Holy Hour in Honor of the Late Bishop Sirba

The one-year anniversary of Bishop Paul Sirba’s death is Tuesday, Dec. 1, and to mark the occasion and remember him in prayer, the diocese has announced that each deanery (region) in the diocese will hold a Holy Hour from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Father James Bissonette, diocesan administrator, said that given the pandemic restrictions, the hope is that people will feel free to come and pray for a moment or longer as they wish in a safe way.

The locations of the Holy Hours are as follows:

  • Brainerd: St. Andrew Church, led by Father Daniel Weiske
  • Cloquet: Queen of Peace Church, led by Father Justin Fish
  • Duluth: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, led by Father Anthony Wroblewski
  • Hibbing: Blessed Sacrament Church, led by Father Gabriel Waweru
  • Virginia: Resurrection Church (Eveleth), led by Father Michael Garry

Those who are unable to attend in person are invited to pray from home during the same time period.

Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine on him ….

The SMA Sentinels are Hard at It with Acts of Kindness & Fundraising!

Please consider donating to the support of Stella Maris Academy. Your donation is an investment in our future!

Caleb’s Sentinel Act of Kindness: Ringing the Bell for the Salvation Army

A Pre-K Sentinel Delivered a Bag of Goodies for His Kind Hearst Contribution. Thank you again, Kindergarten Teacher, Amanda Tessier for this Beautiful Video contribution!

A Message from Fr. Seth & Mary Claire Sitek

Father Seth:

For my bulletin article next week I am pleased to use something written by one of our parishioners. The article is about my classmate and former assistant at St. John’s & St. Joseph’s, Fr. Ben Hadrich.

Know of my prayers for you as we begin this Advent season. –Fr. Seth

Fr. Ben Hadrich
3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422

Awaiting the Announcement of Their First Assignments from Bp. Paul Sirba, June 2012

Father Ben Hadrich

Many of you remember Fr. Ben Hadrich, ordained to the priesthood with Fr. Seth and four fellow seminarians, in 2012.  Fr. Ben’s “teaching parish” assignment prior to ordination was at St. John’s and St. Joseph’s.  This was a four year required commitment of seminarians.  It allowed him to become familiar with the parishes and was helpful when his first assignment upon ordination was an additional two years with us.

I received the greatest gift of my life on June 22nd, 2012–being ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. I absolutely love being a priest. It was what I was made to do and I have never experienced as much peace and joy since having been ordained. –Father Ben

 While here, he endeared himself to the school and parish communities.  Since then he has been the pastor of St.  Thomas Aquinas, International Falls, and St. Columban, Little Fork, assignments beloved by him and his people.

In August 2015, upon completion of a marathon, Father Ben, an avid athlete all his life, suffered a stroke that left him in need of serious rehabilitation. We saw him approach this part of his journey with the same enthusiasm and commitment with which he prepared for the 21 marathons and Iron Man competitions he trained for.

In the five years hence, Fr. Ben has suffered two additional strokes, the most recent being in September of this year.

I’d like to alert you to our parish website where a blog post following his Caring Bridge site has been updated every time a new journal entry becomes available.

Fr. Ben’s preparation for athletic competition throughout his life serves as a metaphor for how he treats his rehab—commitment to grueling hard work.  I invite you to visit this post to receive a more accurate portrayal of the extent of work required of him to become healthy again.

We hope our parishes will flood the rehab center (address below) with get-well cards and birthday cards (Dec. 8) for him.  Remember: this is Covid time and visitation is restricted.  This is an added cross he is bearing. A man who is so social, he treasures and thrives on family time, visits with brother priests and his many friends.

Fr. Ben Hadrich
3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422

St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes (and Fr. Ben’s favorite saint), pray for him and us.

November 21 Update on Fr. Ben Hadrich: Golden Valley Rehab

Father Ben Hadrich
3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422 

Father Ben’s parents drove to Golden Valley today for the 45 minute allotted visit with him they were allowed. Please keep his family & Fr. Ben in your prayers.

It was a sunny, warm(er) day for a masked, socially distanced outdoor visit.

Along with increased mobility, Fr. Ben is gaining more movement in his left arm and hand. Therapy for both neuromuscular and cognitive skills is hard work. 

An aide told us she received ”instruction” from Fr. Ben on the difference between”cursing” and ”swearing.” (hm)

1. The yellow card has a drawing of Fr. Ben saying Mass.

2. Hondo shows Fr. Ben the ”french fries”(pipe cleaners) crafted by his niece, Lily.  As Fr. Ben would say, “Kids are the Best!”

Sunday Mass

Father Ben Hadrich
3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422 

Father Ben Hadrich
3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422 

Journal entry by Hadrich Family — 13 hours ago

We are looking forward to the end of quarantine to see what it brings.
Fr. Ben’s priest friend had a covid exposure, so his visits are on hold. So, as one would expect, Fr. Ben went solo for Mass. His parents and a close friend listened in via cell phone. Chalk up another event not soon forgotten.

As you can see by this message from Fr. Ben and from the video clip? His suffering, his “Agony in the Garden,” is very real. Please pray for him, his family and brother priests-and cards will help him on his journey!

3915 Golden Valley Road
ME 78440
Golden Valley, MN 55422 

Fr. Ben’s most recent post on Facebook:

Psalm 22:1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

Trying the best with my body, mind and soul, though lots of tough times. Jesus reminds me of what he gave us, but I am still a sinner, and have some chaotic emotions at times.

Fr. Ben is still in quarantine but goes outdoors for physical therapy.

The best part of his day is Mass with Fr. Alex, who visits daily. (The visits are officially essential care.) Visiting with his parents is not considered essential care, so they only got a window visit. 
Fr. Ben is working very hard spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Prayer is powerful.

October 27, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family

Thank you for the many ways you have shown an overwhelming amount of support over the past five weeks.

Fr. Ben makes progress every day. There are no ”small things.” We celebrate EVERY step on the path of recovery.

God willing, if all goes as planned, he will be leaving St. Mary’s Hospital Rehab in Rochester. He will be admitted to Courage Kenny Rehab Institute in Golden Valley, MN, tomorrow afternoon.

Because of Covid, he’ll be quarantined for two weeks. (Therapy will come to him.)

“…the peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. 

Fr. Ben has demonstrated faith, strength, and courage with every challenge thus far. Our prayer is that he will be wrapped in peace for the road ahead.

Fr. Ben Hadrich

3915 Golden Valley Road

ME 78440

Golden Valley, MN 55422 

*The Desk Supervisor here was curious about the man who received an unbelievable amount of mail. (More than she’d ever seen.) My response: ”Fr. Ben is much loved by his priest brothers, family, friends, and parishioners.” God’s will be done.

October 24th

With a lighter therapy schedule, Fr. Ben spent quiet time in one of the chapels in St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. Later in the day he viewed Saturday evening Mass on a local TV channel.

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 1 hour ago

October 20, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — October 20, 2020

Thursday Oct.20 

Fr Ben:
”Thank you for your prayers.

The neurological team: doctors, nurses, and therapists are especially appreciated for helping me make brain/ body connections. This enables me to make a lot of progress. 

Progress with moving my left leg can be observed on my Facebook page.”

Sunday, Oct 18, 2020

Day 29

Fr. Ben is now posting comments on his Facebook site. However, we were asked to continue making a weekly update on this site and are happy to do this.

Fr. Ben asked that we share the following:

1. It was emotional yet gratifying to view the live stream internet  Mass from St. Thomas Aquinas this morning and getting to observe parishioners and visitors of all ages coming forward to receive Holy Communion. 

2. He is grateful for your prayers, and he wants you to know of his prayers for you. He sent a ”digital blessing.” 

3. He is one with those experiencing medical challenges amid covid policies resulting in isolation and loneliness. 

Praise God! Father Ben’s family has informed us he is now posting his own updates via his FB account! You can reach him there. Please keep all of them in your prayers! God bless you, Fr. Ben.

Wednesday, October 14
Day 25

”Powerful day,” said Fr. Ben referring to concelebrating Mass with Fr. Franklin in a beautiful chapel at St. Mary’s Hospital In Rochester.

Fr. Ben posted a video on his Facebook page. Check it out.

Friday, October 9, 2020


Day 20

Fr.Ben had a good night’s rest, followed by several productive Therapy sessions.

A significant accomplishment: He sat upright without assistance using his strong right side, visual focus, and balance.

With much assistance,  he took guided walking steps to encourage muscle memory. 

He received Holy Eucharist and had Chipotle for lunch.

He ended the day with an online Mass,  Facetime with his nieces, and enjoying his mail.

God’s will be done.

You are a priest forever!! A blessing to us!

Thursday, October 8, 2020
Day 19


Today Fr. Ben transitioned from puréed foods to solids by eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries! He’s still on thickened liquids, so no Coke, yet.

Progress is slow but steady!

Wednesday, October 7
Day 18

Fr. Ben had his fullest day yet.
Following a morning of Physical and Occupational Therapies, he was able to concelebrate Mass with Fr. Frankin.

This! Was! The! BEST!

An equally busy afternoon followed. 

He got approval for a room “upgrade” AKA, a room with two windows facing outdoors- trees and blue sky. (His previous room faced an indoor open area.) He asked if he might shoot a goose from his room. (In addition to world-renowned medical care, Rochester is noted for a very high goose population.)

***Photo: Fr. Ben is reading the Gospel during Mass.

You’re an inspiration, Father Ben Hadrich & we send our prayers for you!

If you’ve ever wondered what God looks like, now you know. The artist is a primary school student at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in International Falls. The  “gift” from heaven resulted in a  belly laugh from Fr. Ben. “Kids are the best!”

Monday, October 5
 Day 16

As you know, the left side of Fr. Ben’s body has been without feeling since his stroke on September 20th. Praise God- Today, some neurons began to fire!

1. Fr. Ben gained back his old “two-sided” smile. 

2. He was able to feel touches to his left foot.

WONDERFUL developments!

A message from Fr. Ben:

Dear parents, family, and friends,

Thank you for the prayers, cards, and messages. I am slowing healing and growing.

Get back to Mass! And, send money for St. Thomas Aquinas School.*

God is the best!
Fr. Ben

*Those of you who know Fr. Ben also know that NOTHING stops him from fundraising for St. Thomas Aquinas School in International Falls.

Sunday Oct 4, 2020

Day 15 

Fr. Jose said Mass today. He is the priest who brought Fr. Ben Holy Communion  yesterday. 

No therapy today- A day of rest for Fr. Ben.

He’ll be back to a full schedule tomorrow.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION Today

Grant us, almighty God,
that we may be refreshed and nourished
by the Sacrament which we have received,
so as to be transformed into what we consume.
Through Christ our Lord.

October 2, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 10 hours ago

Friday, October 2nd

The days in the hospital become blurred one into the next as we try to balance and organize incoming information with outgoing emotional responses.

Fr. Ben had an uplifting telephone conversation with a brother priest today. We continue to grow in gratitude for the brotherhood of priests to which Fr. Ben belongs.

Part of Morning Prayer Today: Psalm 92 & St. John Paul Singing the Pater Noster

St. John Paul, Pray for us!

September 30, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 9 hours ago

Sept 30  Day 12 
9:00 pm


Fe. Ben worked hard today. The staff has been wonderful to us. Fr. Ben is ”training in” the staff with his upbeat sense of humor. 

Fr. Ben appreciates all the mail- beautiful cards, heartfelt messages, and comments and pictures from kids that bring joy. 

A few of many:

From his cousin’s young child,  Mic:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great stroke.

All of the doctors, all of the nurses

COULD put Humpty Dumpty together again.

A young student from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School (Fr. Ben’s school in Falls)

”I miss you, Fr. Ben, and not just for the candy.”

A voice message to Fr. Ben’s parents tonight said she is praying for us and went on the say the Memorare Prayer as part of the voice message. Priceless.

We are experiencing God’s powerful Grace through all of you.

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

September 30, 2020

Journal entry by Hadrich Family — 5 hours agoSept 30 Day 11

Fr. Ben often compares experiencimg life challenges with running a marathon. He started In-patient therapy this morning, so one might say the starting gun has sounded.

The ”Forward, always forward…”

He had about 5 hours of sleep last night- the most yet!

If anyone from International Falls has a trip planned to Rochester in the near future, please let us know. (Or, if anyone is planning to be in the Mcgregor area over the next two days, please let us know.) Thank you.

More later…Read Moreof the journal titled “September 30, 2020”

September 29, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 5 minutes ago


Day 10

Great news: Fr. Ben was transferred to the in-patient rehabilitation unit today. Praise God!

He was told ”beginning tomorrow, be prepared to work.” To which Fr. Ben a gave a thumbs up. 

The hospital staff is more than impressed with the amount of mail Fr. Ben is receiving. Keep it coming. Thank you.

Fr. Ben’s address has changed slightly with his move to rehab:

Fr. Ben Hadrich-patient
Patient Care Unit-Generose 4E 
Mayo Clinic Hospital,  St. Mary’s Campus 1216 2nd St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905

September 28, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 12 hours ago

Monday, September 28th
Day 9

Fr. Ben had 
-OT worked with him swallowing
-PT worked with him on balance and staying upright in his chair, where he remained throughout lunch.

He has been awake for most of the day with the hope of more consistent sleep tonight.

The in-patient rehab people met with Fr. Ben and his dad about options for the next step in his rehabilitation plan. 

Many thanks for prayers, cards, and wonderful messages from the kids.

Fr. Ben just finished evening prayer with his family over the phone.

God bless.

September 27, 2020

Journal Entry by Hadrich Family — 38 minutes ago

Author uploaded image

Sept 27
Day 8

Fr. Ben appreciates the cards he has received, and he especially loves the pictures from the kids!!!

Address: 

Fr. Ben Hadrich- patient
Mayo Clinic Hospital St. Mary’s Campus
1216 2nd St SW
Rochester MN 55995

Fr. Ben got some quality sleep today; however, he needs to get more during the night.

He had his first real physical therapy session. Because the stroke has affected the left side of his body, he needs to use his right side differently to balance and stabilize. With the assistance of the PT and nurse, he sat on the edge of his bed and stood up. He was able to do this three times. Assisted by the therapist and Hoyer Lift, he sat in a chair for ten minutes. His brain and muscles have to work hard to do this.

His headache has lessened. 

Listening to ”Lord of the Rings” audible book helps him relax.

Hondo continues to spent visiting hours (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) with Fr. Ben. His mom had the pleasure of Facetiming and then ending the day by reading Evening Prayer and saying the Rosary over the phone.

We will be sharing some comforting and encouraging words and quotes from a unique book given to us recently. 

”Forward, always forward, everywhere forward! We must not be held back by debts, bad years, or by difficulties of the times. Man’s adversity is God’s opportunity.”  ~Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B.

Regarding a photo his dad took today- he looks pretty upbeat, doesn’t he?

Address: 

Fr. Ben Hadrich- patient
Mayo Clinic Hospital St. Mary’s Campus
1216 2nd St SW
Rochester MN 55995

Sept 26  
Day 7
-Fr. Ben’s first full day in ”step down.” (Out of ICU)
-He has had all lines removed.
-He is monitored every four hours, down from every two hours allowing him his first good nap.
-He remains on a pureed menu.
-He is feisty
Please Pray for:
-continued overall progress and acceptable blood pressure levels
-getting his days and nights regulated

About the Second Set of Photos

I had the privilege of talking with Brenda Hadrich yesterday about Fr. Ben’s progress. Several years ago I was given the rosary shown here, which was created by Fr. Michael Garry’s mother. Brenda is part of a group, Mothers of Priests, Diocese of Duluth. The rosary came with a prayer card indicating the intentions on all the beads. I asked Brenda to take a photo of that card. What you see in this photograph is the reflection of Brenda taking the photo. The reflection shows her image with what appears to be her hands embracing those intentions.

The second photo includes the rosary and the Shepherd with his sheep and my caption, “Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs.” Although I am not a mother of a priest, I love them all! The sand dollars appear to be hosts which I gave to first communicants of the 2020 class at the Holy Rosary campus of Stella Maris Academy (with the legend of the sand dollar).

Lastly the statues of Mary & Joseph were given to Mary & Joseph Sitek by the parents of the Moravitz brothers at the time of Fr. Brandon’s ordination.

Please continue to pray, not only for Father Ben, but for his family, his brother priests and their families—and for all of us who love them so! And pray for an increase in vocations.

——Mary Claire Sitek

Today’s Message: September 23, 2020:

Please send cards! This time around he can read!!!

Fr. Ben Hadrich- patient

Mayo Clinic Hospital

St. Mary’s Campus

1216 2nd St SW

Rochester, Mn 55905

September 22, 2020 

Journal entry by Hadrich Family — 30 minutes ago. 6:00 pm
Fr. Ben is back in his room after surgery. The doctors shared that the procedure went well. 
Prayers are powerful. Please keep them coming
.🙏


A Caring Bridge site has been set up by Father Hadrich’s family in order to keep people informed about his health and progress.  The link is below.  As of yesterday, Father Hadrich has been transferred to the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, and is awaiting possible surgery.  Please continue to keep Father Hadrich and his family in your prayers.  

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/fr.benhadrich


Stella Maris Academy Mass: Welcome, Father Tony

Thank you for presiding at the student Mass today!


Welcome Fr. Anthony and Fr. Matthew!

The Cathedral of Our Lady and St. Mary Star of the Sea parishes are delighted to welcome Fr. Anthony Wroblewski and Fr. Matthew Miller as our new priests. Fr. Anthony comes to us after serving many years at St. Francis and All Saints Catholic Churches in Brainerd and Fr. Matthew Miller was just ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Duluth this June. We thank God for the gift of your faith-filled lives and your dedicated service!

Here is the link to the video!

https://sma.myschoolapp.com/app/detail/album/video/596463

God our Father,

In Jesus your Son, You have given to Your Church 
the perfect model of priest, prophet and King,
and so You have blessed us through His sacrifice,
taught us through His Word,
and guided us through His rule.

We thank You for the previous bishops
who have cared for the people of the Diocese of Duluth.
We ask You, Father, to guide and enlighten
those who will be tasked with helping to choose the next bishop of our diocese.
May the man they choose be a man of deep and true prayer,
a man of compassionate heart and firm resolve,
and a  man of joy and peace, who desires above all to do Your will.

We entrust our prayers to our Patroness, Mary, Queen of the Rosary,
and ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

News from Our DRE, Sonya Morris:Classes Resume Dec.2

As our liturgical year comes to an end, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday, November 22.

We call to mind what we have been learning in faith formation this year about prayer. Have we become complacent in our spiritual lives and in our family’s spiritual lives?  We must not!  We need to work hard every day, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to draw ourselves and our families closer to Jesus Christ. 

We acknowledge the kingship of Christ by dedicating ourselves to prayer and to the building up of our families and parish community.  Look for opportunities to volunteer. Even during these turbulent times there are opportunities to donate (the Giving Tree is one example), to volunteer (St. Francis Commission is still involved in helping the Union Gospel Mission) and to pray for others. (St. John’s & St Joseph’s have a prayer chain).  Help build up the kingdom of God and your parish community by taking part in these or other worthwhile endeavors.

There are no faith formation classes during Thanksgiving week. Classes will resume on Wednesday, December 2, with our K-5 classes.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

God Bless,
Sonya Morris



Our next faith formation class is Wednesday, November 11th. Middle and high school students will be meeting at St. John’s and the Cathedral from 7 pm – 8:30 pm where they will have a chance to connect with their friends and community.

As we move into the month of November we focus on thanksgiving. We remember that all of our prayers should start with thanking the most important person in our lives, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We continue to thank Him for all the wonderful things He has blessed us with and offer him our prayers of thanksgiving.

Our next faith formation class is Wednesday, November 11th. Middle and high school students will be meeting at St. John’s and the Cathedral from 7 pm – 8:30 pm where they will have a chance to connect with their friends and community.

If you or someone you know still needs to register please feel free to contact me.

Have a blessed week.

In Christ,

Sonya Morris

Our next class is Wednesday, October 28th, for our middle and high school students. Everyone will be meeting at the Cathedral in the church space from 7-8:30. Our special guest speaker, Sr. Lisa Maurer, will be giving an inspirational talk to kick off our year of prayer.

We have successfully started all of our faith formation programs. God has blessed us with many things this year, and more students than we could have hoped for during these uncertain times have registered for our classes.

Please continue to pray for us and pass along the message to anyone who may want to participate in our program.

We are offering an online option to those who are not comfortable coming in person. We will have live stream videos of our classes and some at home activities that will help our young people in their prayer life now and hopefully forever.

Sister Lisa Maurer, Guest Speaker

More News from Stella Maris: Lunch for Teachers!

Thank you to Stella Maris teachers from the Family Association!

St. John’s teachers enjoyed a lunch break with warm sun, comfortable temps and a catered lunch on Wednesday from Panera Bread. It was a faculty appreciation lunch, sponsored by the St. John’s Family Association. The FA, made up of parent volunteers, has made it a longstanding tradition to host teacher appreciation lunches throughout the year. This year had a little twist – instead of “pot-luck” style, individual lunches were ordered and delivered to each staff member to keep things COVID friendly.

Stella Maris Academy Logo

Thank you, Fr. Seth, for Teaching Our SMA Students

Say Hello to Our Music Minister, Michelle Kessler

One of those magnificent voices you hear every weekend exalting God in song is none other than our Music Director, Michelle Kessler. A native Minnesotan, Michelle was raised in a Protestant family, entering the Church soon after she married her husband, David. Today they enjoy their family of five children and nine grandchildren and look forward to welcoming more over the coming years.  

Michelle has “a million” favorite hymns and finds that through music she can express the love and longing for God in our hearts that sometimes words cannot, and if she could ask each of you a question, it would be this: “What can I do to help you get to heaven?” 

Her  favorite saint (at last count 100 and climbing) is Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. “He promises to wait at the gates of heaven to welcome his spiritual children,” she says. “And now YOU are one of St. Pio’s spiritual children, because you are dear to me.” St. Pio also promises that our loved ones and anyone dear to us are also his spiritual children, and she encourages you to check out the books written on Padre Pio. (Formed.org has great content as well.) 

Life hasn’t always been one happy song after another. Her conversion to Catholicism was not well received by every member of her Protestant family, leading to estrangements and separations. Time, patience, and God’s grace slowly knit the family fractures back together, a reminder to us all that discipleship has its costs, but that all things work together for good for those who love God (cf Rom. 8:28).  

She would love to get to know all of you better, and after the end of COVID (which will happen, by the way) looks forward to meeting and talking with you personally. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to her via text or phone at 218.259.9698, or by email at [email protected]

Next time you celebrate Mass and revel in the music that draws you closer to Christ, give thanks for the gifts He gives and the people like Michelle who share them with us.