Don Heinzman Column: Archdiocese Sets Course for New Shores

By Don Heinzman
Hometown Source
July 31, 2015

Don HeinzmanI am among the 825,000 Catholics in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese with thoughts about the unprecedented news that has rocked the archdiocese these past few weeks.

Imagine, two bishops have resigned in the wake of six gross misdemeanor charges against the archdiocese for failure to protect children from an abusive priest, filed by the Ramsey County Attorney.

On top of this, the archdiocese is undergoing bankruptcy to the extent it may have to sell its property on a hill overlooking the city of St. Paul.

Like most lay people, I believe former Archbishop John Nienstedt and his auxiliary bishop, Lee Piche, had no choice but to resign. No one is surprised Pope Francis was quick to accept the resignations.

The diocesan priests assembled for a few days of rest and relaxation in Rochester, received the surprising news that week. It naturally changed the tone of the assembly and caused the clergy to return to heal the archdiocese.

So what about all of us lay people who are troubled by the events and mismanagement of the archdiocese?

Many Catholics’ first thoughts, including mine, are with the victims, especially the children who were abused by priests they trusted because they were priests.

Our thoughts go out to the many dedicated priests, deacons, nuns and other religious who serve our spiritual and temporal needs and must go through this storm.

Our thoughts also are with the many staff and volunteers who feed the hungry, visit and minister to the sick, visit the imprisoned and staff the schools.

Finally, our thoughts are with a new highly credentialed interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda who must pick up the pieces. I am confident this archdiocese will more closely monitor the conduct of its priests and manage their assignments carefully.

Meanwhile, what is the laity to think?

The answer may be in a recent Sunday’s message from the Gospel of Mark about a storm that threatened to overturn the boat containing a sleeping Jesus and his disciples. The frightened disciples awakened Jesus and asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He calmed the storm and asked the key question for our time: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

That text was a natural opening for priests like my own pastor to preach about this storm raging over the archdiocese – for all to have faith that there is a higher power that can calm the waves.

In that Gospel, Jesus suggested they row to the “other side.”

I wish the archdiocese an enlightened voyage as it goes to the “other side” to a new shore on which to build an archdiocesan organization with a higher power at the helm.








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