Month: March 2018

An Appeal from the Pastor to the People of Our Parishes

Father’s Ramblings

“Father Rich, these are NOT Worms!!

 As we continue through our inaugural year of our new citywide school of Stella Maris Academy, there are a lot of exciting things happening that we couldn’t have done had we been four separate small schools as in the past.

 Certainly the teachers would tell you one of the big advantages is having the opportunity to have more than one class of a particular grade at one location. Here on the East side of town, at the Holy Rosary Campus in particular, there are 2-3 classrooms of each grade, and that gives the teachers the ability to work together– something they did not have in the past, and they love it.


There are all sorts of benefits for having united our Catholic Schools, but there have been some challenges, too. One of them is the need for more financial aid to help kids go to a Catholic School who otherwise would be unable.

Because of the socioeconomic differences between the east and west sides of town our ability to offer aid has been challenged. This is mostly going to be a difficulty as we move forward trying to figure out how aid is distributed considering the limited availability.

 I write this to look for support from parishioners. I have done this sort of “ask” before with a lot of success and help from you. What I am hoping is for people to come forward who may be interested or willing to help out one of our own parish families when it comes to sponsoring part or all of a year’s tuition.

Even if you can only afford a little bit, anything would help. In this situation my goal is to strictly help our own parishioners with this, as there is a definite need.

Please see me if you may be interested in this sort of charitable work as it is a great cause!

—Fr. Rich

Archery at Stella Maris

Stella Maris Kindergarten
Amanda Tessier











Stella Maris Academy: Lots Happening on Our Campuses!

The following commentary is from Jesse Murray, principal of Stella Maris Academy’s St. John’s campus.  We are grateful for the amount of information he shared with us about the students at St. John’s  and the good work and experiences they are having at Stella Maris.  Thank you, Jesse Murray!

The students from Stella Maris Academy continue to combine fun, learning, faith, and service into their daily experiences.  Here is a tour through a few recent events on the the St. John’s & Holy Rosary Campuses:

The 8th grade students were led by Mrs. Katie Lisi and Dr. Mary Boylan, MD,  on a tour of the Women’s Care Center.  Here they learned a valuable lesson on the miracle of life and the science that helps us care for this most precious gift.  The students had the special opportunity to see real life images of a baby with the 3D ultrasound equipment. Following, they had lunch and an afternoon of sledding fun as a reward for reaching their class goal for a school fundraiser.  

Also pictured below is Mrs. Peggy Frederickson, principal at the Holy Rosary Campus, sharing a gift of over $1,300 with the Women’s Care Center raised through a penny war fundraiser at their campus during Catholic Schools Week. 

8th Graders Sledding Party

Mrs. Peggy Frederickson, Principal, Holy Rosary Campus










The 7th grade class recently traveled to the Laurentian Environmental Center for a three day field trip.  Valuable lessons regarding life and faith were learned. Lessons of humility, self control, courage, teamwork, and perseverance were on the top of the list as our youth were challenged to take ownership of their experience in life and become contributing members (good old-fashioned stewardship!).  The experience was unforgettable in many ways! The lessons are truly carried back to the classroom to strengthen our learning and faith community.

7th Graders at the Laurentian Environmental Center

7th Graders at the Laurentian Environmental Center












The 6th grade class recently had a strong showing at the regional History Day competition at UMD.   The theme this year was “Conflict and Compromise”. Each student conducted historical research through personal interviews, reading biographies and historical texts,  finding archived material and photographs, and studying the details of historical events that have shaped our society and world.  Two 8th graders and eight 6th graders will advance to the state competition in May at the University of Minnesota.


6th Grade Science Projects

6th Grade Science Project









The 5th grade class was recently on retreat at the Cathedral of Our Lady.  The children celebrated Mass with the younger Stella Maris Academy students and spent time in prayer and reflection in advance of afternoon reconciliation.  For fun, they met up with the kindergarten students, read books together, and enjoyed a lunch. Later in the week, the 5th grade class shared the St. Patrick’s Day spirit by wearing their green!  In order to be out of uniform, the middle school students brought in over $325 of personal donations to give to the BackPack Program, serving the children in need in our community.


Kindergartners & 5th Graders Reading Together

Kindergartners & 5th Graders Reading Together








Kindergartners & 5th Graders Reading Together

5th Grade St. Patrick’s Day Spirit









Keep sharing information with the people of John’s.  We love your input!





How fun is it to see the faces of two Stella Maris students–one from the Holy Rosary campus and the other from Saint James!

Maia Lisi & Reggie Frederick, way to go, making the news and speaking as articulately as you did!  We are proud of you and excited you were present when the Gold Medal Winners came home!






Jenny Boran

Hello! This is Ms. Boran reporting from Stella Maris Academy’s middle school campus at St. John’s! This is my first year working for Stella Maris and I am serving as the Faith Formation Director. One of my responsibilities is  campus ministry for our middle schools.


I’d like to give you a glimpse into  faith formation taking place at St. John’s this Lenten season. We are keeping it simple and as a school are focusing on the three traditional themes of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.



This year our students began  Lent by brainstorming in their weekly small groups how they could each fast, pray, and give (alms) this season.  It involved  students considering their daily lives and what things get in the way of their relationship with Christ. They each came up with a few personal Lenten goals that pertain to their daily lives and faith. I’ve been very impressed by a few of our students who willingly gave up their iPads, TV or other technology in order to grow in their faith and to simplify their lives. Some of the students have expressed  surprise at their revived contentment with “old-fashioned” leisure, like reading and hiking! I’m excited to see them continue to grow in this awareness as  Lent continues.


Stella Maris Stations of the Cross

Each of our homerooms are dedicating part of their morning meetings to some form of Lenten prayer. They are also holding you, the parish community, up in prayer this season!






The whole school is also attending weekly Stations of the Cross led by Fr. Rich on Thursday afternoons.  The students will have also have an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this season. In addition to Fr. Rich we have four priests from the Duluth parishes who have generously offered to come hear our students’ confessions.

We have also arranged Lenten retreats for each grade, which offer the students an opportunity to step away from the classroom and have time to learn more about this sacred season and to provide them with an opportunity to slow down and to connect with Christ in the midst  of their week.


As a campus we are undertaking a food drive this March to help support the CHUM food shelf. Each week we’ll be collecting a particular food item on the CHUM Most Needed list. Our hope is that students will look to their own pockets and piggy banks for the funding of this food drive making it a more personal sacrifice and effort to feed the hungry as the Gospel commands us.

Hunger statistics will also be displayed in the cafeteria to spur a greater awareness of the local needs as well as an appreciation for the delicious food made available to us by our kitchen staff.  

Please continue to pray for our students, staff and the mission of our school!



Many students chose to learn archery as one of the multiple electives offered during the second trimester.

Archery at Stella Maris

Archery at Stella Maris











George Weigel, Renowned

Examining Papal Artifacts

The Diocese of Duluth, and and our parish  were treated to a rare opportunity to  spend an evening with George Weigel.

He is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, and is the most comprehensive biographer of Saint Pope John Paul II, a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading intellectuals.

We are honored to share this event with you and will add a YouTube of his presentation as soon as it is made available.  For now, please enjoy these initial photos of him examining some of Father Kunst’s Collection.

Below is an interview he did in which he discusses his latest book, a memoir of his twelve years of friendship with Pope John Paul II, Lessons in Hope.  We will add the recording of his presentation at St. John’s as soon as it becomes available.



Examining a Papal Mace

Various Relics








Lessons In Hope, My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II

Witness To Hope by George Weigel













The Video of the George Weigel Presentation

The Diocese of Duluth, and  our parish  were treated to a rare opportunity to  spend an evening with George Weigel.

He is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, and is the most comprehensive biographer of Pope Saint John Paul II, a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading intellectuals.

We are honored to share this event with you and are most grateful to Jenny Boran, Faith Formation Director at Stella Maris Academy, for her generosity and expertise in the creation of this YouTube.

Witness To Hope by George Weigel

Lessons In Hope, My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II












March 12, 2018: George Weigel & the Northern Cross Interview

Father Richard Kunst

Father’s Ramblings

As has been announced a few times (and posters are up), George Weigel (author of Witness to Hope,  the biography of St. John Paul II) will be visiting our parish next month for a talk on the eve of Monday, March 12th.

Like the Gianna Molla event this past fall, this is an event that is being advertised throughout the entire diocese, so there is likely to be a big crowd.

 Weigel will be talking about his latest book, Lessons in Hope, which is the story of his relationship with Pope John Paul. I have read this book already, and I have to say it is very entertaining, because he is telling the stories of all his interactions with the future saint.


I love telling the stories of my handful of encounters with John Paul II, but few people in the world have had the amount of access Mr. Weigel has had.

It is a fascinating book that is hard to put down. The parish has purchased several copies of the book, and they are available for purchase. Please call the parish office if you are interested, and then you can have the opportunity to have them signed by the author.

We hope you will join us for this extraordinary to be held at St. John’s.  —Father Rich


The Northern Cross Interview with George Weigel in Preparation for His Visit

George Weigel
An interview with George Weigel
Mar 2, 2018
Deacon Kyle Eller, N/C

On March 12, St. John the Evangelist Church in Duluth, fresh off hosting the daughter of St. Gianna Molla in October, will host another distinguished guest: George Weigel, who is a distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and public Policy Center, author of three volumes on the life of Pope St. John Paul, and a distinguished conservative Catholic intellectual and media figure.

The event at St. John’s will focus on St. John Paul II. It will begin with Mass at 6:30 p.m. and be followed by Weigel’s presentation, based on his latest book, “Lessons in Hope,” the third of his volumes on John Paul.

Weigel agreed to be interviewed by email in advance of his appearance this month. The interview follows:

George Weigel
The Northern Cross: Would you tell our readers a bit about what you will be speaking on in Duluth? I understand from Father Kunst that it is related to your newest book, about your personal friendship with Pope St. John Paul II.

Weigel: Yes, that’s right. I’ll be talking about “Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II,” but also about the pope and his legacy. “Lessons in Hope” is a book, of stories, quite different in that sense from the two volumes of my John Paul II biography, “Witness to Hope” and “The End and the Beginning,” so I hope the talk (and the book) will help people come to know John Paul in a more personal way.

TNC: Is there an anecdote from that friendship you would be willing to share to give readers a flavor of what you will be talking about?

Weigel: In March 1996, John Paul said to me, in respect of other biographical efforts, “They try to understand me from outside, but I can only be understood from inside.” That idea — learning a saint “from inside” — will help frame my remarks. I’ll also be introducing the audience to some of the remarkable cast of characters that surrounded John Paul II, and helped form his “inside.”

TNC: It’s now nearly 13 years since Pope John Paul went to the house of the Father. Those days were so full of powerful, memorable scenes: his last gestures, the large, peaceful crowds, the cries that he immediately be recognized a saint. I’m sure they must often come to mind for you. Now, more than a decade later, is he remembered and revered as you imagined he would be? Or to put it another way, how do you see John Paul’s place in the church as a member of the Church Triumphant?

Weigel: He’s obviously a venerated figure all over the world. Unfortunately, his insistence on the great Catholic “both/and” — truth and mercy, revelation and reason, love and responsibility — is being forgotten in some parts of the church. And it doesn’t seem as if the senior diplomats of the Vatican have learned much from the most politically consequential pope in a millennium, which is a real shame. As for John Paul’s place as a member of the Church Triumphant, I’m sure he’s a powerful intercessor for many people — as well as a continuing model for priests and bishops.

TNC: St. John Paul’s long, fruitful pontificate left a great body of teaching, and many of the issues he dealt with not only remain with us but sometimes have come dramatically to the fore. I’m thinking, for instance, of his Theology of the Body and the meaning and “language” of the body in an adequate Christian anthropology, and how this relates to gender ideology and the definition of marriage; or of his great teachings on the family in light of contemporary ecclesiastical debates about pastoral outreach to those in irregular situations; or of his great encyclical on moral theology in light of debates over the meaning of Christian conscience. What, in your view, are some of the most important things John Paul’s teaching has still to offer us in 2018?

Weigel: The Theology of the Body is the most coherent Catholic response to the cultural tsunami of the sexual revolution ever articulated, and ought to be a much larger part of catechesis and marriage preparation, although it’s already had an effect on both. John Paul’s social doctrine, with its emphasis on the imperative of a vibrant public moral culture for both democracy and the free economy, has a lot to say to contemporary American discontents. And then there is Veritatis Splendor, the great encyclical on moral theology, which tried to re-ballast a Western world collapsing into moral subjectivism; that’s still a huge issue, and there is much still to learn from Veritatis Splendor. I’d also cite his encyclical on faith and reason, which ought to be read by every Catholic educator today, as we try to keep Catholic education, especially Catholic higher education, from imploding into the incoherence you see on so many campuses today.

TNC: Many believe that Pope John Paul II changed people’s expectations of the papacy, because of his great gifts of charisma and communication and his willingness to travel the world and evangelize and be a public figure. Pope Francis is also a pope who seems to embrace that kind of a role. (In fact, some who are younger may not recall that there was a pope with “star power” before Francis.) How would you compare and contrast the way they live out that aspect of their ministry?

Weigel: The pope has been at the center of the world Catholic conversation — and the world’s perception of the Church — at least since Pius IX (1846-1878), and perhaps since Pius VII (1800-1823). There are obvious advantages to this, but there are also disadvantages. The pope cannot and should not be the protagonist of everything in the Church. We all have our roles in the Body of Christ, and we all have a responsibility to live as missionary disciples. Both John Paul II and Francis have insisted on that.

— By Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross

Witness To Hope by George Weigel

Lessons In Hope, My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II












Past Information about the Upcoming Event

Late last year as you will recall, we had the honor of having Dr. Gianna Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Molla, visit our parish. It was a big deal to have such a person to visit, and we had a very good crowd that came out to listen to her talk about her “Saint Mom.”

Well, I am equally excited to make another announcement of a guest coming to our parish that is of equal significance.

On Monday, March 12th, St. John’s will have the honor of welcoming author, George Weigel, to our parish.

The unfortunate thing is that many people in the pews might be unfamiliar with his name, but he is regularly on the NY Times’ bestseller’s list, is a leading authority in the English speaking world on the Catholic Church, and is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s, Ethics and Public Policy Center.

But most significantly he is the author of the most comprehensive biography written about Pope John Paul II.

His 1998 biography, Witness to Hope (which I have read multiple times) is the most complete book on the life of JP II.   The thing that is really impressive about it is that Pope John Paul II was the one who asked Weigel to write it.

 Weigel is a syndicated columnist who is regularly featured in our diocesan newspaper,  The Northern Cross.

This is a coup to have been able to get Mr. Weigel to come to Duluth, let alone to our parish. He will be speaking about his relationship with St. John Paul II and about the writing of the biography.

Both before his arrival and while he is here, we will also have his latest book, Lessons in Hope, available for purchase.  You will be able to have it autographed.

I am very excited about this visit, and you will hear much more about it in the coming weeks. So please mark your calendar for March 12th to come and enjoy this extraordinary event for our parishes!













The Real Presence Radio Interview with George Weigel & Father Rich

George Weigel

We are pleased to be able to bring you this interview with George Weigel in anticipation of his upcoming visit to St. John’s Parish on Monday, March 12th, at 6:30 PM.
A reminder that the night will include Mass at 6:30, followed by his presentation.

A preeminent authority on the Catholic Church, Mr. Weigel  describes what he learned from chronicling the life of Pope John Paul II.

In Lessons in Hope, George Weigel tells the story of his unique friendship with St. John Paul II. As Weigel learns the pope “from inside,” he also offers a firsthand account of the tumult of post-Vatican II Catholicism and the Cold War’s endgame, introducing readers to the heroes who brought down European communism. Later, he shows us the aging pope grappling with the post-9/11 world order and teaching new lessons in dignity through his own suffering.

We are elated to have him as our guest at St. John’s and hope you’ll join us Monday evening.  —Father Rich


Logo of Real Presence Radio


The Interview begins at about the 4th  minute:




Witness To Hope by George Weigel

Lessons In Hope, My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II

Father Mike Schmitz: Making a Good Confession

Wonderful advice from Father Mike to help you discern how to make a good confession.

Father Mike’s Cheat Sheet

First, ask yourself the following questions, because it all centers around the answers to these first 3 questions:

Has God been Number 1 in your life?
Is God the center of your life?
Do we put God on the sidelines?

Then, Continue:

What is Sin? God, I know what you want me to do and I don’t care: I want what I want. It’s knowing what God wants and freely choosing to do something else.

4 Places to Start to Examine What God Wants for My Life: The Cheat Sheet

1. Find a good examination of conscience.
2. See the Litany of Humility of Cardinal Merry del Val
3. Go to the Beatitudes
4. A Consciousness Examen–go into prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Go through your day and walk through your day to find all the times you said, “Yes,” to God. Then start again and remember all the times God may have been offering His Grace, and you said, “No.” I want to do what I want to do.

It’s about living out of a relationship with God where God is at the center of your life.

Thank you, Father Mike, for this help for us to make a good confession!

March 9 – 10 at St. Benedict’s Parish: 24 Hours of Adoration, Prayer and Confession

St. Benedict’s Poster for 24 Hours


We invite you to join our neighboring parish  hosting  this 24 hour period of Adoration, prayer and confession.  It is inspired by Pope Francis who has told us at least one parish in each diocese will remain open for 24 consecutive hours.  

24 Hours for the Lord
Friday, March 9 – Saturday, March 10
Held at St. Benedict Parish, 1419 St. Benedict St., Duluth, man 55811

Eucharistic Adoration 
after 8:00 AM Mass Friday – 12:00 PM Saturday, closing with Benediction

Confession: 12:00 PM Friday – 12:00 PM Saturday

Mass: 8:00 Am Saturday (Daily Mass



Lenten Activities at St. John’s: Stations of the Cross, Apologetics & Fish Suppers


I want to once again encourage you to come to the Stations of the Cross on Monday nights during Lent.  It is an ancient prayer that originates from the time of the Crusades when the Christians taking Jerusalem back from the Muslim conquerors established the route Jesus walked to his crucifixion. 

From that time on the Stations of the cross spread to churches all over the world so that the faithful could have a Holy Land experience in their own parishes.  Because the Stations are a particularly Lenten prayer, this is the only time of the year you will have the chance to take part in this ancient prayer.

This will take place at 6:00 PM every Monday of Lent except for the 12th of March when George Weigel will be here

I encourage you to try to make it to at least one of the weeks.  And, of course, immediately after Stations will be our Apologetics class in the Gathering Space.  —Father Rich

 Stations of the Cross: Mondays at 6:00

Apologetics: Immediately following the Stations

Apologetics will be held in the Gathering Space and  includes beverages that will make it less painful to listen to me!

FISH SUPPERS:  St. John’s, Fridays, February 16 & 23rd, 4:30-7:00 PM, with thanks to the Knights of Columbus

And don’t forget the gift of daily Mass every morning at 8:00.

I encourage you to come to these events to help make Lent a special opportunity for spiritual enrichment. 

—Father Rich