Every year since my arrival in 2010, I have failed to get a message out to all of you, dear brothers and sisters, concerning the significance of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum. I am trying to rectify that situation today by sending some thoughts to deepen your awareness and appreciation for the holiest time of the year in our life of Divine Grace.

Holy Week begins with Passion (Palm) Sunday. The Passion of Our Blessed Lord is read from one of the Synoptic Gospels (this year we hear from Luke’s Gospel). The Passion is sung or proclaimed chorally from John’s Gospel on Good Friday each year.

The pious custom of our Holy Church finds us gathered mid-week (we have settled for Tuesday) to celebrate the Chrism Mass. The Tradition usually sets this Mass for the morning of Holy Thursday since it marks the institution of the Priesthood by our Blessed Lord. As so many things in our lives have been marked by expediency, we in the Diocese of La Crosse have set Tuesday of Holy Week as our day to celebrate fully and totally the gift of the priesthood. The Chrism Mass unites the entire Presbyterate, Diaconate, and complete Faithful of Christ’s Mystical Body with the Bishop at one place, the Diocesan Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Diocese. Gathered around one altar and as one believing community, we celebrate the unity and institution of the priesthood, the Consecration of the Sacred Chrism (used at all Baptisms, Confirmations, and Priestly Ordinations in the Diocese for the coming year), priestly recommitment to their promise of obedience to the Diocesan Bishop, and the unity of the Diocesan and Universal Church with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Chrism Mass is the highlight of Diocesan life in union with the universal Church. It is a must for all Catholics to attend at least once in their lives. With that being said, I should point out that none of the ceremonies of Holy Week: Chrism Mass, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday), Solemn Easter Vigil (Saturday before Easter), are obligatory—that is, you are not obliged to participate as you are on Sundays or Holy Days of obligation. Again, I heartily invite you to attend and participate in the full celebration of the Holy Week services at least once in your life.

Easter—the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord—marks the central mystery of our faith. We commemorate the Resurrection and reaffirm our faith each and every Sunday. So, I wish you the depths of God’s Grace for Holy Week and the Abundant Blessings of Easter—I’ll see you at Sunday Mass!


I often hear the song: “Go, Make a Difference” sung at Confirmation celebrations across the diocese. I think it’s a good song because it reminds us of our great Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski, who really did make a difference in Bolivia and Peru and even here in Thorp, Colby and La Crosse. The missionary spirit is right under our noses, if we take the time to see it.

Sunday is the feast of the Great Irish Patron, Saint Patrick, who himself was a missionary to Ireland. Can you imagine Ireland without Saint Patrick? Almost impossible. Sunday, however, is the Second Sunday of Lent and the sixth anniversary of the initiation of the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Fr. Joe. A special Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. at our Cathedral to pray for the Canonization of Fr. Joe and to remember in a special way all the intentions that are being offered to God through his intercession. If you are unable to attend the Mass, you can watch the livestream.

Everyone is happy to know that his Cause is moving along, slowly but surely, at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. Our daily prayers to God for Fr. Joe to be recognized and proclaimed as a Saint is, of course, a job for all of us. So, please keep praying and ask Fr. Joe to help in situations in your life where a “little miracle” might be necessary—we believe in miracles and God is willing to grant them for us, if we ask. We can always use a little help with our prayers; the Communion of Saints is great place to start. I invite you to please ask God, through the intercession of Fr. Joe, for help in your daily life with tasks and difficult moments or whatever. Ask and you will receive—especially this Sunday.

Secondly, I want to remind you that the missionary spirit is still very much alive in our diocese! Our Mission Office coordinates trips with Casa Hogar throughout the year to visit the children and offer a bit of spiritual, as well as physical support in Peru. Great idea for a parish event!

You may also be inspired by Fr. Joe’s life to get involved in some “home missionary” adventures. Check out the Mission News on our diocesan website for some great ways in which you may choose to follow Fr. Joe’s missionary spirit in your parish community.

Go, make a difference!

Lent Greeting

Hi Everybody, Bishop Callahan here, inviting you to fully experience this season of Lent. Full of pious practices, Lent gives us reason to change our routine, refocus our prayer life, and let the Holy Spirit illuminate our minds and hearts so we can better receive the Word of God.

As you approach Lent this year, consider spending more time in Eucharistic Adoration. Make time, in the presence of God, to pray for an increase in one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Actively engage in seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Lent also allows us to make time for quiet, to listen and to remind ourselves that everything we do has social consequences. When you look at what you are doing, what you have done, and what you have left undone, never loose site of the communal effect of sin. Sin is not personal, it’s impact will be felt by so many other people.

Lent should awaken in us the virtue of penance, namely detesting sin because it offends God. I encourage you to make a good Confession this Lent, pondering how you have separated yourself from the loving embrace of God. Pray that through the Sacrament of Penance you will come to know Jesus in a deeper and more profound way. He desires us to experience eternal happiness with him in heaven.

Examine your hearts, discipline your will, and make ready to fully embrace the risen Savior on Easter!

Blessed Lent to you. Let us walk together on our ascent to the Holy Mountain of Easter.

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!”