The Catholic Church recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis—a centrist who masterfully challenges the extremes of the Church to avoid unhelpful reductions – has exhorted Catholics to eschew “worldly progressivism and backward-looking traditionalism.” Both of these movements to the extremes, embraced often by the most vocal Catholics, contradict the true nature of the Church, which is at the same time, both traditional and progressive. The Church, which is called to adhere to tradition, is also called to follow the Spirit which leads the Church to reform, to greater freedom, and to new ways of following the call of Christ to spread and live the good news. A Catholic Church freely and fully alive, embraces the future with both humility and confidence, knowing that the Lord is always out front leading us where God bids us to follow.

Here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Church leaders, particularly Archbishop Hebda, has exhorted our local Church to follow the Spirit and to listen to the voices, dreams, and concerns of Catholics, as we discern what God is calling us to, consistent with our mandate to announce the saving love and mercy of God. There has been significant planning, dialogue, prayer, and now preparation that has marked our synodal process as a local Church in the Archdiocese. Attendant to this call, all Catholics are called to freely take up the Lord’s invitation to give testimony to what, and more importantly, in whom we believe. At Mass for the Thursday of the 31st Sunday in ordinary time, we hear the fiery words of St. Paul who calls us all to seek the supreme good of knowing Jesus Christ. So, how do we know Christ? W. Through Scripture, the sacraments, the natural world, one another, and always in the poor and marginalized.

Pope Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have embraced the synodal way—a way of humility that listens, learns, serves, and accompanies all on our journey of faith. The predominant image of the Church at Vatican II was the People of God on a pilgrim journey of faith. This image continues to resonate powerfully with Catholics as we walk together on our journey of faith—a journey that humbly follows the path laid out before us by God. Soon, Archbishop Hebda will promulgate a new pastoral letter which will mark both the process of fruitful listening to God’s people, and which will set a course for our future as a local Church. I look forward with anticipation and eagerness to Archbishop Hebda’s pastoral vision, borne of dialogue, accompaniment, and openness to God’s liberating Spirit.

At The Basilica of Saint Mary, consistent with the vision and values of our local archdiocesan synod and also consistent with the synodal way inaugurated by Pope Francis, I plan to initiate listening sessions and opportunities for dialogue with parishioners and friends. Our parish council has expressed support and eagerness to help me put this together. As a new pastor, I would like to know what are on the minds and in the hearts of all of you. I would like to know what fills your heart about being Catholic and what are the challenges you face in living out your Catholic faith. In addition, I would like to hear from you about the strengths of our Basilica community and ways in which we could better meet your spiritual needs and accompany you on your journey of faith. A synodal Church is one that is open to the Holy Spirit—a synodal Church is a Church that listens, accompanies, and heals. I look forward to these opportunities to enter into dialogue and share our common hopes and dreams as we continue our journey of faith together at The Basilica.



Interview with Bex Gaunt

Crucifixion Processional Cross, Icon, Deb Korluka

Noon Masses November 7-11

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.


Monday, November 7

Tuesday, November 8

Wednesday, November 9
Feast of the Dedication of The Lateran Basilica in Rome

Thursday, November 10

Friday, November 11 


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“Realities are more important than ideas.” I have been confronted with this line from Pope Francis a few times lately. The first time I encountered it was several years ago when I read the Pope’s letter The Joy of the Gospel with the parish staff I was with at the time. I recall that many of us struggled initially with exactly what Pope Francis was talking about.

More recently, it popped up in one of the writings our Basilica small faith community is using on Tuesday evenings, Fr. Daniel mentioned it in a staff meeting, and I mentioned it again at the Basilica Young Adult fall retreat a few weeks ago.  Most recently, I had just finished a wedding rehearsal and was starting to prepare for another one when a gentleman came in and started looking around.  Eventually, he came to me and started asking questions about our beautiful Basilica. His first question was about our Baptism font, and early in our conversation he mentioned he had no faith background at all but was drawn in by the beauty of the space, as many are. We ended up walking around for a while and I tried to point out some of the many highlights around the church, trying to explain who Jesus was, who Mary was, why Jesus died on a cross, who the apostles are around our sanctuary, etc. It’s never easy trying to crystalize the great Mysteries of our faith in just a few sentences!

Eventually, he had to go check out another local landmark, the Mall of America. I invited him to join us for Mass that weekend before he had to travel back home to California, but he would not be able to come back. In reflecting on this time spent with him, I realized a few things. First, my admiration for our staff and volunteer docents who know so much about our lovely space was reaffirmed; I know just enough to usually refer people to our wonderful self-guided tour booklets. Second was a growth in my understanding about what Pope Francis meant in saying that realities are more important than ideas.  I was able to point out some facts to him about our Basilica and the many ways it teaches us our Catholic faith, and for where he is at in his spiritual journey, it may have been helpful. However, if those ideas never become realities for him, if he only knows about Jesus Christ but never recognizes the experience of having an encounter with Jesus, he will always at best be stuck with an idea.  Now, it’s a pretty great idea, but it’s nothing like the reality of knowing Jesus Christ.

This encounter led me to have a powerful examination of my own conscience. How much do I really seek the kind of experiential encounter that Pope Francis is referencing? Am I more comfortable with the idea of God, rather than seeking an actual encounter with God through prayer, participation in our sacraments, and/or encounters of service that lead me to those who are on the margins of our society? The Saints we honor in our icons throughout our sanctuary this month lived out the truth that realities are more important than ideas; perhaps we can all learn from them and follow their example. 


Pursuing restorative justice amid the Church’s sex abuse crisis

What's restorative justice? Can it heal the wounds of the Church's sexual abuse crisis?


More than 20 years after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team uncovered a sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, serious wounds remain.

Many victim-survivors say they are still trying to heal. Some Catholics in the pews say they are still struggling to trust Church leaders. And advocates for reform say there still needs to be more accountability and transparency in the Church.

Father Daniel Griffith believes that restorative justice could be one way to pursue healing and reconciliation.

Griffith, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is the founding director of the Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH) at the University of St. Thomas.



The Pillar