April 29, 2009

Diocesan Office of Liturgy follows USCCB lead regarding Swine Flu, Mass

SAGINAW - Father James W. Bessert, director of the Office of Liturgy, shared the following e-mail with parish leaders today following the U.S. bishop's conferenece's publication of recommendations regarding Swine Flu, Mass:

"As you can well imagine, there are many questions regarding the celebration of the Eucharist and the concern for spreading Influenza/Swine Flu. The USCCB (the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship) has issued a series of questions and answers. Also, each bishop of the united states was sent a letter from the committee's chairman, Bishop Serratelli, with regard to any implementations that may be made should there be an outbreak in his diocese. As such, we are encouraging parishes to use (1) common sense, and (2) good hygiene. For instance, all ministers of Holy Communion should be instructed to wash their hands before Mass begins (or perhaps the use of an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after the distribtution of Holy Communion). Also, the priest/pastoral administrator may wish to instruct anyone in the assembly who may be ill to not receive from the cup. It was also noted that these were proactive measures and that the need for the introduction of any liturgical adaptions for the prevention of the transmission of influenza/swine flu in the dioceses of the United States is NOT evident at this time. However, should this change, you will be notified immediately. I trust that this is helpful to you and your ministry and it will be good for all of us here in the Diocese of Saginaw to work from this common page and suggested practice."

For more information, contact the Office of Liturgy.

USCCB publishes Q&A on Swine Flu, Mass

Ministers of Holy Communion should wash hands before Mass, Ministers’ use of anti-bacterial gels before, after Communion advised, People feeling ill should avoid receiving Communion from the cup

WASHINGTON (USSCB)The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship has posted on the Web a series of 10 questions and answers related to participation at Mass during the time of the swine influenza (swine flu).

The information echoes that published in 2006 at the time of the avian (bird) flu and was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

The 10 questions and answers can be found at http://usccb.org/liturgy/swineflu.shtml

Previously, the Q&A noted, "in those localities where the outbreak of the disease has been the most significant, bishops have introduced several liturgical adaptations in regard to such practices as the distribution of Holy Communion and the Exchange of the Sign of Peace in order to limit the spread of contagion."

The Q&A also re-emphasized "the need to practice good hygiene" now.

"Ministers of Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion."

The Q&A added that priest, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion ministers "should instruct people who feel ill not to receive from the cup."

The Q&A also noted that "the need for the introduction of widespread liturgical adaptations for the prevention of the transmission of influenza in the diocese of the United States of America is not evident at this time."

For more information, contact Sister Mary Ann Walsh at 202.541.3200.

Catholic Conference welcomes state senate resolution opposing federal efforts to eliminate conscience regulation

LANSING (MCC) Earlier this year the Obama administration announced plans to rescind a recently implemented regulation that provides conscience protections for individual and institutional health care providers, and today the Michigan Catholic Conference welcomed a state Senate resolution expressing the body's opposition to the administration's plan.

"Democrats and Republicans who voted to support today's resolution are to be praised for lending their voices to a critical policy matter that affects every individual who works in and benefits from the services provided by our health care professionals and institutions," said MCC Vice President for Public Policy Paul Long.

According to Senate Resolution 43: "The recent move by the Obama administration to rescind the conscience clause regulations jeopardizes the right of a health care professional to follow his or her personal or religious convictions. This regulation was carefully designed to safeguard against forced violations of conscience in federally funded health care programs." The resolution goes on to state: "If conscientiously opposed individuals and institutions were forced to make a choice between performing abortions and facing punishment, they will still not perform abortions but, instead, face the punishment – whether this means loss of a job, loss of participation in a government program, or even civil or criminal penalties. This results in the provider being punished for heeding the voice of conscience."

In 2008 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed, then later implemented, a regulation enforcing three longstanding federal laws that protect individual and institutional health care providers from being forced to participate in procedures to which they have a moral or religious objection. The first law was enacted by Congress in 1973, called the Church amendment, which helps to ensure that health care personnel with moral or religious objections to abortion, sterilization or other medical or research activities are not discriminated against.

The second law, called the Coats/Snowe amendment, was enacted in 1996 and forbids federal agencies, and state or local governments receiving federal funds, to discriminate against health care providers and health training programs because they do not provide abortions or abortion training. Third is the Weldon amendment, which has been included in the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill every year since 2004, and forbids federal funding for government bodies which discriminate against health care providers and insurers that are not involved in abortion.

In March of this year, under the new administration, the Department of Health and Human Services began the process of rescinding the federal conscience regulation that was implemented in December 2008 to safeguard the above-mentioned laws. The public was given until April 9 to provide comment on the proposal and a final decision on the rescission of the regulation has yet to be made. Several hundred messages were sent from the Michigan Catholic Conference's grassroots advocacy tool, the Catholic Legislative Advocacy Network, in opposition to the proposed rescission. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also invited public comments through its sister organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, and posted several videos on YouTube featuring doctors and nurses from across the country opposed to the proposal.

Threats to conscience protection have been greatly increasing in recent years as states such as New York and California have considered laws to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions and other "services" against Catholic teaching. In Michigan, legislation that would have specifically prohibited individuals from invoking their conscience rights in the delivery of prescription medication passed out of committee last session.

"Despite the presence of federal laws, the conscience protection regulation implemented last year is necessary because some elected officials, supported by various advocacy groups, are taking radical steps to actually prohibit health care providers and individuals from invoking their right to conscience," said Long. "The presence of the conscience regulations helps to protect those workers who do not want to be forced into performing a medical procedure they find morally objectionable."

Senate Resolution 43, which passed the chamber 23-12, is sponsored by Senator Tom George (R-Kalamazoo) and will be transmitted to the Office of the President of the United States, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and members of the Michigan congressional delegation.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

April 27, 2009

Nearly 650 celebrate Catholic education at annual Bishop’s Charity Ball

SAGINAW – About 650 people packed the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township on April 24 to celebrate Catholic education and say goodbye to the fifth Bishop of Saginaw.

The annual Bishop’s Charity Ball was established by Bishop Robert J. Carlson in 2007 to benefit Catholic schools and parish education and formation.

Bishop Carlson, who became the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw’s fifth ordinary in December 2004, was appointed as the 10th ordinary and ninth Archbishop of Saint Louis by Pope Benedict XVI on April 21.

Diocesan Chancellor Nancy J. Werner presented Bishop Carlson with the 2009 Bishop Murphy Award during the event, following a video tribute to the diocese’s chief teacher.

“I thought we were giving this to a Catholic school teacher,” said Carlson, who was surprised by the award presentation. “I am very honored by the award. I promise you that this plaque will have a prominent place on a wall in Saint Louis.”

The surprise award presentation was first planned by the Charity Ball committee to honor the 25th anniversary of Bishop Carlson’s Episcopal ordination, which took place January 11. The presentation took on a different tone following his transfer to the Archdiocese of Saint Louis on the Tuesday previous to Friday’s Charity Ball.

Previous Bishop Murphy Award honorees include Sister Corinne Weiss, SJ in 2008 and Stanley Krajkowski in 2007. The award is named for the diocese first ordinary, Bishop William F. Murphy, and presented annually to a person who is a generous and bold example of faith-based leadership within the diocesan community.

The Bishop’s Charity Ball raised more than $840,000 for Catholic schools and parish religious education and formation programs in 2007 and 2008.

Earnings for the 2009 event will be announced after the Bishop’s Charity Ball Winner’s Circle Celebration on May 14 at the Center for Ministry. Raffle prizes and participating school and parish event earnings will be presented during that event.

The Diocese of Saginaw includes in 105 parish communities and 26 Catholic schools located throughout 11 mid-Michigan counties: Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola.

PICTURED ABOVE: 2009 Bishop's Charity Ball Emcee Father William Rutkowski, pastor atSt. Stanislaus Kostka, Bay City, and vicar for Bay Area Catholic Schools, honors Catholic school teachers seen surrounding him prior to the presentation of the annual Bishop Murphy Award on April 24.

April 21, 2009

Obituary for Fr. Joseph D. Ryan

Father Joseph D. Ryan, 77, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, died Monday, April 20, 2009 at Brian’s House in Bay City.

He was born on June 1, 1931, son of Joseph M. and Mary Irene (Hagan) Ryan, in Jackson but grew up in Saginaw, where he attended St. Joseph and Holy Family schools and worshiped at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.

As a seminarian, Father Ryan attended St. Joseph Seminary in Grand Rapids, Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1958 by Bishop Stephen S. Woznicki at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw.

During his priesthood, Father Ryan served as an assistant at Sacred Heart, Oscoda; Blessed Sacrament, Midland; Our Lady of the Visitation, Bay City, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Chesaning; and as pastor at St. Joseph, Argyle; St. Agnes, Sanford; St. Anne, Linwood; St. James, Bay City; Holy Family, Saginaw; and St. Cecilia, Clare. In addition to membership on various diocesan boards and committees, Father Ryan was the diocesan director for the Christian Family Movement from 1961 to 1963 and as director fro the Pre-Cana and Family Life offices in 1970. He was granted senior priest status (retirement) in 2005.

He is survived by his sister, Judith (Larry) Moriarty of Northville; his nieces and nephews: Cheryl Moriarty, Mary (Harlow) Moriarty Naasz, Kathleen Moriarty (Jeffrey Martens), Susan (Mark) Randall, Barbara (Patrick) Robinson, and Robert Maschke; and 12 great nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Rosemarie Goceljak on June 9, 2000.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 24, at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, 1503 Kosciuszko Ave., Bay City. Bishop Robert J. Carlson will preside. Burial will follow at St. Andrew Cemetery in Saginaw.

Visitation will take place from 2 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The Rosary will be prayed at 2:30 p.m. and a vigil liturgy will begin at 7 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan – Fr. Joe Ryan Fund (for the Catholic school education of students in the Saginaw Diocese).
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of the W. A. Trahan Funeral Chapel (989-893-6583).

Pope names Saginaw's Bishop Carlson as 10th Ordinary and 9th Archbishop of Saint Louis

SAGINAW – Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he has selected Bishop Robert J. Carlson to become the 10th Ordinary and 9th Archbishop of Saint Louis.

Carlson, 64, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Episcopal ordination in January. He has served as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw since 2005.

“I am grateful for having had the opportunity to worship, pray, and serve with the dedicated priests, religious, deacons, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw during the past four years,” Bishop Carlson said. “I have been privileged to call mid-Michigan home and blessed to have been a part of this dynamic and generous local church.”
Bishop Carlson will be introduced to the people of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis at a 10:30 a.m. CDT press conference there, where his predecessors include Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (2004 – 2008), who was made the Vatican’s Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in June 2008, and Cardinal Justin F. Rigali (1994 – 2003), who now serves as the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

The date of Bishop Carlson’s installation in Saint Louis has not yet been determined. Until that time, the Archbishop-elect will continue to be the diocesan administrator in Saginaw.

The Archdiocese of Saint Louis was established as a diocese in 1826 and elevated to an archdiocese in 1847. The archdiocese is home to more than 500,000 Catholics worshiping in close to 200 parishes across 11 eastern Missouri counties.

During his four years in the Diocese of Saginaw, Bishop Carlson has focused on five priorities for ministry: vocations, Catholic Schools, service to the poor, stewardship, and evangelization.

When he arrived in Saginaw, the diocese had two seminarians discerning the vocation to the priesthood. During the past two years, more than 20 men have been enrolled as seminarians for the Diocese of Saginaw. Bishop Carlson has ordained eight priests since June 2007 and plans to ordain three more on June 5.

Bishop Carlson established two significant charity events during his time in Saginaw: the Bishop’s Charity Golf Classic and Bishop’s Charity Ball. The Golf Classic has raised more than $325,000 for seminarian education after three seasons and the Charity Ball has raised more than $675,000 for Catholic schools and parish religious education programs in 2007 and 2008. The third annual Charity Ball to benefit Catholic education will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 24, 2009 at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw.

Bishop Carlson also created the Saginaw Area Catholic Schools system to support schools in Saginaw County and established Blue Ribbon Commissions to help guide the Saginaw and Bay area school systems as well as Catholic schools in Midland.

In July 2006, Bishop Carlson set up the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan to support the ministries of the diocese, its parishes and schools. More than $4.5 million has been donated to the foundation since its inception.

Bishop Carlson also created the Mother Teresa Endowment Fund in October 2005 to assist struggling mothers awaiting the birth of a child. It has provided assistance to more than 375 families.

He also supported the Gospel of Life by providing Abortions Alternative Information Inc., with offices within the parish center of St. Mary Cathedral in order to continue its life-giving ministry and he has led hundreds of young people and adults to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. each January.

Other notable happenings during Bishop Carlson’s time in Saginaw include the founding of the quarterly FAITH Saginaw magazine for evangelization and outreach in January 2007 and the diocesan Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2007, which included a youth rally and concert in downtown Midland and 10-block Eucharistic procession in Bay City.

He also published six pastoral letters while Bishop of Saginaw: “Pastoral Letter on Evangelization” (Jan. 6, 2008); “Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician: Pastoral Letter on Penance” (Jan. 25, 2008); “Body and Soul: A reflection for couples called to the vocation of marriage on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae” (July 25, 2008); “Preparing for the Nov. 4 General Election: On Abortion, Catholic Voters, and Proposal 2” (Oct. 28, 2008); “Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace: Pastoral Letter on Peace” (Dec. 12, 2008); and “The Liberating Power of this Sacrament: Instruction on Penance” (Lent 2009).

Bishop Carlson was born on June 30, 1944 in Minneapolis, Minn. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1970 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. On January 11, 1984 he was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop in his home archdiocese.

He was appointed as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., in January 1994 and later succeeded Bishop Paul V. Dudley as the seventh bishop of Sioux Falls in March 1995.

In December 2004, Bishop Carlson was appointed to the Diocese of Saginaw by Pope John Paul II. He has served as the fifth bishop of Saginaw since his installation at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw on February 24, 2005.

The Diocese of Saginaw is home to an estimated 119,000 Catholics worshiping in 105 parish communities throughout Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties.

April 6, 2009

Local TV news anchor joins diocesan staff to promote regional Church, faith-based education

SAGINAW – Bishop Robert J. Carlson announced today that WEYI-TV Emmy-award-winning news anchor Erin Looby Carlson will join the Diocesan Center staff in May to help spread the Good News about the Catholic Church in mid-Michigan, particularly the extraordinary value of Catholic schools.

Looby Carlson joins the bishop’s pastoral team in the newly created role of director of marketing and communications. She is charged with promoting the rich quality education offered through the 11-county diocese’s 26 Catholic schools in addition to providing a leadership role in specialized evangelization and faith-based community development projects.

"We are delighted to have Erin as a member of our ministry team because of her exceptional professional expertise and passion to help us with the bold mission of growth and renewal for our Church, and especially the faith formation of people of all ages," said Bishop Carlson, who has made Catholic schools and evangelization among his top priorities along with vocations, stewardship and service to the poor.

"I believe it is important, especially during these times of dramatic change, that our community see and experience the light and hope rooted in the promise of Jesus Christ. Erin brings a high level of energy and commitment to help us share that promise throughout the diocese and surrounding communities."

Prior to her work as managing editor and anchor with the NBC affiliate Channel 25 news team, Looby Carlson was employed by WBKB-TV in Alpena as a news anchor and multimedia journalist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw.

"I am humbled and thankful to be given this opportunity to spread the message of Jesus and I look forward to using my video and Web skills to help the diocese reach out in new ways," Looby Carlson said.

"I grew up in Saginaw, where I attended Catholic school, played sports at Nouvel, and was very involved in the area. Now, as a mother of two children, I feel a responsibility to them and a commitment to the community in which we live to make sure our Catholic schools are always here and always strong. It is with great excitement that I prepare to serve our community, and with gratitude that I begin this new position which will allow me to live out my faith in a bold new way each day."

Looby Carlson will work closely with Matt Treadwell, director of publications and media relations, and Colleen Rabine, director of events and community affairs, to assist Bishop Carlson in his mission to spread the Gospel and shepherd his flock toward Christ through the many projects and programs supported by the diocesan staff.

The Diocese of Saginaw is home to an estimated 119,000 Catholics worshiping in 105 parish communities throughout Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties.

April 1, 2009

5 years later: Bishop Ken remembered

SAGINAW - Bishop Robert J. Carlson and more than 200 diocesan priests and lay men and women gathered with members of Bishop Kenneth E. Untener's family to honor the diocese's former chief shepherd and celebrate the fifth anniversary of his funeral with a special noon Mass at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.

"We read in Pastores Gregis that the bishop is compelled to live like Christ. It is a complete giving of self for the flock committed to his care and it is an expression of pastoral charity: It is a 'being with Christ' in the daily gift of self exercised in his ministry of evangelization, liturgical presidency and leadership in the community," Bishop Carlson said during his homily.

"Today, we give thanks for Bishop Ken and the way he taught us how to live like Christ."

Bishop Untener served as the fourth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw from November 1980 until his death on March 27, 2004. He was born in Detroit on August 3, 1937 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1963 by Cardinal John Dearden for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He later served as rector of St. John's Provincial Seminary in Plymouth from 1977 until he was appointed, ordained and installed as bishop of Saginaw.