Extension magazine - Summer 2023

Our president, Father Jack Wall, met Pope Francis in a private audience in Rome as part of a Catholic Extension delegation that included our chancellor, Cardinal Blase Cupich; our vice chancellor, Bishop Gerald Kicanas; and more than 60 women faith leaders. The Holy Father thanked Catholic Extension for "caring for the needs of the poor and most vulnerable."

Our president, Father Jack Wall, met Pope Francis in a private audience in Rome as part of a Catholic Extension delegation that included our chancellor, Cardinal Blase Cupich; our vice chancellor, Bishop Gerald Kicanas; and more than 60 women faith leaders. The Holy Father thanked Catholic Extension for "caring for the needs of the poor and most vulnerable."


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catholicextension.org<br />


SUMMER <strong>2023</strong><br />

‘YOU BEAR<br />


THE GOD-<br />


OF EVERY<br />

PERSON.’<br />

—Pope Francis<br />

THE<br />




FOR<br />

POPE’S<br />

20<br />

Nun up against organized crime 30

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 3<br />

S T O R I E S O F F A I T H F R O M C A T H O L I C E X T E N S I O N<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has published <strong>Extension</strong><br />

<strong>magazine</strong> since 1906 to share with our donors<br />

and friends the stories illustrating our mission:<br />

to work in solidarity with people to build up<br />

vibrant and transformative Catholic faith<br />

communities among the poor in the poorest<br />

regions of America.<br />

Contact Us<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

150 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 2000<br />

Chicago, IL 60606<br />

800.842.7804<br />

<strong>magazine</strong>@catholicextension.org<br />

catholicextension.org<br />

Board of Governors<br />


Cardinal Blase J. Cupich<br />

Archbishop of Chicago<br />


Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas<br />

Bishop Emeritus of Tucson<br />


Reverend John J. Wall<br />


Elizabeth Hartigan Connelly<br />


Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes<br />

Bishop Emeritus of San Bernardino<br />

Most Reverend Steven Biegler<br />

Bishop of Cheyenne<br />

John W. Croghan<br />

Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores, STD<br />

Bishop of Brownsville<br />

Most Reverend Ronald Hicks<br />

Bishop of Joliet<br />

The Honorable James C. Kenny<br />

Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch<br />

Bishop Emeritus of St. Petersburg<br />

Peter J. McCanna<br />

Michael G. O’Grady<br />

Christopher Perry<br />

Andrew Reyes<br />

Sister Fatima Santiago, ICM<br />

Karen Sauder<br />

Pamela Scholl<br />

Most Reverend Anthony B. Taylor<br />

Bishop of Little Rock<br />

Most Reverend George L. Thomas, Ph.D.<br />

Bishop of Las Vegas<br />

Timothy Turner<br />

Most Reverend William A. Wack, CSC<br />

Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee<br />

Edward Wehmer<br />

Your investment in Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is tax<br />

deductible to the extent allowed by law. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> is a nonprofit 501(c)( 3 ) organization.<br />

ISSN Number: 0884-7533<br />

©<strong>2023</strong> The Catholic Church <strong>Extension</strong> Society<br />

All rights reserved.<br />

Pope praises<br />

our work 20<br />

Our president, Father Jack Wall,<br />

met Pope Francis in a private<br />

audience in Rome as part of a<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> delegation<br />

that included our chancellor,<br />

Cardinal Blase Cupich; our<br />

vice chancellor, Bishop Gerald<br />

Kicanas; and more than 60<br />

women faith leaders. The<br />

Holy Father thanked Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> for “caring for the<br />

needs of the poor and most<br />

vulnerable.”<br />

BUILD to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Board 10<br />

NEWS BRIEFS | First woman religious of color to join our<br />

Board of Governors helps advance our mission<br />

Sister Fatima Santiago, ICM, named<br />

Young, old rejoice at new church 12<br />

CHURCH BUILDING | The dedication of St. Peter Claver<br />

Church in Lexington, Kentucky<br />

Faith community survives flames of<br />

destruction 16<br />

CHURCH BUILDING | Ojibwe people open their new church<br />


Still fighting for justice 32<br />

FEATURE | The untold stories of Catholics in the South<br />

How are good bishops formed? 36<br />

FEATURE | Meet Most Reverend Anthony Celino of El Paso,<br />

Texas<br />

IGNITE<br />

Being Catholic means getting outside<br />

our own ‘bubble’ 40<br />

PARISH PARTNERSHIPS | Connecticut parish supports<br />

Catholics on Native American reservation in Minnesota<br />

Letter from Father Wall 4<br />

Mission needs 8<br />

Catholic cattle ranchers in Nebraska 18<br />

Connect 42<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> is a publication provided to you and<br />

your family by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. If you do<br />

not wish to continue receiving <strong>Extension</strong>, email<br />

<strong>magazine</strong>@catholicextension.org and we will<br />

remove you from this mailing list.<br />


4<br />

Letter from Father Wall<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 5<br />

IN 1910, only five years after<br />

the founding of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, St. Pope Pius<br />

X issued a decree making<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> a society<br />

that would henceforth be<br />

under the protection of the<br />

Holy See.<br />

Ever since then, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has maintained<br />

a special connection with<br />

the Holy See. That connection<br />

is what brought a recent<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> delegation<br />

to Rome, where we had<br />

the great honor to meet with<br />

Vatican leaders, including the<br />

pope himself.<br />

But it was perhaps an<br />

even greater honor to be in<br />

the company of incredible<br />

women leaders in the Church<br />

who were part of our delegation<br />

to Rome, many of whom<br />

are past recipients of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s Spirit of Francis<br />

Award and Lumen Christi<br />

Award or are the beneficiaries<br />

of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

support.<br />

During our pilgrimage,<br />

these extraordinary women<br />

shared with the Holy See<br />

how they are implementing<br />

Pope Francis’ teachings<br />

through their work with<br />

communities on the peripheries.<br />

These heroic and<br />

exemplary women are each<br />

building the “field hospital”<br />

Church that Pope Francis<br />

frequently speaks of, which<br />

walks in solidarity with the<br />

people whom our culture<br />

and society have deemed disposable.<br />

Some of the women who<br />

Follow the women who<br />

follow the risen Christ<br />

joined us in Rome, and<br />

whose reflections you will<br />

read in this <strong>magazine</strong>, include:<br />

Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ—<br />

who has provided care to<br />

hundreds of thousands at<br />

the U.S.-Mexico border and<br />

received Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

Spirit of Francis Award while<br />

in Rome.<br />

Jean Fedigan—who is our<br />

2022-<strong>2023</strong> Lumen Christi<br />

Award recipient and the<br />

founder of Sister José Women’s<br />

Center in Tucson, Arizona,<br />

which serves women<br />

who have been trafficked and<br />

experienced violence, homelessness<br />

and hunger.<br />

Sister Clarice Suchy, STJ—<br />

who has responded to victims<br />

of the mass shooting<br />

that left 19 children dead in<br />

Uvalde, Texas in May 2022.<br />

Dozens of religious sisters<br />

in our U.S.-Latin American<br />

Sisters Exchange Program—<br />

whose ministries have<br />

directly touched the lives<br />

of hundreds of thousands<br />

of people throughout our<br />

country.<br />

We fittingly began our pilgrimage<br />

with these and other<br />

honored guests in the Church<br />

of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.<br />

Located in the heart of Rome,<br />

it holds the bodily remains<br />

of St. Catherine of Siena,<br />

arguably one of the greatest<br />

women in the history of<br />

Catholicism. Not only does St.<br />

Catherine have the rare distinction<br />

of being a doctor of<br />

the Church (one of only four<br />

women in 2,000 years to hold<br />

such a title), she also helped<br />

save the papacy.<br />

The popes had abandoned<br />

Rome for 70 years. This was<br />

a big problem because part<br />

of what makes a pope the<br />

pope is the fact that he is the<br />

bishop of Rome. But in the<br />

14th century, successive<br />

popes took up their residency<br />

in France, requiring<br />

a no-nonsense woman to<br />

solve this decades-long, international<br />

religious scandal.<br />

During her arduous and ultimately<br />

successful campaign<br />

seeking the pope’s return to<br />

Rome, St. Catherine of Siena<br />

did not mince words, appealing<br />

to his spiritual sensibilities<br />

as much as his masculine<br />

identity.<br />

“I beg of you, on behalf of<br />

Christ crucified,” she pleaded,<br />

“that you be not a timorous<br />

child but manly. Open your<br />

mouth and swallow down the<br />

bitter for the sweet.” She followed<br />

up with this zinger,<br />

after the pope had returned<br />

to Rome but was still second-guessing<br />

his decision:<br />

“Up, father, like a man! For<br />

I tell you that you have no<br />

need to fear.”<br />

St. Catherine’s struggle is<br />

perhaps what the women<br />

of Jerusalem might have felt<br />

when they were trying to<br />

convince the disbelieving<br />

apostles of the resurrection<br />

of Jesus.<br />

On the road to Emmaus,<br />

the apostles could not piece<br />

together the evidence of<br />

Jesus’ resurrection as they<br />

talked through the sequence<br />

of events. They said:<br />

“Some women from<br />

our group, however, have<br />

astounded us: they were<br />

at the tomb early in the<br />

morning and did not find<br />

[Jesus’] body; they came<br />

back and reported that they<br />

had indeed seen a vision of<br />

angels who announced that<br />

he was alive. Then some of<br />

those with us went to the<br />

tomb and found things just<br />

as the women had described,<br />

but him they did not see” (Lk<br />

24:22-24).<br />

The apostles cannot grasp<br />

that which is plainly obvious<br />

to the women. Their stubborn<br />

skepticism on the road<br />

to Emmaus prompts the disguised<br />

Jesus to burst out with<br />

the words: “Oh, how foolish<br />

you are! How slow of heart to<br />

believe all that the prophets<br />

spoke!” (Lk 24:25).<br />

That is why I have always<br />

believed it important to follow<br />

the women who follow<br />

the risen Christ.<br />

In the Gospel stories,<br />

women are the ones who<br />

accompany the suffering<br />

Jesus to the cross while the<br />

other disciples scatter in<br />

fear. They are also the first to<br />

encounter Him as the risen<br />

one and the first to give witness<br />

to his other disciples of<br />

the transformative power of<br />

what God is doing through<br />

His Son for each of us and for<br />

the hope of all humanity.<br />

Today, in many diverse<br />

places, this same paradigm of<br />

“first encounter” is especially<br />

modeled by lay and religious<br />

women of faith, just like the<br />

ones we read about in Scripture,<br />

and just like the women<br />

featured in this <strong>magazine</strong><br />

whom we recently introduced<br />

to Pope Francis.<br />

These women are once<br />

again showing us where the<br />

risen Jesus can be found, and<br />

they are patiently waiting for<br />

the rest of us to finally see<br />

Christ with our own eyes.<br />

The women who joined us<br />

in Rome are also like St. Catherine<br />

of Siena, pleading with<br />

the Church to be anchored<br />

in a certain place to maintain<br />

its credibility. Today, the<br />

place that the Church must<br />

not abandon, they tell us, is<br />

its place among the poor and<br />

with those on the peripheries.<br />

Will we listen to the powerful<br />

and prophetic voices of<br />

these women of faith? Will<br />

we follow the women who<br />

lead us to the risen Christ?<br />

Rev. John J. Wall<br />


Father Jack Wall<br />

stands with our<br />

guests of honor<br />

in Rome. (Left<br />

to right): Sister<br />

Norma Pimentel,<br />

MJ; Jean Fedigan;<br />

Sister Clarice<br />

Suchy, STJ; Sister<br />

Marie-Paule<br />

Willem, FMM;<br />

Father Jack Wall;<br />

Sister Carol<br />

Keehan, DC;<br />

Sister Fatima<br />

Santiago, ICM.;<br />

and Melva<br />


Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 7<br />

BUILD<br />


News from<br />

around the country<br />

New, tax-saving<br />

opportunity!<br />

Your QCD can now be used to fund a Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> charitable gift annuity.<br />

Please support our mission!<br />

Saves you<br />

taxes<br />

For the first time ever, new legislation expands charitable, tax-advantaged possibilities for those who<br />

want to use their qualified charitable distributions (QCD) to create a charitable gift annuity (CGA).<br />

To learn more, please contact Betty Assell, Manager of Annuities, at 800-842-7804 or<br />

bassell@catholicextension.org.<br />

+<br />

Provides you<br />

payments for<br />

the rest of your life<br />

Deacon Eddie<br />

Grider incenses<br />

the faithful at<br />

St. Peter Claver<br />

in the Diocese<br />

of Lexington,<br />

Kentucky, at<br />

the church’s<br />

dedication.<br />

See story,<br />

page 12.<br />

catholicextension.org/annuities<br />

Some restrictions apply.

8 BUILD Mission Needs<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 9<br />

Your donation will be<br />

applied to a similar<br />

need should your<br />

specified project be<br />

fully funded before<br />

we receive your<br />

support. Thank you!<br />

Our Lady of Good Counsel Mission<br />

is located just four miles south of the<br />

Guam<br />

California-Oregon<br />

border. Since 1942,<br />

the church has<br />

proudly served<br />

the town of Dorris,<br />

which today has<br />

Caroline Islands<br />

a population of<br />

less than 1,000.<br />

Your donation will<br />

help with repairs to<br />

cracked walls at the mission church.<br />

Marshall Islands<br />

Samoa-Pago Pago<br />

Chalan Kanoa<br />





The Diocese of Boise currently has less<br />

than 70 priests, of which 27 are already<br />

retired, to serve<br />

200,000 Catholics<br />

across the entire<br />

state of Idaho. But a<br />

new generation of<br />

priestly vocations is<br />

emerging in the Gem<br />

State. Your donation<br />

will support the<br />

education of the 14 seminarians who are<br />

currently discerning a call to priesthood in<br />

this diocese.<br />

Hawaii<br />


Your donation will support a poor faith community in<br />

need this summer and help keep the presence of the<br />

Catholic Church strong in our country. To contribute to<br />

one of these projects, please contact us at <strong>magazine</strong>@<br />

catholicextension.org or call 1-800-842-7804.<br />


Sister Carol Ann<br />

Prenger, SSND, has<br />

been serving St.<br />

Matthew Church<br />

in Ripley since<br />

2019. Throughout<br />

the Diocese of<br />

Jackson, Catholics<br />

represent less<br />

than 2 percent of the total population.<br />

Yet this faith community, under Sister<br />

Carol’s guidance, has an ambitious goal<br />

to double the number of people it serves<br />

in the next two to three years. Your<br />

donation will support her salary.<br />


Father Luis Marrero Padilla serves San<br />

Miguel Arcángel Parish in Bayamón,<br />

Puerto Rico. The<br />

parish serves a<br />

mix of elderly and<br />

young families.<br />

This poor but<br />

vibrant community<br />

cannot afford to<br />

support Father<br />

Padilla’s salary. Your<br />

donation will ensure that the parish can<br />

continue to operate and bring pastoral<br />

care to its people.<br />



This log cabin church in the northernmost<br />

part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was<br />

built using local logs<br />

and rocks. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> supported its<br />

construction in 1952, and<br />

today it serves residents<br />

of and summer travelers<br />

in Copper Harbor, which<br />

is surrounded by Lake<br />

Superior on three sides.<br />

Your donation will support repairs and window<br />

replacements at Our Lady of the Pines Church.<br />


Father Vicente Terrazas serves St.<br />

Christopher Parish and three additional<br />

mission churches within<br />

25 miles of each other<br />

in the rural communities<br />

of southern Georgia.<br />

This includes St. Jude<br />

Mission Church, which<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has<br />

been supporting for<br />

more than 50 years.<br />

Your donation will help this small church<br />

with its operating costs.<br />

Puerto Rico<br />

St. Thomas-<br />

Virgin Islands

10<br />

BUILD<br />

News Briefs<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 11<br />


Become a parish<br />

partner<br />

Does your parish<br />

want to support the<br />

mission of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>? Visit<br />

catholicextension.<br />

org/parishpartnerships<br />

or<br />

contact Natalie<br />

Donatello at<br />

ndonatello@<br />

catholicextension.org<br />

to learn more.<br />

Follow us on social<br />

media<br />

Follow Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

social media<br />

channels to see more<br />

stories, photos and videos<br />

about the vibrant<br />

faith communities we<br />

support!<br />

Facebook:<br />

@Catholic<strong>Extension</strong><br />

Instagram:<br />

@catholicextension<br />

Twitter:<br />

@Cath<strong>Extension</strong><br />

Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, and Sister Fatima Santiago, ICM, visit San Juan Diego<br />

Mission in Citrus City, Texas, a church built with <strong>Extension</strong> support.<br />

Visionary sister joins Board of Governors<br />

Sister Fatima Santiago, a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Heart<br />

of Mary, joined Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Board of Governors at the beginning<br />

of this year. She is the first religious sister of color to ever<br />

serve in this capacity. A native of India, she has served as a missionary<br />

in many parts of the world. Twenty years ago, she arrived in a<br />

destitute neighborhood in southern Texas, where she saw potential.<br />

With two other sisters, she developed Proyecto Desarrollo Humano,<br />

an outreach center devoted to supporting the social, educational,<br />

health and spiritual needs of women and families. In 2014<br />

she and her fellow sisters received Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Lumen<br />

Christi Award.<br />

As a member of our Board of Governors, Sister Fatima brings her<br />

pioneering spirit and pastoral wisdom to help Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

advance its mission across the country.<br />



AT SYNOD<br />

ROME<br />

In April the Vatican<br />

announced that—for the<br />

first time—women and<br />

laypeople will be voting<br />

members alongside<br />

bishops at the global<br />

Synod on Synodality<br />

in October <strong>2023</strong>. The<br />

announcement occurred<br />

on the same day that Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> brought a<br />

delegation of women leaders<br />

to Rome to meet Pope<br />

Francis in a private audience.<br />

Read the story on<br />

page 20.<br />




About 100 ordinations of<br />

priests and an estimated<br />

650 ordinations of<br />

permanent deacons will<br />

occur this year in <strong>Extension</strong><br />

dioceses. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has been supporting<br />

the education<br />

of these newly ordained<br />

leaders in more than 50<br />

dioceses. Read a thank<br />

you letter from a soonto-be-ordained<br />

priest<br />

in Tucson, Arizona, on<br />

page 42. Pictured above:<br />

Deacon Kyle Tannehill will<br />

be ordained in Helena,<br />

Montana, in June <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

2022<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> published its<br />

2022 annual report that features<br />

15 years of progress since Father<br />

Jack Wall began his<br />

tenure as president. Some of<br />

these achievements include<br />

the significant increase in<br />

our financial impact through<br />

our various programs, which<br />

30 YEARS<br />



Little Flower Parish in<br />

Browning, Montana,<br />

which serves the Native<br />

American people of Blackfeet<br />

Nation in the Diocese<br />

of Helena, has the<br />

longest streak of annual<br />

financial support from<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> of<br />

any single faith community<br />

in the country<br />

(30 straight years). The<br />

parish and its Catholic<br />

school, De La Salle Blackfeet<br />

School, continue to<br />

provide immense hope<br />

and opportunity to this<br />

community.<br />




TEXAS<br />

Bishop Daniel Flores of<br />

the Diocese of Brownsville,<br />

Texas, a member of<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Board<br />

of Governors, is one of<br />

six leaders around the<br />

world named to the<br />

special commission<br />

tasked with preparing<br />

the Vatican’s upcoming<br />

Synod on Synodality in<br />

October. He said, “It’s a<br />

tender responsibility to<br />

remember those voices<br />

and to carry them into<br />

the wider dialogue of<br />

the communion of the<br />

Church.”<br />

totaled $271 million in 2022 alone. The<br />

report focuses on the hope we see for the<br />

future based on the immense amount of<br />

good being done in the name<br />

of the Church, especially in<br />

the most challenging circumstances<br />

and places. Find the<br />

full report at catholicextension.org/annual-report.<br />


12<br />

BUILD <strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 13<br />

Church Building<br />

In our spring <strong>2023</strong> edition of<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> <strong>magazine</strong>, we introduced<br />

you to St. Peter Claver<br />

Church in Lexington, Kentucky,<br />

a historically Black<br />

Catholic church that now<br />

serves a diverse community<br />

of many cultures and races,<br />

including Congolese refugees.<br />

After publishing the article<br />

about the new church construction<br />

project supported<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, we<br />

received letters asking for a<br />

follow-up story once the new<br />

church was dedicated.<br />

There are many beautiful<br />

things about the dedication<br />

of a new Catholic church, but<br />

maybe the best part is waiting<br />

at the front door. It’s like<br />

the “big reveal” moment on<br />

those home makeover shows,<br />

but it’s even more exciting and<br />

meaningful.<br />

That was especially true<br />

for 94-year-old Clementine<br />

Thompson. When she was a<br />

young girl, she was not welcome<br />

at her local Catholic parish<br />

because she was African<br />

American. Now, as the parish’s<br />

favorite elder, she proudly<br />

headed up the procession line,<br />

which waited at the front door.<br />

Also there was David Young,<br />

who has been a parishioner<br />

since 1978 and is Grand Knight<br />

of the Knights of Peter Claver.<br />

He wanted to cry for joy at<br />

this culmination of 20 years<br />

of blood, sweat, tears, planning,<br />

funding and building<br />

the church. Being a dignified<br />

Grand Knight, he allowed himself<br />

only a modest sniffle.<br />

YOUNG, OLD<br />


NEW<br />

CHURCH<br />

The dedication of<br />

St. Peter Claver Church<br />

in Lexington, Kentucky<br />

Many young people were<br />

also lined up at the door. Twoyear-old<br />

Ellie was there with<br />

her mom and dad. She eyed<br />

the beautiful baptismal pool as<br />

a possible setting for a future<br />

adventure.<br />

LEFT Bishop<br />

John Stowe,<br />

OFM Conv.,<br />

presides<br />

over the<br />

consecration of<br />

the new church.<br />

ABOVE Father<br />

Norman<br />

Fischer is the<br />

joyful pastor of<br />

St. Peter Claver<br />

LEFT<br />

Clementine<br />

Thomas<br />

remembers<br />

the days<br />

when Black<br />

Catholics were<br />

unwelcome in<br />

churches.<br />

Rio was there with her<br />

mom, Kimathi. She would be<br />

one of the first junior high students<br />

to be confirmed in the<br />

new church later that month.<br />

She was wide-eyed with<br />

expectation, caught up in the<br />

energy she had only before<br />

experienced at pep rallies.<br />

Engaged couple Brennan<br />

and Ben were there. Their wedding<br />

was right around the corner,<br />

and Brennan was thankful<br />

the main aisle in the new<br />

church was so long. Their 10<br />

bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen<br />

would fit just fine.<br />

Father Norman Fischer, the<br />

ebullient and unstoppable pastor<br />

of St. Peter Claver, waited<br />

at the front door along with<br />

Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv.,<br />

the visionary leader of the<br />

Diocese of Lexington. Father<br />

Fischer opened the door of<br />

the church, saying, “Enter the<br />

gates of the Lord with thanksgiving,<br />

His courts with songs of<br />

praise!”<br />

The wait was over.<br />

Entering with songs of praise<br />

It has been said that “Catholic”<br />

means “here comes everyone.”<br />

In other words, we are a<br />

universal Church where all are

14<br />

BUILD<br />

Church Building<br />

“And he began to send them out two by two...” – Mark 6:7<br />

Parishioners pray together for the first time in their new church.<br />

welcome. The St. Peter Claver procession<br />

was profoundly, proudly<br />

and perfectly Catholic.<br />

Led by the cross, the people of<br />

God entered, blessing the main<br />

aisle with their footsteps. There<br />

were more than 500 parishioners,<br />

many of whom had absolutely no<br />

success holding back their tears.<br />

They were beautiful: Korean, Filipino,<br />

Congolese, Caucasian and<br />

African American.<br />

Tears mixed with the water from<br />

the stunning baptismal font as<br />

parishioners blessed themselves. It<br />

was a standing-room-only crowd.<br />

St. Peter Claver is built for 400, but<br />

don’t suggest to Father Fischer that<br />

he build a bigger church. Everyone<br />

fit just fine. The church got more<br />

beautiful as each aisle filled in.<br />

The people were accompanied<br />

by altar servers, Anuarite dancers,<br />

the yellow-sashed Knights and<br />

Ladies of Peter Claver, two bluerobed<br />

choirs more than 50 strong,<br />

lectors, ushers, candle bearers, five<br />

drummers and five concelebrants<br />

(making considerably less noise<br />

than the drummers). They rolled<br />

in like a wave.<br />

How loved are the churches that<br />

hold us<br />

The dedication of a Roman<br />

Catholic church is a thing of<br />

beauty. It is a baptism of a building,<br />

a promissory note to the<br />

future, a love note to the generations<br />

passed. It is the best of us, a<br />

thoughtful, moving ritual that perfectly<br />

expresses how loved are the<br />

churches that hold us.<br />

Bishop Stowe preached that the<br />

church already felt like home. It<br />

was the work of the assembly’s<br />

hands and a feast for the eyes. He<br />

said that the living presence of<br />

Jesus was longing to burst out, creating<br />

a new heaven and a new<br />

earth. “And it starts right here, right<br />

now,” he said. At Fourth and Jefferson<br />

streets where the Catholic<br />

Church has been present for more<br />

than a century, a new day was<br />

dawning that would be a source of<br />

new life for the neighborhood.<br />

Then came the anointing. The<br />

four walls were anointed with<br />

holy chrism, signifying that the<br />

new church building is given over<br />

entirely and perpetually to Christian<br />

worship. St. Peter Claver is the<br />

New Jerusalem come to Kentucky.<br />

The sign of peace was holy<br />

chaos. It was clear that the parishioners<br />

were crazy about each<br />

other. It was the kingdom come.<br />

Then everyone, with reverent<br />

excitement, made their first holy<br />

Communion in the new church.<br />

They were second graders again.<br />

Bishop Stowe pronounced a<br />

final blessing. Then the parishioners<br />

were ready to do what he suggested<br />

in his homily, namely that<br />

from this consecrated place, the<br />

assembly would now “burst out as<br />

the living presence of Jesus, creating<br />

a new heaven and a new<br />

earth.”<br />

Father Fischer described the<br />

new St. Peter Claver as the “little<br />

church with a big heart that just<br />

got bigger.” Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has<br />

been honored to help.<br />

Donors in the Two by Two Giving Society—leaders giving at least $1,000<br />

annually—walk in companionship and solidarity with poor Catholic faith<br />

communities.<br />

This esteemed group helps Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> recognize and support the<br />

hidden heroes lifting up the Church on the margins of society.<br />

Contact Kate Grogan, Development Coordinator, at 312-795-6046 or<br />

kgrogan@catholicextension.org for more information.<br />


16<br />

BUILD <strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 17<br />

Church Building<br />



FLAMES<br />


Ojibwe people open<br />

their new church<br />

In 2017 a fire destroyed the<br />

nearly 125-year-old St. Mary’s<br />

Mission Church.<br />


In the early hours of the morning<br />

on December 2, 2017, St.<br />

Mary’s Mission on the Red Lake<br />

Indian Reservation in the far<br />

reaches of northern Minnesota<br />

went up in flames and was<br />

destroyed. The parish serving the<br />

Ojibwe people was established in<br />

1858, and the building that had<br />

just been reduced to ashes had<br />

stood for nearly 125 years.<br />

The people were crushed.<br />

“It was just the worst feeling the<br />

night that it happened,” recalled<br />

Brandi Jourdain, longtime parishioner<br />

and secretary at St. Mary’s<br />

Mission School, located directly<br />

behind the church. Three generations<br />

of her family—her parents,<br />

siblings and children—had attended<br />

the school and worshiped<br />

at the church that was now gone.<br />

“There were so many memories<br />

that went with that church. That<br />

was a huge loss, not just for me but<br />

for our whole community,” Jourdain<br />

said. “The following weekend<br />

we filled up the school gym and<br />

we all had services together and<br />

tried to make peace. There were a<br />

lot of tears shed. Basically, it was a<br />

funeral.”<br />

A critical presence<br />

After the fire, no<br />

one was ready to<br />

give up on St. Mary’s<br />

Mission, especially<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

which has invested<br />

more than $1.6 million<br />

in this community’s<br />

church<br />

and school over the<br />

past 45 years. The<br />

church’s presence is essential in a<br />

place that faces many economic<br />

challenges. Its school for Native<br />

American children is a safe and<br />

nurturing environment amid the<br />

high suicide rates and drug addiction<br />

that are all too common in<br />

this area.<br />

Among the many ministries<br />

supported by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

was a suicide prevention and grief<br />

counselor for the reservation.<br />

“The mission of this church has<br />

Students at St. Mary’s Mission School<br />

celebrate Mass in the school gymnasium.<br />

served as that safeguard for the<br />

people,” explained Father John<br />

Christianson, pastor of St. Mary’s<br />

Mission Church and school superintendent<br />

and administrator.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is now<br />

proudly supporting the new<br />

church’s construction, along with<br />

2,000 other donors across the<br />

country who responded to the<br />

mission’s mail campaign. After six<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is helping build a new church for St. Mary’s Mission on the<br />

Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota.<br />

long years, those efforts are finally<br />

coming to fruition.<br />

A place of opportunity<br />

The Catholic Church provides<br />

the community not only shelter<br />

and safety but also resources and<br />

opportunity.<br />

Longtime parishioner Charmaine<br />

Branchaud has seen those<br />

opportunities presented to her<br />

family thanks to St. Mary’s Mission<br />

Church and School. She and<br />

her husband sent their two sons<br />

to the school. One of her sons is<br />

now a case manager for the homeless,<br />

helping people get back on<br />

their feet and becoming part of the<br />

solution after witnessing the struggles<br />

the Ojibwe face in Red Lake.<br />

“He loves helping people, and I<br />

think if he hadn’t gotten his Catholic<br />

education at St. Mary’s, I don’t<br />

know that this would have been<br />

part of his personality and char-<br />

acter,” Branchaud said. “Catholic<br />

education instilled this in him. It<br />

made us giving and loving people.”<br />

Giving and loving people like<br />

the Branchauds make up the dedicated<br />

core group of Ojibwe parishioners<br />

at St. Mary’s Mission. Having<br />

their new church now nearly<br />

complete means getting a permanent<br />

place to call their own again.<br />

“These people have been coming<br />

to St. Mary’s for Mass in the<br />

school gym now for six years, and<br />

they’re still coming back,” Father<br />

Christianson said. “So, to give<br />

those people a place that they can<br />

call church, it warms your heart.”<br />

A home for the Ojibwe<br />

The new church will have signage<br />

up both in English and<br />

Ojibwe. The late Father Jerry Rogers,<br />

a two-time Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

Lumen Christi Award nominee<br />

who passionately served St.<br />

Mary’s Mission from 2009 until<br />

his death in September 2022, had<br />

commissioned a statue of Jesus<br />

and Mary depicted as Ojibwe people.<br />

St. Mary’s Mission is welcoming<br />

the people of the Red Lake<br />

Indian Reservation back into a<br />

Catholic church where they will<br />

have a home for many generations<br />

to come.<br />

“The new building will become,<br />

in a very short time, an invitation<br />

to evangelization. It will be a great<br />

gift and blessing to the people of<br />

Red Lake Nation,” said Reathel<br />

Giannonatti, director for the office<br />

of stewardship and development<br />

for the Diocese of Crookston. The<br />

dedication of the new church later<br />

this year will be a capstone for<br />

proud Ojibwe Catholics that they<br />

are not and will not be forgotten<br />

by the Catholic Church.<br />

“I get to be inside of a new,<br />

beautiful building,” Branchaud<br />

exclaimed. “It’s absolutely gorgeous!<br />

I fell in love with it as soon<br />

as I walked in. No amount of<br />

thank-yous can even express our<br />

gratitude for helping us build this<br />


18<br />

BUILD <strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 19<br />

Church Building<br />

In its early days, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

built thousands of churches<br />

in the American heartland.<br />

When new settlements of Catholic<br />

families were in need of<br />

a church, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

helped erect a place of worship for<br />

these resilient, far-flung communities<br />

of people working the land as<br />

farmers and ranchers.<br />

Although times have changed,<br />

many of these same places maintain<br />

their humble, hardscrabble<br />

way of life.<br />

This is the case for a cluster of<br />

tiny towns and immense stretches<br />

of cattle ranches in the Sandhills<br />

region of northwestern Nebraska.<br />

Three churches in the Diocese of<br />

Grand Island make up the Sandhills<br />

Catholic Community, the two<br />

farthest of which are an hour’s<br />

drive from each other. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> is supporting repair<br />

projects at all three churches to<br />

ensure these sacred spaces are safe<br />

and beautiful for generations to<br />

come.<br />

A shepherd of ranchers<br />

The Sandhills Catholic Community<br />

encompasses 5,000 square<br />

miles and serves about 150 families.<br />

Most parishioners drive 50<br />

miles or more from their cattle<br />

ranches to attend Mass. Father<br />

Matthew Nash, who grew up in<br />

Nebraska, leads the community. He<br />

requested to shepherd the people<br />

of this region.<br />

“The ranchers care about being<br />

good stewards of what they’ve<br />

been gifted. They make sure the<br />

cattle are cared for and raised on<br />

land that is good for them. They<br />

work hard at it,” he said.<br />

Each weekend he drives on long<br />

5,000-SQUARE-MILE<br />

PARISH<br />




The story of the Catholic people<br />

of the rural Nebraska Sandhills<br />

stretches of highway to celebrate<br />

Mass at each church. “All three<br />

parishes work cohesively together<br />

and do their best to support one<br />

another,” he said. “They know that<br />

it’s sink or swim for all of us up<br />

here.”<br />

A respect for and active participation<br />

in the Christian faith is<br />

commonplace in this area. Father<br />

Nash said that looking out for each<br />

other and living the beatitudes are<br />

part of people’s DNA. The faithful<br />

welcome and trust one another to<br />

the point that the church doors are<br />

kept unlocked.<br />

“You can ask anyone for help,<br />

regardless of their background,<br />

and they’ll do it,” Father Nash said.<br />

All the Christian denominations<br />

work together toward common<br />

goals, and they take turns hosting<br />

different community events,<br />

such as baccalaureate services for<br />

the graduating public high school<br />

class.<br />

Carol Wright is the office administrator<br />

and a lifelong parishioner<br />

at St. Mary’s Church in Mullen—she<br />

was baptized and married<br />

here. The parish was founded in<br />

the early 1900s, and Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

helped build the current<br />

brick church in 1964.<br />

Wright said that everyone in the<br />

Sandhills area believes deeply in<br />

God, and you can see His works<br />

everywhere. “We call it God’s<br />

country,” she said. Caring for one’s<br />

neighbor is just a part of everyday<br />

life. “It’s not just the religion,<br />

it’s the fellowship. I feel we’re very<br />

blessed,” she added.<br />

Leanne French is a lector at the<br />

parish. She moved to Mullen, her<br />

husband’s hometown, in 2001. She<br />

said that when she lived in Seattle,<br />

she didn’t know her priest. When<br />

she arrived in this small ranching<br />

community, she was welcomed<br />

with open arms. She values the<br />

safety and family-oriented atmosphere.<br />

“Your children can pretty<br />

much run loose, and everyone<br />

takes care of them,” she said.<br />

Kris Forsen is a high school<br />

secretary and instructs children<br />

in the parish’s religious education<br />

program. “Our community as a<br />

whole is geared around children,”<br />

she said.<br />

Forty miles west and nestled<br />

up in the hills is All Saints Church<br />

in Hyannis. Maria Thompson has<br />

attended this church for 60 years.<br />

The faith community was there<br />

for her when her husband passed<br />

away a few years ago. Parishioners<br />

brought her food, comfort and all<br />

the support they could. When a<br />

third grade girl saw Thompson sitting<br />

alone in her pew during Mass,<br />

she got up and sat by her, and she<br />

continues to do so today.<br />

Welcoming new life<br />

It is not always easy to make<br />

ends meet, but parishioners are<br />

generous to help those struggling<br />

within and outside of the Sandhills<br />

region. For example, they have<br />

established a fund to support community<br />

members who have cancer,<br />

and they even give to parishes<br />

in Haiti to drill for water.<br />

Although parishioners have<br />

devoted their own time, skills and<br />

money to maintain the churches,<br />

several bigger projects have<br />

stacked up that require greater<br />

attention. This includes repairing<br />

cracked sidewalks and decaying<br />

flooring, replacing ceiling<br />

tiles and painting. The repairs are<br />

LEFT Father<br />

Matthew Nash<br />

serves ranching<br />

families in rural<br />

northwestern<br />

Nebraska.<br />

FAR LEFT St. Thomas<br />

of Canterbury in<br />

Thedford, Nebraska,<br />

is one of three<br />

churches that make<br />

up the Sandhills<br />

Catholic Community.<br />

about looking to the future, welcoming<br />

new life and engaging the<br />

children.<br />

“It’s very welcoming when a<br />

church is clean,” Father Nash said.<br />

“There’s just something inviting<br />

about that. Beauty attracts.”<br />

He said some new families were<br />

initially drawn into the parish<br />

through the beauty of the<br />

churches.<br />

The Sandhill Catholic Community<br />

is grateful for Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

recognition of the importance<br />

and value of the faithful<br />

who work hard in the heartland of<br />

America.<br />

“The Book of Acts speaks of us<br />

being all one Church collectively<br />

and all one body. It’s beautiful, especially<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

to see the one body look after each<br />

of its individual members—that if<br />

the hands are struggling, the feet<br />

and the legs come to the aid,” Father<br />

Nash said. They regularly have<br />

Mass intentions for Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

supporters, he said, “to lift<br />

up all those who are so generous<br />

to the Father in our prayer.”

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 21<br />

INSPIRE Features of faith<br />


Pope Francis<br />

addresses<br />

Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong><br />

‘I am pleased to know of<br />

your concern to place those<br />

who are often victims of<br />

today’s “throwaway culture”<br />

at the heart of the Church’s<br />

pastoral activity’<br />

Pope Francis addresses the<br />

delegation from Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>.<br />


22 INSPIRE<br />

Cover Story<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 23<br />

T<br />

HIS PAST APRIL, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> was delighted to<br />

gather with more than 60 women<br />

faith leaders in Rome for a private<br />

audience with Pope Francis.<br />

The women included religious<br />

and lay leaders from across the<br />

United States who are doing<br />

extraordinary ministry among the<br />

poor, vulnerable and suffering<br />

in our society. The delegation<br />

was led by our chancellor,<br />

Cardinal Blase Cupich; our<br />

vice chancellor, Bishop Gerald<br />

Kicanas; and our president,<br />

Father Jack Wall. The meeting<br />

occurred on a very historic day<br />

in which the Vatican announced<br />

that, for the first time, women<br />

and laypeople would be allowed<br />

to vote alongside bishops at the<br />

Synod on Synodality in October<br />

<strong>2023</strong>. The announcement was<br />

yet another important step to<br />

affirm and highlight the vital<br />

role that women and indeed all<br />

laypeople play in the life of the<br />

Church, especially in regard to<br />

the care of the marginalized and<br />

voiceless of our society.<br />

As our meeting got started,<br />

Cardinal Cupich offered the<br />

following introduction to the<br />

Holy Father on behalf of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

Cardinal Cupich’s<br />

remarks to the pope<br />

Holy Father, good morning!<br />

Thank you for receiving us,<br />

the leaders and guests of<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> Society. This<br />

pontifical organization works<br />

with missionary dioceses to build<br />

vibrant Catholic faith communities<br />

among the poor in the poorest<br />

regions of the United States. In<br />

addition to being in missionary<br />

dioceses of the United States, we<br />

are also in Cuba, reconstructing<br />

churches. And we are helping<br />

the bishops in Puerto Rico, who<br />

are receiving grants from the U.S.<br />

federal government to rebuild<br />

churches and schools following<br />

three natural disasters.<br />

You can see that we have<br />

brought with us religious sisters<br />

who are helping in our missionary<br />

dioceses, and in particular Sister<br />

Norma Pimentel, whom you already<br />

know. She will receive today<br />

the Spirit of Francis Award from<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, in recognition<br />

of her efforts to make a Church<br />

that acts as a field hospital and for<br />

her service to migrants.<br />

In the name of all of us here,<br />

we give you thanks, Holy Father,<br />

for the inspiration that you give to<br />

our missionary activity and to the<br />

ministry that we offer to those in<br />

need. We hope that our visit gives<br />

you an idea of how we are all trying<br />

to adopt and put into practice<br />

the concept of a “poor Church<br />

for the poor.” We feel blessed to<br />

be living in these times of your<br />

Petrine ministry. We assure you<br />

of our prayers, and we ask your<br />

blessing of our work. Holy Father,<br />

many thanks!<br />

Pope Francis’<br />

complete remarks to<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

Dear friends, I offer a cordial<br />

welcome to all of you<br />

from the Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

Society who have gathered<br />

this week in Rome. Your presence<br />

gives me the opportunity<br />

to express my heartfelt gratitude<br />

for your efforts in providing assistance<br />

to missionary dioceses, particularly<br />

in the United States, and<br />

in caring for the needs of the poor<br />

and vulnerable. I thank you, too,<br />

for your valuable contributions to<br />

the rebuilding of the Church and<br />

the broader society in Puerto Rico,<br />

following the various hurricanes<br />

and earthquakes which brought<br />

such devastation to the island in<br />

recent years. As well, I congratulate<br />

Sister Norma Pimentel, the<br />

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase Cupich,<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s chancellor, as Father Jack<br />

Wall, president of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, looks on<br />

with women faith leaders in our delegation.<br />


recipient of the Spirit of Francis<br />

Award, for her service to the many<br />

men, women and children arriving<br />

at the southern border of the<br />

United States in search of a better<br />

future. It is a joy for me also to<br />

recognize the presence of leaders<br />

from culturally diverse groups<br />

that the Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> Society<br />

supports.<br />

In striving to build up the Body<br />

of Christ, the Church (cf. Eph 4:12),<br />

by giving a voice to those who are<br />

frequently voiceless, you bear witness<br />

to the God-given dignity of<br />

every person. This is particularly<br />

important at the present time, as<br />

the entire Church is undertaking<br />

a journey together on the path of<br />

synodality. Listening to and including<br />

the experiences and perspectives<br />

of all, especially those on the<br />

margins of society, enriches the<br />

Church’s life and ministry. For the<br />

Church is like a rich tapestry, made<br />

up of many individual threads that<br />

come from various peoples, languages<br />

and cultures, yet woven<br />

into a unity by the Holy Spirit.<br />

Indeed, the Spirit creates unity by<br />

harmonizing the multiplicity of<br />

the members of the Body of Christ<br />

and the diversity of their gifts. In<br />

this regard, I am pleased to know<br />

of your concern to place those<br />

who are often victims of today’s<br />

“throwaway culture” at the heart<br />

of the Church’s pastoral activity; in<br />

this way, their voices can be heard<br />

and all can benefit.<br />

Dear friends, I encourage you<br />

as well to continue to express<br />

“God’s style” in the work that you<br />

do. God’s style is never distant,<br />

detached or indifferent. Instead,<br />

it is one of closeness, compassion<br />

and tender love. It is my hope that<br />

your service will always reflect<br />

these qualities, showing that God<br />

draws near to our lives, that He is<br />

moved to compassion for those<br />

in difficult situations, and that His<br />

love calls us to be in relationship<br />

with Him and to see our neighbor<br />

as truly a brother and sister. The<br />

Church, therefore, remains grateful<br />

for every expression of fraternal<br />

charity and care shown to all who<br />

are in need, for in this way, God’s<br />

loving mercy becomes visible and<br />

the fabric of society is strengthened<br />

and renewed.<br />

Once again, I express my gratitude<br />

for your commitment to the<br />

Church, and I offer my prayerful<br />

best wishes for your work. Upon<br />

you, your families and all whom<br />

you serve, I invoke the Lord’s<br />

blessings of wisdom and strength,<br />

and I ask you please to remember<br />

to pray for me. Thank you.

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 25<br />

Poor faith communities need your help<br />

BELOW<br />

Michelangelo’s<br />

“Pietà” in St. Peter’s<br />

Basilica in<br />

Vatican City<br />

LEFT Jean Fedigan,<br />

from Tucson, Arizona,<br />

reaches out to the<br />

pope in the name<br />

of the thousands<br />

of homeless and<br />

trafficked women she<br />

has served.<br />

‘<br />

Continue<br />


to express<br />

God’s style’<br />

MORE THAN 60 religious<br />

sisters and lay women leaders<br />

traveled to Rome on pilgrimage<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

and gathered for a<br />

private audience with Pope<br />

Francis. All of these women<br />

have walked the painful<br />

pathway of the pietà to follow the risen<br />

Christ.<br />

Michelangelo’s “Pietà” is a mystery. Placed<br />

at the right-hand side of the entrance to St.<br />

Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, it almost overwhelms<br />

the rest of the church. It certainly<br />

overwhelms anyone attempting to take it in.<br />

Mary is so young. She had no idea what her<br />

promise, “May it be done to me according to<br />

your word” (Lk 1:38), would come to mean.<br />

Her son, Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb,<br />

lies battered, beaten and broken in her lap.<br />

Her motherhood has taken on a new and terof<br />

love and compassion<br />


Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s support for ongoing ministries<br />

in this Native American parish represents a true miracle for<br />

a community in a desperately poor area.<br />

Donate today<br />

Text “<strong>Extension</strong>” to 50155 to make a gift<br />

catholicextension.org/give<br />

rible dimension. She is<br />

the Mater Dolorosa, the<br />

Mother of Sorrow.<br />

Her right hand supports<br />

her lifeless son,<br />

trying to delay the final<br />

pull of gravity. Her<br />

left hand, open and extended,<br />

points downward.<br />

Is she trying to say, “Look at what you<br />

have done to my son!” Is it a plea for<br />

mercy? A cry for help? Is she offering up<br />

that which has been so brutally taken? Being<br />

a great work of art, the “Pietà” means<br />

all of those things and more.<br />

Sister Clarice Suchy, STJ, from Sacred<br />

Heart Parish in Uvalde, Texas, joined us in<br />

Rome. She has been caring for the victims<br />

of the mass shooting on May 24, 2022, at<br />

Robb Elementary School, which left 19<br />

children and 2 adults dead.

26 INSPIRE<br />

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Sister Clarice believes that<br />

Mary is extending her hand to<br />

the other women huddled at the<br />

foot of the cross. They, too, are<br />

mothers of sorrow. Their feminine<br />

compassion—forged in<br />

grief—would comfort Mary best.<br />

The women who follow the<br />

risen Christ walk the pathway of<br />

the pietà. They understand that<br />

it is by going to the poor, the broken<br />

and the vulnerable in our<br />

society that we will ultimately<br />

see the face of the risen Christ.<br />

Pope Francis calls the Church<br />

a “field hospital,” which means<br />

that, like Mary and the other<br />

women in the Gospels, the<br />

Church must gravitate to where<br />

people are hurting. And out of<br />

those places of death and despair,<br />

new hope and life is born.<br />

There is Sister Marie-Paule<br />

Willem, FMM, a human rights<br />

activist and war survivor who<br />

has spent a lifetime promoting<br />

the dignity of individuals and<br />

families.<br />

She ministered in Argentina,<br />

Paraguay and Uruguay where<br />

she risked her life on behalf of<br />

the condemned placed in internment<br />

camps. Today she<br />

serves women in detention in<br />

Las Cruces, New Mexico.<br />

Sister Marie-Paule said,<br />

“When I take care of the women<br />

in our jail in Las Cruces, they<br />

look forward to hearing how it’s<br />

possible—even in jail—to feel a<br />

kind of freedom in their hearts.<br />

They themselves have to make<br />

this a place of freedom, even<br />

though they are incarcerated.<br />

And then the hope they have<br />

once they are really physically<br />

free, then they will be free spiritually<br />

and psychologically.”<br />

There is Sister Fatima Santiago,<br />

ICM, a missionary, our<br />

2014-2015 Lumen Christi Award<br />

recipient and a member of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s Board of Governors.<br />

She works in the colonias<br />

of Peñitas, Texas, and is dedicated<br />

to the economic empowerment<br />

of immigrant women at<br />

the U.S.-Mexico border.<br />

Sister Fatima said, “In the colonias<br />

the women are the powerhouse<br />

of a community of a<br />

church. With that maternal care<br />

and with their intelligence, they<br />

are able to go for any fundraising<br />

for the church, any sacramental<br />

preparation. Women carry on<br />

the work of the church. I feel it<br />

There is Sister Carol Keehan,<br />

DC, the former CEO of the<br />

Catholic Health Association and<br />

2022 recipient of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

Spirit of Francis Award.<br />

She has worked closely with the<br />

U.S. government to ensure affordable<br />

health care for millions<br />

of uninsured Americans.<br />

Sister Carol said, “It is important<br />

that the people’s voice<br />

is heard. Whether they are the<br />

well-to-do child who needed to<br />

find religion and life with Christ,<br />

or the very, very, very poor who<br />

have no voice. Whether it is an<br />

unmarried couple, or the very<br />

poorest who walk across our<br />

borders or the elderly, all their<br />

voices need to be heard.”<br />

There is Melva Arbelo, our<br />

2016-2017 Lumen Christi Award<br />

recipient. She leads Santa Teresita<br />

of the Child Jesus Children’s<br />

Home in Arecibo, Puerto Rico,<br />

for abused and neglected children<br />

ages 3 to 7. The hurricanes<br />

and earthquakes that devastated<br />

the island are nothing compared<br />

to the emotional and psychological<br />

devastation that the children<br />

have suffered. Arbelo, in<br />

the words of St. Teresita, “seeks<br />

to make the Lord known and<br />

loved” through the care and<br />

healing of these children.<br />

There is Sister Norma<br />

Pimentel, MJ, of the Diocese of<br />

Brownsville, Texas. She has provided<br />

care to hundreds of thousands<br />

at the U.S.-Mexico border<br />

and received Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

Spirit of Francis Award<br />

this year.<br />

Sister Norma said, “We are all<br />


Like Sister Clarice, the other<br />

women on the pilgrimage were<br />

adept at finding the risen Christ<br />

in seemingly hopeless and<br />

God-forsaken situations.<br />

There is Jean Fedigan, our<br />

2022-<strong>2023</strong> Lumen Christi Award<br />

recipient. She founded the Sister<br />

José Women’s Center in Tucson,<br />

Arizona, which serves women<br />

who have been trafficked and<br />

experienced violence, homelessness<br />

and hunger.<br />

Fedigan said at a press conference<br />

in the Vatican, “Our<br />

homeless women are in tunnels<br />

and in alleys and on the streets.<br />

We believe that we follow the<br />

mission of Christ. So, when<br />

“<br />

these women come in, we feed<br />

the hungry, clothe the naked<br />

and try to help them heal all in is not only in our communities. so connected at the ground with<br />

the love of God.” It is happening everywhere.” those who are most vulnera-<br />

ABOVE Jean Fedigan protects vulnerable women at the shelter she<br />

founded in Tucson, Arizona. LEFT Sister Clarice Suchy, STJ, hugs a<br />

teacher who sheltered children at Robb Elementary School on the day of<br />

the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022.<br />

Sister Marie-<br />

Paule Willem,<br />

FMM, is a human<br />

rights activist and<br />

war survivor. She<br />

believes there is<br />

always hope even<br />

in the most difficult<br />

circumstances.<br />

Our homeless women are in tunnels and in alleys and on the streets ... when these<br />

women come in, we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and try to help them heal all in<br />

the love of God.” —JEAN FEDIGAN, 2022-<strong>2023</strong> Lumen Christi Award recipient

28 INSPIRE<br />

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“We are all so connected with those who are most vulnerable, with the poorest of the<br />

poor people, with those who are at the peripheries as our Holy Father has asked us to<br />

reach out to.” —SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, MJ, <strong>2023</strong> Spirit of Francis Award recipient<br />

Pope Francis praised the<br />

work of the women who were<br />

part of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

delegation to Rome.<br />

ble, with the poorest of the poor<br />

people, with those who are at<br />

the peripheries as our Holy Father<br />

has asked us to reach out to.<br />

And their voice, their presence,<br />

bringing that forward and having<br />

the world listen to them and<br />

see them is very important. And<br />

I think that this is who we are as<br />

Church.”<br />

There are the women in the<br />

U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange<br />

Program who represent<br />

44 religious congregations from<br />

11 countries of Latin America<br />

and who serve immigrant communities<br />

in the United States.<br />

They are taking classes for their<br />

degrees in health and human<br />

services in partnership with St.<br />

Mary’s University of Minnesota.<br />

The sisters celebrated Mass<br />

with Cardinal Pietro Parolin,<br />

secretary of state for the Vatican,<br />

in the beautiful chapel in<br />

the Palace of the Governorate.<br />

What song did they sing for this<br />

formal occasion?<br />

The “Canción del Misionero.”<br />

The missionary song, which has<br />

become their anthem, their rallying<br />

cry, their “mission” statement.<br />

The refrain lyrics simply<br />

say:<br />

“Send me to the people who<br />

need your words, who need the<br />

will to live; where there is no<br />

hope, where there is no joy, simply<br />

because they do not know<br />

You.”<br />

Sister Clarice, Fedigan, Sister<br />

Marie-Paule, Sister Fatima, Sister<br />

Carol, Arbelo, Sister Norma and<br />

the U.S.-Latin American sisters.<br />

Follow the women who follow<br />

the risen Christ and who<br />

are unafraid of the pietà pathways<br />

that are required to find<br />

the risen one.<br />

THE POPE<br />

If the eyes are the windows<br />

of the soul, Pope Francis’ soul<br />

is Michelangelo beautiful. He<br />

entered the private audience<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> briskly<br />

and joked with Cardinal Blase<br />

Cupich, our chancellor, that he<br />

was “still alive” when asked how<br />

he was doing. He clearly loves to<br />

laugh. He clearly loves to make<br />

others laugh. And we were more<br />

than willing to grant him this<br />

pleasure.<br />

The pope spent about 20 minutes<br />

with us. He said, “I encourage<br />

you as well to continue to<br />

express ‘God’s style’ in the work<br />

that you do. God’s style is never<br />

distant, detached or indifferent.<br />

Instead, it is one of closeness,<br />

compassion and tender love.<br />

“It is my hope that your service<br />

will always reflect these<br />

qualities, showing that God<br />

draws near to our lives, that he is<br />

moved to compassion for those<br />

in difficult situations, and that<br />

his love calls us to be in relationship<br />

with him and to see our<br />

neighbor as truly a brother and<br />

sister.”<br />

He recognized that he was in<br />

a room full of people who already<br />

know so well how to express<br />

“God’s style.” And so, it<br />

was notable how many times he<br />

said thank you to our group, in<br />

gratitude for the work of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, and most especially<br />

to the people who every<br />

day do the heavy lifting on behalf<br />

of the Church to lead God’s<br />

people from death to new life in<br />

Christ.<br />

He greeted each of us individually,<br />

looking us in the eye, like<br />

each of us was the only person<br />

he had ever met. He gently took<br />

each of our hands, shaking them<br />

slowly, his care and attention infallible.<br />

Francis may be a pope,<br />

but he is clearly a pastor first.<br />

When the women reached to<br />

take the pope’s hands, they were<br />

not empty-handed. In Fedigan’s<br />

words, they brought a gift of<br />

hands, all of the hands they’ve<br />

touched and people they’ve<br />

healed. They brought all of those<br />

thousands and thousands of<br />

hands to the pope as their simple<br />

gift.<br />

Pope Francis beamed the<br />

best of his love for Sister Carol,<br />

Fedigan, Sister Marie-Paule, Sister<br />

Fatima, Sister Carol, Arbelo,<br />

Sister Norma and the U.S.-Latin<br />

American sisters. They beamed<br />

back at him, and we realized all<br />

at once that Pope Francis follows<br />

the women who follow the<br />

risen Christ.<br />

Melva Arbelo runs a<br />

home for abused and<br />

neglected children in<br />

Arecibo, Puerto Rico.<br />

Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ,<br />

embraces a homeless child.<br />

She provides care to hundreds<br />

of thousands at the U.S.-<br />

Mexico border.

30 INSPIRE<br />

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<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 31<br />

Sister Tere leads a<br />

program across 60<br />

parishes, including those in<br />

cartel-controlled regions.<br />

Boston College graduate courageously puts her skills to use in Mexico<br />


when Sister María Teresa<br />

“Tere” de Loera López<br />

found out she was going<br />

to the United States to<br />

participate in Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s U.S.-<br />

Latin American Sisters<br />

Exchange Program, she<br />

said she felt “chosen.”<br />

The program is designed to<br />

help Latin American sisters<br />

gain leadership and ministry<br />

skills while in the United States<br />

that they can apply in their<br />

future work in the Global South.<br />

When Sister Tere, a member<br />

of the Catholic Teachers of the<br />

Sacred Heart of Jesus religious<br />

community, completed the program<br />

and returned to Mexico in<br />

2020, she took on the leadership<br />

of a massive religious education<br />

program in the northern<br />

Mexican state of Chihuahua.<br />

Now she serves 60 parishes and<br />

leads a staff of 12.<br />

Part of her job entails driving<br />

out to distant parishes to<br />

train catechists. The farthest<br />

parish is three hours away. Kidnappings<br />

are frequent.<br />

“Those areas are run by drug<br />

cartels, so the roads are lonely<br />

and very dangerous,” she said.<br />

“We drive on our own, since<br />

we have no staff that can ride<br />

with us. That’s been quite a<br />

challenge, but I know that<br />

Jesus, Mary and all the saints<br />

are aboard. It’s very exciting<br />

though, because this is about<br />

lay leader formation, and we<br />

are willing to make the trip for<br />

them. If I die on the frontline,<br />

it will have been worth it.”<br />

Her courage adds new<br />

meaning to the phrase “Jesus is<br />

my copilot.”<br />

On one occasion, her car<br />

broke down when she was<br />

by herself on a remote road<br />

and had no cell phone signal.<br />

She was forced to flag down<br />

another driver, who fortunately<br />

was able to help her. It could<br />

have easily been a kidnapper,<br />

looking for easy prey.<br />

Despite the risks and realities<br />

of life in northern Mexico, she<br />

is adamant that no corner of<br />

her diocese or any community<br />

should be neglected or denied<br />

the love of the Church. She<br />

inspires people with her joy,<br />

ever-present smile and determination.<br />


TO USE<br />

“Today I continue to apply<br />

the education and skills I<br />

learned as I lead my ministry,”<br />

Sister Tere said. “I am very<br />

grateful for all the support that<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has provided.”<br />

Sister María Teresa “Tere” de Loera<br />

López graduated with a master’s degree<br />

from Boston College in 2019.<br />

The leafy and pristine campus<br />

of Boston College, where<br />

she earned her master’s degree<br />

in applied leadership with an<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> scholarship, must<br />

feel like a long way from the<br />

cartel-patrolled, desert roads of<br />

northern Mexico. But she insists<br />

that the degree left her with a<br />

wealth of knowledge and ideas<br />

to implement as a leader in<br />

Mexico.<br />

“The marketing class I took<br />

was so empowering because I<br />

remember asking myself if I’d<br />

be able to make<br />

it in the<br />

world,” she said. “That class<br />

gave me the confidence to<br />

know that I can do it, that marketing<br />

is needed to offer a<br />

product. It helped me to think<br />

about ways to make the product<br />

that we offer in the Church<br />

attractive to the people, so they<br />

can come to Jesus. The skills<br />

I acquired at Boston College<br />

helped me get creative to spark<br />

interest among catechists and<br />

parish leaders.”<br />

While she earned her degree,<br />

the program also funded<br />

her ministry in Arkansas<br />

where she worked in rural parishes,<br />

creating religious education<br />

programs and serving<br />

women who were survivors of<br />

domestic violence. She<br />

also helped connect<br />

Hispanic and Anglo<br />

families into<br />

a united community<br />

of faith. She describes<br />

this experience<br />

as “spectacular.”<br />

Nun up against organized crime<br />



Sister Tere was part<br />

of the inaugural group<br />

of women religious in<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

U.S.-Latin American<br />

Sisters Exchange Program,<br />

which was developed in<br />

partnership with the Conrad N.<br />

Hilton Foundation. A hundred<br />

other sisters have participated<br />

over the past decade, with 50<br />

more set to join the program<br />

later this year.<br />

The five-year program provides<br />

an opportunity for Catholic<br />

sisters from religious congregations<br />

founded and based<br />

in Latin America to come to the<br />

United States to pursue a university<br />

degree while they serve<br />

the poor in an <strong>Extension</strong> diocese.<br />

She and the 35 other sisters<br />

in the program’s first cohort<br />

became pioneers. In addition<br />

to their significant accomplishments<br />

as ministers in the<br />

United States, they have now<br />

been deployed by their superiors<br />

throughout the world,<br />

applying their skills to the various<br />

ministries and leadership<br />

positions in which they find<br />

themselves.<br />

Sister Tere and her inaugural<br />

cohort also provided Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> a road map for<br />

this program, which has continued<br />

to grow and have greater<br />

impact for sisters who have followed<br />

in their footsteps. Her<br />

advice to future sisters participating<br />

in the program is this:<br />

“Take full advantage of the<br />

education that Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

has so wonderfully provided<br />

to enrich yourselves and<br />

improve your ministry, so that<br />

in the future you will return<br />

with better skills and abilities<br />

in service of your mission.”

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March 1965. A nun<br />

demonstrates her<br />

support of the Civil<br />

Rights Movement at<br />

the Alabama State<br />

Capitol.<br />


Still<br />

fighting<br />

for<br />

DID YOU KNOW that two<br />

of Martin Luther King Jr.’s children<br />

were born in a Catholic<br />

hospital in Montgomery, Alabama,<br />

because it was one of<br />

only a few places where Black<br />

families in the South were not<br />

excluded from quality medical<br />

care?<br />

Did you know that, in 1965,<br />

the famous five-day march<br />

from Selma to Montgomery to<br />

advocate for voter rights culminated<br />

on the grounds of a<br />

Catholic parish?<br />

justice<br />

Did you know that the late<br />

Civil Rights Movement leader<br />

John Lewis, whose skull was<br />

fractured by law enforcement<br />

officials as he crossed<br />

the Edmund Pettus Bridge in<br />

Selma, was treated by a Catholic<br />

health facility that saved his<br />

life? And did you know that<br />

when Lewis opened his eyes,<br />

the first person he saw was a<br />

Catholic priest?<br />

These stories of the Civil<br />

Rights Movement abound<br />

among Catholics in Central Al-<br />

abama, but they are largely<br />

unknown elsewhere. They remind<br />

us of what the Church<br />

has done—and continues<br />

to do—in difficult circumstances.<br />



Leontyne Pringle remembers<br />

marching from<br />

Selma nearly 60 years<br />

ago with her mother. When<br />

asked if it was meaningful to<br />

her that the marchers stopped<br />

on the grounds of St. Jude<br />

Catholic Church in Montgomery,<br />

she replied with a smile,<br />

“Of course. This is where I<br />

went to school.”<br />

St. Jude Church and School<br />

were founded in 1934 to serve,<br />

educate and give opportunities<br />

to Black children. This was<br />

during a time when the Alabama<br />

state government systematically<br />

hindered the eco-<br />


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Leontyne Pringle, a former<br />

St. Jude student, proudly holds<br />

up a commemorative map of<br />

the 1965 march from Selma to<br />

Montgomery, Alabama.<br />

nomic and academic development<br />

of Black people.<br />

The church and school<br />

were part of a larger complex<br />

called the City of St.<br />

Jude, which was founded<br />

by the late Passionist Father<br />

Harold Purcell. The complex included<br />

a racially integrated hospital<br />

(the very one where King’s children<br />

were born) and accompanying<br />

educational, spiritual and social<br />

services.<br />

The City of St. Jude hosted the<br />

“Stars for Freedom” rally the night<br />

before the last day of the march<br />

from Selma to Montgomery. More<br />

than 25,000 people camped out<br />

on the grounds, among them celebrities<br />

who performed songs to<br />

encourage the marchers’ spirits before<br />

they set out for the Alabama<br />

State Capitol the next day.<br />

Holding the event came with<br />

a cost for St. Jude. Apart from the<br />

very real death threats from white<br />

nationalists, many Catholic donors<br />

abandoned the parish for hosting<br />

King, whom they regarded as<br />

a Communist and troublemaker.<br />

This setback hobbled St. Jude’s outreach<br />

efforts for years.<br />

Nearly 90 years after its founding,<br />

St. Jude is still doing all that it<br />

can to help the vulnerable, despite<br />

the fact that Catholics still represent<br />

only 2 to 3 percent of the population<br />

across the state.<br />

Today, the Father Purcell Memorial<br />

Exceptional Children’s<br />

Center serves as a residence for<br />

45 children with lifelong physical<br />

and mental disabilities. The<br />

center’s director, Brenda Hicks, a<br />

2020 Lumen Christi Award finalist<br />

for Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, dutifully<br />

serves these children and honors<br />

their human dignity each day.<br />

She knows she is part of a rich legacy.<br />

She was offered this position<br />

on the same day she received two<br />

other job offers that paid more and<br />

did not require her to work a third<br />

shift. Hicks turned them down.<br />

Like the leaders who came before<br />

her at the City of St. Jude, she understands<br />

the importance of sacrificing<br />

for a cause you truly believe<br />

in.<br />

Parish leaders<br />

of Holy Family<br />

Catholic<br />

Community in<br />

Inverness, Illinois,<br />

are supporting<br />

Edmundite Missions.<br />


Meanwhile, 50 miles away in<br />

Selma, the Society of St. Edmund,<br />

a religious order of men who arrived<br />

86 years ago as missionaries,<br />

also has its share of stories.<br />

Edmundite Father Maurice<br />

Ouellet befriended Civil Rights<br />

Movement leaders Lewis and King.<br />

He helped Lewis after his skull<br />

was fractured on the Edmund<br />

Pettus Bridge when state troopers<br />

attacked marchers on “Bloody<br />

Sunday” in 1965. He was subsequently<br />

asked to leave the mission<br />

by Church leaders. They feared the<br />

priest was getting too close to the<br />

Civil Rights Movement and would<br />

be killed.<br />

In spite of Father Ouellet’s<br />

painful exile, the Edmundite missionaries<br />

have stayed in Selma all<br />

these years. Now, a dedicated team<br />

of lay Catholic staff carries out the<br />

mission. It continues to provide<br />

hope to a community that suffers<br />

crushing poverty, poor health and<br />

dismal education attainment levels.<br />

More than 45% of children<br />

live below the poverty line in the<br />

county where Selma is located,<br />

and median household incomes<br />

pale in comparison to the rest of<br />

the country.<br />

Each month, Edmundite Missions<br />

serves more than 25,000<br />

LEFT Brenda Hicks<br />

greets a resident at<br />

the children’s center<br />

at the City of St. Jude<br />

in Montgomery,<br />

Alabama.<br />

ABOVE Edmundite<br />

Missions provides<br />

a home to a<br />

community that<br />

suffers from<br />

crushing poverty.<br />

meals to the hungry. It continues<br />

to offer a health clinic, a desperately<br />

needed service in an area<br />

where diabetes and poor nutrition<br />

are rampant. Its sports and fitness<br />

center are a community focal<br />

point that promotes healthier<br />

lifestyles and keeps kids off the<br />

streets. It offers social enterprises<br />

and job training that help people<br />

be more employable and economically<br />

self-reliant.<br />

In Selma, where there are still<br />

prominent cemetery memorials<br />

to Ku Klux Klan leaders, the<br />

white Edmundite priests who have<br />

died there are buried in the “Black<br />

cemetery.” It is a permanent reminder<br />

to all that there are no divisions<br />

in heaven.<br />

This is what it looks like when<br />

the Catholic Church is firing on all<br />

cylinders, and when it lands on the<br />

right side of history. And it is what<br />

continues to make us believers in<br />

the Church’s future potential.<br />

That is why Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

and Holy Family Catholic Community<br />

in Inverness, Illinois, are partnering<br />

this year with Edmundite<br />

Missions to renovate a dilapidated<br />

house in downtown Selma that<br />

will house summer interns from<br />

Catholic colleges around the country.<br />

The hope is that these college<br />

students will not only participate<br />

in the lifesaving work of the<br />

Edmundites but also gain a deeper<br />

understanding of what it means<br />

to be Catholic, the courage that it<br />

takes and the beautiful transformation<br />

that can happen when we<br />

put our faith into practice.<br />

By coming to Selma, these college<br />

students will hopefully see<br />

that, despite its historical baggage,<br />

missteps and past sins, the Catholic<br />

Church has been at its core a<br />

force for good in the world. When<br />

our Church remains focused on<br />

the mission it was given 2,000<br />

years ago to bring the good news to<br />

a world that experiences so much<br />

darkness and pain, new life is truly<br />

possible.<br />

We hope that the unknown<br />

stories of yesterday and today<br />

about the Church’s heroic work in<br />

places like Alabama will be told<br />

and retold so future generations<br />

will come to know the true essence<br />

and potential of the Catholic<br />

Church in America.

36 INSPIRE<br />

Feature<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 37<br />

Each year Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

supports the education<br />

of 400 to 500 seminarians<br />

because it is an enormous<br />

expense for financially poor<br />

dioceses. On occasion, as it turns<br />

out, <strong>Extension</strong> donors are not only<br />

helping educate future priests but<br />

also future bishops.<br />

This was the case for Bishop<br />

Anthony Celino, the first auxiliary<br />

bishop of the Diocese of El Paso,<br />

Texas. He was ordained a bishop<br />

on March 31 of this year at St. Patrick’s<br />

Cathedral. He became the<br />

10th active bishop whose seminarian<br />

education has been funded by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. He was also<br />

the third Filipino to be elected as a<br />

bishop in the United States.<br />

He now joins the likes of Bishop<br />

Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock,<br />

Arkansas; Bishop Robert W. Marshall<br />

Jr. of Alexandria, Louisiana;<br />

Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales<br />

of Caguas, Puerto Rico; and a half<br />

dozen other active bishops who<br />

began their priestly journey with<br />

support from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

After funding Bishop Celino’s<br />

education at the University of Saint<br />

Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary<br />

just north of Chicago, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> also supported several<br />

of the parishes and ministries<br />

where he has served since being<br />

ordained a priest in 1997.<br />

In an interview with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, Bishop Celino reflected,<br />

“First and foremost, I would like<br />

to express my gratitude to <strong>Extension</strong><br />

and of course the donors who<br />

reach so many places in our country.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has been a<br />

wonderful partner for the Diocese<br />

of El Paso through the years. I hope<br />

the support and partnership that<br />


How are good<br />

bishops formed?<br />

we have continues. We are grateful<br />

and we continue to pray for all of<br />

you. As an auxiliary bishop I am<br />

very happy to continue this mission<br />

and to support it. I truly believe<br />

in the mission of the Church<br />

that <strong>Extension</strong> is part of in a big<br />

way, especially in our rural areas.<br />

So please help us build churches in<br />

rural areas and supporting priests.”<br />


When a new bishop is ordained,<br />

people commonly want to<br />

know how he will lead.<br />

Bishop Celino talked about<br />

those who have mentored him<br />

and helped shape his pastoral<br />

vision.<br />

First, the laypeople of his diocese,<br />

he said, have taught him so<br />

much, especially in the rural areas<br />

of West Texas. He spent a year<br />

at Our Lady of Peace in Alpine,<br />

Texas, a rural parish that encompasses<br />

many missions spread out<br />

over vast distances. The people’s<br />

faith, their simplicity, their love<br />

for the Church and their hospitality<br />

toward priests are more than<br />

fond memories for him. They were<br />

foundational experiences.<br />

His ministry covered a 150-mile<br />

radius around Alpine, requiring<br />

him to be on the road a lot. “Back<br />

in the good old days, priests were<br />

on horseback. We were in pickup<br />

trucks,” he said. Despite the distances<br />

across West Texas, there<br />

was a closeness among the people.<br />

“Families drove me to different<br />

communities. They would say, ‘You<br />

cannot just be driving by yourself.<br />

Something might happen along<br />

the way.’ There’s a beauty of ministering<br />

there. The Church there is<br />

small but dynamic.”<br />

TOP Bishop Anthony Celino was ordained as the Diocese of El Paso, Texas’ first auxiliary bishop.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supported his seminarian education.<br />

ABOVE The faithful celebrated the first ordination of a bishop from El Paso outside St. Patrick’s<br />

Cathedral.<br />


Pastoring across hundreds<br />

of miles<br />

Valentine<br />

MEXICO<br />

Marfa<br />

Ft. Davis<br />

TEXAS<br />

Alpine<br />

Lajitas<br />

Marathon<br />

Bishop Anthony Celino drove this nearly<br />

300-mile route between parishes to<br />

serve the people of West Texas.<br />

He would see people’s unity<br />

during funerals. “The whole town<br />

just comes together,” he recalled.<br />

“We assisted [families] in their<br />

grief, but we also made sure that<br />

the community was there for<br />

them.”<br />

Another great mentor in Bishop<br />

Celino’s priestly ministry has been<br />

his own bishop of El Paso, Mark<br />

Seitz, who in 2013 was Pope Francis’<br />

first U.S.-appointed bishop.<br />

Bishop Seitz is known as a pastor<br />

of the people and a shepherd who<br />

continually gravitates toward the<br />

peripheries.<br />

“I’ve always admired the work<br />

of our bishop, here in the diocese<br />

and beyond. His influence and<br />

moral voice have transcended the<br />

Diocese of El Paso,” Bishop Celino<br />

said. “When he became bishop, he<br />

appointed me as his vicar general.<br />

I worked alongside him in so<br />

many ways and admired his work<br />

and his commitment, not only<br />

to serving the Diocese of El Paso<br />

but also to helping the community,<br />

especially those who are on

38 INSPIRE<br />

Feature<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 39<br />

the margins of the community:<br />

the immigrants and those seeking<br />

asylum or refuge here in the<br />

country. That is something that I<br />

believe in and that I hope to help<br />

him in—that advocacy to promote<br />

a better life for those who are<br />

seeking it.”<br />

Although Bishop Celino<br />

admires Bishop Seitz and worked<br />

closely with him, actually becoming<br />

a bishop himself was the furthest<br />

thing from his mind.<br />

“When the apostolic nuncio<br />

called me, I actually ignored the<br />

call. There were four missed calls<br />

on my cell phone. Eventually, of<br />

course, the nuncio was able to get<br />

ahold of me,” Bishop Celino said.<br />

“I never felt more trust in God<br />

than I have at this moment in my<br />

life. I have a sense that the Spirit<br />

of God is at work in all of this. The<br />

Holy Spirit is at work in my life at<br />

this time.”<br />


Bishop Celino expressed optimism<br />

about the future of the<br />

Church in El Paso. Just as the faithful<br />

formed him as a priest, it’s the<br />

faithful of El Paso who give him<br />

hope as a new bishop.<br />

“I think the people in this<br />

diocese are what makes this place<br />

special, most of all. It’s a very<br />

welcoming community, diverse<br />

and dynamic in so many ways, but<br />

very welcoming. El Paso is a large<br />

city with that small-town feel. It’s<br />

a thriving community where, once<br />

again, we’re building churches on<br />

the east side and on the west side<br />

of the city,” he said.<br />

“Being in the borderland is<br />

a wonderful thing,” he added.<br />

“There’s so much opportunity for<br />

ministries here.”<br />

Bishop Celino feels abundantly<br />

blessed not only to be in El Paso<br />

but also to have been called to<br />

serve as auxiliary bishop where<br />

he will minister alongside Bishop<br />

Seitz as a shepherd to all.<br />

“I feel a great sense of gratitude,<br />

not only to God but also to the<br />

Holy Father for Bishop Seitz and<br />

the people of God here in El Paso,<br />

for his confidence for appointing<br />

me as auxiliary bishop. I’m<br />

really looking forward to visiting<br />

parishes once again and being a<br />

pastor for the whole diocese.<br />

IGNITE Making a difference<br />


THE GIFT<br />


YOU BACK<br />

A Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> charitable gift annuity<br />

offers you immediate financial benefits<br />

and will help communities that are poor in<br />

resources but rich in faith. Future<br />

generations will thank you!<br />

• Receive fixed, stable payments for life<br />

• Get immediate and future tax benefits<br />

• Make a lasting impact<br />

For a personalized proposal, contact Betty Assell at<br />

800-842-7804 or Bassell@catholicextension.org<br />

or visit catholicextension.org/annuities<br />

Diocese of Stockton, California<br />


9.7%<br />

8.7%<br />

7.6%<br />

6.6%<br />

5.4%<br />

5.9%<br />

4.9%<br />

An illustration<br />

of the Native<br />

American Christ<br />

with children<br />

is displayed<br />

at a church in<br />

the Diocese of<br />

Rapid City, South<br />

Dakota. See a<br />

letter from the<br />

Sioux Spiritual<br />

Center, page 42.<br />

AGE<br />

60 65 70 75 80 85 90+<br />


40 IGNITE<br />

Parish partnerships<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 41<br />

Being Catholic means getting<br />

outside our own ‘bubble’<br />

Connecticut parish supports Catholics<br />

on Native American reservation<br />

BELOW Children<br />

learn about the<br />

rosary at the<br />

Tekakwitha Center<br />

on the White Earth<br />

Indian Reservation<br />

in northern<br />

Minnesota.<br />

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish<br />

in Oxford, Connecticut,<br />

is about 1,500 miles<br />

away from the White<br />

Earth Indian Reservation<br />

in northern Minnesota.<br />

Yet the parish made a very<br />

intentional decision to partner with<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> to support the<br />

Tekakwitha Center, which provides<br />

religious education services for the<br />

six remote parishes on the vast reservation<br />

located in the Diocese of<br />

Crookston.<br />

Marcia Franko, who heads St.<br />

Thomas the Apostle’s social justice<br />

committee, said committee members<br />

decided to support the Catholic<br />

faith formation of Native American<br />

children based on their desire<br />

to be part of the universal Church<br />

beyond their own parish. “We<br />

are one, holy, Catholic, apostolic<br />

church,” said Franko. “We really<br />

need to think outside of our own<br />

little space and our own problems<br />

because it’s not just us, it’s<br />

everybody.”<br />

The Tekakwitha Center provides<br />

children with a nurturing Catholic<br />

environment in an area that is<br />

no stranger to struggle. High unemployment<br />

and addiction rates are<br />

sadly commonplace. With outside<br />

funding, children are transported<br />

from across the reservation to the<br />

center where they receive warm<br />

meals and enriching knowledge<br />

about the faith.<br />

St. Thomas the Apostle was<br />

looking to support a faith community<br />

in need that was embedded<br />

in a culture different from its own.<br />

Thanks to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Parish<br />

Partnership program, it was<br />

able to learn about the needs at the<br />

Tekakwitha Center, where even<br />

basic resources like catechetical<br />

books and supplies are cost prohibitive<br />

for families.<br />

One body, one Church<br />

Not only did St. Thomas make a<br />

financial impact at the Tekakwitha<br />

Center, which will help 100 children<br />

on the reservation grow in<br />

their faith this year, but the parish<br />

also gave witness to the Catholic<br />

Church’s universality.<br />

“We have to look beyond the<br />

horizon for ourselves,” said Father<br />

ABOVE The<br />

Tekakwitha Center<br />

on the White Earth<br />

Indian Reservation<br />

in northern Minnesota<br />

provides religious<br />

education for more<br />

than 100 Native<br />

American children<br />

each year.<br />

Tom Shepard, the pastor of St.<br />

Thomas the Apostle.<br />

For their part, the catechists at<br />

the Tekakwitha Center are weaving<br />

the example of St. Thomas’ concern<br />

and generosity from afar into their<br />

lessons with the children.<br />

“We are many parts of one<br />

body, and we all belong to each<br />

other,” explained Janet Lhotka,<br />

director of the center. “This is an<br />

opportunity to teach our youth, to<br />

share with them about your support<br />

from across the miles.”<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Parish Partnership program<br />

With a compelling list of urgent projects to support our Church, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has created a turnkey fundraising program that is easily adapted<br />

for any parish and provides materials and guidance. Please contact Natalie<br />

Donatello at ndonatello@catholicextension.org for more information.<br />

“It is so important to know that<br />

we are not an island in our quest to<br />

pass on the love of God to our children,”<br />

added Jean Horack, a catechist<br />

at the center.<br />

In the past 10 years Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has supported religious<br />

education in 1,000 communities,<br />

a large portion of which are Native<br />

American missions, like those on<br />

the White Earth Indian Reservation.<br />

The support of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

parish partners such as St.<br />

Thomas the Apostle helps keep<br />

these religious education ministries<br />

going across many reservations and<br />

tribes where resources are often<br />

scarce. The Tekakwitha Center is an<br />

example of how funds are stretched<br />

and put to great use.<br />

“We take great pride in meeting<br />

the standard of a wonderful experience<br />

for the children each week,<br />

and we thrive in watching them<br />

grow, learn and achieve understanding<br />

of spiritual matters,” said<br />

Father John Cox, OMI, pastor of<br />

St. Ann’s Church in Waubun, Minnesota,<br />

who ministers at the center.<br />

“At the Tekakwitha Center, we<br />

are all God’s children, teaching and<br />

learning together. We model for the<br />

wider community how to interact<br />

positively.”<br />

The Catholic Church’s universality<br />

is more fully expressed when we<br />

take a leap beyond our own bubble<br />

and work in solidarity with one<br />

another across time zones, cultures<br />

and socioeconomic realities for the<br />

betterment of our Church.<br />

We thank St. Thomas the Apostle<br />

and the Tekakwitha Center for<br />

being the latest iteration of the good<br />

that is possible when we open ourselves<br />

up to the wider Church.

IGNITE<br />

42<br />

Connect<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 43<br />

From the mail<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW GRATEFUL I am that you have kept<br />

us in mind. We operate on a shoestring budget, so every bit<br />

of help we can garner is received with gratitude! Your help<br />

and that of many others help us to continue our mission to<br />

serve the special spiritual needs of Native American Catholics<br />

who need all the help they can get with the integration<br />

of faith and culture. The Sioux Spiritual Center is a precious<br />

asset in the Diocese of Rapid City for that purpose! Thank<br />

you for your generosity!<br />

› Carole M. Brown | Director, Sioux Spiritual Center<br />

Diocese of Rapid City, SD<br />


Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />


with Hispanic Youth Group<br />

allowed me to have beautiful<br />

encounters with Jesus.<br />

These personal encounters<br />

have brought me to<br />

a deeper discovery of my<br />

identity and have given me<br />

internal healing, which have<br />

helped me grow in my spiritual<br />

journey with God and<br />

strengthen my trust in His<br />

plan for me.<br />

› Yazmine Justiniano |<br />

Parish leader, Hispanic<br />

youth ministry<br />

Diocese of Birmingham, AL<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

I’M THE CAMPUS MINISTER AT OLE MISS in Oxford, Mississippi.<br />

I wanted to express my gratitude to the donors for<br />

their generosity. Your support allows us to continue ministering<br />

to the Catholic students at Ole Miss. We are able to<br />

create a community that is rich in Catholicism for students<br />

to continue to grow in their faith alongside their peers.<br />

We host several events and retreats throughout the<br />

year. We have social events as well as events that are more<br />

geared toward formation. Over the years, we have seen our<br />

community flourish and are extremely grateful for the financial<br />

support you give us as we continue to keep up with this<br />

exciting trend. Thank you!<br />

› Viridiana Olivi | Campus minister, University of Mississippi<br />

Diocese of Jackson, MS<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

IN A PERSONAL WAY, I want to thank God first of all for so<br />

much kindness and gratuitousness toward me and for my<br />

religious community, to thank the Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> program<br />

that has entrusted us with this mission, and to thank the<br />

bishops of this diocese who have been attentive to us.<br />

I feel that this opportunity is not only allowing me to<br />

develop academically through the master’s degree that I am<br />

pursuing at St. Mary’s University, but also to grow in an integral<br />

way, thanks to the different courses that we have been<br />

allowed to participate in as well as the spiritual accompaniment<br />

and psychological knowledge that I have received<br />

during this time. I have obtained new tools and methodologies<br />

to be able to share and carry out our mission and<br />

charism, to be light for those who need it most and to accom-<br />

pany many people whom God has given us in this beautiful<br />

mission, especially Hispanic families, supporting them in<br />

their integral formation and the growth of their faith.<br />

› Sister María Jesús Martínez Perez | U.S.-Latin American<br />

Sisters Exchange Program participant<br />

Diocese of Brownsville, TX<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />


seminary formation, I reflect upon all the<br />

support and prayers I have received in my<br />

vocational journey. It was a great joy to be<br />

ordained a transitional deacon on July 2.<br />

All this would not be possible without your<br />

kind support and generous hearts. As I prepare<br />

to conclude my studies be ordained<br />

as a priest, I am reminded of the words of<br />

St. Teresa of Calcutta: to always be kind and<br />

merciful to the people of God.<br />

› Deacon Abundio Colazo-Lopez |<br />

Seminarian<br />

Diocese of Tucson, AZ<br />


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