Gospel of Life – White Mass and Banquet

Friends,

Amidst the ordinary, when we listen, the extraordinary presses forward. One of our Catholic doctors recently shared in a meeting at our storied Diocesan Center that, “we live our faith through our practice”.

I find that statement to be a profoundly simply and powerful expression of why we gather annually to honor our healthcare professionals. These men and women humbly walk a path of faith in a world that has become increasingly polarized and combative. They persevere through a global pandemic. Through a tsunami of sickness, death and uncertainty, they lead and care for others with grace and compassion. How many of us could shoulder that burden and serve as they have and continue to do? Our Catholic healthcare professionals also live their faith through practice while embattled by a culture that politicizes and cheaply debates matters of life. I remain deeply grateful for our medical professionals and consider it a joy and privilege to celebrate this Mass honoring their service.

We will gather and celebrate our annual “White Mass” on October 18th, 2022 from 6:00-7:00pm at the majestic Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse. This Mass is our annual tradition in which we joyously thank and honor our healthcare professionals.  The Mass also overlays beautifully with our Respect Life month of October when we celebrate the dignity of all human life.

The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with the White Mass at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral. Once the Mass concludes, we will share dinner and then listen to a presentation from Fr. Paul Check. We are pleased to welcome Fr. Check as the evening’s keynote speaker. From serving in the U.S. Marine Corps to his current position as the Executive Director for our magnificent Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Fr. Check has served with distinction. I am grateful he will join us and share his thoughts on “Witnessing to Life, Truth & Love in a Hostile World.”

May I ask you now to do a few things?

  1. Pray to St. Luke for our healthcare professionals, their resiliency, their commitment and that they may feel always the power and fire of fulfilling our Lord’s purpose while serving in their profession.
  2. Would you join us on October 18th at 6:00pm at the St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral to help celebrate their service? And if you can, please join us for the banquet afterwards, when we will share food and be blessed with the words from Fr. Check (registration link below).
  3. Above all, let us rejoice both in the selfless commitment of our healthcare workers, who “live their faith through their practice” and in the vibrant life that surrounds us.

It is with joy and commitment that we prepare for Respect Life Month, and our White Mass is a centerpiece of our celebration of the “Gospel of Life.” Please join us at the table.

Yours in Christ,

Bishop William Patrick Callahan

To register, visit www.diolc.org/GospelofLife

Welcome Back to School 2022

I hope to get a chance to see you this year!  For now – I’ll just leave you with a few things to think about.

First of all, please remember that God loves you. 

Hopefully you hear this often and have had time to think about what this means. When someone loves you, that person wants what’s best for you and in return, you want to love them back. There are so many ways to love God. God knows you well and can love you well. Take time to get to know Him so you can love Him back.

God always wants what’s best for you.

Because God knows you, He knows what’s best for you. We talk to God in Prayer. When you pray, you give glory to God, you tell Him about yourself, you tell Him what you like and you ask Him for help. God will always hear and answer your prayers.

A friend wants what’s best for their friend.

Think for a moment of a good friend of yours. You have fun; you may work on projects or just enjoy spending time together. If your friend needs something, you want to help. That’s how it is with God. When you talk to God, you will get to know Him better and He will bless you with His friendship.

As you start your school year, take some extra time to get to know God better. Not only in your religion classes, but let Him help you throughout the day.

To all parents; thank you for your support! We will do our best to help your children grow academically and spiritually. We know our students will prosper when they are safe, happy, and free to feel the love of Jesus during their school days. 

To all teachers, staff and administrators; thank you for all you do for your students! The countless hours, personal sacrifice and the extra efforts do not go unnoticed. The excellence of our schools is evidence of your careful guidance.

To all students; thank you for letting Jesus be part of your day. Know that I pray for you every day. I pray that you will come to know the love of Jesus in a personal way and be excited to talk about Jesus with your friends. The more you talk about Jesus, the more you will hear other people’s story about how Jesus loves them. 

Keep up the good work! Keep loving Jesus! And keep praying that you will come to know how to share the love of Jesus with those around you.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven – Easter Greeting 2022

Hi everybody, Bishop Callahan here. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

As we enter into the season of Easter, our hearts are drawn into the mystery of the Eucharist. We celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, all historical facts that form the basis of our Catholic Faith. The Church teaches us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let Him invigorate your life. Let Him bring comfort to your soul. And let Him animate your actions; living as children of God.

Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist is the Good News of Easter; He has been raised from the dead and is with us until the end of time. The power of the Eucharist will transform our lives and provide the necessary hope in our ever changing world.

The first witnesses of the Resurrection were compelled to share the Good News. We too are called to go out to the whole world and tell the Good News!

Easter is the day when everything changed—God clearly showed His victory over sin and death; winning for us our eternal salvation.

This Easter Season, stay close to Jesus and His Mother Mary. Give witness to the Gospel messages and be ready to receive the love and mercy only God can give.

Blessed Easter to you – and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!

Lenten Greeting

Lent gives us 40 days to contemplate our relationship with God. We are given a chance to examine how our sins isolate us from His love and are called to repentance, to receive forgiveness for our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus would often go out into the desert to pray. Lent is our “desert,” our time when we can be separated from our daily routine and be attentive to His promptings when we pray.

Lent calls us to change our routine. We start off receiving ashes as an external sign of our desire for repentance. We are called to fasting and abstinence, a chance to practice self-control as we examine our habits and look for spiritual vitality.

Lent reminds us of our need for Mercy. We enter into a blessed encounter with God when we reverently examine our consciences and confess our sins, partaking in the sacraments and opening up His boundless Mercy. As we awaken our desire for heaven, we are naturally drawn toward a deeper sense of the brevity of life and the length of eternity.

Brothers and Sisters, my prayer for you this season is that you may enter into a deeper relationship with God and be ready to receive His Mercy. May your Lenten observance remind you that His love for us is eternal.

Blessed Lent everybody and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.

Catholic Schools Week 2022 Greeting from Bishop Callahan

My dear young people –Bishop Callahan here with a few words as you celebrate Catholic Schools Week!

It is good for us to take some time to celebrate our Catholic Schools. We set aside this week to reflect on the great gift of Catholic Education. Each day, when you come together, you experience God in a new and unique way. He is with you in your studies, when you interact with your classmates and most importantly when you spend time in prayer. Never take this time for granted and be ready to listen to Jesus when he speaks to you.

This past year, so many people have worked hard to keep everyone in our schools safe and healthy. Thank you for your extra efforts despite the many obstacles you have encountered. Thank you students for doing you best and trying to stay positive. Thank you teachers for being on the front lines, giving so much to your students. And thank you parents for believing in your children and believing in Catholic Education.

Our Catholic Schools are known for their excellence. Everyone involved is committed to making our schools the best they can be so our students will be the best they can be. Strong school leadership brings a great teaching environment for our teachers which then leads to success in the classroom. Students are known to perform better when surrounded by a safe, loving and Faith-filled community.

I’m always impressed when I hear how our Catholic Schools are active in their communities. When you serve others you are serving Christ. He teaches us “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.” This is powerful teaching and sometimes hard to remember. When you help others in the name of Christ, you are acting as a child of God.

Think about the type of person God is asking you to be. Ask yourself ‘How can I grow in Holiness?’ ‘Am I loving God and loving my neighbor as much as I can?”

Strive always to stay close to God and keep firm on your desire to be happy with Him in Heaven.

I hope you will have a good celebration; I also hope to see many of you during this week. Take a few minutes to tell your teachers and parents about what Catholic Education means to you. They would love to hear from you.

Carry the love of Jesus in your heart and let his love shine wherever you are!

And may almighty God bless you: In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The True Heart of Christmas

As we make our way through the festivities associated with Christmas, try to take time to ponder the very action that we are celebrating; God became man. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, came into the world as a baby born of the Virgin Mary and was cared for by St. Joseph. We remind ourselves each year at Christmas of how much God loves us, what He has done for us and how much He wants us to be happy with him in Heaven. Find some quiet time this season and think about the very action of our salvation, how it came about and how it’s meant to be lived out.

There are so many external distractions, especially at Christmastime, vying for our attention: glitter and glamour, goodies and gadgets; it’s so easy to get carried away. This year, I’m asking you to look inside your heart, consider how much God loves you and what you’re worth in the eyes of God. Ponder these words from Psalm 8 “God made man a little less than the angels, crowning him with glory and honor.” When God created humanity, he knew what he was going to enter into humanity through the Incarnation, He knew Jesus would come to lead us to the Father and He knew we would need to be reminded of His love so many times.

My dear sisters and brothers, God loves you! He shows His love at Christmastime and, He shows His love every other day of the year too. Help me to bring the love of Christ into the world not only at Christmas, but every day of this coming year.

My prayer for you during this Christmas Season is that you will experience the love of God in a new and profound way.

Blessed Christmas to you – May the love of Christ reign in your hearts all year long!

Waiting with St. Joseph

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; declare it to the distant lands: Behold, our Savior will come; you need no longer fear.

Hi Everybody, Bishop Callahan here with a few words as we enter into the season of Advent.

Advent is a time when we pay particular attention to the way in which the first coming of the Son of God occurred. The readings leading up to the birth of the Christ Child contain many prophetic details, and give us so many reasons to believe that God really did become man.

Jesus was born into a human family; Mary is His mother and St. Joseph, the father given to Him here on earth. This year we have been studying St. Joseph, and his role in Salvation History. St. Joseph bears many titles, most notably “Pillar of Families.” It was St. Joseph who provided for Mary, well before Jesus was born. It was St. Joseph who trusted the message of the angel, despite the uncertainties involved. And it was St. Joseph who protected Jesus and Mary, nurturing and caring for Jesus and watching over Him as he grew.

It is fitting for us to conclude this year, dedicated to St. Joseph, on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Joseph loves Mary and together their love surrounded Jesus throughout this time here on earth. Joseph is a model for all men, he is a model for all husbands and he is a model for all fathers. His examples and mighty deeds, his justice and integrity lead us to become better followers of God and better believers in Jesus.

This Advent, take time to ponder what it must have been like for St. Joseph as he waited for the birth of Jesus.

Keep close to St. Joseph despite the many tempting reasons to doubt; pray through his intercession for the gift of fortitude to stay firm in your Faith. Make this Advent a time of preparation and be ready, as St. Joseph was, to welcome Jesus into your heart and home in a new and powerful way. And may this Advent season fill you with a sense of wonder and stir up your desire for Heavenly Joy.

Blessed Advent to you; St. Joseph fill our hearts with your love of Jesus.

Ordination to the Priesthood

It is my hope and prayer that each of you has seen by now my announcement that the general dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will end with the weekend of June 26-27. There remain, of course, some among the faithful for whom particular circumstances—illness, advanced age, or other serious reasons—may continue to excuse them from Sunday Mass. But for the majority of Catholics in the Diocese of La Crosse, the time has come to return in earnest to the gift of the sacred liturgy, our birthright as Catholics and the purpose for which we were born: the work of glorifying God and redeeming our corner of the world to God in Christ.

Christians are the soul of the world—not because of anything we’ve done through our own power or position in the world, but because we have been chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and animated by the Spirit to restore all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). It is an awesome calling, one which brings both great graces and serious obligations.

The sacraments empower us for this life-saving mission. As I’ve written to you in recent blogs, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood transforms worthy recipients into the Body of Jesus—Corpus Christi. The Holy Oils used in the Church’s various sacraments and sacramentals continue to conform us to Jesus, whom the Holy Spirit anointed with power. The sacrament of Holy Orders represents another of Jesus’ seven-fold gifts. And the ordination of priests—which the Diocese will celebrate on Saturday, June 26—is an especially great grace as we emerge out of darkness and into the light.

The ordination of three men—Deacons Arturo Vigueras, Timothy Reither, and Eric Mashak—on the morning of June 26 coincides with the lifting of the dispensation from Mass beginning with Saturday evening Mass on that same day. Moreover, the ordination of these three men stands as a true bridge into a new life for all Catholics of the Diocese. For a priest is a bridge, one who mediates our relationship with the Father and allows passage from a fallen and wounded world to a place of joy, peace, and communion with God. Please pray with me that the ordination of these men to the presbyterate of the Diocese will usher in a new period of post-pandemic faith among us.

Even though ordained priests stand in the place of Christ the High Priest, they cannot do their work alone. The Church expects the laity to assist them. Indeed, it’s Christ’s will that all of the baptized do so. You, the laity, are, in the words of Pope Pius XII, “on the front lines of Church life.” You live and work in the world’s households, schools, businesses, government, and industries in a way that priests do not. And you, the baptized, are especially equipped to redeem these arenas for Christ: by proclaiming the truths of faith, by serving in Christ’s name those he loves, and—as sharers in the priesthood of Jesus by your baptism—reconciling and restoring all things in Christ by prayer and sacrifice. Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, who grew rich in her faith during her time here in the Diocese of La Crosse, put it nicely when she expressed the relationship between the ordained priest and the laity: “The work of the ordained minister, of the professional minister, is to enable the people of God to do the work of the Church.”

We are a priestly people, whether we share Jesus’ priestly mission through our common baptism in Christ or, as the three men to be ordained later this month will experience, by the laying on of hands at sacred ordination. In either case, we are called to animate God’s world—now more than ever! As we return to Mass, let us live by the Eucharist, receive the Holy Spirit with open hearts, and work with our pastors to bring all in our influence to God the Father. It’s what we were born—and re-born—to do.

I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!

+WPC

Welcome Back to Mass

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the Lord give you peace.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us!  As we recall Jesus’ words in Holy Scripture, “Behold, I make all things new,” I am pleased to announce the lifting of the general dispensation from Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation, and I welcome all of you back to your faithful Catholic family beginning the weekend of June 26-27, 2021.  Only those who have reasonable cause for a continued absence from Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation shall continue to be dispensed.

The Mass is our intimate encounter with Jesus.  We offer our lives together with Jesus to God the Father.  We receive the fruits of the sacrifice.  And we hear and obey His command to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

There is a necessary connection, then, between the reception of the sacraments and our call and obligation to be Christ’s agents for good in the world.  All of us have learned this painful lesson during the past 18 months.   With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the limitations of the public celebration and participation in the Mass, and the slow return of the faithful to the regular reception of the sacraments, the world has felt the loss of its soul—of Christians alive for God. Our families testify to anxiety and fear; our communities bear the marks of sickness; and the daily news of our nation reports a life and culture far from God.  So that we might begin again to live more fully as the soul of our wounded world, it is necessary that we return to a regular reception of the sacraments, especially the Sunday Mass, the foundation of our lives as faithful and vibrant Catholics.

It is with open arms and a grateful heart that you are welcomed back to your Catholic family! 

God always wins!  We are saved!  It will be good to have you back!

In the heart of Jesus and Mary, I am,

+Bishop William Patrick Callahan

Bishop of La Crosse

Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass celebrated annually by the Church typically takes place on Holy Thursday, or at least on one of the days leading up to it. This year I decided to move the Chrism Mass to the early summer—June 24, to be exact—so that more priests of the diocese may be able to attend amidst ongoing COVID precautions.

As we prepare for this yearly celebration, it is important to keep in mind that whether the Chrism Mass is held on Thursday of Holy Week, the last Thursday in June, or any other day of the year, its life-giving mysteries remain real.

First, the Chrism Mass is the occasion to bless the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens and to consecrate the Sacred Chrism. The Oil of the Sick, of course, is used by priests when anointing those who are in danger of death from sickness or advanced age. The Oil of Catechumens strengthens both infants and adults before their baptism. As a sign of strength, this blessed oil will enable those to be baptized to grapple with the devil, escape his grasp, and emerge victorious from the font. Lastly, the Sacred Chrism—which, unlike the previous oils, has a fragrant balsam added to it—signifies Christ in an especially beautiful way. Those things anointed with Sacred Chrism—such as altars and churches, and especially the newly baptized, the confirmed, and the ordained—bear a special resemblance and relationship to Jesus, whose Spirit anointed him and anoints us.

These supernatural truths of the Holy Oils appear particularly meaningful this year as we continue to emerge from pandemic conditions and prepare ourselves for a return to some semblance of sacramental normalcy. In Psalm 92, recited during Morning Prayer on Saturdays, the psalmist praises God because “The just will flourish like the palm-tree and grow like a Lebanon cedar. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God, still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green, to proclaim that the Lord is just.” Despite the hardships of the past 14 months, we are called to “flourish” and to “bear fruit” in the Church and in the world. In some mysterious way, the sacred oils of the Chrism Mass are the “sap” that gives us true life in Jesus’ Mystical Body.

A second life-giving remedy also shows itself in the very celebration of the Chrism Mass. Recall that usually the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the doorstep of the Easter Triduum, which begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. These Easter feasts commemorate the great priestly work of Jesus: his suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. And to prepare priests—and, with them, the entire priestly people—the Chrism Mass invites my brother priests to concelebrate the Mass with me, their Bishop.

Along with the Holy Oils, the office which will be administering these precious ointments over the course of the coming year—the priesthood—is a central theme of the Chrism Mass. The entrance antiphon of the Mass invokes the Book of Revelation: “Jesus Christ has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father” (1:6). All priests in attendance renew their priestly promises on this, the “anniversary of that day when Christ our Lord conferred his priesthood on his Apostles and on us.” Following this renewal, I ask the faithful to pray for their priests—who nourish, forgive, comfort, and lead God’s people—even as I offer my own prayer that “the Lord keep us all in his charity and lead all of us, shepherds and flock, to eternal life.”

As we in the Diocese of La Crosse prepare to return to the full celebration of the Mass and the sacraments, let us call to mind the great mysteries of faith that God shows us in the Chrism Mass! May the anointing of the Holy Spirit conform us ever more closely to Jesus. And may our beloved priests always radiate the love of Jesus to those in their care.

I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!