Department of Social Concerns
Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Cloud 
Winter Newsletter  2014
In This Issue
Bishop Kettler
JRLC Day On the Hill
Farm Bill
Martin Luther King Jr.
CCHD Collection 2014
Leadership Training Initiative
Rural Life Celebration
Best Practices
Souper Bowl of Caring
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This Year's CCHD Collection Date!
CCHD Collection
will be September
13th & 14th, 2014
Mark your calendar!

Pope Francis...YOU GO! 

I have just returned from the annual National Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington DC and I feel rejuvenated and very hopeful!  Our focus was on the wish of Pope Francis, that we be a "poor Church and for the poor."  We heard speakers discuss with us the ramifications of having a Pope with his emphasis on the social mission of the Church, calling on us to be aware of what he calls the "globalization of indifference" and his call to share the "joy of the Gospel."  There was an almost palpable feeling of hope and joy as we spent 4 days with others who are doing this work from across the country.
As with other conferences, we had workshops on a number of social justice issues, such as human trafficking, migration of children, privatization of prisons and something called restorative justice. 
I would love to share some of this with you, your parish or your social concerns committees. If you would like a retreat or presentation on any of these issues, including something on Pope Francis, I would be happy to come out to where you are for a visit. 
We are a Church, full of potential and hope.  We are a Church that can spread the joy of the Gospel and a Church that has a big job to do!  Let's follow the lead of our Pope!  Pope Franics...YOU GO!

Thank you for the difference you make in your communities and in the world!


Welcome Bishop Donald Kettler!

We welcome our new Bishop, Bishop Donald Kettler, to the Diocese and send our prayers out to him as he gets to know us and the workings of our Diocese. 

Legislative Advocacy 
Joint Religious Legislative Coalition


   Day on the  Hill   



Register Today for the Early Bird Discount!


Join Catholic Charities Social Concerns and the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) on March 13th for a day of justice and political advocacy! 

JRLC makes this day very easy for participants, especially for 'first timers'.  Participants are briefed on those portions of the JRLC agenda that are being debated and voted on at our State Capitol. Participants will gather in the morning at the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul for inspiration and to be briefed on the issues. Buses then transport us to the Capitol for a short rally. Meetings are held with individual legislators in the afternoon.
Our office will have a FREE BUS transporting those interested from St. Cloud to St. Paul. On the 13th, we will meet in the Shopko parking lot in West St. Cloud with the bus loading from 6:00 to 6:15 A.M. We will return around 6:00 P.M. If you would like to ride the bus with us, please register with both JRLC AND Catholic Charities. 

1.)  Register with JRLC at before February 20th for the Early Bird discount- $30 or $15 for students/low-income. The cost of the registration covers food for the day and transportation to and from the Capital.

2.)  Register for a ride on the bus from St. Cloud by emailing Ruth at

We look forward to spending the day with you!
Farm Bill Update!

The long awaited Farm Bill finally passes!


A year overdue, Congress finally has passed a farm bill that will set the course for agriculture policy fort eh next 5 years.  President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill. 


A massive piece of legislation even by Washington standards, the over 900 page nearly one trillion dollar bill will impact both producers and consumers.  Here are five significant changes contained in the bill.

1. Direct payments to producers end.  For the last 82 years, producers have received direct government payments regardless of yield rates and crop prices.  Going forward, the government will replace these direct payments with a subsidized crop insurance system.  Now, producers can file claims when yields or prices fall below certain thresholds.  The government now will both subsidize a portion of the crop insurance premium and guarantee payments when claims are made.  The new system shifts the risk of low yields and soft crop prices directly to the government.

2.  Subsidies for producers tied to conservation practices.  Producers who wish to receive subsidized crop insurance will have to follow certain new conservation regulations.  In addition, in an attempt to protect current untilled acreage, producers who choose to till so called 'virgin sod' will be eligible for only half of available subsidies.  While some applaud these efforts as a step in the right direction for erosion mitigation and increased water quality, environmentalists are quick to point out that overall funding of conservation programs in this bill is down.

3.  New crops encouraged.  Traditionally, the government has had an impact on what is grown by financially incenting only certain crops.  Chief among these are row crops like wheat, corn and soy.  The Farm Bill adds sushi rice to the list of subsidized crops.  Look for more and cheaper sushi rice at a store near you.

4. New labeling requirements for meat.  The new legislation requires all beef, pork and chicken sold in the U.S. to list on the package label where it was born, raised and slaughtered.  As one might imagine, producers in Canada and Mexico who have a stake in the U.S. market are not happy with the change.

5.  SNAP benefits cut.  Last but certainly not least, over 850,000 individuals will see a reduction in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits of nearly $90.00 per month.  In addition, families in 16 states and the District of Columbia will see a reduction in benefits if they receive federal help to heat or cool their homes...even if the amount of government assistance is as little as $1.00  SNAP, also commonly known as food stamps, helps feed over 47 million people.


The bill contains funding for several important programs that will enhance rural life.  There is continued funding for beginning farmers and ranchers with new emphasis placed on new farmers who are military veterans.  Funds generally are targeted to training and mentoring efforts.  The bill also includes funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program and the Rural Microentrepeneur Program.  To find out more about these visit and



As with most legislation, it is easy to find critics of the new Farm Bill.  While cuts to SNAP benefits were regarded by many as callous in this post-recession economy, it's easy to see why SNAP was targeted: nearly 80% of the one-trillion dollar bill was committed to the SNAP program.  Still, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops actively advocated for a Farm Bill that would '...strengthen and expand domestic anti-hunger programs." ( farm bill)  Clearly this reduction in SNAP funding is not welcome news to the USCCB and to the thousands of direct service organizations who will be forced to try and make up the difference.


Time will tell if a more generous crop-insurance program can adequately replace the system of direct payments producers have counted on for the past 82 years.  Years with sustained, widespread drought or flooding certainly will see increased claims.  Add to this the unknown demand from year to year for American grain overseas and the effect that might have on grain prices in this country and you have a recipe for extreme risk and volatility that is sure to test the new crop insurance system. 


You can access the Farm Bill in its entirely by going to

Doug Scott, Rural Life Coordinator
Tribute to an Amazing Individual
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Since 1976, February has been designated as "Black History Month." This is a time to recognize the achievements of our African American sisters and brothers and the crucial role they have played in shaping U.S. history.  As a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., St. Cloud State University held a Breakfast Event and invited the community to celebrate this wonderful man and teh example he set for us all.  Ben Caduff wrote the following about this event:   


That was the first thought in my head as I walked into the Atwood ballroom at St. Cloud State on January 20 for the Martin Luther King breakfast event.  I could not believe the energy, diversity and FULL room!  At 7:00 AM on another cold Minnesota morning, I wondered just how many people

might come.  People did come, about 450-500 total, for a wonderful celebration of how far St. Cloud has come in improving relationships among people of different races, and the challenge before us to continue working toward Dr. King's dream.

It was a wonderful crowd of children, adults, community leaders, business professionals, college students, faith leaders, all coming together to support each other, build relationships and have a little breakfast too!

"What did you do to help somebody today?"  That question was posed to us by St. Cloud Police Chief William Anderson during the community leader panel.  That question was what he remembers being asked by his parents at the family dinner table growing up.  It did not matter what you might have accomplished during the day, that was secondary to helping someone in need, and if you did NOT help someone, it was clear that you better help out two people the next day to make up this day! 


The event included children from churches dancing and singing, interfaith prayer, a panel of community leaders who challenged us to build bridges among each other, both with those who we hold common interest and

particularly those we do not normally engage in relationship.   Much of the press after the event focused on Mayor Dave Kleis' apology for past mistakes regarding race relations in St. Cloud, and while that was a critical moment of the event, it is just one example of the Spirit present that day.  I heard someone say that Pope Francis would have enjoyed this event, having a chance to engage people and talk about working together for the common good.

Now the challenge before us is to continue working with the Spirit present in our community to continue the progress that has been made and work for the peace that comes from justice present for all God's people.

Ben Caduff

Campus Ministry & Social Concerns

Christ Church Newman Center, St Cloud 

Community Organizing
CCHD Collection in September

This year's Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) National Collection will be held the weekend of September 13th & 14th in every parish in the Diocese of St. Cloud. 
Every year CCHD gives out grants to organizations that are helping people help themselves.  These grants are given out all across the country, as well as in our own area. 

We hope you will prayerfully consider donating to CCHD this coming September!

For a view into where your money will be going, click the following link:  
For any other CCHD questions go to the following website:  USCCB-CCHD
Rural Life
Eastern Region of the Diocese

Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative Reaches the Half-way Point


The 9-month long Rural Life Initiative training, Living Our Faith In the World, has reached its half-way point with a discussion last month on community organizing.


Community organizing is one of the 4 main elements of Parish Social Ministry.  Direct service-efforts to provide food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs, along with global solidarity and legislative advocacy make up the remaining components of Parish Social Ministry (PSM).


In addition to learning about these elements of PSM, participants have discussed other helpful topics, including servant leadership and discernment. 


The training effort will conclude in May with a closing retreat.  The retreat will summarize material covered in the previous sessions by learning about the consistent ethic of life, and prepare participants for actions specific to their own parishes. 


Meetings at the parish level are scheduled to begin over the summer.

Rural Life Celebration
August 17, 2014-Princeton
Planning is underway for the next Rural Life Celebration which will be held on Sunday, August 17 in Princeton at the family farm of Brenda and Mark Winkelman. A huge thank you goes out to them and the host parish of Christ Our Light of Zimmerman and Princeton.
Be sure to Mark Your Calendars!

To view pictures from last years event use the following link:
Direct Service 
Best Practices: St. Mary's, Mora
Look What We Can Accomplish!

St. Mary's Parish in Mora is electrified!  The community has buckled down and taken it upon themselves to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ by serving those in need in their community and the surrounding area.  Volunteers from around the community have come together to work to provide for the basic needs of those in their community.  Here are some of the amazing things happening todate:
  • Mora Food Pantry--one of the basic needs we all have is to provide food for our families.  The food pantry helps take care of that need.  They also provide special items such as birthday boxes with parents coming to the pantry to receive a box with such items as a cake mix and frosting, candles, and even a game to give to their children.  All the birthday boxes are put together by the local volunteers.
  • Mora Crisis Pregnancy Center--provides blankets, bibs, baby clothes, testing, and all a parent could need when expecting a child.  A special event they held in October of this past year was the Baby Bottle program which collected baby bottles with coins in them for expectant mothers.  They help any woman of any age!
  •  A Place For You--this is a homeless shelter in Pine City that can house up to 12 adults.  The community in Mora pulls together and donates such items as towels, sheets, pillow cases, paper products, and personal grooming products.
  • Soup For the Soul--this is a weekly meal that the community puts on every Monday night from 4:00-6:00 PM.  Volunteers do all the meal preparations, serve the meal, and cleanup.  The parish gets their youth (including the confirmation classes) to participate and help serve those in need.  This event started around the time the recession hit, when the unemployment in Mora was around 14%.  For those people out of work, having a hot meal at least once a week was seen by the community to be an essential need.  They are currently serving about 75-100 people every week!  
  •  One More Time--this thrift store offers clothing, books, games, and housewares at reasonable prices.  All items are donated and volunteers help those in their community find gently used essentials.
  • The Refuge--is a domestic abuse center that offers services to community members.  The community provides the Refuge with paper products, personal grooming items, and staple food items. 
  • Serenity Manner (for men) & Serenity Haven (for women)--another resource for individuals seeking help.  The parish community donates items the center may need at a given time.
  • Kanabec County Hospice Care--community volunteers have been trained to provide respite care.
  • Mary's Place--is a center for homeless families with children.  Confirmation students volunteer here by providing help in the child care center!

The Mora community as a whole is a shining example of how to provide for our communities in all ways possible.  We are all responsible to take care of those around us!!!  


Congratulations St. Mary's!  Your work is

making a difference in our world!


Ruth Knowles, Social Concerns Intern 

Information provided by Rita Clasemann  

Best Practices: Joe Town Table
We are in the season of winter.  Of this we have no doubt!  As I drive through my neighborhood, I am always curious as to who shovels and who uses a snow-blower.  When I see one that's shoveled - and full disclosure, I use both methods, depending on snowfall! - it is easier to see the work of human hands, maybe even multiple hands.  As I reflect on our experience of organizing and hosting our first free community meal called Joe Town Table in St. Joseph, I am reminded of the work of many hands.


Beginning last spring,  the Central MN Catholic Worker community convened several conversations on the issue of poverty in St. Joe.  From that meeting we decided that one way to offer support was to host a meal.  At the table in our planning were the  3 churches, St. Benedict's Monastery and the College of St. Benedict .  We were deliberate about the meal not being the goal, but rather our hope was to build  relationships and find out from those on the margins what it is that they might need for support.  We were also very aware that any one of our groups could probably have pulled something like this off on their own.  But it was in the mixing and listening and compromising among the various entities that we came to a deeper appreciation for community and a greater shared sense of purpose.  It was  also just a lot more fun! 

We gathered donations from the different organizations involved, whether that was monetary or through people power and we also collected contributions from those who came to the meal.  We were deliberate in reaching out to as many organizations and people we could think of who could benefit from a free meal and also contacted the press.  In the end we served 85 people, probably 20% of whom might have needed the meal and the others being there for support.  The atmosphere was casual and comfortable.  Most of all, it was the work of MANY and proved that a small community can do this.  As Toni Hudock, the cook, shared, "It's not about the cooking; it's about who come to eat it.  These people came and joined the community today."  IF you would like further information, please contact us at and we'd be glad to talk. 

Molly Weyrens
Catholic Worker, St. Joseph
Souper Bowl of Caring
Youth at Work! 

This year the 9th grade class at St. Marcus Church in Clear Lake, participated with over 5,500 other youth from across the nation in the Souper Bowl of Caring.  This youth led national movement, started with a simple prayer, remembering those who go without food over Super Bowl weekend, when many gather and eat abundantly.  Youth Groups across the United States collect food and money for local organizations helping those who are less fortunate.  It gives youth a great opportunity to give and serve and inspire other young people to get up and do something.

Our 9th grade class this year prepared posters to hang in church, wrote bulletin articles, visited other classrooms within our Faith Formation Program to put on skits and prepare grocery bags with lists of what our local food shelf needs, and spoke at our masses.  The weekend of the Super Bowl, the class collected food and money for the local Clear Lake/Clearwater Food Shelf.  The students collected 154 pounds of food and $532.00.  We were really happy with the turnout of support!

Melissa Fox
Director of Faith Formation
St. Marcus, Clear Lake 

Contact us!  Send us your best practices or let us know what we can do to help in your ministry to those persons who are struggling and are vulnerable.  We'd love to hear from you!

Kathy Langer                                                  Ruth Knowles
Director of Social Concerns                             Social Concerns Intern                          
320-229-6020                                                  320-650-1657

Doug Scott
Rural Life Coordinator

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN