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. 



Minnesota’s bishops invite Catholics to protect life and human dignity by attending Catholics at the Capitol this coming March in St. Paul. Join the bishops, dynamic Church leaders, and 1,000+ Catholics for a day of inspiration and advocacy at our State Capitol. We’ll be inspired by compelling speakers, informed about the critical issues affecting life and dignity in Minnesota, and equipped to effectively engage our lawmakers. With issues like assisted suicide, school choice, and support for struggling families at stake, Catholics can’t afford to stay home.

Catholics at the Capitol is March 9, 2017 in St. Paul. Diocesan-sponsored transportation will be available. Learn more and register at or call 651.227.8777. 

Sharing a spirit of helpfulness-

How many of us, as we were growing up, were told “patience is a virtue”? Perhaps we did not get something at a store we were begging for. Maybe we had uncontained excitement for an upcoming holiday. Or we were en route to a summer vacation up north, and we could not wait to arrive. We have all heard this saying numerous times in our lives. It is among the best lessons our parents, caregivers, and teachers could have taught us. Frequently we are confronted with situations where we have to exercise patience. It is not until adulthood where we realize how important it is to be patient, and yet how truly challenging it can be.

As part of our Christian tradition, the Spiritual Works of Mercy help guide our behavior. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy include the following: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the sorrowful, forgiving injuries, bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead (

In a time where we are bombarded with divisive rhetoric from our media, when tensions in our city seem to be rising, and everyone seems to have a strong opinion about our pending presidential election, demonstrating compassion, empathy, and patience with one another can be very difficult. Yet, the alternative is to live with anger and frustration filling our hearts, rather than the love Christ called us to have for each other.

At the root of patience is the ability to either help or hinder another human being. Without patience, we can cause others frustration, discomfort, or even suffering. The Basilica of Saint Mary is committed to providing equal access to services and resources for all its parishioners. For example, an individual with celiac disease can receive low-gluten host at Eucharist. The Basilica also provides hearing devices for individuals suffering from hearing loss. A person who is visually impaired may request a large print program at Mass.

Peggy Wolfe, an 86-year-old parishioner who has attended The Basilica for 11 years, serves on the church’s Disability Awareness Committee. Working on behalf of the church, the committee takes their role of ensuring the church is adhering to all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements very seriously. For the last 16 years, Wolfe has experienced gradual vision loss as a result of macular degeneration.Further, Wolfe is also hearing impaired.

Though she was initially drawn to The Basilica because of the beautiful music she heard at Mass, she said she “loves the spirit of helpfulness.” She is especially appreciative of the wonderful ushers who volunteer their time at The Basilica, but she also values the many parishioners and fellow committee members who help her. She acknowledges that it is difficult to ask for help, and says this can be a hurdle to overcome when you are initially experiencing some type of loss. Yet, in order to deal with barriers, one must be able to ask for help.

Wolfe does not view her losses as limitations. Rather, with an optimistic and positive attitude, she admits she cannot change the course of action her health has taken and would prefer to use her experience as a way to help others. She has published a book about her experience titled Vision Loss: Strategies for Living with Hope and Independence. Wolfe’s mother and uncle also experienced vision loss. She taps into her experience in helping them cope, along with her personal insight, to shed light on how to successfully live with vision loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 14 million people above the age of 12 are living with vision loss in the United States (

LaVail Valentines is another instrumental member of the Disability Awareness Committee and recently participated in an accessibility audit of The Basilica’s buildings and grounds. LaVail has limited mobility due to a stroke and now uses a wheelchair. In order to thoroughly assess The Basilica campus he traveled every pathway and opened every door. The concluding report brought to light several accessibility issues that will be addressed by the Parish Council executive committee. LaVail said being a part of such an important group makes him feel like he is helping people have a easier time accessing one of the most import part of their lives.

We are called to be patient, kind, forgiving, and loving towards one another. The resources and services provided by The Basilica can certainly assist those of us in need of help and support. However, we can also help one another on an individual basis. Often times, it is in small ways, things that we often take for granted, when we can make a big difference. Smile. Laugh. Help guide someone down a flight of stairs. Offer to drive your fellow parishioner to Mass. Share a meal or a cup of coffee. An extended hand of support can make a world of difference to someone in need. After all, are we not all in need at some point in our lives? 


Ann T. Deiman-Thornton has been a member of The Basilica for 16 years and is a resident of North Minneapolis. She is deeply concerned about making our community a better place.

Members of the Disability Awareness Committee, Peggy Wolfe and LaVail Valentines.

From BASILICA Magazine Fall 2016, The Spiritual Works of Mercy—Practicing mercy in our lives

Join us for the 2017 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) kick-off Sunday, February 5. Archbishop Hebda will be presiding at the 11:30am Mass with Bishop Cozzens and Fr. Bauer, followed by hospitality in the Teresa of Calcutta Hall on the Lower Level. (Please note, it is not necessary to RSVP for the Mass.)

The mission of the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation is to work with each of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to conduct an Annual Appeal to fund 17 collective Catholic ministries within the Archdiocese that no one parish can support on its own. 

Make a gift to the 2017 Catholic Services Appeal Foundation

Please contact CSA with questions at 612.294.6622



Interior Cross Image

Call for Art Submissions

The Basilica of Saint Mary invites visual artists to submit images of art that reflects the interior or exterior of the historic Basilica of Saint Mary by July 1, 2017. The original art may be any medium including sculpture, painting, drawing, textile, photograph, etc.

A distinguished panel of judges from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the Vatican Museums, local artists, and The Basilica of Saint Mary will review the art submissions. Selected pieces will be curated for exhibit in The Basilica’s Pope John XXIII Gallery in addition to being featured in the Basilica’s publications including the annual calendar and award-winning BASILICA Magazine. 

“The Basilica wants to reach out to the talented artist community to recognize artists for original work that speaks to the beauty of The Basilica,” said Johan van Parys, director of liturgy and sacred arts at The Basilica. “Our mission calls us to be a center for the arts in our community and we want to embrace and engage artists.”

Please submit high resolution images (300dpi) of each art piece with an artist statement and contact information to Kathy. For files larger than 12MB please email a file sharing link. Upon selection artist will be contacted to view the original artwork. 


University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs fellows will share their perspectives and experiences working with refugees. 

Join us for a panel discussion about the journey of refugees and immigrants. 

Sunday, January 22, 11:00am
Cowley Center, Basilica Campus

  • Mirette Bahgat from Egypt will speak about her work with Syrian refugees in Egypt with Save the Children.  
  • Floro Balato, Jr. from the Philippines has extensive experience in the detection and prevention of human smuggling and trafficking in the Philippines
  • Esmatullah Sahebdil from Afghanistan was the Policy and Planning Advisor for the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees in Afghanistan. 



Three people passing blessings forward 

From BASILICA Magazine Fall 2016, The Spiritual Works of Mercy—Practicing mercy in our lives

We are often told “be the best you can be.” But can we go it alone and be the best possible person? Scripture calls us to admonish one another, yet hold each other up. Bob Christenson and David Erb have been busy doing just that. Since playing high school football and hockey together, Bob and Dave have been friends, but not continuously connected. Interestingly, it was through some suffering that they came back together. Now they use the blessings they received to pass it forward.

Bob and Dave attended Highland Park Catholic School in St. Paul; they became fast friends, playing sports including football and hockey. Dave states their parents were friends and basically interchangeable. Both of the mothers were church-going, rosary-praying women. Bob will tell you his success can be tied directly to his parents, his father, a teacher, and his mother who partnered in raising the 11 children, instilling the importance of a faith-filled life with gifts of hope, centered in love. His father studied with him nightly making sure he could pass high school. With his dad’s encouragement, Bob overcome the struggles of dyslexia long before it was a diagnosed condition. Through hard work and parental support, he got into college and eventually medical school. When Bob speaks of his wife, he says he would not be here if not for her. After retiring from a wonderful career, Bob wanted to pass on the blessings he received. He chose to become a volunteer at The Basilica’s Outreach Program.

Dave’s story takes him to college and 18 years in the Army Reserves. He worked as an Engineering Manager at Lockheed Martin before retiring. After retirement he decided to head home to Minnesota. He will tell you his life had turned into a wreck; he drank hard, stumbling back, barely able to carry his luggage.

The story between the two friends is a journey through recovery. Thirty eight years ago Bob Christenson found it. Six years ago he helped Dave embark on his path to sobriety. Dave will tell you that Bob saved his life; that was the beginning of a strong bond, rooted in the past with a focus on the future, a reconnection that would help others. When asked, they will tell you their friendship is built on history, but mutual respect is what helps keep it centered. Bob and Dave have nothing to hide from each other. That means there’s been a time or two when one had to get in the other’s face; calling him out to be the best he can be.
Dave was on the way to the liquor store when Bob and a few others called him to a lunch meeting. They sternly told him it was time; time to get his life in order. Dave says it was a unbelievable miracle that he never made it to the liquor store that day and has not had another drink. Life isn’t always smooth in recovery. There have been bumps in the road for Bob. But then he remembers to slow down. Sometimes while driving his car! But typically to remind himself he doesn’t always have to be first. He works on being present, focusing on his emotional sobriety, whichhelps maintain his chemical sobriety.

It wasn’t enough for Bob and Dave to help each other. They felt the need to help others and have done so through the Outreach Program at The Basilica. As they worked on their recovery and their outreach they have encountered others with similar struggles. One of those people was Brenda Winder. Brenda was in recovery after being homeless, a drug and alcohol abuser estranged from her family.

With the help of the gentlemen, Brenda joined the Next Step program. With a bit more than a gentle push from many people including Mary Beth Chapel from Next Step, Brenda eventually agreed to become a volunteer. Early on she helped set up for the Thursday morning Outreach meetings. Later on, Brenda was trained as an advocate for the homeless. Brenda connects with others by sharing her past, which helps participants in the program.

All three can tell you what Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessings will be enriched and one who waters will himself be watered.” The blessings they have received are countless. Brenda is no longer homeless, she has advanced her education at MCTC and most importantly she has reconnected with her family. Brenda proudly states she is a grandmother who cherishes time she spends with her grandchildren.

Brenda gives credit to Bob and Dave. She says the two don’t mince words when it comes time to admonish. They praise her progress and also let her know when she needs to improve. She appreciates their honesty and continues to do more than just agree to disagree. She takes action when they let her know it’s best. She also gives credit to Mary Beth for keeping her on the right path.

The key to the success for all seems to be community. Without support and encouragement from others along the way, the walk would be more difficult. Walking a difficult journey with someone beside you can make each step more bearable. Knowing others are pulling for you helps keep things in perspective.

Brenda will tell you that Dave and Bob let her know she was worth it. She says she now has hope and that is a wonderful thing. Dave is proud to say that he was able to tell his mother he had come back to the Church and quit drinking before she passed a few years ago. They will all tell you it is blessings that each one of them get from the other. Blessings Repeated. 


Judy Ring is a wife, mother, grandmother, and volunteer who works at Xcel Energy as an Account Manager. She is a member of the finance committee and Spiritual Gifts Team at The Basilica.


Basilica Magazine Fall 2016









Join us for a 3-part series: The Prophets of Love and Tenderness 

Continuing on the theme of A Revolution of Love and Tenderness, we will explore various prophetic figures from the Old Testament.

Explore various prophetic figures from the Old Testament, look at the historical and cultural context of the stories, and explore how we can incorporate their messages into our lives today. Cost is $20/3 sessions.

Sundays, January 8, 15, 22 - 11:00am




World Day of Peace_Dove

World Day of Peace

At the beginning of each New Year, our Pope offers a special message to celebrate the World Day of Peace. Directed to all people and nations of the world, Pope Francis focused his 2017 message on the role of civic and community engagement, Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.

This message is not limited to those in formal political roles. Rather, we are all invited to make this a way of life. He asks “God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.”

It is important to clarify that nonviolence does not mean “surrender, lack of involvement and passivity.” Rather, Pope Francis is calling us to “active nonviolence.” This practice of consistent and decisive nonviolence compels us to get together and love one another through direct, bold action. “Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world in interconnected.”  

Pope Francis points out that Jesus taught “that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart.” Quoting Benedict XVI, he states, “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and trust alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian Revolution.’”

Pope Francis challenges us. “In the most local and ordinary situations and in the in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, indeed of political life in all its forms.” Let us take up this call and work for peace together.


Janice Andersen, Director of Christian Life


Message from Pope Francis 


Throughout the coming year The Basilica will be exploring and celebrating Pope Francis’ call for A Revolution of Love and Tenderness. 

Learn more by attending an upcoming event and reviewing recent newsletter columns. 


In his Apostolic Letter entitled: “Misericordia et Misera” or “Mercy and Misery” or one could say: “mercy meets and heals misery” Pope Francis calls on us to “unleash the creativity of mercy” so as “to bring about new undertakings, the fruit of grace.” 

In response we decided to continue on the path of mercy by initiating a Revolution of Love and Tenderness. Revolutions, peaceful and otherwise have changed the world. Our suffering world is in dire need of a great change. So we propose a peaceful revolution accomplished through love and tenderness, two Christian strengths Pope Francis often links to mercy. 

The post-revolutionary world we envision is a world where people respect and honor all life and protect all of creation; where people bridge divides and work toward the common good; where people end all discrimination and accept one another no matter who they are; where people end all speech and acts of hatred and division; and where people have learned how to put the “we” before the “I.” 

This is the world God had envisioned, it is the world we envision.


Recent Director’s Columns

Janice Andersen, Director of Christian Life
A Revolution of Love and Tenderness, November 21, 2016

Johan van Parys, Ph.D., Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts
A Revolution of Love and Tenderness, December 7, 2016