Archives: August 2022

For more than a century, our beautiful Basilica has prominently marked the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The Basilica of Saint Mary can only serve future generations through a dedicated effort to preserve, restore and advance our historic campus.

Did you know that three of our Basilica campus buildings—the Church, School and Rectory are on the National Register of Historic Places? Our fourth building, Cowley Center, was built in the 1960s, and is also showing its age.

The Basilica Landmark, a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was organized by volunteers in 1993 to preserve and restore The Basilica of Saint Mary and its campus. What does it take to preserve and restore this historic campus? It takes helps from all of us.

Would you join our effort and make a gift to support The Basilica Landmark’s Annual Fund? With your financial help, our campus and historic buildings will continue to provide an essential foundation for the ministries that serve thousands with countless physical, mental, and spiritual needs.

Have you noticed the safety netting recently installed over one of The Basilica’s stained-glass windows? The good news is the interior ceiling plaster in the church is finally drying out after years of moisture damage. The bad news—as this plaster dries, it is crumbling. Falling plaster dust around one of the windows has graduated to falling pieces of plaster, which led to this recent installation of safety netting.

This month, a team including our architects and a church restoration specialist gathered on campus to investigate these issues with the interior ceiling plaster. In the short term, next steps include an assessment of the condition of the ceiling plaster and recommendations to ensure safety for all who enter The Basilica. Long term, our hopes are to raise funds for an extensive exterior and interior restoration of The Basilica.

As you can imagine, The Basilica’s yearly maintenance needs are great and funds are always in demand. This year is no exception. Inflation and supply shortages have added additional pressures. A few of the projects planned and underway include:


· Conducting a comprehensive study of the building exterior to better understand and prioritize how to keep moisture out to meet the restoration needs of our historic building

· Creating a clean room to house the new organ blower and replacing several organ baffles

· Ongoing tuck pointing of the church exterior and roof repairs


This list goes on with smaller maintenance projects that need attention to keep the campus functioning, like fixing cracked concrete, addressing lighting issues, and more.

Please support The Basilica Landmark Annual Fund by making a gift today. You can make your gift by going online at or by calling the Development Office at 651.317.3472.

Together we can continue to preserve and restore our beloved Basilica so it will remain the beautiful gateway for this vibrant parish that serves, engages, and inspires the surrounding community.



Support our school supply drive for the scholars at Church of the Ascension Catholic School in North Minneapolis. 

You can order items directly from the Target Charity Registry to ship to Ascension School by September 6.


Come & See...Come & Be 

September 17, 18, 24 & 25

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Sundays, 8:30am 12:30pm or 6:00pm

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Gathering around the hospital bed, the generations of Chenne’s family found comfort in the rituals of prayer. As I intoned the Our Father, both old and young voices chimed in unison with the traditional sequence of words. The family was intent on praying this “good man” into heaven. Battling a damaging stroke in 2010, Chenne was now in a hospice unit preparing for death. Having escaped from Cambodia and the clutches of Pol Pot, he and his wife became political refugees who found their way to America in 1979. He kept alive the struggle to free Cambodia from the tyranny of this dictator. Anointing him in the company of his wife, children and grandchildren became a family affair. Family members would take turns praying out loud and describing the importance of this brave man in their lives. There was no doubt in their minds that he was heavenly bound.

Getting into heaven becomes a reasonable question for all of us, and fortunately our gospel reading for the Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time offers us some guidelines for getting there. In this week’s passage from the gospel of Luke (13:22-30), we are tracking Jesus’ journey through one small town after another. This peripatetic lifestyle was reflective of Jesus’ expectation for his disciples: “The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air have their nests; but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58; Matthew 8:20) To follow Jesus is to accept an invitation to leave those things, places or people who would inhibit a serious understanding of what the cost of discipleship might entail. “Making his way to Jerusalem” was a metaphor for Jesus’ prediction of his own suffering and death. Concerned about the dangerous challenge of following Jesus to Jerusalem, the disciples found the courage to ask the right question: “Lord, will only a few be saved?” The disciples began to hear Jesus’ tough love message. No one can take salvation for granted.

The paradoxical responses of Jesus can be aggravating at times, especially if you want a “yes or no” answer. I am reminded of the Irish priest who went into a bar and invited all those who wanted to give up alcohol and go to heaven to line up against the wall. Dutifully, all the fellows, except for Paddy O’Sullivan, lined up. Turning to O’Sullivan the priest asked: “Paddy, don’t you want to give up the evils of alcohol and go to heaven?” Paddy replied, “Yes, of course, I want to go to heaven. But I thought you were going right now!”

Robert Frost, the great American poet, once summed up his understanding of life: “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned in life: It goes on.” Frost, a beloved but cranky poet, ended up having inscribed on his tombstone: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” This epitaph was taken from the last stanza of his poem entitled, “The Lesson for Today.” Being quarrelsome with the world is not a bad way to approach evil. Wrestling with worldly values that are destructive to Jesus’ invitation to be signs of peace, justice and compassion in the world must be pursued if the Kingdom of God is to be found.

Borrowing from another of Frost’s poems, The Road Not Taken, the invitation of Jesus is to take the road less taken when we are faced with choices. Taking the one less traveled by will make all the difference in this world and in the next. Is the road to heaven all that clear for you? Jesus’ sense of humor emerges when he reverses our human perceptions of the right road: “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Learning to see through the “eyes of Jesus” requires a willingness to let God’s grace take control of our life, to “Let go, and let God.”

As I left Chenne’s room, he was surrounded by his family who were singing hymns in Cambodian. Surviving the terrors of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Chenne’s life would go on whether on earth or in heaven. His faith and that of his family would exemplify what the sign that greeted all who entered this hospice unit: “Together we make a family.”

Listening to the radio as I was driving home, the song We are Family, by Sister Sledge, jarred me out of my grief and set my toes to tapping and my body to swaying! I cranked up the volume and listened intently to the lyrics: “We are family, I got my sisters with me! Here’s what we call the golden rule, you won’t go wrong, have faith in you and the things you do. So get up everybody and sing, we are family!”


Fr. Joseph Gillespie, OP
Senior Associate
The Basilica of Saint Mary



Homily for Installation 

In a new well reviewed book called “Wanting” author Luke Burgis, entrepreneur in residence at Catholic University of America, presents many interesting concepts, including what he calls “disruptive empathy.” He explains that disruptive empathy, rather than sympathy, seeks to enter into a conflict, harm, or injustice in a way that changes the trajectory for the good – it positively changes the narrative, while ultimately preserving the authenticity and identity of the one who enters in. Disruptive empathy helps change the scapegoating dynamics of culture and humanity – seen for centuries in history and literature – which seeks to blame, isolate, or purge others. Disruptive empathy rejects scapegoating by naming harm and repairing relationships at their core – often through vulnerability and humility.

I thought of this persuasive concept as I was preparing for this weekend’s homily. Two of the central figures we encounter in today’s readings – Jeremiah and Jesus –  employed disruptive empathy in their approach to whom they were sent. Indeed, the saints of the Catholic tradition – including many great women – also used disruptive empathy to call people from apathy to embrace the love and grace of God. These women set the world ablaze with the love of God – St. Clare, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Teresa of Calcutta, to name a few.

Ironically, in today’s first reading the very thing that gets the prophet Jeremiah cast into a muddy cistern is that he is seeking the well-being of those in the city, but in order to do this he must disrupt their present course – he must call them back to God and fidelity to the covenant – back to right relationship with God and neighbor. St. Paul was also relentless pursuer of disruptive empathy – going throughout the Mediterranean world preaching the Gospel of Christ and suffering all manner of harm as a result – prison, stonings, insults, shipwrecks – all for the spread of the Gospel. 

As Jesus moves closer to Jerusalem his message becomes more prophetic – even anguished – as he predicts in today’s Gospel – the consequences of his own ministry and consequences for his life – he says, “ I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” Jesus has come to enter in – to take our very flesh – so that our lives and our world might be transformed. But there is a cost – an invitation to dying and rising that is consequential and cannot be experienced through tepid faith or half measure. His prophetic message today is meant to rouse his listeners from apathy and call his followers to a deep accountability that flows from faith. More than any figure in Scripture, Jesus embodies the disruptive empathy which I described at the outset. This is the essence of the incarnation with all its disruptive power and divine love as its source.

Yesterday, Archbishop Hebda installed me as the 12th pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary. It was a beautiful liturgy and it was moving to have members of the Basilica and close family and friends present for this occasion. Notwithstanding this, the installation of a pastor is not about the pastor – its about the people of God. The pastor is called to be a bridge, a servant, and a shepherd – to serve all of God’s people as Christ serves us. The role and life of a pastor must be rooted and lived in humble service and faith. Please pray for me that I would be the type of pastor that God intends for the Basilica at this present moment and into the future. I have said previously that the beating heart of the Catholic Church is the parish setting. The beating heart of the Church is here – where God walks with His people in tenderness and love.

In preparing for this weekend, I have been reading some of the history of the Basilica as a landmark and a parish. In “Voices from a Landmark” by Peg Guilfoyle, she notes: “[i]t is a tremendous act of faith to build something like the Basilica – faith and grand vision, a large measure of hard-nosed practicality, and a certain willful blindness to obstacles and hardships.” Indeed, my first intuitive response to this great Basilica – including my first days here has been to stand in awe of the faith that was the foundation for this beautiful church. What a legacy of faith we have in the Basilica of St. Mary – and “a cloud of witnesses” through the years that have marked this fine parish.

Interestingly, in his homily for the laying of the cornerstone of the Basilica of St. Mary, Archbishop John Ireland did not talk about his faith or the faith of the people, he did not talk about the magnificent church that was planned here, rather for nearly the entire homily he spoke about the drama of salvation history and the glory of God – what God has done for us – and the fact that Christ is alive – the same yesterday and today. His homily aligned with the words from Hebrews today – we are to always keep our eyes fixed on Christ. This was also Archbishop Hebda’s message at last evening’s liturgy – to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. I was struck by this and it contains an important lesson for us today – when we follow God’s lead when we humbly give God the glory and follow God in faith, great things can happen – great things at the Basilica of St. Mary.

From Marvin O’Connell’s great autobiography on John Ireland, I was struck by the intentionality of Ireland’s choice of sites for the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica – they were meant to convey visibility and manifest the purposeful decision to engage the community, to announce God’s presence robustly and beautifully to the city. The choice of the location of the Basilica near the intersection of the broad avenues of Hennepin and Lyndale intertwined the growing city with the growing Catholic community, walking together through time and history. O’Connell notes that Ireland believed in the compatibility of Catholicism and the American ideal; I do too, but much work remains to be done toward humble and meaningful engagement between the civic and religious spheres. This task has not gotten easier since the time of John Ireland. One of the areas where Catholics can be a leaven and force for good in American life is to exhort other Catholics and Americans to always pair the American value of autonomy with the important value of social solidarity – autonomy without social solidarity frustrates the good and stability of our republic.

Lastly, I have also been moved by the Basilica’s use of the verse from Jeremiah as a prophetic call to serve and seek the good of the city: “[s]eek the well-being of the city to which I have sent you. Pray for it to the Lord. For in seeking its well-being you shall find your own.” Our identity as Christians is rooted in humble service – this is how we seek the well-being of those around us – this is how we seek the well-being of the Twin Cities community. This journey certainly requires of us a strengthening of our own community at the Basilica – fostering a renewed energy and purpose as we emerge from the pandemic. But seeking the well-being of the city also requires great faith and the spiritual freedom that manifests in humility and boldness, as we follow God’s lead. We are called to meet the moment – to the meet the challenges and divisions of our age with a love that listens, serves, and engages our community. Our call is similar to the act of disruptive empathy that prophetically enters into a city and country beset by injustice, polarization, and unrest. As a leaven, the Basilica community can joyfully announce that there is another way – the way of Jesus – a way of humble service, commitment to justice and care for those on the margins – a way that heals the wounded and sows seeds of a deep and lasting peace.



Fr. Daniel  


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All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.

Monday, August 15 - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Tuesday, August 16

Wednesday, August 17

Thursday, August 18

Friday, August 19