Janice Andersen

Director of Christian Life
Christian Life

Janice Andersen has been on staff at The Basilica of Saint Mary since 1994, working with programs that serve our community and advocate for justice.  She currently serves as the Director of Christian Life, overseeing ministries that provide charity and care, justice formation, and volunteer ministry. She began her work as the Director of Social Ministry, working with Basilica St. Vincent de Paul to collaboratively build programs that offer relationship and service to those in need, and advocate for justice.  Janice serves on the Boards of City House and From Death To Life. She holds Masters Degrees in special education and theology, and is a certified Spiritual Director. 

(612) 317-3477

Recent Posts by Janice Andersen

Homeless Jesus Sculpture

Finding Christ

During the month of September, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast days of both Blessed Frederic Ozanam and St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent de Paul, is well known to The Basilica, as he is the namesake of our ministries that serve those who are suffering, sick or poor. Blessed Frederic Ozanam is not as well known, yet equally formative to our work.

Blessed Ozanam lived in France during the middle of the 19th century. Studying literature and law, he organized discussion clubs that debated the issues of the day. Legend tells us, one day he found himself advocating the value and role of Christianity in civilization. Upon spouting strong, fancy words, a member of the club challenged, “Let us be frank, Mr. Ozanam; let us also be very particular. What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you.” This question stung, and it propelled Blessed Ozanam to action. Over time, he founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society and laid out a framework for securing justice for the poor and working class that continues to this day. 

Both St. Vincent de Paul and Blessed Frederic Ozanam compel us to see Christ in those who are marginalized or vulnerable. Indeed, St. Vincent de Paul states that “the poor become our teachers and mentors, and we their servants.” We are urged to “Go to the poor and suffering; you will find God.”

This month, The Basilica will break ground for a public sculpture of a life-sized homeless Jesus lying on a park bench. Cast in bronze, it will be placed right off the main plaza in front of The Basilica Church on Hennepin Avenue. This sculpture has been placed in other cities around the world, and has elicited reactions ranging from awe to fear, compassion to anger. It stimulated conversation and conversion.

The Basilica is honored and excited to install this Homeless Jesus Sculpture. As a community, we are committed to broad and quality care and assistance to those in need. We are also committed to the prophetic and transformative power of art. 

Join us this Sunday at 1:00 for a wonderful presentation of the intersection of art and justice. Be present as we break ground for the sculpture. Look for the litany of program and ministry opportunities offered over the next two months—culminating in the installation and dedication of the sculpture on Sunday, November 19 at 1:00pm. 

Look for a Homeless Jesus prayer card in the back of church, and reflect on “Who is Jesus to me?” Join together in a novena for the homeless over the next nine weeks, praying for all those suffering and in need—and praying for transformation and conversion of all our hearts, helping us to be gentle, compassionate and patient to all.

The Basilica will receive the Homeless Jesus Sculpture mid-October. We will place it in The Basilica Church and we will bless it. It will be moved down to the Teresa of Calcutta Hall for several weeks before the installation outside in November. 

We are all invited to be challenged by the question put to Blessed Ozanam, “What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you.” Let us honor our faith and praise God by finding Christ and serving Him in the person who is sick, poor, or suffering. Vincentians believe that true religion is found among those who are often excluded—and as we attend to their needs, they inspire us and evangelize us. 

To learn more about opportunities to serve, call the Christian Life Office. 

The Immigrant Support Ministry team welcomed the third family we will co-sponsor with LSS on February 23rd of this year.   They are a Karenni family of five: two parents and three young children.  The parents were originally from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  The family came to the US from a refugee camp in Thailand.  The father of the family had lived in the camp for the last 17 years--since he was a teenager.  His wife had lived in the camp for nearly as long

With the help of the Basilica four person mentor team, the family has been settling into their new home.  The first task was to get them warm clothing.  Coming from a tropical climate the Minnesota winter was quite a shock.  The mentors have taken them shopping for groceries. They were excited to find a nearby market that has foods similar to those from their home country.  The team is also helping to find them a dentist for some needed dental work and has been available to help get their apartment set up with any necessary items.  Coming from the refugee camp, the family came with very few belongings.  The two oldest children have recently started elementary school and LSS will be arranging ESL classes for the adults.  Betsy Hasselman, from the mentor team said that she has enjoyed her time with them so far and has been inspired by their determination as they start the their new lives in the US.  She looks forward to getting to know them more and being able to be part of their journey.                   

 

 

Members of the Basilica of Saint Mary gathered close to 10:00pm on Thursday night to welcome a special family to Minnesota. The family had been living in a refugee camp in Thailand. They had just spent close to 24 hours on a flight that brought them from Bangkok to Doha, Qatar, to Chicago to Minneapolis.

The family was tired, but seemed excited for this new phase of their life. They are a Karenni family—a different ethnic group from Karen, but also from Burma/Myanmar. They are a family of five, with a mother, father, two daughters (9 and 6 years old) and a son (17 months).

To learn more about the Karenni community and their refugee status, read THE KARENNI PEOPLE.

While verbal communication was a challenge, there was a definite connection between people: compassion and kindness, welcome and support—mutually shared between Basilica parishioner and new Minnesota resident.

Look for more information in upcoming posts and in Weekly Newsletters. 

 

 

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, Basilica parishioners traveled to El Paso, Texas to serve the families staying at a shelter for those seeking asylum in the United States. These comments are from Donna, one of the Basilica members who are serving the families in Texas. 

We arrived in El Paso yesterday afternoon.   During our time here, we will be staying at on the 3rd floor of this beautiful, old convent of the Loretto Sisters—directly across the alley from the shelter where we will be working.

When we arrived a Brazilian woman with two small children was being taken to the airport to catch a flight to Boston to meet family having spent the night at the shelter.  

The morning was spent getting a tour of the facility, and sorting clothes that were collected by the Basilica children.  In the afternoon we met with Eina, director of the shelter.  She gave us a brief history of the shelter and an update on what we can expect to be helping with during our stay. 

In December, there were some days where up to 150 asylum seekers were sleeping at the shelter. The people were mainly from Central America and Brazil. 

People coming to the border are questioned, fingerprinted by Border Patrol and processed at a facility an hour away.  They are required to wear an ankle bracelet with a tracking number. Aphone call is made to a family member or friend who can vouch for them and send them travel money. 

From there ICE will bring them to one of 3 shelters.  Nazareth Hall receives asylum seekers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and people will stay for 1-3 days and then either travel by bus or plane to meet family.   In the past few weeks the number of people seeking asylum has dropped so significantly that two of the shelters will be closing next week.  Starting Monday, Nazareth Hall will be the only short term shelter open.  No one can explain why.  Some possible reasons we heard were increased border patrol and also the new administrations stance on immigration.

We have been treated so kindly by everyone we have met.

It seems way too easy to fall into conversations that expose confusion, tension or fear, these days. We are living in a time of uncertainty—encountering transition on every level of our public lives. Change is happening. The question is: How do we respond?

Gathering inspiration and wisdom from our Church and Scripture, we can consider five guideposts for our lives. These guideposts offer us strength and direction, as we respond to the challenges and opportunities of our time.

Ground our lives and actions in hope. 
Conflict, pain, and suffering seem inevitable in our life. We can be challenged by situations beyond our control—experiences that often have roots in fear, hatred, or ignorance. Our faith gives us perspective and balance. Incredibly, our faith has the fundamental promise of new life and wholeness through the experience of suffering or death. Can our faith help us find hope in the struggle?

Engage with those who are different than you. 
Pope Francis frequently challenges us to encounter the other. He specifically calls us to cross over and get to know those who have differing experiences and viewpoints, advising “one is always more at ease in the ideological system that he is built.” He challenges us to “talk among yourselves, talk to one another.” I have found this openness-to-difference to be very difficult unless I ground myself in the hope offered by faith. How often do I reach across the isle to engage?

Listen deeply. Practice humility. 
One of the cornerstone concepts of The Basilica Emmaus Ministry is the practice of mutuality. Mutuality is defined as “A respectful give-and-take between and among two or more persons. Each person in the relationship is worthy of dignity and respect.” The Emmaus material states, “Mutuality is the expression of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Every one of us has our Samaritans; people who we believe do not have a right to respectful give-and-take from us. Yet, this important story in our Christian tradition calls us to be transformed by them.” 

Because of our unique life experiences, we all see the world differently—although we experience it in the same place, at the same time. A mutual relationship requires us to listen deeply and understand another’s experience and frame of reference. We must be willing to hear and understand the story from that person’s perspective. Am I open to be changed?

Be bold. Respond. 
Just as people in scripture were called to lead in prophetic ways—creating a loving, forgiving community—so are we called to get involved today. And just as people in Scripture try to say “no thanks” (Moses declined God’s call eight times before accepting!) we often find ways to stay uninvolved or quiet. We are called to get engaged: Be bold. Make a difference. Pope Francis says, “A good Catholic meddles in politics.” He states that politics “is one of the highest forms of love, because it is in service of the common good.” We may get involved through actions that accompany another, serve, or defend. How do you hear the call to get involved and create a community of love and forgiveness? 

Trust. 
We are called to perseverance and faithfulness. We are responsible for our efforts. Yet, we can trust that God is present and in charge. Indeed, our God can move mountains and will be responsible for the results of our efforts. Are we able to trust? 

Our times call us to deep and loving engagement. Let us, as a Basilica community, find ways to accept this call and engage together. Let us seed a revolution of love and tenderness!

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