Janice Andersen

Director of Christian Life
Christian Life

Janice Andersen has been on staff at The Basilica of Saint Mary since 1994, working with programs that serve our community and advocate for justice.  She currently serves as the Director of Christian Life, overseeing ministries that provide charity and care, justice formation, and volunteer ministry. She began her work as the Director of Social Ministry, working with Basilica St. Vincent de Paul to collaboratively build programs that offer relationship and service to those in need, and advocate for justice.  Janice serves on the Boards of City House and From Death To Life. She holds Masters Degrees in special education and theology, and is a certified Spiritual Director. 

(612) 317-3477

Recent Posts by Janice Andersen

In his powerful encyclical, Fratelli Tutti—On Fraternity and Social Friendship—Pope Francis challenges us to look deeply at our individual and collective lives. He articulates a paradigm of communal life shaped and upheld by the immense and steadfast love of our God. With life infused fully with God’s love, the possibilities for culture, connection, and creation are inspiring.

Directly addressing our local and global struggles, Pope Francis confronts us and inspires us to holiness. If you have not read this document, look for it online and read it!

A primary and deep-rooted struggle of our day is racial injustice. We are a country founded with the legal institution of human chattel slavery and all the underlying spoken and unspoken assumptions this rested on. In a myriad of ways, we are still healing from this history.

Sitting with a twenty-first century mind, it is tempting to ease my discomfort and simply claim: Slavery is gone—let’s move on. Yet, Pope Francis warns: “It is easy to be tempted to turn the page, to say that all these things happened long ago and we should look to the future. For God’s sake, no! We can never move forward without remembering the past; we do not progress without an honest and unclouded memory. We need to keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened, because that witness awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.”

Pope Francis encourages to go into the struggle: ”When conflicts are not resolved but kept hidden or buried in the past, silence can lead to complicity in grave misdeeds and sins. Authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict.” We are encouraged to stay in the dialogue—open, honest, and hard.  

Over the past year, The Basilica staff and leadership have been learning to address racial injustice in our individual lives and our parish community. We are working on four parish goals.

  1. Increased understanding of implicit/unconscious biases and its effect on each of us and our parish community
  2. Increased opportunities to listen to voices from the community, underserved and marginalized populations in our parish and in the community
    • This fall we will share, in respectful and healing ways, stories of racial injustice right here at The Basilica. Ignored and hidden, it eats away at the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
  3. Increased opportunities for personal transformation to support staff and parishioners in working toward systemic change 
  4. Increase diversity at all staff levels and in volunteer ministries

You are invited to join in this work, wherever you find yourself on this issue. If you are struggling, come to share your concerns. Come and learn how you can get involved in our parish work.

If we believe “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters,” as Pope Francis states, let us engage together and continue the hard work of love.

 

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.

 

 

For the past 55 years, the Roman Catholic Church has highlighted the fundamental, yet weighty, call to peace by celebrating World Day of Peace. Each year, on January 1st, our Pope issues a World Day of Peace message inviting Catholics throughout the world to stop, to pray, to learn about and to act for peace.

The Peace we are invited to embrace, on this World Day of Peace, goes way beyond an experience of inner tranquility. It includes a willingness to enter into the contradictions and tension of injustice, falsehood, and brokenness in our lives, our community and our world. We are called to see, to understand, and to act in a way that ensures abundance, prosperity, and well-being for all.

This is the biblical notion of shalom: abundance, prosperity, and well-being. Pope Francis states, “when in Hebrew we wish shalom, we wish for a beautiful, full, prosperous life, but also according to truth and justice.” Pope Francis encourages, “at that moment there seems to be no peace, but it is the Lord who puts us on this path to reach the peace that He himself will give us."

The message of World Day of Peace varies from year to year. However, the theme is always fixated on creating a culture of radical care in our relationships. The exact focus each year changes to meet the needs and rising issues of that particular year

On January 1, 2022 Pope Francis calls us to stop, pray, learn about and act for peace by reflecting on his World Day of Peace Message entitled Education, Work and Dialogue Between Generations: Tools For Building Lasting Peace. 

In 2022, Pope Francis invites us to consider three challenges:

1. We are invited "to read the signs of the times with the eyes of faith, so that the direction of this change awakens new and old questions with which it is right and necessary to be confronted." In other words, we are called to hear the challenging facts, speak the hard truths, move toward the demanding actions. Denial is not an option for us.

2. Pope Francis seeks to answer questions about education and how it contributes to lasting peace. He addresses how work can "respond more or less to the vital needs of human beings on justice and freedom."

3. This Message also looks at the extent to which generations are in solidarity with each other and whether governments "succeed in setting a horizon of peace."

Rooting ourselves in the saving and reconciling love of God, we are invited to ask ourselves these questions:

· Does work in the world respond to the vital need of humans for justice and freedom?

· Are the generations truly seeking solidarity with each other?

· Do all generations believe in the goodness of the future?

· Do governments succeed in setting a horizon of peace through education and work?

In 2022, let us seek answers to these questions through prayer and take action: action big and small, personal and corporate. Let us trust God and work together to find the power of peace in our lives and world.

 

 

Since 1914, The Catholic Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This day is an occasion to highlight concern for people, vulnerable and on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges; and to increase awareness about opportunities migration offers. The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is this Sunday, September 26, 2021.

The message of Pope Francis on this 107th Day of Migrants and Refugees is entitled “Towards an Ever Wider We.” In his message, we are challenged to see “that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single ‘we’, encompassing all humanity.” We are invited to embrace and recognize our 
broken and fragmented relationships. We are called to reclaim a deep commitment to one another. We are asked to sacrifice—to let go of an individualized “feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation” that can pull us through life. 

On September 26, 2021 we have a unique opportunity to live this “ever wider we” in our community. 

In mid September, there were about 12,500 Afghan refugees staying at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Flown in suddenly, with the collapse of the Afghan government and the departure of U.S. support, families were brought to Fort McCoy with nothing but what they were wearing and what they could carry over thousands of miles of movement. Local news reports that life at Fort McCoy is challenging, with food and clothing shortages and overcrowding. On top of this, people are experiencing deep grief and fear. Their individual bodies have been transported. But extended family and all remnants of their life in Afghanistan were left behind. 

Since 2015, The Basilica has had a partnership with Lutheran Social Services Refugee Services, co-sponsoring twelve families from around the world who received refugee status. With the support of LSS, we have accompanied families, offering Circle of Welcome Teams that walk with them as they make Minnesota their home.  
This September, The Basilica is being invited to co-sponsor Afghan families through LSS. The people who have come from Afghanistan have risked their lives to support the mission of the United States. Now, we are being asked to extend a warm welcome and to keep them safe. 

With a strong commitment to “an ever wider we” and a strong infrastructure of our Basilica Immigrant Support Ministry, The Basilica was able to quickly mobilize and commit to co-sponsoring up to four families from Afghanistan. More opportunities may follow. 

Pope Francis states, “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.” May we gracefully embrace this opportunity to grow towards a wider “we.”  

 

 

The Basilica offered various iterations of committees to address racism, over the past few decades. But if we are honest, they were initiatives that sat on the margins of our parish life. Without intentional malice, they allowed our community to remain comfortable, while offering opportunities to learn about racial diversity. 

In 2018, The Basilica prayerfully embraced a new strategic plan. This plan identified inclusivity as a core commitment for our whole parish—crossing all ministries, penetrating all communications for volunteers, donors and community partners. With prophetic courage, this strategic direction responded to the signs of our times. It compelled us to begin anew, our commitment to address racism.

Racism is a reality with deep roots and wide misunderstanding. Fr. Bryan Massingale, in his book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, frames the discussion with important definitions. He clarifies that “racism is a cultural phenomenon, that is, a way of interpreting human color differences that pervades the collective convictions, conventions, and practices of American life.” He importantly emphasizes that while “the commonsense understanding discusses racism as personal acts of rudeness, hostility or discrimination,” the focus on individual behaviors and attitudes misses the crucial and fundamental reality of racism as “a communal and learned frame of reference that shapes identity, consciousness, and behavior—the way a social group understands its place and worth.” 

American anthropologist Edward T. Hall explains: “Culture is the logic by which I have learned to give order to the world. And I have been learning this logic little by little since the moment I was born… I learned to breathe this logic and forget that I learned it—I find it natural.”
 
We are called to see the implications of living in a country founded with the legal institution of human chattel slavery and all the underlying spoken and unspoken assumptions this rested on. Even after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, threads of slavery remained. 

Sitting with a twenty-first century heart and mind, it is tempting to soothe my discomfort and simply claim: This is no longer relevant. Slavery is gone. I yearn to claim to be beyond the cultural pull of racism. But facing the reality of centuries of oppression and generations of persecution, we see racism cannot be healed by denial or “just moving on.” 

Healing requires deep, community-wide acknowledgement of ways this fundamental and sinful paradigm gives order to our world, even today. We are called to recognize our complicity in enabling racism to persist: In 2021, can we reconcile the dissonance of living in Minnesota, with some of the highest racial disparities in the nation, despite being ranked one of the best places to live? 

The Basilica is committed to wrestle with, expose and eliminate racism in our community. It is hard work we must do together. It calls the white community to take a lead in anti-racism work, along with the discomfort this brings, and provide healing spaces for our brothers and sisters of color. 

The Basilica has commissioned an Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity Leadership Team. With parish leadership, it has identified core goals to work on together. We need your partnership and help to work on these goals and to grow together. Look for ways to engage at mary.org/edi. Come Holy Spirit; give us strength, courage, and guidance for this journey. 

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