepper

Week 18: I am the size of a bell pepper

How I Am Growing:

Head to rump, our baby is about 5 1/2 inches long, and he weighs almost 7 ounces (about the size of a bell pepper). He’s busy flexing his arms and legs – movements that you’ll start noticing more and more in the weeks ahead. His blood vessels are visible through his thin skin, and his ears are now in their final position, although they’re still standing out from his head a bit. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around his nerves, a process that will continue for a year after he’s born. I am a boy, and my genitals are noticeable now, but I may hide them from you during an ultrasound.





A Message from Duluth Area Catholic Schools: Called to Be One

Called to Be One Logo

Called to Be One Logo

Called To Be One, is a project of the Duluth Area Catholic Schools in support of Catholic school education in Duluth.  Bishop Paul Sirba announced the formation of this project in aletter to all Duluth Area Catholic School families.  As the letter states, the project was commissioned to produce a plan that will unify the Duluth Area Catholic Schools into one school that uses multiple campuses and offers a continuum of Catholic education from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.  The project will also work to support the growth of Catholic school education across all of the Diocese of Duluth.

Your input is a key component in the planning process.  There are three ways that you can directly contribute to the future of Catholic education in Duluth; First, please take the survey found here.  The survey will take 20-30 minutes to complete and will be used throughout the planning process.  Second, register and attend one of the planning retreats, September 24th (register here) or November 12th (register here) at St. James in Duluth.  Third, please pray for the future of Catholic education in the Diocese of Duluth.  Your prayers matter.

Here is a link to all the information regarding this update:


Papal Minutes, the Papal Expert & the RPR Network

FR Hankshake 3 Kiss

A new Catholic radio station in our area, the RPR Network (www.yourcatholicradiostation.com) is featuring the Curator of Papal Artifacts in a series entitled, Papal Minutes with Fr. Richard Kunst.

All the Minutes (with the exception of Pope Benedict XIV) are connected to popes on Papal Artifacts.  They include some details we’ve not included in the past–for example, what occurred from a window in the Vatican just prior to the election of Pope Pius X?  Giuseppe Sarto’s surname is translated, “tailor.”  You can find out by accessing the above link.  

Enjoy the Papal Minutesa gift from the Curator of Papal Artifacts!

A gift from our Pastor!

And here is a link to the  RPR interview with Father Kunst on April 19: ( go to 43.00 minutes  to access Father’s interview.)


WWEN, 88.1 FM: RPR Is Featuring Father Rich’s “Papal Minutes”