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May 1, 2008 Edition

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This week:
Ethical stem cell research: Wisconsin Catholic bishops issue letter
Diocesan Choir to perform Fauré's Requiem
Cloistered Cistercian nuns
News Briefs
Nominate someone for a profile

Articles on St. Raphael Cathedral

News Briefs:
Rosary March held May 4 in Madison

MADISON -- The Spring Rosary March will be held on Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Church, 120 W. Johnson St. Fr. Eric Nielsen will be the homilist. The theme for this 63rd International Rosary March is "That this month of May brings us closer to our Blessed Mother as the mother of hope."

There will be a special presentation of flowers and a May Crowning of our Blessed Mother by children and adults. Fifteen decades of the Rosary will be prayed while processing around the church block with a statue of our Blessed Mother. The Rosary will also be prayed inside the church for those who prefer not to walk. In case of rain, the procession will be held within the church.

LAMP workshop
at Multicultural Center
on May 3

MADISON -- The Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) workshop will be held at the Catholic Multicultural Center, 1862 Beld St., on Saturday, May 3. The workshop will include a Spanish Mass, travel information, teaching ideas, arts and crafts ideas, experiences of former volunteers, and an opportunity to meet the volunteers for this year.

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

Fiftieth anniversary celebration

MADISON -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino and the Diocese of Madison's Office of Evangelization and Catechesis will again be celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries at the handicapped accessible Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center with a Mass and a cake, coffee, and punch reception.

This is an invitation only event. Couples should notify their parish that they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary within the calendar year of 2008 and the parish will submit their names to the Bishop's Office by June 13.

Free health clinic
in Palmyra

PALMYRA -- St. Mary Parish is hosting a free health clinic during the monthly mobile food pantry to help those with basic health needs.

The health clinic, a joint effort of Catholic Charities, Kincaid Farms, and Pro Health Care, is held the first Thursday of each month between 4 and 5:30 p.m. The next clinic is on May 1.

Anyone may come for blood pressure screenings, blood glucose screenings, help in finding prescription assistance, and basic physicals to diagnose minor problems needing further care. The clinic is not limited to those attending the mobile food pantry.

Two nurses, one bilingual, will be available for questions and concerns. For more information, contact parish nurse Lee Clay at 262-495-2395.

Birth parent
support group

MADISON -- A birth parent support group will meet Tuesday, May 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at 5 Odana Ct. Sponsors are Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services. This ongoing group for people who have placed their child/ren for adoption is free and confidential.

For registration, contact Alice at 608-270-6635 or or Trish at 608-833-4800, ext. 109, or

Nominate someone
for a profile

Do you know a person to nominate for a profile? This could be someone in a paid or volunteer position in the Catholic Church. It could be someone working outside the Church who lives his or her faith in ordinary or extraordinary ways in daily life.

Send nominations with information about the nominee to: Catholic Herald, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719, or e-mail

Ethical stem cell research
Wisconsin Catholic bishops issue letter

MADISON -- Wisconsin's Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter strongly affirming the value of scientific research and endorsing the practice of stem cell research when it does not involve the destruction of human embryos.

For more information

The Diocese of Madison's Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach will send a DVD on the state Catholic bishops' pastoral letter on stem cell research to all parishes. To obtain a copy of the DVD, contact the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach at 608-821-3086 or e-mail:

The text of the bishops' letter and a Question and Answer resource are posted on the Web site of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference at or click on the links below to view the PDF files:
Bishops' stem cell letter
    April 2008 (222 KB PDF)
Bishops' stem cell Q&A
    April 2008 (234 KB PDF).

John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC), explained that this educational effort is not tied to any pending legislation or policy proposal. Rather, it reflects the bishops' commitment to advancing science wherever it upholds human life and dignity.

Respect dignity
of all human life

The letter reminds Catholics that "we are called to harness new developments at the cutting edge of science in ways that respect the dignity of all human life, especially in its most vulnerable stages."

"Today, when the marvels of science and technology present choices and questions never previously faced, [Christ's] example and message are as relevant as they were in the time of the Apostles," say the bishops.

"As Catholics, we are called to respect and love all human life. But we have a special duty towards the most vulnerable persons in our midst - the embryo and the unborn child, the chronically ill and the poor, the prisoner and the refugee. In doing so, we reveal the essence of our humanity and of our Christian faith."

Not opposed to science

The bishops emphasize that religious faith is not opposed to science. A person can be "both faith-filled and scientific."

"This Catholic teaching is not an example of faith absent science, but rather faith supported by science," they observe. "It is scientists who have demonstrated that the single cell, or zygote that results from fertilization, contains the complete genetic information necessary for the development of a unique human being. It is scientists who have shown us that human development is a continuous, uninterrupted process, from zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, child, to adult."

"Faith builds on these scientific facts by acknowledging that our Creator endows our human nature with an innate dignity that does not depend on our size, beauty, intelligence, wealth, or any other attribute," they write. "Human life is ultimately a gift of God, of which each of us is a steward. And it is a gift that began and developed for all of us in exactly the same way."

Acknowledge opposition

The bishops acknowledge that not all Catholics agree the Church should oppose embryonic stem cell research. "We know many struggle with official Catholic teaching that a small group of cells invisible to the naked eye deserves the same protection as the life of a baby in the womb, a child in the crib, or a person sitting next to us in church. Yet, consider how often physical appearances deceive us, and how shortsighted our initial impressions can be," they write.

The bishops also say they understand concerns that opposition to embryonic stem cell research will delay or hamper efforts to cure fatal and debilitating illnesses.

"Like you, we fear crippling injuries and chronic disease, and we have experienced the anguish of seeing a loved one suffer. We long for the day when scientists can find treatments and cures for these conditions.

"But we cannot agree with those who suggest that respecting the inviolability of a human embryo devalues the lives of the ill and infirm because it may deny them a treatment or a cure. On the contrary, when we value vulnerable life in one context we strengthen the case for valuing it in others."

Affirm use of adult stem cells

The bishops reaffirm past support for stem cell research using "adult stem cells" because it does not require the destruction of human embryos. They observe that such stem cells have already helped some individuals suffering from serious ailments.

The bishops also applaud the recent breakthrough by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and elsewhere of successfully "reprogramming" adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells.

Educational materials

In addition to the letter, the bishops have authorized other educational materials, including a Questions and Answers publication and a 14-minute DVD to help inform parishioners on the science and ethics of stem cell research. They are sharing these with Catholic parishes and institutions as part of a long-term educational effort.

The bishops conclude their letter by stating, "We encourage all of you to study the educational materials that accompany this letter, seek out additional scientific information, and engage our fellow citizens in truth and love during this vital civic conversation over stem cell research. May we together strive to use our scientific knowledge in ways that serve all and sacrifice none."

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Diocesan Choir to perform
Fauré's Requiem

Diocesan Choir Spring Concert

Where: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison

When: Saturday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.

How much: Free admission. Freewill offering to support the choir taken.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible. Large-print programs available.

Who: The Madison Diocesan Choir has been traveling throughout the diocese and the world since 1973, fostering and encouraging full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy through its music ministry. Members come from parishes throughout the Diocese of Madison.

MADISON -- Spring may seem like a strange time to hold a concert to perform a Requiem, the music for a Mass for the Dead. But, then again, perhaps the time of budding flowers and greening grass is indeed a perfect reminder of the new and eternal life that springs from Christ.

Certainly, with its intimate structure and gentle melodies, Gabriel Fauré's Requiem aids in thoughts of the hope of the resurrection.

In a concert dedicated in a special way to deceased children and siblings, the Madison Diocesan Choir, directed by Dr. Patrick Gorman, will present this moving work by the 19th-century French composer for their annual spring concert Saturday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison.

The mainly choral piece will be performed with the accompaniment of the organ, played by assistant director and organist Glenn Schuster, and a small orchestra. The soprano solo "Pie Jesu" will be performed by Pat Paska and the bass solos performed by Michael Flotmeyer and Tom Eichmann.

Long-awaited performance

While not long itself - the piece lasts little more than half an hour - the performance is long awaited, since the scores were donated by a choir member several years ago in memory of the death of another choir member's son. The choir has not performed the work as a whole in nearly 25 years.

The Requiem Mass, which is celebrated on All Souls Day, Nov. 2, is appointed to be sung on the day or anniversary of a death or burial, or on the third, seventh, or 30th day after burial. The title "requiem," which not only refers to the Mass but any musical setting of the text, comes from the first word of the "Introit": Requiem aeternam dona eis . . . (Rest eternal grant unto them).

Catholic themes

As a whole, the Requiem speaks of very Catholic themes, said choir director Gorman.

"It speaks of Catholic teaching as a very human thing; it speaks of human love, of the hope in the unknown," he said.

The text, which also is attractive in its flowing Latin, covers a range of emotion, from hope, to joy, to fear. "And I think that's what draws composers to it," Gorman said.

Fauré's Requiem, first performed in 1888 with only five of the seven movements, is not a true Mass of the Dead. It is missing the majority of the "Dies Irae" - all but the solo "Pie Jesu," which takes the place of the "Benedictus" later on in the work - as well as alters the text of the "Offertory" slightly.

Peaceful hope in death

The light, songlike structure of the piece contrasts with the complex, outsized works of previous centuries, giving more of a sense of death as what Fauré called "a happy deliverance."

Certainly the omission of the "Dies Irae" (literally, "Day of Wrath"), which was itself omitted from the ordinary form of the Roman Missal, gives the overall work a more happy and peaceful hope in death.

"I think what's most unique about it, in comparison with some of the other great Requiems, such as Mozart's or Verdi's, is it's more uplifting, by and large," Gorman said. "There are some darker movements, but it then very quickly brightens up."

Positive audience response

Though it is his first time conducting the piece, Gorman has performed the piece previously, and said that audiences respond positively to it.

"There's some beautiful melodies in it," he said. "If it's not familiar to the audience, it will sound familiar."

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Cloistered Cistercian nuns

PRAIRIE SU SAC -- Shortly after founding the Diocese of Madison in 1946, Bishop William P. O'Connor was conscious of the need for prayerful support for the new diocese.

Rare open house

The Cistercian nuns at Valley of our Lady Monastery near Prairie du Sac will hold a rare open house on Saturday, May 17, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Directions to the monastery: Take Highway 12 north out of Sauk City. Turn left onto Waterbury Rd until it deadends. Turn right onto Old Bluff Tr. There will be a sign for the monastery. Turn left onto Yanke Dr. The monastery is the first place to turn on the right. The address is E11096 Yanke Dr., Prairie du Sac.

He petitioned the Vatican to help find a group of contemplative Sisters to create a monastery to pray for the needs of the diocese. Bishop O'Connor said this was to be a "powerhouse of prayer" for the welfare of the diocese and for all humanity.

Nuns respond to invitation

In 1957, six Cistercian nuns from the abbey of Frauenthal in central Switzerland responded to the bishop's invitation. The nuns live the contemplative monastic life, following the Rule for Monasteries written by St. Benedict in the sixth century and the traditions of the Cistercian Order, founded in France in 1098.

The Cistercian nuns settled in a "temporary" makeshift monastery in a rural setting seven miles north of Sauk City. In 2008, they still live at that temporary Valley of Our Lady Monastery, leading a balanced life of liturgical prayer, meditative reading, and work.

Strong work ethic

The Cistercian order has a strong work ethic. When the nuns first arrived in the Diocese of Madison, they made their living by farming. But that proved insufficient to meet the needs of their growing order.

In the early 1960s, the nuns began making altar breads. With the help of their chaplain, they began selling their breads to priests in the area. Soon their altar bread business expanded throughout the United States. Currently the Sisters bake, store, and package over 13 million altar breads every year.

Rare open house

Since the Sisters live in cloister, they rarely see or are seen by people in the Diocese of Madison. However, to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the diocese, the Cistercian Sisters are holding a rare open house on Saturday, May 17, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

"This is only the third time in our history when we've had an open house," said Sr. Roberta Boyer, prioress of the local order. "We are having the open house in gratitude for the support we've received for 50 years. We encourage people to come and see where we live, work, and pray, so we can personally say 'thank you.'"

Those coming to the open house will be able to go through the entire monastery and talk with the Sisters. To save the Sisters from too much talking, there will be short video clips available explaining their life and work.

Increase in vocations

Valley of Our Lady Monastery is experiencing an exceptional increase in vocations. Currently the Cistercian community includes 21 women: 13 are solemnly professed Cistercian nuns and eight are in the novitiate.

Because of their increasing numbers, the Sisters have outgrown their current space and have plans to build a new monastery on property donated to them near Highland. They have been undertaking a financial drive to raise money to build this new monastery, which would be an abbey for up to 25 Sisters.

Besides the shortage of space, the nuns are also coping with high maintenance costs, water in the basement, inadequate heating systems, and mold in the walls. The Sisters are also concerned about urban sprawl with increased noise affecting their quiet community.

Plans for new monastery

Their new monastery would provide better living quarters as well as a church, bakery/business center, and guest facilities. It would also be constructed as a monastery should be in a quadrangle with the chapel facing east (the direction from which Christ came and will come again). It will be built in a quiet location favorable to the contemplative life of prayer.

In a letter supporting the Sisters' capital campaign, Bishop Robert C. Morlino said, "Remember that countless blessings for our diocese surely have resulted from this 'powerhouse of prayer' for nearly 50 years."

For further information, call the Cistercian nuns at 608-643-3520. For information on the capital campaign, call Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer, campaign auditor, at 608-821-3052.

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Offices and mailing address: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719
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