Monday, August 31, 2009

Beef Jerky Day today

Well, my step son David brought over about 10 pounds of ground round and begged me to make him some more beef jerky.

I wasn't sure I could pull it off today because I am on several deadlines, but since I filed one story already, I think I can manage it.

Right now, i have the beef marinating in a giant bowl on the counter and the food dehydrator is ready and waiting for a good workout.

The workout is quite a bit from my end as well as I have to use my big jerky press and make all the little strips, dehydrate and bag it all--oh well, he loves the stuff.

The only thing is, it makes me want to make a big batch for us as well!

Spirits Rebellious

There is no force in this world that can rob me of my happiness, for it springs from the embrace of two souls held together by understanding and sheltered by love.

------Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Visit to SLS

What an amazing son we have! At 14, he has adapted to life in a minor seminary better than most 18 year olds' leaving for college for the first time. He is taking immensely tough classes, such as Latin, Biology, Geometry, Religion, Chorus, English, Guidance, Phy Ed, keyboarding and running cross country. When we saw him today at Mass, we were so proud to hear his beautiful tenor voice joining in unison with the melodic voices of the other young men.

What has probably surprised me the most was that even after just a week, he has grown again! Surely he will be the tallest of all my children--what a shocker from seeing him year after year in the front row of every school event due to his short stature.

The priests and brothers run a tight ship, but Erin fits right in--thankfully, he survived our tough standards at home and moving into their routines is probably much easier than it is for the other young freshman.

I will be anxious to see his progress over the next few weeks.

Lord, thank you for your most generous blessing and I ask for your continued guidance in his life.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Awesomeness of a Vita Mix

Since I was a little girl tagging along with my mother and father to the Wisconsin State Fair, I have been enamored with the powerful chopping ability of the Vita Mix. Apparently, my mom was equally as enamored as she purchased one of the earlier silver versions. I remember her shocking all five of us kids as we blissfully drank a delicious cherry colored smoothie and upon our last slurp, informing us that within the cold, smooth, slightly sweet taste were beets, whole eggs, spinach and a host of other ingredients that we would have turned up our noses at. 

I was sold.

Since the inception of my adult-hood, many eons ago, I too, wanted a Vita Mix. I drooled over them at the State Fair. Each year the mighty machines became more powerful, more versatile and eventually, began to grind grains into flour, cook soup, and make ice cream. 

Finally, after nearly 50 years on this planet, I am the proud owner of a Vita Mix Super 5200! Getting this machine with the hefty price tag did not come easy. In order to pay for this perfect piece of machinery, I did what I said I would never do again and had a garage sale. Yup--I sold a ton of stuff and some of the bigger items went to Craig's list where they also sold. After it was all said and done, I had enough to pay a month's tuition for my son's school and enough to justify the Vita Mix.

However, now that I have it, I can't believe I went so long without it--for this machine has already paid for itself in time, flexibility, and crushing power. 

Just yesterday, my neighbor, bless his heart brought over more than a bushel of apples from his trees. At first I groaned and thought, 'oh no, what am I going to do with all of this?' and then I realized that the perfect tool was sitting in my kitchen. 

I began chopping apples, tossing them into the Vita Mix in stages, added some spices and within seconds had the best tasting applesauce ever. Some of it is in the food dehydrator now and will be fruit roll ups to take to my son, some of it is packed in containers in the freezer and waiting for cold winter nights. 

All of those apples remind me of my favorite Christmas Movie-'Prancer' where the Dad, Sam Elliott, explains to his daughter how they are not going to starve that tough winter because they've got apples. While pruning his trees, he explains all the various types of foods he can create with the apples....I laughed a bit to myself. 

Then I wasn't finished, I noticed that the basil was reaching epic proportions in my garden, so with the help of the Vita Mix, made the best tasting pesto this side of the country. That is also packed in the freezer waiting for some steaming hot pasta and fresh tomatoes to accompany it.

There are days I have longed for the simplicity of the Amish life, but then, how would I manage without my Vita Mix?

Technology---gotta love it!

Judging from the sidelines

We can judge a person by their fruits, what a person lives – Matt 7:15-20.
As a tree is know by its fruit, so do we judge of the character of men by their conduct. 
Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 
You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned – Tit 3:10,11. Paul made a judgment about someone – from what he had heard from other Christians - 1 Cor 5:1-3. 
Lord forgive me of my past judgments of others and keep me on your path to Holy Light

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you

Thank you Jesus

give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stitch in time

Union Grove Woman to compete in Quilt Contest

by Karen Mahoney

Yvonne Parks has made quilts for birthday gifts, anniversaries, charity events, and the birth of babies. She is an expert at creatively marrying colorful fabric and thread into patterns with nostalgic names, such as one of her most recent, “Butterflies in My Garden.”

On a whim, Parks, of Union Grove entered the pink and green king sized quilt into the Wisconsin Quilt Expo quilt contest and was accepted. The ten-category juried and judged contest is part of the Quilt Expo held Thursday September 10 through Saturday, September 12 in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

She is competing for one of three cash awards in her category. The first place winner in each category receives $500, second place $300 and third place $300. The winner of the Best in Show over all categories will receive $1500. Additionally, a Viewers Choice winner, voted on by Quilt Expo attendees will receive $500.

By the looks of her advanced piecing, machine quilting and appliqué techniques, most would assume that Parks employs a lifetime of experience in her work.

Not so.

The mom of two children and grandmother to six began quilting just 20 months ago. That’s right, 20 months ago.

“I am an accountant, so during tax season I don’t quilt at all,” she said. “So basically, I quilt for seven months out of the year.”

While she is an accomplished seamstress, having made many of her own clothing pieces over the years, quilting is an art that she reluctantly attempted.

“My mom, Rose Gibbs has been quilting for many years, and my sister, Cindy Sapinski started a few years ago,” said Parks. “They both loved it and began pestering me to quilt. So, I started it a couple of years ago and was surprised to find that I really liked it.”

Although distance separates the three, Gibbs lives in Madison and Sapinski in Minneapolis, quilting has brought them closer together than Parks ever thought possible.

“We have a lot of fun and often quilt together, attend shows and go to different shops together,” said Parks.

After she sent in a photo of her completed quilt and a couple of close-ups of the unique blocks, Parks figured she would never hear from the Expo Officials again.

“There was no way I thought it would be accepted,” she confessed. “I have been to that quilt expo before and some of the pieces that are in the contest are beautiful works of art that look as if they took a lifetime to complete. My quilt is nowhere in that category.”

Needless to say, when the acceptance letter arrived, Parks was thrilled, but speechless, and weeks later, is still in disbelief.

“It finally began to sink in and I just thought it was astounding,” she said, softly. “I was beside myself.”

It is difficult to estimate the length of time Parks spent working on the quilt due to the five months she spends in her accounting business, but she guessed that the project consumed seven months of part time work on it.

“The reason I say part-time work is because I often have several projects going at once,” she said.

Indeed. A wooden quilt ladder displayed at least five complex quilt patterns that were in progress. Most of those projects were intricate paper piecing or appliqué designs. Her sewing room is lined with stacks of quilting fabric and her husband Bob was quick to bring out a few of his favorite quilts.

“I am so proud of what she does,” he bragged, while unfolding a blue and yellow quilt sampler. “This is my favorite, I love the colors and the designs—she does such a great job.”

Most of her ideas come from photos or designs that she adapts and makes her own, and some are entirely of her own imagination. She credits the staff at Racine’s Sew N Save store for helping her learn to love the art of quilting.

“They have amazing fabrics and are so helpful to me,” she said. “I have taken several classes there and they have taught me how to appliqué and how to piece—without their help, I wouldn’t be doing this type of quilting.”

Additionally, Parks is an avid cross-stitch artist; she has nearly completed a multi-hued complicated design that will be framed and presented to her mother.

“I am excited for her to see this because I think it turned out pretty well,” she said.

Parks encourages anyone interested in quilting to attend the Expo. The event includes hundreds of quilts on exhibit, educational workshops, a 75,000 square foot vender mall with quilting supplies, gifts, notions, and innovative equipment, and stage presentations that provide practical advice, tips and techniques.

“Nancy Zieman (Public Television’s Sewing With Nancy®) will be there,” she said. “I have seen her in person before and she does a great job in her presentations and classes.”

Unassuming about her chances to win, Parks feels like a winner already, by her acceptance into the contest.

“It is such a great honor to be in this show,” she said. “It is all very exciting and fun.”

Fun meeting of the Church Basement Ladies

We had such a great time at Anastasia's --the Church basement ladies, junior basement ladies, Father J and his sissy Margaret. We presented Father with the proceeds of the hot dog sale money from the church rummage sale. Fun times!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Matthew 5:24

Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inspired, guided by St. Francis of Assisi

Secular Franciscans live simply, charitably

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - While Judie Longrie is a full time student at Cardinal Stritch University, she embraces the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi more deeply than the average student might. For the past four years, she has been a professed member of the Secular Franciscans. Until recently, had to drive more than 70 miles each month to attend a meeting.

"I began six years ago with the Holy Assumption Fraternity in West Allis," she said. "I come from Sheboygan County and there was nothing closer for me."

Last fall, Stritch became host to a fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, an organization for Christian lay men and women who might not wish to enter religious life, but are seeking a means to live out their spiritual beliefs.

According to Paul Salerno, a Secular Franciscan and minister to members, the group at Stritch began as an offshoot of the existing Portiuncola Fraternity in Franklin, which meets monthly at SS. Francis and Claire Friary in Franklin.

"There seemed to be an overall interest in the Secular Franciscans, so our spiritual assistant, Franciscan Fr. Jim Gannon, and I sent out some inquiries and about a dozen or so people showed up at Stritch for an initial meeting," he said. "We have about six to eight members of the fraternity who regularly attend this group, in addition to those who have continued to show an interest."

It is not uncommon for professed members from an established fraternity to "break off" and help form the new community, Fr. Gannon noted.

"Once there are professed members of this fraternity at Cardinal Stritch, they will elect their ministers and then name the fraternity," he said.

Members live simple lives

Approximately 15 people, including Stritch students, faculty and members of the public, meet the second Wednesday of each month to learn more about the Franciscan lifestyle.

To enter the order, members must complete a two-year formation program and then make a public profession to live according to a series of rules written by St. Francis. Some rules include regular participation in reconciliation, living a simple life free of excessive material possessions, giving charitably of time and money and providing Christian education for their children.

"Like Franciscan communities of religious women and men throughout the world, the Secular Franciscan Order has a structure of outreach that must be part of the fraternity," said Fr. Gannon. "The Franciscan spirituality means to pray together as a community, participate in communal prayer, individual prayer, prayers for one another and the needs of the world and to be instruments of reconciliation and peace."

Providing outreach through charity or time and talent is a large part of the Secular Franciscan Order. Each fraternity is required to have an active committee that is directed to justice, peace and reverence of creation.

"Each fraternity must establish an outreach ministry of care to the sick and homebound," said Fr. Gannon. "Each fraternity must have an outreach program to minister to the poor in real and practical ways."

Order is 800 years old

The Franciscans have had third order or secular members for some 800 years, since the lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi. In 1209, Francis and his first 11 followers traveled to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. Jotted down on a simple piece of paper were a series of quotations from the Gospels, upon which the Franciscan Order would be founded. Although the pope initially rejected Francis' request due to concern about an overabundance of religious orders, Innocent III later had a dream that the Basilica of St. John Lateran was crumbling, and recognized Francis as the man in his dream who was rebuilding it.

Within a short time, Francis had thousands of followers and, to this day, both lay and religious dedicate their lives to poverty and serving the poor, living according to the Gospel of Jesus, relating to others as brothers and sisters and recognizing God's presence within themselves and in the world.

Saint's passion is 'powerful' example

It was St. Francis' passion for working with those ostracized from society that led Art Montgomery of Wauwatosa to become a professed member of the fraternity two years ago.

"I admired St. Francis' zeal for working with these people," he said. "It is powerful and that's what got me attracted to this fraternity Ð the spirituality and service to others."

In her daily life, Barb Spies of Germantown is immersed in Franciscan-infused courses in her job as associate professor in communication arts at Cardinal Stritch University.

"I am in the inquiry phase," she said. "But I am really interested in this lifestyle Ð I have read a lot about Francis and talked to Fr. Jim (Gannon) about it."

Meetings begin with prayer, followed by study in the formation binder, which includes learning ways to imitate the life of St. Francis, the Rule, constitution, Vatican II documents, the Gospels, history of the Secular Franciscans and how to apply the knowledge to daily life.

After several months to a year, Salerno said individuals know whether they are prepared to make a formal commitment to the Secular Franciscan Order.

"Not all are called to profess," he said. "But that doesn't mean the affiliation ends; some are called to become part of a fellowship group called the Friends of Francis."

Non-Christians also follow St. Francis

According to Ken Beatie, regional minister of the LaVerna Region of the SFO, Sheboygan, there are Christian and non-Christian followers of St. Francis.

"There are some Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who admire Francis," he said. "Gandhi was a follower of St. Francis."

To become a Third Order or Secular Franciscan, applicants must be Roman Catholic, in good standing, at least 21 years old and in formation for at least two years. There are no restrictions on living the single or married life.

"There needs to be discernment on both sides," said Beatie. "After orientation and inquiry, (there) will be the more formal period called candidacy or formation, and that lasts about 18 months."

Candidacy is a time of preparing for permanent commitment by immersion into fraternity life. Central to this stage of formation is Article 4 of The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order which states, "The rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following St. Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people."

For Salerno, following St. Francis is not just a reflection on his own beliefs or values; belonging to the order is a template of who he already is and what he seeks.

"I find following Jesus the way Francis did as appealing and I live this way of life because I believe that is how God has called me to live," he said. "This is an exciting time in the church because I think we have a hunger for spirituality and many find the Franciscan way of spirituality as a way to feed their souls."

For more information on the Secular Franciscan Order:<>


Franciscan Fr. Jim Gannon

(414) 410-4151

Cardinal Stritch SFO meets the

second Wednesday of each month

6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Cardinal Stritch University, 6801 N.

Yates Road, Milwaukee, entrance off

parking lot 7

'Vianney' tells story of 'Cur of Ars'

Actor Leonardo Defilippis portrays St. John Vianney in the one-man drama, "Vianney," to be performed by St. Luke Productions, in the Milwaukee area, Sept. 8 to 12. (Submitted photo courtesy St. Luke Productions)

One-man drama highlights priest's saintliness

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

ST. FRANCIS - Leonardo Defilippis, actor, founder and president of St. Luke Productions, is heeding Pope Benedict XVI's message to rebuild strong spiritual identities.

In honor of the "Year for Priests," Defilippis is performing "Vianney," a one-man drama, in the Milwaukee area Sept. 8-12.

To most Catholics, and even some priests, St. John Vianney is one of the more obscure saints. Little is known about this uneducated priest of the French Revolution era.

St. John Maria Vianney, commonly known as the Cur of Ars, the patron of priests, was born to a destitute family in Dardilly, France in 1786. As a child, he worked in the fields and helped his father and sisters tend sheep.

He struggled with his studies after entering the seminary when he was 20, and nearly gave up. However, his desire to become a priest and save lost souls helped him to persevere.

At 29, he was ordained and assigned as a parish priest of Ars, a tiny village. Because many residents didn't attend church, he made home visits and convinced them to attend Mass.

He prayed for hours before the Blessed Sacrament and spent up to 18 hours in the confessional, taught catechism and, during the night, was tormented by the devil. Despite the spiritual battles, Vianney knew that the toughest nights meant that the next day would be the opportunity to save another soul.

"I really grew to love him and realized how powerful he is and unique in that he is the only saint that is completely tied to the structure of the church," said Defilippis in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald. "He took care of everyone -- boys, girls, elderly, taught religion, was tied to chanceries, bishops, and was the greatest confessor of all time. He was the biggest dispenser of all sacraments of any priest in history and the only one to convert a whole parish."

Defilippis, who is known for his work in "Thrse," "John of the Cross," and "Maxmillian: Saint of Auschwitz," worked on "Vianney" for two years. Hefelt it providential that it coincided with the "Year for Priests."

"When the Holy Father announced this, it gave a boost to the Vianney movement," he said. "And soon he will elevate him as the patron saint of all priests in history. He will have a very high honor, the highest honor in the church, up there with Mary and Joseph in the upper room. He is a patron saint but was really just a dumb, ignorant, peasant priest and now he is has this high honor. But if he were still here on earth, he wouldn't want it. He was very humble."

Most challenging in the multi-media presentation is portraying the intense spiritual battle as the devil tried to stop his ministry from his first breath as a newborn baby.

"The devil tried to destroy all Catholicism right after he was born and during the French Revolution, Catholicism was basically decimated," said Defilippis. "But he persevered, eating just a potato a day, and often getting little or no sleep. Finally, at the end of Vianney's life, the devil said, 'You have defeated me.' That is quite a remarkable statement."

Since the "Vianney" tour began, Defilippis has been astounded by the number of young men and women attending the sold-out productions and becoming excited about religious vocations.

"I think a lot of people don't understand the priesthood, and even some priests don't understand their own identity and their own sacrament," he said. "People are understanding what a priest means and the importance of vocations. Young people are excited and engaged and are showing an incredible love for the church and the priesthood."

By portraying St. John Vianney's life, Defilippis prays that dignity for the priesthood will be restored.

"The priesthood is an incredible calling and it is a ministry to do good in the world," he said. "I pray that it helps renew the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and confession. People are hungry to have good priests and I am hoping that by hearing St. John Vianney's powerful sermons in this play that it will bring renewal to our faith. John Vianney was afraid of no one and his sermons show that."

If you want to go


All shows at 7 p.m.

Admission: $10 adults/ $5 youth 17 and under/

Ten or more, discount of $8 adults and $4 youth 17 and under

Free for priests, religious and seminarians

Tuesday, Sept. 8

The Basilica of St. Josaphat

2333 S. 6th St., Milwaukee

Information/tickets: Michael Scott (414) 645-5623, ext. 219

Wednesday, Sept. 9

St. John Vianney Church

1755 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield

Information/tickets: (262) 796-3940

Thursday, Sept. 10

Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians

1525 Carmel Road, Hubertus

Information/tickets: Fr. Don Brick (262) 347-9337 or <>

Visit <>

Friday, Sept. 11

St. John Vianney Church (Madison Diocese)

1250 E. Racine St., Janesville

Tickets/information: (608) 752-8708

Saturday, Sept. 12

Cousins Center, Mater Christi Chapel

3501 S. Lake Drive, St. Francis

Information/tickets: (414) 747-6412

Burlington Pastor Resigns amid financial inconsistencies

Audit finds 'poorly documented, allegedly misused church funds'

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

BURLINGTON - Amid allegations of financial non-compliances, Fr. Jeffrey Thielen, resigned as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Burlington Aug. 12.

According to archdiocesan communications director, Julie Wolf, a review by the archdiocese and auditing firm Baker Tilly found approximately $75,000 in poorly documented and allegedly misused church funds. Two church trustees and the parish business administrator also resigned, but they are not suspected of any misconduct.

"These people seemed to be respectful of the pastor," she said. "They are supposed to be in place to provide checks and balances, but often the staff and volunteers look to the pastors for guidance."

Expenditures found that Fr. Thielen's compensation was beyond his priestly salary and about $58,000 was used for gift cards as gratuities for people, compensating them for incidentals, such as gasoline.

"There was little documentation in place for expenditures," Wolf said, "and coming up with an accurate number was difficult."

The investigation began after several parishioners of the parish, 108 McHenry St., voiced concerns to archdiocesan officials regarding financial inconsistencies.

"We had received phone calls from people from the parish," Wolf said, "We started an internal review and then Baker Tilly, a certified public accounting firm, undertook an independent financial review."

The review purportedly found Fr. Thielen had not followed archdiocesan internal controls for financial management regarding compensation, professional expenses or the checks and balance system to ensure proper accounting of parish finances.

"There is a parish manual that lays out the whole set of controls," John Marek, chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said.

After financial concerns were brought to the attention of archdiocesan officials, Fr. Thielen agreed to, and actually invited, a review of the parish records.

"He wanted to set straight whatever speculation or concerns that there were," Marek said. "He was open to that."

In a prepared statement to Immaculate Conception parishioners last weekend, Bishop William P. Callahan, administrator of the archdiocese, said he had reviewed the report with Marek, the parish corporate attorney and Fr. Thielen.

"This report outlines multiple gaps in parish compliance with archdiocesan fiscal policy," he stated. "For example, annual financial reports and operating budgets for the parish were not submitted as required. The report also indicates the parish has operated with a deficit budget for at least the past three years. After two years of deficit budgeting, a parish must receive permission to adopt a deficit budget. In addition, the review identified various departures from the financial protocols in place to ensure fiscal responsibility for a parish. Most of these deal with compensation and professional expenses, and also a number of weaknesses in the parish's internal financial controls."

Due to the results of the review, Fr. Thielen determined it would be best to leave Immaculate Conception Parish and allow a new administrator to provide pastoral and administrative oversight for parish operations.

Comments from Fr. Thielen were unobtainable as his phone has been disconnected.

For the short term, Bishop Callahan will serve as the parish's temporary administrator.

"Our hope is to then assign to the parish a priest to serve as the administrator who will serve the parish's needs until a pastor can be appointed," he said. "We are not sure how long that process will take because pastors cannot be appointed until we have a new archbishop."

According to Wolf, Bishop Callahan will oversee the day-to-day operations, celebrate Mass and carry the financial responsibilities of the parish.

The parish is connected with St. Mary Grade School and Catholic Central High School, both located on church property. Wolf admitted that questions have been raised as to school finances as well.

"Some parishioners are wondering about the high school finances," she said. "The first part of the review was focused on the parish and we will have a second phase of this review that will focus on the high school. That portion should be completed in the next few months."

Immaculate Conception parishioners are weathering the storm, admitted several parish officials and members, who declined to be named.

"We are doing OK; we have the bishop by our side and he is awesome," said a long-time employee. "We are going to be fine; he is a wonderful man and we have complete confidence in his ability to lead us in the right direction."

Fr. Thielen is the former pastor of St. Lucy Parish, 3101 Drexel Ave., Racine, at which a 2007 review of the parish indicated several errors where internal financial controls could have been strengthened said Wolf.

"There was another review done in 2008 by Virchow Krause, now Baker Tilly, and so far there have not been any determinations whether he was connected with any of the financial problems at St. Lucy," she said.

While no timeline is in place, Michael Nieskes, Racine County district attorney, expects to receive the results of the investigation within a few days. At that time he will determine whether there is enough evidence for further legal measures.

"I can say that law enforcement agencies have been working on this for a period of time and were given information from the archdiocese," he said. "We had begun investigation prior to Fr. Thielen's resignation and had been looking at this case for a couple of months. I am not sure when they will finish and give the case to us."

While speculation continues that additional investigation into the financial records of St. Lucy Parish is forthcoming, Nieskes was unable to comment on a pending investigation.

"I hope to be able to talk with investigators soon to see where we are and I have been in contact with the law firms and the archdiocese who began this long in advance of the pastor's knowledge of this," he said.

Meanwhile, Bishop Callahan asks for prayers for the parish and all involved in the difficult transition at Immaculate Conception Parish.

"I want to provide my own personal assurance that the pastoral needs of the people of God are of utmost importance to me, and I will dedicate myself to making sure those needs are met to the best of my ability," he said.

Report suspected misconduct anonymously EthicsPoint accepts reports onlineArchdiocesan communications director Julie Wolf suggests that parishioners who are concerned about possible financial misconduct in their parishes file an anonymous report to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee through the EthicsPoint Web site.

Reporting financial misconduct:

In an effort to achieve goals of transparency and accountability, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has partnered with EthicsPoint, a third-party company, to administer an online service to report financial misconduct. Parishioners, employees, volunteers, vendors and other individuals can confidentially report concerns about possible financial misconduct. The site can be accessed at: <>

NFP-It's good for their marriages

Natural family planning helped Gina Loehr telegraph abnormalities in her health. The method helped her and her husband, Joe, to postpone pregnancy and then to achieve pregnancy as soon as they were ready. The couple, members of Shepherd of the Hills Parish, Eden, will speak at the Aug. 29 archdiocesan NFP conference. (Catholic Herald photo by Sam Arendt)
Married for 14 years and parents of five children, David and Grace Urbanski, members of St. Mary Parish, Elm Grove, believe that natural family planning enhances the sacramental aspect of their marriage. (Submitted photo courtesy David and Grace Urbanski)

NFP-practicing couples praise approach, success

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

ST. FRANCIS - It is no accident there is a three year span between David and Grace Urbanski's fourth and fifth children. They planned it that way.

"We had four children in four years," said Grace, an adjunct faculty member in the English department at Marquette University, and a professional vocalist and private voice teacher. "It was physically and emotionally exhausting."

While neither considered artificial contraception an option, they realized that the form of natural family planning that they were using was not working. Married 14 years, the couple, who belong to St. Mary Visitation Parish, Elm Grove, began with the sympto-thermal method taught by the Couple to Couple League. While effective for many, Grace's fertility cycle was erratic and she was unable to achieve an accurate morning basal body temperature reading. "And, if you are out of bed four times a night with babies and have to hit the ground running in the morning, there is no such thing as a stable temperature reading," she explained.

During her fourth pregnancy, Grace wondered if practicing natural family planning was worth it. She prayed in earnest that God would provide an alternative.

"After I delivered my fourth baby, I came to see how God answered my prayers in three ways," she said. "We had this wonderful new person to love. We discovered the ClearBlue fertility monitor and became involved in Marquette University's test program, and we became acquainted with other earthy, vibrant young couples who use NFP and who could support us."

The monitoring system detects ovulation by identifying the surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in a woman's urine. LH is always present in a woman's urine, but levels surge in the middle of her cycle, causing ovulation.

Neither Grace nor David, a Latin teacher at Brookfield Academy and convert to Catholicism, ever thought about bringing artificial contraception into their marriage. Both were captivated by the way Pope John Paul II expressed the gift of the human body and sexuality into modern theological understanding.

"The Catholic understanding of the universe is so good, integrated, true and beautiful. It was easy for us to realize that every act of married intercourse must be both unitive and procreative," Grace explained. "We could never fully be open to each other if we were not fully open to God's will for our life together, including our sex life. If I sincerely believe that God is the author of life, and if I know that the way humans generate life is through sex, then it follows that it is God himself who visits us in sex. Using contraception would be like inviting a dear friend to visit at our house and then barricading the doorway when he approaches."

Remaining open to life is not always easy for the parents of Clare, 13, Paul, 11, Ann, 10, Jack, 8, and Rose 5. Negative comments about the size of their family and criticism of their unwillingness to use artificial contraception is all too common - and hurtful.

"One friend argued that if God blessed scientists with the knowledge of how to use chemicals to disrupt the woman's fertility, then we can use the birth control pill gratefully," said Grace. "Well, I'll bet we can all think of scientific discoveries that threaten rather than enhance human dignity. I am grateful that "Humanae Vitae" encouraged scientists to find more accurate means of determining the fertile period of a woman's cycle. The ClearBlue monitor we now use is evidence of that kind of scientific progress which allows David and me to make free and knowledgeable decisions about what to do when I am fertile."

Bringing natural family planning methods into a sacramental marriage is different than artificial contraception in that there are no side effects, it doesn't interfere with a sexual act to render it sterile, and it depends on a couple's commitment to one another and their willingness to abstain from intercourse during fertile times if pregnancy needs to be postponed.

Author and speaker Gina Loehr studied the Creighton Method of natural family planning to monitor her irregular cycles and uncover underlying problems a year before meeting her husband Joe, whom she married in April 2007.

Under the guidance of a Creighton-trained physician, Gina learned to chart biological markers which let her know when she was naturally fertile or infertile, as well as telegraph abnormalities in her health. The Creighton Method helped her unravel mysteries in her own menstrual cycle.

"I isolated some hormonal imbalances through a combination of charting and blood work," she said. "So even before Joe and I were married, we were aware of some potential troubles I might have had with fertility, and were able to correct them through hormone therapy."

The method helped them to initially postpone pregnancy and then to achieve pregnancy as soon as they were ready. As parents of a 16-month-old daughter and another baby on the way, the Loehrs believe so completely in natural family planning that they decided to become a teaching couple in the Billings Method to determine ovulation. Additionally, they will speak at the Aug. 29 archdiocesan NFP conference sponsored by the Nazareth Project.

Located within the John Paul II Center for Lifelong Faith and Ministry Formation, the Nazareth Project prepares couples to live a Catholic sacramental marriage.

Lydia LoCoco, NFP coordinator and director of the Nazareth Project, is enthusiastic about the upcoming conference designed to educate average parishioners, parish staff, professionals and those contemplating marriage.

"It is an 'NFP for Dummies' conference, and that is exactly what I want it to feel like because I want everyone to feel welcome," said LoCoco. "This is good news and we want people to hear it."

The Loehrs view their marriage as a sacrament where they work hand-in-hand with God to live out their vocation.

"By practicing NFP, we respect God's plan for sex and marriage, which is only one of many ways we try to respect God's will in our married life. In our experience, when we follow his plan, he blesses us abundantly in return," said Gina.

The periods of sexual abstinence are not always easy for any couple in love, but for Joe, owner of Loehr Dairy, LLC and Gina, the time apart fosters appreciation for the many facets of sexual union. As practicing Catholics and members of Shepherd of the Hills Parish in Eden, following NFP is respectful of the dignity and meaning of sexual union and supported by the church.

"Some couples fear that NFP will negatively affect their sex life," said Gina. "On the contrary, NFP encourages a flourishing, fulfilling sex life. Instead of taking each other's sexual generosity for granted, or allowing sex to become a boring 'given,' or treating fertility like a scary disease, the periods of abstinence are just short enough to be totally manageable and just long enough to keep sex feeling new, year after year."

There are a few occasions where following NFP can be a bit disappointing admitted the Urbanskis. But with a bit of humor, ingenuity and a back-up plan, the romantic interlude can be salvaged.

"We can have a romantic weekend all planned, and then discover it falls right in the peak fertility time," said Grace. "That's not cool. However, it's fantastic to know my co-abstaining husband thinks I am worth the wait.Then we play Wii."

Marriage and Natural Family Planning

Archdiocesan NFP Conference

In conjunction with Columbia, St. Mary's Hospital Saturday, Aug. 29, 8 a.m to 3:30 p.m. St. Joseph Center

1501 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee

Conference is $15 and includes continental

breakfast. Download registration form: or contact Lydia LoCoco at (414) 758-2214 or e-mail

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like 

1 Corinthians 13

“Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”

May our dear Jesus bless you and may He open your hearts to his merciful love and forgiveness. For when it all comes to pass--it will be just you and Jesus. Hatred and resentment have no place in His Kingdom where ALL repentant sinners are welcome.

My mom and Uncle Don as kids

Just love this photo--it demonstrates the innocence and love of childhood simplicity

Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gift for my sister Amy Pieh

Well, I have been getting into quilting these days and found that I really enjoy the process. It is cathartic and a wonderful stress reliever--although at times, it can be stress inducing especially when I have to drag out the dreaded seam ripper!

Anyway, this quilt is for Amy for her birthday. I wanted to give her something from my heart and this is exactly what it is--it contains my prayers for her happiness and for God's blessing upon her life. Every stitch, every block and panel was a prayer for her--and gratitude to God for a friendship that only He could create.

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-44.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27.

All sins can be forgiven except.......

Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven: The Unpardonable Sin is to willfully speak against the work of the Spirit to regenerate our life (Matt. 12:33-37; Mark 12:28-30; Luke 12:10; Heb. 3:12-13; 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 1 John 5:16-17)! This means to reject Jesus’ offer of His saving grace, and refuse His salvation. It can also refer to refusing to repent--a sure sign a person is not saved (John 16:8; Rom. 10:9-10). A Christian whose faith is in Christ has no fear of this, as all of our sins will be forgiven (John 14:26; Acts 7:52; 2 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 1:17-18; 1 John 3:9)!

Proverbs 33-35

The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Catholic Central, A winner on, off football field

Burlington Catholic Central High School football coach Tom Aldrich poses at an early morning, weight and agility training session at the school in April. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni)

Coach Aldrich, Hilltoppers recognized for sportsmanship

By Karen Mahoney

Special to your Catholic Herald

BURLINGTON — Their record was 14-0 and they won the WIAA Division 7 Wisconsin state football championship. However, for Coach Tom Aldrich and his team at Catholic Central High School, football comes second to faith.

Coming second, however, is not a bad finish and putting football second is what caught the eye of Sports Faith International officials. The Chicago-based media initiative co-chaired by Chicago Bears co-owner Patrick McCaskey recognizes outstanding Catholic high school athletes and their coaches who share SFI’s vision of inspiring and transforming culture through the world of sports.

Recently Sports Faith International named Catholic Central Football the Division-A Team of the Year and inducted them into the 2009 Sports Faith International Hall of Fame. Teams from all over the nation were eligible to be nominated for the award.

The Sports Faith Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in February at the Chicago Bears Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., in conjunction with its Induction Ceremony for Professional Athletes.

According to Catholic Central principal Greg Groth, the award caught him by surprise, as he had quickly entered the team after he saw the application appear on his desk.

“I was just hoping for the $500 scholarship they offered, and when they won, I had no clue as to how big this award was,” he said. “Whoever nominates the team gets to attend a Chicago Bears awards dinner, and I couldn’t even go because my dad became ill and I had to fly out to care for him.”

Candidates were evaluated for excellence in the areas of athleticism, academics, community service and Catholic faith in action. Thirteen awards were presented including male and female athlete of the year, coach of the year and teams of the year.

More important than the team’s season success were the testimonies of players living out their faith, on and off the field of play admitted McCaskey.

“The team was cited for the players’ actions throughout the season, which exemplified a great desire and willingness to let the Light of Christ shine through their lives for all to see,” he said. “They have worked on Highway Clean up Days, and volunteered with the Burlington Historical Society. Some have taught religion to preschool children and have spoken at St. Mary Elementary School to help pass the torch of faith along.”

Citing him as the epitome of a Catholic school head coach, Groth is edified by the way Aldrich molds team members into Christian young men, who pray before and after games, attend Mass together, participate in service work in the community and give back to parishes.

“He has the demeanor, actions, expectations and presents himself as an example to others as to what it means to be a disciple of Christ,” said Groth. “When I tell people that we have only 78 boys in the entire school and 41 of them play on the varsity football team – they think that’s pretty neat.”

Admittedly surprised by receiving the award, it is no surprise that Coach Tom Aldrich gives credit to the team for winning it.

“It makes me realize once again how fortunate and blessed I am to be able to work with such great young people,” he said. “What I believe makes this team so special is their unselfishness and the love they developed for one another.”

It wasn’t always that way, Aldrich explained. At the beginning of the year, the team was like most others. While they discussed what it meant to be unselfish, it was hard for players to buy into it. They understood that they needed to play as a team, but most wanted it to be under their own terms.

“Initially it was a struggle for a lot of them,” he said. “Once they started making sacrifices for each other, this group really became genuine. By the end of the year, they were more excited for a teammate’s success than they were for their own. It was really neat to see and be a part of it.”

Senior Joe Spiegelhoff felt it; and he knows that he is a better man because of the guidance Coach Aldrich provided.

“The best part is the camaraderie,” he said. “Everyone gets along and we have a lot of fun at practices. He is a great guy and always teaches stuff off the field – his main goal is to make us better men, not just football players.”

Before each practice, team members complete responsibility worksheets, pray before and after a game and often attend Mass together. Aldrich’s actions have influenced Spiegelhoff so much that he chose him to be his confirmation sponsor.

“I will never forget him, I have a lot of respect for Coach Aldrich,” he said. “I know he has influenced many people because I always see alumni coming up to him at our games – I am definitely proud to be on his team.”

Senior, Max Vos noticed early on, that life values are more important to Aldrich than football or winning a game.

“He takes teaching his students to another level,” said Vos. “We really respect Coach Aldrich and our other teammates and not a lot of teams can say that.”

Regarded by many as a father figure, Vos said that teammates would frequently turn to Aldrich for advice and guidance.

“I have always looked up to him and (he) is one of the greatest guys I know,” he said. “I know I could go to him with problems. Because of him, I am definitely thinking about coaching – he lives that responsibility and enjoys teaching young men – and that has put the thought of coaching at any level in my mind.”

As the head of the Catholic Central football team family, Aldrich believes that faith is the glue that bonds them together, and that it is important to share and live that faith.

“We are not evangelists shouting from the rooftops, but it’s important that we are not afraid to act out our faith in whatever fashion we are comfortable with,” he said. “I firmly believe that the family that eats together, plays together and prays together, stays together. As a football team, we do all of these quite regularly. I find it amazing how powerful the simple act of prayer can be.”

Although Aldrich admitted that the team is not perfect and members frequently make mistakes, each one strives to demonstrate his faith by his actions each day.

“With God’s grace and forgiveness, we keep plugging along as we try to live a life that is pleasing to him,” he said. “I am truly inspired by my students. In a world that tempts and preys on our human weaknesses, these young people are amazing gifts. I learn something from them everyday that I am around them. Don’t ever underestimate our young – they will surprise you.”

Great time at Erin's going away party

Erin's going away party

We had such a wonderful time yesterday at Erin's going away party. Surrounded by great friends, God has surely blessed us with a wonderful spiritual family.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Erin's going away party

Well, the weekend is finally here, Erin's going away party.
Both sad and happy at the same time.
It's nice to be able to have a houseful of friends over to wish Erin good luck before he leaves for St. Lawrence, but sad because we are cognizant of how much we will miss him when he's gone.

Hard to believe that next week at this time, we will be traveling to the school and helping him to move into his dorm--and he is only 14! There are days we wrestle with wondering if this is the right avenue for him at such a young age and then other days we see the hand of God working so mightily in this young man, that we know the right decision was made.

So, as I make food for 50 or so guests, I offer it up to our Lord to bless.

He has guided us this far and will continue to guide us all throughout all the vicissitudes of our lives.

I am grateful to God for the wonderful spiritual support from our dear friends who have helped us with this decision.

Thanks be to God

Friday, August 14, 2009

Beware Air Conditioners that make noise when they are not running

It all began with a little squeaking sound.
Day and night, squeak squeak squeak--for weeks we heard this.
It was along one wall of our bedroom.
Blaise was thinking that somehow a mouse crawled up into our walls and was making noise.
Yesterday he turned on the Central air after hosing off some debris
Ka-chunk ka-chunk, ka-chunk
This morning we took the entire exterior housing apart and found to our horror, a huge mouse nest wedged in with the wiring of the air conditioner.
The bottom was fairly clear, a few cobwebs, a small wasp nest--but the compartment with the live and dead mice--stunk to high heaven. Words cannot express the overwhelming effect of the pungent odor of mice excrement.
Because Blaise is disabled, I grabbed the shop vac, a pair of goves, stuck my head down there and began to evacuate the nest.
Was a perfect plan until the hose clogged.
The vacuum bag ripped.
So, I had to shove sticks into the hose and pull out mouse parts, seeds, dead frogs, you name it and then decided to 'brilliantly' run the shop vac without the filter or the bag.
Not a good idea
yeah, I got everything cleaned up, but the entire vacuum housing and motor area was filled with debris, so I had to tear the shop vac apart, sterilize it, let the filters dry and plan to reassemble the thing as soon as I can recover from the earlier incident.
the odor is remarkable even hours later.
Finally, I poured a bunch of pine sol stuff into the a/c unit, along the ground near the unit and now am hoping that it will eventually go away.
By the way, found where they were getting in, so we squirted some of that expanding foam insulation into the hole--hopefully that did the trick.
Being a homeowner is often a thankless job.

Miracle Prayer by Fr. Peter Mary Rookey

Lord Jesus, I come before you just as I am. I am sorry for my sins, I repent of my sins. Please forgive me. In your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce satan, the evil spirits and all their works. I give you my entire self, Lord Jesus, now and forever. I invite you into my life, Jesus. I accept you as my Lord, God and Saviour. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul and spirit.

Come, Lord Jesus, cover me with your precious blood, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I love you, Lord Jesus. I praise you, Jesus. I thank you, Jesus. I shall follow you every day of my life. Amen.

Mary, my mother, Queen of Peace, St. Peregrine, the cancer saint, all you Angels and Saints, please help me. Amen.

Say this Prayer faithfully, no matter how you feel, when you come to the point where you sincerely mean each word, with all your heart, something good spiritually will happen to you. You will experience Jesus, and He will change your whole life in a very special way. You will see

Thursday, August 13, 2009

John 8

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Proverbs 24:17

Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy 69th Birthday Mom!

Mom, I cannot believe it has been so long since I lost you. I miss you so much and remember the goofy looking birthday cakes I used to bake for you. They were pretty ugly, but tasted ok--thank you for teaching me how to cook and bake; I love that we have those hobbies in common. You would be proud of your granddaughter Kelly, she is baking shaum tortes just like you and grandma used to make!

While there were ups and downs in our family, my memories of you are happy and joyful. You were a great mother who did the best you could with what you knew about raising a houseful of children--I am sorry for the times I took your sacrifices and your love for granted. It is my prayer that when I am gone, my children will one day have good feelings about me too.

I hope you are dancing with Dad and Jesus today.

I love you so much!

To my children

I hope I taught my children independence and the ability to define their own identity. I pray they know that their identify is what they make it. I don’t want them to tie their identity to their career — any of them. They should have full well-rounded lives full of interests, hobbies, friends, family and a career if they want it.

I want my children to understand the value of sacrifice , compromise and risk. My children should know that failure is not a sign of unworthiness, but a reason to persevere and a way to improve themselves. And that anything – family, friendship, career – worthwhile is worth working hard for.

I want my children to value their family. I’ve never heard someone regret not working more, but I have heard plenty regret not spending enough time with their family. I hope that I taught my children to not only value where they come from, but also to provide a bright future for our descendants. I want to send the message to my children that they are the most important thing that I’ll ever do. And that I was happy to make sacrifices for their future.

Life is short. I want my children to enjoy and value it and know that I will always love them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To my relatives who have loose tongues

Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it; it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.
George Eliot