Father Rich Walz to receive Humanae Vitae award

Categories: Around the Diocese

July 5, 2013, edition
By Nikki Rajala

Father Rich Walz is the 2013 recipient of the Humanae Vitae Award, given by the St. Cloud Diocese’s Office of Marriage and Family.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and released in 1968. In the St. Cloud Diocese, the award has been presented annually in July since 1999 to coincide with the anniversary of its namesake. The Humanae Vitae Award honors a person who shows courage in promoting the teachings of the church regarding human life and sexuality through their ministry, education or witness.

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Those who nominated Father Walz noted he had faithfully instructed those of his parish in the teachings of Humanae Vitae.

“Father Walz has promoted, upheld and taught the teachings of the Catholic Church, even though they are counter-cultural,” Sheila Reineke said. Reineke is the Natural Family Planning coordinator for the Office of Marriage and Family.

“He lives the teachings of Humanae Vitae,” Reineke said, “and has shown great courage to preach these teachings from the pulpit. He has explained how contraception separates love and life while NFP maintains the connection and upholds the marriage vows.

“Father Rich taught newlyweds and groups of married couples. He worked with Father Mark Willenbring and taught that contraception goes completely against the church. He then explained NFP and had other couples explain how the Billings Ovulation Method works. He wanted couples to know their dignity and God’s plan for their love.”

Impact on many

Recently retired from active ministry, Father Walz was pastor of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish, an Anglo-Hispanic parish, for about five years. He described early days of his ministry — a mission in Venezuela in 1989 — where he became the parish’s pastor when Father Jim Minette left. Father Walz served in Venezuela for a total of about 10 years.

“In terms of Humanae Vitae,” Father Walz said, “it was basically helping the people to understand the importance of Jesus becoming human and how we are to relate to God and one another as a consequence.

 “For me, the impact of Humanae Vitae is that Jesus became one with us — which changes our lives, the purpose of our lives and what we do with our lives. That brings a deeper understanding of our faith when we see God reaching out to us. And then we can respond to him, and to one another, in kind.”

Father Tom Knoblach, pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in St. Cloud, was on the award selection committee. He first met Father Walz when they were seminarians in Winona, Minn.

“I have always been impressed with Father Rich’s dedication,” Father Knoblach said, “his sincerity, his love for the church and his courage in proclaiming the truth, which is not always popular or welcome. But he did it in a respectful and authentic way that is integrated in his own life.”

Reineke said, “We are so happy Father Rich is this year’s recipient. He has been a wonderful witness of Christ’s love for each of us. Father Rich has demonstrated courage to tell all people about Natural Family Planning and God’s plan for married love.”

She recalled that Father Walz had ordered books in English and Spanish from her office to share with young couples about to be married. The book was “Good News About Sex & Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching,” written by Christopher West.

Reineke encouraged the public to attend the Humanae Vitae event (see box).

“We all grow in our faith,” Father Walz said. “Learning about Humanae Vitae forms a person as they go along. Over the years, we realize that life is sacred.”

 

IF YOU GO:

The public is invited to the Humanae Vitae Mass and 2013 Award reception 

When: Thursday, July 25   

            Mass at 7 p.m.

            Award reception following

Where: St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt, St. Cloud

For more information: Contact Sheila Reineke at 320-258-7609 or sreineke@gw.stcdio.org.