Category: Pro-Life

April 28: The Feast of St. Gianna Molla & AN Invitation from Dr. Gianna Molla


One of the most endearing experiences to be given to the people of Father Kunst’s parish (and several hundred others) was the late October 2017 visit of Dr. Gianna Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.  She captivated her audience with her deep humility and kindness as she sang the praises of her “Saint Mom–and, in her words, her Saint Dad.”  Her mother died of complications giving birth to her.  It was an incredible couple of days to be in her company.

  And now she has issued an invitation to celebrate Mother’s Day, honoring our mothers, by having flowers sent to her Saint Mom’s shrine in Italy.  Here is the link allowing you to participate in this:







Monday, October 30, An Update on This Extraordinary Event at St. John’s: Meet the Daughter of a Saint

St. Gianna Molla & Family

On the evening of Monday, October 30, 2017, Saint John’s will welcome Dr. Gianna Emanuella Molla, the youngest daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.  

St. John’s is one of only two places in Minnesota to have the privilege of her presence.  

 Tentatively we are planning for Mass,  with veneration of 1st & 2nd class relics of  Saint Gianna, followed by a testimony of The Life, Faith & Sanctity of her mother, and an opportunity to meet and greet Dr. Molla. 

Light refreshments will be served.


Daughter of St. Gianna Molla coming to Duluth Oct. 30

Oct 16, 2017

“I like the idea of having a child of a canonized saint here, and having people have as close as they can to a tangible experience of a saint,” said Father Richard Kunst.

His parish, St. John in Duluth, will be offering just that Oct. 30, when it hosts Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St. Gianna Molla, a patron saint of the pro-life movement.

The saint, canonized on May 16, 2004, by Pope St. John Paul II, was herself a pediatrician. While she was pregnant with her fourth child in 1961 — the young Gianna — she discovered she had a life-threatening tumor.

Among the options her doctors gave her were abortion, which would not have been morally licit, and hysterectomy, which would have been licit but would also have led to the death of the child. Instead, she insisted on a course of care that would put saving the life of her child as the priority.

Despite efforts to save both mother and child, the saint died a week after her daughter was born. She was 39 years old.

“She’s the patron saint of unborn children and the pro-life movement,” Father Kunst said, as well as the inspiration for parents who have given the name to their own children.

Father Kunst said the daughter the saint died saving, herself a physician as well, has become a spokesperson for her mother’s mission. For instance, she was present at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015, with Pope Francis in attendance.

She will also be appearing in the Twin Cities in October, which the Catholic Church in the United States observes as Respect Life Month.

Yet Father Kunst said getting Dr. Molla lined up to come to Duluth was difficult despite the fact that she is coming to Minnesota already.

In fact, at one point, she told Father Kunst it would be “absolutely impossible.” But the next day she wrote again to say she could come for a talk in the parish.

“I’m very excited about it, obviously,” he said.

There is a private fundraising dinner the day before, but the main public event is Oct. 30, with Mass at 6:30 p.m. followed by Dr. Molla’s talk.

This, too, will have a fundraising component. Dr. Molla is raising funds to restore the family home and “make it into a shrine,” Father Kunst said.

“She travels all over the place to share her mom’s story and the vision of what she would like to do in regard to her mother’s ministry in the pro-life movement,” he said.

So he will be asking for a generous freewill donation. But the event is free and is a unique opportunity to meet one of the few people in the world who is a living child of a canonized saint.

“St. Gianna Molla died to save this woman’s life,” he added. “… She’s an integral part of the whole story of St. Gianna Molla.”

He said there are no tickets, it’s just first-come, first-served. There will be closed-circuit TV in the parish’s basement in case there is overflow from the church, which itself can seat quite a few people.

“All they have to do is bring their willingness to support the mission of St. Gianna Molla and the pro-life movement,” he said.

— Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross


Here is a link to the work Dr. Molla is accomplishing through the Ponte Nuovo Project to which she is devoting her life.  We are so privileged to have her here at St. John’s and look forward to such a special event.  Here is the link:

OK St. Gianna Ponte Nuovo Project (1)

About Dr. Molla:

About me:
gianna-emanuelaI practiced as a geriatrician at the Geriatric Institute, “Camillo Golgi” in Abbiategrasso, Milan. In 2003, I left my profession to care for my dad Pietro who had serious health problems until he died on April 3, 2010, Holy Saturday, at the age of almost 98.
    Since my dad’s death, I work full time in service of the Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Foundation, which he founded in 1999 in Milan with my uncle Father Giuseppe, my Mom’s brother.
    The Saint Gianna Foundation is a non-profit-making Foundation. Its essential aim is to honor, to perpetuate and to spread out all around the world my Saint Mom’s memory, example, testimony and spirituality. It is a very small Foundation, which has always existed thanks to the Divine Providence’s help. I am the only person who works full time for it, with my siblings’ and my friends’ help.

Pope John Paul II & Dr. Gianna Molla



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:


Life in the Womb: I Am 15 Weeks Old & I Am the Size of an Apple!

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

We are happy to share the news that Saint John’s is following  a pregnancy in a series entitled,  “Life in the Womb.”  Each week we will share information about the momentous events happening in utero until, at Christmas, we will welcome a child we have slowly gotten to know over a 9 month period. 
During this time of waiting, may we pray together as a parish family for all  unborn children and for all people desiring a child.
Oh Lord!
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


Our baby is  15 Weeks Old:

Entering the second trimester

In this illustration, you can see how big – and yet, how tiny still – your baby is as you begin your second trimester.

Our growing baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple). She’s busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she’s likely to move away from the beam. There’s not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds. Finally, if you have an ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out whether your baby’s a boy or a girl! (Don’t be too disappointed if it remains a mystery, though. Nailing down your baby’s sex depends on the clarity of the picture and on your baby’s position. He or she may be modestly curled up or turned in such a way as to “hide the goods.”)!

Look how tiny I am!!

Look how tiny I am!!

I am 15 weeks old!

I am 15 weeks old!

At 15 Weeks I am the size of an apple!

At 15 Weeks I am the size of an apple
















How I Am Growing: At 13 Weeks:

This is the last week of your first trimester, and your risk of miscarriage is now much lower than earlier in pregnancy.

Next week marks the beginning of your second trimester, a time of relative comfort for many women who see early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and fatigue subside.

Birth is still months away, but your breasts may have already started making colostrum, the nutrient-rich fluid that feeds your baby for the first few days after birth, before your milk starts to flow.


13 Weeks Old: Fingerprints

13 Weeks Old: Fingerprints

Week 13: The Size of a Peapod

Week 13: The Size of a Peapod











infant feet 3 best



April 21: An Incredible Scientific Discovery about Life in the Womb

infant feet and mother hands

We are happy to share the news that Saint John’s is going to follow a pregnancy in a series entitled,  “Life in the Womb.”

Each week we will share information about the momentous events happening in utero until, at Christmas, we will welcome a child we have slowly gotten to know over a 9 month period. 

During this time of waiting, may we pray together as a parish family for all  unborn children and for all people desiring a child.  Oh Lord,

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.

What We Now Know about the DNA of Our Children: It Remains Forever within the Child’s Mother

First Evidence of Fetal DNA Persisting in Human Brain Tissue

First Evidence of Fetal DNA Persisting in Human Brain Tissue

Although widely known in the scientific community, it’s news to most laypeople that years—even decades—after a mother delivers her baby, some of the fetal cells will remain in her body. These fetal cells, which are some of the developing baby’s cells, while not necessarily stem cells, are adaptable in their ability to grow and repair tissues.

Liz Szabo writing in USA Today, adds additional breadth and depth to our understanding of the ability of these fetal cells to “come to a mother’s rescue” in a story whose sub-headline reads, “New study in mice shows that fetal cells carried by moms after they give birth may actually provide stem cells to help the body repair some damage.”

Szabo’s lead is extremely clever:

“Many moms carry photos of their children in their wallets.

“Yet mothers may be surprised to learn that they’re also carrying some of their children’s cells, years or even decades after the end of a pregnancy. And while a baby photo can melt a mother’s heart, the cells her child leaves behind in her blood may actually heal it, emerging research suggests.”

Or, as she puts it later, “Fetal cells left behind in women’s bodies are more than mementos.”

The story begins with a discussion of a paper delivered last week at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference in San Diego, by Louise McCullough, director of stroke research at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

The crux of the story is that the fetal cells that remain in the mother mouse’s body appear to act like stem cells when they race to repair damage caused by a stroke in the mother’s body, which raises intriguing (but as yet still unclear) possibilities.

McCullough studied how fetal cells operated in the mother mouse who had suffered a stroke. They quickly (within three days) clustered around the area of the stroke, Szabo writes,

“But these fetal cells were more than bystanders, McCullough says. They also began dividing and giving rise to the types of cells that line blood vessel walls, as if trying to form new blood vessels to restore blood flow to the injured brain.

“What scientists don’t yet know, is whether the fetal cells were clustered around the stroke site by coincidence, or if they really were acting like stem cells attempting to regenerate tissue. McCullough presented her research in abstract form. She has not yet published the full paper in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Other scientists, working independently, have seen similar behavior in mice with heart failure. Szabo writes

“The mice who recovered best were ones in which fetal cells integrated into their heart tissue, says [V.K.] Gadi, who wasn’t involved in McCullough’s research. In a study in humans, researchers found maternal cells at work in a diabetic child, apparently trying to repair insulin-producing cells, he says.

Naturally, others are examining what role fetal cells may play in diseases such as cancer.

Szabo raises another fascinating possibility: that, like stem cells, “Fetal cells appear able to change into whatever specific type of cell is needed, McCullough says. So fetal cells in a mother with liver damage could transform into liver cells.”

Amazing stuff. Go to to read Szabo’s full story; and to “The Amazing Interplay between Mother and Unborn Child.”

Our Baby, Week 6
The eyes begin to form and the extremities can be seen in much more detail, including all ten fingers. The embryo is now moving and responds to touch.

Our Baby at 6 Weeks

Our Baby at 6 Weeks


Your baby’s nose, mouth and ears are starting to take shape, and the intestines and brain are beginning to develop.

Your baby is the size of a lentil.
Read about your pregnancy at 6 weeks.

Your Baby, Week 5

It’s only been a week since your embryo, about the size of an apple seed, attached to the wall of your uterus, but already it has made many developmental leaps. The placenta and the umbilical cord are functioning, passing oxygen and nutrients between you and your baby. The cluster of cells that will become your baby’s heart — a mere speck right now — has already formed, and the brain and spinal cord are beginning to take shape.

4-5 weeks pregnant image









"You knit me in my mother's womb." Psalm 139

“You knit me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139

LORD, you have probed me, you know me:

you know when I sit and stand;

you understand my thoughts from afar.

You sift through my travels and my rest;

with all my ways you are familiar.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

LORD, you know it all.

Behind and before you encircle me

and rest your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

far too lofty for me to reach.

Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.

If I take the wings of dawn

and dwell beyond the sea,

Even there your hand guides me,

your right hand holds me fast.

If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,

and night shall be my light”—

12Darkness is not dark for you,

and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.


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 precious to me are your designs, O God;

how vast the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;

when I complete them, still you are with me.

When you would destroy the wicked, O God,

the bloodthirsty depart from me!

Your foes who conspire a plot against you

are exalted in vain.


The Beginning:

We celebrate today one of the twelve major feasts of our Church, the Annunciation–the day the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she was to be the Mother of God.

And while  we wait, Father Rich shares his thoughts about the Annunciation, including the privilege of praying the Mass in Nazareth at the Church of the Annunciation.

Annunciation Adds Meaning to Mass in Nazareth


When I go to Rome, my favorite place to say Mass is over the tomb of St. John Paul the Great in St. Peter’s Basilica. Being inspired by him and having had the opportunity to meet him make that altar particularly important to me.

In my years of priesthood I have been blessed to celebrate Mass in many important holy places. I have said Mass near the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and in the room where St. Catherine of Sienna died. I have prayed Mass at the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, near the cave where he was born in Bethlehem, not to mention in Fatima, Portugal, Lourdes, France and St. John’s in Duluth!

But no experience of saying Mass in a holy place has quite matched the experience I had of celebrating the Sacred Mysteries in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth in Israel.

Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent most of his earthly life, was so insignificant that it is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact Scripture scholars say that during the time of Jesus it had a population of only 180 to 220 people, all from the same tribe. The Church of the Annunciation, which is built over the site of ancient Nazareth, actually covers the entire area of the town from the time of Jesus.

Today things are a little different in Nazareth. It is one of the largest towns in northern Israel at over 80,000 inhabitants. Sixty-nine percent of them are Muslim; 30 percent are Christian.

Like many expansive churches, the Church of the Annunciation has many altars on its three different levels, but it is the one in the crypt that is most important. In the lowest level of the church is a simple altar placed in the midst of an archaeological site. Surrounded by ancient, excavated walls that are 2,000 years old, the altar stands at the very site of the Annunciation, standing in the exact location where God leaped down from heaven to earth, the very site of the Incarnation.

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth. The Crypt

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth. The Crypt

Year in and year out, my weekday Mass crowd hears me say the same thing every March 25th: If I were pope for a day I would make the feast of the Annunciation a holy day of obligation, because it is the precise moment God became man. Unfortunately, this most important commemoration of our faith tends to get lost because of its close proximity to Holy Week. In fact it often falls right on Good Friday, which is actually poetic, since Jesus came to earth to suffer and die for us.

Second only to the crucifixion, the Annunciation is portrayed more in art than any other historical event in human history, and for good reason. It is the most important historical event in human history. The very moment Mary responded to the angel, “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” Jesus Christ was conceived in her womb.

This is where Mary receives the title “Ark of the Covenant,” since in the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant was thought to be the very presence of God on Earth. Now Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, because though the Old Testament version of the ark was lost 600 years prior to Jesus, now God becomes present in a much more wonderful way, not in a fancy gold box but in the human womb of a virgin .

I love reading the Annunciation passage in the Bible (Luke 1:26-39), but it is the last line of the story which sends a shiver down my spine when reading it.

After Mary agrees to this daunting privilege, the text says, “And the angel departed from her.” There is no sadness in the angel’s departure, because now heaven is present in the person of Jesus Christ—God the Son in her very self. She indeed is the new Ark of the Covenant.

This is our Christian faith. This is the faith that we hold to be true as inspired by God in this beautiful and most solemn feast day that we will celebrate this month.

Here also lies one of the more compelling arguments against the atrocity of abortion. The Christian faith has always made the clear profession that Christ’s life on earth began at the moment Mary agreed to receive him. The precise moment of his conception in the womb was the precise moment of the Incarnation. It is a no-brainer to see how this affirms our Catholic understanding of human life’s beginning as well: at the moment of conception.

How can one argue against that? The Annunciation is not only the moment of the Incarnation, it is also the clearest case for human life.

May our faith be that of the Virgin Mary’s in accepting God’s divine will in our lives, accepting God’s will above our own.

–Father Richard Kunst

Note: The feast of the Annunciation fell on  Good Friday, March 25th.  We celebrate it as one of the twelve  major  feasts of our liturgical  year.   Whenever this solemnity occurs during Holy Week, it is transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.   It is thus celebrated on the first available day after Holy Week and the Octave of Easter (which ends on the Second Sunday of Easter).  Thus we celebrate it today, April 4th.