June 29, 2010

Bishops Urge Senate to Remove Abortion Amendment from Defense Bill

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee amendment that would authorize the performance of elective abortions at military hospitals in this country and around the world is “misguided” and should be removed from the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3454), said the Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. In a June 29 letter, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston urged Senators to remove this amendment on the grounds that it breaks with longstanding federal and military policies on government promotion of abortion.
Cardinal DiNardo said it was disingenuous to suggest, as the amendment’s proponents have, that the amendment is “moderate” in requiring patients at military facilities to pay for their abortions. “Which is a more direct governmental involvement in abortion: That the government reimburses someone else for having done an abortion, or that the government 
performs the abortion itself and accepts payment for doing so?” the Cardinal wrote. He cited a 1989 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court saying that “the State need not commit any resources to facilitating abortions, even if it can turn a profit by doing so.”
Cardinal DiNardo also noted the longstanding nature of the current policy against providing abortions at military health facilities, which has been in place for 22 years with the exception of 1993-1995.
“During the brief period when these facilities were told to make abortions available, scarcely any military physician could be found in overseas facilities who was willing to perform abortions,” the Cardinal added.
Cardinal DiNardo also said that the current military policy is in keeping with federal policy in general, noting: “Other federal health facilities also may not be used for elective abortions, and many states have their own laws against use of public facilities for such abortions.”
Calling on the Senate not to approve the bill unless it maintains current law, as the bill approved by the House of Representatives already does, Cardinal DiNardo concluded that “this amendment presents Congress with the very straightforward question whether it is the task of our federal government to directly promote and facilitate elective abortions.  During the recent health care reform debate, the President and congressional leadership assured us that they agree it is not.”
Archbishop Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services had written an earlier letter to the Senate against the proposed policy change.  Cardinal DiNardo endorsed his letter as well, noting that it urges Congress “not to impose this tremendous burden on the consciences of Catholic and other health care personnel who joined our armed services to save and protect innocent life, not to destroy it.”
Full text of the letter can be found online at: 

U.S. Bishops Launch New Initiative, 'Marriage: Unique for a Reason'

WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage has launched a new initiative for the protection of marriage, entitled Marriage: Unique for a Reason. The initiative is to help catechize and educate Catholics on the meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The launch comes with the release of the first of five videos. The first video is called 
Made for Each Other and includes a Viewer’s Guide and Resource Booklet. It explores sexual difference and the complementarity between man and woman as husband and wife in marriage. Later videos will treat the good of children, the good of society and what constitutes discrimination, religious liberty, and issues particular to a Latino/a audience.
“The Committee’s efforts are grounded in the recognition that marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, is at the heart of a flourishing society and culture,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of the Committee. “The truth of marriage lies at the very core of a true concern for justice and the common good. Promoting marriage is crucial to the New Evangelization. These initial materials seek to provide a key starting point, a compass, for assisting Catholics and all people of good will in understanding why marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman.”
The DVD, guide, and booklet are intended for use by priests, deacons, catechists, teachers and other leaders. Potential uses include instruction for young adult groups, adult faith formation, and seminary and diaconate education. Materials are online at 
www.marriageuniqueforareason.org and are available for purchase through www.usccbpublishing.org

June 26, 2010

Obituary for the Rev. Mr. Ralph S. Brisson

PINCONNING - The Rev. Mr. Ralph S. Brisson, 62, a deacon of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, died Thursday, June 24, 2010.

Born in Cambridge, Mass.,on July 28, 1947 to Raymond L. and  Lucy (Mercier) Brissonm, he married Sharman Catanzano on July 24, 1971 in Reading, Mass., she survives him.

Ralph worked for the Boys Scouts of American in Massachusetts and New Jersey. He attended Salem State University in Salem, Mass., and Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and received his master's degree in theology. He was ordained as a permanent deacon on June 2, 1984 in the Diocese of Metuchin, N.J.

Deacon Brisson has served at Christ the King, Manville, N.J.; St .James, Omaha, Neb.; St. Patrick, Elkhorn, Neb.; and Ss. Peter & Paul,Saginaw. Since 2006, he has served as pastoral administrator at St. Michaels, Pinconning. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and parish men’s club.

He is survived by his wife, Sharman, of 38 years,their children: John-Paul Brisson and his fiancĂ©e Kayla Walterman of Nebraska, Marni and Chris Tierno of Pennsylvania, Cheri and Joe Salazar of Michigan, and Audri and Jeff Perron of Massachusetts; his grandchildren: Joey, Rosalie, Liana and another due in September; his mother, Lucy Brisson of New Hampshire; two brothers: Russell and Charlotte Brisson of Georgia and Rock and Mary Brisson of New Hampshire: two sisters: Yvonne and Michael Lucy of Massachusetts and Roslyn and Billy Popielski of Virginia; and four nieces and 9 nephews. He was preceeded in death by his father, Raymond Leo Brisson, Sr. and brother, Raymond L. Brisson Jr.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday June 29, 2010 at St. Michael Church, Pinconning. The Most Rev. Joseph R Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, will preside and the Rev. Joseph K. Miller, Rev. Richard E. Jozwiak and Rev Robert J. DeLand will concelebrate. Burial will take place at St. Michael Cemetery.

Visitation will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 28, 2010,  at the church. A vigil liturgy will be led by members of St. Michael Parish followed by a Bible presentation by the Knights of Columbus. There will be another opportunity for visitation from 10 a.m. until time of the funeral at the church.

Those planning and expression of sympathy are asked to consider the St. Michael’s Endowment Fund. Arrangements are entrusted to Lee-Ramsay Funeral Home and condolences maybe sent to www.leeramsayrivertownfh.com.

June 25, 2010

Youth Encounter Service

SAGINAW - Teens from across the diocese on Friday put the finishing touches on the annual week-long service project and social justice program Youth Encounter Service (Y.E.S.).

June 18, 2010

Bishops Express Prayers, Solidarity for Those Harmed by Oil Spill

WASHINGTON — While meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, for prayer and reflection, on June 18, the U.S. bishops voiced their prayers and solidarity for those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Full text of the bishops’ statement follows:

"We, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida, for several days of prayer and reflection, take this opportunity to express publicly our heartfelt prayers and pastoral solidarity with all those affected by the oil that continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico.  We pray first and foremost for those who died in the initial explosion and for the grieving members of their families.  We express our prayerful support as well for the families and individuals whose lives and livelihoods have been so negatively impacted by the oil that daily contaminates water, beaches and God’s creation in the Gulf Coast area.  In a special way, in our difficult economic times, we are mindful of those who have lost their jobs and income."

"Finally, we offer our prayers for our government leaders and for the industry leaders and experts who are working to cap the leak and repair this damage.  May God give them wisdom and strength in this trying hour, and may He move them to seek lasting solutions benefitting the common good of our society."

June 17, 2010

Pro-life Chair Voices ‘Grave Concern’ Over FDA Plan to Approve Abortion Drug for ‘Emergency Contraception’

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities voiced “grave concern” to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over its move toward approving a new drug that may induce early abortions as an “emergency contraceptive.” In a June 17 letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston criticized the FDA’s move to hold an advisory committee meeting on the drug Ulipristal “without broad public input or a full record on the drug’s safety for women or their unborn children.”

The Cardinal raised concerns that Ulipristal is more similar in effect to the drug RU-486, which can cause abortions several weeks into pregnancy, than it is to other emergency contraceptives, which are believed to have no post-implantation effects.

“Millions of American women, even those willing to use a contraceptive to prevent fertilization in various circumstances, would personally never choose to have an abortion,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “They would be ill served by a misleading campaign to present Ulipristal simply as a ‘contraceptive.’ In fact, FDA approval for that purpose would likely make the drug available for ‘off-label’ use simply as an abortion drug – including its use by unscrupulous men with the intent of causing an early abortion without a woman's knowledge or consent. Such abuses have already occurred in the case of RU-486, despite its warning labels and limited distribution.”

Cardinal DiNardo went on to cite the support of this and previous Administrations for federal laws ensuring no one is involved in an abortion without his or her knowledge or consent, as well as the Obama Administration’s rationale for supporting broad access to contraceptives as a means of reducing abortions.
“Plans for approving a known abortion-causing drug as a ‘contraceptive’ for American women is not consistent with the stated policy of the Administration on these matters,” the Cardinal wrote.

Read the full text of the letter.

June 16, 2010

Apostleship Of The Sea Sets Up Network, Urges Catholics To Assist Those Harmed By Oil Spill

WASHINGTON — The overseer of the maritime ministry of the U.S. bishops expressed solidarity with those impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and announced the creation of a network to help with the human and environmental harm caused by the disaster.

In a video at www.youtube.com/user/usccb#p/p/96DDE9247B03585A/0/cO63wxFuVM0, Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Georgia, bishop promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea, urged Catholics to assist the work already being done by the Church to address this disaster. He said the Apostleship of the Sea is setting up a network of diocesan relief efforts along the Gulf Coast and cited the work of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese and New Orleans (www.ccano.org) as one avenue for getting involved.

Bishop Boland also offered prayers for the victims of the oil rig explosion and their families and for the fishermen and others whose livelihoods are threatened by the environmental damage to the Gulf. He also urged Catholic to pray for the success of efforts to stop the spill and clean up the Gulf.

“It is God’s creation,” Bishop Boland said of the environment. “He has given it to us to take care of it. We must do all that we can, both as individuals and as a Church and as a community to restore to its proper dimensions and its proper beauty what God has given to us.”

The Apostleship of the Sea provides spiritual care to seafarers and all who rely on the sea for their livelihood. For more information on the Apostleship of the Sea and its relief efforts in the Gulf, visit:www.usccb.org/pcmrt/onmove/aos.shtml 

June 15, 2010

Catholic Campaign for Human Development Approves $300,000 for Grants Assisting Those Affected by Gulf Oil Spill

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development approved grants up to $300,000 to assist people and dioceses affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Meeting June 12, the Subcommittee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development approved these funds outside of the regular funding cycle of the Campaign in order to help low-income people and vulnerable communities impacted by the oil spill to have an effective voice in shaping the response to this terrible challenge.

“This tragic oil spill has grave human, environmental and economic costs,” said Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, Chairman of the subcommittee. “As a Church, we mourn the loss of life. We pray for those whose livelihoods are in jeopardy. Through these grants, the Church also offers concrete support to the work that must be done to help these communities help themselves. It’s a powerful sign of the essential mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”

The groups who receive the grants will use the funds to provide a voice for the fishermen and communities affected by the spill, coordinate with communities and emergency responders to document the damage, as well as insist on work to restore the damaged wetlands.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said, “The people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans are grateful for the generosity of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. By providing our fishing communities with funds to support their efforts to recover, the CCHD has enabled the Catholic Church to continue to be a sign of Christ's compassion and hope to the fishing communities.  This gift is indeed generous and will be used to provide hope and stability for these hard-working families affected by the disastrous oil spill.”

These grants reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church, which calls for responsible stewardship of the environment and protection of the poor and vulnerable, who are often most affected by environmental harm.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which seeks to assist low-income communities to break the cycle of poverty by addressing its root causes.

June 14, 2010

Our Lady School in Chesaning closes doors, tradition of religious faith formation lives on

CHESANING - Following the recommendation of the local pastor, task force and parish council, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today announced his acceptance of a collective recommendation to close Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Chesaning at the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year.

The recommendation and approval come following a special June 4 meeting of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council, which found the school was not able to meet benchmarks set forth by a special task force to remain open.

“Closing a school is never easy and never something you want to do,” said the Rev. Richard Bokinskie, who has served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish since 2004. “I can assure all of our families of the commitment of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish to continue to educate and form our children in the Catholic faith.”

Father Bokinskie said Our Lady of Perpetual Help School’s more than 100 years of dedication to Catholic education will live on through dynamic faith formation opportunities offered through the parish. Our Lady of Perpetual Help School opened its doors to students in 1906.

We’re proud of our teachers, students, families and parishioners and the commitment they made to our Catholic school. Unfortunately, the reality of the economic challenges facing our area has led to dwindling enrollment and we can no longer afford to keep our school open,” Father Bokinskie said.

In a letter to Father Bokinskie conveying his acceptance of the recommendation, Bishop Cistone noted, “With deep regret, I accept the recommendation that Our Lady of Perpetual Help School close at the end of this current academic year. In doing so, I share your own sadness and that of the students, parents and parishioners of your parish community.”

Bishop Cistone went on to say, “Catholic education remains a priority for me in my ministry as Bishop of Saginaw. I recognize that our parishes and diocese as a whole are experiencing extraordinary times in this economically unstable environment. I am distressed by the fact that many long-time, faithful members of our parish communities are finding it necessary to move to other locations in order to find work. Although these circumstances have caused some of our parish schools to reorganize or close, I remain steadfastly committed to doing everything possible to ensure the stability and growth of our Catholic schools.”

In the fall of 2009, a special task force was created from within the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and School communities to examine the viability of the school. In February, the task force recommended the school would need a minimum of 35 students enrolled for fall 2010-11 and $100,000 in the bank by June 1, to keep the school open. The community raised nearly $64,000 and enrolled 14 students in grades K-4. The money raised to keep the school open will be returned.

The last day of the school year for students of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School was Thursday, June 10. Plans will be made to hold a farewell gathering to give teachers, current and former students, families and parishioners an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful legacy of Our Lady School in the Chesaning community.

June 11, 2010

Full Video, Text of Canon Law Seminary on Abuse Available Online

WASHINGTON — Video and print resources from the Canon Law Seminar for Media, explaining the Church’s processes for dealing with clergy sexual abuse of minors, are now available online at http://www.usccb.org/canonlawseminar/

Held in response to media interest in clergy sexual abuse, this May 25 event was sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Canon Law Society of America. It brought together noted experts on Church law and representatives of major Catholic and secular news outlets.

The presentations of all four seminar speakers, as well as a panel discussion, are available online. The program featured Father Kevin McKenna of Rochester, New York, on Canon Law and civil law, Mercy Sister Sharon Euart on the U.S. experience of clergy sexual abuse of minors, Father John Beal of The Catholic University of America on crime and punishment in the Church, and Msgr. Lawrence DiNardo of Pittsburgh on canonical penal procedures.

Pope to Priests: Accompany Human Beings on their Journey

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in St. Peter's Square to mark the close of the Year for Priests which was called to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the holy "Cure of Ars".

The Eucharist was concelebrated by cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia, as well as by more than fifteen thousand priests from all over the world. The Holy Father consecrated the wine in the same chalice as that used by St. John Mary Vianney, which is conserved in Ars.

In his homily the Pope noted how the Year for Priests was celebrated to ensure "a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder. ... Rather, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ's name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ's words of thanksgiving, ... which open the world to God and unite it to Him. The priesthood, then, is not simply 'office' but Sacrament".

"This audacity of God Who entrusts Himself to human beings (Who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in His stead) this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word 'priesthood'. ...This is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year. We wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us, ... we also wanted to demonstrate once again to young people that this vocation, this fellowship of service for God and with God, does exist".

"It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the 'enemy'; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the Sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light - particularly the abuse of the little ones. ... We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey".

"Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God's gift, a gift concealed in 'earthen vessels' which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes His love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, His gift becomes a commitment to respond to God's courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility".

The Pope continued his homily by commenting on Psalm 23 - "The Lord is my shepherd" - which forms part of today's liturgy. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want", said Benedict XVI. "God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered. ... The world's religions, as far as we can see, have always known that in the end there is only one God. But this God was distant. ... There was still a recognition that the world presupposes a Creator. Yet this God, after making the world, had evidently withdrawn from it. The world itself had a certain set of laws by which it ran, and God did not, could not, intervene in them". However, "wherever God's loving concern is perceived as getting in the way, human beings go awry. ... God wants us, as priests, in one tiny moment of history, to share His concern about people. As priests, we want to be persons who share His concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God's concern".

"We should strive to 'know' men and women as God does and for God's sake; we should strive to walk with them along the path of friendship with God. ... The shepherd points out the right path to those entrusted to him. He goes before them and leads them. Let us put it differently: the Lord shows us the right way to be human. He teaches us the art of being a person. What must I do in order not to fall, not to squander my life in meaninglessness? This is precisely the question which every man and woman must ask, and one which remains valid at every moment of one's life. How much darkness surrounds this question in our own day! We are constantly reminded of the words of Jesus, Who felt compassion for the crowds because they were like a flock without a shepherd".

"The people of Israel continue to be grateful to God because in the Commandments He pointed out the way of life. ... God has shown us the way and how to walk aright. The message of the Commandments was synthesised in the life of Jesus and became a living model. Thus we understand that these rules from God are not chains, but the way which He is pointing out to us. ... By walking with Christ, we experience the joy of Revelation, and as priests we need to communicate to others our own joy at the fact that we have been shown the right way".

Explaining the Psalm's reference to the "darkest valley", Benedict XVI pointed out that this can refer to death where, however, the Lord will not abandon us. Yet, "when speaking of the darkest valley, we can also think of the dark valleys of temptation, discouragement and trial through which everyone has to pass. Even in these dark valleys of life He is there. ... Help us priests, so that we can remain beside the persons entrusted to us in these dark nights. So that we can show them your own light", he said.

"'Your rod and your staff - they comfort me': the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. ... The Church too must use the shepherd's rod, the rod with which she protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor is it love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God's gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd's staff - a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord".

The Psalm closes with a reference to the "table set", to "dwelling in the house of the Lord". In these words, said the Holy Father, "we see a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist, in which God Himself makes us His guests and offers Himself to us as food - as that bread and fine wine which alone can definitively sate man's hunger and thirst. How can we not rejoice that one day we will be guests at the very table of God? ... How can we not rejoice that He has enabled us to set God's table for men and women, to give them His Body and His Blood, to offer them the precious gift of His very presence".

Finally, the Pope commented on the two communion antiphons which recount the lance thrust in Jesus' side which caused blood and water to come out. This, the Pope explained, recalls "the two fundamental Sacraments by which the Church lives: Baptism and the Eucharist. From the Lord's pierced side, from His open heart, there springs the living fountain which continues to well up over the centuries and which makes the Church. The open heart is the source of a new stream of life".

"Every Christian and every priest should become, starting from Christ, a wellspring which gives life to others. We ought to be offering life-giving water to a parched and thirsty world. Lord", the Holy Father concluded, "we thank you because for our sake you opened your heart; because in your death and in your resurrection you became the source of life. Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek".

Thousands of Clergy at Prayer Vigil for Year for Priests

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - A prayer vigil was held yesterday evening in St. Peter's Square for the close of the Year for Priests. The event was attended by some fifteen thousand priests from ninety-seven countries.

During the first part of the vigil, live television linkups enabled those present in St. Peter's Square to share the witness and experiences of a German family with six children, a deacon, an Argentinean priest who works in a poor neighbourhood, a pastor from Hollywood, U.S.A., and a cloistered nun.

The second part of the vigil began with the Pope's arrival in St. Peter's Square by popemobile. Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, greeted the Holy Father noting how this Year for Priests has served "to promote commitment to interior renewal among all clergy, for an evangelical witness that is more powerful and incisive in the modern world".

Cardinal Hummes continued his remarks: "We would like the Year for Priests never to end; that is, we would like our striving towards sanctity, each in his own identity, never to end, and that on this journey (which must begin in the seminary and last all our earthly lives as a single formative process) we may always be comforted and supported, as we have been in this Year, by the ceaseless prayer of the Church, by the warmth and spiritual support of all the faithful".

Cardinal Hummes thanked the Pope "for everything you have done, are doing and will continue to do for all priests, even those who have lost their way. We know that Your Holiness has already forgiven and will always forgive the suffering some of them have caused you".

A passage from the Gospel was then read out, after which the Pope responded to questions put to him by five priests, representing the five continents.

After praying the Lord's Prayer, the Blessed Sacrament was borne in procession from the Bronze Door to the altar positioned in front of the Vatican Basilica. Following a moment of silent adoration, the Pope read out the prayer of the Year for Priests.

The vigil came to an end at 11.15 p.m. with the Eucharistic blessing and the singing of the "Salve Regina".

June 4, 2010

Obituary for the Rev. Richard C. Ratajczak

SAGINAW - Rev. Richard C. Ratajczak, 79, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, died Thursday, June 3, 2010 at the St. Francis Home in Shields.

He was born on Feb. 1, 1931, in Kawkawlin, son of Nicholos and Theresa (Rozek) Ratajczak. He attended the Cathedral School in Detroit and received his secondary education from St. Joseph Seminary in Grand Rapids. Father Ratajczak went on to further priestly formation at 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. Ratajczak served as assistant pastor at St. James, Whittemore; St. Pius X, Hale; and the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, Saginaw. In 1963, he was appointed as pastor at St. Patrick, Croswell and St. John the Evangelist, Peck. He later served as pastor at St. Mary, Parisville; administrator at St. Patrick, Palms; and pastor at St. Maria Goretti, Bay City; St. Hedwig, Bay City; and St. Valentine, Beaver (Kawkawlin). He also served on the diocese’s education and finance boards and as the coordinator for stewardship. He was granted senior priests status (retired) in 2004.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 7, 2010 at St. Valentine Catholic Church, 999 Nine Mile Rd in Kawkawlin. The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, will preside. The Rev. James Carlson will preach the homily. Burial will take place at St. Valentine Parish Cemetery in Beaver Township.

Visitation will take place at St. Valentine Catholic Church from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 6, 2010, including a 7:00 p.m. vigil liturgy led by the Rev. Richard Jozwiak. There also will be an opportunity for visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Monday until the time of the funeral Mass.

June 2, 2010

Blessed Trinity Parish in Frankenmuth makes history

The first Catholic cemetery in Frankenmuth was blessed by the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, on Sunday. He joined the Pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish, the Rev. Robert H. Byrne for the celebration.

The cemetery is an extension of Blessed Trinity Parish campus, located at 958 E. Tuscola St., in Frankenmuth. Parishioners began discussing plans to develop a parish cemetery in the spring of 2008, and by November 2009 they broke ground.

Financial gifts to Blessed Trinity have enabled the parish to underwrite the entire cost of the project.

There are 500 burial plots at the new Blessed Trinity Cemetery and a columbarium with 96 niches, each able to hold two urns.

Blessed Trinity Catholic Church was established in 1967. The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw includes 105 parish communities located across 11 counties in mid-Michigan.

See more photos on Bishop Ciston's Facebook page.