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Celebrating Catholic Education

I don’t think it’s a big secret to anybody that I am a big fan of Catholic education and that I am concerned about the impact Catholic education has on our society. Our work in Catholic schools promotes the positive understanding of how Catholic schools advance spiritual growth, academic scholarship, and good citizenship for you, the future generation of our beloved country and the growth of understanding for people of good will in our everyday lives.

Catholic education allows Christ to be present in everything we do each day.  In our schools you not only achieve academic excellence but together we foster a spirit of community and service. When you serve in the name of Jesus, you are letting His love shine forth through your actions. You are also learning how to be leaders in your church and communities.

I will be traveling through our Diocese to celebrate the Mass at many of our Catholic schools and spending some time visiting with you and praying with you during Catholic schools’ week.

I take this opportunity to extend my thanks to all of you who promote and work for the advancement of Catholic schools in our Diocese. In addition, I thank all of you good young people, our students. You, your parents, and your teachers make our Catholic schools such a great gift to our community. Finally, thanks to our priests and deacons, your support means so much to me personally.


When I was a little boy, I often remember being told to only speak when I was spoken to—in other words, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I always had trouble with that old canard; I suppose I always had “something” to say and I figured someone should listen. Children are like that: seeking and needing attention. Sometimes it’s “cute” and sometimes it can be annoying.

In a homily concerning the Holy Family of Nazareth, delivered in 2005 (30 December 2005), His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI offered a similar insight for our consideration. He reminded us that God does not impose Himself, He never uses force to enter our lives; rather, the Pope notes that God asks, as child does, to be welcomed. In a certain sense, God too presents Himself in need of attention: He waits for us to open our hearts to Him, to take care of Him.

The innocence and vulnerability of a child is one of the most important elements that we learn in our contemplation of Christmas—of the Incarnation itself. Amazingly, God makes Himself vulnerable to us and for us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #460) takes us further into the mystery as it teaches us that “the Word became flesh,” to make us “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4). “For this is why the Word became man: so that man by entering into communion with the Word, and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” (St. Ireneus)

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas offered similar teaching, helping us to ponder that as God wanted us to be sharers in His divinity, He in His humanity might make men more like gods.

God speaks in simplicity and example. As we listen at Christmas, and all throughout the year in holiness and the practice of the sacramental life of the Church, we become more childlike, closer to the image of the Child—the Man Jesus. Listen in stillness and peace and have a Blessed Christmas.

The Promise

The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.

Hi Everybody,

Bishop Callahan here, reminding you of the great gift that was promised to us through the prophet Jeremiah. The promise of a Savior, to free us from our sins. The promise of Jesus Christ!

This Advent season our Gospel readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke; we will hear accounts of the Annunciation and the Visitation. We will see Isaiah’s prophecy of the birth of John the Baptist be fulfilled, and we will be reminded to be vigilant at all times; praying for the strength and courage to remain strong in our Faith.

I encourage you to incorporate this Advent time of preparation and waiting into your daily routine. Can you include a short prayer early in the morning as you prepare your breakfast? Or perhaps while you wait in traffic or for a family get-together, remember a time when you felt God’s presence in your life? Commit to increasing your time of witness to others and to yourself.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. This Advent season, let your inner joy animate your thoughts, radiate through your actions, and overtake your very being so that your hearts are fully open to welcome the Christ child this Christmas.

Blessed Advent to you; let us wait together in prayer.

Bishop Robert Morlino – May He Rest In Peace

Bishop Robert C. Morlino
1946 – 2018

Bishop William Patrick Callahan and the people of the Diocese of La Crosse wish to express their condolences on the death of Bishop Robert C. Morlino, 4th bishop of the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Morlino died on Saturday, November 24th, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1974, for the Society of Jesus, later becoming a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. On July 6, 1999, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed him the Ninth Bishop of Helena. Later he was appointed bishop of Madison on May 23, 2003, and installed on August 1, 2003. He was very active throughout his distinguished service to the Diocese of Madison, most notably his work building up priestly vocations, liturgical reverence, and ministry to the larger community.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Visit the Diocese of Madison’s website for more information. Here is the link to the full announcement.

Please remember Bishop Morlino and the Diocese of Madison in your prayers.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Seven Days of Prayer and Fasting

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace.

The bishops of the United States are joining together in a commitment of prayer and reparation leading up to our General Assembly, where we will be making critical decisions in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. With my brother bishops across the nation, I will be dedicating myself to seven days of intensified prayer and fasting from Monday, 5 November, through Sunday, 11 November.

The intentions for this period of prayer and sacrifice are three-fold:

  • For the healing and support of all victims of clergy sexual abuse.
  • For the conversion and just punishment of the perpetrators and concealers of sexual abuse.
  • For the strength of the bishops to be holy shepherds in protecting and leading our sheep from all harm.

If you feel called to do so, you are welcome to join me in praying for these intentions. I would also be grateful for any prayers for me and my brother bishops during our general assembly, that we may follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in responding to the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse in the Church.

Please be assured of my prayers for you, as well.
Sincerely in Christ,

+Willliam Patrick Callahan

A “Moral Catastrophe” and a Test of Virtue

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This week I begin my annual retreat with my brother bishops from Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. This is usually a welcome event for us to simply “come aside and rest a while” with Our Blessed Lord. I doubt, however, that we will be finding quiet rest and prayer as much as we will be sharing our deepest and profoundly sad feelings concerning the events that once again plunge the Church into a dark hour of shame and disappointment—especially in Her leadership.

The first news about Archbishop McCarrick was indeed shocking and upsetting. That sad news was followed by the revelations concerning the unraveling of the incredible and disgusting stories of sexual molestations that took place over the decades in so many parts of the Church in Pennsylvania. Of course, I am personally touched and deeply grieved by these events—not only because I am a bishop, but because so many of the faithful are being struck with the tragedy of having their faith assaulted once again.

I don’t know how many bishops and/or priests should or will be affected by the darkness of this new wave of scandal. I do believe that all of us need to try to remember that the devil never sleeps. He works some of his most diabolical evil on those who are weak and have lost their recognition of God’s Grace and care in human life. Never forget, the devil works in little things—he tells half-truths and lures us with tantalizing manipulations. Be aware of the deceiver’s work in this horror. St. Peter reminds us as he reminded our ancestors: “Be sober, be watchful; your adversary the devil prowls about the world seeking someone to devour: resist him, steadfast in the faith!” (1 Peter 5:8-10)

My brothers and sisters, be strong in your faith in these difficult days. Yes, there is sin and evil action abounding around us. Sadly, that evil has come about from some of the very shepherds who were supposed to protect us.

Yes, there still is sin in the world, even though the devil has been defeated by the power of the Cross of Christ. More than ever, we must cling to the cross, pray with the Scriptures, and receive the Sacraments. Continue to pray for good and holy priests. They need your prayers to remain courageous in these days. If we want good priests (and bishops) we must pray for them! Jesus told His First Priests that they were the salt of the earth—the light of the world. He called them to courage and virtue in living and preaching the Gospel.

I pray for you, dear brothers and sisters, especially for all who have been sadly touched—once again—by the sin and sadness of abuse in the Church and in the world at large. Remain faithful and strong—Jesus Christ has conquered evil. His is the Power. His is the Glory!

Behold Your Mother

When I was a young boy, I always enjoyed the turning of the calendar pages from April to May. It may have been only a signal of the approaching end of the school year and summer vacation looming in the distance. The main event for May, however, was the fact that it was Mary’s month. There was always the festive May Crowning in the church and the procession led by the Children of Mary, the Marian Sodality, and the Junior Holy Name Society. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (from Stevens Point, teaching in Chicago) made sure that the classrooms of both the elementary and the high school were festooned with a “regulation” statue of Our Lady of Grace and fresh flowers from a local garden. The daily prayers always included either the Regina Coeli or the Angelus as determined by Easter or Ordinary season. The May Crowning in Church always featured the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary—a major event led by our Pastor (of happy memory) Monsignor Smaza. The high school girls in “Our Lady’s Court” were arrayed in multi-colored (prom) gowns, the younger girls of this or last year’s First Holy Communion class in white dresses and boy’s in blue suits. All the children carried white calla lilies.

It’s funny how so much of the symbolic nature of our rituals and sacramental expressions come to us through “the rear-view mirror” of time. As we enter the month of May, we need to refocus ourselves on some of the life of grace that lies before us. So many elements of Catholic devotional life have been lost by our lack of time or, more pitiable still, our lack of enthusiasm and will. Each time I celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation in our Diocese, I present the newly confirmed with a rosary made by the hands of our children at our mission home in Peru, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II. I am frustrated that they look bewildered or indifferent when I tell them of the beauty of the rosary as a prayerful communication with our Mother. The rosary is part of our Catholic DNA—and should be renewed.

I believe that prayers and devotions such as the rosary need to come back into prominence in the spiritual lives of Catholics. I often introduce the gift of the rosary to the young people by reminding them that the rosary is not jewelry for the dead or a pop culture accessory. May could be a good time to help emphasize that point in your home by praying the rosary together at least once during Mary’s Month.

Another very significant consideration is the daily recitation of the Morning Offering—the first prayer we offer when we wake up at the beginning of the day. Morning prayers and night prayers seem to many of us, old fashioned or out of step with our hurried lifestyles. Again, Mary’s Month may be a time to reignite some of those forgotten habits.

Praying to Jesus through Mary reminds each of us of the love that God has for His Mother and the joy it can bring us to love Her, too. Pope St. John Paul the Great dedicated himself and his entire papal ministry to Jesus through Mary—“Totus Tuus”—or “totally yours.” His life of service in the Church and the great example and spiritual creativity he gave as pope captivated the minds and hearts of many people—especially the young. Hopefully that example will not be lost as we grow older and search newer trends and social developments.

Mary has a special place in the life and heart of the Church. Jesus gave Her to us through St. John as He was dying on the Cross. Mother Mary is for us a gift from Jesus as He founded the Church from the Cross—“Behold Your Mother!”

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

O God, who gladden us year by year with the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection, graciously grant, that, by celebrating these present festivities, we may merit through them to reach the eternal joys of Heaven.

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

Yes, Christ has risen from the dead and we have reason to believe! For two thousand years, and here in our diocese the past one hundred fifty, people of Faith have been marking for us the anniversary of Christ’s brutal passion, His death, and His Glorious Resurrection from the dead so that we will remember – Jesus Christ, God the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, loves us.

His love for us was made real by his resurrection, and also through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is an expression of the Love between God the Father and God the Son. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit animates the Church, and animates us. When we reflect on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them to guide our lives, we are allowing ourselves to be open to the Will of God.

Easter is a time for us to celebrate the great gift we have been given! Make it a point to share the Easter Joy with those around you. Easter is also a time for us to deepen our awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and to pray for the strength we need to merit the promise of eternal joy in Heaven.

Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega

All time belongs to him and all the ages

To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen

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

Examine the Virtue of Penance

O God, who desire not the death of sinners, but their conversion, mercifully hear our prayers during this observance of Lent, that we may gain pardon for our sins and a newness of life.

Hello everybody, Bishop Callahan here … reminding you that the essence of the virtue of penance is a conversion of heart toward God and away from sin.

The Church gives us this season of Lent as a time to focus on a certain part of our faith and make an effort to deepen our understanding through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. This year I’d like to invite you to examine the virtue of penance. … Are you ready to open yourself up to a deeper conversion of heart toward God and away from sin?

Jesus Christ came to earth to save us from sin and give us the means to forever live with him in the happiness of heaven. It is by His Grace that we are inspired to know, love, and serve Him here on earth. It is with great Hope that we attempt to amend our lives and to be open to receiving His Divine Mercy.

Take time to examine your conscience, and make time to go to confession. Let this Sacrament of Grace be a source of strength and a haven of peace. Experience His healing power and re-claim focus for your life.

Rend you hearts and not your garments!

Blessed Lent to you. Let us be ready to receive the Easter Joy together!

It’s Lent Again …

Allow me to remind you that Wednesday, February 14, is not only Valentine’s Day—but, more importantly, it is Ash Wednesday. “O, my goodness,” you may say and point to the boxes of Christmas decorations that you haven’t had chance to bring back to storage. Yeah, I realize that may be an exaggeration.

So many times we find ourselves unable to manage our time. We have bells, whistles, schedules, and all sorts of electronic gizmos and doodads to help us track days, weeks, hours, etc. I am reminded of this point each day as I put on my watch. It was gift from my mother in 1973, when I graduated from Loyola University. It’s a Seiko that displays the day and the date. I thought it was incredibly frivolous since—in my youth—I could not imagine how anyone could not know the day of the week. What a difference 48 years can make in one’s perceptions …

Nevertheless, since keeping track of time, or at least trying to be punctual, has become such a part of human obsessiveness, I’m concerned that we seem to have lost sight of the passing of time that concerns itself with the management of our spiritual lives. At one point in human history the management of all life was based on the Church calendar—the preparation for the major feasts of Christmas and Easter in particular. That concept seems lost on the current age.

Another problem presenting itself for us this Ash/Valentine Wednesday is the situation involving fast and abstinence and how we are expected to deal with this very important element of Lenten discipline. In the modern age, we have become accustomed to the fact that if St. Patrick Day occurs on a Friday in Lent, typically there will be a dispensation from the abstinence from meat—especially if the local Ordinary is of Irish descent. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and sets the boundaries for the entire season that determines the great penitential and sacrificial time of the Church year.

Catholics have recognized Ash Wednesday as the start of Lent for over a thousand years. The last time Ash Wednesday fell on February 14 was in 1945, well before the secular celebration of Valentine’s Day became such a bacchanal. The next time this will happen will be in 2024, and then again in 2029.

So, I strongly urge that if you are planning a celebration of Valentine’s Day with your husband, wife, or special someone, please do so the day before. Centuries have given this time over to Mardi Gras, so there is no problem in choosing it as your time for a special night out.

Keep in mind that Catholics throughout the world recognize Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of prayerful reflection and penance as evidence by the large number of the Faithful who take advantage of coming to Mass and being signed with Ashes as a symbol of the brevity of life and the call to personal reformation.

Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligatory Mass attendance. Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays in Lent, and Good Friday. In addition to abstaining from meat, Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, until they celebrate their 59th birthday, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (Code of Canon Law C.1249-1253)

In any event, the idea is to be with the one you love for both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. Your day will be infinitely blessed by making these choices wisely.

Blessed Lent to all of you!