Weekly Musings

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 thebasilicalandmark.org/give 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.



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



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



A Culture of Encounters

In his latest Apostolic Letter entitled Desiderio Desideravi or How I have Longed, Pope Francis writes beautifully about the deep meaning of the celebration of the liturgy. I highly recommend it. It can easily be found online. And it is not that long.

I was particularly touched by his reference to the liturgy as a place of encounter. This reminded me of a 1964 letter to the German Liturgical Congress written by one of my favorite liturgical theologians, Romano Guardini. In this letter Guardini writes about the liturgy as an epiphany or a manifestation of the divine. Good liturgy can indeed open a portal to the Divine, allow an epiphany to happen and occasion a profound encounter.

Pope Francis also makes it clear that this encounter is not a right a few of us earn, while others do not. Writing about the Last Supper, he offers the following: “No one had earned a place at that Supper. All had been invited. Or better said: all had been drawn there by the burning desire (Desiderio Desideravi) that Jesus had to eat that Passover with them.”

Today, some 2000 years after the Last Supper Jesus has the same burning desire to encounter each one of us in the Eucharist. None of us has earned a place at the Eucharistic Table. None of us has earned this encounter. All of us are invited to share this encounter.

But what is an encounter? The word has been used in English in diverse ways ranging from a simple meeting to a confrontation, even in battle. As referenced by Pope Francis, an encounter is never “just” a meeting. It is an intentional meeting. It is a meeting with purpose. It is a meeting with consequences. It is a meeting that sometimes even involves a struggle.

Great mystics, like Teresa of Avilla or St. John of the Cross experienced this encounter spiritually, mystically, and even almost physically. St. Teresa wrote about “being all on fire with the love of God” after one of her profound encounters with Christ in the Eucharist.

Our own Eucharistic encounters may not be as dramatic and life-altering as those of the great mystics, nevertheless they are encounters with consequences. One of the most important consequences of an encounter with Christ is that such an encounter binds us all together and compels us to encounter Christ in one another.

Pope Francis holds that our sacramental encounters are a powerful antidote to the ills and evils in our society where confrontation is celebrated, and divisions are promoted. These sacramental encounters are the foundation for a much-needed Culture of Encounter promoted by Pope Francis which advances right relationships among people.

Today is a very special day at The Basilica. Not only do we celebrate our Basilica community, we are also very pleased to officially welcome Fr. Daniel Griffith as our new pastor. Among the many responsibilities a pastor has, one of his primary roles by virtue of his ordination is to preside at the liturgy, our primary place of encounter. Reminiscent of St. Teresa’s words, Pope Francis in Desiderio Desideravi wrote that for a priest “to preside at Eucharist is to be plunged into the furnace of God’s love.” As Fr. Griffith begins his ministry at The Basilica, we pray that he indeed may be plunged into the furnace of God’s love so he may in turn set all of us “on fire with the Love of God.”

Ad Multos Annos!




Mary Garden

Noon Masses August 8-12

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.

Monday, August 8

Tuesday, August 9

Wednesday, August 10

Thursday, August 11

Friday, August 12



Pope Francis concluded his penitential pilgrimage to Canada in late July and both the pictures and stories of his encounters with Indigenous Canadians were moving. Also moving, were Francis’s numerous heartfelt apologies which acknowledged with candor and anguish, the devastating harm that had occurred to so many children who suffered abuse, alienation, sickness, death, and cultural genocide. More than 60% of the residential schools in Canada were Catholic and the pope did not shirk from the colonizing harm that has devastated lives and families, resulting in generational harm that still manifests to this day.

During the pope’s pilgrimage, it was evident to me how closely aligned his journey was to the goals of restorative justice (RJ). Restorative justice is historically rooted in the Indigenous practices of First Nation peoples of North America and New Zealand who, centuries ago, gathered in a peace circle in response to harm that had occurred in their communities. Restorative justice is a gift of wisdom and healing emanating from the rich Indigenous cultures, which has borne fruit broadly. Beginning in the 1970s and now today, restorative justice and has become a world-wide movement, effectively utilized across various disciplines and professions in response to harm. RJ has become a global movement due to its effectiveness at healing harm and restoring relationships, because it includes multiple relevant stakeholders, and because it is highly adaptable to various circumstances.

Restorative justice asks three fundamental questions: who was harmed; what was the nature of the harm; and how can the harm be repaired? One of the challenges with RJ is overcoming the significant knowledge gap surrounding it—many people either don’t know what RJ is, its proven effectiveness, or disregard it as ethereal or new-age. One of the reasons RJ is so effective is because it engages the particular needs of victim-survivors and their desire for healing and wholeness. It also promotes accountability because those who have perpetrated harm, if they take place in the process, come to a better sense of the effects of the harm they caused. Over the last several years, I moved from an initial skeptic of RJ to an ardent supporter, as I have taken part in numerous restorative justice processes in response to the harm of clergy abuse and leadership failures in the Catholic Church. The Spirit of God, which works for the healing and restoration of humanity, has been consistently manifest through the RJ sessions in which I have taken part.

Which brings me back to Pope Francis’s pilgrimage to Canada. This pilgrimage was consistent with principles and goals of RJ because his journey acknowledged the significant harm that had occurred to Indigenous people, expressed sincere contrition and sorrow for the devastating acts of abuse and cultural genocide, and included robust dialogue with victim-survivors and leaders about how this harm could best be healed. In fact, the request for the pope to visit Canada to offer an apology came out of a 2015 truth and reconciliation process, which listed several recommendations aimed at healing and restoration. While the wounds and the effects of this deep trauma will continue to be carried by victim-survivors, a step forward for the good of humanity was taken in Canada this summer and serves as a beacon for others who seek justice and healing.

As we continue our collective journey as a parish community and the call to meet the needs of our own wounded community in the Twin Cities, I have been moved by witnessing the dynamism of restorative justice and Catholicism —and the shared goals of promoting greater dignity, justice, and healing within the Church and broader society.

Fr. Daniel


Before Covid hit, The Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry began strategically evaluating our ministries and listening to the needs of the community. Grounding ourselves in prayer and intentionally discerning direction, we have come out of the pandemic with a new model of ministry for Saturdays at The Basilica. While we continue to provide services and resources during weekday SVdP Ministry, we are beginning a new chapter on Saturdays. We would love your participation!

This new opportunity of SVdP Ministry on Saturday mornings unites a strong invitation by Pope Francis and an articulated need in our community.

A Clear Invitation

Pope Francis continually calls us to reach out to others in a “culture of encounter.” He invites us to meet people, engage in dialogue, and create relationships. More specifically, he encourages us to engage with people who are different from us: we are challenged to listen, respect, and build bridges.

An Articulated Community Need

Our parishioner leaders met with people who have utilized Basilica SVdP services, those with lived experience of homelessness, and people who work in partner non-profits in Minneapolis. We listened for unmet needs that could be addressed during 90 minutes on Saturday mornings at The Basilica. A strong message came through: While there are a lot of services provided in the community, a deep unmet need includes helping people feel connected. So often, people feel isolated. Some who experience homelessness spoke of being around all day with being “seen” or without meaningful conversation.

Side-by-Side Saturdays

After much prayer and conversation, we began a new Saturday SVdP program in Spring 2022.

  • We invite The Basilica parishioners to participate not as a “volunteer” who engages in a transactional service with people in need. Rather, you are invited to come and participate side-by-side with others in the community: Those who slept outside last night. Those who stayed at a shelter. Those whose housing is vulnerable. Those whose housing is secure—all coming together, side-by-side, to share values, struggles, and fears—to learn from one another and be enriched by different perspectives.
  • The morning is intentionally structured to ensure respect for all. As we engage with no judgement, we see the inherent dignity in the other and recognize the similarity of our lives.
  • The time begins with a shared breakfast and moves into a facilitated session on personal development, wellness, and healing through things like mediation, art, journaling, physical movement.


This new ministry creates a culture of encounter. Some comments of those who participate show the impact of the time together:

  • A Basilica parishioner shared she was nervous to come—not knowing what to expect. But she was deeply moved and was grateful she came. She shared she felt so connected to everyone and left full of hope.
  • A man who had slept at a shelter the night before shared he was unsure what the morning was about. He was grateful for the breakfast and considered leaving—but he stayed. He revealed he was so glad he stayed—feeling hopeful even among his challenges. He felt God’s presence in the group and in himself. Today would be a good day, he said.

It is easy to slip into focusing on what divides us, rather than what binds us together. Our new St. Vincent de Paul Ministry seeks to offer a simple yet profound opportunity to look beyond fear, indifference, or simply distance. Let us grow in love of one another.

Call the Christina Life office for more information or to get involved in Side-by-Side Saturdays or any SVdP Ministry.