JComm Enterprises LLC: Blog https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog en-us (C) JComm Enterprises LLC [email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Sun, 07 Nov 2021 02:09:00 GMT Sun, 07 Nov 2021 02:09:00 GMT https://www.jcommjoe.com/img/s/v-12/u258787319-o417799357-50.jpg JComm Enterprises LLC: Blog https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog 97 120 Vaccine Injured Issue Clarion Call for Acknowledgment, Help https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2021/11/vaccine-injured-issue-clarion-call-for-acknowledgment-help Heartbroken father whose only son died after the jab:
“My government lied to me. They said it was safe. They murdered my son.”

By Joseph M. Hanneman
It all started immediately after takeoff. The pilot knew something was seriously wrong. He started to develop tunnel vision and felt increasing pain and pressure in his head. It quickly became a life-threatening situation.

“Approximately two hours into my flying, I pulled my airplane up to turn around and felt an extreme burst of pressure in my ears,” said Cody Flint of Cleveland, Miss., who works as an agricultural pilot. “Instantly, I was nearly blacked out, dizzy, disoriented, nauseous and shaking uncontrollably. By the grace of God I was able to land my plane without incident, although I do not remember doing this.”

Flint was initially diagnosed with vertigo and a severe panic attack, but doctors later changed it after finding fistulas in the membranes of both ears, along with Eustachian tube dysfunction and elevated intracranial pressure due to brain swelling. Doctors blamed the damage on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that Flint received on Feb. 1, 2021. Flint said within 30 minutes of getting his first shot, he developed a “severe, stabbing headache” that morphed into a burning sensation in the back of his neck. Dangerous FlightAgricultural pilot Cody Flint nearly blacked out in the cockpit after getting a COVID-19 shot in February 2021.

“My condition continued to decline and my doctors told me only an adverse reaction to the vaccine or major head trauma could have caused this much spontaneous damage,” said Flint, 33, a pilot with more than 10,000 hours of flight time. “I’ve had six spinal taps over eight months to monitor my intracranial pressure and two surgeries eight weeks apart to repair the fistulas. I have missed nearly an entire year of my life and part of my children’s lives.”

Flint’s dramatic testimony was among the powerful stories shared Nov. 2 at a Washington D.C. hearing held by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the second such event he has hosted in the past six months. Vaccine injured people spoke in the Russell Senate Office Building alongside pharmaceutical experts, doctors, researchers and military personnel, all warning the American public that the heavily promoted COVID vaccines are causing significant injuries and deaths that are being ignored by the medical establishment and the federal government. Johnson criticized the wave of vaccine mandates being implemented in schools, government and private business as “pointless” and “utterly destructive.”

“Its a real shame that we’re having to hold this roundtable,” Sen. Johnson said. “Had government officials, the heads of our health care agencies, had they been doing their job, had they been honest and transparent with the American public, we wouldn’t be here today. But the very sad fact of the matter is they haven’t.” Johnson said he wanted to provide a platform for the vaccine injured to speak, since they have been ignored by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Johnson’s three-hour hearing included testimony from medical experts at Stanford University, UCLA, University of Maryland, McMaster University and MIT; as well as drug-safety advocates and a variety of victims of vaccine injuries. Injuries discussed included permanent paralysis, swelling of the heart muscle, transverse myelitis, brain swelling, nerve pain, autoimmune disease and chronic fatigue.

Flint said his post-vaccine ordeal has caused immense physical, financial and emotional suffering. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fly an airplane again. This vaccine has taken my career from me and the future I have worked so hard to build,” he said. “I have used all of my savings to pay medical bills and just to be able to survive. My family and I are on the verge of losing everything we have.”

Flint said since the federal government provided legal immunity for the manufacturers of the COVID vaccines, it is incumbent on the government to help the growing list of victims harmed and disabled by the jab. “We have been ignored and silenced. It is not right and it needs to stop now,” Flint said. “It is time for the federal government to do its part by acknowledging us and helping us. Does anyone really think it’s fair to make the vaccine injured wait years for help? I think we can all agree refusing or delaying the help we need is unconscionable. We urgently need this help.”  Giving Voice to the Vax InjuredU.S. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Wis., held a hearing in Washington D.C. to give a platform for those injured by COVID vaccines.

Senator Johnson said he invited top leadership from the FDA, CDC, NIH and numerous other federal agencies, as well as leaders from Pfizer, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to attend the hearing, but “none of them showed up.” Johnson criticized the health agencies for not supplying the kind of in-depth data that is common in Great Britain. “Of the people who have died from COVID in the UK with the Delta variant over the last seven and a half months, 63 percent have been fully vaccinated,” he said. “Over the last four weeks in the UK, 78 percent of those that have died with the Delta variant from COVID, 78 percent had been fully vaccinated.”

Johnson said given the vaccines’ inability to produce long-lasting immunity, and the fact vaccinated individuals can not only get COVID infection but can also pass the virus on to others, the suddenly popular vaccine mandates make no sense. Health agencies are also ignoring the value of natural immunity among the millions who have recovered from COVID, he said. “Why would we force a vaccine that’s not as effective as we all hoped, why would we force that on people who are naturally immune, where the science tells us those with natural immunity probably have better and more long lasting immunity than those fully vaxxed?” Johnson said.

The senator said he found plenty to be concerned about in the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), an early-warning database jointly run by the CDC and FDA. He said over the past quarter century, the VAERS database has logged, on average, 7,596 adverse events a year for the flu vaccine. “In 10 months with the COVID vaccine, we’re up to 837,595,” Johnson said. The flu vaccine has on average 78 deaths reported per year. “The updated figures today (for COVID) are 17,619. That is 225 times the number of deaths in just a ten-month period versus an annual figure for the flu vaccine. These vaccine injuries are real.”

Established in 1990, VAERS is a passive surveillance system that takes reports of injuries, side effects and deaths from doctors, health care facilities, vaccine manufacturers, state health officials, patients and the general public. Data in the system are not meant to prove cause and effect, but rather be a red flag for safety concerns that warrant more detailed study.

Grounding Army pilots due to vax injuries

Lieutenant Col. Theresa Long, a board-certified Army aerospace medicine specialist and a flight surgeon with the 1st Aviation Brigade, appeared at the hearing under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. Doctor Long said the Army retaliated against her when she reported concerns about vaccine injuries such as pericarditis among the pilots. “After I reported to my command my concerns that in one morning I had to ground three out of three pilots due to vaccine injuries, the next day my patients were cancelled, my charts were pulled for review and I was told I would not be seeing acute patients anymore,” she said.

Long said she saw five patients in clinic one day, two of whom complained of chest pain within days to weeks of receiving a COVID vaccine. They were diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane that encloses the heart. A third pilot reported chronic fatigue that left him feeling drunk.  Army Flight SurgeonU.S. Army Lt. Col. Theresa Long said the COVID-19 vaccine is a bigger threat to the military than the virus itself.

“Patients are entitled to a second opinion on their medical care,” said Long, who also has a master’s degree in public health. “What happens when bureaucrats mandate that there is no dissenting opinion? In the military, flight surgeons can only make recommendations as to if a pilot is fit to fly or should be grounded. Ultimately, it is the commander taking on the risk and makes the final call to accept or reject a flight surgeon’s recommendations.”

Long said service personnel at Fort Benning related being threatened, coerced and intimidated to get the vaccine, even before the FDA issued its approval letter for the Comirnaty vaccine in August. In May, she attended an Army senior medicine leadership course and had a chance to question some of the Army brass about the vaccines. “We only lost 12 active-duty soldiers to COVID, yet we’re going to risk the health of the entire fighting force on a vaccine we only have two months of safety data on?” she said. “The response was, ‘You’re damned right, colonel, and you’re going to get every soldier you can to take the vaccine so I can get enough data points to determine if the vaccine is safe.’ ”

“Our service members are national treasures. They have stared down bullets, been blown up by IEDs and bombs, they have endured thankless and protracted wars, missing the birth of their children,” she said. “They bore the burden, no matter the cost. They did so without respect to political party or narrative. These are warriors, not lab rats. They deserve the best medical care.”

Long said the federal vaccine mandate could have a major detrimental effect on military readiness if the Department of Defense drums the unvaccinated out of the service. “I believe the COVID vaccine is a greater threat to soldiers’ health and military readiness than the virus itself,” she said. “Over 200,000 service members have rejected the vaccine, yet the military is pressing forward without regard to the damage to the morale and readiness to process these soldiers out.”

Linda Wastila, a professor and the Parke-Davis Chair in geriatric pharmacotherapy at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, was part of a group of scientists, clinicians and patient advocates that filed a citizen petition in June with the FDA “to express our concerns about the rapid mass rollout of vaccines which were not yet approved.” The FDA denied the petition, she said.

“We still know nothing, absolutely nothing about long-term vaccine harms because the vaccines haven’t been out that long,” Wastila said. “Indeed, 20 months in, we barely understand immediate harms from the vaccines. How can we possibly provide informed consent without this information?”

Wastila said her group is not anti-vaccine, but does oppose mandated use of vaccines. Those who experienced serious adverse effects “were left high and dry by the FDA, CDC, the NIH and medical professionals,” she said. “…We are the people you haven’t heard from, and we have nothing, absolutely nothing to personally gain from being here. Indeed, we have everything to lose, including our jobs, our titles, our livelihoods. We don’t intend to go away until we see some real change.”

‘Life-altering reaction’ to COVID vaccine

Brianne Dressen, a Utah preschool teacher who took part in the AstraZeneca vaccine trials, said she suffered a “life-altering reaction” to the vaccine she received on Nov. 4, 2020. “I suffered a cascade of neurological symptoms that persisted for months,” she said. “And while my life has improved, I still feel like I’m being electrocuted twenty-four seven.”

Dressen said she kept the symptoms and her story to herself for months before discovering that the side effects were more widespread than she imagined. “I thought that this was an isolated incident,” she said. “But in the spring I started finding more and more like me and before we knew it there were thousands of us, all of us unable to receive medical care, recognition, either from the drug companies, the CDC, the FDA. We all suffered the same constellation of symptoms, which is very strange.”

She founded a group called React19.org to promote research and better understanding of vaccine adverse events and the long-term effects of severe COVID infection. The group approached the FDA and CDC without success, she said, so they reached out to other state and federal officials.

“We then reached out to the media, being repeatedly told that we can’t make the vaccines look bad,” Dressen said. “We reached out to our major health organizations like the AMA, we reached out to our state health boards, our state health departments — all of them persisting in the narrative that if this was really happening, the CDC and the FDA would have said so. We are completely on our own. All we have is each other.”

A father’s heartbreak: ‘They murdered my son’

Some of the most heart-rending testimony came from Ernest Ramirez Sr. of Edinburg, Texas, whose only son collapsed and died of myocarditis in April after taking the Pfizer vaccine. Ramirez struggled to hold back tears as he described his love for his son, Ernesto Ramirez Jr., 16, and how the boy was planning a career in the Air Force.  A Father's GriefAn emotional Ernest Ramirez Sr. told of losing his only son to the Pfizer vaccine.

“We got the Pfizer vaccine because I thought it was to protect him. I thought it was the right thing to do,” Ramirez said. “It was like playing Russian roulette. My government lied to me. They said it was safe. Now I go home to an empty house.”

Ramirez described how he and his son loved to go fishing and camping together, how he coached Little League baseball for seven years because his son loved the sport so much. “We were always together. He was my best friend. He always told me it was me and you against the world.” Ramirez said the federal government knew of the risk of heart problems with the vaccines and should have made that information widely available to parents much sooner.

“What they did to my son, they knew what was happening,” he said. “I consider that murder. …Why wasn’t this information released until October first this year? If we would have known this, my son would be here with me. So I figure, like I said, they murdered my son.”

Ernesto Jr.’s birthday is next week. “You know where I’m going to celebrate his birthday at?” Ramirez asked, holding up a photo of his son in a casket. He knows that day, and the coming holidays, will be hard. “Thanksgiving I’m going to spend at the cemetery. Christmas at that cemetery,” he said. “They need to quit pushing this on our children. I lost mine. You all need to protect yours.”
Ramirez said despite the government’s claims to the contrary, the vaccines are not worth the risk for children. “It wasn’t worth the risk to me,” he said. “My son meant the world to me. They can never give him back to me. That’s all I want is my son back. So don’t make the mistake I did. I did it because I thought it was the correct thing to do. It wasn’t. It was not. I’ve always said I love the hell out of my country, but I don’t trust my government anymore.”

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) COVID-19 injury Sen. Ron Johnson vaccine https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2021/11/vaccine-injured-issue-clarion-call-for-acknowledgment-help Sun, 07 Nov 2021 02:08:55 GMT
‘Make Everything Count for Eternity’ https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2021/1/-make-everything-count-for-eternity Fr. F.X. Lasance’s 6 decades of priesthood
yielded a treasury of prayer books



By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

St. Joseph Calasanctius, founder of the Piarist order and the patron saint of Catholic schools, once wrote, “All suffering is slight to gain Heaven.” St. Agapitus, a third-century martyr who was tortured with hot coals and beheaded, told his captors: “What better fortune could possibly befall me than to lose my head here, to have it crowned hereafter in Heaven?”

Father Francis X. Lasance understood these great Catholic men and others across the millennia who have suffered for the faith. He cited them as examples worthy of emulation. “All the saints have suffered with humility, patience and love,” Lasance wrote. "The way of the cross is the road to Heaven.”

Lasance knew suffering. For most of his adult life, the Cincinnati priest endured debilitating headaches that restricted him to a sick bed and sent him to Europe in search of relief. This kind of untreatable chronic pain might have driven another person mad, but Fr. Lasance persevered and grew in holiness. Through decades of constant pain, he kept the example of the saints before him; men like St. Alphonse Liguori, the great Doctor of the Church. “Let us be convinced that in this vale of tears,” Liguori wrote, “true peace of heart can not be found except by him who endures and lovingly embraces sufferings to please Almighty God.”

It is difficult to quantify how much Fr. Lasance suffered across more than 63 years of priesthood. He described the headaches as torture. His irritated nerves caused immense physical pain. Even a slight draft could bring agony, so he kept the windows closed in church, even in the heat of summer. There was no self-pity in him, though, and he quietly carried this cross on his slight 5 foot 8 inch frame. He rarely spoke of his travails, except when asked by his archbishop and a few close friends.  A Rare PhotoFather F.X. Lasance in his study at “The Hermitage” at Our Lady’s Summit in Cincinnati.

Out of such struggles came great spiritual riches. The fruit of Lasance’s suffering came through his writing — a steady stream of more than 40 devotional books and missals across five decades that, quite literally, taught much of the world how to pray. Seventy-five years after his death, a growing collection of Fr. Lasance books is in print once more — a resplendent treasury of the Catholic faith waiting for new generations to discover.  

“By suffering we become like to Christ and His Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows,” Lasance wrote in My Prayer-Book, one of his most popular titles. “Suffering was the lot of all of the saints. Suffering is very meritorious. Suffering intensifies our love of God. Suffering has a refining influence upon our character. Suffering tends to free us from selfish motives and purifies our aspirations.” Every trial in life, he wrote, “can be turned into a blessing by the will of the Christian sufferer.”

Despite his infirmities, Fr. Lasance maintained a positive, upbeat  attitude. He promoted virtues like patience, humility and kindness. He wrote in poetic tones of the need to focus on happiness. Perhaps his most beloved work, My Prayer-Book, “aims to point out the brighter side of life — the silver lining to the cloud o’erhead — the sunshine that follows the rain — the sweet little wildflowers that grow by the wayside amid thorns and briers,” he wrote in the introduction.  

“All desire it, but many do not attain to it because they seek it where it cannot be found,” Lasance wrote. “Seek happiness in goodness, in virtue, in loving God; in loving your neighbor, in doing good for others for the love of Jesus Christ — that is they key-note, the dominant note of this book.” 

Father Lasance said his prayer books aim to “lay stress upon the advantages of being sweet-spirited and sunny-tempered, of diffusing around us an atmosphere of good cheer.” Quoting St. Francis de Sales, Lasance wrote, “he who believes in infinite Providence, which extends even to the lowest worm, must expect good from all that happens to him.”

Because God is good, Lasance wrote, “He loves us as a Father and our sorrows are blessings in disguise.”

A Son of Cincinnati

Francis Xavier Lasance was born on Jan. 24, 1860, the third son of August Lasance and the former Wilhelmina Detert. His father — a merchant tailor — emigrated from Germany, arriving in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve 1847. The Lasance family tree has a long history in the villages of Lower Saxony near the German border with the Netherlands. August and Wilhelmina were married in 1854. Little Frank was just 4 years old when his mother died in September 1864. His sister Lizzie was 2 months old. The family was then raised by his father and stepmother, Anna Maria.  

Faith life in the Lasance family centered around the parish of St. Mary’s, a beautiful cathedral-like church in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (the parish is now known as Old St. Mary’s). Francis and his three siblings attended St. Mary’s School, just a few blocks east of the family home on Grant Street. In 1873, he began secondary studies at St. Xavier High School. Francis distinguished himself in the study of Latin and Christian doctrine. 

After graduating in 1876, Lasance enrolled at St. Xavier College, garnering honors in Latin, Greek, Precepts and Original Composition. After earning his degree in June 1880, he began study for the priesthood at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. He was ordained on May 24, 1883 by Coadjutator Bishop (later archbishop) William Henry Elder at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral. Father Lasance said his first Mass on May 27 at St. Mary’s Church.  Some Lasance FavoritesFather Lasance’s The New Roman Missal (1937), My Prayer Book (1908) and Our 
Lady Book (1924).

Although he would spend the twilight of his priesthood in seclusion, Fr. Lasance began ministry as a parish priest in Kenton, Reading, Dayton, Lebanon and Monroe, Ohio. His work was often hampered by poor health that forced him to take rest breaks. On Christmas Eve 1889, The Dayton Herald noted that Fr. Lasance had been ill, but said he “has entirely recovered and will be able to enjoy Christmas in his accustomed good health.” Not for long. In early 1890, his doctors recommended a radical change in scenery. With a $700 gift from parishioners, Fr. Lasance boarded the steamer City of Berlin just after Easter, bound for Europe with five other priests from the Midwest.

Perhaps the sea air on the 3,040-mile voyage was good for the young priest’s headaches, but the trip was perilous. Frequent gales rocked the ship, “tossed about like a toy boat,” sending passengers tumbling. Seasickness was an unwelcome companion. “I paid my tribute to Neptune, the grey old god of the sea, before night had enveloped our ship in darkness,” Lasance wrote weeks later. “I was indeed very sick during the first day and night.” Displaying his wit and skill with the pen, Lasance wrote, “For five days, nearly all the passengers were spitting and yawning and belching and vomiting — and the faces of those who were sick were pale and indicative of the greatest misery.”  

Father Lasance traveled to Dover, England; Ireland, France, Switzerland, and of course Rome, the eternal city. He spent several days at Lourdes, visiting the birthplace of St. Bernadette Soubirous and the famous grotto at Massabielle where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1858.  “The grotto, which I visited frequently, is full of crutches and surgical instruments, used by cripples and blind and sick people,” he wrote. “The former owners were miraculously cured at Lourdes.”

It is a distinct possibility that Fr. Lasance did not ask for a cure at Lourdes, although he was moved by the impact the shrine had on so many lives. “Here the sick are healed, the weak grow strong, tepid souls are made fervent and sinners become saints,” he wrote. His ailments continued to plague him after his return to Ohio in August 1890. 

It became apparent that his health would keep him from a return to parish ministry. He resigned as assistant pastor of Dayton’s Emmanuel Church in September 1890. He was named chaplain for St. Francis Hospital in Cincinnati, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a Belgian missionary order located in the East Walnut Hills section of the city.  

The sisters were building an all-girls school, Notre Dame Academy. Lasance took up residence on the grounds of the new convent at Our Lady’s Summit in April 1891. He lived in a small renovated cottage nicknamed “The Hermitage,” located near the front entrance to the grounds. In 1903, he donated a life-size crucifix by Raffl of Paris that was placed above the altar in the convent’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. As spiritual director for Cincinnati’s Tabernacle Society, he helped raise funds so hundreds of poor churches could be properly outfitted with liturgical vestments, altar linens, benediction veils, sacred art and other items for divine worship.

The headaches and related infirmities never left him. Father Lasance became ill while at the Cincinnati cathedral on June 17, 1896, forcing him to retreat home in his buggy. His horse slipped on the streetcar rails at Fifth and Main streets, breaking the buggy shaft and flinging Fr. Lasance into the air. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fr. Lasance, “with rare presence of mind, managed to keep his feet. Looking around him he saw that an electric car had just been stopped within a few feet of him and then (he) realized how fortunate an escape from death he had.”

Father Lasance wrote occasional essays for The Catholic Telegraph, a weekly newspaper. He was inspired to write one of his longest pieces while riding a Walnut Hills cable car in the spring of 1894. He listened to the man seated next to him rail against the clergy for not doing enough from the pulpit to stem drunkenness and intemperance. After that animated discussion, Fr. Lasance put his pen to the subject and crafted a journalistic stemwinder that took up much of the front page of the Telegraph on June 14, 1894. In it, he condemned everything from the location of saloons near Catholic churches to the number of Catholics who operate such establishments.  

Father Lasance called the saloon “The Devil’s Chapel of Ease” and implored civil authorities to strictly enforce the blue laws forbidding drinking establishments to open on Sundays. He spoke of dissuading the “standing army” of men in the church vestibule who spit tobacco juice on the floor and ducked out of Mass to find a tavern with an open back door. He bemoaned witnessing “on a Sunday morning, during High Mass, Catholic men entering and emerging from the back door of a saloon, conveniently situated on the corner opposite the Catholic Church. What a crying shame and disgrace it is to see men leaving the church just before the sermon to satisfy their vile craving for liquor.”

Author & Editor

Father Lasance’s new role at the Notre Dame convent set the stage for his long publishing career. In 1897, he began his collaboration with the publisher Benziger Brothers with introduction of Manual of the Holy Eucharist. A year later he published Visits to Jesus in the Tabernacle, a 640-page devotional that sold for $1.25. The Catholic Union and Times called it “the most important, most complete and most practical book on the Blessed Sacrament that has yet appeared in English.” 

Over the next decade, Lasance published the globally popular My Prayer-Book, The Catholic Girl’s Guide, The Young Man’s Guide and Prayer Book for Religious. The beautifully bound books had leather covers, red or gilded page edges, rounded page corners and beautiful illustrations. They were comprehensive, with topical reflections, counsels, a wide range of prayers and devotions, the Order of the Mass, Vespers and more. He never took royalties from the millions of books sold around the world, and asked that resources be used to provide copies to the poor.

“Prayer is truly a conversation between God and the soul; in prayer we address ourselves to God and He, our Heavenly Father, in His love and kindness speaks to us,” Lasance wrote in With God. “In prayer the soul breathes the atmosphere of paradise and by its union with God and its elevation to heavenly contemplation, it enjoys a foretaste of the happiness of the saints in the celestial Eden.” Lasance IllustratedFrom The Blessed Sacrament Book (1913): O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

In 1924, Fr. Lasance retired as a chaplain to the Notre Dame nuns and took up residence at St. Francis Hospital on Cincinnati’s west side. Founded by the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, the hospital served the indigent, elderly and incurably ill. If he wasn’t saying Mass or accepting a visitor, Fr. Lasance could usually be found in his room, kneeling in prayer or working on one of his books. He was always neatly dressed in his cassock and biretta, despite his constant headaches. He often slept in an upright chair in his study as a form of mortification.

Pope Pius XI praised Fr. Lasance for his devotional books in May 1927 after learning from Cincinnati Archbishop John T. McNicholas about Lasance’s persistent physical suffering. “The most reverend Archbishop of Cincinnati has informed the Holy Father of your modesty, which prompts you to conceal your intellectual activities, and of your great zeal for souls manifested for many years notwithstanding your poor health,” wrote Pietro Cardinal Gasparri, papal secretary of state, at the Holy Father’s direction. 

“His Holiness wishes that these volumes, which assuredly will promote the spiritual life, may receive an ever-increasing welcome in all the Christian families of your great country,” Pius XI’s letter read. Those words are still printed on the front fly leaf of many of Fr. Lasance’s books. The Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessing on Fr. Lasance. At Lasance’s insistence, there was no public recognition of the honor, only a private blessing delivered by the Rev. Louis A. Tieman of Sacred Heart Church. Father Lasance knelt for the blessing. He wept at hearing the Pope’s words, but even in his emotion he deflected attention from himself. “My books, my books, my books,” he said through his tears. Reflecting on the meeting, Fr. Tieman described Lasance as “a real, real saint.”

A Faithful Correspondent

Well into the 1940s, Fr. Lasance sat at a walnut roll-top desk in his tiny study, writing, compiling, editing and updating his books. At night he would typically forego his bed and doze in his favorite chair. He always left the floor lamp behind the chair lit. This quiet, peaceful environment was fertile soil for his work.  Papal HonorsTop: His Holiness Pius XI; Rev. Louis A. Tieman

In 1937, he completed his magnum opus, The New Roman Missal in Latin and English. It was a liturgical publishing tour de force, with 1,852 pages covering the Church calendar, the Holy Mass, prayers, the saints and many devotions. The first printing carried the imprimatur of Patrick Cardinal Hayes, archbishop of New York. More than 80 years later, the “Lasance Missal” remains the standard by which Mass guides are judged.

In his twilight years, Fr. Lasance carried on correspondence with the daughter of his cousin, Herman. He provided Margaret Mary Lasance with kind and patient spiritual guidance. His favorite advice was offered in Latin, a quote from St. Aloysius Gonzaga: 

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem?”

Loosely translated this means, “What does this matter in the light of eternity?” In other words, keep your priorities straight. Maintain your focus on Christ and the crown of righteousness that awaits in Heaven. 

After Fr. Lasance’s death, Margaret wrote a tribute entitled “Sweet Remembrance.” She could have just as easily borrowed a title from one of his books, With Saints and Sages. The counsels in his letters were just as valuable as those in his books. “Cling to your holy faith,” he wrote to Margaret in January 1939, “suffer with patience and perfect resignation to the will of God, and make everything count for eternity.”  

Through their letters and Margaret’s visits, we get rare insight into the suffering the priest endured for more than six decades. “I do not think that I shall ever get rid of these severe attacks of neuritis, which come in the night,” he wrote in August 1938. “Nor of the pain (daily pain) in the head caused by neuralgia. Thanks be to God for all his gifts, for suffering, too, by the patient endurance of which we can achieve our sanctification and salvation.” His list of ailments grew as he entered his eighth decade. “My most severe physical trouble now is the condition of my heart and consequent edema (dropsy),” he wrote in September 1940. “Neuritis causes me excruciating pain.” 

His steps were slowed by swollen legs that Margaret said reminded her of beer kegs. During the daily 7 a.m. Mass, Fr. Lasance struggled to elevate the host and chalice at the consecration. The altar boys were used to Father leaning on them as he gingerly stepped down from the altar. In 1945, he fractured his right wrist and fought off a painful infection in his shoulder and arm. “It’s not easy to accept this as an occasion of merit, but Father did,” Margaret wrote. By December 1946, he stopped celebrating Mass.

On December 10, Fr. Lasance suffered a bad fall. He lost consciousness until the evening of December 11. He awoke to find Rev. Charles W. Kuenle of St. Monica’s Cathedral standing over his bed. “I suppose I should be anointed,” he said. Father Kuenle had already administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and was just about to give him viaticum. It was 8:00 p.m. Father Lasance answered all of the prayers as Fr. Kuenle read them. He then whispered his last earthly words — fittingly a prayer included in many of his books:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.” •

St. Francis Hospital was Fr. Lasance’s home from 1924 until his death in December 1946.

Retailers that carry newly printed Fr. Lasance devotional books and missals:


[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Catholic Church Cincinnati Father Lasance Rev. Francis X. Lasance https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2021/1/-make-everything-count-for-eternity Sat, 23 Jan 2021 20:45:00 GMT
Regret, Mercy and Healing https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/regret-mercy-and-healing Slovakian artist Martin Hudáček’s newest statue tells the abortion story through mother, father and the lost child

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — Pain. Horror. Grief. Regret. Mercy. Forgiveness. Healing.

The sculpture just installed at Resurrection Cemetery in the Diocese of Madison delivers emotional impact on the many losses created by children killed by abortion. There is the mother, slumped down in almost inconsolable grief. The lost child, appearing as a 4-year-old girl, reaches out. Perhaps the biggest impact is created by the father, so often left out of the abortion discussion. The abject horror shown on his face at seeing the daughter who was never born has the power to take one’s breath away.

Pro-Life SculptureThe new work by Slovakian sculptor Martin Hudáček shows the pain of abortion through the father and mother. It was recently installed at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison, Wis. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman) “The donors of this statue were really moved by it because it had the man there as well,” said Damian Lenshek, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Madison. “For anybody who’s attracted to the statue and the meaning of the statue, this is going to be a meaningful place for them.” The donors wished to remain anonymous, he said. 

Created by internationally known Slovakian sculptor Martin Hudáček, “The Memorial of Unborn Children II” tells many stories through its three characters. It is the followup to an earlier Hudáček work that received widespread acclaim — a statue of a grieving mother with her unborn child reaching out in mercy and forgiveness. The new sculpture adds the father into the abortion story, a detail being hailed by pro-life advocates.

“I like the connection between the pro-life movement and the cemetery. I think cemeteries are very pro life,” said Lenshek, who oversaw installation of the statue and the granite cremation columbarium on which it rests. “We picked this spot because it’s along Speedway (Road). We wanted people to be able to see it as they drove by. We also wanted it to be a place where people could come to pray and meditate.”

In recent weeks, a crane was brought in to set the 10,000 pounds of black granite for the columbarium, which will hold the cremated remains of the faithful in small compartments called niches. The crane then set the life-size sculpture of the family that never was. A brick terrace was installed around the foundation. Extensive landscaping is planned, along with two granite benches for visitors. Memorial bricks will be sold for anyone wanting to memorialize a loved one.  Lift and SetA crane was used to lower the Martin Hudáček statue onto a new columbarium at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison, Wis. (Photo courtesy Diocese of Madison)

“The Memorial of Unborn Children II” is an outgrowth of the original concept, created for a burial site in Wroclaw, Poland. “People from Poland came to me and we discussed the options to show that miscarried children and aborted children are not missed only by their mothers, but by the fathers, too,” Hudáček told Catholic World Report. “The statue shows that abortion affects all of society. We should help both mother and father. The story must be told that both are hurt by the loss of their child.”

The entire project took about three years, Hudáček said, including one year to create the final sculpture design. After the initial statue was dedicated in Poland, he created life-size replicas now on display in Svidnik, Slovakia, and the new one at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison.

The statue is intended to foster a culture of life. “The message is that the loss of the child affects the culture of the family. It has a wide-ranging effect,” Hudáček said.  “Let us consider unborn children as children. Protect them from the prenatal stage. They are the most vulnerable. Thank God some politics are aware of this and take a responsible approach to this topic.”

Pro-life leaders across the United States hailed Hudáček’s work for its inclusion of the father and its overall emotional impact.

“Today I took the time to really look at the photos of the man in this beautiful statue. The look on his face spoke to me, that he did not know about his aborted child,” said Dan Miller, state director of Pro Life Wisconsin. “It seems to me that his gaze is not directed to his daughter’s eyes, but to her hands. It speaks to his shame in the whole situation. The mother has her head buried in her hand and hair, sobbing. The statue evokes so much emotion and speaks perfectly to the loss that abortion truly is. It is truly a masterpiece, but one I wish never had to come to be.”

Vicki Thorn, founder of the Project Rachel healing apostolate and executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing, said the inclusion of the father is significant. “It’s a statement that doesn’t get made often enough, because in my opinion from all the years of doing the work I do, the fathers still get forgotten,” she said. “They’re not sure where to turn because they don’t know, what are they supposed to do?”

“It’s all about the woman. But even in terms of biology, it’s not,” Thorn said. “Fathers have biological changes before the mom even knows she’s pregnant, by scent. He’s in a dance with her in a very real way. We know men undergo physiological changes during the pregnancy. Everybody sort of discards that because we’re an abortion culture. It’s all about the woman, but he’s in the dance. We just don’t have that kind of expression of the equal pain.”

Thorn said the statue has great potential to make a positive difference. “My hope is it gives them permission to grieve. But the problem is, so often after an abortion the couple breaks up. So he’s no longer with her and he feels really disenfranchised when the question of what happened comes up.” As for the landscaped garden planned for the area around that statue, she said, “It could be a healing place, because it is an affirmation both to a woman and a man that this loss was significant.”  ReflectionSculptor Martin Hudáček in his studio in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, looking at his original abortion-related statue. (YouTube/screen capture) Kevin Burke, co-founder of the post-abortion-healing apostolate Rachel’s Vineyard and author of Tears of the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion, said men often experience confusion, conflict, shame and grief about their role in the death of their child. “This touches upon their natural role as protector and provider of their offspring – abortion attacks this aspect of a man’s identity, and leaves him emotionally and spiritually wounded as a man, and as father,” Burke said.

The Hudáček sculpture captures the anguish of men who were powerless to prevent their child’s death, Burke said, but also offers hope for healing when he was part of the decision to abort the baby. “I really appreciate the artist having both parents expressing their regret and sorrow, and reaching out to the child,” he said. “The father embraces the mother, offering her comfort. This man who may have led her to make this tragic decision, now offers support and comes together in repentance, and in their shared desire to reconnect in love with their child.”

When men wounded by abortion seek healing, their repentance and grief can help in the healing of the mothers of aborted children, said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “Many think of healing after abortion as the reconciliation of mother and child, and that, of course, is a key element of it. But this statue brings to the foreground a fuller picture of the healing that is needed, as mother, father, and child heal together,” Pavone said. “And indeed, it also opens our minds to the awareness that multiple other people are involved too: grandparents, siblings, other family members, friends, and the abortionist and his or her staff. Everyone is wounded together by every abortion, and everyone needs to heal together.”

Pavone, who serves as pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, said more men are coming forward who realize how abortion has devastated them. “Those who try to claim that abortion is just a ‘woman’s issue’ and that men have nothing to say about it, and that the law should not allow them to do anything about it, deeply misunderstand the dynamics of abortion,” he said. “Men cannot have an abortion procedure on their bodies, but they do commit the sin of abortion in their souls. They commit it by choosing it, consenting to it, and sometimes forcing it. On the other hand, men also suffer because they tried to prevent an abortion but could not, or did not even know of the pregnancy until the abortion was over.”  Shock and RegretThe father’s expression reveals shock and grief at seeing an image of his aborted child, now age 4, who reaches out in mercy. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

Dan Zeidler, president of Family Life Council Inc., said the sculpture has an uplifting messages of hope and healing from abortion, but also for those who lost a child to miscarriage or had a child die early in life. (Zeidler and Hudáček presented a replica of the original statue to the Holy Father in Rome in October 2015.)

“I am so impacted by this second sculpture, which also incorporates the figure of the father who has lost a child,” Zeidler said. “It is so powerful. The strong emotion it conveys reflects, I think, the suffering of the father who is reaching out to connect with his lost child and thru this contact, healing and comfort will hopefully come. And the way he comforts and supports the grieving mother is so real.”

“I hope the sculpture will help those on their healing journey, and that it will bring awareness to the wider community of the devastation that the loss of a child brings to a family and the need to treasure all children, born and unborn,” Zeidler said. “Ultimately, I think it communicates hope.”

Bradley Mattes, co-founder of the Men and Abortion Network (MAN), said men often experience anger, grief, shame, guilt and remorse over the abortion death of their child. Post-abortion stress can cause insomnia, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and suicidal tendencies. Research shows at least 5.5 million men in the United States are “walking wounded” fathers, deeply affected by abortion, he said.

“Men are programmed by God to provide and protect their offspring. This is one of the reasons why men are affected,” Mattes said. “I see the man in the statue reaching out to his aborted daughter in a futile attempt to protect her.” Mattes said he is glad to see “this memorial to the unborn includes the grief and shame of both the mother and the father, often the silent victim of abortion.” 

Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison will bless and dedicate the statue and the columbarium on Nov. 2, All Souls Day. •

See the original at Catholic World Report

Pro-Life SculptureThe new Martin Hudáček sculpture is visible to traffic on busy roads on the west side of Madison, Wis.

Child Who Was Never BornSlovakian sculptor Martin Hudáček created his first pro-life statue, “Memorial of Unborn Children,” in 2010. (Photo courtesy Martin Hudáček)

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) abortion Catholic Diocese of Madison Martin Hudáček Pro-Life sculpture Slovakia Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/regret-mercy-and-healing Wed, 28 Oct 2020 15:45:00 GMT
Our Lady’s Care for Lives Broken by Sex Trafficking https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/our-lady-s-care-for-broken-lives Children of the Immaculate HeartGrace Williams (at left) founded Children of the Immaculate Heart in San Diego as a rescue home to treat girls victimized by sex trafficking. The apostolate overcame hostility and bias from the State of California and finally secured an operating license in June 2020. (Photos: Children of the Immaculate Heart)

Catholic Rescue Home for Sex-Trafficked Children 
Accepts First Residents After Fighting License Bias

By Joseph Hanneman
Catholic World Report

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Grace Williams’ five-year-long drive to open a home for victims of child sex trafficking is a good argument for the reality — and beauty — of Divine Providence. 

Doing battle with a hostile California state bureaucracy with open disdain for the Catholic faith, Williams was undeterred. Years of government licensing delays cost her apostolate a colossal $800,000, but she kept the faith. When government regulators told her she needed to cut Jesus out of her group’s mission statement or there would be no license, she sued the state of California, with backing from the St. Thomas More Society and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund.

So when news finally came in September that Children of the Immaculate Heart — her rescue apostolate for girls victimized by sex traffickers — would get its first residents, Williams did the only thing she could think of.

She danced. 

Williams and her colleague, counselor Lyss de la Torre, cut a gleeful rug outside her office. It was a celebration long in the making. “We were dancing in the hallway after our first (resident) interview,” Williams said. “We were pretty happy.”

The show of joy is understandable. For much of the past five years, it seemed the doors might never open to the vulnerable residents the home was designed to serve. The state government agency tasked with helping teenage victims of sex trafficking made it all but impossible for Children of the Immaculate Heart (CIH) to obtain a license. 

“Government hostility towards people of faith is unfortunately much more common in California than many other states,” said Paul M. Jonna, a partner with LiMandri & Jonna LLP, the law firm that represented CIH in the Superior Court of the State of California. “Still, the level of hostility here was particularly concerning – especially considering that the state was initially willing to leave sex-trafficked girls on the streets rather than with a Catholic organization.”

The November 2019 lawsuit led to court mediation. The dispute ended with the issuance of a provisional license for the girls home, known as The Refuge. The lawsuit accused the state of unconstitutional bias against Catholic beliefs, and targeting Children of the Immaculate Heart with repeated delays and increased scrutiny due to the Catholic teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexual acts. The state denied wrongdoing, but quickly asked for mediation after the suit was filed.

“It’s a total testament to God’s providence,” Williams said. “Now that this is going and this is what we all signed up for and we’re like, ‘Yay, our real job is back,’ I look back and I can’t believe we really did all that. That was crazy.”

Jonna was equally thrilled. “We give glory to God that CIH got a license,” Jonna said. “We were blessed to fight for CIH and the rights of the minor children who desperately needed their services.”   Calm Port in a StormChildren of the Immaculate Heart leased a home in San Diego County in early 2017, but was unable to accept sex-trafficking victims in its treatment program until 2020 due to state government delays. (Photo: Children of the Immaculate Heart)

The Refuge is a six-bed residential treatment center for girls aged 12-17 victimized by sex trafficking. The home is named for Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, a French religious order founded in 1641 by St. John Eudes to care for abandoned women trying to escape lives of prostitution.  

Minor victims are recruited or coerced by traffickers into committing commercial sex acts. Most have troubled backgrounds, with a history of being abused or suffering other trauma. It’s a dangerous and toxic life, often lived under the threat or use of violence, or controlled by manipulation, intimidation and the use of addictive drugs. The Refuge provides these girls a safe haven, along with education, treatment for addictions, counseling and life-skills training. Stays last up to six months. The goal is to help the girls heal and set them on a new path in life.

The first resident was welcomed at The Refuge on Sept. 10, followed the next day by a second girl. More are expected. The need is great, with as many as 8,000 adult and juvenile trafficking victims each year in San Diego County. There are only 12 treatment beds in the county — and 20 beds statewide — specifically designated for commercially sexually exploited children.

“It’s totally needed. The population is so under-served,” Williams said in an interview with Catholic World Report. “As soon as we got our license, I had several of my priest friends from across the country call me and say, ‘Hey, you should open your next one here,’ in Florida or Pennsylvania or wherever.”

‘A Problem With That Religious Thing’

Williams opened St. Bakhita’s Adult Program for victims of sex trafficking in 2013, but always intended to create a treatment center dedicated to children. She started the license process for Children of the Immaculate Heart in August 2015 by attending a Department of Social Services orientation session in San Diego. After seven months of fund-raising, CIH hired a full-time consultant to help it navigate the licensing process. In January 2017, a home for The Refuge was leased in San Diego County.

In September 2017, CIH submitted its operation plan to a multi-agency review panel. The review took nine months. The committee approved The Refuge’s treatment program and recommended the California Department of Social Services issue a license to Children of the Immaculate Heart. The department was required to notify CIH of its evaluation within 90 days, but by early October 2018, there was still no word. 

A Licensing Division administrator called Williams and told her the state would do a walk-through inspection and then issue a license by end of the month, according to the CIH lawsuit. That never happened, and there was no response in October, November, December or January. In February 2019, the licensing official called CIH with eight pages of deficiencies in The Refuge’s program statement.  Legal MuscleAttorney Paul M. Jonna represented Children of the Immaculate Heart in its lawsuit against the California Department of Social Services. The level of hostility from the state “was particularly concerning,” he said. His work was backed by the St. Thomas More Society and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. (Photo: Children of the Immaculate Heart)

The state wanted assurances that CIH would ensure residents get transportation to off-site, homosexual-affirming activities and programs. It asked for a procedure for dispensing “gender reassignment” medications, and it wanted CIH to show how it affirms and supports LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) youth. Williams submitted a revised program statement for review in April 2019. Ninety days passed before the state came back with a written review containing even more deficiencies. This is where the bigotry began, the lawsuit states.

The Department of Social Services wrote that it was “offensive” for CIH to talk about its mission to “restore all things in Christ.” State officials also asked for further assurance on supporting LGBTQ youth. Williams said she couldn’t believe the agency viewed Jesus Christ as offensive. She suspected the scrutiny was really due to Catholic teachings. In a follow-up meeting in mid-July 2019, a state policy analyst said it “would be best if CIH removed all references to religion,” the CIH lawsuit said. The official “asked why Christ was even in the mission statement.” 

The Refuge’s operation plan already stated the facility had no religious requirements, but government officials asked whether CIH “would force The Refuge’s staff or residents to go to church or pray.” Questions were asked about handing out contraceptives or driving the girls to Planned Parenthood to obtain abortions. Williams said residents wishing to attend LGBTQ programs could obtain transportation from family, friends, a probation officer or volunteers. She told the group CIH “would not condone, promote nor facilitate” contraception or abortions.

Williams asked the Sacramento analyst if CIH’s Catholic beliefs would be a “deal-breaker.” Her reply, according to the lawsuit: “You’re just going to have a problem with that religious thing.” According to attorney Jonna, this effectively created an “arbitrary mandate” that sought to force the Catholic apostolate to certify it supports and affirms homosexual acts, contraception and abortion. The state told CIH staff that California law required it to comply. More delays followed the July meeting, and by November 2019, CIH filed suit against the Department of Social Services.

“The mandate has no basis in any state law or regulation,” Jonna wrote in the legal filing. “Nor is it justified by any compelling interest. Thus, the mandate discriminates on the basis of religion and imposes a substantial burden on CIH’s religious exercise.” Williams said there was no way CIH would alter its Catholic identity. “We just wouldn’t do it,” she said. “We would just work with people over 18, do something different. God is drawing all people to himself. We do our part. That’s his work and if we can’t do it with them, then we’re not doing it.”

The state asked for court mediation shortly after the suit was filed. Williams said state officials disclosed that a homosexual advocacy group threatened to sue if a license was approved for CIH. The mediator assigned to the case was a retired jurist who is Catholic and conservative, Williams said. A solution was forthcoming on the first day. “The state came up with some really simple language that we could all agree to. A way that respected all protected classes,” Williams said. “That’s what made us able to move forward.” A provisional license for The Refuge was issued in June.

By the time the lawsuit was filed, CIH had spent $600,000 for what remained an empty treatment center. All the while San Diego County officials described the dire the need for treatment beds. The losses eventually rose to nearly $800,000. Most of the original CIH staff left for other jobs, frustrated with the long delays. “It was a lot of money,” Williams said. “We could have bought the house with it. But there’s no price tag you can put on a soul, so it was worth it.” Elizabeth YoreChild-rights advocate Elizabeth Yore of Chicago says every state should have programs like The Refuge at Children of the Immaculate Heart. "No one can imagine the horror and the trauma that these kids go through," she said.

Elizabeth Yore, a Chicago-based child-rights advocate, said she’d like to see Children of the Immaculate Heart homes established across the country. “This is what has been needed,” said Yore, a former general counsel for the National Center for Miss
ing & Exploited Children. “They need hundreds of these programs in literally every state. They require a great deal of expertise. What they need is of course psychological counseling, employment counseling, life-skill counseling, medical care, education. It’s the whole soup to nuts.”    

Despite the anti-Catholic bigotry experienced by CIH, Yore said human trafficking is a good issue to be combatted by a strong Catholic apostolate. “It’s absolutely critical. We Catholics, Christians, absolutely believe that in order to truly heal we have to have the power of Christ in your daily life,” Yore said. “No one can imagine the horror and the trauma that these kids go through and what they’ve been subjected to. So I’m just thrilled that it (The Refuge) is now operational.”

Trafficking a Growing Scourge

Sex trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in America, experts say. San Diego County is one the largest human-trafficking hot spots. A 2016 study by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University estimated between 3,400 and 8,100 people are trafficked each year in the county. Study authors said the illicit sex trade in San Diego is worth $810 million a year. Many trafficking victims are under 18; some are as young as 11 or 12. Girls in foster care are especially vulnerable. Most trafficked girls have a history of childhood trauma such as sexual assault, domestic violence and exposure to alcohol and drugs. Most sex trafficking in San Diego is gang-related.

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), child sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, or advertising of a minor child for the purpose of a commercial sex act, which involves the exchange of anything of value – such as money, drugs or a place to stay – for sexual activity.” It is not prostitution. “There is no such thing as child prostitution,” said Charisma De Los Reyos of San Diego County Welfare Services in an August interview with NBC7 television. “What you’re buying is child rape.”

Nationally, between 200,000 and 300,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking each year, Williams said. Average age at entry into trafficking is 16; one out of six juvenile victims is younger than 12. In 2019, NCMEC responded to more than 10,700 reports of child sex trafficking. Some 23,500 endangered runaways were reported to the agency in 2019; nearly 4,000 were suspected victims of child sex trafficking. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NCMEC reported a steep increase in reports on its CyberTipline of online enticement of children. The agency “became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material,” said John Sheehan, a NCMEC vice president, in an online report.  

The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline reported a nearly 170-percent increase in contacts from trafficking victims and survivors between 2015 and 2019. The hotline identified 22,326 trafficking victims and survivors in 2019. Nearly 14,600 of them — 65 percent — were victims of sex trafficking. The rest were victims of labor trafficking or a combination of the two categories. According to the Polaris Project, which operates the hotline, sex-trafficking victims primarily work for escort services, illegal massage, health and beauty shops, bars and strip clubs, and in production of pornography. Traffickers typically use force, fraud and coercion to keep victims from leaving. This can include exploiting substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation and emotional abuse, Polaris reported.

The U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI staged high-profile raids in recent months, arresting suspected traffickers and rescuing dozens of girls and boys. In Scioto County, Ohio, a 69-year-old man and members of his family were charged in federal court with providing illegal drugs to addicted parents to gain access to their minor children for the purpose of commercial sex acts. Marshals recovered more than 70 children in raids conducted in Indiana, Georgia, Ohio and Florida as part of Operation Homecoming, Operation Safety Net and Operation Not Forgotten. Marshals arrested 262 suspects and recovered five children in Operation Triple Beam in Oklahoma City. Nine arrests were made for sex trafficking. Eleven missing or endangered children were recovered by U.S. Marshals during Operation Summer Rescue, a two-month effort based in New Orleans that ended Sept. 30. One of the rescued teens was a 13-year-old girl. Among the suspects arrested was a man charged with statutory rape. In 2019, U.S. Marshals helped recover 275 missing children.  U.S. Marshals Service RaidsOperation Not Forgotten resulted in the rescue of 26 children, the safe location of 13 children and the arrest of nine criminal suspects. The U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Georgia state and local agencies, led a two-week operation in August in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, to rescue endangered missing children. (Photo: Shane T. McCoy / U.S. Marshals Service)

A benefit to prosecuting accused traffickers in federal court is the likelihood of harsher sentences. On Sept. 21, 45-year-old Brian Folks was sentenced in Vermont to more than 22 years in federal prison for 13 sex-trafficking-related felonies. In Sacramento, Calif., Jaquorey Rashawn Carter received a 14-year federal sentence for sex trafficking a child. Benjamin Jenkins was sentenced in Atlanta federal court to 40 years in prison for exploiting as many as 150 girls to produce pornography, then extorting them with threats that he would post their videos online.

“The scourge of human trafficking is the modern-day equivalent of slavery, brutally depriving victims of basic human rights and essential physical needs as it erodes their sense of dignity and self-worth,” said U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr. On Sept. 21, Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice announced nearly $101 million in grants to fight human trafficking and provide services to victims across the country. “The Department of Justice is relentless in its fight against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”

Yore said federal involvement is key. “The other interesting phenomenon that I experienced with these girls in trafficking, was that for the first time in their lives they were empowered because they had the power of the federal government behind them, believing them,” she said. “That’s no small matter. They need that because these guys (traffickers) are out looking for them, trying to track them down, intimidating them, threatening them, so they need the power of the federal government to be involved in the prosecution and in these investigations.”

A Place of Healing & Help

Girls are placed at The Refuge either by probation and parole officers, or the county child-welfare system. Many are runaways from foster care. Their stories are always heartbreaking. “Half the referrals that we’ve accepted from child welfare right now, by the time we say yes, the kid has run away from wherever they are,” Williams said. “These kids, if they’re not given the appropriate care, they run. Which means they probably went back to the (trafficking) life. One of our teenage girls that we have now, she’s like, ‘This is the only placement I’ve ever had that I didn’t want to run from.’ I was like, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ ”

The Refuge creates individual treatment plans for each girl. Clinical services include substance-abuse and mental-health counseling, crisis intervention and access to medical care. Therapeutic services include cognitive therapy, behavior coaching and relationship counseling. Educational and social supports include tutoring, career advising and life skills, such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting.  

While most of the girls have had no positive male role models in their lives, Williams said she often sees even deeper mother wounds. That’s why it was natural to place the home under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “These girls need a mother,” she said. “These girls don’t have moms. One of our girls was crying last week because one of her friends was dying, and she said, ‘I just wish I had a mother to hold me.’ Her mom is gone. Our Lady wants to console these kids and she wants us to do it with her.”

Refuge staff strive to treat each resident with the love and dignity that they’ve been denied by their abusers. It’s a gradual process. “Every single staff person has to win every kid’s trust,” Williams said. “And then their responsiveness to treatment comes, because they know you have their best interest in mind. You listen to them, you really respect them, give them the space that they need. They’re teenagers, they’re almost adults. That responsiveness I find comes when the kid knows they’re really loved without conditions.”

Children of the Immaculate

Williams had her future all mapped out, but the Lord had different plans for her. A convert to Catholicism at age 20, she initially felt called to consecrated religious life. She planned to enter the Abbey of St. Walburga, a Benedictine convent in northern Colorado. About a month before moving to the convent, the California native was having a phone conversation with a friend, Father Dave Nix of Denver. He related his desire to use his priesthood to fight human trafficking. As he described his ideas, something moved Williams’ soul. “I walked away, I remember the moment, I was walking down my parents’ house hallway and something clicked in my head. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this makes perfect sense of my life.’ ”  Fr. Carl GismondiFr. Carl Gismondi encouraged Grace Williams to put her apostolate under the patronage of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As Williams developed plans to open CIH as a home for adult trafficking survivors with children, she was encouraged to put the project under Mary’s protection. Then a student at John Paul the Great Catholic University, Williams approached Fr. Carl Gismondi FSSP, for spiritual direction. “I kind of encouraged her to take Our Lady under her title Immaculate Heart as her patron,” Fr. Gismondi said. “And that is because Our Lady’s heart is the heart of love; it is the heart of love for each one of us, it is the heart of a mother.”

Williams said sex trafficking of women and girls is fed by many societal ills, including the objectification of women, normalization of extramarital sex, breakdown of families and support for contraception and abortion. Ultimately, she said, it is an issue of purity, which is why Our Lady is the perfect patron. “Chastity is at the heart of our cultural battle to end this,” Williams said. “As far as our professional work goes here, we’re helping kids get out, and get out and heal, but the cultural battle that we really face is really one over chastity.”

Part of the solution is to increase consequences for those who purchase children for sex. “The penalty for running a red light is a worse penalty legally in California than it is for purchasing a 14-year-old girl for sex,” Williams said. “You’re going to pay more for running a red light and you’re not going to have a difference in your record.” 

Ultimately, she said, society needs to rediscover God’s designs for the complementarity of man and woman in sacramental marriage. That means, as the Church teaches, no sex outside of marriage, and the husband and wife always being open to transmission of life. “If sex has nothing to do with marriage then what’s the big deal in paying money for it or not paying money for it?” Williams asked. “If contraception is fine then we can sell people and use contraceptives to make sure they don’t get pregnant too much.” The answer, at least in part, comes from respecting our God-given roles, she said. 

“We really need to rediscover what this relationship is supposed to be about.” •

Read the original at Catholic World Report

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Catholic Church Children of the Immaculate Heart human trafficking rescue San Diego sex trafficking https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/our-lady-s-care-for-broken-lives Fri, 16 Oct 2020 00:00:00 GMT
America At Prayer in the Public Square https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/america-at-prayer-in-the-public-square Weekend marked by Eucharistic Processions & Rosary Rallies 
— from San Diego to Washington D.C.

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

America spent Saturday and Sunday at prayer in the public square. 

It started in August with one Eucharistic Procession, with 3,000 people following the Blessed Sacrament through the riot-scarred streets of Madison to the Wisconsin Capitol Building. By the second Sunday in October, the Unite Our Nation movement spread to more than 40 sites from San Diego to Kenosha, Wis. These processions were joined over the weekend by dozens of rallies sponsored by Rosary Coast to Coast and America Needs Fatima. The Catholic faith made its presence known on the streets of America.  Knights at BenedictionA Knights of Columbus honor guard stands watch near the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament at the Wisconsin Capitol Building. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

In Wisconsin’s capital city, about 1,000 people processed the still-boarded-up environs of State Street to the Wisconsin Capitol Building — the third such procession since riots rocked the city in May and June. On the Capitol steps, the group prayed the Patriotic Rosary, naming every state as part of the prayer intentions. The Rosary was followed by Benediction and the Divine Praises. The Capitol Square and upper State Street were closed off by Madison police to make way for the Sovereign King of Creation — followed by the faithful and the heavenly sounds of the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola. It was a powerful sight.

“This movement, which started here in Madison, has rippled out to the entire country,” said Kevin O’Brien, the founder of Unite Our Nation and president of the Milwaukee-based Men of Christ apostolate. O’Brien said 44 Unite Our Nation Eucharistic Processions are in the books, with another 15 in serious planning. “We had 19 this weekend. It’s incredible. Plus you’ve got Rosary Coast to Coast, that’s rippling out. We are pounding Heaven with prayer. We are using our spiritual weapons that God has given us. It’s exciting to be a part of it."

O’Brien has even bigger plans to expand Unite Our Nation into every parish in the United States.

Through Riot-Scarred StreetsAbout 1,000 Catholics processed from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church to the Wisconsin Capitol Building, the third such procession since riots rocked the streets of Madison in May and June. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

“We need these events, these experiences to truly experience the faith. So that’s what the exciting thing is about this,” O’Brien said. “It’s so beautiful. My heart is so full of joy. Transformation begins with truth. For us, truth isn’t a word, it’s not a five-letter word, it’s actually a person. And we are bringing that Truth to our neighborhoods, to our cities, to our state capitals. And that is going to bring the conversion of our country.”

In the nation’s capital on Sunday, the National Rosary Rally began with a  Eucharistic Procession from St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill to the National Mall, followed by Benediction and a slate of speakers. It was the anchor event of the annual Rosary Coast to Coast campaign. Talks were given by Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, Msgr. Charles Pope, Sister Deirdre Byrne, Doug Barry, Fr. Richard Heilman and Bishop Joseph L. Coffey of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA.

The resurgence of Eucharistic Processions and Rosary rallies has given many Catholics the confidence to live their faith publicly, at a time when evil seems to be at a crescendo in society. While the events have been billed as non-political, they encourage Catholics to proclaim the fullness of the faith without hesitation or apology.

Catholics in the Public SquareThe Unite Our Nation Eucharistic Procession in Wisconsin's capital city was among 44 such events to take place since the initial procession on Aug. 15. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

One of the participants in the Madison procession was Catharine O’Neill, executive director of Catholics for Trump. She wasn’t campaigning for the president on Sunday, but came to support the public show of faith. “Catholic culture is alive and well in the United States. It’s amazing,” O’Neill said. “I think it’s growing. This shows me that it’s really growing.”

O’Neill said she does not aim to politicize the Catholic faith, but current events make Catholic values important in the Nov. 3 presidential election. “I think people of faith should vote by their values,” O’Neill said. “Especially with this election, the anti-Catholicism, the pro-abortion extremism. It’s hard not to vote with your values this time around.”

O’Brien said he is heartened with the quick growth of the Unite Our Nation movement. “We didn’t know. But we prayed,” he said. “We’re calling it a movement for many. This idea has become a movement. It continues to grow.

“They’re going to Portland, down in Texas. Alaska is calling us,” O’Brien said. “You’ve got up in Washington. All over the place, literally. North Carolina, New York City. All the parts, you go east, west, north, south — they’re everywhere. It’s a movement of people but really it’s a movement of the Holy Spirit through people who are picking up the cross of leadership to actually do this.”

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Blessed Sacrament Catholic Catholic Church Eucharistic Procession Madison Unite Our Nation Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/10/america-at-prayer-in-the-public-square Sun, 11 Oct 2020 20:00:00 GMT
Wisconsin Supreme Court Says Catholic Schools Can Open https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/9/wisconsin-supreme-court-says-catholic-schools-can-open Temporary Injunction Bars Local Health Department's
COVID-19 Closure Order

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — Stating local health officials likely do not have legal authority to order closure of schools, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction late Thursday suspending the Dane County health agency’s August and September orders that forced all schools to close classrooms to in-person instruction in grades 3-12 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Multiple arguments — constitutional, statutory and administrative — are lodged against the order,” the 11-page ruling read. “While reserving the remaining claims for later disposition, we conclude that local health officers do not appear to have statutory authority to do what the order commands.”

The court issued an injunction against Public Health Madison & Dane County’s Emergency Order #9 and enjoined the agency from enforcing it. The court’s 4-3 ruling means Catholic and other private schools that challenged the closure order can open for in-person classes starting Monday. The injunction was effective Thursday, Sept. 10. St. Ambrose Academy of Madison led a coalition of Catholic schools that in August petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for an emergency injunction holding the closure order in abeyance. St. Ambrose raised nearly $109,000 using a crowdfunding web site to hire the Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders law firm to challenge the closing order.  Catholics Back to SchoolThe Wisconsin Supreme Court order allows students at St. Ambrose Academy in Madison and other county schools to return to classroom instruction as the court reviews a challenge to a local school-closure order, brought by eight Catholic schools. (Photo courtesy St. Ambrose Academy)

St. Ambrose announced it will open for classroom instruction in grades 6-12 on Monday, Sept. 14. “We are ecstatic that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has recognized the right of parents to choose how to educate their children. Our families know the risks; they’ve assessed them carefully and are prepared to go to great lengths to protect their kids,” said Joan Carey, executive director of St. Ambrose Academy. “But they also know that putting children in front of computer screens hour after hour and day after day and even month after month causes irreparable harm.”

Public Health Madison & Dane County issued Emergency Order #9 after close of business on Friday, Aug. 21. Many Catholic and other private schools were scheduled to open the following Monday, so parents had to scramble to arrange child care and schools quickly switched to distance learning via the internet. Most public schools in Dane County had already decided to start the school year with virtual learning, but many Catholic, Christian and non-religious private schools planned to open for classroom instruction this fall. The closure order hit especially hard for students with disabilities and those under Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

 “Our parents have been utterly overwhelmed trying to find ways to move their children’s education forward while juggling work and the little ones running around underfoot,” Carey said. “Shouts of joy are echoing through the homes of our families tonight. Our kids can’t wait to see their friends again, to make new friends, and to be back with their teachers who love them. Our teachers can’t wait to greet their students in person and restart the conversation that got shut down in March: that beautiful back-and-forth conversation that happens between teacher and students in community with each other that is the essence of the joy of learning.” 

Rev. Scott Jablonski, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Cross Plains, said his parish school will be open to all grades on Monday. “It is frustrating that we had to go down this road in the first place, but I am grateful that the court saw through the illogic and injustice of the order and is willing to hear our arguments going forward if need be,” Fr. Jablonski said. “In the end I am most happy for our students and their families, since they were the ones who suffered most over the past two weeks. I look forward to welcoming all of our older students back to school this coming Monday and being able to teach them more about Jesus and the ways of authentic justice.”

Scott Grabins, technology director for Edgewood Campus School in Madison (4K through grade 8) who has one daughter at Edgewood High School, said he is thrilled with the court ruling. “As a parent, I know my daughter is anxious to get back into the classroom, see her friends, and continue with the school year,” Grabins said. “As an educator, I’ve worked closely with teachers as they’ve had to pivot from in-person to virtual instruction throughout the start of the school year.  They care deeply about providing the best possible instruction to students regardless of the format, but there’s no doubt in my mind that meeting in person is the best option. Hopefully the Wisconsin Supreme Court will resolve this soon and provide some certainty to everyone.  In the mean time, I’m just looking forward to getting back to school.”

The case has raised important legal questions about whether unelected local health officials have legal right to issue diktats to in essence close public and private K-12 schools for in-person instruction during COVID-19. The Dane County agency has argued it has broad police powers under state law in order to control what it believes to be a dangerous pandemic, while St. Ambrose argued the Wisconsin Legislature specifically omitted the power to close schools from state statutes governing local health officers. The conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the schools, writing that power to close schools “is statutorily absent.”  Water CensorshipA City of Madison worker uses a power washer to sweep away a protest message against the COVID-19 school-closure order, written in pink chalk by students on the sidewalk outside the City-County Building. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The court’s majority disputed Dane County’s assertion that public health director Janel Heinrich may do “what is reasonable and necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease” and the agency’s closure order is a permissible restriction on public gatherings. The ruling said “what is reasonable and necessary cannot be read to encompass anything and everything. Such a reading would render every other grant of power in the statute mere surplusage.” Interpretation of state statutes that health officers have “carte blanche” authority “would call into question compatibility with our constitutional structure.”

Angry parents descended on a recent meeting of Public Health Madison & Dane County, providing testimony on the hardships being caused by the closure order. Parents and students protesting in front of the City-County Building wrote messages in pink chalk on the public sidewalk, including, “Let kids go to school safely.” Within minutes, city workers appeared with a power equipment and washed away the chalk lettering. On Sept. 1, the health agency amended Emergency Order #9 to allow students with disabilities and those under IEPs to attend in-person instruction.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that the three sets of plaintiffs challenging the order be consolidated into one case. The plaintiffs will have 30 days to submit a brief of up to 75 pages, and Public Health Madison & Dane County will have 20 days to respond. Plaintiffs will have another 10 days to submit a rebuttal to the health agency’s brief, putting the case into November before the court considers further action.

As of Sept. 10, Wisconsin has had 84,881 cases of COVID-19, which is caused by the Wuhan coronavirus. Nearly 1,200 deaths have been due at least in part to COVID-19, according to state data. Just over 300 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 (Wisconsin has 11,500 hospital beds). According to an analysis of state data by the MacIver Institute, there have been no deaths of people under age 20 due to COVID-19. Only 2 percent of all COVID-19 deaths were people under age 40.

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Catholic Catholic schools coronavirus COVID-19 Dane County St. Ambrose Academy Wisconsin Wisconsin Supreme Court https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/9/wisconsin-supreme-court-says-catholic-schools-can-open Fri, 11 Sep 2020 03:30:00 GMT
New Organization Looks to Promote Eucharistic Processions Nationwide https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/9/new-organization-looks-to-promote-eucharistic-processions-nationwide Unite Our Nation Builds on Success of Wisconsin Capitol Eucharistic Procession That Drew 2,000+

Taking Christ to the StreetsBishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison holds the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament outside the Wisconsin Capitol Building on Aug. 15, 2020. (Screen capture/UniteOurNation)

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — The success of the highly visible Eucharistic Procession and patriotic Rosary rally that drew 2,000 to 3,000 people to the Wisconsin Capitol Building on Aug. 15 is spreading to more states with a new organization called Unite Our Nation.

In response to the societal angst caused by the Black Lives Matter riots, the COVID-19 pandemic and a pervasive sense of evil in society, Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison and Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee led a huge Eucharistic procession up State Street to the Capitol, where a patriotic Rosary was said before Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a stirring homily by Hying. The event shut down traffic in a section of downtown and made a powerful statement about the primacy and kingship of Jesus Christ.

“We’re taking Our Lord into the streets, being the light in the darkness that we see everywhere,” said Kevin O’Brien, co-founder of Men of Christ, a Milwaukee-based apostolate that organized the procession. “You see not only the darkness of the riots, but the culture of anger that I see permeating everywhere. There is a blindness to truth, to goodness. So we’re calling down graces from Heaven to open up the minds and hearts of our people.”

Men of Christ just released a promotional video from the Aug. 15 event and founded a new organization, “Unite Our Nation,” to bring Eucharistic Processions to more states. The group launched a web site that offers free planning resources, including videos, news releases, promotional letters and an event playbook, to organizers in other areas. Within the first 24 hours, O’Brien said he was contacted by people in five other states who plan to hold a Unite Our Nation procession and Rosary event.

“Michigan’s already doing it, Arkansas is doing it, North Carolina is coming, Texas is in the queue, Illinois is in the queue,” O’Brien told Catholic World Report. “These are people coming to us from all over. We want to get this out as fast as we can.”

Men of Christ posted videographers along Eucharistic Procession route, and had a drone flying overhead shooting additional footage. The video features short talks by Archbishop Listecki, Bishop Hying, Father Richard Heilman, O’Brien, and Catholic apologist Dave Durand. It captures the drama and reverence felt by the more than 2,000 in attendance (Men of Christ’s crowd estimate was 3,000). The video spoke of drawing courage and taking Christ into the world to heal and bring more people to Him.

“Jesus summoned Simon Peter to step out of the boat and to walk on the water. We can’t do anything if we don’t take one step,” Bishop Hying said on the video. “To process the Eucharistic Christ through the streets of a city is to really call down the whole power of Jesus crucified and risen upon our people, upon our city.”

The procession traversed the upper section of State Street, the scene of Black Lives Matter riots and looting in late May and on June 23 and 24. It continued onto Capitol Square, where rioters had pulled down two historic statues and smashed windows before firebombing the nearby City-County Building. The boarded-up windows of restaurants and stores were a stark contrast to the gold monstrance and the Eucharistic Procession.

“In being courageous and in demonstrating the faith, you demonstrate your trust in God — and God will not abandon those who love Him,” Listecki said on the video, which closes with a final line from the archbishop: “Don’t be afraid. God is with us in all things.”

Wisconsin ProcessionThousands of Catholics process behind the Blessed Sacrament around the Wisconsin Capitol Building on Aug. 15, 2020. (Screen capture/UniteOurNation)

O’Brien said Unite Our Nation has the feeling of a real movement. He hopes it catches on. “Success leaves a trail. We want to model the success that we have and do it everywhere,” he said. “Picture 50 states doing it. Picture cities all over. Picture colleges that are now talking about doing it. I just got an email this morning. A local parish is going to do it and bring the Eucharist into the streets. Now this ripple effect of goodness, this tsunami of goodness has taken place because of one event, can then cascade to the United States and we can bring Christ everywhere.”

By including a patriotic Rosary, these events include a strong Marian focus, O’Brien said, “allowing Our Lady to exercise her full mediation as the spiritual mother of our people.” The Madison rally included multiple mentions and a standing ovation for Madison police, who have been subjected to vitriol from rioters and criticism from Madison’s mayor and members of the city council. O’Brien said giving thanks to law enforcement was an important part of the rally.

“You see 3,000 people, kneeling down in the streets, over the grass, all over the place,” he said. “We’re praying the Rosary, you’re seeing Benediction. You also see our police out there and you give them a standing ovation. You see their eyes well up in appreciation. You know you’re doing good.”

On the video, Fr. Heilman told the Aug. 15 attendees that for decades, the devil “has been eating our lunch” because people stopped believing in the supernatural power of God. “We’re here to say, ‘We believe,’ ” he said. “God, you are stronger than the devil, and we’re bringing you to the streets.”

Read the original at Catholic World Report

Across Riot-Scarred TerritoryWisconsin's Aug. 15 Eucharistic Procession went up Madison's riot-scarred State Street, the scene of street violence in summer 2020. (Screen capture/UniteOurNation)




[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Catholic Church Diocese of Madison Men of Christ Unite Our Nation Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/9/new-organization-looks-to-promote-eucharistic-processions-nationwide Sat, 05 Sep 2020 13:33:00 GMT
COVID-19 Closing Order Does 'Irreparable Harm' to Catholic Schools https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/8/covid-19-closing-order-does-irreparable-harm-to-catholic-schools Schools Coalition Files 57-page Motion with Wisconsin Supreme Court

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — The last-minute COVID-19 school-closing order by the Dane County health authority tramples on constitutionally protected freedom of religion and has caused “irreparable harm” to local Catholic schools that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars using the county’s own guidelines to prepare for safe opening of classrooms, a schools group said Friday in filing for a Wisconsin Supreme Court emergency injunction.

St. Ambrose Academy of Madison, a group of seven other Dane County Catholic schools and parishes, and thirteen parents filed a nearly 60-page petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court asking it to block the school-closing order issued after close of business on August 21 by Public Health Madison & Dane County. The coalition asked the court to issue a temporary injunction by Sept. 4 so Catholic schools in the county can open on September 8. The coalition has raised more than $103,000 for the legal challenge using a crowdfunding web site. Defendants in the case are Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Janel Heinrich, director of the health agency.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Misha Tseytlin of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, argued that the public-health agency is interfering with free practice of religion and has no statutory legal authority to restrict school operations. “The order violates parents’ constitutional rights to religious exercise and to direct the upbringing of their children, as well as the schools’ rights to inculcate religious values,” Tseytlin wrote in the petition. The Wisconsin constitution’s freedom-of-conscience clauses require “strict scrutiny” on government orders that burden religious exercise, he wrote.  Wisconsin Supreme CourtA Catholic schools coalition led by St. Ambrose Academy of Madison filed suit in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to block Dane County's COVID-19 school-closing order. (Image: Royalbroil/Wikipedia)

“The county cannot possibly satisfy strict scrutiny,” Tseytlin wrote. “While stopping the spread of COVID-19 is compelling, the school-closure order is obviously not narrowly tailored to further that interest … because it bans schools from reopening where the schools have implemented the county’s own safe reopening plans, and because it permits the reopening of colleges, universities, daycare centers, movie theaters and much more.”

Unless the closure order is blocked by the high court, Tseytlin wrote, it will cause “spiritual and educational devastation.” The county order “has gutted parents’ and schools’ ability to provide religious instruction, undermining their mission to give children in-person education,” he wrote. Only in-person classroom instruction will fulfill the responsibility for providing Catholic education, he argued.

“Satisfying that obligation depends on in-person instruction, as these parents have chosen Catholic schools for their children so that they may receive Holy Communion at Mass, confess their sins to a priest through the Sacrament of Confession, join with the community of students and teachers to pray together and otherwise achieve the full religious and spiritual benefit of these sacred activities.”

Catholic schools spent months adapting classrooms and other spaces for physical distancing, proper hygiene and disinfection, and their plans far exceed those required of businesses that offer in-person services, Tseytlin wrote. The plaintiff schools collectively spent $326,400 to prepare facilities for safe learning and implemented measures such as frequent hand washing, placement of hand sanitizer in all rooms, requiring face coverings, reducing student movement between classrooms, and limiting classroom occupancy. St. Ambrose leased a nearby building in order to provide the needed classroom space.

“The thoroughness of these plans is why petitioner parents uniformly support their schools reopening, knowing that their children will learn in-person, in a safe environment,” Tseytlin wrote. Many parents observed that during school closures last spring and over the summer, their children struggled with distance learning, especially those who have special needs or work under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents, some of whom are low income and receive parish tuition support, had already purchased school uniforms and classroom supplies for the year.

Rev. Scott Jablonski, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Cross Plains, said parents and teachers “overwhelmingly” supported reopening classrooms at the parish school. “Without in-person schooling, St. Francis Xavier simply will not be able to provide the same exceptional education it has offered to its students during its rich academic history,” Father Jablonski wrote in an affidavit to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Public Health Madison & Dane County has said closing classrooms to third grade and higher is key to preventing the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Under Dane County’s new metrics, lower-grade classrooms can’t reopen until the number of daily COVID cases averages no more than 39 for four consecutive weeks. Grades 6 to 12 might be allowed to open if COVID case numbers average 19 or lower per day over an additional four weeks.

Tseytlin said the county’s COVID regulations are “incongruous,” noting that the same classrooms closed to daily learning can be used for child care and recreation programs. “So, under the order itself, a private 3-12 school may welcome 15 students in each classroom to run a recreational or education camp, a daycare and youth program, but may not provide these students with in-person religious instruction,” he wrote.

The Public Health Madison & Dane County closing order hit parochial and other private schools hardest, since most public school districts in the county opted to implement distance learning via the internet. Some pastors and teachers said privately that they believe the regulations are more aimed at preventing long-term enrollment shifts from public schools to Catholic or other private schools.

Wisconsin state Sen. Chris Kapenga, a Republican from Delafield, announced he is introducing legislation in the State Senate that will allow parents to move their children from one school district to another if they feel their children’s needs are not being met at home due to COVID-19 restrictions. The bill would allow parents to apply for school transfer throughout the year and not just in the spring under current law. Parents could also apply throughout the year to send their public-school children to Catholic or other private schools under Wisconsin’s school-choice program.

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Catholic Catholic Church COVID-19 Dane County Diocese of Madison St. Ambrose Academy Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/8/covid-19-closing-order-does-irreparable-harm-to-catholic-schools Fri, 28 Aug 2020 12:45:00 GMT
A Triumphal Procession: 2,000 Catholics March to Wisconsin Capitol Building https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/8/a-triumphal-procession-2-000-catholics-march-to-wisconsin-capitol-building Bishop Hying, Archbishop Listecki Lead Eucharistic Procession Up Riot-Scarred State Street

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — The Second Person of the Holy Trinity was given a police escort up riot-scarred State Street to the Wisconsin Capitol building on Saturday, followed in triumphal procession by 2,000 Catholics who proclaimed in word and deed that Jesus Christ is the antidote to our troubled times.

The escort provided to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was fitting for a king. Madison police blocked off streets in a big section of Downtown Madison. A single squad car with emergency lights blazing cleared the path for Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison and Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee to bring Jesus to one of the most troubled spots in America. The thousands who followed bore witness to the message that only Jesus can heal our wounds.

Eucharistic ProcessionBishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison carries the Blessed Sacrament up riot-scarred State Street on Aug. 15, 2020. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

“What a blessing to carry Jesus Christ in His Eucharistic glory through the streets of Downtown Madison,” Hying said on the steps of the Capitol, the very spot where rioters rampaged just two months ago. “It was a sweet weight.

“Every time the world has faced suffering, violence, every time the people are filled with fear, the Church has brought out the Eucharist and processed the Eucharist in the streets — in procession because we know it is the power of this Eucharistic Christ that can bring about the fullness of what each human heart seeks, and that is union with God.”

The Unite Wisconsin procession started at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church at the sound of the Angelus bells at noon Saturday. It was a similar, but much larger, procession to one held on the feast of Corpus Christi in June. Much of life in downtown Madison came to a standstill as Hying carried a gold monstrance under canopy southwest to State Street, then east to the Capitol. He was preceded by nearly two dozen girls in First Communion dresses, who scattered flower petals like the fronds laid down in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The monstrance was followed by Archbishop Listecki, numerous priests, seminarians, altar servers and a group of laity that stretched for two city blocks. It was a sight for the ages. Despite the size of the event, no secular media covered the procession.

Videographers from Men of Christ shot footage along the route. A drone flew overhead, documenting the event from an eagle’s-eye view. As the procession reached the Capitol Square, the crowd began praying a patriotic Rosary, mentioning names of the states between the mysteries. The procession stopped on the southwest steps of the Capitol, the scene of riots on June 23 and 24. At 12:45 p.m., Listecki took the monstrance and elevated it toward State Street, then to the south and north. The crowd then said the Divine Praises.

“We know that it’s only the love of Christ that can heal the human heart,” Hying said. “It’s only the love of Christ that can heal all of our divisions and suffering, that can drive away this pandemic, that can bring us together as a united humanity.”

Hying asked God to “send down the mighty power of Jesus crucified” for an end to abortion, an end to racial prejudice, and for creation of a world “where every human person is welcomed, where every human person is loved, where every human person can flourish as the child of God that they truly are.”

Men of Christ Organize Procession

Saturday’s events were the brainchild of Kevin O’Brien, co-founder of Men of Christ, a Milwaukee-based apostolate that sponsors an annual men’s conference. He said the idea came to him several weeks ago after his wife awoke at 5:30 a.m. in tears over the state of society. He also heard from many people through a virtue-based athletics program he and his boys participate in. He said people are bewildered and frightened by current events, with the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter violence in Wisconsin and across America, movements to “de-fund” police, among other issues.

Riots No MoreMore than 2,000 Catholics walked up State Street to the Wisconsin Capitol Building as part of a Eucharistic Procession. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

“There’s such a need right now,” O’Brien told Catholic World Report. “It literally feels like everything is upside down.”

O’Brien used his extensive Men of Christ network to organize a Eucharistic Procession and Rosary rally. He secured participation by Bishop Hying and Archbishop Listecki, as well as co-sponsoring groups that include Pro-Life Wisconsin, Arise Milwaukee, Women of Christ, Rosary Coast to Coast, the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, United States Grace Force, Esto Vir, Squires of Divine Mercy, Saint Augustine School Inc., the Evangelical Catholic, and several Catholic parishes.

“We really said, ‘Let’s unite all the bishops in Wisconsin,’ ” O’Brien said. “Let’s go to the Capitol. Let’s actually do a procession by taking Christ into the world, by activating the intercessional prayer of Mary and being public. That takes courage, and we need Christian courage. Being courageous means you are afraid but you do it anyway.”

Read the rest at Catholic World Report

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki Bishop Donald J. Hying Catholic Catholic Church Eucharist Riots Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/8/a-triumphal-procession-2-000-catholics-march-to-wisconsin-capitol-building Sat, 15 Aug 2020 20:00:00 GMT
Bishop Donald J. Hying Says More than Ever, the World Needs Christ https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/7/bishop-donald-j-hying-says-more-than-ever-the-world-needs-christ Evangelizing a Troubled World

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

MADISON, Wisconsin — When Most Rev. Donald J. Hying took possession of the gold crozier as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Madison, he said the job  would involve challenging “our culture of violence and narcissism and materialism.” But he never expected what his first year delivered: a global pandemic that shut down public Masses for months, and rioting around the Capitol Square in Downtown Madison.

The sea changes in American society over the past four months — street violence, cultural Marxism and feared mass casualties from the Wuhan coronavirus — have crystallized the urgent need for the Catholic Church to evangelize, Hying said. The fear and uncertainty brought on by current events should impress upon Catholics the need to bring souls to Jesus, Hying said as he reflected on his first year in Madison.

Bishop Donald J. HyingThe recent virus pandemic and Black Lives Matter street violence show the urgent need to bring Christ to the world, Bishop Donald J. Hying said in an interview with CWR. (Photo by Chris Duzynski)

“Evangelization is very much in my heart,” Bishop Hying said during a wide-ranging interview at diocesan headquarters on Madison’s west side. “When we examine the writings of recent popes, when we examine the Acts of the Apostles, it’s clear that the mission of the Church is simple. Jesus put it well in the Great Commission. It’s hidden in plain sight for us to see.” 

Hying, 56, succeeded the late Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who died suddenly in November 2018 after leading the diocese for 15 years. Hying’s appointment was a homecoming for the native of West Allis, Wis., who spent four years as rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary before becoming an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Hying has been a very visible bishop, from his daily video reflections to a nightly Rosary live-streamed on the internet, to a brisk public schedule that aimed to take him to every parish in the 11-county diocese.

As his flock wrestled with limited Mass attendance caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus, and rioting erupted around the state Capitol, Bishop Hying prepared a major evangelization initiative that aims to involve every practicing Catholic. The goals are simple: strengthen faith inside the Church, reclaim fallen-away Catholics and bring the Gospel to unbelievers and the non-Christian world. 

“That’s the mission of Christ, that’s the mission of the Church. Again, especially in this moment where pre-COVID we had 70 percent of our people not coming to Mass,” Hying said. “We have to (evangelize) if we want not only to survive, but flourish. Evangelization is not an option. It’s what we must embrace.”

The evangelization plan began in May when Bishop Hying issued a pastoral letter, “Go Make Disciples.” It continues with the formation of leadership teams at each of the diocese’s 102 parishes across south-central Wisconsin. It will branch out to the faithful and beyond starting in Advent and continuing into the diocese’s 75th anniversary year in 2021. While the plan has goals, there is no end date because it needs to be a permanent part of Catholic life, Hying said. “It’s what Jesus said at the end of his earthly life: go make disciples, proclaim the Gospel to every creature, teach all nations what I have commanded you, and baptize in the name of the Trinity.”

Hying observed two anniversaries this summer: his first year as Madison bishop and his ninth year overall as a bishop. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011, before being named bishop of the Diocese of Gary in Indiana. He arrived in Madison in June 2019. His leadership experience has served him well, as current events threw life into chaos and he was faced with government mandates to close public worship due to the coronavirus. 

Coronavirus Tests the Faithful

Bishop Hying suspended public Masses on March 16 due to growing fears that the coronavirus that spread from China could cause mass casualties. But unlike many other dioceses nationally that locked the churches, Bishop Hying made sure the faithful were not cut off from their spiritual homes. 

“One thing that we were always adamant about here in the Diocese of Madison is that churches would be open for Eucharistic adoration, that priests would be available for confession and churches would be open for private prayer,” Hying said. “There were many dioceses where churches were locked tight as a drum, 24-7. That was never the case here, so even in the most ambiguous first weeks of COVID, we still had those opportunities available to our people consistently.”

As frustrations mounted over the COVID-19 societal lockdown, Bishop Hying said, “I would always remind people part of being Catholic is being a good citizen. We see that even in the early writings of the Church. Christians only resisted the edicts of the Roman Empire when it came up against faith; when it became a crisis of conscience. So part of being a good Christian is being a good citizen. It seems to me in the COVID crisis, part of being a good citizen is truly caring for the health of others around us.”

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” program that kept most of the population homebound well into May, Dane County quickly moved to impose its own continuing restrictions on public gatherings. Churches were limited to 10 people in attendance at Mass, while big-box stores, restaurants and health clubs could be open with 25 percent of their building’s capacity. Local health officials threatened to send observers into the churches to ensure compliance. That unequal treatment didn’t sit well with Bishop Hying, so he engaged the Becket Fund to prepare for litigation against the city of Madison and Dane County. After receiving a 17-page letter from two Washington, D.C. law firms representing the diocese, the city and county backed down.

“As with every bishop, I was faced with the two extremes,” he said. “The one extreme saying, ‘You’re being reckless with the little bit that you’re even doing’ and the other extreme is, ‘we should just completely disregard the government; this is an assault on religious liberty and we should just be bold in our defiance.’ I think prudence led me to the middle course. In the end, we threatened to sue the city and the county over the changes in restrictions here in Dane County. In some people’s minds, that made me a hero and in other people’s minds a villain. I’d like to think I’m not either one, really. We did what we felt we needed to do in that situation.”   Challenge the GovernmentThe legal challenge launched against Madison and Dane County over COVID-19 regulation of public gatherings was a fundamental issue of fairness, Bishop Donald J. Hying said. (Photo by Chris Duzynski)

The coronavirus lockdown tested the faith of many, Hying said, with the majority finding their appreciation deepened for Holy Mass and the sacraments. A smaller group, he said, struggled with fear and despair and maybe thought about giving up on the Church. 

“I heard from many people that really almost expressed a physical aching for the Eucharist,” Bishop Hying said, “and this realization that what Jesus says in John Chapter 6 is profoundly true, that He is the Bread of Life and those who feed on Him will live forever. That Eucharistic Christ is the source of our — not only promise of eternal life — but even our spiritual sustenance on our pilgrimage to the Father’s house.”

Hying won’t ascribe potential motives for the government actions to vastly limit church attendance. “I’m not sure if it was insidious or pernicious.,” he said. “I would certainly want to give the benefit of the doubt to the intentions of everyone. One thing it does say is that the spiritual health of our people would not necessarily be a priority for a secular way of thinking.”

Violence in the Streets

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May led to ongoing protests in Madison by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. On several occasions, protests turned violent and led to rioting, vandalism and widespread looting along State Street in Downtown Madison. Dozens of closed, boarded-up retail stores more than a month later are testament to the ongoing damage to the community. On June 23, the arrest of a black activist who harassed a mother praying the Rosary and a tavern full of patrons led to more violence. A mob of up to 300 people toppled two century-old statues on the Capitol Square, vandalized the state Capitol and other government buildings, firebombed the City-County Building, stole a tow truck, severely beat a state senator who tried to photograph the protests, and beat a motorist who happened to drive up near a group of rioters.  Straight Talk on UnrestThe Black Lives Matter movement espouses “things that are against our faith and really strike at the heart of the dignity of the human person,” Bishop Donald J. Hying says. (Photo by Chris Duzynski)

The protest movement sparked by Floyd’s death has some very troubling aspects, Hying said, although he firmly believes racist treatment of blacks is one of the “greatest moral failures” in America’s history. “Having said that, it’s clear when you read the manifesto of Black Lives Matter, it goes far beyond that question of racism,” he said. “They advocate the destruction of the nuclear family, they advocate homosexual expression; really any sexual expression, they advocate abortion. Clearly things that are against our faith and really strike at the heart of the dignity of the human person. I would concur with those who would be warning against Black Lives Matter as a political movement.”

The BLM phenomenon has striking differences from the civil rights protests of the 1960s, Hying said. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Protestant minister who used scriptural references to formulate his vision of leadership. Protesters sang Christian songs and engaged in non-violent protests. “I find that radically missing in this current moment. It’s as if all of that has been pushed aside, found to be inadequate or even found to be a stumbling block,” he said. “So what you’re left then is really an assertion of power against the perceived injustice, but it can’t be healing, because it’s not rooted in the truth of the human person and it’s not rooted in forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Hying said current events make him think of the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II. For human society to flourish, the pope said, it needs a thriving, authentic public morality, a healthy economy with the human person as the end of all economic activity, and a healthy democracy, driven by virtue. “Here again I think we see a very organized, financed group of people who have essentially embraced violence to instill fear and intimidation in other people,” Hying said. “How can any of that come to a good end, or be efficacious for the eradication of racism and inequality? It contains within itself the seeds of the very thing that they profess to fight.”

There is a movement among BLM supporters that others must embrace their goals and methods — or else. “We see a disturbing trend here that if you are not vocally, radically for us, for our goals and our methods, then somehow you’re an enemy to us and you need to be intimidated and even in certain cases, assaulted,” he said. “That’s the definition of bullying. We’re so ostensibly against bullying. Here’s bullying on a massive scale. It’s not to say that there isn’t racism and there aren’t things that need to change, it’s the methodology and the ideology behind the methodology.”

Catholic Targets for Persecution?

Things like the threatening of the Rosary-praying mother, the toppling of statues of St. Junipero Serra in California and Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, and the threatened destruction of a massive memorial to St. Louis, leave Catholics worried about persecution in the public square. Recent violence, combined with the COVID crisis, have left some wondering if we have entered into the end times. 

  “It may feel that way. To be honest, there’s times I feel that way as well,” Bishop Hying said. “Is this some sort of apocalyptic moment? Yet again, being a student of history, I think this must have been what the Polish people felt like when Hitler ran across their borders; it must have been what French Catholics felt like when the French Revolution hit. It must have been what the Russians felt when communism took over.”

Hying said for most of Christian history, the Church has been under attack, so Catholics should not be surprised to find themselves persecuted for the faith. Today’s events don’t rise to the level of violence against the early Christians, who were brutally martyred by the thousands. “Think of the numbers of popes and bishops and priests and laity that have been imprisoned and martyred and murdered for their faith,” he said. “To think I may go to jail someday if certain proclamations of truth are labeled hate crimes; the Church has been in jail before and will probably be in jail again.”

Catholics will be increasingly called to witness to their faith just as the early Church did. Being Catholic “really forces a decision,” Hying said. “Part of this is really a sifting the wheat, as the scriptures say. There’s not going to be a lot of room in the middle; either you’re in or you’re out. Either you’re going to conform to the culture or you’re going to be a Catholic. There’s decreasing amount of a kind of neutral middle space between those two choices. The choices are pretty stark.”

On June 22, Hying issued a statement condemning the toppling of Catholic statues and the suggestion that any art work or depiction of Jesus as white should be torn down. His denunciation drew national attention; a reflection of his increased public profile beyond the Diocese of Madison. He said it all comes with the job. 

“Current events have forced the issue perhaps with greater clarity,” he said. “I wouldn’t label myself as a culture warrior. I don’t enjoy being in conflict with people, and yet there’s times when that is required. The virtue of prudence — often times people think of prudence as doing nothing — prudence is knowing the right thing to do and, as importantly, the right time to do it.”

Marks of Evangelization

Bishop Hying’s evangelization efforts will ask every Catholic to cultivate relationships that help bring more people to Christ. He wants to see Sunday re-claimed as the sabbath, with every Catholic coming to Mass. Catholics should spend at least 15 minutes a day in prayer, utilizing the scriptures. And if all Catholics went to confession once a month and did some sort of penance, the impact would be huge. 

“Is that the totality of living our faith? No, but I think it’s four measurable actions that we can say, ‘Imagine if every Catholic just did those four things.’ How that would transform our parishes, our diocese, our communities,” Hying said. “We would have a deep impact on the course of human events if we awakened the sleeping giant that is Catholicism.”

The mantra of Alcoholics Anonymous says one can only maintain sobriety if he or she is busy helping someone else find theirs. “I think that applies so beautifully to faith,” Bishop Hying said. “I will only grow in my own faith if I’m busily sharing that faith and cultivating it in others. Evangelicals kind of have that down pat. Any Evangelical worth his or her salt is busy cultivating three other people: buying them a Bible, bringing them to church, listening to their problems, praying with them. We’re not trained as Catholics to do that. It’s what we need to get over.” •

— Read the Original Article at Catholic World Report

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Donald J. Hying Black Lives Matter Catholic Catholic Church coronavirus Diocese of Madison pandemic riots https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/7/bishop-donald-j-hying-says-more-than-ever-the-world-needs-christ Sat, 11 Jul 2020 13:46:38 GMT
Madison, Dane County Back Off Pandemic 50-Person Cap on Mass Attendance https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/6/madison-dane-county-back-off-pandemic-50-person-cap-on-mass-attendance Threat of Diocese Lawsuit was a Major Factor

By Joseph M. Hanneman

MADISON, Wisconsin — Less than 48 hours after refusing to budge on their 50-person limit on attendance at Holy Mass and other religious gatherings, local health officials abruptly dropped the rule on Friday in the face of a certain lawsuit by the Catholic Diocese of Madison and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The reversal was a swift victory for Bishop Donald J. Hying, who argued that the agency Public Health Madison & Dane County was singling out people of faith with an unconstitutional limit on attendance at Holy Mass and other religious services. Hying indicated on June 3 that the diocese would sue if the 50-person cap was not removed from emergency health orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic.

Loosened Limits on Mass Madison Bishop Donald J. Hying (left) and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki distribute Holy Communion at Hying’s installation Mass on June 25, 2019 at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Madison. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman) “As bishop, it is my duty to ensure that Sunday Mass be available as widely as possible to the Catholic faithful, while following best practices when it comes to public health,” Bishop Hying said in a statement. “Indeed, in a time of deep division, it is more important than ever for the Church to provide solace and comfort to all, in the great tradition of American religious freedom. We look forward to working together with the County and City to continue the reopening process in a safe, cooperative, and responsible manner.”

Friday’s development capped a whirlwind two weeks that saw churches prepare to reopen public worship at 25 percent of building capacity, only to have an even stricter rule imposed by Public Health Madison & Dane County. The diocese was not consulted before health officials imposed the strict attendance cap. City and county officials did not respond to Hying’s messages of concern for five days, he said. When PHMDC director Janel Heinrich called Hying on June 3, “I directly asked her whether there was any room for give on their part; she said there was not,” Hying wrote in a June 4 letter to priests of the diocese.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the county did not want to engage in an expensive court battle at a time it needs to dedicate resources to fighting the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus known as COVID-19. He said the diocese’s position was a “legal gray area,” and he questioned why the Catholic Church is spending money on Washington D.C. lawyers. The diocese is being represented in the case by the Becket Fund and D.C. law firms Sidley Austin LLP and Troutman Sanders LLP.  Mass ProtestRev. Brian Dulli speaks outside the City-County Building in Downtown Madison: “What you are doing is clearly wrong,” he said. (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

“Basic life needs — food, shelter and clothing — are in such demand in our community given the current pandemic, so it’s hard to imagine the best use of parishioner or taxpayer dollars right now is in a courtroom,” Parisi said. “While the request of the Bishop of Madison raises a legal gray area, the public health science here is anything but unclear: COVID-19 is here, infecting more people every day and minimizing contact in large group settings is an incredibly effective approach to staying healthy.”

As of June 5, Dane County has 800 cases of coronavirus, with 36,243 people testing negative. Twenty-nine people have died from COVID-19 in Dane County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Wisconsin has logged 19,892 cases and 626 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus that spread from China early this year.

Heinrich defended as “neutral and even-handed” her agency’s emergency rule that limited churches’ worship-service attendance to 50 people. “These orders were put in place for a reason — we are in the midst of a public health emergency and we are going to do all  we can to reduce the risk of public infection,” she said.

Eric Rassbach, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, said the county’s change of heart “shouldn’t have taken so long.”

“The First Amendment protects both prayer and protest. Putting an arbitrary numerical cap on worship services while allowing thousands to protest makes no sense from a legal or public health perspective,” Rassbach said. “Most other governments nationwide have already lifted their COVID-related restrictions on worship. The few remaining holdouts should take note and come into compliance with the First Amendment.”

Read the rest at Catholic World Report

Choice Words for the GovernmentRev. Brian Dulli speaks to government bureaucrats in the City County Building in Downtown Madison, Wis.

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Donald J. Hying Catholic Catholic Church coronavirus Dane County Diocese of Madison Madison pandemic https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/6/madison-dane-county-back-off-pandemic-50-person-cap-on-mass-attendance Fri, 05 Jun 2020 21:15:00 GMT
Catholic Artist Tracy L. Christianson Gives Faces to Holy Lives https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/portraits-of-saints

Catholic Artist Tracy L. Christianson Gives Faces to Holy Lives

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

Tracy Christianson spends her days and nights with the angels and saints. 

The suburban Seattle artist’s time is consumed with lives of virtue, suffering, perseverance and grace. Lives of virgins, martyrs, confessors, mothers, fathers and priests. She commits them to paper with gentle strokes of pigment — applying layers of colors to draw out that which most human eyes have never seen. Her inspiring work puts faces to the names of saints and blesseds. Her rapidly expanding collection of stunning portraits has found its way onto holy cards, bookmarks and framed art. 

“I have never had any lessons or taken classes other than high school,” Christianson said. 

Take one look at the 432 portraits she has drawn and it’s easy to conclude that her gift is God-given. More than seven years ago, she decided to turn her art work into an apostolate promoting devotion to those raised to the altars, and those whose causes are still advancing. The result became PortraitsofSaints.com, an extensive web-based collection of portraits for sale as plaques, prayer cards, framed prints, triptychs, greeting cards, holy water fonts and more.  Tracy ChristiansonPortrait artist Tracy L. Christianson among her creations. She completed 50 new portraits over the past year. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Christianson)

Christianson had a good job as a corporate graphic designer when she was encouraged by her sister and her parish priest to make her avocation into a full-time vocation. What started very small has blossomed into a successful business that employs an entire family. “It seemed pretty obvious to me to produce and sell my sister’s art,” said Dixie Foster, who manages the sales end of Portraits of Saints. “I really had no idea how successful we would be and that it would turn from selling at craft fairs to a full-blown business.”

Christianson’s portraits have a unique look to them that evokes both emotion and devotion. One can almost feel Christ’s pain in her drawing “Ecce Homo,” depicting the wounded Savior after the scourging at the pillar and the crown of thorns. Her 42 depictions of the greatest saint show the many faces of beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her work gives a face and voice to lesser-known figures such as St. Christina the Astonishing, St. Vitus, St. Roch and St. Melangell. And her depictions of popular saints like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio and St. Patrick have familiarity with a new warmth to them. She added 50 new portraits to the catalog over the past year, with new requests coming in all the time.

Catholic World Report spent some time with Christianson in between her work on the seven easels set up in her studio. She shared her perspective on her role as a visual chronicler of such holy lives — and the many requests she receives each week for new portraits.

CWR: When did you first realize you had an affinity for, and interest in, drawing and painting? 

TC: As long as I can remember, I enjoyed drawing — most particularly people. I can remember drawing portraits of the U.S. presidents in the first grade. Not knowing what to do with this gift other than enjoy it as a hobby, I pursued a career in graphic design and fashion illustration. I need to note that all my portraits are drawn with colored pencil. I actually do not paint.

CWR: Was your talent encouraged by anyone in particular?

TC: I suppose the final decision to take the step and trust in God to quit my paying job and spend all my time drawing saints was mostly encouraged by my sister, who started Portraits of Saints in order to get my work out there and seen, and my priest, who one day said to me, ‘God wants you to do this (draw saints). This is what you should be doing.’ 

CWR: How did you nurture and develop your abilities?  St. Mary MagdaleneSt. Mary Magdalen stood at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Virgin Mary on Good Friday and was present after the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Her feast day is July 22. (Photo courtesy PortraitsofSaints.com)

TC: My talent was not learned, it is an obvious gift from God. I have never had any lessons or taken classes other than high school. Drawing people was always something I enjoyed doing. It came very easy for me. Before I started drawing the saints, I would draw my friends and family. Then I started getting commissions from strangers to have their portrait done. 

CWR: What is your Catholic background? How has your faith grown through your art work?

TC: I am a cradle Catholic and have always known the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Our Lord. But I never knew the full beauty of it and all it truly had to offer until seeing it thru the eyes of the saints, who knew and practiced the faith perfectly. What better teachers than these holy souls and Doctors of the Church to learn from? Each has their own story and something to offer each of us in the way of fulfilling God’s plan and His holy will.

CWR: What role have the saints played in your life, and how did this influence your decision to begin creating such an incredible collection of saint portraits?

TC: As far back as I can remember I've had a devotion to Our Lady, the Queen of all Saints, and I longed to draw her. I tried and failed many times, not feeling it was good enough. And then Ignatius Press licensed my image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which started the ball rolling. It made me think if I could draw her, the other saints would be easy. I might note I have drawn over 40 images of her now and every one is still a struggle, because I know I cannot and never will depict her as beautiful as she is.

Certainly drawing people who I admire and long to emulate, all while keeping company with them and calling on their assistance as I draw, is the most rewarding of anything else I could be doing or would desire to do. Although I have always read the lives of the saints and have had my special patrons, I am learning of new ones every day. I am in awe of their lives and what they can teach me.   Christianson’s portraits include newer saints and future saints, including Venerable Carlo Acutis (second from right) and Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (second from left). (Photo courtesy PortraitsofSains.com)

CWR: Give me your personal take” on some of the saints you’ve drawn, including any special challenges or blessings you faced during the project.

TC: St. Veronica is one of my personal favorites. There are many artists renditions of her out there. I wanted her to be looking at the face of Our Lord with sorrow and love. It’s hard to imagine all she felt. I hoped to give her just the right expression. This is a popular portrait not only because of all the Veronicas out there and people who have chosen her as their patron, but also because of the meditations on the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.

I love the expression on the face of Venerable Mary of Agreda. I mean, she’s taking dictation from the Mother of God! If I’m happy with the saint’s expression, then I’m pleased with the portrait, even if the rest isn’t how I had hoped.

Sister Josefa Menendez, who wrote The Way of Divine Love, although probably not my most impressive portrait, was one of the most difficult ones for me to draw. There are a few real photographs of her out there, but none very clear or of good quality. I strive to make the portrait a true image of the saint and as attractive as I can.

I found the portraits of Fr. Emil Kapaun and Fr. Capodanno a bit challenging, in that I knew absolutely nothing about men in the service, war, the different areas of service, etc. Getting their uniforms correct and the facts of where and how they served was an education for me. This was helped by emails from servicemen who wanted to make sure I got my facts straight. Since then, I have become a fan of these great men and the part they played in caring for and sacrificing their life for their men.   St. Moses the BlackSt. Moses the Black (the Ethiopian) was a thief along the Nile river before he had a conversion and became a monk. He died defending his monastery during an attack. His feast day is August 28. (Photo courtesy PortraitsofSaints.com)

Our Lady of Kibeho has received the most negative comments from people who complain that I did not make her skin dark enough, and insisted she appeared as a black lady in Rwanda. I could not find anywhere that said she appeared as a black lady. I did find this description of her from the seer, “Her hands were clasped together on her breast, and her fingers pointed to the sky... I could not determine the color of her skin, but she was of incomparable beauty.” I have read so many description of Our Lady given by different seers from around the world and she appears differently in all of them and yes, sometimes with blue eyes. The only thing common to them all is, "she was beautiful!"

I never knew the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42) had a name and was considered a saint until I received requests for her (St. Photina). So much more happened to her after that meeting with Jesus. She converted many to Christianity and even died a martyr’s death.

Learning just how many saints knew and were influenced during their lives by other saints who they knew personally makes it very clear that you should chose your friends wisely. Some of the most famous friendships, St. Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

There are many saints I have drawn that I want to go back and redo because of certain things I later learned about them or was told and I don’t feel I got them quite right. One of my favorite saints is St. Mary Magdalene. I have drawn her three times and am finally happy with the last one I did. The first one sells just as well as the last, so it’s obvious everyone has a vision of how a saint should look. 

If I’m ever so blessed to meet these incredible role models someday, I’m sure I’ll be surprised to see how very wrong I was in my depictions of them. But hopefully because of my efforts to make them known and loved I will be forgiven. 

CWR: What are the most popular saint images in your library? Why is that?

TC: The Blessed Virgin outsells every saint — no other saint even comes close. As would be expected, the most popular saints are the most well known: St. Joseph, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Clare, St. Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Anthony. I could go on.

Saints whose patronage is popular or especially needed sell well, like St. Dymphna for nervous and emotional problems and St. Monica for difficult marriages and wayward children. St Philomena for impossible and lost causes. St. Gerard Majella for expectant mothers, Mother Teresa for the unborn and Our Lady of Guadalupe for protection against abortion.

Then newly canonized saints and saints who are currently in the news, like (Venerable) Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, St. John Henry Newman, the Fatima children, Blessed Chiara Luca Badano and Venerable Carlo Acutis. We just noticed a big increase in the sales of Our Lady of Akita because of the alleged message that the seer Sr. Agnes just received after 40 years since the original messages.

CWR: Who would you consider to be the least-well-known of the saints youve drawn? What did you learn about him or her?

TC: There are many of those. Certainly who I would believe to be the least well known I’m sure others would disagree with me. I have never heard of many of the saints I receive requests for. Christina the Astonishing, who died from a massive seizure and during her funeral rose and levitated to the roof of the church, was then given the choice by Jesus to go to Heaven or do penance for the souls in purgatory. She consented to extreme penances. She, as with so many other saints, made voluntary choices to suffer so much for the love of God and souls.   St. VeronicaTracy Christianson’s depiction of St. Veronica. The name Veronica comes from the Latin word vera (true) and the Greek word icon (image), describing the visage of Christ miraculously imprinted on the veil given to him by Veronica to wipe his face on the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. Her feast day is July 12. (Photo courtesy PortraitsofSaints.com)

St. Vitus, as so many others who were born to pagan parents and became Christians at the risk of being tortured and killed, yet still refused to sacrifice to pagan gods.

St. Afra, who was reputed to have run a brothel, was converted by a fleeing bishop during the Diocletian persecutions. Refusing to renounce the bishop or her faith to the authorities, she was burned to death. Hearing stories of great sinners who became saints is always comforting to me.

CWR: When you are going to create a saint portrait, how do you prepare for the task? Is there a lot of research — and prayer — that goes into it?

TC: I have a very long list of saints that are waiting to be drawn. People email me almost daily with the names of saints they want to see, many of which they just can’t find a picture of or at least a picture they may purchase as a gift. I usually decide who to draw next depending on how many requests I get for a certain saint, or if they have an upcoming feast day, or if it’s a saint that I just personally feel inspired to draw. Once I decide who to draw, I start my research by reading about the saint. I always ask for their intercession. There is a lot of research involved and I sometimes receive help from the person requesting the saint, as they obviously have a devotion to the saint they are requesting and love to share what they know about them — sometimes even what they believe they looked like.

CWR: How would you describe your style” of portrait, if that is the correct term. Your work has a wonderful look to it. Im wondering how you achieve that consistency across all of these images?

TC: I would describe the style of my portraits as realistic. They are done in pencil, which allows for much detail. The originals are fairly large, about 18x24. The realism gives the saint a real face people can relate to and not some imaginary person from long ago. The consistency in my work has been appreciated by many churches and schools that purchase several different saints to display and like them all to compliment each other.

CWR: What is your studio setup like? Do you have a particular arrangement of space and art tools to carry out this work?

TC:  I have turned an extra bedroom in my home into my studio space. It is a bit crowded with seven easels set up, but it makes it easy when working on several portraits at once to go from one easel to next. Since my only tools are basically pencil and paper, I need very little space. It also helps me keep organized and focused on the projects at hand. The business is run out of my sister’s house. That is where all the printing equipment is and everything is made and shipping takes place. Everything is made in the USA. That is a very large space.

CWR: Walk me through the process of creating the portraits. What are the various steps? 

TC: Sometimes I’m fortunate to get real models to pose for me, but most often I pull several pictures from my files of different hands, hair, clothes, etc., and put them together to create my own original rough image. I then use this to pencil in my portrait on paper, adjusting and making changes to the pose, features and expressions as I work. When I am happy with the pencil draft, I then add color and detail and fine tune and finish it. 

CWR: How long does it take from concept to finished portrait?

TC: Obviously some take a lot longer than others. When there is a real photograph of the saint available, that makes for a very quick and easy portrait, although I always try to make that image my own by making subtle changes to it, like adjusting their hands and clothes. If there are no photographs to go by, I then rely on any descriptions of them available, the time in which they lived, how they have been depicted thru history, other artists’s work, etc.  The research and coming up with the pose, how I will depict them, what they will look like, their clothes and any other recognizing symbols that define them will take a lot longer than the drawing itself. I sometimes work on this for weeks. Once everything is decided and I know how I want the finished portrait to look, the actual drawing goes quickly. I am usually working on several different saint portraits at the same time because I find it helpful to sometimes walk away and look at it with new eyes the next day.

CWR: Give me a sense of where your saint images are displayed or venerated?  St. ValentineSt. Valentine of Rome is often pictured with birds because they pair and mate near his February 14 feast day. He was an early bishop and martyr of the Church who cured the blind daughter of a Roman judge. (Photo courtesy PortraitsofSaints.com)

TC: Many individuals purchase portraits for their home and also for family and friends as gifts for Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Christmas and Easter. Also many churches and schools want their patron saint to display and venerate. And since we now offer almost all the saints in poster sizes up to 22 x 28”, we have multiple churches and schools from Oregon to New York who have lined their halls with several different saints. Many priests have called after seeing them displayed somewhere and wanted to do the same. 

Some of the churches that have my saints displayed include Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Greenwood S.C.; Holy Family Catholic Church in Deming, N.M.; O’Hara Catholic School in Eugene, Ore.; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Baldwinsville, N.Y.

CWR: Have you considered publishing picture books of the saints, or teaming with a writer to create a coffee table book?

TC: We do get occasional requests for a book that would contain all the saints in one book. This may be something in the future. 

CWR: What does the future hold for your apostolate?

TC: We are very excited about the future. With new saints being canonized even today and thousands that I have yet to draw, we see us continuing to grow. Along with offering many new saints, we hope to be able to offer them in a variety of devotional items for personal use. The saints are real people who can offer help and comfort to so many souls in these troubled times. They are just waiting to intercede for anyone who asks. And having their image nearby is a good reminder to ask. 

Originally published at Catholic World Report

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Catholic Catholic Church portraits sacred art St. Mary Magdalene St. Moses the Black St. Valentine St. Veronica Tracy L. Christianson https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/portraits-of-saints Fri, 08 May 2020 17:42:10 GMT
From Victim to Survivor https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/from-victim-to-survivor Years of Rape by Parish Priest Surpassed
Only By Pain of Rejection by the Church

© By Joseph M. Hanneman

QUINCY, Illinois — Father Aloysius J. Schwellenbach was a predatory homosexual whose crimes went beyond the pain he inflicted on former altar boy Robert O’Donnell. Schwellenbach also preyed on adult men.

While preparing for a Mass of Christian Burial in the summer of 1980, Fr. Schwellenbach made a pass at his sacristan. “Father was just about all over me. I’ll never forget it,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. “He put his arm around me, holding me very close. I was in a cassock and everything. He said, ‘Why don’t you come over to my place in Philadelphia. You’d love it. You could stay Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’d have a great time over there.’ ” 

The man, who said he was familiar with Schwellenbach’s reputation, told the priest he was too busy. “I’m just constantly working,” the man said he told Schwellenbach. “I just can’t do it.” That was enough to keep Schwellenbach at bay, but he continued to pursue the man. Schwellenbach often stopped in the restaurant where the sacristan worked and kept “always asking me to come and stay a weekend,” the man recalled. Schwellenbach would sit in the eatery, chomping on a cigar while watching the young man work.

‘You must have liked it’

O’Donnell, whose story we began in The Wolf at 1019 Cedar, said he believes that account, and those of other men who suffered at the hands of priest sex abusers. One of his major struggles came when he was finally able to tell his parents about the years of abuse at the hands of Fr. Schwellenbach. After a tour in the U.S. Marines, O’Donnell decided it was finally time to tell his father and stepmother about the sexual abuse inflicted by their trusted friend, the former pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Quincy. Nothing prepared him for the response.

“I got the courage to tell them. It was Thanksgiving at my house. Food was cooking. Stepmom and Dad were sitting on the couch together. I said, ‘I don’t know if you ever suspected that Father Schwellenbach was molesting me,’ ” O’Donnell said. “ ‘For the record, he was sexually abusing me from the first time I spent the night at his house.’ Her reply was, ‘You must have liked it because you kept going back.’  

“That was just what I needed, more rejection,” O’Donnell said. “I thought, ‘well they are taking no ownership of what happened.’ I stood there for a few seconds and just turned around, shook my head and walked away.”

The stepmother’s statement was, if nothing else, quite stunning. On its face it seems cruel; devoid of any sense of the unintended complicity of the adults in the family. O’Donnell said he eventually got over the comment and forgave his parents, in part after realizing how society and the Church had been completely asleep on the issue of priestly sexual abuse.

As O’Donnell approached his senior year in high school, Schwellenbach could no longer intimidate him into acquiescence. The sexual abuse ceased. By pure will, O’Donnell finished high school with academic honors. He didn’t wait long after graduation to get out of Quincy and begin to build a new life for himself. 

Three days after graduation, O’Donnell told his parents he intended to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Because he was still 17, he needed them to sign a waiver. His father initially tried to stop the enlistment. “I went to the recruiter and told him I wanted to join. He came to sit down with my parents and me. They knew nothing about it,” O’Donnell said. “My dad made him leave. Dad sat me down and told me I was not going to the service. I told him if he didn’t sign for me to go in, I was leaving anyway.” 

A big part of the motivation to join the Marines, he said, was “to prove to myself I was not gay and become strong enough to beat the sh*t out of him (Schwellenbach) next time I saw him,” O’Donnell said. “I had grown to be completely confused by his abuse of me for so long.”

O’Donnell was assigned to U.S. Marines headquarters at the Pentagon, processing travel orders for all ranks, from generals down to privates. He said the experience helped him in many ways, from reinforcing his heterosexuality after years of sexual abuse, to protecting the child in him that was still vulnerable.

“I have to protect that young child. He had been so hurt for so long,” O’Donnell said. “The adult went into the Marine Corps at 17 to prove to the child that he would never have to be treated the way the child had been.”

After his military service, O’Donnell was unable to secure employment in the Washington D.C. area, so he returned home to Quincy. He got married and started a family, but his inability to trust others would come back to haunt him in the coming decades by way of divorce. 

Despite the abuse in his past, O’Donnell did his best to get on with life. He didn’t return to St. John’s until 1982, when he got married. The celebrant was Fr. Schwellenbach. “It was very difficult and awkward,” he said, “almost like it wasn’t real because of who celebrated the Mass.” O’Donnell only saw Fr. Schwellenbach one more time, in 1984, the year the priest was driven out of Quincy.


Moving on with Life

Over the next decade, O’Donnell became a workaholic. “I always have to be busy,” he said. His career work was supplemented by volunteer efforts: Jaycees, scouting, city council committees and the Catholic Cursillo movement. 

O’Donnell eventually felt a call to get involved in the Church again. He and his wife became volunteers in a prison ministry program called Residents Encountering Christ (REC), a multi-day retreat conducted inside prisons in Missouri. O’Donnell was inspired to join after meeting one of the survivors of sexual abuse by Rev. Walter Weerts, former pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Liberty and St. Thomas Catholic Church in Camp Point.  Fr. Aloysius J. Schwellenbach was pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church from 1970 until he was forced out in March 1984 (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

Weerts was indicted by a grand jury in November 1985 for allegedly performing oral sex on three boys, ages 13 to 16. The Illinois Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) gathered evidence against Weerts that led him to plead guilty to three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. He was sentenced to six years in prison in March 1986. (Weerts’ crimes were described in Part Four of the Church Militant series False Shepherd.)

“Because of the abuse and what it did to that poor man, I just listened, cried a lot, and tried to encourage him to try to press forward,” O’Donnell said. “He was so guilty about taking a monetary settlement. He said he wished he hadn't done that. Then I shared my story with him.”

In 1994, O’Donnell enrolled in the Springfield diocese’s lay ministry program. During class discussion one Saturday, the instructor shocked the students by relating an experience of being sexually abused by a priest. That revelation caused some spirited small-group discussions. “This guy from Decatur said he had been molested, too,” O’Donnell recalled. “This seemed like an okay place to talk about this. It’s your inner child that’s tugging at the adult, the protector. The kid is pulling at you, saying ‘C’mon, c’mon, c’mon. Do it now.’ It’s a real battle. I remember in my head it was a serious battle. Finally, the kid won. I couldn’t keep him quiet.”

During a class break, O’Donnell approached the instructor and reported what Fr. Schwellenbach had done to him for years at St. John the Baptist. He said the instructor became “very emotional” and pledged to report the abuse to the diocese. O’Donnell said he does not know if that ever happened. (We reached out to the instructor, who confirmed knowing O’Donnell and teaching the class, but the individual would not disclose any details due to privacy concerns. The instructor asked to remain unidentified for this story.)  Cardinal JoeCardinal Joseph Bernardin 'forced' Bishop Ryan to meet with O'Donnell.

O’Donnell decided to report the abuse directly to Bishop Daniel L. Ryan. He sent several letters that went answered. A parish priest friend, Fr. John Beveridge, several times tried to get Ryan to listen to O’Donnell. Ryan eventually told the priest he would be “given an assignment he would not like if he did not back off,” O’Donnell said. Months later, O’Donnell said he was approached by the diocese’s vicar general, Rev. John Renken, before a class at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Springfield. “He said the bishop cannot talk to me about what happened,” O’Donnell said. “He said that he is the bishop’s personal lawyer and he had seen my letters and that he has advised and even forbid the bishop to discuss any part of this with me.” Renken “warned me not to say a word about my personal abuse by Schwellenbach.”

Through a spokesman, Fr. Beveridge declined to discuss Fr. Schwellenbach or the details of the O’Donnell case. Beveridge, who took over as pastor of St. John after Schwellenbach’s abrupt departure in 1984, said he considered Schwellenbach to be old news and that discussion would just unearth a lot of hurt. Renken, who left the diocese and is now a canon law dean at a St. Paul University in Ontario, said he never heard of O’Donnell and would never have refused to help. “I have never heard of this victim, nor would I have offered this response to a victim,” Renken said via email. “For any victim, I would have arranged a meeting with the bishop.” 

The Diocese of Springfield would not provide any information on Schwellenbach or answer questions about his tenure in Quincy. O’Donnell said in 2019, he wrote to the diocese to get any records related to his time in lay ministry school, but was told they had no record of him ever being a student.

In lay ministry school, O’Donnell said he learned that even bishops have superiors in the hierarchy. So he wrote a 12-page letter to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, archbishop of Chicago and the metropolitan of the Illinois province of the Catholic Church. The letter documented Schwellenbach’s sexual abuse and O’Donnell’s attempts to report it to Church authorities. 

“I received a letter back from Cardinal Bernardin stating he would ‘make’ Bishop Ryan set down with me, as he would be seeing him in person in a couple of weeks for the bi-annual meeting,” O’Donnell said. (A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Meg Hall, said all of Bernardin’s correspondence is under seal in the archdiocesan archives until 2021, 25 years after his death.)  House of HorrorO'Donnell points to a room in the former St. John's rectory where he says he was sexually assaulted by Fr. Schwellenbach (Photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

A few weeks after the Bernardin letter, Bishop Ryan invited O’Donnell to meet with him at the St. John the Baptist rectory, the same building where he was sexually abused. O’Donnell said he was “very shaken” having to attend a meeting where some of the sexual abuse took place. Ryan started out their meeting complaining that Cardinal Bernardin “jumped all over his ass” for not taking initiative to meet with O’Donnell. For three hours O’Donnell described his abuse by Schwellenbach. The bishop seemed upset in hearing the details.

 “I went into great explicit details about two particular situations,” O’Donnell said. “My goal was to unquestionably prove to Bishop Ryan that this did in fact happen to me. After that time, he assured me that he was convinced and proceeded to tell me that the blame is to be placed upon his predecessor, Bishop McNicholas.” Ryan “told me that Bishop McNicholas knew that Father Schwellenbach had molested boys in the previous parish that he was assigned to in Kentucky.” 

According to diocesan records, Schwellenbach took a leave of absence from the Springfield diocese in 1968 and part of 1969. Health reasons were cited. No other details were made public. We contacted the dioceses of Covington, Lexington and Owensboro, and the Archdiocese of Louisville, but none had a record of Schwellenbach serving as a priest in Kentucky.  Bishop of Little RockO'Donnell said Bishop Andrew J. McDonald told him parents in the Diocese of Little Rock had complained about the behavior of Father Schwellenbach.

In 1988, Schwellenbach moved to Mountain Home, Arkansas, and built a 3,100-square-foot ranch home a short distance from St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church. The Diocese of Little Rock said Schwellenbach was retired and had no role at St. Peter. However, Mountain Home newspaper archives show he presided at dozens of funerals and other Masses at St. Peter between 1988 and his death in September 2000. Schwellenbach concelebrated Mass with Bishop McDonald at St. Peter the Fisherman in July 1989. He was also the chaplain for the local Knights of Columbus council. He could not have functioned as a priest in Arkansas without the local bishop’s permission. 

O’Donnell said in 1996, he was contacted by the bishop of Little Rock, Most Rev. Andrew J. McDonald. “He said that Bishop Ryan had told him to call me. He said that he had received some letters from concerned parishioners that Father Schwellenbach might be molesting some boys from a particular parish.” 

Dennis Lee, chancellor of the Diocese of Little Rock, said the chancery did not have a personnel file on Schwellenbach and no record of complaints against him. “We do not know of any record of a phone conversation between a Robert O’Donnell and the late Bishop Andrew J. McDonald,” Lee wrote in an email. Bishop Emeritus McDonald retired in 2000 and died in 2014. 

Schwellenbach died in September 2000. O’Donnell said not long before his death, the priest tried to contact him. “I would not talk to him,” O’Donnell said.

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Aloysius J. Schwellenbach Catholic Catholic Church Illinois pederasty priest scandal sexual abuse https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/from-victim-to-survivor Thu, 07 May 2020 18:58:50 GMT
The Wolf at 1019 Cedar Street https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/the-wolf-at-1019-cedar-street Former Altar Boy Recounts Years of Rape, Other Sexual Abuse by His Parish Priest

© By Joseph M. Hanneman

QUINCY, Illinois — Is nothing sacred? 

Fourteen-year-old Robert O’Donnell sat with his parents for Holy Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on the city’s north side. A freshman at Quincy Notre Dame Catholic High School, O’Donnell had often thought about becoming a priest. As a child, he respected and looked up to priests. But what happened on this day in 1975, and for several years after, demolished his admiration for the priesthood and drove him far, far from the Catholic Church. 

St. John’s pastor, the Rev. Aloysius J. Schwellenbach, 55, came through the church’s side door and whispered to O’Donnell’s father, Charles. One altar boy didn’t show up for Mass and he needed Bob to fill in. “Of course,” the senior O’Donnell said, motioning for his son to get out of the pew. O’Donnell hesitantly complied, following Father Schwellenbach out the door, ostensibly toward the sacristy for vesting in a cassock and surplice.  Robert O'Donnell Sr. outside the former St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Only that’s not where they went.

Schwellenbach hustled O’Donnell across the sidewalk to the rectory, a new ranch-style brick house at 1019 Cedar St., just east of the church. This was odd, the youth thought. What could be so important to risk not starting Mass on time? The music was already playing inside the church. Soon enough, he got his answer.

“He shut the front door and led me to a small bathroom right inside the front door,” O’Donnell recalled. “He was in his vestments. He pulled them aside and unzipped his pants. I said the church was full and waiting on him to start Mass. He said, ‘What are they going to do?’ It couldn’t start without him. He took my hand and put it in his pants and told me to fondle him.”

Two hands consecrated to the service of God were committing sacrilege — and the felonious sexual assault of a minor. But Holy Orders and sacred vows never stopped him before. Schwellenbach drank deeply from his cup of lust.  

O’Donnell forced his mind to go elsewhere. Anywhere. It was a defense against the perversity before his eyes. If he tried hard enough, it was almost like he wasn’t there at all. He was practiced in the art of extreme self-distraction. “I do remember thinking, ‘Is there nothing that this man finds to be sacred?’ The same hands that he used to clean himself up were the very same hands about to hold the Body of Christ,” O’Donnell said. “I wondered just how far his sick mind would go, and how he could call himself a man of God.”  Aloysius J. Schwellenbach

O’Donnell went on to serve at Mass that morning, but he could not get the disturbing images from his head. “I was in shock,” he said. “I was sick to my stomach.”

This was not the first time O’Donnell was sexually abused by Fr. Schwellenbach. Nor was it the most extreme. The boy would soon understand how far Schwellenbach would go to quench his predatory homosexual urges. It all started with the skillful manipulation of the adults in O’Donnell’s life. It advanced to patient grooming of a boy who was just beyond puberty. Then it metastasized into forcible sodomy and other deviancy. It became one teen’s hell on earth.

O’Donnell has lived with the disastrous consequences for more than 40 years. Being the plaything of a deeply disturbed Catholic priest destroyed his youth and strangled his nascent Catholic faith. It badly wounded his ability to trust — anyone. But it didn’t break him. The 58-year-old Florida logistics manager is speaking to the media for the first time about the sexual assaults, the betrayal, his unsuccessful attempts to report the abuse, and his long road to healing and hope.


The Devil Comes Out at Night 

O’Donnell first came under Fr. Schwellenbach’s influence and control in 1975, during his eighth-grade year at St. John the Baptist Catholic School. He moved from across the Mississippi River in St. Joseph, Missouri, to live with his father after two post-divorce years with his mother. He was, in his own words, a “confused and defiant boy.” He got in trouble at school. He was a worry to his father, who sought help and counsel from his trusted priest. “My father asked the parish priest to take me under his wing and attempt to get me on the right path,” O’Donnell said. 

It was a most fateful decision.

At school, O’Donnell was kept in from recess; required to be in the presence of the principal at all times. Twice a week, he was sent to clean the church. Father Schwellenbach usually appeared at the same time, attending to his own duties. After a couple months, Schwellenbach had his eighth-grade charge report to him instead of the principal. The youngster cleaned the church garage, mowed the lawn and did any other chores assigned by the priest. “He always made time to sit and talk,” O’Donnell said. “I didn’t think anything about it, as I knew he was trying to change my attitude for my future.”  St. John's rectory looked like a modern home. Schwellenbach designed it to have separate entrances for him and other clergy.

The grooming was a gradual process. “He was getting closer and closer physically to me when I was doing chores for him. An example was him touching my leg when we would talk,” O’Donnell said. “He kept touching me in different places and started rubbing his body against mine.” Schwellenbach’s advances got bolder after a few months. One day, O’Donnell said he stood up from doing a task and Schwellenbach kissed him on the head, saying, “I really like you.” 

Prior to starting high school, O’Donnell was baptized into the Catholic faith. Shortly after, Schwellenbach assigned him duties during Mass. At first, he was an usher, taking up the offertory collection. Later, he moved up to presenting the gifts of bread, wine and water. Before long, O’Donnell was an altar server. He grew to harbor an extreme discomfort with Fr. Schwellenbach. He kept busy with activities and two jobs just to avoid him. He planned to go out for the football team at Quincy Notre Dame. But Schwellenbach was a patient hunter. In July 1976, the priest asked O’Donnell’s father and stepmother if their son could spend the night at the rectory. He spoke out of concern their son would slip back into his old ways and get into trouble. They readily agreed.

“I was very nervous and worried about what would happen,” O’Donnell said. “I knew there was no way I could talk my father and stepmother out of it. I looked at it as spending the evening with one of my buddies. …Once I had told myself that this would be no different, I had come to the conclusion that it would be okay. Still, something inside me was a little worried.”

Schwellenbach prepared steak on the grill with baked potatoes. As they ate, the two chatted about nothing in particular. O’Donnell started to feel more at ease. After washing and drying the dishes, they retired to the living room and watched television. At about 10 p.m., Schwellenbach brought out a pillow and sheet. O’Donnell told him he preferred to sack out on the living room couch. It was time for sleep. Alas, it was also time for nightmares. As O’Donnell would find out countless times, the devil comes out at night.  The interior of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois, c. 1980

The boy was startled the first time Fr. Schwellenbach woke him. The priest stood over him, wearing only underwear and a T-shirt. “I just wanted to make sure that you are sleeping comfortably,” the priest said, according to O’Donnell. About two hours later, Schwellenbach again woke a groggy O’Donnell and led him to his own bed. The youth didn’t think anything of it and quickly fell back asleep.

“As the night went on, I woke up a couple times as he was fondling me,” O’Donnell said. “The first time I told him to stop it. The second time I didn’t say anything. The third time I woke up, he had a hold of my hand, fondling him, moaning. I was so tired from being woken up so many times that I offered little to no resistance.”

At the breakfast table in the morning, Schwellenbach asked the youth how he slept. “Terrible. You kept waking me up,” the boy said. Schwellenbach asked him what he remembered. “The last time I woke up, you had my hand on your genitals,” O’Donnell told him. “He asked me what I thought of all that. I said, ‘I don’t think that’s right.’ He then kissed me on the mouth. I was so confused about everything. We ate breakfast and didn’t say much at all.”

O’Donnell was desperate to get away. He told the priest he had to get ready for football practice, then hurriedly gathered his things and left. His mind was a whirlpool of confusion, hurt and anger. He hadn’t even kissed a girl, and now this male authority figure was using him as a sex toy. It was just too much to process. So O’Donnell went to football practice, eager to “take out my anger on others and give me confidence that I was not turned on by Father Schwellenbach’s advances.”

Over the following few weeks, he kept extra busy with athletics and other activities. It was his escape. But Fr. Schwellenbach kept calling the O’Donnell residence to check on him. One day, O’Donnell was in the kitchen talking to his stepmother when the phone rang. It was Schwellenbach. 

“He was telling me how much he missed me and would like to have me come over and spend the night again. I had come up with excuses, one after the other,” O’Donnell said. “Finally, he ended the conversation and I thought, ‘Whew, I dodged that bullet.’ ” Not for long. Schwellenbach contacted O’Donnell’s father and expressed concerns about the boy’s well being. When the senior O’Donnell came home from work, he told his son of Schwellenbach’s worries and informed him he would be spending more time with the priest.

“I told my Dad that I really didn’t want to do it,” O’Donnell said. “He said that Father Al ‘is worried about you again and frankly, I am too. Just do it.’ I knew there was nothing that I could do to talk my father out of it. I told him that I would do it.”

O’Donnell found himself back at the St. John rectory, having dinner and watching television with Fr. Schwellenbach. “I was telling him that after thinking about it, I don’t ever want to do what happened last time again. He said that he was sorry I felt that way. I asked him if it bothered him, what happened. He said he had no regrets at all — and wanted to do more. I demanded that it would not happen again. Boy was I wrong. He was even more aggressive and more passionate towards me.”


It was called the Promised Land. Twenty secluded acres bounded on the west and south by County Road 148, just south of tiny Philadelphia, Missouri. The parcel, a stone’s throw southwest of the Big Branch River, has dense woods with two adjacent cottage homes on a private lake. The northernmost home has three bedrooms, a deck overlooking the lake and a fishing pier. “The place was beautiful,” O’Donnell said.  Robert O'Donnell Sr. at his home, holding a photo of his younger self.

On summer nights, the only sounds out here are the humming of the crickets and the occasional crackling of a campfire. The whispering breeze through the thick canopy sounds almost like conversation between the trees. Oh, what tales they would tell — if only. 

The placid beauty and peace of rural Marion County hid a festering, dirty secret. Father Schwellenbach owned the north property. He used it as his weekend lair, bringing O’Donnell and other boys here many times for recreation. His recreation. The walls of the little house hid the rapes and molestation from ears and eyes at the neighboring cottage. No, despite the sign on the private entry road, this was no promised land. It was a land of broken promises — and shattered vows. The crimes committed here were of the eternal variety — and they cried out to Heaven for vengeance.

Trips to the Promised Land happened about once a month. Schwellenbach would typically tell O’Donnell’s parents he needed help with yard care or some other project. They always agreed to have Bob go along. After all, they trusted Schwellenbach. The priest had counseled Bob’s father during an extreme crisis, and likely prevented a suicide attempt, his son said. Schwellenbach helped the senior O’Donnell obtain a Church annulment of his first marriage. Things like that cement a bond. They earn trust. But for the priest, it was all part of grooming. Schwellenbach played it like a vintage Stradivarius under the experienced bow of its master. So O’Donnell often found himself the only guest at the Promised Land, with Schwellenbach the major-domo.

The weekends were all similar. Activities included fishing or hanging out with the neighbor boys. Those were the good things. Schwellenbach prepared a hearty meal, with steaks on the grill, green beans and potatoes. “It was pretty much all day, grooming and building up his own fantasy,” O’Donnell said. “He just kind of made a day of it. It was evening that was the nightmare.” 

The nightmare. Schwellenbach never discussed what he was about to do. He just did it. And “it” often involved forcible anal rape (sodomy), fellatio and other types of sexual depravity. Whatever the priest wanted, it was on the menu. O’Donnell took his mind away from it all while Schwellenbach abused him. “My body was there, but my mind was somewhere else,” he said.

One weekend, O’Donnell was determined to stand up to Schwellenbach. He told the priest he was going to report his sexual assaults. “He and I got into an argument at the camp. I threatened to tell them, to tell my dad,” O’Donnell said. “It completely caught me off guard when he said, ‘Here, call him. Who do you think he’s going to believe?’

“So I stood there for a minute, then slowly hung the phone up. That’s when I totally lost hope.” O’Donnell decided Schwellenbach was correct — there was no point in saying anything. “Then I was totally submissive.”

O’Donnell estimates Fr. Schwellenbach sodomized him on more than 100 occasions over four years. That was in addition to the forcible kissing and the groping. The abuse took place at the Missouri cottage, in the St. John rectory — and even in the confessional. O’Donnell said Schwellenbach once left the priest side of the confessional box, entered the penitent’s side and sexually assaulted him. 

There were out-of-town trips to St. Louis and Dallas. For each trip, O’Donnell said, Fr. Schwellenbach was “giddy like a school girl, just talking about it.” On the drive to St. Louis, Schwellenbach wasn’t paying attention and the car drifted off the right shoulder of the road. The priest overcorrected as he wheeled back toward the highway. The light blue Buick LeSabre went out of control, slid and ended up in the ditch. The car was heavily damaged, but neither Schwellenbach nor O’Donnell was hurt. The priest told O’Donnell’s parents that the boy was driving and caused the mishap, O’Donnell said. 

“He didn't slow down at all,” O’Donnell recalled. “He just whipped it to the left to get back on the interstate from the eight- to ten-inch drop-off and lost control. We spun around a couple of times and went down a ravine.”

These trips were a change of scenery, but they included the same sexual abuse. “He called it a mini-vacation,” O’Donnell said. “He even had a fill-in priest.” The field trips were just an excuse “to rape me all weekend,” he said.

O’Donnell said he is amazed at how brazen Schwellenbach was in his sexual predation, all the while playing the faithful pastor in front of parishioners — and a trusted friend to his own parents. “If others knew what he was doing, it would make them sick physically,” he said.

“He had manipulated everyone in the whole parish. Each father, mother and child. I wondered if there were other boys that he had done the same thing to in the past. Was he doing this to others while he had me doing things to him that were anything but sacred?”

It’s impossible to know how many boys Schwellenbach molested. O’Donnell said he believes there were many others in Illinois and three other states. The priest’s cover ran out in March 1984, when a group of parents learned about some of the abuse. The parents regularly got together to play cards, while their children hung out together. 

“The children were in the same room playing board games,” O’Donnell said. “The parents were talking about how great Schwellenbach was. One of the boys interrupted them and said that Schwellenbach was touching him, kissing him like a boy does a girl.” One father became enraged and left to get a handgun, pledging to bring justice to Fr. Schwellenbach, O’Donnell said. Other parents called the rectory to warn the priest, and cooler heads prevailed. There was no gunplay or other revenge.

At least one of the families went to the Diocese of Springfield and lodged a complaint against Schwellenbach. It isn’t known which family, or the details of the alleged abuse. Shortly after, one of the families moved from St. John to another local Catholic parish. Others followed. The number of St. John parish families dropped 30 percent during Schwellenbach’s first decade in Quincy. There was no prosecution based on the parents’ complaint, though.

Schwellenbach slipped out of town, resigning his post on March 22, 1984 for “health reasons.” The closest thing to ramifications came in 2018, when Schwellenbach was listed on the diocese’s online register of priests who were “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. The web site does not include any details. Requests to the Diocese of Springfield for more details on the 1984 complaint have gone unanswered.  Rev. Landry Genosky, OFM

Schwellenbach abruptly disappeared from St. John and Quincy altogether. The Rev. Landry Genosky, OFM, had a strange encounter with his brother priest in the St. John sacristy during the third week in March 1984. “I was going to have the Mass at St. John’s at 5:30 in the evening,” Genosky recalled, according to a friend who spoke with the priest. “Father Schwellenbach threw the keys at me and said, ‘Here, I’ve got to get out of town. You’ve got to take care of the wedding.’ I wasn’t even prepared for a wedding.” 

And that was it. Schwellenbach was off to a treatment center for a few months. He moved home to his mother’s place in suburban Chicago to help care for her until her death in 1985. Then he got a new address and a new assignment — out of state.

Most Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki, the current bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, offered to meet with O’Donnell. “The incidents described in the allegations against Aloysius Schwellenbach are horrific,” Paprocki said in a written statement. “I am open to meet with those who are concerned about the diocese’s handling of their allegations, to listen to them and discuss what we could do to help bring them healing.”

>>Read the rest at ChurchMilitant.com

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Aloysius J. Schwellenbach Catholic Catholic Church Illinois priest Quincy Robert O'Donnell Sr. sexual abuse https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/5/the-wolf-at-1019-cedar-street Sat, 02 May 2020 19:39:22 GMT
'I Chose a Higher Love:' Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on the Celibate Priesthood https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/i-chose-a-higher-love-venerable-fulton-j-sheen-on-the-celibate-priesthood Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Perpetual Apologia of the Celibate, All-Male Priesthood

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen could not recall a time in his life when he did not want to be a priest. At his First Communion, he prayed that one day he would be ordained to the priesthood. That day came in September 1919, when the 24-year-old son of Newton and Delia Sheen was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill.

Sheen would become a towering figure in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, known to millions as a brilliant orator, a master teacher of the faith on television and radio, in many dozens of books, and from the pulpit. But for more than 60 years, Sheen was first, foremost and always a priest. His priesthood was more than a vocation, more than life’s work, and even beyond his identity. It was his essence, lifeblood; indeed his very nature. Or, as he often described it, Christ’s nature dwelling in him.

Sheen wrote and spoke often about the priesthood. He gave many retreats later in life to remind his brother priests who and what they truly are. Even more than 40 years after his death, Sheen’s teachings stand as a faithful sentinel against modernist wishes to “reform” the priesthood by dispatching with celibacy and even changing the all-male nature of the priesthood. It is easy to imagine him today before a podium and microphone, explaining in stirring tones and rich voice why Our Blessed Lord made the holy priesthood as He did. It’s easy because he gave those talks and wrote passionate words about his vocation and his life in persona Christi.

Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. SheenCelibacy and masculinity are the very defining characteristics of the Catholic priesthood, Sheen said.

Alter Christus; Ambassadors of Christ

Sheen emphasized that priests were ambassadors of Jesus Christ and alter Christus, “other Christs,” who are “dispensers of the mysteries of God.” The role and essential characteristics of the priesthood come from Christ Himself, Sheen said; meaning to attempt to change or modify them would be to oppose God’s divine plan. Christ calls the priest, makes the priest and provides the grace for him to completely offer himself as priest and victim.

“This is the way he continues the priesthood of Our Blessed Lord,” Sheen said in his talk, “Holy Orders.”1 “Our Lord was not a priest because He was eternally begotten by the Father. Our Lord was a priest because He had a human nature, which He could offer up for our salvation. And so we too, continuing that priesthood, are something like Jacob’s Ladder — it reaches up to the heavens and yet at the same time it is placed on the earth. Therefore every priest is a kind of another Christ, having vertical relations to Christ and Heaven and horizontal relations to men on earth.”

What Sheen described across the many decades of his ministry is a beautiful, divinely appointed plan under which ordained men continue Christ’s saving work as his priests, and a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, represents the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. “Mary at the foot of the Cross was the symbol of the Church,” he said. “Our Lord on the Cross was the New Adam. She was the New Eve.”2 Writing in his book The Priest Is Not His Own, Sheen continued: “The priest first gives up the earthly love of a woman, as Mary gave up the earthly love of a man. His ‘I have no knowledge of woman’ balances her ‘I have no knowledge of man’ ” (Luke 1:34).3

Total Gift of Self

In his many retreats for priests and bishops, Sheen often said that priestly celibacy is misunderstood as an undue burden; a cruel cross that is unfairly forced upon priests. Rather, celibacy is a gift from Christ to His priests. That gift comes with the supernatural grace to maintain and protect it. “For anyone to say that Christ was forced on us is just as false as to say that any gift such as celibacy is forced on us,” Sheen said. “It is not man’s gift to God, it is God’s gift to man.”4 

Celibacy, Sheen said during one retreat, is a treasure the the Blessed Lord keeps in “pots of earthenware.” The earthenware pots “have received a gift. A gift: celibacy. That is the way Our Lord describes it, as a gift. That is the way the Vatican council describes it. Celibacy is a gift that is given to some men. He gave it to us. We did not offer celibacy, we received it. And as long as we remain close to Him, we will have it and keep it.”5   Life is Worth LivingThen-Bishop Sheen behind the DuMont network camera on the set of his popular "Life is Worth Living" television program.

Because it comes from God, celibacy is not an impossibility for priests, Sheen said. It is one of three so-called “impossibles” mentioned in the Gospels. One is the Virgin Birth. The second is poverty, shown by the rich man who went away sad because Christ called him to donate all of his possessions and follow Him. The third was celibacy, which Christ described when discussing the types of eunuchs. 

In Sheen’s autobiography, Treasure in Clay, he quotes Christ: “ ‘There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb. There are eunuchs made by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way.’ Then He spoke of celibates who do not marry ‘for the sake of the Kingdom of God,’ finally giving away the secret of how men could be celibate. He called it a gift. He said that celibacy is not for everyone. It is only for those who receive from Him this gift. It is ‘only for those to whom it is granted. Let anyone accept this who can.’ ”6

In his magnum opus Life of Christ, Sheen wrote that when Jesus recommended celibacy, the disciples objected to the severity of the teaching because they feared it would dissuade men from entering marriage. “His answer shows that they understood His meaning. Their error was in failing to realize to what sacrificial heights He would summon men for the sake of His Kingdom.”7

In his priest retreat, “Restoring the Vineyard,” Sheen asked, “Why was the Lord, why was He a celibate? And why does he ask us? He asks in order that we might be able to make a totally committed love without division and without compromise. Just to be totally His.”8

The gift of self by priests is manifested in part through being in service at all times, day and night. “There is no such thing as saying at the end of a day, ‘Well I’ve done my duty for the day.’ Rather, Our Lord said we have to call ourselves unprofitable servants. …Labor union rules are not sufficient for us. We belong to a different union, where love, not hours, is the standard. When we think of all Our Lord has done for us, we really can never do enough. The word ‘enough’ does not exist in love’s vocabulary.”9

The limits demanded by celibacy are among the distinguishing characteristics by which the priesthood can be identified, Sheen said. “How do you know the identity of Honolulu? How do you know the identity of the Philippines? How do we know the identity of the state of New York? How do we know the identity of a football field? By its boundaries. By its limits.”10

Fire or Diamonds?

Sheen said the key is for priests to be so closely conformed to Christ as to take on His nature and imitate Him. “Celibacy is hardest when we fall out of love with Christ,” Sheen wrote. “Then it becomes a great burden. Once we priests put celibacy in the context of the Church and discuss its history, its sociology and the like, there is a groaning under the burden. Once we see it in relation to Christ, then it is less a problem and more a matter of love. Celibacy as an ecclesiastical law is hard. Celibacy as a question of discipleship is hard too, but bearable and joyful.”11

Sheen always implored priests to make a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, a practice he carried out every day of his priesthood (nearly 22,000 Holy Hours). Any priest who does this, he said, would not be lost. “I could draw a curve of my own life … my attitude toward celibacy would be seen always in direct relationship to my personal love of Christ. Once our passions cease to burn for Him, they begin to burn toward creatures. Celibacy is not the absence of passion; it is rather the intensity of a passion.”12

Sheen cited two men who gave up love of a woman for community ideals: Gandhi, who did so for the “untouchables” in India’s caste social system, and former United Nations Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld, who practiced celibacy for world peace. Unknowingly, Sheen wrote, these men were saying the same thing as St. Paul: “An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs. All he need worry about is pleasing the Lord. But a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife. He’s torn in two ways” (1 Cor 7:32-34).13   The Holy HourVen. Archbishop Sheen said a key for priests to remain true to their vows is to make a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

“If a man gives up freedom for a woman he loves, then it is also possible for a man to give up a woman for Christ,” Sheen wrote. “Love in the service of celibacy rises and falls with the love of Him. Once Christ becomes less regnant in human hearts, something has to take over to fill the vacuum.”14 

Christ on the Cross and in the Eucharist are the touchstones on the question of celibacy, he said, underscoring the need for the daily Holy Hour. “The more we fall away from response to that gift, the less we want to look at a crucifix, the less we want to visit the Lord in His Sacrament. We become like the man who crosses the street when he sees a bill collector on the other side. The Cross, therefore, is where Heaven and hell meet. It is a hell when we see the part we have played in His Crucifixion by our infidelity. It is Heaven when we remain faithful, or when we fly again to His feet for pardon.”15

The sex drive can be transformed, Sheen said, with a focus on Christ’s presence dwelling in His priests. “Carbon may either become fire or it may become a diamond. The libido may be spent or it may be harbored. It may seek unity with another person without, but it may also seek unity with another person within, namely God. …So celibacy is not just the renouncing of the person outside but a concentration on the person inside. God is not out there. He is in us: ‘I will abide in you and you will abide in Me.’ Celibacy is a transformer which multiplies an energy within to concentrate entirely on Christ Who lives in the soul.”16

Priests are imitating Christ, carrying a cross to prolong His redemption, Sheen said. The more closely they follow Christ, all the easier to be His. “If I belong to the new humanity which was born originally of a Virgin, why should I not live in exclusivity for the Master? I never felt? I gave up love in taking the vow of celibacy; I just chose a higher love.”17

Priestly celibacy and marriage are both honorable vocations, but should not be compared like some competing ideals, Sheen said. “…It is like arguing about the relative perfection of the right leg over the left. Both want God, and the degree of possession does not depend upon the state of life, but on the degree of response to the grace that God gives. The celibate is working for the Kingdom of God by ‘begetting children in Christ’ in baptism; the married by having children through the profound unity of two in one flesh. God has two kinds of lovers — those who go directly to the ultimate, such as the celibate, and those who go mediately through marriage.”18

The begetting of children in Christ, Sheen wrote, is a higher form of generation that uses the energy that would otherwise serve the flesh and transforms it into chaste generation of the Spirit. “What a blessed life is ours. What a beautiful role celibacy plays when it facilitates a higher kind of generation, when it inspires the priest to imitate the Father in begetting The Word, to imitate the Christ who begot us in the Spirit as alter Christus.19

Priests must so closely conform themselves to Christ, Sheen said, that they are not mere followers or servants, but douloi — slaves. The Greek word doulos (δοῦλος) is used nearly 50 times in the New Testament to refer to Christ. “How then do we really become true liberators?” Sheen asked in one retreat for priests. “When do we begin to be effective at liberating souls from evil, having power over nature? Now here comes the paradox of Christianity. By being slaves. Slaves of Christ. That’s what we are. The douloi of the Good Lord.”20

That work, Sheen said, is to liberate people from evil, not to liberate them from morality, family life, the Church or the Commandments. “ ‘Thanks be to God, who continually leads us about, captives in his triumphal procession.’ That’s what we are. Captives in Christ’s triumphant procession. ‘And everywhere uses us to reveal and spread abroad the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself’ ” (2 Cor 2:14-15).

“So that is what we are. The secret is out,” Sheen said. “Christ has won the battle; only the news has not yet leaked out. And we, we are slaves in Christ’s triumphal procession.”21

Priesthood and Nuptials

Sheen said the idea of women as priests comes from a fundamental misunderstanding not only of the priesthood, but God’s divine plan. 

“Mary was not a priest. If her Divine Son wanted women to be priests, He would have made His own mother a priest. The woman is a symbol of the Church.”22   The Woman I LoveSheen said women, as evidenced by the special role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are the symbols of the Church.

The key to the all-male priesthood is found in Scripture’s many references to marriage nuptials, Sheen said. “Why in the divine, biblical order can they (women) not be priests? Is it because we want a monopoly on it? Certainly not. It is because the whole divine order is based on nuptials. Creation began with nuptials —the nuptials of man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Then there came the nuptials of Israel and God. In the prophet Hosea we read, ‘I, your Creator am your husband.’ See how the natural and the divine order are linked together?”23

In the Old Testament, God tells Hosea to marry a harlot. Despite her unfaithfulness to Hosea, God tells the husband to take her back. “She is the symbol of Israel,” Sheen said. “ ‘Israel is my bride.’ Unfaithful. Disloyal. Disobedient. But I will always love Israel.” 

In the new order, Sheen said, we have not just the nuptials of man and woman, “but the nuptials of divinity and humanity in the Incarnation of Our Blessed Lord. Then on the Cross we have the nuptials of God-man and the New Israel, which is the Church. And out of this marriage, a bridegroom and bride on the Cross, the New Adam and the New Eve, there begins the new progeny. John the firstborn. Then it multiplies at Pentecost and it has been multiplying ever since. So nuptials becomes the foundation of the covenant order. God continues it.”24

Christ referred to the woman who touched the hem of his cloak and was healed “my daughter” (Matt 9:20). He called the apostles “my children.” 

“There are other ways of begetting,” Sheen said in his talk, “Pots of Earthenware.” “The Word is the seed. The seed is The Word. And The Word gives the seed to the earth, The Word gives the seed to the Church. Every time we mount the pulpit, The Word is the seed. Man gives the seed. The woman receives the seed. She fecundates it, nourishes it, brings it to life, educates it, caresses it, loves it, so that in the new order we have Christ and His Bride, the Church.

“Now those who want women to become priests no longer want the bridegroom Christ to have a bride. Should not they be proud of the fact that they symbolize the bride, which is the Church? As we have to be proud of symbolizing Christ Himself, and the Church is the ecclesial Body of Christ.”25

After 60 years and nearly three months of priesthood, Sheen died while making his Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, just one day after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in December 1979. 

“We cannot live without love,” Sheen once said, “and if we’re in love with Him, oh he provides the means. We have all the joys of another kind of love, that love that leaves all other love a pain; the unpossessed that makes possession vain.”26

– See the article at Catholic World Report

Listen to Sheen's Talk, "Pots of Earthenware"

Listen to Sheen's Talk, "Holy Orders"

– Check out my friend Thomas C. Reeves' excellent biography of Fulton J. Sheen


End Notes

1 Sheen, Fulton J., 12:24 mark, “Lesson 35: Holy Orders,” The Sheen Catechism: Fulton Sheen Audio Library, FultonSheen.com and CatholicVault.com. Sheen’s audio talks are available in various other places on the internet.

2 Sheen, Fulton J., “Mary and the Mass,” Various Topics: Fulton Sheen Audio Library, FultonSheen.com and CatholicVault.com. Sheen’s audio talks are available in various other places on the internet.

3 Sheen, Fulton J., The Priest is Not His Own, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), location 3885 of 3996, Kindle version, Amazon.com.

4 Sheen, Fulton J., Treasure in Clay: the Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, (New York: Image Books/Doubleday, 1980); Page 211, Kindle version at Amazon.com.

5 Sheen, Fulton J., “Pots of Earthenware,” Prayer, Suffering and the Spiritual Life: Fulton Sheen Audio Library, FultonSheen.com and CatholicVault.com. Sheen’s audio talks are available in various other places on the internet.

6 Sheen, Treasure in Clay, Page 212.

7 Sheen, Most. Rev. Fulton J., Ph.D., D.D., Life of Christ, (New York: Image Books/Doubleday, 2008); Page 194, Kindle edition at Amazon.com.

8 Sheen, Fulton J., “Restoring the Vineyard,” What a Priest Should Be: Fulton Sheen Audio Library, FultonSheen.com and CatholicVault.com. Sheen’s audio talks are available in various other places on the internet.

9 Sheen, “Lesson 35: Holy Orders.”

10 Sheen, Fulton J., “Holy Ambassadors — Other Jesuses,” Venerable Fulton J. Sheen: Priesthood, KeeptheFaith.org Saddle River, N.J.

11 Sheen, Treasure in Clay: the Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Page 214.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid., Page 217.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid., Page 222.

18 Ibid., Page 210.

19 Sheen, The Priest is Not His Own, Location 792 of 3996.

20 Sheen, Archbishop Fulton J., Called and Chosen: the Never Changing Face of the Priesthood, audio CD collection, St. Joseph Communications, 2002.

21 Ibid.

22 Sheen, “Mary and the Mass,” 08:52 mark.

23 Sheen, “Pots of Earthenware.”

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Sheen, “Restoring the Vineyard.”

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) ambassadors Catholic Catholic Church Catholic World Report celibacy Christ Fulton J. Sheen marriage nuptials priesthood saints https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/i-chose-a-higher-love-venerable-fulton-j-sheen-on-the-celibate-priesthood Fri, 21 Feb 2020 01:41:01 GMT
False Shepherd Part VI: Shattered Lives, Lost Faith https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/false-shepherd-part-vi-shattered-lives-lost-faith Damage from Bishop Daniel Ryan’s Predation of Boys, Young Men

Craig E. Fuiten


By Joseph M. Hanneman

HE MADE HER PROMISE TO TELL. When Craig Edward Fuiten was dying of AIDS, he implored his older sister, Sandra, to speak out about Illinois Bishop Daniel L. Ryan and tell how the prelate preyed upon young men in Springfield to feed his seemingly unquenchable homosexual lust. 

The siblings sat at the kitchen table one night in 1993 while Craig made Hamburger Helper. His deep brown eyes looked troubled — by something beyond the disease that was ending his life. “Do you know about Bishop  Ryan?’ ” he asked. “Would you promise me some things? If anybody ever says anything about him, will you speak up?”   PART LAST OF SIX

“I promise,” Sandra said.

Craig and Sandra were like twins, even though she was 13 months older. They knew each other like no one else; even  finishing each other’s sentences. So when she looked into her brother’s sad eyes that day, she knew what he was trying to say. He didn’t need to spill the details. As a teenage street kid in Springfield in the 1980s, he had been picked up for paid sex by Bishop Ryan. It still haunted him nearly a decade later. Right up to the moment he took his own life at age 29.

Craig’s journey to being one of Ryan’s teenage sexual conquests was a difficult and troubled one. He and Sandra grew up bouncing from foster home to foster home. Craig spent time in a mental facility after being labeled hyperactive. Their mother was chronically ill and their troubled father was in prison from his latest conviction for armed robbery. For a time they lived in the John Hay Homes, a crime-plagued public housing project about a dozen blocks east of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. One night while their mother was at beauty school, a gang of men broke into their home. They raped Sandra’s older half-brother and Craig. Then they molested her. 

“My Mom had a nervous breakdown from that,” Sandra said. The children were placed in a foster home in Hartsburg, Ill., about 40 miles northeast of Springfield. Sandra said she was often beaten with a wire brush by her foster mother. Her offenses? Accidentally breaking the handle off a toy teapot and  poking a hole in a bed sheet. To really teach Sandra a lesson, the foster mother took the child’s cherished Snoopy doll and burned it in the back yard with the trash. Sandra found the charred remains.  Craig Edward Fuiten in happier times. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Fuiten)

The siblings were both underfed. Craig took to eating dry dog food to sate his hunger. Things were not always safer when they lived at home. As a preschooler, Sandra recalled, she comforted her sobbing toddler brother when the police came to arrest their father for beating their mother. In later years, both children were molested by a relative. Craig was sexually abused by staff at some of the group homes where he stayed in Springfield and Decatur, Sandra said. 

By the time he “aged out” of the  child welfare system in the early 1980s, Craig was messed up and addicted to drugs. He hung out at a pool hall in central Springfield. Before long he was part of the city’s dangerous street life. “He already knew everybody down there,” Sandra said, recalling her first visit to Capital Q Billiards. Like many of the other youths on the street, Craig took to selling himself to older men who cruised the streets for sex. A favorite “john” for the street workers was Bishop Ryan, she said. 

Craig moved to Chicago and lived with his boyfriend. Sandra lived with him for a time, but could not stand the conditions and returned home. “He was freebasing cocaine,” she said, a practice where the drug is boiled to a vapor and then inhaled. “I said, ‘Craig, you’ve got to stop doing this.’ He just wouldn’t listen to me.” Craig moved to San Diego and got a good job. Things started looking up for him. Then Sandra got a call that changed the world.

 “There’s something I’ve got to tell you, but don’t tell Mom,” Craig said over the phone. “I’ve got AIDS. I’m going to come home.” So he did, moving into a mobile home not far from his mother’s house. His mother  brought him coffee each morning. Sandra visited several times a week, helping him with personal care as his health deteriorated. One night, while they sat watching television, Craig asked, “What do I look like to you?” Sandra said her first thought was of World War II concentration camps. “We always told the truth to each other, so I said, ‘You look like a concentration camp victim.’” She regretted saying it, even though she knew he wanted her honest opinion.

On Dec. 17, 1993, Craig called his sister and asked her to bring her two children over for a visit. He’d never asked his niece and nephew to visit before. Sandra was busy with the kids and thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” She never got the chance. When their mother  brought Craig his morning coffee the next day, she found him on the floor in a coma. He had swallowed a handful of Amitriptyline pills. Because he signed an advanced healthcare directive that forbid stomach lavage or pumping, there was nothing the family could do to reverse the damage from the overdose.

Sandra went to see her brother at St. John’s Hospital. Their mother stepped out of the room to call her ex-husband and let him know his son was dying. Sandra related the conversation: 

“Your son is dying.” 


“He’s dying of AIDS. Aren’t you going to come and see him before he dies?”

 “What do you expect me to do?”

Sandra wasn’t in the room when her little brother died just after midnight on Dec. 19, 1993. After being silent in a coma all the previous day, Craig stood up, ran past the end of the bed and hit the wall. As soon as hospital staff laid him back on the mattress, he died. He was three weeks past his 29th birthday.

When Sandra arrived in the room, she noticed something about Craig that was familiar from growing up. “My brother was laying there with his eyes open and that just broke my heart because of how he used to sleep,” she said. “I closed his eyes. I went in the bathroom and I locked the door and just screamed so loud.” Craig used to sleep with his eyes open. That habit came from being molested so many times during the night.

Read the rest at Church Militant


Read Part V at Church Militant

Read Part IV at Church Militant

Read Part III at Church Militant

Read Part II at Church Militant

Read Part I at Church Militant

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Daniel Ryan Catholic Catholic Church Illinois priest sexual abuse suicide https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/false-shepherd-part-vi-shattered-lives-lost-faith Mon, 10 Feb 2020 17:45:00 GMT
False Shepherd Part V: Common Denominator https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/false-shepherd-part-v-common-denominator Homosexuality and Power Key Dynamics in Priest Abuse Scandal

By Joseph M. Hanneman

IT'S ALL ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY — AND POWER. Put another way, it’s about a sodomitical lack of continence and self-control. Writing in Catholic World Report, the Rev. Paul Shaughnessy, S.J., hammered this point home in a prescient essay more than a year before the priest sex-abuse scandal broke in Boston in 2002: “A disproportionately high percentage of priests is gay; a disproportionately high percentage of gay priests routinely engages in sodomy; this sodomy is frequently ignored, often tolerated, and sometimes abetted by bishops and superiors.”   PART FIVE OF SIX

The saga that has wracked the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and scandalized its parishioners for the past 40-plus years has its primary roots in the vice of homosexuality. Former Bishop Daniel L. Ryan’s serial predation of boys, young men and priests was driven by unbridled homosexual lust — and his gamble that no one would believe his victims if they went public. He dared one to do just that. His double life was well-known in Chicago, Joliet, Washington, D.C. and Rome. Yet his enablers kept accountability from laying a glove on him. His diocesan leadership team included active homosexual priests who turned a blind eye to complaints about their boss — all while engaged in lurid, immoral acts themselves. 

By Father Shaughnessy’s definition, the Bishop Ryan situation and the hierarchy’s response are classic examples of episcopal corruption. “I define as corrupt, in a sociological sense, any institution that has lost the capacity to mend itself on its own initiative and by its own resources, an institution that is unable to uncover and expel its own miscreants,” Shaughnessy wrote. “…As an agency, the episcopacy has lost the capacity to do its own housecleaning, especially, but not exclusively, in the arena of sexual turpitude.”

The Bishop Ryan case is chronicled in painstaking detail in a nearly 570-page investigative report compiled over eight years by The Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. (RCF), a watchdog group based in Petersburg, Ill. The document said Ryan sexually abused at least four teen boys, sexually harassed and assaulted five diocesan priests and regularly cruised the streets of Springfield for male prostitutes. Ryan abruptly resigned in October 1999, but the cloud of scandals surrounding him continued for years.

Ryan was among the first three U.S. bishops accused over the past 34 years of sexually abusing minors, according to our analysis of data from watchdog group Bishop Accountability. Of the 36 bishops accused of molesting minors, 80.5 percent of the cases involved male victims. The percentage might be higher, but some U.S. dioceses will not reveal the genders or ages of alleged victims. The percentage is in line with previous statistics on the priestly sex-abuse crisis overall. The John Jay College study of sexual abuse cases from 1950-2002 revealed 81 percent of victims were male; 78 percent were post-pubescent.

Rev. Charles G. Dahlby, a former vocations director who served as a pastor and school chaplain for more than 40 years in the Diocese of Springfield, was just as blunt as Fr. Shaughnessy in his assessment. “A homosexual predator could not hope to find a more friendly and supportive environment than priesthood in the American Catholic Church,” Dahlby wrote. He said as “homosexuals flocked into the Church,” they created a subculture “that is rapidly becoming dominant.”

“Most of the scandals and evils we see in the Church today are brought about primarily by homosexuality,” Dahlby wrote. “Homosexuality is an objective moral disorder and unacceptable in the priesthood.”

A recent study published by the Ruth Institute noted the increased number of priestly sex-abuse incidents perpetrated against minors in the United States correlated with an increase in the prevalence of homosexual priests. “The share of homosexual men in the priesthood rose from twice that of the general population in the 1950s to eight times the general population in the 1980s. This trend was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse,” said the report, written by Father D. Paul Sullins Ph.D. “Four out of five victims over age 7 were boys; only one in five were girls. Ease of access to boys relative to girls accounts for about one fifth of this disparity. The number of  homosexual priests accounts for the remaining four fifths.”  Fr. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.Fr. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., of The Ruth Institute correlated pederasty in the priesthood with an increased presence of homosexuals among clerics. (Church Militant / The Download)

The trends began to change in 2002, however, according to Sullins. In 1985, males made up 92 percent of victims. That figure dropped to 74 percent in 2000 and plummeted to 34 percent by 2016. Homosexuals are much less likely to be ordained to the priesthood today, and newly ordained priests are less likely to perpetrate sex abuse against minors. The younger generation of priests is “far more devoted to orthodox faith and practice than were their predecessors.”

A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest who spent decades investigating clerical sexual abuse of minors, said sexually active bishops create an atmosphere that is ripe for trouble. “Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children,” Sipe wrote in 2016. “When men in authority—cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors—are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.”

Not News: the Case of Joseph Havey

BISHOP RYAN DESCRIBED THE SEX-ABUSE CRISIS AS LIKE THE WORLD SERIES. Ryan denied the misconduct and sexual-abuse accusations against him, although he never responded in any detail to the myriad charges. He took a dim view of the notion that there was a pattern to clerical sexual abuse, or that it was being covered up. In 1993, after a lawsuit was filed alleging sadomasochistic sexual abuse of altar boys by Rev. Joseph P. Havey of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Springfield, Ryan opined that the news media were being unfair. “I wonder how long this can make headlines,” Ryan told the State Journal-Register. “Even the World Series eventually is finally over with and other news has to be found.”

Havey was accused of fondling a naked toddler, showing hardcore pornography to teen boys, supplying illegal drugs and alcohol to altar boys, and ordering the teens to beat him with a heavy wooden paddle studded with nails while he hung naked by his wrists from a tree. During the beating sessions, the boys said, Fr. Havey would cry, scream and call out to God as he achieved orgasm. He ordered the boys to throw steel darts at his backside while he hung from the tree near the boys’ backyard fort. His rear end was badly scabbed and bloody, according to the boys’ testimony in a civil lawsuit.  Fr. Joseph P. HaveyFather Joseph P. Havey at the home of some of the sex-abuse victims.

“I looked over to that tree and what I remember is there was a little block of wood right where his groin area was and a bunch of little nails sticking out of the piece of wood, facing him, that he was humping as he was being beaten,” one of the boys later said. “It was all bloody and everything and I was like, ‘My God, that’s where his penis was.’ ” The priest made audio recordings of the beating sessions and listened to them afterward while he wiped blood from his body, the boys said. 

Havey forced a baby boy in one family to touch his genitals, and then fondled the child, lawsuit settlement records said. He made two young girls in the same family strip naked and bounce up and down on an inflatable toy known as a “hippity hop,” the girls later testified. “Hurry up and put your clothes back on, your parents are coming home,” Havey told them.

The boys were often exposed to drugs and pornography. “Father Havey would be on the middle bed in our room and all of the kids would be on the floor, smoking pot and reading pornographic magazines,” one boy testified. “It was almost like we were in school. We trusted Father Havey. We were vulnerable kids from good families. He knew we wouldn’t say anything.”  

According to testimony in a lawsuit against the diocese, Havey sexually abused seven children from the same Springfield family in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The suit named 12 children and four parents as direct and indirect victims of Havey’s sexual abuse. It was settled out of court. 

Like the case of Father Alvin Campbell (see Part Three: ‘We are in Schism’), Havey’s sex abuse was well known to the diocese virtually from the time of his ordination in May 1971. After serving as chaplain at St. Anthony High School in Effingham during the 1971-72 school year, personnel records show Havey “indicates ready willingness to transfer.” Other personnel records warned that Havey should not be placed at a high school, and he should be supervised by another priest. After Havey served fewer than six months at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Granite City in 1974, the diocese personnel board acted on suggestion of another priest that Havey “take his vacation.” He did not return to the parish and was placed on sick leave.

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Daniel Ryan Catholic Catholic Church Diocese of Springfield in Illinois Illinois priest sexual abuse https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/2/false-shepherd-part-v-common-denominator Mon, 03 Feb 2020 23:30:00 GMT
False Shepherd Part IV: More Damage and Corruption https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-four-more-damage-and-corruption Bishop Ryan’s ‘Retirement’ Doesn’t Stop the Sex Scandals

By Joseph M. Hanneman

“BISHOP RYAN RAPED ME!” If anyone thought Daniel L. Ryan’s removal from public life would stop the sex scandals surrounding the retired Illinois prelate, they were sadly mistaken. A woman in the 1400 block of Guemes Court on the northwest side of Springfield called 911 after a crying, frantic man came to her door at 6 a.m. stating Ryan raped him.  PART FOUR OF SIX

According to the Springfield Police Department incident report, the alleged sexual assault actually occurred several months earlier. The complainant, Timothy R. Hugo, 44, said Ryan invited him to his home after Hugo called a diocesan help line. Ryan occasionally answered phones at the Catholic Pastoral Center after his October 1999 resignation as bishop. Hugo called the chancery in April 2004 looking for a religious-order brother that he knew. Instead, he ended up speaking with Ryan. The bishop emeritus gave Hugo his private cell phone number and encouraged him to call. Flattered by the attention from a bishop, Hugo later called the number, and before long he had an invitation to visit Ryan at the retirement home provided to him by the diocese.  

He was impressed with Ryan’s cache of expensive beverages. “All of this fine, imported alcohol and his refrigerator is chock full of it,” Hugo said. “And so I went in and helped myself, and then he would say, ‘Would you like another drink?;’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah.’ And so I got another drink and then I kept drinking and he said … “ ‘You’re getting tired, would you like to go to bed?’ And I said, ‘Well, I better go home.’”  

Hugo had recently come to Springfield to be near his mother, whom he said was in a nursing home, dying of ovarian cancer. He had his share of troubles, including a nervous breakdown suffered at a teaching job in Oklahoma. He was taking prescription medications; something Ryan knew the day Hugo first showed up at his door. After lying down in Ryan’s bed, Hugo said the bishop disrobed and laid down next to him. According to the police report, “Ryan, who admits to being a homosexual, told (Hugo) he could not have intercourse with him because he is a prophet of God and that the pope says that homosexuality is abnormal and immoral.” Still, the report said, Ryan took Hugo’s pants off and performed “un-consensual sex on him that lasted a period of 10 minutes.” Hugo told police Ryan also took “many” nude photos of him.   Timothy R. Hugo told RCF that Bishop Ryan used a diocesan charity account to buy him clothing and gifts. (Credit: Roman Catholic Faithful)

Hugo’s account of the alleged assault by the retired bishop is part of a nearly 570-page investigative report compiled over eight years by The Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. (RCF), a watchdog group based in Petersburg, Ill. The report asserts Bishop Ryan was a serial homosexual predator who sexually assaulted minors, sexually harassed priests and regularly consorted with male prostitutes.

For more than two months, Hugo had been Ryan’s frequent guest at dinners on the town. The retired bishop gave him gifts and even bought a plane ticket so Hugo could accompany him on a month-long vacation to Germany and Lisbon, Portugal in early 2005. Ryan told Hugo there was a special sex shop in Munich he wanted to visit, the report said. Ryan bought new clothes, shoes and jewelry for Hugo for that trip using a checkbook from a diocesan charity account. 

Hugo often stopped at the nearby pastoral center, sometimes picking up Ryan’s mail. Then-Bishop George J. Lucas even autographed a photo for him. “Lucas had met Tim and knew he was keeping company with Ryan,” wrote Stephen G. Brady, RCF president and chief investigator. “Ryan heard Tim’s confession at least once and possibly twice during their relationship.” During Hugo’s conversations with Ryan, the subject of the Catholic faith came up. “He (Ryan) doesn’t agree with the pope’s stance on homosexuality,” Hugo said. “He doesn’t believe that there’s anything wrong with that.” Hugo said he witnessed Ryan kiss a priest on the lips at one Springfield parish in spring 2004. The priest “returned the kiss while the two embraced,” he said.

Hugo told RCF that Ryan had a regular overnight visitor from the Archdiocese of Chicago who traveled to Springfield on Amtrak and stayed for a few days at a time. One day Hugo stopped at Ryan’s house during the man’s visit. “He was all mesmerized with wanting to try on Ryan’s miter — and he’d parade around with it,” Hugo said. “He loved to get into his regalia and he liked Bishop Ryan’s stoles.”

The trouble between Hugo and Ryan started the night Hugo brought a boyfriend to dinner with the bishop emeritus. Ryan took a real liking to the twenty-something man, telling Hugo he might just have to steal his boyfriend. During the meal, Hugo said, Ryan told him, “You can just leave.” 

The next morning, July 5, Hugo went to Ryan’s house to see if his friend spent the night. Hugo said Ryan told him to leave. When he refused and threatened to call police and the media to expose their relationship, “Ryan kicked him on his right knee,” the police report said. That’s when Hugo ran to the neighbor’s house for help. He told the neighbor that Ryan “gives you alcohol and then takes advantage of you.” When questioned by police, Ryan denied having a sexual relationship with Hugo, and said he never kicked him. He suggested that the visible injury to Hugo’s knee was probably suffered in a fall from a bicycle. No arrests were made in the case. Police cited conflicting statements and the lack of independent witnesses for the decision to drop the matter.

“In my opinion,” Brady wrote, “Ryan had, with the help of the Springfield hierarchy, raped a 45-year-old man who was considered mentally disabled by the state. At moments like these, I feel like breaking somebody’s nose (figuratively speaking, of course).”


Move ’Em Out, Set ’Em Up

BISHOP RYAN HAD A CHOICE TO MAKE. In early spring 1984, across the desk sat Charles A. Gruber, police chief of Quincy, Ill., a city on the western edge of the diocese. The topic was sexual-abuse allegations made against the Rev. Arthur D. LeBreton, 66, pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in Quincy. Gruber had questioned a number of children in the parish and said he had enough evidence to show Ryan he had a big problem in Father LeBreton. “I told him he had to do something,” Gruber said in an interview. “He had to take him out or I was going to open it (an investigation) up and charge him. I was going to present it to the state’s attorney.”   Charles GruberFormer Quincy police chief Charles A. Gruber confronted Bishop Ryan about abuse allegedly committed by Fr. Arthur D. LeBreton. (Credit: Chicago Tribune)

Gruber said it wasn’t necessarily a slam-dunk case, but he was ready to proceed. “I went over to Springfield and met with the bishop and told the bishop that he either removed him or did something, or I was probably going to charge him (LeBreton); just to bring light on it, shed light on it,” Gruber said. “They took him out.” The LeBreton case has never been disclosed publicly before.

LeBreton had been pastor at St. Peter since 1974 and was well known in Catholic education circles as a pioneer in adapting technology to the classroom. Gruber, former president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is now a consultant for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He declined to share specifics of what the school children reported. Responding to a freedom of information request in 2019, the Quincy Police Department said it has no investigative records on LeBreton.

LeBreton vehemently denied any wrongdoing. When notified by Bishop Ryan that he was being retired, LeBreton did not want to leave his rectory. The story still circulates in Quincy that the priest was carried bodily from the parish grounds. “I don’t recall any of that happening,” said Gruber, who was also a St. Peter parishioner. “The Church took care of it. It was not widely known among the parishioners in the community. He was there and then he was gone.”

Rather than have his priest arrested and charged with criminal acts, Ryan chose to send LeBreton into retirement in Florida. LeBreton moved onto a quiet street in the Ridgewood Estates section of Sarasota, where he lived with his brother, Richard J. LeBreton, 60. Father LeBreton was not there even two years when he died on October 8, 1986. He was 68. Bishop Ryan was the principal celebrant at his funeral Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. More than 30 years later, when the Diocese of Springfield published its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, Father LeBreton’s name was not on it. The Diocese of Springfield did not respond when questioned about Father LeBreton’s case.

Gruber said the Church should have taken more action on sexual abuse of minors long ago. “The Church is not able to hide it anymore from the community. Years ago they could have gotten in front of a lot of these problems if they had been willing to accept responsibility and also to take corrective action, which they never did.”

Ryan faced a second case of alleged sexual abuse of children by a priest in Quincy during his first six months on the job. In that instance, he also chose to quickly move the priest out of town and later arranged for him to “retire” in the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark. Details of this case are also being disclosed for the first time.  Fr. Landry Genosky, OFMFr. Genosky said Fr. A.J. Schwellenbach threw the parish keys at him and said, "I've got to get out of town."

In March 1984, the diocese was confronted by furious parents who alleged their son had been molested by the Rev. Aloysius J. Schwellenbach, 62, the longtime pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Quincy and the former diocesan director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD). News of the molestation came out when a group of families was at game night at one of their homes. “The parents were talking about how great Schwellenbach was,” said a witness who knew some of the boys. “One of the boys interrupted them and said that Schwellenbach was touching him, kissing him like a boy does a girl.” 

Schwellenbach abruptly disappeared from St. John and Quincy a short time later. The Rev. Landry Genosky, O.F.M., reported a strange encounter with Schwellenbach in the St. John sacristy during the third week of March 1984. “I was going to have the Mass at St. John’s at 5:30 in the evening,” Genosky said, according to a friend who spoke with the priest. “Father Schwellenbach threw the keys at me and said, ‘Here, I’ve got to get out of town. You’ve got to take care of the wedding.’ I wasn’t even prepared for a wedding.”

And that was it. Officially, Schwellenbach resigned for “health reasons” on March 22, 1984. Schwellenbach was off to a treatment center for a few months. Then he moved home to his mother’s place in suburban Chicago to help care for her. She died in 1985. In 1988, Schwellenbach moved to Mountain Home, Ark., and built a 3,100-square-foot ranch home a short distance from St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church. The Diocese of Little Rock said Schwellenbach was retired and had no role at St. Peter. However, Mountain Home newspaper archives show he presided at dozens of funerals and other Masses at St. Peter between 1988 and his death in September 2000. He was also the chaplain for the local Knights of Columbus council. He could not have functioned as a priest in Arkansas without the local bishop’s permission.

Robert O’Donnell, a former St. John altar boy who alleged he was sexually assaulted by Schwellenbach for four years in the late 1970s, said Bishop Ryan blamed former Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas for not taking action against Schwellenbach before McNicholas died in 1983. O’Donnell, who said he fought for months to secure a meeting with Ryan to report the abuse, said the bishop told him Schwellenbach got into trouble in the Diocese of Little Rock.

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Daniel Ryan Catholic Catholic Church Diocese of Springfield Illinois sex abuse https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-four-more-damage-and-corruption Mon, 27 Jan 2020 23:00:00 GMT
False Shepherd Part III: We Are in Schism https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-three-we-are-in-schism Abuse Crisis Goes Postal in Illinois

By Joseph M. Hanneman

“WE ARE IN SCHISM.” Father John A. Hardon, S.J., minced no words when summing up the situation between Rome and the Catholic Church in the United States in the late 1990s. Few understood the inner machinations of the Holy See better than Hardon, a highly respected theologian and author of dozens of books on the Catholic faith.  PART THREE: WE ARE IN SCHISM

After unsuccessfully lobbying the curia of Pope St. John Paul II to remove Illinois Bishop Daniel L. Ryan for sexual misconduct, Hardon told associates the pope felt powerless to force reform on the American bishops. “The Holy Father wants to prevent a de-facto break — a formal, explicit schism — with Rome,” he said. Hardon echoed the sentiments of his Vatican superior, Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, who nine years earlier privately lamented that the American bishops “will not obey the Holy Father” when he seeks to intervene in U.S. church matters.

Father Hardon’s efforts and reaction are described in a nearly 570-page investigative report compiled over eight years by The Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. (RCF), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Petersburg, Ill. The document was filed with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Child and Youth Protection. It describes widespread homosexual misconduct and corruption by a sitting U.S. bishop and the years-long effort to remove him from office. This all happened years before the sex-abuse crisis blew up in the Church in 2002 — and was a harbinger of the $3.65 billion that the Catholic Church would pay out in settlements, support and attorney fees as a result of priestly sexual abuse in the United States.

Father John A. Hardon advised RCF on its investigation, and tried to get the Vatican to act on Ryan.

Having failed to get action from the U.S. papal pro-nuncio and the curia at the Vatican, RCF decided the best course of action to remove Bishop Ryan was more publicity. The group mailed 30,000 postcards detailing allegations against Ryan. On one side of the cards was a photograph of two protesters holding a banner outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The banner read: “A Disgrace to the Catholic Church! Bishop Daniel L. Ryan of Springfield, IL … Soliciting Sex from Priests! … Paying Teenage Boys for Sex!” The reverse side said Chicago Cardinal Francis George and the Vatican knew about Ryan’s homosexual activity, but did nothing to remove him.  

U.S. Postal Inspector Terrence L. Cullivan sent Brady a letter threatening criminal prosecution for the postcard mailing. He cited Title 18 of the U.S. Code that prohibited mailing communications that contain a threat to injure the reputation of another person or accuse the person of a crime. The next day, RCF attorney James Bendell filed a grievance against Cullivan with Attorney General Janet Reno. He said the postcard cannot fall under the U.S. Code prohibitions because its contents are true. He called the postal inspector’s letter a “frivolous threat of criminal prosecution.” Instead of holding back on mailings, RCF sent the postcard to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. No action was ever taken by the U.S. Postal Service against Brady or RCF. 

It’s Time to Go, Bishop

By October 1999, the Vatican had finally seen and heard enough of Bishop Ryan’s nefarious assignations. On Oct. 19, the Holy See announced Ryan’s resignation and the appointment of his successor, Msgr. George J. Lucas, a seminary rector and former vicar general from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The dual announcement was carried in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. 

Ryan positioned the move as his idea, prompted by a desire to withdraw from being “where the buck stops.” He said Pope John Paul II “has done me a great service by agreeing to my wish.” Since Bishop Ryan had previously scheduled mandatory meetings with his priests for November, the explanation that he “retired” rang hollow. He was still some six years shy of the mandatory retirement age for bishops. Lucas only found out about his appointment a few days before the Vatican announcement. 

Bishop Ryan insisted the timing had nothing to do with the three-year campaign seeking his ouster. Ryan became the third bishop to resign over the previous year after being accused of homosexual misconduct with minors and priests. His departure likely had more than a little to do with a lawsuit filed 10 days later accusing him of covering up the sexual abuse of an altar boy by the Rev. Alvin L. Campbell, 74, arguably one of America’s worst serial pederast priests. Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sexually abusing altar boys while he was pastor at St. Maurice Catholic Church in Morrisonville, Ill. 

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Frederic W. Nessler on behalf of former altar boy Matthew McCormick, alleged Bishop Ryan’s homosexual activity created a lax atmosphere that tolerated sexual abuse of minors in the diocese. The suit included testimony from former prostitutes Frank Bergen and Danny Evans (see Part One: the Figure-Eight and Part Two: Floodgates Open). The suit was later settled for $3 million, divided among 28 victims of priestly sexual abuse. McCormick said Bishop Ryan flew to Texas and tried to persuade him not to file the litigation.

Ryan and his predecessor, Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas, were well aware of Father Campbell’s long history as a predatory sex abuser, court records indicate. Police and prosecutors suspect Campbell sexually abused as many as 100 boys. Several months before Campbell was indicted on criminal charges, Bishop Ryan’s chancery told state police it opposed his prosecution. Ryan denied being uncooperative with investigators, but “in the interest of fairness” would not divulge how long he had known of Campbell’s sex-abuse track record. Campbell was paroled in 1992 and died in St. Louis in 2002.

Father Campbell’s sexual predation started at age 18 when, as an assistant scout master, he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy at camp, according to court records. Campbell became “totally preoccupied with sexual activity with young boys between the ages of 14-16,” psychiatrist Dr. Philipp Bornstein wrote in a court-ordered evaluation in 1985. Campbell told Bornstein his pederasty began in 1962 at age 37, a decade after his ordination and just before he enlisted in the U.S. military. Prior to this time, he resisted his strong attraction to young boys, he told therapists. 

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[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Daniel Ryan Catholic Catholic Church Illinois priest sex abuse Springfield https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-three-we-are-in-schism Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:15:00 GMT
False Shepherd Part II, Floodgates Open: 'Kent Did the Bish,' Accusations Pile Up https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-ii-floodgates-open-kent-did-the-bish-accusations-pile-up By Joseph M. Hanneman

DECORATED U.S. MARINE VETERAN FRANK J. KELLY WAS FED UP. Outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Washington D.C., Kelly spotted the U.S. papal pro-nuncio, who a year earlier did his best to deep-six the sexual-misconduct investigation of Illinois Bishop Daniel L. Ryan. The no-holds-barred Kelly strode up to Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, poked a finger in his chest and boomed, “You belong in jail for what you did to protect Daniel Ryan!” A nervous Cacciavillan said nothing and quickly retreated to his car. Kelly was with a group of protesters praying the Rosary and holding signs outside the semiannual meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. One sign read, “Bishop Ryan, Obey Your Superiors and Resign as Bishop!”   PART TWO: 'FLOODGATES OPEN'

The retired lieutenant colonel’s tongue lashing of the archbishop in November 1997 is described in a nearly 570-page investigative report compiled over eight years by The Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Petersburg, Ill. The document was initially filed with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Child and Youth Protection. It describes a serial homosexual predator bishop who sexually abused minors, sexually harassed his own priests and consorted with male prostitutes. The altercation with Archbishop Cacciavillan, and the six protest signs carried outside the NCCB meeting, were indicators the RCF campaign to oust Bishop Ryan had new urgency. 

Lt. Col. Frank J. Kelly, USMC (Ret.) Just weeks later, a woman contacted RCF, alleging she knew where Bishop Ryan picked up teenage male prostitutes. Sandra J. Elraghy, 34, said she knew many of the male hookers who “dated” Ryan. Stephen G. Brady, RCF president and chief investigator, interviewed her outside of a Springfield, Ill. restaurant. She said she came forward after reading the chancery office’s denials that Bishop Ryan was a homosexual, and public comments from the bishop’s spokeswoman that RCF officials were “ignorant of good church teaching.” She said she wanted the truth about the bishop to come out. “I was sitting on the laundromat table and when I read that I jumped right off there and looked up Steve Brady. I read that article, slammed the paper down, jumped off the table. I called Steve Brady and he came the same night.”

Elraghy said she often saw Bishop Ryan stop and pick up male hookers like Frank Bergen (see Part One: the Figure-Eight). “Me and Frank were standing in front of a bar just chit-chatting,” she recalled of one instance. “He said, ‘I’ve got to go, there’s The Bish.’ I said, ‘The Bish?’ He said, ‘That’s the bishop of the Catholic Church. See you later.’ ” One day, she and Bergen watched “The Bish” pick up a hustler named Kent. “Kent did The Bish,” she told Brady. Elraghy and Bergen followed the car back to the rectory at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and waited for more than an hour for Kent to emerge from Bishop Ryan’s quarters. 

Bergen told Elraghy of his own sexual involvement with Ryan. “I said, ‘that’s the bishop? He’s like taking the tithing money, the tithing money and giving it to you guys and you’re doing cocaine with it?’ ” an exasperated Elraghy asked. “And he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to get really f***ed up.’ ” Elraghy gave Brady the names of hookers whom she said serviced the bishop. Some were real names and some were street names like “Peanut,” “O.D.,” “Big Joe” and “Spider.”  

Brady tracked Bergen to the Jacksonville Correctional Center, where he was serving a sentence for retail theft. Elraghy sent Bergen a letter asking him to share his Bishop Ryan story with Brady. Two weeks later, Brady sat across from Bergen at the Jacksonville prison. What he heard over the following four hours still weighs on him more than two decades later. “I always felt I was fairly strong and pretty much a hard nut to crack,” Brady said at the time, “but the story this man told almost made me ashamed to be a Catholic.”  

Bergen told of his many trips to the cathedral rectory for sex. He said Bishop Ryan liked expensive cigars and Johnny Walker scotch. The bishop preferred young blonds. Ryan had a foot fetish. Bergen said he confessed the sinful sex to Ryan just after they completed it. Sometimes, Ryan had Bergen kiss his ring, just as the faithful do when meeting the pope. Bergen talked of a friend who had sex with the bishop and later died of AIDS. After the friend was diagnosed with the deadly disease, Bergen said, the bishop refused to visit him — even when the man was on his deathbed. Bergen named a number of other priests whom he said paid him for sex over the years. One of those clerics died in the early 1990s, one was removed from ministry by his religious order but later returned to service in the Diocese of Joliet, and another was removed from ministry in 2018 for allegedly “misappropriating” $29,000 and possessing a cache of homosexual pornography.

Armed with the testimony from Elraghy and Bergen, Brady faxed the papal pro-nuncio in Washington, advising that he had new, troubling evidence of Bishop Ryan’s predatory behavior. He scheduled a press conference for Dec. 30. A week later, Brady received a call from Jimmy M. Lago, a special assistant to Chicago’s new archbishop, Most Rev. Francis E. George, O.M.I. Lago asked RCF to delay publicizing the new charges against Ryan. Brady would only agree if Lago provided a letter stating that Archbishop George had opened an investigation into Bishop Ryan. Lago faxed a handwritten note to that effect several hours later, on Dec. 23. Lago, who was also the executive director of Catholic Charities, later succeeded Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago.   Jimmy M. Lago

It was the first exchange in what became a very contentious relationship between Brady and the Chicago archbishop. Father Alfred J. Kunz, a canon law expert from Wisconsin and close friend of RCF adviser Father John A. Hardon, warned Brady not to trust Lago, who was a close associate of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Lago flew to Springfield and met with RCF staff. He spoke to Father R. Doe and Elraghy about their allegations concerning Ryan and sexual misconduct. 

“The issues that you have raised are very serious and it is our intent to pursue them in a serious and rigorous way,” Lago wrote. Publicly, though, he sang a very different tune. Lago told the Bloomington Pantagraph there was “no proof” against Ryan, and “nobody is willing or able to even step forward at this point.” James Bendell, RCF’s attorney, fired off an angry response. “That statement is a lie,” Bendell snapped, and “a betrayal of the trust we placed in you.”

The group cut off contact with Lago and planned for a Jan. 15, 1998 press conference. The night before the event, Archbishop George telephoned Brady and urged him not to speak out. “If your first priority is to remove Ryan, do not go public,” George said, according to Brady’s notes from the call. George told him that if RCF remained “obedient” to the Church, RCF could have a relationship with the hierarchy. “He informed me that by going public, we would be stuck with Ryan,” Brady said.

Read the rest at Church Militant

Read Part I at Church Militant

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Bishop Daniel Ryan Catholic Catholic Church corruption Diocese of Springfield Illinois sex abuse https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/false-shepherd-part-ii-floodgates-open-kent-did-the-bish-accusations-pile-up Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:18:58 GMT
'The False Shepherd' Part I: the Figure-Eight https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/the-false-shepherd-part-one-the-figure-eight The Catholic news web site ChurchMilitant.com on Jan. 6 began publishing our six-part investigation on sexual corruption in the Catholic Church during the reign of Bishop Daniel Leo Ryan of Springfield, Ill. The series on Bishop Ryan grew out of our earlier investigation of the 1998 murder of Fr. Alfred J. Kunz. More than 22,000 words are dedicated to exposing the filth during Bishop Ryan's tenure. The series will be published weekly, concluding on Feb. 10, 2020.

The False Shepherd: Bishop Daniel Ryan
Was a Study in Corruption & Coverup

By Joseph M. Hanneman


Homosexual men cruising for sex partners in Springfield, Ill., drove a regular route around the downtown Amtrak station. East on Washington Street to Fifth Street, south to Adams Street, west to Fourth, north on Fourth back through the station to Jefferson Street. It was an endless loop. One of the frequent travelers on this path of perdition was none other than the Most Rev. Daniel L. Ryan, then bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. His trips were not about saving souls, however — indeed they put his and many others in deep peril.  PART ONE: THE FIGURE-EIGHT

 “He was one that would do the cruise. It was common knowledge,” said a onetime runaway who worked the streets as a prostitute. “If you were gay or you were a prostitute or you were a drug addict down there at that time, you knew the bishop.”

 It was in the Amtrak parking lot where that former prostitute, Frank Robert Bergen, first met Bishop Ryan in late 1983. A teenage Catholic school graduate, Bergen was living on the street after running away from home. He turned tricks to make quick cash. He was around 16 at the time of that first meeting. Ryan was 53. “Being in downtown Springfield alone and without no money, I found out prostitution was an answer,” Bergen said. “Around that time I was introduced to Bishop Ryan through other prostitutes in the downtown area as good money and a way to live. I was pretty, blond-haired, blue-eyed and he took a liking to me.”  

Bergen approached Ryan as he sat parked in his maroon Toyota Corolla. “He asked me if I was a cop and I said, ‘no.’ And I asked him if he was looking for company and he said, ‘yeah.’ ” That first meeting ended with Bergen and Ryan having sex in a room at the Holiday Inn South. It was the first of countless similar paid meetings over the next dozen years. Bergen said he came to know the bishop as steady money: $50 for starters, upwards to $200 — with an occasional $300 the bishop’s limit. As he became a regular favorite of Ryan, Bergen was treated to meals at the Red Lobster on Dirksen Parkway and other restaurants. Ryan paid for groceries and bought clothing, but cash was Bergen’s favorite payment method. It helped him feed his appetite for cocaine, LSD and the occasional crystal meth.

The Amtrak station in downtown Springfield was the nexus of male prostitution activity in the 1980s. Bishop Daniel Ryan and several diocesan priests were frequent visitors. (Credit: Google Maps) A former student at Springfield’s Little Flower Catholic School, Bergen became a petty thief to support his drug habit. He was among some 80-100 men and women who worked Springfield’s sex trade in the 1980s and early 1990s. When he was on the street, Bishop Ryan was his financial lifeline. He did what the  bishop asked for sexually and the bishop forked over crisp bills drawn either from his wallet or from the ATM near the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The trysts eventually moved from hotel rooms to the bishop’s residence in the cathedral rectory.

 Bergen recalled being spirited through a private garage entrance on Lawrence Avenue, past an  old-fashioned walk-in vault and up an elevator to the bishop’s quarters. He was impressed with the marble and gold furnishings in the spacious bathroom. He recalled the huge bed in Ryan’s sleeping quarters and the gold-leaf wallpaper in his study. He even described the bishop’s genital anatomy by size and shape, and noted various liver spots and skin markings on his body. As for the sex, the bishop could be rough with his teen friend. He often told Bergen, “I love you,” “Christ loves you” and “Jesus sent me here to love you,” in the heat of the romps, according to Bergen.

Bergen eventually became deeply conflicted about his homosexual activities with Bishop Ryan. Bergen said he was heterosexual and only engaged in homosexual acts for money to feed his drug habit. He said he begged Ryan to help him get into a church-run drug rehabilitation program, but the bishop refused.

Bergen asked Bishop Ryan to hear his confession after each homosexual encounter. “Go and sin no more,” Ryan would tell him, then add with a wink, “see you later.” This was sacrilege; a latae sententiae excommunicatory offense for any priest. Such an excommunication can only be lifted by the pope. That didn’t seem to worry “The Bish,” as the street people called him. It kept the young man coming back. Bergen said he didn’t want his faith to be smothered by his immoral way of life. Eventually, he said he agreed to share his story publicly in order to clear his troubled conscience and call the bishop to account for years of homosexual predation.

Bergen’s story is among the extraordinary details in a nearly 570-page investigative report compiled over eight years by The Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. (RCF), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Petersburg, Ill. The document was initially filed with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Child and Youth Protection. It provides an unprecedented closeup look inside a dysfunctional diocese with a chief shepherd who was a wolf — thinly disguised in a bishop’s miter, chasuble and crozier.

Daniel L. Ryan meets with reporters after being named bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in November 1983. (Credit: State Journal-Register).

Starting in late 1996, RCF went to great lengths to alert the Catholic Church hierarchy in America and Rome to the homosexual activities of Bishop Ryan. The report alleges Ryan regularly used male prostitutes — some were underage teenagers and some had AIDS. He put active homosexual priests in charge of the diocese, ignored other priests who had sex with barely legal-age young men and told at least one priest to embrace being “gay.” Bishop Ryan moved four priests accused of sexually assaulting minors out of state in the 1980s. He initially opposed prosecuting a serial sexual predator in 1985 and was less than cooperative with state agents in a sixth priest sexual-abuse case, we found during an 18-month review of RCF records, lawsuit documents and dozens of other sources that shed new light on Bishop Ryan’s record.

The RCF report said Bishop Ryan sexually harassed some diocesan priests and had consensual sex with others. Ryan denied it all, although he never granted a media interview or provided a detailed response to the myriad charges leveled against him. He died in December 2015 at age 85. He was among the first three Catholic bishops in the United States accused of serial homosexual misconduct and pederasty, some six years before the sex-abuse scandal blew up in the Archdiocese of Boston in early 2002. According to news reports and the records of Bishop Accountability, a watchdog group, the number of U.S. bishops accused of sexually abusing minors now stands at 36. The vast majority of cases involved pederasty, defined as sexual contact or sexual relationship between an adult man and an adolescent boy.

Exposure of such corruption, one would think, would lead to a bishop being removed from ministry pending a third-party investigation and a possible canonical trial. None of that happened. Bishop Ryan had a network of supporters among his brother bishops, the report alleges, that kept him in office even as evidence piled up of sexual corruption and abuse of episcopal authority. The report paints a troubling picture of a corrupt diocesan chancery, a licentious homosexual bishop  and a group of enablers that included two prominent U.S. cardinals, an Illinois bishop, the papal pro-nuncio to the United States and a local network of active homosexual priests. The document describes in detail the anatomy of a coverup of one of the most extensive cases of homosexual corruption in a U.S. diocese.

 Stephen G. Brady, president of Roman Catholic Faithful, testified before the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People on March 14, 2003. “Despite many years of rampant sexual misconduct and flagrant abuse of his episcopal authority, which included having sexual relations with underage boys, Bishop Ryan was protected by members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in order to save themselves embarrassment and in some cases to prevent the spotlighting of their own compromising situations,” Brady said. “The hierarchy involved in this coverup showed no concern at all for Ryan’s victims, both adult and under-age males.” Brady described Ryan as a “predatory homosexual.”

Unlike some instances of priestly pederasty and sexual misconduct in the United States since 1980, the ugly details of Springfield and Bishop Ryan were not completely hidden from the faithful. Brady’s group tried for years to get the hierarchy to investigate and remove Ryan. They started in back channels, and when that failed, took the story public. The RCF investigation alleged serial sexual misconduct, sexual assault, attempted sodomy, abuse of authority, threatening witnesses, misappropriation of Church funds, and abuse of the holy sacraments. 

The investigation eventually led to the Vatican and the curia of Pope St. John Paul II. Bishop Ryan was asked to step down several times before the Holy See abruptly announced his resignation in October 1999, the report said. For years afterward, though, Ryan was a bishop emeritus in good standing who led retreats, said Masses, confirmed Catholic youth and assisted in the consecration of an auxiliary bishop in Joliet, Ill. This despite evidence he had attempted rape and sexually abused teenage boys, cruised the streets for male prostitutes, sexually harassed and assaulted diocesan priests and even threatened to “damage” a witness who was cooperating with investigators.

Read the rest at Church Militant

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) bishop Catholic Catholic Church Illinois sexual abuse Springfield Vatican https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2020/1/the-false-shepherd-part-one-the-figure-eight Wed, 15 Jan 2020 16:59:11 GMT
A Christmas Homecoming: Priest's First-Mass Chalice Returned After 114 Years https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/12/a-christmas-homecoming-priests-first-mass-chalice-returned-after-114-years Monsignor Duane Moellenberndt of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church holds the first-Mass chalice of Rev. Otto Kraus (1882-1929). (CWR photo by Joseph M. Hanneman) By Joseph M. Hanneman
Catholic World Report

SUN PRAIRIE, Wisconsin — After a journey of 114 years along a path that remains shrouded in mystery, the ornate gold chalice used by a young priest at his first Holy Mass has come back to his home parish just in time for Christmas.

Henry Joseph Kraus, who was known as Otto, was 22 years old when he said his first Mass at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church on Sept. 7, 1905. He was ordained to the priesthood four days earlier by Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Milwaukee. 

Parishioners at Sacred Hearts gifted Kraus with a gold chalice, which held the Precious Blood at the Solemn High Mass said by the newly ordained Father Kraus. Along the outside of the foot of the chalice, the inscription reads: “In Memory of My First Mass September 7, 1905 — Presented by Sacred Hearts Congregation, Sun Prairie, Wis.”  The 1905 card for the first Mass of Rev. Otto Kraus at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church. (Photos courtesy of Sacred Hearts/Mary Gehrmann)

Some 114 years and  three months later, the chalice was held up next to the rectory Christmas tree by Msgr. Duane Moellenberndt, pastor of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. “It’s a wonderful gift to the parish,” he said, reflecting on how such a precious, blessed artifact made its way back to Sun Prairie. “It’s a marvelous gift.”

Otto Kraus studied for the priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Seminary near Milwaukee, under its longtime rector, Msgr. Joseph Rainer. He went to the seminary just before the turn of the 20th century from his family’s 115-acre farm a few miles east of Sacred Hearts church. His parents, Engelbert and Emma Kraus, eventually sent two sons into the priesthood.

Otto was the only priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Sunday, Sept. 3, 1905. The following Thursday, the new Fr. Kraus celebrated Solemn High Mass at Sacred Hearts, using the inscribed gold chalice to hold the Precious Blood of Christ. 

The chalice has engraved and extruded details on the foot, stem and node. The bowl has an engraved band halfway down from the lip. The foot of the chalice is hexagonal with slightly in-curved sides. The top of the foot features debossed images of vegetation. The foot is inscribed, but not with Fr. Kraus’ name; something that later presented a challenge in determining its original owner.

Atop the first-Mass remembrance cards given out that day were two scriptural references: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10), and “A priest forever” (Psalm 110:4). The bottom of the card read, “I will sacrifice to thee O Lord the sacrifice of praise” (Psalm 115:17)

The Mass was just the joyous occasion the parish badly needed, coming just weeks after the sudden death of its longtime pastor, Rev. Alouis J. Kuehne. Father Kuehne, 48, had led the Sun Prairie parish since 1880. Otto Kraus served as sub-deacon for Kuehne’s Solemn Requiem Mass on Aug. 16, 1905. Also assisting at the Mass was Aloysius M. Gmeinder, a parishioner who lived on the farm immediately south of the Kraus property. Gmeinder was a year behind Kraus at St. Francis Seminary.  The chalice has a hexagonal foot with curved sides, accented with debossed artwork. The stem, node and bowl have detailed engraving. (CWR photo by Joseph M. Hanneman)

Moellenberndt said the current practice is for a seminarian to receive the chalice for his first Mass from family. “I don’t know if it was true in those years, but when I was ordained, typically your parents gave you the chalice,” he said. “So it’s important not only because of what it’s used for, but also because normally it’s your parents or your family that gives you the chalice that you use for your first Mass.”

Father Kraus’ first assignment was at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, one of the oldest parishes in Milwaukee. After 18 months, he was named pastor of St. George Catholic Church near Sheboygan Falls, Wis. It’s not clear exactly how long his pastorate lasted, but ill health forced Fr. Kraus into a very early retirement. By mid-1910, he was back home on the family farm near Sun Prairie.

For nearly two decades, Fr. Kraus lived with his mother. After his father died in 1912, the family moved to Sun Prairie, settling in a home just a few blocks from Sacred Hearts. Monsignor Moellenberndt said it’s possible Fr. Kraus celebrated Masses at his home parish during those years, a practice followed by other retired priests over the decades.

After Fr. Kraus’ mother died in October 1926, he moved to Oshkosh, Wis., and became a resident at Alexian Brothers Hospital. That is where he died on Jan. 17, 1929. He was just 46. His younger brother, Rev. Aloysius P. Kraus, sang the Solemn Requiem Mass at Sacred Hearts on Jan. 21, 1929. Aloysius was ordained to the priesthood in 1912 and was pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waupun, Wis., at the time of his brother’s death. Father Otto suffered from goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland at the base of the neck, according to Mary Gehrmann, a longtime Sacred Hearts parishioner and grand-niece of the Krauses.

Read the rest at Catholic World Report

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) 1905 Catholic Catholic World Report Mass ordination priest Sun Prairie Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/12/a-christmas-homecoming-priests-first-mass-chalice-returned-after-114-years Tue, 24 Dec 2019 17:30:00 GMT
National Hog Farmer Magazine Publishes Our Feature on Truck Reman https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/7/national-hog-farmer-magazine-publishes-our-feature-on-truck-reman Trade publications can be the heart of a good public relations strategy. There are hundreds of them covering all sorts of vertical markets, from construction aggregates to law enforcement. A well-respected agriculture magazine, National Hog Farmer, just published a story we developed for client Vehicle Reman LLC. You can read an excerpt below:

'Reman' Breathes Life into Hanor's Fleet Trucks

Brandon Mortenson had a dilemma. His company’s rapid growth was putting extra pressure on its fleet of high-mileage pickup trucks. He needed a strategy to keep up with demand without breaking the bank.   National Hog Farmer magazine carried our story on Hanor Co. and its use of truck remanufacturing.

“What we ran into was we’re hiring and growing so fast that we needed to come up with a solution,” says Mortenson, fleet manager for the Hanor Co., the 12th largest pork producer in the United States. “We’re not comfortable going out and buying used fleet trucks with 100,000 miles on them. You just don’t know what they’ve been through. At least with our fleet, they’re high-mileage, but we know they’ve been well maintained. That’s where ‘reman’ came in.”

“Reman” refers to complete vehicle remanufacturing, an emerging trend in commercial vehicle markets. By diverting some of the aging truck fleet to be remanufactured rather than buying new vehicles, Hanor found that “reman” gave the Oklahoma-based company the same quality as new trucks, but saved more than 40% off the cost. Adopting remanufacturing has been a game-changer for their nearly 200-unit fleet.

For “reman,” Mortenson turned to Vehicle Reman LLC of Tyler, Texas, the nation’s only company dedicated to remanufacturing commercial Class 1-5 trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles and specialty vehicles. Vehicle Reman took an initial Ford F-150, F-550 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 from Hanor’s fleet and put them through a comprehensive 10-step remanufacturing process at its 60,000-square-foot Texas facility. The F-150 was 3-years-old with 194,000 miles; the F-550 was 9-years-old with 120,000 miles. Hanor got back two same-as-new trucks with three-year unlimited mileage powertrain warranties. The savings: about $50,000.

Read the rest at National Hog Farmer.

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) automotive manufacturing pickups remanufacturing Vehicle Reman LLC https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/7/national-hog-farmer-magazine-publishes-our-feature-on-truck-reman Tue, 02 Jul 2019 16:15:10 GMT
Bringing A Client into the Podcast Age with Video and Audio https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/6/bringing-a-client-into-the-podcast-age There is so much content pumped into social media every day that it can be totally overwhelming. The volume is high, the q St. Mary Video PodcastVideo of Fr. Richard Heilman's Sunday homily is podcast each week along with an audio-only version. uality not so much. One way to share a message without the clutter of competition is using a podcast and syndicating it. That's what we recently set up for one of our pro bono clients, St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church.

St. Mary is served by two excellent priests, Fr. Richard Heilman and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. The church has Masses in the "ordinary form" (Novus Ordo) and the Traditional Latin Mass. Each week they have two great homilies that deserve a wider audience. So we set up a podcast housed on the St. Mary web site (also created by JComm). 

Getting from homily to delivery involves a number of steps. The Masses each weekend are live-streamed on Facebook and on the parish web site. Each Mass is recorded in high-definition video, so we start with an MP4 video file and edit it down to contain just the sermon. Using Apple's QuickTime software, we export the audio to an M4a file (Apple's version of the MP3).

The St. Mary web site is published on the WordPress platform and happens to have a content plug-in specifically for podcasting. It was as simple as uploading the audio file to the web site server and the video file to YouTube. The Church Content plug-in pushes the content out in a syndicated feed. We registered the blog at Apple Podcasts and Google Play, so anyone can subscribe to the feeds for free.

This system puts the video and audio sermons out in a bunch of places, so they will reach many more people each week than those seated in the pews. 

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Catholic Mass podcast sermons https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/6/bringing-a-client-into-the-podcast-age Wed, 12 Jun 2019 19:50:34 GMT
Equipment Today Gives Major Coverage to Truck Remanufacturing https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/5/equipment-today-gives-major-coverage-to-truck-remanufacturing We secured some fantastic coverage of truck remanufacturing in the May 2019 issue of Equipment Today magazine. Their package of information included a two-page article in the print magazine and an online exclusive article on the market trends toward reman trucks vs. buying new.



Equipment TodayThe May 2019 issue of Equipment Today magazine featured our client, Vehicle Reman LLC, and coverage of the trend toward truck remanufacturing.


[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) automotive remanufacturing Vehicle Reman LLC https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/5/equipment-today-gives-major-coverage-to-truck-remanufacturing Tue, 21 May 2019 15:15:45 GMT
Some Nice PR Pickups for Reman Day 2019 https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/4/some-nice-pr-pickups-for-reman-day-2019 We've seen some nice media pickups of the story on Texas proclaiming April 11, 2019 as Remanufacturing Day. I actually thought there would be more, but it's part of the challenge to expand recognition of remanufacturing as a great way to save money on products like automobiles. My client, Vehicle Reman LLC, asked Gov. Greg Abbott to make the proclamation, and he agreed. To date, we've received coverage from:


The April 2019 issue of Reman World magazine includes an article on Texas proclaiming April 11, 2019 as Remanufacturing Day.

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) automotive manufacturing pickups remanufacturing Texas Vehicle Reman LLC https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/4/some-nice-pr-pickups-for-reman-day-2019 Tue, 02 Apr 2019 18:17:18 GMT
Remanufacturing Before and After: Seeing is Believing https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/remanufacturing-before-and-after-seeing-is-believing With a topic like vehicle remanufacturing, it's sometimes a challenge to explain to people just what the term remanufacturing means. At one time there were many words that applied to reman, such as renewal, rebuilding, restoring, refurbishment, etc. Now remanufacturing is a global standard, defined thusly:

"Remanufacturing is a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which previously sold, leased, used, worn or non-functional products or parts are returned to like-new or better-than-new condition, from both a quality and performance perspective, through a controlled, reproducible and sustainable process."

Ok, so that's maybe not as clear as crystal, but it unifies the activities that go into a remanufactured product. My Texas client, Vehicle Reman LLC, handles complete vehicle remanufacturing of Class 1-5 (that's 19,500 pounds and lighter) pickup trucks, box trucks, SUVs, vans and buses. The reman process is comprehensive. Vehicles are disassembled to the frame. All components, systems and parts are cleaned and inspected. Worn, broken or defective parts and components are replaced, often with same-as-new remanufactured ones. Sometimes the process involves replacing the entire engine or transmission. Whatever the job requires.

What makes reman such as effective tool is that it retains the core, the working parts of the vehicle that a customer has already paid for. The core and the new or reman parts go to make up the fully remanufactured vehicle. The most important work can't be easily seen in the finished product, since it's under and inside the vehicle. What can easily be seen is the savings. Vehicle Reman typically saves each customer 30-50 percent off the cost of a similarly equipped new vehicle. That should get your attention. Spread those savings across a fleet of 100 trucks and you're looking at serious revenue recovery.

Take a look at just some of the before and after images from recent vehicle reman projects. In these cases, seeing really is believing.


[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) automotive manufacturing pickups remanufacturing Texas Vehicle Reman LLC https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/remanufacturing-before-and-after-seeing-is-believing Sat, 30 Mar 2019 19:18:20 GMT
Ag Leader Hanor Co. Adopts Truck Remanufacturing Strategy https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/ag-leader-hanor-co-adopts-truck-remanufacturing-strategy Brandon Mortenson of Hanor Co. with the company's remanufactured Ford F-550 pickup truck at the company's ranch near Ames, Okla.

One of the largest pork producers in the United States has adopted a truck remanufacturing strategy that allows it to better plan vehicle resources and save money on acquisitions versus new trucks. Hanor Co., based in Enid, Okla., started by remanufacturing two Ford F-Series pickups at Vehicle Reman LLC in Tyler, Texas. Below is the news release we developed and distributed on Hanor Co.


Oklahoma Company Saves 40-50% with Reman Trucks vs. Buying New

ENID, Oklahoma — Brandon Mortenson had a dilemma. His company’s rapid growth was putting extra pressure on its fleet of high-mileage pickup trucks. He needed a strategy to keep up with demand without breaking the bank.

“What we ran into was we’re hiring and growing so fast that we needed to come up with a solution,” Mortenson said. “We’re not comfortable going out and buying used fleet trucks with a hundred thousand miles on them. You just don’t know what they’ve been through. At least with our fleet, they’re high mileage, but we know they’ve been well maintained. That’s where reman came in.”

Reman refers to complete vehicle remanufacturing, an emerging trend in commercial vehicle markets. Mortenson, fleet manager for the Hanor Company, decided to divert some of the aging truck fleet to be remanufactured rather than looking to buy new vehicles. Hanor, the 12th-largest pork producer in the United States, found that reman gave the Oklahoma-based company the same quality as new trucks, but saved more than 40 percent off the cost. Adopting remanufacturing has been a game changer for their nearly 200-unit fleet.

Mortenson turned to Vehicle Reman LLC of Tyler, Texas, the nation’s only company dedicated to remanufacturing commercial Class 1-5 trucks, vans, SUVs and specialty vehicles. Vehicle Reman took an initial Ford F-150 and Ford F-550 from Hanor’s fleet and put them through a comprehensive 10-step remanufacturing process at its 60,000-square-foot Texas facility. The F-150 was three years old with 194,000 miles; the F-550 was nine years old with 120,000 miles. Hanor got back two same-as-new trucks with three-year unlimited mileage powertrain warranties. The savings: just shy of $40,000.

During the reman process, Hanor’s trucks were disassembled down to the frames and all systems were inspected for wear, damage and defects. Wherever needed, same-as-new remanufactured components and systems were installed, including a new Ford gasoline engine for the F-150 and a reman Ford Power Stroke diesel engine for the F-550. All remanufactured parts and components are certified to the original manufacturer’s specifications. The F-550 needed body work and the flatbed was brought back to like-new condition from very rough shape. Fleet manager Brandon Mortenson at the Hanor Co. ranch near Ames, Okla.

“All in all, I had high expectations and they met them,” Mortenson said of Vehicle Reman. “Every step of the way they were very professional. They didn’t over-hype themselves. They said they can do this, it will look like this — and that’s what they did. I really, really liked that about them.”

Hanor is among the businesses on the leading edge of a trend toward complete vehicle remanufacturing. The high cost of new vehicles has created demand for more fleet options. Reman has almost unlimited potential to give fleet owners more buying power and options for end-of-life vehicles, experts say.

“This is a natural evolution of well-established automotive parts remanufacturing, but applied to the whole vehicle,” said Greig Latham, founder and managing director of Vehicle Reman. “We have a proven system that can remanufacture a truck, van or other vehicle in as little as 48 hours. When customers see the same-as-new quality and remarkable savings, reman really sells itself. The main challenge for us is many fleet buyers don’t yet know about reman and what it can do.”

Steve Belden, director of sales and marketing for Vehicle Reman, said remanufacturing has the potential to be a $1 billion annual business for the Texas company. “The savings from reman make our customers more competitive and poised for growth,” Belden said. “Those who incorporate reman into their fleet-management strategy find it easier to gauge, reduce and manage total life-cycle costs. They are able to obtain like-new quality even when the budget doesn’t allow for purchasing new trucks. That’s a huge win for any company.”

A typical reman candidate is a truck, SUV, van or automobile with at least 100,000 miles and seven years in service. Vehicles up to 20 years old can undergo remanufacturing. Vehicle Reman specializes in Ford, GM and Chrysler brand vehicles. Reman vehicles are quieter, ride more smoothly and will usually achieve much better fuel economy than the pre-reman units. 

Cost estimates for remanufacturing are quick and easy on the iPhone via the Vehicle Reman app, available as a free download from the Apple Store. Quick-turnaround estimates are also available by calling (903) 505-9988 or visiting the Vehicle Reman web site, www.vehiclereman.com/assessment.

About Vehicle Reman

Vehicle Reman is a complete vehicle remanufacturer that helps companies get twice the life from their truck fleets while saving up to half the cost of purchasing new. The company uses remanufactured parts and components to return vehicles to like-new condition. Remanufactured vehicles cost 30-50 percent less than purchasing new and are backed by a three-year powertrain warranty. Vehicle Reman specializes in Class 1-5 trucks: pickups, vans, SUVs, box trucks, flatbed trucks and specialty vehicles up to 19,500 pounds.


To access a downloadable PDF of the news release on Hanor Co. and remanufacturing, click here.

[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) agriculture automotive farms manufacturing Oklahoma pickups pork remanufacturing https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/ag-leader-hanor-co-adopts-truck-remanufacturing-strategy Thu, 28 Mar 2019 14:44:30 GMT
Texas Governor Proclaims Remanufacturing Day https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/texas-governor-proclaims-remanufacturing-day Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation designating April 11, 2019 as Remanufacturing Day in the State of Texas. It is the first such recognition by the state of the global Reman Day initiative, which aims to promote the importance of remanufactured goods and products. Abbott issued the proclamation at the request of JComm client Vehicle Reman LLC of Tyler, Texas.

The text of our news release is below:

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation to make April 11, 2019 Remanufacturing Day in the State of Texas. The statewide observance will coincide with Global Remanufacturing Day, which celebrates the growing economy for same-as-new remanufactured goods, from vehicles to office furniture to medical devices.

The governor issued the proclamation at the request of Vehicle Reman LLC of Tyler, Texas, the nation’s only company dedicated to remanufacturing Class 1-5 pickup trucks, vans, box trucks, SUVs and automobiles. “We’re grateful to Gov. Abbott for helping us communicate the importance of remanufacturing,” said Greig Latham, founder and CEO of Vehicle Reman. “It is another step in promoting the cost efficiency, reliability and environmental benefits of remanufactured products.” Texas Goes RemanThe official Texas proclamation naming April 11, 2019 as Reman Day.

Remanufacturing is a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which previously sold, leased, used, worn or non-functional products or parts are returned to like-new or better-than-new condition, from both a quality and performance perspective, through a controlled, reproducible and sustainable process. Remanufacturing has been recognized by leading universities, research institutions and manufacturers around the world as the highest form of recycling, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and reclaiming end-of-life products.

Texas is home to many remanufacturing-focused companies that produce automotive components, vehicle engines, heavy construction equipment, lumber, compressors, steam turbines, computer hardware, golf equipment and more. Vehicle Reman provides its customers with same-as-new pickup trucks and other vehicles at half the cost of buying new. Reman gives fleet owners a valuable option for getting the most out of end-of-life vehicles.

“This is a natural evolution of well-established automotive parts remanufacturing, but applied to the whole vehicle,” Latham said. “We have a proven system that remanufactures a truck, van or other vehicle back to original specifications. When customers see the same-as-new quality and remarkable savings, reman really sells itself. The main challenge for us is many fleet buyers don’t yet know about reman and what it can do.”

A typical vehicle reman candidate is a truck, SUV, van or automobile with at least 100,000 miles and seven years in service. Vehicles up to 20 years old can undergo remanufacturing. Vehicle Reman specializes in Ford, GM and Chrysler brand vehicles. Reman vehicles are quieter, ride more smoothly and will usually achieve much better fuel economy than the pre-reman units. 

The first global Reman Day was celebrated in April 2018 as a way to highlight the value of remanufactured products. Reman goods are virtually indistinguishable from similar new goods. Remanufacturing saves, on average, 85 percent of energy use, 86 percent of water use and 85 percent of material use compared to new products. Remanufacturing supports 180,000 full-time jobs in the United States and produces more than $100 billion worth of goods each year.

The manufacturing economy in Texas generates more than $218 billion of the state’s annual GDP (gross domestic product) and supports about 3 million jobs. Texas manufacturing accounted for 10 percent of American manufacturing output in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Automotive-related manufacturing generates nearly $14 billion per year in Texas and supports more than 105,000 jobs. Texas’ automobile-related manufacturing output grew nearly 380 percent between 1997 and 2015, compared to 73 percent nationwide.

About Vehicle Reman

Vehicle Reman is a complete vehicle remanufacturer that helps companies get twice the life from their truck fleets while saving up to half the cost of purchasing new. The company uses remanufactured parts and components to return vehicles to like-new condition. Remanufactured vehicles cost 30-50 percent less than purchasing new and are backed by a three-year powertrain warranty. Vehicle Reman specializes in Class 1-5 trucks: pickups, vans, SUVs, box trucks, flatbed trucks and specialty vehicles up to 19,500 pounds.


To access or download a PDF of this news release, click here.


[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) automotive circular economy economy manufacturing pickups remanufacturing SUVs Texas trucks https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/texas-governor-proclaims-remanufacturing-day Thu, 28 Mar 2019 01:43:13 GMT
Dead Rape Suspect Cleared in 1998 Fr. Kunz Homicide https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/dead-rape-suspect-cleared-in-1998-fr-kunz-homicide First Mass Day 1956Alfred J. Kunz (far left) on the day of his first Holy Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Fennimore, Wis. Shown left to right are Kunz, Rev. Lawrence Bindl, Rev. Thomas Lovell, Rev. Thomas Vickerman, Rev. Daniel Taufen and Msgr. Leo Miller. Kunz was murdered on March 3, 1998.

One potential suspect in the 1998 murder of Father Alfred J. Kunz has been cleared by DNA analysis, according to the Dane County Sheriff's Office. This March 5, 2019 story in Catholic World Report is part of my ongoing coverage of the unsolved Kunz homicide.


By Joseph M. Hanneman

A Wisconsin man with a violent history who might have been in the general area where Father Alfred J. Kunz was murdered in March 1998 has been ruled out as a suspect based on forensic testing, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office says. Meanwhile, another early person of interest in the case was recently charged with an unrelated homicide. 

Joseph Donald Cavanaugh of La Crosse was ruled out in the Kunz murder using DNA testing, according to Detective Gwen Ruppert, lead investigator for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. Cavanaugh committed suicide in August 2002 after being charged with sexual assault and other felonies. In mid-2018, Dane County Sheriff David J. Mahoney said Cavanaugh’s DNA was at the state crime lab for comparison to DNA found at the Kunz crime scene. Joseph D. CavanaughMilwaukee Journal Sentinel photo.

Twenty-one years ago this week, Father Kunz, 67, was murdered in the hallway of St. Michael Catholic School in the tiny enclave of Dane, about 15 miles northwest of Madison. He was found face-down in a pool of blood about 7 a.m. on March 4, 1998, by teacher Brian J. Jackson, who was arriving for the school day. Kunz’s throat had been cut; he died from massive blood loss. His murder set off the largest criminal investigation in Dane County history, one which has yet to yield an arrest or assignment of blame. Catholic World Report published an extensive three-part series on the murder in August 2018.

Cavanaugh was on the radar of investigators because he was allegedly in the Dane area at the time of the murder. He allegedly made statements to his biological father that he had attacked Kunz when the priest refused to give him money. The man’s uncle, retired Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy John Cavanaugh, relayed the information to news media and investigators.

“Had to rough him up”

“His biological father tells me that he’d (Joseph) had contact with Father Kunz, that he’d asked him for money and was refused, so he ‘had to rough him up,’” John Cavanaugh wrote in a 2006 email to Catholic commentator Matt C. Abbott. “This is the same terminology he used when he related another incident to his father: that he’d asked his grandfather for money, was refused, and had to ‘rough him up.’”

John Cavanaugh said he repeatedly tried to get Dane County investigators to look at his nephew as a suspect. He said he submitted an audio recording of his conversation with Joseph Cavanaugh’s father. He said the efforts went nowhere. He tried reporting the information to the FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, but was referred back to Dane County investigators, according to the email. Cavanaugh expressed frustration with the Kunz investigation. “I’m convinced they are in no hurry to admit that perhaps they should have followed up on this information years ago,” Cavanaugh wrote.

In April 2002, Joseph Cavanaugh was charged with sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend for more than five hours, stealing money from her, and leading police on a high-speed chase through residential neighborhoods in La Crosse. The attack occurred a day after the woman broke up with Cavanaugh. During the incident, the thrice-married father of five threatened to kill the woman and her children, according to the criminal complaint. Cavanaugh had a harassment restraining order issued against him in August 2001, according to court records.

In the 2002 incident, Cavanaugh was charged with kidnapping, burglary, three counts of sexual assault, robbery, and fleeing police. He was held in jail on a $100,000 cash bond. On the morning of August 6, 2002, Cavanaugh was found hanging in his cell at the La Crosse County Jail. He was rushed to the hospital, but resuscitation efforts failed. He was 43. His trial had been set to begin in early September 2002.

An autopsy photo of Father Kunz released in 2018 shows the priest’s right hand with major bruising along the index finger, bruises on three of the four knuckles, and several small puncture-type wounds across the back of the hand. The sheriff’s department would not disclose from what area of Kunz’s body the unknown DNA was collected. 

“We certainly realize this is a case that many people are looking for answers to, but we have to maintain some of that information for the integrity of the case,” said Elise Schaffer, public information officer for the sheriff’s department.

Cavanaugh is at least the second person cleared in the case by use of DNA testing. Last year, Mahoney said DNA and other investigative tools had ruled out Brian Jackson, the teacher who found Kunz’s body. Jackson was long a focus of the investigation. Schaffer declined to say if other suspects or persons of interest have been excluded via DNA testing. The DNA sample collected at the scene resulted in only a partial genetic profile, which was not enough to run through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database maintained by the FBI.

Over the 21 years since the murder, investigators shifted their focus away from Jackson, and from the theory that Kunz was killed over investigative work he was doing on homosexual corruption in the Church. More recently, Mahoney said his department is looking at burglary as a possible motive, and considering the possibility that the perpetrator is dead. 

“We have multiple individuals who we would consider to be persons of interest, who either have motive or had a pattern of practices, maybe in the area of burglaries. We’ve looked at this as a crime of passion, we’ve looked at this as being a crime of opportunity—a burglary that was interrupted,” Mahoney said in a 2018 interview with Catholic World Report.

Early POI now charged with murder

Another early person of interest in the case is back in the news in 2019 after being arrested and charged with homicide. Robert M. Pulvermacher, 68, of Middleton, Wisconsin, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the January 13 stabbing death of Harold A. Johnson, 88, of Portage, Wisconsin. Police said surveillance cameras showed Pulvermacher and Johnson walking to Johnson’s car in a casino parking lot, where Johnson expected to collect $100 he loaned Pulvermacher. After a short time inside Johnson’s car, Pulvermacher emerged, smoked a cigarette, and returned to the casino, police said. Johnson’s body was later found in the parking lot. Pulvermacher was arrested in Madison on January 23 and is being held on 250,000 cash bond. Robert PulvermacherRobert Pulvermacher is charged with the January 2019 murder of a man in a Wisconsin casino parking lot.

Pulvermacher once lived in the village of Dane and was a parishioner at St. Michael Catholic Church. In 1973 Father Kunz married Pulvermacher and his then-wife, and he baptized their children. Detectives questioned Pulvermacher in 1998 because of his previous involvement in burglaries, but they became convinced he was not involved in the Kunz murder. He had an alibi for the night Kunz was killed. At the time he had no financial motive to break into St. Michael’s, authorities said. Pulvermacher told detectives he had no animosity at all towards Father Kunz. In the years after the Kunz murder, Pulvermacher escaped from prison while serving a burglary sentence, setting off a huge manhunt in central Wisconsin. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for those escape-related charges.

“He will be silenced”

Interesting information on the case is coming to light in a 10-part podcast series, “The Devil You Know,”published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The series, by writer Gina Barton, profiled a St. Michael parishioner and close friend of Kunz who told sheriff’s investigators she had a vision of the killing.Mora Smith, a former waitress in nearby Waunakee, says she almost rushed out of her home to check on Father Kunz late on the night of March 4, the night he was killed. 

Smith told the police that the Sunday before the murder, she had a sense of dread while at Mass, and heard a sinister voice during her prayers that said, “He will be silenced.” Kunz earlier warned Smith about a would-be suitor who kept coming into the restaurant where she worked. The man, who worked as a tattoo artist, had a criminal past. When he would not cease in his affections, Kunz told him to leave Smith alone, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The newspaper also published PDFs of Dane County Sheriff’s Office incident reports—never released to the public or news media—that describe the morning Kunz’s body was found. 

An ambulance from Waunakee Area EMS was first to arrive at St. Michael School at 7:13 a.m., after teacher Brian Jackson called 911 dispatch at 7 a.m. Three emergency medical technicians noticed Jackson walking from the west end of the school, covered in blood and motioning for them to come inside. Jackson made a hand gesture across his throat, which they took to mean someone’s throat had been slashed. The EMTs had been advised by dispatchers not to enter the school, because it was a possible crime scene.

Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy David Cattanach arrived about one minute after the ambulance. He spoke briefly with Jackson. “Mr. Jackson appeared to be uncertain as to whether the subject inside was deceased, but he did tell me that the subject was stiff and cold,” Cattanach’s incident report read. “He also advised that he had touched the individual inside, per instructions from the 911 center who had told him to attempt to find a pulse.” Jackson was placed in the ambulance, where he began to pray the Rosary. One of the EMTs heard him say, “Poor Father Kunz. Who could have done such a thing?” the report said.

When Cattanach entered the school, he found Kunz lying on his back, and his “arms were extended at angles toward the ceiling.” The priest was dressed in dark slacks. Casual-type shoes were laying near the body. A large ring of keys was found near one of Kunz’s hands.

Detectives Dawn Johnson and Dale Hauschel interviewed Jackson on February  12, 1999, and obtained more details about the discovery of Kunz’s body. The detectives said Jackson expressed concern with the amount of time he spent with Kunz’s body during his conversation with the 911 dispatcher. “It looks like I set this thing up. People are thinking what am I doing here that long,” Jackson said, according to the report. “‘I know for a fact I didn’t kill him.’”

During the 1999 session with detectives, Jackson was asked if he had anything to do with Father Kunz’s death. “I loved the man,” he replied, according to the report.

Anyone with information on Father Kunz’s murder should contact the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, (608) 284-6900, or [email protected].

Related reading: “The unsolved murder of Fr. Alfred Kunz,” by Joseph M. Hanneman | Part One | Part Two | Part Three


[email protected] (JComm Enterprises LLC) Alfred J. Kunz Catholic crime homicide murder priest Wisconsin https://www.jcommjoe.com/blog/2019/3/dead-rape-suspect-cleared-in-1998-fr-kunz-homicide Tue, 05 Mar 2019 17:15:00 GMT