Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Twice Removed: Why Our Sacraments Often Don't Connect with Real Life

By Joseph Martos

Note: This commentary was first published February 20, 2016 by the National Catholic Reporter.

In the first two centuries of Christianity, theology was based in experience. Words that were later taken to refer to things that are outside the realm of experience were originally attempts to talk about things that the followers of Jesus were experiencing.

For example, when Paul wrote about justification by faith, he was not talking about getting right with God by believing in Christ, but getting your life straightened out by trusting that what Jesus taught is true. When the Book of Acts talks about being saved through baptism, it does not mean washing away sin by going through a ritual, but being rescued from selfishness by being immersed in a caring community.

Scholars who study other early documents like "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (often called the Didache for short, from the Greek word for teaching) are finding that these writings were also attempts to spell out what the followers of Jesus were experiencing in their lives. But in the third century, things began to change.

Over time, the experience behind the early writings was forgotten. The writings were recognized as precious, called sacred Scriptures. Even the Didache appeared in some early lists of sacred Scriptures.

Christian intellectuals in the third century, sometimes called apologists, tried to explain their faith to people in the wider pagan world who suspected that the followers of Jesus were members of a dangerous cult. One apologist, Justin, compared the Christian community meal to a temple sacrifice, where pagans shared food in the presence of their god, to show that Christians were religious even though they did not worship in temples.

But other apologists began to talk about their faith as a set of beliefs rather than as a way of living. The words were becoming disconnected from the experiences.

In the fourth century, Constantine wanted to unify the Roman Empire with a single religion, so he legalized and promoted Christianity. When Christians began to travel freely throughout the empire, they discovered that people in different regions had different theologies. Instead of uniting Constantine's empire, Christians argued and divided it even further.

Constantine ordered all the bishops to his villa in Nicaea, and forced them to stay until they produced a document they could all agree on. They came up with the Nicene Creed, a statement of belief that said nothing about living like Jesus, but only about God and the church. The first removal of theology from the experience of Christian living was complete.

The Middle Ages

The attempt of the emperors to preserve the empire failed, and in the fifth century, the western half fell to barbarian invaders from the north. The so-called Dark Ages lasted until the 10th century. Theological thinking came to a halt while people struggled to survive.

Church life, on the contrary, evolved and flourished. The elaborate eucharistic liturgy got pared down to a Mass that could be said by missionaries who carried the faith to the tribes that were settling on the continent, and it was called a sacrifice even though no one remembered why.

Baptism became a short rite performed on babies in a church or adult converts in a river. Confirmation could be given by a bishop on horseback to children who were held up for him to touch. Private confession was introduced by monks for people who needed assurance of God's forgiveness.

Weddings became church ceremonies to be a public record of marriages. Ordination became a series of rites for apprentices who were learning how to be clerics as they ascended through a series of holy orders. Anointing of the sick began as a ministry to people who were ill, but in the absence of modern medicine, it became a last anointing called extreme unction.

By the 11th century, the chaos had subsided. The weather got warmer, farming flourished, commerce expanded, towns grew into cities, cathedrals were built, and schools were founded. Monks turned their attention from copying ancient manuscripts to studying them. Philosophy and theology were reborn.

Among other things, the schoolmen turned their attention to religious rituals, especially to sacraments. How did bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ? Why could baptism and confirmation be received only once? How did the sacraments of penance and extreme unction work? What were the different powers of priests and bishops? Why was the bond of marriage indissoluble?

The schoolmen did not realize, however, that much of their theological language was already somewhat removed from life. They thought that salvation meant going to heaven, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not experienced, that sins were remitted even if they were committed again, that the bond of marriage was indissoluble, that priestly powers were unrelated to priestly ministry, and that extreme unction could be received by someone who was unconscious.

They saw nothing amiss in a Mass that was performed by a priest using words that the people could not hear, much less understand, and who paid attention only when a bell was rung.

In many ways, sacramental ministry devolved into sacramental magic in the late Middle Ages, but the church's leadership rejected repeated calls for reform until the 16th century, by which time half of Europe had converted to Protestantism.

The Council of Trent reformed the sacramental system, eliminating the most superstitious practices, insisting that bishops be true shepherds of their flocks and that priests be trained in seminaries. From the 16th to the mid-20th centuries, Catholic sacramental practice and Catholic sacramental theology mirrored one another.

The baptismal and priestly characters explained why Catholics never left the church and why priests never left the ministry. The Eucharist was elevated at Mass and ensconced in a monstrance for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and was received only rarely, usually after a sincere confession of sins to a priest.

The indissoluble bond of marriage explained why Catholics never divorced. Confirmation and extreme unction did not have visible effects, but Catholics trusted that the former was good to receive in adolescence and the latter was good to receive before dying.

The Catholic church remained medieval in form and thought well into the 20th century.

Vatican II and after

At the Second Vatican Council, the world's Catholic bishops called for an updating of the church's sacramental practices. Historians and liturgists retrieved earlier forms of the Mass and other rites that had gotten lost during the Dark Ages — things like praying in the language of the people, receiving Communion in the forms of both bread and wine, rethinking the relation between sin and confession, and returning anointing to the context of ministry to the sick.

Unexpectedly, the unity of practice and theology began to dissolve. People stopped going to confession regularly. Priests began leaving the priesthood and the number of seminarians dwindled. Married Catholics started divorcing in greater numbers and even remarrying without waiting for an annulment.

The primary effect of confirmation seemed to be dropping out of church. Even baptism was no guarantee that people would remain Catholics or even Christians, as those who left the church sometimes became agnostics or atheists, Jews or Muslims.

Alarmed by this apparent defection, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI insisted on strict adherence to ecclesiastical rules, affirming traditional doctrines, stifling dissent, and denying any further developments in sacramental practice such as allowing deacons to anoint the sick or allowing priests to marry.

But the traditional doctrines no longer match Catholics' contemporary experience of church membership, marriage and ministry, not to mention their sense of sin and their experience of illness. Even Catholic worship feels different from the way it did in the days of the Latin Mass and Gregorian chant, and the previously strong sense of Christ's presence in the Eucharist is hard to recapture.

As happened in the third century, there is a growing gap between theology and experience, only this time the theology is twice removed from life. Official teachings about the Mass and sacraments are not only disconnected from people's everyday lives, but they are also often disconnected from people's experience of worship. For many people, the liturgy is not the main source of their spiritual nourishment, nor the high point of their week.

Around the time of Vatican II, Catholic thinkers like Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner, Bernard Cooke and Louis-Marie Chauvet tried to reinterpret the sacraments in more contemporary ways. Fifty years later, however, their work is not given much attention because it suffered from a fatal flaw.

Instead of reflecting on the experience of ritual worship, they reflected on the church's sacramental doctrines and tried to translate them into thought categories derived from existentialism and phenomenology, the psychology and sociology of religion, and even postmodern philosophy.

By being tied to medieval doctrines, however, these theologians had to explain why baptism is permanent, how confirmation gives spiritual strength, why confession is needed, how anointing benefits the sick, why marriage is indissoluble, and why the priesthood is forever.

But these ideas no longer correspond to the world inhabited by most Catholics, so contemporary theologies are just as removed from real life as the scholastic theology they had hoped to replace.

Is there a way out of the current confusion? There is, but it is neither a dogmatic reassertion of the past nor a freefall into cultural relativism. We need to rediscover what is essential to the Christian way of life, reinvent ways to ritualize that, and reformulate what those rituals mean in terms that are faithful both to the teachings of Jesus and to the experience of living in accordance with them.

Joseph Martos is a retired professor of religion and philosophy living in Louisville, Kentucky, where he divides his time between writing, social activism, and public speaking. He has held full-time teaching positions in Louisville KY, Allentown PA, Cincinnati OH, and Sioux City IA, and he has taught summer courses in over a dozen universities in the United States, Canada and Australia. He did graduate study in philosophy and theology at Gregorian University and Boston College, and earned a doctorate from DePaul University in Chicago, writing a dissertation on Bernard Lonergan's theory of transcendent knowledge. He served as the director of the Russell Institute of Religion and Ministry at Spalding University until the university discontinued all of its humanities programs in 2003. Martos is the author of many books and articles on the sacraments. His book The Sacraments: An Interdisciplinary and Interactive Study deconstructs Catholic sacramental theology, exposing its conceptual flaws and intellectual instability. This article is based on research published in Deconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic Ritual (Wipf and Stock, 2015).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Risen Jesus: Our Integral Ground


What Jesus so profoundly demonstrates to us in his passage from death to life is that the walls between the realms are paper thin. Along the entire ray of creation, the "mansions" are interpenetrating and mutually permeable by love. The death of our physical form is not the death of our individual personhood. Our personhood remains alive and well, "hidden with Christ in God" (to use Paul's beautiful phrase in Colossians 3:3) and here and now we can draw strength from it (and him) to live our temporal lives with all the fullness of eternity. If we can simply keep our hearts wrapped around this core point, the rest of the Christian path begins to fall into place.

Yes, his physical form no longer walks the planet. But if we take him at his word, that poses no disruption to intimacy if we merely learn to recognize him at that other level, just as he has modeled for his disciples during those first forty days of Eastertide.

Nor has that intimacy subsided in two thousand years – at least according to the testimony of a long lineage of Christian mystics, who in a single voice proclaim that our whole universe is profoundly permeated with the presence of Christ. He surrounds, fills, holds together from top to bottom this human sphere in which we dwell. The entire cosmos has become his body, so to speak, and the blood flowing through it is his love. . . . Jesus in his ascended state is not farther removed from human beings but more intimately connected with them. He is the integral ground, the ambient wholeness within which our contingent human lives are always rooted and from which we are always receiving the help we need to keep moving ahead on the difficult walk we have to walk here. When the eye of our own heart is open and aligned within this field of perception, we recognize whom we're walking with.

– Cynthia Bourgeault
Excerpted from The Wisdom Jesus

See also the previous PCV posts:
Easter: The Celebration of the Sacrament of Transformation
Easter Sunday: Resurrection
"You Will See Him"

Image: Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bernard Hebda Named Archbishop of Twin Cities Archdiocese

Note: The following letter from Archbishop-Designate Hebda was released March 24, 2016 by the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When I arrived in Minnesota for the first time last June, I was but a visitor – assigned as Apostolic Administrator to help with the operations of the Archdiocese until Pope Francis named a new Archbishop. In the nine months since then, I have been blessed to witness your deep faith and your commitment to Christ’s Church, His people, and the Eucharist. I consider many of you friends.

That is why it is with joy that I tell you of Pope Francis’ decision to appoint me as the next Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Pope and the Holy Spirit evidently had different plans for me than I had anticipated, and I am humbled and honored to be named your shepherd.

I know from my nine months in the Archdiocese that there is much work yet to be done to overcome the significant challenges we continue to face, but I am firm in my conviction that the Lord is truly present here, even in our struggles. The exceptional staff and leadership team at the Archdiocese, along with our strong priests, committed religious, and dynamic lay leaders are all reasons for great hope. You all seem to work tirelessly to serve Christ and His people no matter where they are found and for that I am most grateful.

It has already been an honor serving you and I very much look forward to continuing to serve you and this vibrant community for as long as the Lord sees fit.

Now more than ever, I will be counting on your prayers and support. Be assured of my prayers for you, your families, and this local Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Apostolic Administrator and Archbishop-Designate
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Related Off-site Links:
Archbishop Hebda Named Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis – Maria Wiering (The Catholic Spirit, March 24, 2016).
Interim Bernard Hebda Named Archbishop of Twin Cities Archdiocese – Tim Harlow and Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune, March 24, 2016).
Hebda Named Archbishop of Twin Cities Archdiocese – Tim Nelson and Riham Feshir (MPR News, March 24, 2016).
Feeling the "Bern," for Good – Pope Names Hebda as Twin Cities Archbishop – Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia, March 24, 2016).
No Longer Administrator, How Might Hebda Change as Twin Cities Archbishop? – Brian Roewe (National Catholic Reporter, March 24, 2016).

See also the previous PCV posts:
CCCR Representatives Meet with Interim Archbishop Hebda
Good News! – Interim Archbishop Hebda to Hold Listening Sessions on Leadership Needs
Twin Cities Catholics Get Rare Chance to Make Archbishop Recommendations to Vatican

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What is Pope Francis’ Intent for Divorced and LGBT Catholics? We May Be About to Find Out

By Michelle Boorstein

Note: This article was first published March 18, 2016 by The Washington Post. There is a connection to the local church of St. Paul-Minneapolis in that Massimo Faggioli, a church historian who directs the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, is quoted. Of course, what's glaringly absent from this article is any commentary from women, LGBT people or divorced Catholics.

Pope Francis has a reputation for opening the Catholic Church’s doors when it comes to concepts of family. The next few weeks may clarify just how far he intends to open them.

On Saturday, the Vatican says, Francis will finalize a highly-anticipated teaching document on family issues that has been 1 ½ years in the making — including two closely-watched meetings of top bishops. The document isn’t expected to be released to the public for a few weeks, but pundits, priests and laypeople will be flipping through furiously as soon as possible to see how Francis proposes bringing more fully into church life Catholics who are LBGT, divorced-and-remarried, and cohabiting outside marriage.

Based on recent hints dropped by the pope and other top advisers, expert church-watchers believe Francis will attempt the papal version of skating’s triple-axle: not changing orthodox doctrine on anything but altering practice and rules enough to give different types of Catholic families new affirmation that they are a legitimate part of the Church.

Francis has made many powerful gestures and comments in the three years since he was elected that have made him an icon. But the time and resources he has put into this Apostolic Exhortation on the family is unique, and experts say the standing of his papacy – and its future — may be riding on it.

“This the most important test for this pope to show us how he deals with dissent in the church, how he deals with divided issues,” said Massimo Faggioli [right], a church historian who directs the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic school in St. Paul.

Faggioli said the conversation Francis launched through the two high-profile meetings, called synods, at which he encouraged dissent, “was the most important moment in the church in the last 50 years. This was the biggest sign of hope that in the Catholic Church there are ideas and we can talk about it. No one before Francis ever had the courage to think about that.”

Since the pope launched this process in the fall of 2014, much focus has been on the practicalities, in particular whether he would create ways so that the millions of disaffected Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside the Church can fully return, including receiving the core ritual of Communion. Regardless of what happens – or doesn’t — with any specific changes to practice, experts predicted the goal of Francis’ paper will be to make a much more sweeping statement about the importance of families. It could be similar in its radical scope, some said, to the document the Argentinian Jesuit issued last spring about the environment.

“The document will identify the current stresses on family life from poverty, migration and war, as well as the hostile legal and cultural framework of contemporary Western society, which Francis calls ‘ideological colonization,’” Francis biographer Austen Ivereigh predicted earlier this month in a piece for the Catholic publication Our Sunday Visitor. Francis will rail against what he has called “destructive” ideologies based on isolating Catholics from the mainstream culture, Ivereigh wrote. “The exhortation will be an uplifting tribute to the enduring power and beauty of family life, offering support and consolation to those struggling against fierce contemporary headwinds to hold families together,” Ivereigh said.

John Allen [left], editor of the Catholic site Crux and a longtime Vatican writer, said Francis may be trying to make a change that is undramatic in the short term but impactful in the long run, similar to when Pope John Paul held the first World Youth Day in the 1980’s. Back then, Allen said, very few dioceses even had something called youth ministry. “It wasn’t even a category. The church didn’t even think about it,” he said. Now, the Catholic Church and other faiths pour huge resources into thinking about how to engage young people.

Allen predicted the document will get far more attention in the West, where culture war issues about marriage and sexual mores are more on the front burner. In much of the rest of the Catholic world – now the fastest-growing parts of the church are in Africa and Asia – the document will be read differently and be seen as less dramatic, he said.

Concretely, Allen predicted the paper “will have huge symbolic and media resonance but won’t change much on the ground.”

Bishops at the synods agreed that families need much more focus, including, for example, increased marriage preparation. But they were clearly divided on things like Communion for the divorced-and-remarried and what language to use to be more welcoming of gays and lesbians and families who live together outside marriage.

There are more than 5,000 bishops around the world, Allen noted, who already take different approaches on these topics. “If you were inclined to take a flexible position, you already were. If you were inclined to take a hard line, you were.”

Pope Francis appeared to tip his hat last month during a plane press conference on the way back from Mexico, when he was asked about divorced and remarried couples. “All doors are open, but we cannot say that these people can take Communion…integration into the Church does not mean allowing people to take Communion,” he said before citing with disapproval divorced couples who “go to church once or twice a year and say, ‘I want to receive Communion,’ as if it were some prize.”

However, Monday, Cardinal Walter Kasper [right], a prominent theologian whose work Francis has often cited, said in a speech in Italy that Francis will “definitively express himself on family issues addressed during the last Synod, and in particular on the participation of the divorced and remarried faithful in the active life of the Catholic community,” the National Catholic Register reported, citing the Italian paper Il Terreno. Kasper was quoted as saying the exhortation will represent “the first step in a reform” that will mark the “turning of a page” in the Church’s history “after 1,700 years.”

“We must not repeat past formulas and barricade ourselves behind the wall of exclusivism and clericalism,” Kasper told the audience, according to Il Terreno. The Church must live in the current times and “know how to interpret them,” he said.

A key topic that experts can’t predict is how Francis will deal with a concept the synods called “the internal forum,” or the moral process of examining one’s own conscience within the framework of the church that allows for a sense of repentance while maintaining involvement in church life. The second and most recent synod, in the fall, talked about how Catholics might use the internal forum in conversation with a priest and be able to come to Communion — even in untraditional situations.

How Francis handles all this could say a lot about his standing going forward.

“The hard right both in the church and outside hasn’t liked this pope from the start. This may be the hard left deciding it doesn’t either,” said Allen, who described Francis as a “doctrinal moderate and a pastoral revolutionary.” The pope “wants the most tolerant application” of church teaching, he said.

Faggioli said many Catholics are anxious for a more radical change.

“In three years there is a lot he has accomplished. But there is a lot he has not accomplished,” he said. The synods and the paper that comes from them constitute “one of the most important moments in his pontificate, and how he gets out of this moment of fierce disagreement, [what] comes out of that will say a lot.”

Friday, March 4, 2016

Council of the Babtized's Open Forum Continues with Focus on Parish Life

Is your parish the heart of your Catholic life? This is the question that will be explored at the Council of the Baptized's March 8 open forum when Jerry Roth, Executive Director of the Center for Parish Leadership, will present a vision of the parish as "the heart of Catholic life."

Roth will explore several themes including the role of the Archdiocese in supporting vibrant parishes, a return to the simplicity of our Catholic parish mission, and key characteristics that form the foundation of a modern parish and the relationships of its key stakeholders.

When: Tuesday, March 8
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Where: Gloria Dei Church
700 Snelling Ave So, St. Paul, 55116

In light of the Council of the Baptized's March 8 open forum on parish life, here are some insightful quotes from a number of books all about parish life and leadership. These quotes are taken from the resource page of the Center for Parish Life website.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy for us, priests and laity alike, to forget that we are church. As a result, we get trapped in winning rather than serving, in success rather than holiness, and in tasks rather than Gospel. And, quite possibly, our greatest weakness - we forget to be joyful. Consider this proven reality: the quality of our ministry is determined by the quality of our spirituality.

– Mary Benet McKinney, OSB
Excerpted from Learners and Leaders:
A Spirituality for Board Members

In most guidelines, the pastor is typically the consensus builder, the spiritual leader, and the creator of trust. He fosters a sense of community in the council by serving, that is, by helping the council achieve its ends in regular meetings.

– Mark F. Fischer
Excerpted from Pastoral Councils in Today's Catholic Parish

Parishioners who serve on a parish pastoral council must be those who have received a call to the ministry of leadership. Together with the pastor, these are individuals who are capable of reflection, discernment, visioning, reaching consensus, and pastoral planning. . . . The purpose of revisioning the council is primarily the development of mission-focused parishes, rather than programmatic or finance-driven ones. . . . When there is clear awareness of this 'larger vision' proposed by the gospels and taught by the Church, a parish finds itself energized by a sense of mission and directed to matters that will do more than simply fill the annual calendar.

– Mary Ann Gubish and Susan Jenny, S.C.
Excerpted from Revisioning The Parish Pastoral Council

A first concern of the Good News pastor is to empower the people among who he ministers to lead. . . . Building trust requires that the pastor focus his energy on equipping the people of the parish to fill their proper role in the parish's governance and enabling the staff of the parish, along with parishioners, to fulfill their proper role to serve and witness in gospel ministry for the sake of and on behalf of the church's mission to the world.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Even Tougher Battle Ahead for Maverick Priest the Rev. Mike Tegeder

By Jon Tevlin

Note: This op-ed was first published March 1, 2016 by the Star Tribune.

For years, the Rev. Mike Tegeder [right] publicly fought what many considered unbeatable foes: the Catholic Church hierarchy and former Archbishop John Nienstedt. Tegeder was one of the biggest critics of the church’s attempts to block gay marriage, a stance that frequently threatened his status as priest at his two Minneapolis churches, St. Frances Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri.

Nienstedt is long gone, gay marriage passed overwhelmingly in Minnesota and Tegeder remains a beloved figure in his congregations. But now he is publicly fighting an even bigger opponent.

Last month, Tegeder shared a message with his congregations on the meaning of Ash Wednesday: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Then he dropped the bomb: “This always has an impact for me but this year even more. On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, I got a call from my doctor telling me that a CT scan of me came back showing lung cancer with metastatic growth into my ribs and spine and abdomen. It was a shock.”

An updated post expressed some optimism because the type of lung cancer was less aggressive than expected, but on Sunday Tegeder added more bad news: Tests showed a small patch of cancer on the lining of his brain.

Since Tegeder broke the news, his Facebook page has been flooded with prayers, photos of couples he has married and notes from the scores of people who have been helped and inspired by the maverick priest.

Usually an eloquent and talkative interview, this week Tegeder just sounded tired.

“I don’t feel too bad,” he said. “I’m going to Rochester [Mayo Clinic] next week to see if they can do anything. Doctors told me there’s probably not much they can do. You hate to hear something like that.”

At 67, Tegeder is a robust man who likes to ride his bike from his home in Richfield to his parish, Gichitwaa Kateri, a church that ministers to American Indians, just off Lake Street in south Minneapolis. So the cancer was a surprise.

“It hit me out of the blue,” he said.

“The funny thing is, I still feel fairly healthy,” Tegeder said. He said he may try some targeted therapies, “but this is not likely in my case. In some cases treatment is less beneficial than doing nothing.”

Ed Flahavan worked alongside Tegeder in the 1980s at another parish, St. Stephen’s. He was saddened to hear about Tegeder’s cancer.

“My experience working and living with Mike is that he is superbly pastoral and sensitive to people who come in the front door with whatever pain they had,” said Flahavan. “Mike is the kind of guy who, if you came and said you needed $25 to rent a truck because you had to move out of your apartment, he would help you move. He wouldn’t just give you the $25 and a nice speech.”

Tegeder has also been known to pick fights with institutional rigidity wherever he finds it, but particularly inside his own church.

“Mike is the guy who pulls the pin on the grenade and lobs it over the wall,” said Flahavan. “He’s got a singular heart.”

Tegeder was repeatedly threatened with dismissal by Nienstedt during the fight for marriage equality. During investigations into the church’s sex abuse scandal, a whistleblower claimed that Nienstedt even considered labeling Tegeder as “disabled” in order to silence him.

“I don’t need to prove anything,” Tegeder told me in 2012. “If [Nienstedt] wants to throw me out, I’m fine with it.”

Then Tegeder showed me his identification card — he had kept his bus driver’s license up to date in case he was ever dismissed from the priesthood.

While his crusade for marriage equality has put Tegeder in the news, it’s his dedication to people on the margins — drug addicts, the mentally ill — that has put him in people’s hearts.

Katharyn Dawson, Tegeder’s sister, lived with him for awhile and said 2 a.m. calls for help were not unusual. “He’s realistic,” she said. “Very compassionate yet very contemporary. It’s a unique combination of traits to help people.”

Dawson has seen evidence of her brother’s work in countless cards coming in to thank him, and more than 1,500 visits on his CaringBridge page.

The day after his diagnosis, Tegeder spoke to parishioners at the Ash Wednesday service. “We are not just dust, but we are stardust,” he said. We are on a blessed journey, headed in the same direction, some of us will get there sooner than others. In God’s time it is all the same.”

7/3/2016 UPDATE:
"Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant"

For the writings of Mike Tegeder at the PCV, see:
"Trust Your Shepherds"
What is the Lesson?
Are You Serious?
The Archdiocese and Fathers Conlin and Schüller
Quote of the Day – November 8, 2012
Quote of the Day – December 18, 2011
"I Like McDonald's, Too; But Dioceses Are Not Franchises"
Archdiocesan Pension Pitfalls

See also the previous PCV posts:
One Courageous Parish Priest
Pastor Mike Tegeder Challenges Archbishop Nienstedt's "Bullying Behavior"
Local Catholic Priest Speaks Out on the MN Bishops' Anti-Gay DVD Controversy