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April 7, 2005 Edition

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This week:
Divine Mercy Sunday: Marks memorial of Holy Father
St. Raphael Cathedral: Finding hope amidst loss
• Front page: Links to coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II
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News Briefs

News Briefs:
Catholic women plan state conference

MANITOWOC -- Silver Lake College and the Genrose Enrichment Center here will host the 90th annual Wisconsin Council of Catholic Women (WCCW) Conference April 29-30. The theme is "One Bread, One Body."

Registration on Saturday, April 30, is at 8 a.m. followed by the business session at 8:30. Current Catholic issues and legislative sessions will follow. The event also includes a liturgy, luncheon, and other sessions.

A banquet will be held on Friday, April 29 (with registration beginning at 5 p.m.)

Fees include: banquet - $20; conference (Saturday) - $30. Reservations are due April 15 to Catherine Jones, 3009 Glenhaven Pl., Eau Claire, WI 54703. Checks should be made out to WCCW.

Adult Catholic Spirit
Club meets

JANESVILLE -- The Adult Catholic Spirit Club will meet on Wednesday, April 13, at St. John Vianney Parish Marian Hall.

A potluck luncheon will be at 12 noon. Deb Del Ciello, director of citywide RCIA in parishes and instructor for the Diocesan Education and Diocesan Institute in Madison, will speak at 1 p.m.

All area Christians are welcome to attend. There are no dues.

Retreat for singles at Bishop O'Connor Center

MADISON -- The Office of Family Ministry invites all singles (including never married, separated, divorced, widowed) to a day of reflection, prayer, and discussion. Theme of the retreat is "Fresh, Living Water: Take a Drink!"

The retreat will be held on Saturday, April 30, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd. The cost of the retreat is $35 and includes lunch. Pre-registration is required. Registration deadline is April 22.

To download a registration form, go to and click on the singles retreat link or call Jen at 608-821-3175 to request a registration form via regular mail.

Mission class

MADISON -- Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) training class will be held Sunday, April 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Multicultural Center, 1862 Beld St. Former volunteers will talk about their experiences.

For information write LAMP, P.O. Box 85, Madison, WI 53701-0085, or call 608-845-7028, 608-255-5284, or 608-868-7816.

Support group

MADISON -- A peer support group for those hurting from separation, divorce, or loss of a significant relationship is open to all ages/faiths from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at St. Dennis Parish Center, 413 Dempsey Rd., top floor. For information, call 608-821-3170.

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Divine Mercy Sunday:
Marks memorial of Holy Father

MADISON -- "I'm happy and I want you to be happy."

These are some of the last words of Pope John Paul II that Bishop Robert C. Morlino wants us to remember.

That's what he told those who filled Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Madison for the Divine Mercy Sunday and Memorial Mass for the Holy Father April 3.

"The eyes of the world are certainly focused on the life of the Holy Father and the events taking place at the Holy See," said Bishop Robert C. Morlino at a press conference before the Mass. "The whole world is almost having a retreat, focused on how this saint of the past has built saints for the future."

Pope John Paul the Great

Since Cardinal Sodano, secretary of state at the Vatican, called Pope John Paul II "Pope John Paul the Great," that's what Bishop Morlino will call him from now on, he said, because he strengthened and changed the church and the world.

"So many of the bishops are having the same experience: Most of us have lost our earthly father. This is like losing a second dad," he said, noting that the Holy Father had always taught that a bishop should be like a father, brother, and friend to his priests. In the same way, the pope served in the same capacity for the bishops.

Impact on the young

In addition to grief, Bishop Morlino said he also has a lot of hope, especially when he sees young people praying for the Holy Father, still committed to live the life of Christ.

"The Holy Father taught the youth of the world who they were and how important they were," he said. "They all loved him."

One of Bishop Morlino's greatest memories of the Holy Father is witnessing the way young people enlivened him. Despite the fact that the Holy Father's ability to smile and move was limited, he was beaming and joining in as young people at a youth rally sang, "Jesus Christ, you are the light."

Both were bringing each other to life in Christ, he said.

Love the Holy Father

Bishop Morlino said he has received many calls from his former students who thanked him for teaching them to love the Holy Father.

"I'm grateful I'm the instrument through which so many fine professionals learned to love the Holy Father because the Holy Father is the visible head of the church. Christ is the invisible head of the church. He wants us to love the Holy Father. It should be in our blood as Catholics," he said. "I tell them, 'Don't thank me. God gave you the grace to love the Holy Father. You make sure you pass that on to your children because they will be great Catholics if you do.'"

Double loss

During the press conference, Bishop Morlino extended his gratitude to Msgr. Ken Fiedler, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, and the other pastors who have welcomed the bishop and St. Raphael Cathedral parishioners since the March 14 fire.

But this is exactly the time the bishop ought to be in his own cathedral because the cathedral is a sign of the unity of the diocese, he said. Holy Week was difficult to not have the cathedral, but this is even harder, he said, noting how Msgr. Paul J. Swain, cathedral rector, had wanted to ring the cathedral bells when he heard the Holy Father had died.

"We have to grieve," Bishop Morlino said. "To deny we're grieving is foolish."

Bishop Morlino in his homily mentioned Monsignor Swain and St. Raphael Cathedral parishioners. We're all mourning, but we're also mourning the cathedral as well, he said. The Lord has asked a sacrifice of us at this time as we feel the loss of the cathedral church at the time of the loss of the pope, he said.

'Hero of the ages'

"President Bush called him the 'hero of the ages' and he meant it," Bishop Morlino said in his homily. Pope John Paul the Great changed the world, especially in his role of the collapse of communism, he said. He also changed the church by helping people understand what the Second Vatican Council meant.

For 50 years after a Vatican council, there is much difficulty in understanding what it all means, said the bishop. "The church needs someone who can lead the church through course corrections." Becoming pope 15 years after the council and having served at the council itself, Pope John Paul II was that authentic interpreter for Vatican II.

For example, the Sunday after Easter was always Divine Mercy Sunday but no one called it that, he said. Last week we focused on Jesus being raised from the dead. Today we focus on what that resurrection means to us: the body of Christ is broken and the blood of Christ is poured out so there might be mercy.

"Jesus Christ is the mercy of God," he said. "That's not an optional personal devotion. The Holy Father helped us straighten these things out."

In addition, Eucharistic Adoration leads us back to the altar and the altar leads us to Eucharistic Adoration. "The Holy Father has called us to these kinds of insights and course directions so we understand how Mass is connected to Divine Mercy, so we understand there's a link between Mass and Eucharistic Adoration and that Christ is present under the appearance of bread and wine."

Personal memories

There were two very memorable things the pope said in Bishop Morlino's presence. When asked if he was afraid after being shot, the pope said, "If the pope is afraid, the church is afraid, and the church must never be afraid."

Then, when Bishop Morlino met with the Holy Father, the bishop said, "Father, thank you for the strength you give me." The pope said, "Father Robert, are you a good theologian?" Bishop Morlino said, "I try to be." The Holy Father said, "I try to be, too. But what you just said is bad theology. Christ gives us both the strength."

"He has been the instrument of strength for me in my priesthood in a lot of ways," Bishop Morlino said. "He said, 'I'm happy and I want you to be happy.' Those were some of his last words. Look at the strength in that."

It was a loving strength that comes from Christ, he said.

"We have to remember that and let the Lord lead us through grief to the joy and hope that are Christ," he said.

The bishop turned toward a picture of the pope on display and said with tears in his voice, "Thank you for that strength from the heart and from all of us. May God grant you repose, seeing fully the joyful face of Christ. May he remember you forever as we will."

Benediction and the recitation of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy were a part of the Mass. Afterward people venerated the Divine Mercy image at the front of the church.

People's responses

Mass participants shared their thoughts about the Holy Father. Karen Stoddard, a St. Raphael Cathedral parishioner, said, "I've loved him and I think it's because he in many ways taught me how our faith teaches us to love."

The Holy Father's clarity in teaching was a great gift, she said. "Living out his service to the end was a great witness to me. He is very special to me."

Having lost the cathedral and the pope at the same time has been especially difficult and it is true that it feels like a sacrifice, as Bishop Morlino said, she noted, yet we have hope and Monsignor Swain has been so helpful in the healing process.

Susie Spence, parishioner at St. Paul's University Catholic Center in Madison, said when she heard of the pope's passing, she experienced sorrow at first, "but then joy because he's no longer suffering and got to go home."

"The Holy Father was an inspiration for all of us," said Erik Spence, also a St. Paul's parishioner.

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St. Raphael Cathedral: Finding hope amidst loss

photo of the interior of fire-damaged St. Raphael Cathedral in Madison

Stained glass windows depicting the Beatitudes overlook the destruction in fire-damaged St. Raphael Cathedral, Madison. (Catholic Herald photo by Julianne Nornberg)

MADISON -- Nearly three weeks after the March 14 fire caused the roof of St. Raphael Cathedral to collapse, a view through the charred door of the sacristy reveals a mountain of debris in the sacred space enclosed by the four still standing walls of the church.

Paint chipped off the walls shows wood underneath. A few Stations of the Cross still hang on the walls below slowly deteriorating windows bleeding red and blue in the spring sunlight.

Black soot colors the bottom corner of the mosaic behind the bishop's chair, which lies sideways atop the rubble. The purple altar cloth of Lent peeks out from wood and roofing materials that surround the altar. The silver statue of Mary is still hidden beneath debris.

It is a scene of overwhelming destruction. Words cannot describe the loss one feels, standing on the threshold of such devastation in the diocese's spiritual home, a place that has touched so many lives over 150 years.

And yet, as the sunlight floods the charred remains of the cathedral with warmth, so too is hope reborn.

Articles on Cathedral fire:
Past articles on Cathedral:

Dec. 9, 2004 edition:
New spire crowns St. Raphael Cathedral

Oct. 7, 2004 edition:
St. Raphael Cathedral: Marks 150th anniversary of cornerstone

Sept. 30, 2004 edition:
New spire: To crown St. Raphael Cathedral ...
• Sidebar: First phase of Cathedral Restoration ...
Spire illustration -- a detailed PDF (Portable Document Format) file of Cathedral spire and its parts (233 KB file size)

Sept. 23, 2004 edition:
Stone by stone: Mason restores stones on cathedral facade

Sept. 16, 2004 edition:
Cathedral: Marks 150th anniversary of laying of cornerstone

Diocese of Madison site:
Words of hope

"Bishop (Robert) Morlino and Msgr. (Paul) Swain have helped all of us with their words of faith and hope in light of this sad and tragic loss of our cathedral church," said Msgr. Dan Ganshert, former rector of the cathedral from 2000 to 2003.

"As one of many priests who was ordained and served at St. Raphael's, I feel an emptiness but also a gratitude for the many past memories associated with our cathedral church and most of all with its wonderful parishioners who are undergoing these challenging times with courage and grace," he said.

Monsignor Ganshert noted that many people recalling the words over the door in the cathedral - "God is my health" - would find some solace.

"It is God who makes us strong in light of great challenges as we journey through life," he said. "Many are reminded this is a time when faith is more than a word."

The fact that the fire was caused by arson added to the overall sadness of the tragedy, Monsignor Ganshert said, but as one longtime parishioner noted, it would never mean that the wonderful memories would be lost.

Structure status

Monsignor Swain, cathedral rector, said the stained glass windows have been deteriorating, especially after a storm March 30.

The windows depict the eight Beatitudes and are made of Lexan glass, which is considered for all practical purposes unbreakable. They were installed in December of 1973 as a part of the cathedral's interior renovation.

Monsignor Swain said although the pieces of colored glass may not be broken, some of the pieces have slipped from their places.

The cathedral's structure and steeple are still being evaluated for stability. Some of the debris will start to be removed, he said, but the process will take a while.

We have to get all the facts before any decisions can be made, he said.

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
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