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In This Issue

Parish Social Ministry Training
Save the Date!
Quick Links 
Department of Social Concerns
Catholic Charities
Spring Newsletter 2015  

Hello Friends!
What is the color of your heart?  Weird question
you say?  Yes, it is a bit weird, but let me tell you what I know about the color of hearts.  When a healthy heart is viewed, one sees bright red blood pulsing through it's chambers and the color of the heart is a healthy bright red.  The muscles contract and expand in a regular rhythm and their movement is strong.

OK, so that is your physical heart.  Now about your 'emotional' heart.  Is it healthy and beating strong with love for all of God's people, or could it use some exercise or even some resuscitation?  Are you feeling less and less compassionate and less and less hopeful? Well, I have just what you need and it is in this newsletter.  I would suggest you read  and notice the great opportunities to exercise and nourish your emotional heart.  You will find workshops and speakers, along with stories of hope about initiatives and outreach efforts.  Please stay fit and don't let your 'curmudgeon' heart prevail!
  You deserve a little rehab so read on!

Wishing you a summer filled with rest, relaxation, fun, family and some good heart health!



Don't Miss Out on This!

What a great line up of speakers and right here in the Diocese of St. Cloud!  We have exceptional speakers on social justice issues such as poverty and JustFaith parish materials.  Great for any and all parish social minstry teams or regular parishioners who might be interested in a day long workshop on many different issues and concerns of Catholics.  Come and bring your friends!  This event happens only once every two years so come!  We would love to see you there!  More information and registration at
Parish Social Ministry Training on
October 17th, 9:30 to 4:00 will focus on
diversity training.

Mark your calendars and watch for further details!

The Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative is Taking Hold


If you live in a rural area within the Diocese of St. Cloud, you are likely faced with a number of challenges not shared by our friends in larger towns.  For example, just going shopping or to the doctor demands some sort of reliable transportation and the time and money needed to drive to and from the store or the doctor's office.  Families in search of support groups or counselors often need to go to cities and larger towns where these professionals are located.  

As our family farms have disappeared from the landscape, so too have the robust small towns that grew up around them.  Local communities that once sported a lively retail scene and the services required by families on a day to day basis too frequently offer fewer choices than a generation ago.  

As Catholics we believe that all people should live a dignified existence regardless of where they call home.  That's why the Social Concerns Department of Catholic Charities is promoting a special effort to assist our rural parishes and communities in the St. Cloud Diocese.  It is called the Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative and it's making a real difference for rural families.


The RLLDI was created to address the unique issues faced by families living in rural areas.  The Initiative consists of two major phases, Living Our Faith in the World and Community Engagement.  We would like to outline for you the  key elements of this initiative



PHASE 1: Living Our Faith in the World 


-It targets 8-10 parishes in close proximity.  Pastors and parish councils are informed about the details of the Initiative.  Two to four representatives are then selected from each parish to attend 9 monthly sessions with individuals from the other participating parishes.  Parishes take turns hosting the sessions and a light meal is always shared.


-Under the leadership of the Social Concerns Department of Catholic Charities, this 'cohort' is educated on direct service, community organizing, legislative advocacy and global solidarity.  They also are trained in best practices for effective community action. A thread of personal discernment exercises runs through each of the sessions challenging participants to find the special ways the Spirit is calling them to serve.


-The training effort culminates with a parish-wide listening session, followed by a meeting with parish teams to do a strategic planning activity, with the goal of engaging both the parish and community.  


Critical to the success of the effort is the presence of a Rural Life coordinator, presently Doug Scott, who lives in the same general area as the participating parishes and avails himself as a resource for teams once they begin to act on the training they have received.  Cohorts that have completed the effort and been active for 6 or more months are gathered together again to share ideas and inspire each other.  We saw the Spirit accomplish great things in the inaugural gathering of the eastern cohort last February in Foreston, MN!  




What has been accomplished as a result of Phase 1 of the RLLDI?  The fruits couldn't be more evident. 



The social concerns team from the Holy Cross cluster has been busy in the parish and the community.  The following example demonstrates the outcomes of the training they received.  

For years individuals who live in and around Onamia have been coming to the Crosier Priory-home of Holy Cross parish-seeking  gas cards the Priory made available each month.  After attending the session on the 3 core competencies of effective community organizing (framing an issue, identifying your social capital and mobilizing a plan) the team had a brainstorm.  Learning that effectively framing an issue requires the participation of those who will be affected by the action, they created a short 'survey of needs' to give to each person who came seeking a gas card.  Now, with a list of specific needs required by each of these individuals, they could solicit donations for the needed items and broaden the scope of their assistance!


Gilman Cluster

The team from the Gilman cluster came out in a big way for Latino immigrants thanks to a coat drive they participated in last December.  

Aware of their interest in global solidarity, Doug invited the team to a working dinner, along with their priest (an army chaplain with missionary connections) and another parishioner who had expressed an interest in a mission trip.  As a result of that meeting, the Gilman team was selected to organize a coat drive in their 3-parish cluster.  The coats would be given to immigrants in need at the Our Lady of Guadalupe' Mass and celebration at St. John's University.  This small team did amazing things!  They advertised, organized collection boxes and arranged transport for over 500 coats, all in less than 14 days!  Without their presence in the RLLDI, this interest in global solidarity would have gone unnoticed and this opportunity surely would have been lost.



This Social Concerns team came into the effort with a long history of engaging their parish in outreach efforts. About 5 months after the   

effort concluded, they contacted Social Concerns staff asking for help to create a new strategic plan.  After an evening of planning and a second evening viewing their new plan, they decided to tackle the transportation issues in their area.  Following the core competencies for effective community organizing that they were introduced to in the RLLDI training, they are in the process of analyzing, brainstorming and formulating a plan. 



This team decided, as a result of their strategic planning, to work with the elderly and vulnerable in their community.  At a meeting of   

their team decided to promote food delivery from the local food pantry to the elderly and vulnerable populations in Milaca.  As a follow up they organized a meeting at one of the subsidized apartment complexes to work out the details with renters.  What they found surprised them.  Occupants told the team they didn't need food delivered since they basically watched out for each other when it came to travel to and from the food pantry.  But they did need information.  They didn't know where to go to learn about the services that were available through the county and the area social service agencies.  They didn't know when the school in town was open for exercise or who to call to arrange a ride to an appointment.  So, a member of the Milaca/Foreston team, who happened to be a case worker, agreed to provide residents with copies of the Mille Lac's County resource book, complete with all the information they wanted and more!  That one meeting in the apartment complex helped scores of families and individuals with a resource that they needed and already existed.  The Milaca/Foreston team applied a lesson they learned in the RLLDI on mobilizing a plan and made the initial action small and guaranteed to succeed.  They followed up with the building manager to see if any additional assistance was needed.  They are planning another meeting with other renters in town to see if they can help in a similar way!




PHASE 2: Community Engagement  


The RLLDI is premised on the belief that trained parish social ministry teams will be the catalyst for social action in the parish and eventually in the community.  Experience has shown that many rural parishes in the diocese have strong Christian Mothers, Knights of Columbus and other groups that do an outstanding job addressing social ministry (pro-life activities, food outreach, etc.) at the parish level.  It's critical that the social ministry team work with these groups to maximize outcomes and prevent duplicating efforts inside the parish.


But the social ministry team doesn't work in the parish alone. Their ultimate objective is to organize the community around difficult local issues and provide leadership in identifying and addressing these challenges. As a result, the social ministry team always will be part of a larger effort involving a cross-section of community members collectively rallying around shared objectives for the common good.  


This phase of the Initiative will be coordinated in 2015-16, and will look at the issue of food insecurity in the areas trained in 2013-14.




Support to Trained Parish Social Ministry Teams 


Social ministry teams, like the communities they serve, are constantly changing.  Critical to their long-term success is the consistent and relevant support they receive from the Social Concerns staff of Catholic Charities.  Cohorts are brought together at least twice annually to share a meal and to inspire each other by sharing their current projects and exploring possible collaborative efforts.  These fellowship gatherings also serve as training opportunities with topics and material that match the needs expressed by each team.  Cohorts also are invited to diocesan events throughout the year that involve some aspect of Catholic Social teaching.  We have learned that many difficult issues facing communities require a committed, long-term response.  It is critical to provide continuity and support to each team as individual members come and go.


Update on the 2014-15 Living Our Faith in the World Cohort


The second round of training, with a cohort from the Little Falls/Pierz area, is nearing the end and has already begun to bear fruit.  The cohort gathered last December with a team from First United Methodist Church in Little Falls to discuss food outreach and homelessness in the area.  Not only did they learn of new initiatives like the 'backpack' program (sending food home in backpacks with school children who didn't have anyone to cook for them over a weekend), they also established new contacts with another faith community which also was very active in local outreach.  Already the seeds of social action are beginning to blossom with this second cohort!


It's About Promoting Our Rural Heritage  


St. Cloud, home to St. Mary's Cathedral and the diocesan offices, might seem to those who live here to be synonymous with the diocese.  But travel outside the city and you'll quickly discover many who take exception to that!  While many of the diocese' approximately 140,000 Catholics live in the greater St. Cloud area, the majority still live outside major population centers in rural areas and small towns.  The trend to concentrate services, career opportunities, funding and other resources to urban areas can hardly be expected to change anytime soon.  In spite of this, we believe people should be able to maintain their rural identity and way of life and not be disadvantaged simply because of where they live.  We believe it is our job as Catholics to help rural families and individuals become the people God created them to be, fully participating in the social mission of the Church and sharing their special gifts with their communities and the world.  The Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative is the best tool we have to promote social ministry in our rural parishes and communities and maintain the wonderful rural character that has been our hallmark for over 125 years.  

Special thanks to the national office of Catholic Rural Life for their support in funding this project.


A Look at Food Insecurity by County 
 in the  
St. Cloud Diocese


Most families in the St. Cloud Diocese have plenty to eat.  For them, skipping meals or eating unhealthy food is a matter of choice.  For others, there is no choice.  The reality is that not everyone in Central Minnesota has the same access to enough healthy food. 


In order to eat well, food has to be available, you have to have the resources to acquire it and the means to get it home.  If you live in a remote area, are running low on money or can't move about freely, obtaining adequate food can be difficult.  So, how many people are affected by limited access to healthy food in the St. Cloud Diocese?  The non-profit organization Feeding America conducted a study of food access by county.  Let's take a look at what they found.        

To learn more about access to food at the local level, Feeding America created the Map the Meal Gap project. Calculations based on state and county data such as median income, unemployment, etc. provided estimates on the accessibility of food.  Traditional surveys were not used.  If you want to learn more about their methodology, etc., go to  Their data covered 2009-20011.  


According to Feeding America, food insecurity is "...the USDA's measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods."  Very low food security is a subset of this group and involves sometimes missing meals due to lack of access and/or resources.  


The table below lists the 16 counties in the St. Cloud Diocese and projects, in real terms and as a percentage of the population, the number of residents experiencing food insecurity.


County                         # Food Insecure                                         % of pop.

Benton                                 4,280                                                       11.2

Douglas                               3,290                                                         9.1

Grant                                      610                                                       10.1

Isanti                                   3,530                                                         9.3

Kanabec                              1,930                                                       11.8

Mille Lacs                           3,240                                                       12.4

Morrison                              3,540                                                      10.7

Otter Tail                             5,490                                                        9.6

Pope                                       880                                                        8.0

Sherburne                            7,640                                                        8.7

Stearns                               15,600                                                      10.4

Stevens                                   920                                                        9.5

Todd                                    2,420                                                        9.4

Traverse                                  290                                                       7.9

Wadena                                1,760                                                     12.7

Wilkin                                     460                                                       6.9____

                                            55,880                                                      9.85


In August of 2011, additional research was done by Map the Meal Gap project specifically on food insecurity among children.  This research revealed that children in Central Minnesota are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.  The percentage of children projected to be food insecure was higher than the total affected population in each of the 16 counties in the St. Cloud Diocese.  In several counties, the rate of childhood food insecurity was more than double the overall number. 


Clearly food insecurity is present throughout the diocese.  Feeding America's data shows that the counties comprising the St. Cloud Diocese have a lower average percentage of food insecurity than the state - 9.85% versus 11.4%.   Minnesota is lower than the national average of 16%.   Also, Minnesota's childhood food insecurity rate of 16.6% is below the national average of 22.4%.


If we, as a Diocese, want to push these numbers even lower we need to continue to invest in charity and justice. Charity, or direct service, refers to the efforts at food shelves and soup-kitchens across the Diocese, to meet the immediate needs of individuals experiencing food insecurity. Justice includes advocating for systemic changes that impact the root causes of food insecurity like living wages, affordable housing and improved transportation services.   


Whether you need help, want to help, or both, go to to find the food shelf nearest you.  There are over 40 food shelves operating throughout the Diocese.  Let's help and get these numbers even lower.  No child in our Diocese should go hungry on our watch! 


Franciscan Sisters and Bishop Kettler
to Honor
Parish Social Ministry Teams!

Members of Parish Social Ministry Groups

The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN, in honor of the 125th anniversary of our Congregation, invite you to a special afternoon to honor your ministry of social justice within your parishes and in the Diocese of St. Cloud.  This celebration is scheduled at St. Francis in Little Falls, MN  for Sunday, April 10, 2016 from 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. and is co-sponsored by Bishop Don Kettler and the Department of Social Concerns, Diocese of St. Cloud. 


Please SAVE THE DATE to be with us for this celebration of carrying onward the Gospel call to "act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8



Sister Cordy Korkowski, OSF

Sister Carolyn Law, OSF

Sister Jean Schwieters, OSF

Kathy Langer



CCHD Collection 2015
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding community programs that encourage independence.  CCHD works locally  and nationally to empower low-income individuals and assist them in building their communities and breaking the cycle of poverty with lasting solutions.  You are essential to its success. Know that your donation is making a huge impact in our own Diocese as well as nationally.

The impact of CCHD in our Diocese is growing each year.  Two non-profit organizations, who are working directly with low income people in our area, to give them a hand up, received over $70,000.  The 2015 grant cycle is coming to a close and we have 3 grants pending approval of the US Bishops committee in June.  CCHD also funds a paid internship for our office each year, which amounts to another $7,000.  Along with that 25% of the collection stays in the Diocese to help with organizations that are just starting this work of ending poverty.  

The next annual Diocesan wide collection will be on the weekend of September 19 and 20th, 2015. Watch the St. Cloud Visitor for stories about our groups!

A huge thank you to all of you who made a donation this year to break the cycle of poverty!  If you would still like to donate, you can send it to: 

CCHD Collection
Diocese of St. Cloud
214 3rd Ave S,
St. Cloud MN 56302

Checks mailed to the diocese should be written out to "Diocese of St. Cloud." Include in the memo line "CCHD collection."  

To learn more about CCHD, its history, or the grants follow the link below:


St John's School of Theology Course on Latino/a Spirituality and History  


This fall 2015, on Thursdays from 6 pm to 9:15 pm, Latina scholar and theologian, Dr. Rebecca Berru Davis will be teaching a graduate level course for the School of Theology at St. John's  
University called, Latino Religious Expression: Foundations in History and Spirituality. The course is especially geared toward those who are working in parishes with Latino/a populations, Latino/as who desire leadership training for ministry, and others interested in this topic of relevance and importance in today's Catholic Church. Dr. Berru Davis received her doctorate in the  
area of Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California with a concentration in Latino theology and religion. Her interests are particularly focused on ways that faith and justice are expressed through spirituality, culture, and the arts.  


For more information on this course go to or contact SOT staff by email 

 at or  call (320) 363-2896





Also check out this exhibit at St. Benedicts Monastery featuring the art of Latin American Women.  Go to:


Another Successful Day on the Hill for Social Concerns Advocates



Another meaningful Day on the Hill happened on March 12th at the State Capitol.  Thirteen individuals representing 5 legislative districts throughout Central Minnesota boarded a bus sponsored by the Social Concerns Department of Catholic Charities in the early morning hours to travel to the St. Paul River Centre and the Capital to gather with other faith community representatives from around Minnesota.  Over 800 people participated representing 65 of the 67 congressional districts in the state.  Participants in the Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative from Little Falls and Mora/Ogilivie met us in St. Paul. And just as the scaffolding around the Capital building and inside revealed changes taking place, all of us who attended were working toward our own hopes for change with the issues we were working on and the people whose stories we were representing. 


Each year the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) chooses 4-6 issues that participants will focus on as they go to lobby their elected representatives. This year the issues were; increased funding for childcare (currently there are 8,000 children on a waiting list), increased support for MFIP - Minnesota Family Investment Program - by $100 a month (this amount has not increased in 30 years!), allocation of funding for Safe Harbor Victim Services which reaches out to help those affected by human/sex trafficking and Restore the Vote that would allow felons to vote after they have served their time in prison and are back in the community. Right now if they are on probation, they cannot vote.


The schedule for the day was as follows:


6:15 - Bus leaves St. Cloud  

8:30 - Gathering, Registration, Breakfast

8:55 - Welcome, Opening Prayer 

9:30 - Keynote Speaker

9:55 - 2015 Interfaith Social Justice Awards

10:35- Issue Briefings 

11:10 - Lunch, District Table Discussion 

11:30 - Bus Shuttle Service to the Capitol 

12:00 - Optional Sessions at RiverCentre  

Afternoon Meetings with your legislators in Capitol or State Office Building

4:00 - Departure 


Ms. Joan Rosenhauer from Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, MD delivered a riveting keynote address on the importance of advocating for charity and justice.  Everyone left the River Centre prepared and energized to discuss the day's issues with their representatives.


It is always a good experience to go to Day on the Hill. We talk about the two steps of social action being charity AND social justice. We cannot merely do one. The advocacy one is harder for us to grapple with, however, if we are about answering the call of the Gospel to love our neighbors we MUST also advocate for our sisters and brothers on the margins. In the Old Testament we are considered "A" people and from time to time it is helpful and gratifying to work in tandem with others for those who might not be able to be present. . Therefore when we hear the song " Who Will Speak if You don't?" we can confidently say, " WE SPOKE!" 

 -Molly Wyrens and Doug Scott 

Kathy Langer
Directer of Social Concerns

Doug Scott
Rural Life Coordinator