The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (373) designates January 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the "Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children": "In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion." Our parishes observe this day of prayer and penance with a Holy Hour for Life led by Deacon Kevin Ray on Thursday, January 22, at 5:00 PM at Sacred Heart Parish in Spring Valley. Are are welcome.
Adding to his already impressive and varied resume of service in our Diocese of La Crosse Brother Michael Mandernach, CSPX, recently published a history of his religious community, the Brothers of Saint Pius X. This diocesan community of consecrated life was founded in 1951 by the Bishop of La Crosse, John Patrick Treacy. In his Forward to the book, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta writes: "It remains only to express my heartfelt esteem and gratitude to Brother Michael Mandernach for a work well done. Together as Brothers is a worthy record of the action of the Holy Spirit in the community of the Brothers of Saint Pius X. It is an account told with the truth and love of one who, from his youth and now for some 60 years, has cooperated faithfully and generously with the Holy Spirit in response to the call to the apostolic religious life as a Brother. As a native son of the Diocese of La Crosse, who was deeply honored to be a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse and to be its Bishop, I offer heartfelt gratitude to Brother Michael for the steadfastness with which he worked on the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X, since that day in 1996 when I first asked him to provide for the Diocese and for the Church a written record of this important chapter of her history."
For more information regarding purchasing a copy of the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X please contact the Central Office (715.778.5519 or email@example.com). Brother Michael is retired in residence at Spring Valley.
On January 22 our thoughts return to 1973 when our Supreme Court legalized abortion for all nine months of pregnancy in its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. In the intervening years, more than 50 million unborn children have been surgically killed in the womb in our nation. While visiting our country in 1995, Saint John Paul II spoke to us as citizens of the United States of America: “Democracy cannot be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person and human community. The basic question before a democratic society is; ‘How ought we to live together?’ In seeking an answer to this question, can society exclude moral truth and moral reasoning? Can the biblical wisdom, which played such a formative part in the very founding of your country, be excluded from that debate? Would not doing so mean that America’s founding documents no longer have any defining content, but are only the formal dressing of changing opinion? Would not doing so mean that tens of millions of Americans could no longer offer the contribution of their deepest convictions to the formation of public policy? Surely, it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like but in having the right to do what we ought” (October 8, 1995).
Also, during that same pilgrimage to our country, Saint John Paul II reminded us that “to a great extent, the story of America has been the story of long and difficult struggles to overcome the prejudices which excluded certain categories of people from a full share in the country’s life: first, the struggle against religious intolerance, then the struggle against racial discrimination and in favor of civil rights for everyone. Sadly, today a new class of people is being excluded. When the unborn child – the ‘stranger in the womb’ – is declared to be beyond the protection of society, not only are America’s deepest traditions radically undermined and endangered, but a moral blight is brought upon society. I am also thinking of threats to the elderly, the severely handicapped and those who do not seem to have any social usefulness. When innocent human beings are declared inconvenient or burdensome, and thus unworthy of legal and social protection, grievous damage is done to the moral foundations of the democratic community. The right to life is the first of all rights. It is the foundation of democratic liberties and the keystone of the edifice of civil society. Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition” (October 5, 1995).
Pope Francis speaks clearly of this Gospel of Life as well. Addressing members of the Italian Pro-life Movement our current Holy Father said: “Thank you for the testimony you give by promoting and defending human life from the moment of conception! We know that human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological. ‘Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills . . . Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading’ (Apostolic Exhortation On the Joy of the Gospel, 53). And in this way life, too, ends up being thrown away.”
Pope Francis continued: “One of the gravest risks our age faces, amid the opportunities offered by a market equipped with every technological innovation, is the divorce between economics and morality, the basic ethical norms of human nature are increasingly neglected. It is therefore necessary to express the strongest possible opposition to every direct attack on life, especially against the innocent and defenseless, and the unborn in a mother’s womb is the example of innocence par excellence” (April 11, 2014).
For excellent and reliable resources regarding these grave issues facing our nation please consult Wisconsin Right to Life (www.wrtl.org), Pro-Life Wisconsin (www.prolifewisconsin.org) or Life Site News (www.lifesitenews.com).
Deacon Billy Dodge, seminarian intern in our parishes, is in Rome, Italy, for the month of January as part of the formation program of the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Recently, Deacon Dodge along with other seminarians had the opportunity to visit Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke is a native son of our Diocese of La Crosse and our former Bishop. You can follow Deacon Dodge while he is in Rome at spsrome2015.blogspot.com or on Facebook at SPS Rome 2015.
Congratulations to our own Becky Schmitt who this week began her new job as Director of the Spring Valley Public Library! The Village is fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated young woman to lead this important part of the life of our community. Becky will continue to serve our parishes as Administrative Assistant. During the time of transition her hours in our Central Office will be late afternoon into early evening. A more permanent schedule of office hours will be announced in the coming weeks. Congratulations Becky!
Our Knights of Columbus Council hosted its annual Family Christmas Party at Sacred Heart Church, Elmwood, on Sunday, January 11. In addition to delicious food and prizes for many attendees, several awards were presented. Tony Baier was named Knight of the Year and the Joe and Laurie Schmitt family was named Family of the Year. Elmwood native son and seminarian Levi Schmitt along with three other men studying for the Priesthood for the Diocese of La Crosse were featured speakers. Pictured above, the seminarians treat the guests with a beautiful hymn Te lucis ante terminum.
In the United States this time of year is characterized by giving and generosity. The roots of this cultural phenomenon, of course, are Christian. We give to others in imitation of our Heavenly Father who has given to us His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ, born in time from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We imitate the shepherds who came to the newborn child to give Him homage. We emulate the wise men from the East who offered to the infant their reverence as well as gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the spirit of this season, I invite you to prayerfully consider offering your time and talents to the service of God and our communities of faith as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (at Masses and/or to the homebound), reader (at Masses of the Lord’s Day and during the week), altar server, sacristan, or usher. In the new year we will offer sessions intended to renew those who already exercise these ministries and train those who are just beginning. Keep an eye on the bulletin and here on the parish website for more details in the coming weeks.
This past summer you learned of the crisis facing Sacred Heart Parish in Spring Valley, namely, the leaking church roof. Because these leaks are causing damage to the interior of our church it is important that we solve this problem as quickly as possible. The failure of the current roof is chiefly due to faulty installation of the underlayment and subsequent damage to the shingles. Repairs to the areas where the shingles have failed bought us some time but did not resolve the underlying problem. Now those temporary fixes have also failed.
Much discussion has taken place in our Building and Grounds Committee, our Parish Finance Council, and our Parish Pastoral Council, as well as at the recent parish “town hall” meeting. The fruit of all these conversations is the consensus that we must replace the entire roof in order to prevent further damage to our beautiful church. The new roof – being installed by Kulp’s of Stratford Roofing and Insulation Contractors – will be the Decra stone-coated steel shingle system with an estimated life span of 40-50 years. This will be attached to a wholly new underlayment and insulation. The project also includes new flat roofs over the side entrances.
The price of the new roof is $117,470.00. At present, the Diocese of La Crosse is not able to make any loans to parishes or schools, so we must raise the funds ourselves as soon as possible.
In order to reach this goal, our Parish Finance Council and Pastoral Council recommended that we finally make use of the generous gift made to the parish by Margaret Kuehl who died in 1969. That bequest – which has grown to almost $60,000 – plus the nearly $7,000.00 settlement from the shingle manufacturer means that we must raise $50,470.00 to complete the project. I ask you to consider prayerfully how you can assist us with our new church roof. You may send your contribution to the Central Office or place it in the offertory basket at Mass. Please make sure you clearly mark your check and envelope for the roof project. If you have any questions about this project, please do not hesitate to contact our parishioners who are spearheading the effort: Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair Jack Erickson, Finance Council Chair Kevin Larson, and Finance Council members Greg Buchal, Aaron Hannack, and Chuck Hovde.
Sacred Heart Church is the building in which we gather to hear the Word of God, to pray together, to receive the Sacraments, and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. It is a most worthy house of God on earth and a house fit for the prayers of Christ’s faithful. We must do all that is necessary to maintain it for future generations. Thank you for all the ways you participate in the life of our parish. May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones.