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Expressing concern for displaced families worldwide seven years ago, Pope Francis challenged to every Catholic parish to sponsor a refugee family.
After research and conversation, Basilica leaders said “Yes” and launched the Immigrant Support Ministry as part of our St. Vincent de Paul Outreach, working with asylum seekers (a six to nine month plus process), and with refugee families. Our partner, Lutheran Social Services (LSS), coordinates with arriving refugee families.
The Basilica provides $8,000 - $10,000 per family for basic expenses, and intergenerational Circle of Welcome teams of three to five volunteers. They accompany a refugee family for six or more months to help overcome barriers like language, weather, getting proper identification, and finances.
In 2015, Donna Krisch volunteered with the first refugee family from Somalia and is still involved. After her husband Rich traveled to the Mexican border and saw firsthand people fleeing violence and seeking safety in the US, he joined Donna on the Welcome team. Team members bring different gifts to the work. As retirees, Donna and Rich are available daytimes to help, while the children often gravitate to the team’s young adults.
Rich shared, “Even the Holy Family fled Egypt as refugees for their own safety. Jesus was radically welcoming and as Christians, we are asked to welcome the stranger. The Immigration Support Ministry is a tangible way to offer this welcome right here in our own community.”
Fun is part of the program. After learning their Afghan family loves kit flying, they visited the winter kite festival on Lake Harriet. Temps were below zero, and their father commented “the children now know what cold is.” Snow pants and kites were soon purchased for the children. Masters at stringing and flying kites, one small child loved it so much he flew his kite out his bedroom window.
The ministry is a two-way street. Treated as family, volunteers were welcomed with green tea, dates and nuts. Another time, the family cooked a traditional Afghan dinner for the volunteers at Theodore Wirth Park. They noticed the father had quietly gone off to say his midday prayers.
Donna and Rich’s grandparents were immigrants, and this work is personal. Donna shared, “I gain much more than I give. Sometimes it’s complicated and can be uncomfortable, but we have always worked through things. We are so much more alike than different. Their values are our values. They care about family and faith just like we do. These experiences have broadened our horizons. This has been a fun, fulfilling year. We are blessed.”
Team member Rachel Ziegler has worked with families from Iraq and Afghanistan for five years. A teacher, Rachel had seen students in her classroom new to the US and wanted to learn more about their challenges. Impressed by their strong family values and ability to adapt, Rachel finds joy in connecting on a personal level and as Acts of Mercy. She stressed people can help as advocates in the public arena, and more Circle of Welcome mentors are needed to accompany Afghan families with crucial wrap-around services.
Since 2015, Basilica volunteers have accompanied 15 refugee families from eight countries and asylees from eight countries, but there much more to do. To learn more, contact Janice Andersen.
Welcome, from The Basilica of Saint Mary!
I’m honored to walk with you on our shared journey of faith.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
Tuesday, July 12 (No recording available)
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I write to you today following the sharing of our final Core Values with the Archdiocesan Catholic Center (ACC) staff. As you may remember, in the summer of 2020 we began working with a consulting firm to assess our internal operations and effectiveness. We are committed to becoming a healthier and more efficient organization by improving decision-making, communication, and focus, with the ultimate goal of serving you better. I am grateful to the many of you - priests, parish business administrators, Catholic schools staff, and others - who have been instrumental in guiding this work and continue to do so. Our Core Values were born out of that work, to set the standard of how we will interact with you and all others whom we have the privilege of serving and encountering.
Here are the Core Values and corresponding behaviors to which we are committed:
- Christ-centered: Model Christ-like humility, forgiveness, joy, and love. Learn from the Gospel and prayerfully act accordingly. Support the Church's mission to spread the Good News.
- Respect: Honor the God-given dignity of every person. Acknowledge the talents and good work of others. Listen attentively to the voices of others.
- Integrity: Responsibly perform our work and follow through on commitments. Communicate honestly, courageously, and charitably. Humbly admit mistakes and learn from them.
- Stewardship: Maintain accountability for all God has entrusted to us. Be modest and creative in the consumption of our resources. Use our gifts for the glory of God and the greatest common good.
- Service: Put the concerns of others ahead of our own. Show special care for the neglected and marginalized. Anticipate and promptly respond to the needs of those we serve.
Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Years ago, I was working in college campus ministry when the state of Minnesota had the proposed marriage amendment on the November ballot. This would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman in our state constitution. You may recall it was a particularly contentious time all over our state, and particularly in our college ministry that fall. I was asked to do a short talk about the amendment to our college students at a meal we were hosting, and when I told one student that I was going to do this, she mentioned she was going to bring tomatoes to throw at me! I laughed at first, as I thought she was joking, but she was definitely upset that I was going to speak on the topic. Now, I did not say anything about what I was actually presenting, just the fact that we were going to talk about this at all was problematic for her.
No doubt, in that room, I knew different students and parishioners had wildly different perspectives on the amendment and what the “right” outcome was supposed to be in November. I finished the talk (thankfully no projectiles where thrown at anyone), but an invitation to dialogue was largely ignored. One of my hopes was that there might be some room to have conversation about it, even among those who had strongly held convictions. As with many hot button issues today, dialogue with people of varying perspectives was minimal in our parish community, not to necessarily change minds, but to just listen deeply to each other.
I thought about this when I heard about the Supreme Court decision recently to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in the United States. Like many, I was somewhat glued to social media and reactions to the ruling across perspectives that whole weekend; one particular Twitter comment from a Catholic commentator has stuck with me. He opened that while the day might be one of celebration for pro-life folks, it was even more a day to listen to those who were struggling with that decision. I know family members and friends who are all over the place with this decision; some are grateful, some are fearful. I know parishioners who are also experiencing many different emotions about it; we all know how difficult conversations around this issue can be.
I don’t agree with all that I have heard from others around this decision and what it might mean, but I keep coming back to that Twitter comment and asking myself how I can best listen to others as they express the wide emotions that have come with this decision. As an adoptive father of two, I have a tiny bit of experience knowing how difficult a pregnancy can be when one is not planning or prepared. I will always be grateful to those birth moms for choosing life; I am also grateful to their families and friends who journeyed with them and supported them through their most difficult days. Now and always, as people of faith we are called to assist all those on the margins in our communities, in whatever ways we are able.
Mary, Untier of Knots, pray for us!
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
Monday, July 4
10am Mass (no noon Mass)
How is it that St. Paul who had once been the greatest persecutor of the early Church, became its most passionate defender and advocate? The answer is simple in one respect - he was converted in and through Jesus Christ. His life was transformed by dying and rising with Christ and thus Paul was compelled to share this good news with all whom he encountered. Ultimately, Paul was transformed by a personal and life-transforming encounter with Jesus - such that he saw the false road he was walking, and a new path opened up before him. How could Paul not share God’s transformative love with a waiting world?
A few years ago, I was in a spiritual direction session with a wise Jesuit priest who explained that there are three stages of Christian discipleship, the last of which is to become, like St. Paul, a fool for Christ. He intimated that I was not there yet - I had no illusions - and I suspect most of us have not reached this last stage of discipleship. St. Paul models often in Scripture a deep and abiding spiritual freedom - a non-attachment to things of this world and a pervasive desire for only one thing - to discern and do the will of God.
In the figure of St. Paul and all the great saints there is a dynamism that opens up to new life - God’s love results in conversion and spiritual freedom as both these gifts provide for the restorative work God intends to accomplish through his disciples. This is our story too and great potential exists when divine love overflows onto spiritual freedom and restoration. This would seem to be the only path forward for Catholics in our modern world and a needed light for our world.
In this present moment - in a parish amidst the transition of pastors, in a Twin Cities community searching for greater justice and peace, and in a nation beleaguered by division and uncertainty, God’s perennial call is personal, transformative, and grace-filled. I am personally thankful to God for his call to serve this amazing community of faith at the Basilica, to all of you for your commitment and faith, and to the great saints, including our patron - Mary, the Mother of God, for showing us that, springing from God’s divine love, spiritual freedom and restoration are indeed possible.
Join our new Pastor, Fr. Daniel Griffith, for donuts and conversation after Mass in Teresa of Calcutta Hall (lower level).
Sunday, August 21, 5:00pm Mass
Sunday, August 28, 7:30am
Fr. Daniel Griffith, was named pastor and rector of The Basilica of Saint Mary effective July 1, 2022. He was ordained in 2002 and has served in a variety of assignments in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis since ordination including pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes for 10 years and as the archdiocesan delegate for safe environment in 2013 and 2014.
Fr. Griffith joined the University of St. Thomas School of Law faculty in 2011 and currently serves as the Wenger Family Faculty Fellow of Law. At St. Thomas Law, Griffith teaches courses in Catholic Thought, Law, and Policy, Jurisprudence, and Restorative Justice, Law, and Healing. Fr. Griffith is the founding director of the Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH) which launched in fall of 2021. Rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition, IRJH seeks to respond to harm that occurs from leadership and institutional failures, racial injustice, and polarization in a way that promotes accountability and healing.
In addition to his work at St. Thomas School of Law, Griffith Fr. Griffith, preaches, teaches, and facilitates restorative practices in response to harm of the three focus areas of IRJH. His work in restorative justice has taken him beyond the Twin Cities where he regularly speaks and facilitates programming.
The youngest of nine children, Griffith grew up in Northeastern Wisconsin and is an avid golfer and sports fan who enjoys music, travel, and cooking.