Categories: Around the Diocese

The Annual Diocesan Appeal is a main funding source for the pastoral offices of the Diocese of St. Cloud that support, reinforce and help sustain ministry programs and practices across the 16-county area.

The appeal is intended to support the work being done in parishes by pastors, priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, staff and parishioners. Among the diocesan offices that provide essential services are the offices of Marriage and Family, the Tribunal and Catholic Education Ministries.

What follows are brief summaries of how donations to the Annual Diocesan Appeal are put to use by these three ministries.

Jan. 31, 2014, edition
By Kristi Anderson

The Office of Marriage and Family: Preparing couples for married life

omfringThe Office of Marriage and Family offers a broad spectrum of services that promote growth throughout the different stages of life, fostering the dignity of the human person from conception to a natural death. One of the ministries affected by the Annual Diocesan Appeal is marriage preparation.

Kristin Molitor, marriage course coordinator for the Diocese of St. Cloud, explained:

“Our marriage courses are designed to prepare engaged couples for the sacrament of marriage by providing sound catechesis, joyful witness and practical, down-to-earth life skills for living out the sacrament of marriage,” Molitor said.

“At every marriage course I am inspired by the volunteer speaker couples’ beautiful yet honest witness to the sacrament of marriage. Christ is truly present in their sacrament, and by their witness they show engaged couples that love is real, that love is possible, and that love has a name — Jesus Christ.”

Leah Brix, 25, has been actively involved with the Office of Marriage and Family for years as a cantor for events such as Vespers for Life and Hope for Healing. She and her husband, Adam, and their three children are members of St. Boniface Parish in Cold Spring. Leah and Adam have recently become involved in facilitating talks with engaged couples participating in marriage preparation courses.

“Marriage is a beautiful sacrament,” Brix said, “but marriage and sexuality can be hard subjects to discuss. Many couples entering the marriage prep classes don’t know the church’s teachings on these subjects.

“We believe that by talking about what the church teaches and why, we can be an example of living out our faith,” she explained. “By sharing our experience as an average young couple with a family, we hope to help people grow as individuals and as couples and encourage them to take the sacrament seriously.”

The Tribunal: Offering healing and hope for a new day to the disheartened

page13tribunalIn every diocese there is a Tribunal — a church court — in which the bishop is the primary judge. The bishop appoints a priest who has a degree in canon law, a licentiate degree, to be the judicial vicar or the head of the Tribunal. In the Diocese of St. Cloud, the judicial vicar is Father Virgil Helmin.

“The Tribunal’s main role is to study the marriages of people who are divorced and would like to enter a second marriage in the Roman Catholic Church,” Father Helmin explained. “The Tribunal determines whether at the time of consent the persons exchanging consent understood and were capable of making a life commitment to marriage.

“Not all persons who seek a declaration of nullity are considering remarriage,” he added. “There is often significant pain for the persons when they divorce. A declaration of nullity provides healing after a failed marriage.”

For Grace Thull, an active volunteer and member of St. Augustine Church in St. Cloud, the ministry of healing she received through her experience with the Tribunal helped her rediscover her identity in the Catholic Church.

“For years I felt judged, like some people didn’t think I should be able to volunteer in the parish because I was divorced,” Thull shared. “Even though I didn’t plan on getting remarried, I felt that I needed to go through the annulment process so that I could feel like part of the community again.

“It was a hard situation to go through,” she continued, “but every step of the way I felt supported. I hope others realize that they can receive this kind of healing.”

Catholic Education Ministries: Resource for changing technologies

page13cemtechTim Welch joined Catholic Education Ministries in 1991 to work with the media center and catechetical formation and with Catholic schools as they embraced the Internet and other technologies in education. Since then, Welch said, the media for faith formation has shifted from filmstrips and VHS tapes to other electronic media, and the promise of technology continues to grow exponentially.

“My passion is to journey with parishes and schools as we all learn how to implement new technologies that can serve ministry and catechesis,” he added.

Welch recently partnered with Father Michael Kellogg, pastor of St. Gall Parish, Tintah, St. Charles Parish, Herman and St. Olaf Parish, Elbow Lake.

“Several years ago, as we were grappling with ways of outreach with our parishioners using various modes of technology,” Father Kellogg explained, “it became clear that our little parishes on the north end of the diocese would benefit greatly if we were to have a website. Not only would this website disseminate practical information — bulletins, ministry schedules, emergency announcements — but would hopefully act as a tool of evangelization.

“Because we didn’t have many people who were technologically ‘savvy,’ we needed assistance in setting up and maintaining this new project,” he said. “After consulting with several offices in the diocese, Tim Welch from Catholic Education Ministries proved to be most helpful in our endeavor. Tim offered classes for webpage design and patiently worked with those of us who are ‘technological newbies’ to instruct us how best to use this technology. Without Tim and CEM’s assistance, we would not have been able to accomplish this excellent tool of evangelization.”