August 14: Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saint Maximilian Kolbe: First Class Relic

A First Class Relic of St. Maximilian Kolbe:

This is a first-class relic, in the form of hairs from his head and beard, preserved without his knowledge by two friars at Niepolkalanow who served as barbers in his friary between 1930 and 1941.  

Since his beatification in 1971, these relics have been distributed around the world for public veneration.

Second-class relics, such as his personal effects, clothing and liturgical vestments, are preserved in his monastery cell and in a chapel at Niepokalanow and may be viewed by the faithful who visit

A document authenticates the 1st class relic of hairs from St. Maximilian Kolbe’s beard.  The barber, who shaved his beard, was supposed to burn the hair, but the fire went out, and as a result the barber kept these hairs.  They are now a 1st class relic of a martyred saint.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr (1894 – 1941)

St. Maximilian Kolbe

The Franciscan friar, Maximilian Mary Kolbe, died in the Auschwitz concentration camp on August 14, 1941. Two weeks earlier, a prisoner had gone missing. The commandant, Karl Fristsch, announced the penalty to the entire camp: ten men would die in the starvation bunker. As his name was called, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife, my children!” Father Maximilian stepped forward and offered to take his place. He and the other nine men were tossed naked into a concrete hole in Building 13.

Francixzek Gajowniczek is pictured below at the canonization of Maximilian Kolbe.  The saint saved his life and he was privileged to be a part of the canonization


The camp prisoners waited to hear the howls of anguish coming from the bunker. Instead, they heard feeble voices raised in prayer and hymns of praise. Maximilian was encouraging the men. A Pole assigned to serve at the bunker later told how at each inspection the priest was always in the middle of them, standing or kneeling in prayer. After two weeks, only Maximilian remained alive. When the SS men entered the cell, he offered his arm for their lethal injection.

One prisoner later said his death was “a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength…It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.” Maximilian is a patron of families, for he gave his life for the father of a family. He is a patron of prisoners, for he gave hope to the condemned. —Lisa Lickona, The Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion, page 320 Maximilian Kolbe died, August 14, 1941.


Franciszek Gajowniczek & Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II in the Cell of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe











The Mass in Red, & Its Significance

To His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, who, attentive to truth, to justice, and to the voice of the people, proclaimed the martyrdom of Maximilian Kolbe.

(On the day of the canonization of Maximilian Kolbe) his brother Franciscans prayed fervently that his fellow countryman would be proclaimed a martyr by John Paul II.His hopes hesitated between joy and fear.

Right up to the end, difficulties were posed by experts.  They cast no doubt on the sanctity of Kolbe, whose heroism they had acknowledged.  A man dedicated to the Gospel, imprisoned at Auschwitz, gave his life to save a fellow prisoner; he was condemned to starve to death.  Theologians wanted his canonized as a confessor and not a martyr.  Since he hadn’t been interrogated by his executioners about the Faith, did he qualify?  Would John Paul feel bound by the opinion of theologians, or would he pass over it to respond to universal expectation and his own desire.

Sunday, October 10,1982:  200 thousand people assembled for the canonization.  Confessor?  Martyr.  John Paul, the genius of communication had said nothing, and let God be his only confidant.

The altar was ready, banked with flowers.  All was ready. the coat of arms of John Paul was displayed.  A portrait of Maximilian Kolbe in his black, Franciscan robe.  Confessor?  Martyr?  No one knew.Would John Paul pass over contrary opinion and proclaim himself in favor of the verdict of martyrdom?

The crowd only found out when the Pope appeared in red vestments, and after a moment of silence, there was a great murmur of ratification.  When the officials approached John Paul to ask him to inscribe Kolbe in the canon of saints, the Pope did not reply right away.  After  they knelt to recite the Litany of the Saints, all rose to hear the Pope’s reply:  To the glory of the most Blessed Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the growth of Christian life, by the authority of Jesus Christ, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority…after having reflected at length, we declare and decree that the Blessed Maximilian Kolbe is a saint; and that he shall be inscribed the the canon of saints and throughout the Church, piously honored among the martyrs.

In the homily, John Paul continued, “There is no greater love than that a man give his life for those he loves.”

It is true that theology can argue about martyrdom, love cannot.  Thus, on that October Sunday, in that place where the Church has always invited to pardon and called for mercy, one generous heart celebrated another.  —-Forget Not Love,  by Andre Frossard, The Passion of Maximilian Kolbe.

Saint John Paul II & Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!











July 25, 1968: The 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae

Pope Pius XII & Giovanni Montini (Pope St. Paul VI)

Cardinal Roncalli (Pope St. John XXIII & Giovanni Montini (Pope St. Paul VI)

Pope (St.) Paul VI & Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I)

Pope (St.) Paul VI & Karol Wojtyla (Pope St. John Paul II)




















The Built Upon a Rock Fest 2018 Rosary Give Away


Built Upon a Rock 2018






We have partnered with our friends at Rugged Rosaries for an exciting giveaway! In honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, we will be giving away one rosary every week for 9 weeks leading up to Built Upon a Rock Fest, which falls on the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th).

These are high quality rosaries that are extremely rugged – they won’t break! You will be amazed at the detail and craftsmanship. One of the rosaries pictured above will be given away each week. The 9th and final rosary will be a beautiful, custom designed seven sorrows rosary to be given away the day before the concert.

For a chance to win:

  • Every time we post something on Facebook or Instagram, LIKE it.
  • For each LIKE, you get one chance to win. The more you LIKE, the more chances you get!
  • Liking our page counts for a chance too, if you haven’t already.
  • Only LIKES on our original posts will be counted (not LIKES on posts that have been shared). 
  • Each Friday, on Facebook Live, we will draw a winner from the previous week’s LIKES (on posts from Sat-Fri). We will get in touch with the winner and mail the rosary to them.
That’s it. So keep a close eye on our Instagram and Facebook pages, like our posts, and good luck! The first drawing will be on Friday, July 13th at 3:00pm. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

5:00 Mass (Cathedral)
6:00 Concert gates open
6:15-7:00 Luke Spehar
7:30-9:00 Ike Ndolo
9:30 Benediction (Cathedral)

Built Upon a Rock Fest is a free outdoor Catholic concert to be held on the grounds of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, MN. After the 5:00pm Mass in the Cathedral, head across the street to enjoy the stunning on-stage musical performances from nationally known Catholic artists Ike Ndolo and Luke Spehar. Free live entertainment (and free food!) with the backdrop of beautiful Lake Superior: an exhilarating and breathtaking experience, regardless of your faith background. Eucharistic Adoration will take place in the Cathedral, coinciding with the concert, and there will be opportunities for Confession.

Thank You for 11 Blessed Years: A Message from Father Rich

Father’s Ramblings

 I can’t believe it! After eleven years of writing these “Ramblings” this is my last one! (I don’t like it)!!

 I remember reading Fr. Bill’s last column when I took over here at these two great parishes. He wrote about all the great things that were accomplished during the two years he was pastor here, and I have to say I feel a similar temptation to talk all about the things that have happened here over the past eleven years. But I will refrain from that with one or two exceptions.

When I came to St. John’s and St. Joseph’s I said in my very first homily that I wanted to teach more about our faith, and secondly, I wanted to instill a greater love for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. I hope and pray that those things were accomplished to some degree.

 With all the Apologetics and Scripture Classes, along with some educational component to homilies, I hope that many people have a greater understanding and appreciation for our faith.

More importantly is the love for Christ in the Eucharist. When I came here to these parishes, we had 5 or 6 regulars at the weekday Masses. Today we are easily into the 40’s and at times get as many as 50 or more.

I will say this, of all that has happened here during my eleven years that is what I am most proud of!!

A parish can be judged more for what happens during the weekday than what happens on the weekends. And by God’s grace things are going well here.

It is with a very heavy heart that I pass the baton to Fr. Drew. When a pastor has been in a place as long as I have been here, it becomes very difficult to say good bye. What I have told more than a few people who express sadness at my departure is that they are losing their priest, but their priest is losing everything. A pastor’s life should be his parish, and that is what you all are to me, and yet God has other plans (as does the bishop), and I entrust myself to God’s providence.

It is my hope that from time to time you take a drive out to St. James in West Duluth. It is exactly eleven miles from my garage to St. James and most of that is highway, so it’s really not that far to come say hi.

I love being here, I love you as my parishioners, and I know that will never change. I am very grateful that I am still in Duluth. So this is not as much as a goodbye, as it is “I will see you around.”

I am convinced Fr. Drew will be a great fit for these great parishes and I know that you will all grow from his ministry. All priests bring a different set of gifts to their ministry. It was very clear to me by how much kitchen stuff he has brought into the rectory that he and I are indeed different!

I hope that as many of you as possible can come to the gatherings we are having in the event of my departure. This Sunday, July 1, Mass at St. Joseph’s will not be at its regular time, but at 12 noon with a lunch afterwards. My last weekend will be next week, July 7th & 8th. There will be a gathering after the Saturday evening Mass in the parish hall for a light dinner, and then again after the 10:30 Mass. I hope you will take advantage of one of these three options.

Thank you for eleven blessed years!! (Fr. Rich)

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:







April 30: The Feast of St. Pius V: Rediscovering A Beautiful, Ancient Prayer

Father Richard Kunst

October is the month of the rosary, but there is good reason to focus on the rosary in the month of April as well.

The last day of April is the feast day of St. Pius V, A Dominican pope who was very much devoted to the rosary and was the eventual cause for the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th, and the patronal feast of our diocese.

The rosary is perhaps the most common of the Catholic devotional prayers.  Up until recently it consisted of 15 decades of “Hail Marys” with each decade proceeded by the Lord’s Prayer and followed by a doxology, accompanied by a meditation upon the life of Christ called a mystery.  A few years back Pope John Paul the Great introduced five more mysteries, making the complete rosary twenty decades.  This is the first substantial change to the rosary in nearly 500 years.

When the whole rosary is prayed, it is a virtual epitome of the liturgical year and the Gospels, though ordinarily only five decades are prayed at a time.

Pious tradition states that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the rosary.  Though Dominic and his order really are responsible for popularizing this form of prayer, in fact the rosary pre-dates Dominic by at least 100 years.  In reality, the rosary had a slow development.

It is a form of prayer that did not come from church authority but from the faith of the common people.  Many monasteries at the time would pray all 150 Psalms every day.  Though it was impractical, many lay people wanted to imitate this form of prayer.  Eventually the normative practice became quoting 150 short Scripture passages, hence the fifteen decades.  Through time, the passages became regularized as quotes from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: the words of the Angel to Mary, “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28), and the words of Elizabeth to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).

It should be clear to anyone at this point that for the most part the rosary is little more than simply quoting Gospel passages in prayer.  Anybody who does not have a problem praying with the Scriptures should not have a problem praying the rosary.  For this reason, it is unfortunate that it is primarily only a Catholic prayer.

Although the mysteries of the rosary also had a slow development, they were pretty much accepted in their current form by 1483.  In 1573 St. Pius V established the feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary” in honor of the defeat of the Turkish Muslim fleet at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.

Because so many different religious traditions have used beads to help them in prayer, the word itself is actually synonymous with prayer; the Old English word for “prayer” is “bead.”

There is nothing magical about the beads.  They are simply a mechanical device to keep track of where you are in the prayer.  With so many repetitions of different prayers, the beads become almost necessary; they themselves should never be the focus but in fact should help us to concentrate on the prayer.

To pray the rosary appropriately we almost should ignore the beads.  People who go out of their way to find the most beautiful rosary may in fact be missing the point; the beads should very much be of secondary importance.

Although the rosary is not a mantra in the strict sense, it certainly can act as one.  Mantras, mostly a part of Hindu prayer, are a continual repeating of words to “get in the zone” of prayer, to make the prayer as natural as the breath you are taking.  Saying the same prayers over and over again certainly lend themselves to acting as a mantra, all the while meditating on the life of Christ in the mysteries.

It is an unfortunate reality that so many non-Catholics have a problem with the concept of praying a rosary.  There is no reason to shy away from this prayer anymore than there is reason to shy away from the Gospels.  The rosary quotes the scriptures and traces the entire life of Jesus in prayer and meditation.

Catholics, too, should be more accustomed to praying this beautiful and ancient prayer.

I often will tell parishioners to pray the rosary often enough so that it will not look out of place in their hands in the casket.


Pope St. Pius V

Meeting Parishioners, Dan Rentschler & Marie Mullen, on Real Presence Radio

Parishioner, Dan Rentschler

On a recent episode of Real Presence Live, hosts, Father Rich & Father Moravitz, interview two of  St. John’s parishioners.  Dan Rentschler presently pilots a ship on the Great Lakes and previously spent close to ten years as a captain  of two others.  How his faith life is incorporated into his work life is part of the interview,  along with many  facts connected to life on a Laker. 


Join the hosts, our very own pastor and Father Moravitz as they explore Dan’s  fascinating career and spiritual journey aboard the Great Lakes ships.  What follows is the interview with Dan Rentschler at the 43 minute mark.




Fr. Rich & Marie Mullen on Real Presence Radio Live

During the second hour of this Real Presence Live, Marie Mullen, one of the chairs of the Built Upon a Rockfest joined the hosts to promote the  Catholic music festival to be held on the campus of Holy Rosary Cathedral for the second year in a row.  The event was so well received last summer and included music by Catholic bands along with Mass, Adoration and Reconciliation–along with a lot of food and camaraderie  in a healthy environment. 

We welcome Marie’s contributions to this event.  A   GoFundMe page exists as they are always looking for financial help in the promotion of this worthwhile event.  Here is the link:

Marie’s interview begins at about the 39 minute mark.



Contact Information for Built Upon a Rockfest:

5:00 Mass (Cathedral)
6:00 Concert gates open
6:15-7:00 Luke Spehar
7:30-9:00 Ike Ndolo
9:30 Benediction (Cathedral)



The Real Presence Radio Logo




Real Presence Radio may be found at 88.1 FM in Duluth



Theology Uncapped: A Real Presence Radio Interview with Pastor Kowitz

Theology Uncapped

The Virgin Mary

Thursday, April 26th at 6:30 PM

St. Benedict Catholic Church

1419 St. Benedict Street

Duluth, MN  55811





Here is the live interview on Real Presence Radio with Father Rich, co-host, Father Moravitz, and the pastor of United Lutheran Church in Proctor, Peter Kowitz.  They will be talking about the third and final Theology Uncapped presentation for this year, to be held April 26th, 6:30 PM,  at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church.  The previous two sessions were so well received, as this one is expected to be, that there’s talk of another series for next year. You must pre-register to participate (link available below).

The interview with Pastor Kowitz begins at about the 23 minute mark:



Here is the link to register:

You must  RSVP,  because space is limited, and there is a cost, which includes a catered meal and beverage of wine, beer, or pop.

The cost is $20 per person, and it will fill up.

My hope is that it will fill up with parishioners from our parishes. These are rare opportunities to hear  conversations between a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister about our different faith traditions.

Our Spring topic  will be the “Virgin Mary.”

—Fr. Rich

Here is some information about the organization, Theology Uncapped:

Theology Uncapped


Theology Uncapped is a Catholic group with a dedicated goal of bringing people closer together through educational discussions centered around faith-based topics.
We hold three events a year that are open to men and women of all faiths.  Each event includes an informative speaker(s) that will discuss a topic of faith from differing points of view. A catered meal is included to help facilitate fellowship and hopefully foster new relationships among those that may have opposing viewpoints.
Seating for each event is limited, so registration is required and can be completed through this site. We look forward to seeing you at a future event.
Further Information Needed?  Contact  Deacon John Foucault:



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