Monthly Archives: November 2012


One of my favorite presidents, George Washington, was the first to set aside Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, as a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” Signed by Washington on Oct. 3, 1789, and entitled “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” the decree appointed the day “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Later, on Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Thursday of November as this national holiday.

Throughout the centuries of our country’s existence, most Americans have consistently held the value of Thanksgiving as a true time of “acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Happily, in spite of difficulties faced in my family, Thanksgiving has always come together and produced some fairly significant memories. I believe most families probably offer some similar feelings concerning the importance of the value of family and the joy of being together – in spite of the personal and individual “extenuating circumstances.”

It’s interesting to note that in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy).

After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today.

I sure pray for a return to that kind of support again in our day. Consumerism and commercialism appear to be grabbing our attention more and more. I hope you have a great day of giving thanks and that in your thoughts you remember to offer gratitude to God!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Enjoy your pie … and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!


Well, we have concluded our work in Baltimore at the annual Fall meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was a full agenda involving discussions concerning our lives of faith and conversion in this Year of Faith, discussions about the economy, the support of the sacrament of marriage and our continued support for the sacredness of human life and our resolute defense of the same. I’m sure that many of you spent some time during the week checking the blogosphere and other social media links as well the regular media concerning news about the Conference. We know there were many news agencies present.

Cardinal Dolan, the President of the Conference, offered his annual address and highlighted for the assembly another invitation to a life of simple penance and conversion to Jesus as a part of the ongoing Year of Faith and as a remedy for the ever-growing challenges of secularism and relativism in our society.

Among the useful suggestions he offered was the tried and true practice of prayer and fasting. He made reference to reviving the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays as another idea that we might consider. There is always merit in such suggestions and I will probably discuss this further with the Priests’ Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council that meets this weekend. If any of you have some thoughts about fasting and abstinence, I would enjoy hearing from you, too.

Much ballyhoo was made in the mainstream media about our discussion about producing a faith-filled and spiritual response to current issues in the economy. The mainstream media appeared to indicate division rather than prudence having influenced our decision not to publish such a document at this time. The bishops are of one mind about leadership for our people in this and in all areas when we speak as a body. The bishops were not seeking an “easy fit” or simply saying “something” about the economy while everyone else and his/her banker was doing the same. The bishops have a responsibility to teach the faith when we speak, and our latest teachings have had great impact on the faithful because of our unity and clarity. In this matter, the old axiom: “If a man’s words are no better than silence, it behooves him to remain quiet,” seems appropriate. Perhaps the mainstream media wanted us to make some “noise” so they could make more.

The fraternity among the assembled bishops was a great sign of apostolic joy. Further, there was a reasonable understanding that issues in the recent election concerning marriage and the value of human life were, by and large, supported by Catholics who voted. This was reassuring in many respects and helped us to remember that our unified voices were not raised in vain; many Catholics listened and many acted upon what they heard. So, we press on and boldly proclaim the truth that is unchangeable and brings life to the world.

Experience Jesus at Sunday Mass. See you there!


I’ve recently completed a visit with our seminarians at St. John Vianney Seminary (pre-theology) and St. Paul Seminary (theology) located in St. Paul, Minn. The visit was in conjunction with a meeting of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. There was important conversation concerning rural life, the Farm Bill, and the impact of the recent election on future farm life. I will spend more time on those topics in the future; they deserve some special space of their own.

Your seminarians are doing well in Minnesota – we did stop to visit with the men at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (pre-theology) in Winona, on the way back to La Crosse.

A future visit is planned for our men at Mundelein, Ill (pre-theology and theology). Father Robert Barron (of Catholicism fame) is the new rector there and he is bringing about some changes and some good ideas that should enhance the spiritual and theological training of our men there. As with our other seminaries, we also have a long and happy tradition at Mundelein.

Of course, our long-time affiliation with the Pontifical North American College has produced many good and faithful priests for our diocese as well. My visit with the men there took place at the same time as the ordination of Deacon Alan Guanella last month.

All told we are blessed to have 32 men currently studying for the priesthood who are at various stages of formation and in various seminary programs. After meeting with seminary rectors and receiving such glowing reports concerning our men, I am hoping they will maintain their humility for the days ahead when they assume the serious and challenging work of the priesthood. Your prayers for them are greatly appreciated – and certainly appear to be heard!

Right now, I am sitting in O’Hare airport in Chicago, preparing to fly to Baltimore for the start of the November meeting of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). Some of the major points that we will consider touch on the preparation and the development of the priest. A new document on preaching will be reviewed and ratified for publication, along with a document specifically directed at bishops and our work of communicating in a new and technological world. The economy, of course, will be a source of conversation. Given some of the results involving marriage that came about during the recent election, there will, no doubt, be some dialogue about that.

The Church continues to exist in an ever-changing world. The truth that the Church teaches and proclaims, however, remains constant and steadfast. I’m sure that gives you some indication of the complexity of studying for the priesthood and, ultimately, trying to communicate the faith once one gets there. Please keep us bishops in your prayers this week, too.

Sure hope to see you at Sunday Mass!


Now, I’ll bet that some of you looked at the title at the top of this entry and thought that I was making some facetious comment about my life – not so. I really have some good news to share and I am quite joyful about it.

I originally planned to report to you about the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) meeting earlier this week with the various leaders of Consecrated Women Religious of our state. It was quite a vigorous and splendid meeting. It was set on our agenda a year or so ago before the news of the recent developments between the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and various offices in Rome. Our meeting was meant to assist the Bishops and the Sisters to gain some common ground in our communication about issues and our openness to further dialogue and discussion about our mutual concern and love for the Church at large and especially here in Wisconsin.

It was a cordial and fruitful meeting that produced some great suggestions for further pooling of ideas and sharing concerns for collaboration and expressions about our lived Catholic faith and various means of getting those points across to the faithful. It was clear that all of us found the meeting stimulating and productive. Future plans for other meetings and “trickle-down” events from this one are in the offing.

While attending the meeting of the WCC in Milwaukee, I was pleasantly informed by Bishop Morlino of Madison of the news concerning our dear Monsignor Robert Flock being named by Pope Benedict XVI as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cochabamba, Bolivia. This, of course, is a major blessing for our diocese and another indication of the great work that is being done in our mission areas of Bolivia and Peru.

I’ve recently visited Bolivia as I told you several weeks ago. The travel was rigorous, but I am ready to go again – this time with Archbishop Listecki, our former Bishop – and, I’m sure, some classmates of Bishop-elect Flock.

The news of Bishop-elect Flock’s new status continues to enliven the prayers and hopes we have for all of our diocesan works in South America. We will be announcing soon the formal opening of the Cause for the Beatification of Father Joe Walijewski. The news about Bishop-elect Flock is another validation of the good work established by Father Joe and continued by our priests over the years. Our prayers and best wishes are with you, Bishop-elect Flock!