42 Annual Rural Life Day

For all of you who live in Wisconsin and have lived here for all of your lives – sun rising, fertile fields and sacred work is all part and parcel of what we kids from the city used to enjoy so much. Seeing these beautiful fields, it really just warms my heart as we drive through the diocese, now as your bishop, looking at these places, seeing cows and horses and all sorts of critters out there that are part of our rural landscape. God gives us the ability to take care of these things.

It’s nice for us to take some time every year for gratitude. Gratitude for you farmers, workers in the field, all of you who take time to give of yourselves, which I know sometimes is really hard. Family farms are in jeopardy these days. It’s difficult to figure out who’s going to take care of these crops, who’s going to take care of these fields? Who’s going to give us the memories of remembering how beautiful it looks both in the season when it’s just filled with crops and growth and the times when we take a little bit more quiet time and give thanks to God for all of the various ways in which we see the Earth regenerating itself.

I remember the first time I went out to a Rural Life Mass and climbed up on top of one of these machines that was bigger than a house.

Sacrifice is something that is a very important element of our lives, and we ought to be no strangers to sacrifice. God knows you aren’t. God knows how you pray for rain and how you need sunshine and how you need to be able to get out and take care of the things that all of us sometimes just take for granted when we walk into a grocery store and see the abundance of food that you have placed there for us. We’re grateful! you have a selfless vocation and you are always worrying about us and helping us.

We are coming to the season of Harvest, preparation time. I offer prayers for you, so that we can remind ourselves of what God has placed in you.

And every year, we get together and we pray together. So I invite you to join us at the Rural Life Mass on September 13 as a nice opportunity to come together. Food, festivities, families – you won’t want to miss it!

We pray, brothers and sisters, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, the farmer. We ask for God’s grace through his intercession. We pray that our fields may be abundant. Our families may be happy – grace filled. And we pray that the work of the Lord may be accomplished through our efforts and that we may always be grateful people who receive abundantly from a generous and loving father in heaven. Amen.

Welcome Back to School!

Hello, young people. Welcome back to your wonderful, good Catholic school. We’re glad to have you. The talented teachers that we have, the administration, everybody who is involved in the school; tell them that you’re thankful and grateful. I also want you to think about the Saints who are with us. The Saints who are the patrons. They watch over us while we’re in school.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, for instance. Saint Thomas Aquinas is one of the great patron saints of schools, and Catholic educators. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. There’s a great big statue of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at Seton Hall University in Newark, New Jersey. And she’s standing there and she’s got this big cape on, and she’s standing there with her arms outstretched and she just looks like she’s going to give everybody a great big hug. But she is also one of the great patron saints of Catholic education. And she’s an American. We do have American saints. It’s a great thing to think about. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Saint Joseph of Cupertino is also the patron saint of students. He didn’t know much, but through the grace of God, what he did know he used well and got other people to love Jesus and to love the Blessed Mother.  Boys and girls, you can’t go wrong if you love the Blessed Mother. Every single thing you do is going to have some kind of positive impact on the world.

This year, there’s going to be a few new things that are going to be going on, and we’re going to be talking about them, and you’re going to hear them a little bit more in class work—the year of the Eucharistic Revival. When we talk about the Eucharist, you know what that means, especially you boys and girls in the second grade who are learning how to love Jesus in a special way through Holy Communion, through the Holy Eucharist.  And as you get older, what we like to see is that involvement, that education, become a little bit more exciting for you so that when you go to Mass and you receive Holy Communion, you are participating in one of the great gifts of God’s love for each and every one of us. Each and every one of us gets a special gift through Jesus in the Eucharist.

Now, the other thing that we’re going to hear about as we talk about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is what we do to think about this great gift. We’re going to talk about it all over the place. There are going to be special events that you’re going to be seeing happening throughout the dioceses about the Eucharistic revival. But one of the most important things that you can do my dear young people, is to be involved. Getting involved in the mass, getting involved in prayer, getting involved in the scriptures, getting involved in doing what Jesus wants us to do. And that’s simple things to be good, to study, to learn, to really put ourselves out and help others to know and to love and to serve God.

That’s pretty much what we can say for right now. But I want you to think about how you will respond to doing what your faith asks of you. How are you going to respond to the love of God in your life? How are you going to respond to your parents? How are you going to respond to your teachers in school? All the various kinds of ways in which you are going to be called upon to exercise goodness?

My dear young people, hopefully, I will see you throughout the year. We’re going to go ahead and do the things that we do: Catholic Schools Week, the various kinds of ways of coming to your local parish, celebrations of confirmation, and all the various things at which I am present in your life.

So please get ready. And when I get there, I sure do want to hear you from time to time to say Hi.

I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.

Easter Greeting

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Easter is a time of celebration and renewal. We mark the resurrection of our Lord, who defeated sin and death and offers us the promise of eternal life. As we enter into the Easter season, let us reflect on the significance of this holy event and how it shapes our faith and actions.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our Catholic Faith. It is through His resurrection that we are granted hope for eternal life and the power to overcome sin and death. The Church teaches us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His Real Presence in the Eucharist is the Good News of Easter.

The Gospel readings recount how Jesus appeared to many after His resurrection; one of the most memorable being on the road to Emmaus. Spending most of the afternoon walking with two of His disciples, without them recognizing Him, Jesus explained how the events leading up to His resurrection were the fulfillment of the prophecies. Later, while they were gathered for the evening meal, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. Immediately their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. This significant moment shows us how, from the very beginning, the breaking of the bread was to be His way to feed us with His very body and blood.

We must always turn toward Jesus; He is the source of our hope. Even when we find ourselves in times of turbulence and crisis, Jesus is present among us; He is waiting for us to draw near to Him and be in His Real Presence in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic Faith. It is through the Eucharist that we are united with Christ and with one another.

Take time this Easter season to renew your promise to spread the Good News. The first witnesses to the Resurrection were compelled to share the Good News with others. In that same way, we too are called to go out into the world and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. The power of the Resurrection can change lives and bring hope to the world.

Blessed Easter to you, may you fully come to know the real presence of Jesus and experience joy only He can give.

10th Anniversary of the Opening of the Cause for Canonization of the Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski

It is with great hope and admiration that we mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the cause for canonization of the Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski. So much has happened since 2013 and so many people have been involved telling the story of his life and ministry, all giving witness to his heroic holiness.

I have come to know him through the people who worked side by side with him and the countless more who knew him and his missionary zeal. It was Father Joe who introduced the people of Peru to the Diocese of La Crosse, and it was Father Joe who reminded the people of the Diocese of La Crosse of their baptismal calling to be missionaries for Christ—Go out to all the world and tell the Good News!

When I visited Casa Hogar in 2011, we were celebrating the 5th anniversary of Father Joe’s death. As nighttime drew near and while holding lit candles, everyone began the ascent to Father Joe’s tomb which is located on the side of the bluff overlooking Casa Hogar, the slums of Lurin and the Pacific Ocean. It’s about a 20-minute walk on mostly sandy rocky ground, but once you arrive, it is a most magnificent view. What was more astonishing, however, was the reverence we felt as we journeyed up. A quiet descended upon the adults and children as they approached the tomb. Then, one by one, they placed their candles on the ledge in front of his tomb, giving testimony to Father Joe’s love. Many of those gathered knew Father Joe and Father Joe knew them.

Their reverence showed me that something very special had happened. Their reverence was evidence of the encounter they had with Father Joe; the encounter they had with Jesus through Father Joe. As I watched their actions and felt their emotions, I further realized he was a heroically holy man. He touched lives, he healed brokenness and he brought hope to the children of Casa Hogar by giving them a sense of dignity—the dignity deserving of every child of God.

It’s been 10 years since his cause was opened so now, with renewed resolve in faith, we pray that if it be God’s will, Father Joe will be given to us as a saint and hero of the Church. Father Joe inspired the people of our diocese to imagine a better way for the abandoned and marginalized people of Peru and now Father Joe’s legacy inspires us to see how our lives can transform others if we align our actions with his; always seeing the face of Christ in everyone we meet, especially the people the world tries so desperately to forget.

Please join us for the 10th Anniversary Mass that will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman at 10:30am on March 19 or watch live at diolc.org/live

Lenten Greeting

Lent is a time when the Church invites us into authentic repentance and renewal. We are given 40 days to remind ourselves of how Jesus entered into His public ministry, the care He had for His people, the cruelty He endured and the promise He made at the Last Supper to be with us always. We can only marvel at the unfolding of the historical events and find consolation in the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies.

This year, pay particular attention to the actions carried out by Jesus on the night before he was crucified: He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Likewise, He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”

These actions, so simple yet so profound, shape our entire Catholic Faith. It is the Eucharist that gives life, it is the Eucharist that gives hope and it is the Eucharist that is pivotal to your spiritual journey. I encourage you to make your Lenten journey in the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. Open your heart and let Him speak to you.

Brothers and Sisters, my prayer for you this Lenten season is that you may come to a deeper love of Christ in the Eucharist. He is really present and wants to feed your soul with His very body. May you be transformed by His grace and keep alive in your desire for heaven.

Blessed Lent to you.

Catholic Schools Week 2023 – Greeting from Bishop William Patrick Callahan

There are so many people who make our Catholic Schools possible. Nearly twelve hundred teachers, administrators, and other staff, along with countless volunteers, work hard to make our Catholic schools possible. This week allows me to thank each of you for your leadership, dedication, and persistence! The work you are doing today has a lasting effect and is helping to shape the future of our Church.

I also want to thank the nearly seven thousand students and their families who sincerely love their school and make significant sacrifices. Together we are a Catholic force, going out to all the world telling the Good News!

We know that when God is the center of our lives, He will help and guide us. Let Jesus be part of your day, and pray to Him often. He hears your prayers and only wants what’s best for you.

This year you will hear more about the Eucharistic Revival in churches and schools throughout the United States. This is a special time for us to become better aware of Jesus in the Eucharistic experience. Just as the Real Presence of Jesus is about us, we too want to be close to Jesus in that real presence.

I have a great love for our Catholic schools. I’m happy to visit and get a chance to spend time with you, and I’m confident that we do great work together. I’ll be happy to be praying for the success of this week and the many weeks to come.

Remember that God loves you and only wants what’s best for you.

Merry Christmas!

Amidst the glitter and festivities, I invite you take a moment and think about the action of Christmas, the fact that God, from the very beginning, has loved the world so much that he gave us His Son.

God did not choose to become an angel, He didn’t form some new type of creature, but rather God chose to become man, to enter into our humanity. Mary, the spotless virgin, became the mother of His Son and St. Joseph, the foster father.

Oftentimes we take for granted this action. We look at the Christmas crib, we sing Christmas carols, we even exchange greetings and gifts, all good things to celebrate Christmas. But what I’d like you to remember is how God’s love was enacted. His great love from the very beginning made manifest to us—as one of us. Jesus is the reason for this great season! And we are able to pass along this love to those around us.

Christmas is the feast of peace. God and man have been united forever. Remembering the birth of Jesus gives us hope to believe that love has triumphed over hatred, and life over death. We have so much to be thankful for and should be open to receive His bounteous blessings.

My prayer for you this season is that you will find a way to make Christmas last longer than just one day. God’s love is unbounded and we are to remember what He has done for us throughout the coming year.

Blessed Christmas to you – May you carry the wonder of Christmas into the new year.

Bringing Christ to Others

Advent is my favorite liturgical season and there are so many facets for us to ponder. It’s a season when we are filled with expectation, anticipation and wonder. The Advent candle helps us mark each week, as if it were an ancient timepiece used to track our steps in Faith. The readings at Mass remind us of how God came into this world—to be with His people—and we remember what a great gift this is to us. The Jesse tree is a visualization of salvation history—each day adding another image to help us follow the historical events leading up to the birth of Christ.

It is fitting that we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary during Advent. Our Blessed Mother came into this world free from all stain of Original Sin. We are grateful for her “Yes,” allowing Jesus to enter into our reality and open up the doors to eternal life. 

Advent is a time set aside for quiet and contemplation, but it also must be a time for movement. God came to dwell with His people. Mary set off in haste when she heard her cousin Elizabeth had also conceived a son. We too must go forth and tell the Good News of the coming of Christ at Christmas.

We are an Advent people, on a journey to our ultimate reward—to be happy with God in heaven for all eternity. Let us walk together in Faith.

Blessed Advent to you!

Bishop William Patrick Callahan

Gospel of Life – White Mass and Banquet


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.