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On Sunday, March 6, The Basilica was honored to host almost 300 attendees at an Ecumenical Evening Prayer for Peace in Ukraine and Russia. The evening was co-hosted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Rev. Ann Svennungsen (Bishop of the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Rev. Patricia Lull (Bishop of the St. Paul Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), and Rev. Craig Loya (Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota), with Chorbishop Sharbel Maron (Pastor of the Maronite rite parish St. Maron) and Father Ivan Shkumbatyuk (Ukrainian rite Catholic priest and pastor of St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church). The prayer service included music from The Basilica’s Schola Cantorum and St. Constantine’s choir, which sang in Ukrainian and wore traditional Ukrainian attire.
“This Lent, we gather in gratitude for a God who indeed knows us well,” said Bishop Lull in her homily. “A God who knows the desperation we feel in the face of a massive military invasion of Ukraine. The raw human ache that reminds us how small we are, the long shadow of empires, and the world affairs that unfold before our eyes. This Lent, prayers for mercy and peace are foremost in our hearts and on our lips.”
“Some [in danger] are people those of you who are here know by name,” Bishop Lull continued. “Family, a co-worker, an in-law, a friend, a former schoolmate. The anguish of keeping vigil as you wait for news of safety or harm is almost impossible to bear, as any of us who has ever waited in a hospital corridor can attest. Known to us or not, the people in the midst of this crisis are people with names and faces, hopes for their children, and a deep desire for peace. One of the Insidious tricks of war is that it causes us to lose sight of the humanity of those on the other side—civilian or soldier.”
Father Ivan Shkumbatyuk spoke passionately, saying, “Two days ago we had a panel about the events in Ukraine, and how we can help during these times. One of the questions was, ‘Why is the war in Ukraine different from other wars in the world?’ This is not a war of aggression, rather this war has a different purpose. The destruction of the Ukrainian nation and its history. The destruction of a specific Ukrainian identity. The killing of innocent Ukrainians. Christian values such as justice, freedom, solidarity, unity and patriotism are being destroyed in Ukraine. Man cannot see the face of God, but we have seen the face of the devil.”
“Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying. Ukraine is working. I ask all of you today to do everything possible to stop this war. Let your voice be heard. Act. We cannot remain silent and do nothing.”
Helping Ukraine: Catholic Relief Services
The Archdiocese recommends that donations be made to Catholic Relief Services at crs.org.
Your help is needed in Ukraine where there are already more than 2.9 million people in need of assistance!
There is great risk of additional suffering both within Ukraine and for those who are fleeing to neighboring countries for safety. CRS and our partners need immediate support to meet both ongoing needs as the situation intensifies.
Years of conflict along the eastern border have already displaced 1.3 million people from their homes and claimed 14,000 lives and now 2 million people have fled Ukraine. Throughout this time, Caritas Ukraine, with support from CRS, has been providing emergency relief and recovery.
CRS and Caritas partners on the ground are preparing across Ukraine and in bordering countries, ready to provide safe shelter, hot meals, hygiene supplies, transport to safe areas, counseling support and more.
Five years ago, The Basilica started an Immigration Support Ministry and entered a strategic partnership with Lutheran Social Services (LSS) to co-sponsor refugee families and they’ve helped 22 families settle in new homes in their new country.
Volunteer Dorene Wernke has been part of the Immigration Support Ministry since its inception. Dorene and her husband had lived overseas and experienced first-hand what it is like to acclimate to a new culture and new ways of doing things. Thinking back, she remembers fondly the people who welcomed her during this experience. Dorene wanted to provide that same warm welcome to people who come as refugees to our country. She finds her volunteer experience gives her a greater perspective on other cultures. She has stayed with this ministry because it is interesting and rewarding.
About six months ago, Dorene stepped in as Volunteer Coordinator of The Basilica’s Circle of Welcome for refugees, an important part of The Basilica’s Immigration Support Ministry. Circle of Welcome volunteers work with refugee families for 6 to 12 months or longer if needed. The process starts with an initial meeting with the family along with the LSS case manager.
Volunteers help the family get acquainted with their new community and provide a variety of tangible support. They might help the family find a grocery store with the types of food they enjoy and help them get there. Volunteers help families find doctors and dentists and assist with setting up appointments. They help families as their children settle into new school situations and provide follow-up in any way needed. An important role is to help families make their new living situation feel like home by finding furniture and household goods.
Circle of Welcome Ministry has been well received by Basilica volunteers and we are grateful for the important work they are doing. While Welcome Teams are filled right now, there are many ways you can help.
Families are large and finding suitable housing is challenging. If you have housing available that would work for a large family, learn more on our website at mary.org/refugeesponsorship. You will find a Housing Form and specific criteria there.
At this moment, many families need to set up new homes and this is happening all at once. Sometimes it takes families months to get needed furniture and household goods. Two other non-profit partners of The Basilica welcome your donations.
Donate furniture to Bridging bridging.org or the Minneapolis St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store at svdpmpls.org/storedonations_2.html.
Donate household goods like trash cans, wastebaskets, silverware drawer organizers, everything any family needs to set up their new home to the St. Vincent de Paul Store. The Store is located at 2939 12th Ave. S. in Minneapolis, MN 55407. You can call the Store at 612.722.7882 and hours are Monday to Friday from 10:30am to 5:30pm, and Saturdays from 10:30am - 4:00pm.
Please hold these refugee families in your thoughts and prayers as they build new lives for themselves in our community and take the time to learn more about The Basilica’s Immigration Support Ministry.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
It seems any direction you look, these days, there is trauma, grief, loss, and sadness. More than ever, life seems colored by weariness and struggle. While people continue to hold on to threads of gratitude and faith, life is hard. Whether it is division or loss within families, violence in neighborhoods and cities, discord in local and national politics, or international suffering and brutality, these are days that call us to dig deep into our hearts to find strength.
In February 2019, the UN General Assembly set up The International Day of Human Fraternity to commemorate the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. In this document, “the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.” All people were called upon to “rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.”
This document “reflected on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.”
With profound hope for the future of all human beings, the idea of “fraternity” was advanced. This document invites all persons to unite and work together. It seeks to be a guide to evolve a culture of mutual respect: “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.”
The UN General Assembly called for a Second International Day of Human Fraternity in February 2022. So great is the threat to the social order—and so high the desire “to build fraternity as a bulwark against hatred, violence, and injustice,” Pope Francis calls all people to attention.
“Now is the fitting time to journey together…Do not leave it to tomorrow or an uncertain future…This is a good day to extend a hand, to celebrate our unity in diversity—unity, not uniformity, unity in diversity.”
“Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart. This is not to be melodramatic; it is the truth! Either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart.”
Truly, the only answer to the suffering and trials of our day is found in our willingness to trust God and find the grace and strength to stay “committed to the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless.” Pope Francis warns, “the path of fraternity is long and challenging, it is a difficult path, yet it is the anchor of salvation for humanity.”
Let us walk side-by-side, in the harmony of differences, with respect for the identity of each. With concrete actions, let us be brothers and sisters, all.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Stations of the Cross
I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.
I don’t know why it is so hard for so many of us to say these words. Perhaps it is our pride, or perhaps we worry that we will look weak, or will be perceived as being vulnerable. Whatever the reason, I’ve noticed that lots of us have trouble saying: I’m sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.
Sometimes people offer a pseudo apology, for example, by saying “I’m sorry that happened.” or “If I offended you, I’m sorry.” In reality, though, these are just pretend apologies. They lack sincerity and have no real meaning. A real and genuine apology comes with no strings attached. It is an admission that we have done something wrong or something that hurt someone, and we ask for their forgiveness.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on our seeming inability to apologize. My reflections started when retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued a statement on February 8 after a report, requested by the Munich Archdiocese, concluded that during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich there were four specific cases in regard to clergy abusers that he could be accused of mishandling. In his statement, while retired Pope Benedict acknowledged past failings of the Catholic Church in confronting clergy sexual abuse under his watch, he stopped short of a direct, personal apology. He did ask for forgiveness for any "grievous faults" in the Church’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases. And he did express his feelings of great shame and sorrow for the abuse of minors and requested forgiveness from all victims of sexual abuse, BUT he did not acknowledge any personal or specific wrongdoing. In other words, he did not say: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.
Now, I suspect that his advisors told him that for legal reasons, or more likely because he was the retired Pope, he should not acknowledge any wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. And yet, at the same time, I think that it would have sent a powerful message to Catholics and to people everywhere, if he had simply said: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me. These simple words would have sent a clear and unmistakable message that sin and failure are a part of each of our lives, and that we all need to seek forgiveness and healing when we have hurt others by our words and actions (or inactions).
Words are necessary and important, but they are heard best when they are accompanied by the witness of lives. May God grant to all of us—and especially the leaders of our Church—the ability to say more often and more sincerely: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Wednesday, March 2 - Ash Wednesday
Thursday, March 3 - No recording due to internet outage
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Monday, February 21 - No Mass recorded Presidents' Day
Friday, February 25 - Due to technical difficulties, the recording starts at the homily. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Afghan Family: Adjusting well to new colder climate
Come in! Come in! Come in! That was the greeting we received the first night we met the family that the Basilica is helping from Afghanistan. The young man that greeted us is in middle school and is part of the family of 10. He gestured for us to come up for green tea. The dad arrived a few minutes later having gone to a store to get nuts and fruit to welcome us. Our Circle of Welcome team from the Basilica and Lutheran Social Services were there to meet and greet the new family. The family left Kabul, Afghanistan in August. It was quite a struggle to get all of this large family on a plane to the US. They have eight children ranging in age from 11 months to 17 years old.
Over the past two months the Basilica has outfitted the family in winter gear, rugs, a vacuum and various other things. Our Circle of Welcome team has taken them on outings to Como Zoo, the Lake Harriet kite festival and sledding.
On one of our visits when we were bringing over a rug, we were once again greeted by the same gregarious young man that had greeted us the first night. He motioned for us to come in for green tea and showed us to their dining table. All of the children came around to greet us. As soon as we sat down a feast appeared before our eyes with mom dishing up very delicious food. Large flat bread, beef stew, saffron rice and chickpeas and two spoons appeared. Never having eaten food from Afghanistan we assumed we each had a spoon and we started eating only to realize later the bread was meant to be broken and the beef stew and everything else was to be spooned on top of the bread and then into our mouth and the spoons were serving spoons.
The family is doing very well. The dad is fluent in English and three other languages and the others are learning. The children are all in school. The dad just got a job and they all seem to be adjusting to this very new and different life especially living in this new colder climate.
When we volunteered to be part of the Circle of Welcome team we were delighted to help. Since then we have been humbled by the hospitality and friendliness of this Afghan family. Minnesota is so very blessed to have them.
Refugee Family News
News and updates on the families we are welcoming.