Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wedding Bells

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote all the way back in October. It's taken me a couple days to unwind and recollect my thoughts after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family. We sat, ate and prayed at two tables this year as we gathered for Thanksgiving on Thursday and then celebrated the following day as my new wife of three weeks, Morgan and I, got married!! It was the greatest day of my life to finally be joined with the love of my life and surrounded by so many of our closest family and friends.

When Morgan and I initially started planning our wedding (we planned it in 2 months by the way!),  we felt like it would take forever to get to November 27th. However as our big day drew near, we wondered where all the time had gone! A few people reminded us that it was perhaps a useful thing that we planned our wedding the way that we did because it forced us not to be picky or bride-zillas if you will. Planning our wedding gave me a few lessons as to what kind of husband and future father I want to be for Morgan and our child. Just like preparation for a wedding requires great integrity, humility, generosity, courage and deep love and joy, so I want to bring all of these things into our marriage and our family. Supporting this family was what God called me to and I proudly accept His will.

I just want to say a quick thank you to anyone who lifted up Morgan and I in prayer as our wedding day approached and have celebrated with us. We appreciate you, we love you and we thank God for you each and every day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Life Triumphs Over Death: Dear Baby Bender

This past month had been designated as Respect Life Month by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). I think its so fitting considering the fact that we are deep in battle against the abortion powerhouse, Planned Parenthood, to stop giving them government funding. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers make their living on scared, young pregnant women searching for a way to hide a "mistake" by following with another mistake.
We have watched in unsurprising fashion as the President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, tells the truth about their business practices for the first time. Things are changing in our world. People are fed up with being afraid and scared. Young men and women are stepping up and being the fathers and mothers that their new born children deserve. I’m so proud of the determination and courage that so many have showed to give young innocent life a chance to live.
I found out 5 months ago that my fiancé and I are expecting. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared for my life. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared now either. Already I feel my life changing and the stress increasing. New responsibilities are being added each and every day. This is new territory for me. I never thought I would be in this position, but I can already tell you it has been the most beautiful and fruitful experience.

Dear Baby Bender,
I cannot wait to meet you and give you all the love, kindness and gentleness in my heart that you deserve. Hearing your heartbeat and seeing your little body for the first time was the single-greatest thing I have ever heard and seen in my entire life. You are such a miracle, and I cannot wait to introduce you to the world and to everyone I meet.
I can't wait to to hold you when you cry, console you, and soothe you. Let it out and have yourself a good cry. I will probably cry with you.
I can't wait to show you joy and make you laugh for the first time. Your laugh will turn any one of my bad days immediately better.
I can't wait to show you off to all of my family and friends and shout out loud how unbelievably proud I am of my Baby Bender.  
I can't wait to bring you to church with us (with a pacifier, of course) and show you how deeply God loves you, guiding you through preparation for all of the sacraments.
I can't wait to bring you into the world and demonstrate, together with your mom, that life always triumphs over death and can bring light to the darkness of any situation.
I love you Baby Bender! Can't wait to see you soon!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Prayers Answered: Archdiocese of Milwaukee Engagement Conference

                                               (Copyright: John Paul Bender & Morgan Drezek)

This past weekend my fiancé and I attended an Engaged Enrichment Conference at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Cousin Center in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Held on Saturday from 9AM-4PM, this was a chance for engaged couples to learn more about the sacrament of Marriage and to begin developing a plan for their upcoming marriage. We had an amazing experience!

The day conference was hosted by Jenni Oliva, the Associate Director of Nazareth Project for Marriage and Family Formation and included various small talks given by married couples that each engaged couple was invited to attend. Some of the talks Morgan and I attended were Natural Family Planning, Top Ten Ways To Have A Happy and Successful Marriage, and Understanding The Sacrament of Marriage. My fiancé and I were so excited about each talk and about our upcoming wedding, that we were intensely listening and feverishly taking notes.

One of the things that we absolutely loved about each talk was how each married couple was relatively young and talked about their shared deep faith in the Lord. Each of these couples were so relatable to us. I thought it was so cool to hear a young man talk about his marriage and see his deep love for his spouse in the long deep looks that he gave her. It made me reflect about the type of husband I want to be for my future wife.

A little short of  year ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of praying for your future spouse. I wanted to be specific and pray for the exact woman God intended me to be with for the rest of my life. I wanted a woman who had a great devotional love for the Lord, excellent character and morals, loved Taylor Swift and had to be a blonde. Yes, I got "that" specific. I found out that God loves specifics and He loves a couple that strives to make heaven their ultimate goal. I'm so glad that He gave me my beautiful bride-to-be Morgan Maxine and has placed many wonderful supportive friends young and old in our path. Embedded below is my original blog post from last year about praying for your future spouse. If you are looking for your future husband or wife, I pray that you look to God as your heavenly match-maker.

                                                                                                                                                               (photo courtesy of

             “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God, that a man must seek Him to find her.”
                                                                                                                      -  Maya Angelou

My first few adult years have been a great learning experience as I seek God’s will for my life and I’ve found great encouragement through reading other Catholic blogs. There are many great resources online such as TheChastity Project, Catholic Gentleman, Jackie&Bobby and Arleen Spenceley that discuss dating, marriage, and chastity just to name a few. Check them out if you haven’t already!

I feel very strongly that it’s so important to find a woman that is completely in love with God. Good character is very important. After all, it is our spouse’s job to help us get to our heavenly destination. Upon reading Jackie&Bobby (a website run by a married couple) on the subject of a woman’s heart, I began praying for my future wife, offering her up to Our Lord at daily Mass as the host and chalice are elevated. In today’s culture, praying and waiting is not an option, but I believe that if you surrender everything in your life completely to God, wonderful things can happen and it’s exciting to see the results.

Here are a few ideas from that can be helpful in searching for a spouse-

Pray for your future wife or husband

Consecrate them to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Start a 54 day novena (27 days in petition, 27 in thanksgiving no matter what happens)

Write a journal for your future spouse

Take comfort in knowing that God is always with us in everything we do and He will never let you be alone.

God loves you and He is always in control.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vicar General Fr. Timothy Kitzke To Lead Downtown Eucharistic Rosary Procession With Roses for Our Lady

Vicar General Fr. Timothy Kitzke 
To Lead Downtown Eucharistic Rosary Procession With Roses for Our Lady

By: John Paul Bender

August 19th 2015

Milwaukee, WI - The Very Reverend Timothy Kitzke, Vicar General for Urban Initiatives in the city of Milwaukee and the co-pastor of Three Holy Women Parishes will celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Mother with Roses for Our Lady, a lay Catholic organization in the Archdiocese of MilwaukeeThis beautiful event will begin at 2pm on Sunday, September 13th at Old St. Mary Church located on 844 N. Broadway in Milwaukee.

The celebration will include a holy hour and an outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession through
downtown Milwaukee, escorted by Milwaukee's mounted-horse police. The procession will conclude
with a birthday party celebration with cake and coffee provided. 

Please bring a nonperishable food item for a local food pantry as a birthday gift to honor Our Lady.


Anne Bender, President


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Invitation to Worship and Beauty: OremusMKE Held During Riverwest 24

                          (OremusMKE Benediction at St Hedwig Church on the East Side. Photo: Sam Vosters/Tom Klind)
Nearly two weeks ago, the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist opened up its doors, offered candles and invited Bastille Day goers to enter into the sacred worship space to spend some in quiet prayer for peace and to garner interest in the church and the Catholic faith. This coming Friday Oremus MKE will be held at Our Lady of Divine Providence- St Mary Czestochowa site during the Riverwest 24 Bike Race from 7pm until 10pm. Confession will be available during Eucharistic Adoration. Please see below for more details and how to get involved in bring others closer to the Lord.

Via: OremusMke

"A Church which 'goes forth' is a Church whose doors are open...Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way." Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

OremusMKE is an outreach ministry that seeks to literally open the doors of our churches to welcome people in. The life of our churches does not always coincide with the life of our neighborhoods. By opening our churches for prayer, adoration, music and reflection during a busy weekend night, we hope to bring people into our churches so that they can experience the power of God and the hospitality of our parishcommunity.

The doors of Our Lady of Divine Providence-St. Mary Czestochowa (3055 N Fratney St) will be open on Friday, July 24 from 7-10 pm. Pairs of people will invite our neighbors from the Riverwest 24 bike race in to see the beautiful church and to light a candle for peace. There will be Eucharistic adoration throughout the evening.

All in our four-parish family are invited to come pray in the church. If you are interested in helping or have questions please contact Samantha Vosters at or Chad Griesel, Director of Adult Faith Formation, at 414-271-6180 or

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Learning To Love

                                                         (Photograph copyright of John Paul Bender)

One of the hardest things in life is learning and coming to accept that the way you think is not always the way someone else thinks. In high school I gave a persuasive speech about my stance on gay marriage thinking that I could shift my classmate's opinions to be more aligned with mine.  I was met with both agreement and disagreement on my viewpoint.  And now, once again, I stepped into the waters of this heated issue by sharing my opinion about the same-sex marriage decision that was recently made by SCOTUS in Facebook comments.

The world and its sports, music, emotions and politics are all channeled through social media. Nothing is private anymore. Everyone has to tell everyone else where they stand on everything under the sun even if what they post becomes offensive to others. Seeing my Catholic faith being criticized in Facebook posts for the Church's defense against SCOTUS's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states, brought out a desire for me to try to give some of my friends and family members a better understanding of why we as a church believe what we believe. I would comment on a status with an attempt to show a person why the Church is so upset over the ruling, only to be ridiculed and told that I am posting radical and passive aggressive thoughts. It saddened me as I found myself "unfriending" a large amount of my friends who were celebrating the outcome.

In trying to make my opposition clear, I heard the phrase, "This is the reason why people fall away from the Catholic Church, because you can't tolerate opinions that are different than your own." As a result, I feel the need to revisit humility. Instead of chastising, I think we need to take a step back and reassess the need for kindness, humility and love. Our reasoning behind our defense is legitimate, but words get in the way. In our efforts to lead someone to the truth, we can end up damaging feelings and lose a number of potential disciples. A great friend of mine once said, " Real love is not being able to have all the answers, but rather crawling down into the hole that someone has dug themselves into and being present with them."  A loving embrace, a heartfelt prayer and great courage and patience can go a long way in bringing someone out of the darkness and into the light of truth. 

Intent on improving the way I bring about truth in the world, I'm going to try a new approach to evangelizing. I am still going to promote my love for the Catholic faith and Catholic teachings, but rather than try and engage with others about differences in opinion, I am going to take a step back and allow them to discover God's will on their own. Instead of trying to teach with my words, I'm going to focus more on living out my faith to the best of my ability. I feel I can make the most impact on someone who is searching for truth in this way. The old saying "actions speak louder than words" still holds very true.

Yes, I think the same-sex marriage decision is terrible and I do not stand for or agree with it, but I think that the most important thing we can do is to love one another regardless of differing beliefs and opinions. We need to learn to love again and forgive again even when it hurts to do so.  How will you continue to show your love for those around you who disagree with you?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Chosen By God: National Director of Apostleship of Prayer Fr. James Kubicki's Homily at Roses for Our Lady

Every now and then we need to be reminded of our God's deep, incomprehensible love for us and His well thought our plan for our lives. We are His chosen people whom He had thought of long before we ever existed. This past Sunday, Fr. James Kubicki, the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer presided at Roses for our Lady's Holy Hour for Vocations at St. Francis de Sales Seminary. Fr. Kubicki spoke of our relationship with God and how we can continue to develop our lives as His beloved children according to His will. Below is an audio recording of Fr. Kubicki's homily at the Roses for Our Lady Holy Hour.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Interior Stillness: OremusMKE Inviting Bastille Days Attendees To Enter Into Milwaukee's Cathedral

Tonight from 7pm to 10:30pm, OremusMKE is inviting people of all faith's to enter inside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to spend some time in prayer and stillness during Bastille Days. Please come if you are able. The Milwaukee Catholic Herald provided more information on the event in this weeks publication.
Historically, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist has shied away from planning major events during the weekend of Bastille Days.
A replica of the Eifel Tower dominates Cathedral Square in this photo from a previous Bastille Days celebration. This year, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, is using the July 9-12 festival as a “prime evangelization opportunity,” according to the cathedral’s rector, Fr. Jeff Haines. (Submitted photo by Joe Gadbois)“With the noise and the hustle and the bustle and concerns about space, in the old days, we used to shut down,” said Fr. Jeff Haines, the cathedral rector.
Other than celebrating regularly scheduled Sunday Mass, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee would be shut up and empty during the weekend’s festivities — a beautiful but non-participatory witness to the divertissement in Cathedral Square.
Last year, things began to change. The parish set up tables and chairs and invited the crowds into the prayer garden, offering coffee and water for a free will donation to the cathedral’s Open Door Cafe ministry.
It was such a success that this year the cathedral is increasing its efforts dramatically, planning a weekend of events that will make the city’s most sacred space more accessible than ever to people of all faiths who are downtown July 9-12.
Fr. Haines called Bastille Days “a prime evangelization opportunity” and said that the weekend’s rigorous schedule is reflective of the cathedral’s mission as a whole, which is to be a home away from home for Milwaukee’s Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
During that weekend, festival-goers will find the cathedral’s doors will almost always be physically open.
“We want to take every opportunity we get to have someone come through our door and make possible in whatever way we can a chance for them to encounter Christ, the prince of peace, and to find that peace in their life,” Fr. Haines said.
Perhaps one of the more distinctive experiences offered will be Oremus MKE, held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, July 10 (Benediction will take place at 10 p.m.). During this time, the cathedral will be open to the public for quiet prayer and contemplation. Young ministers of hospitality will be stationed on the sidewalk outside the cathedral, inviting people into the church to light a candle and offer a prayer for peace.
Priests will also be on hand to talk with visitors and even hear confessions, and there will be an opportunity for


Thursday, July 9
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cathedral
open for visits, tours
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cathedral garden open
Friday, July 10
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cathedral
open for visits, tours
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cathedral garden open
7 to 10:30 p.m. Oremus MKE, quiet prayer in the Cathedral
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee in the Garden
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cathedral open
for visits, tours
5:15 p.m. French Mass
6 p.m. An Evening in Parish French dinner
Sunday, July 12
8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday Masses
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee in the Garden
Noon to 4 p.m. Cathedral open
for visits, tours
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the cathedral’s day chapel.
Past Oremus events in Milwaukee have been held at St. Hedwig and St. Mary of Czestochowa; like this one, they are organized with the help of youth from Three Holy Women Parish, Milwaukee Young Adult Ministry and seminarians from Saint Francis de Sales Seminary.
Deacon Andrew Linn, who is helping organize Oremus, said the tranquility of the cathedral ­– in the midst of a festival – is a beautiful juxtaposition, one that is a perfect metaphor for the mission of the church itself.
“It’s a beautiful experience, because a lot of people who are not religious, and certainly a lot who are not Catholic, will come in, and they’ll experience, maybe, a little, a tiny aspect of what we do in the church,” he said.
“You get all shapes and sizes and different flavors of belief or unbelief, but everyone’s welcome,” said Fr. Haines. “We’re just excited about inviting people to have a chance to come to know Christ — and, through the warmth and the hospitality of the people, no matter where we are in our faith journey, everyone knows the yearning and the need for peace.”
The Coffee in the Garden experience will also provide Bastille Day attendees with a chance for a break from the festival, which draws about 250,000 visitors a year.
Coffee in the Garden will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12, and like last year, guests will be invited to enjoy special seating in the cathedral’s prayer garden, but this year the menu has gotten a makeover. Specialty iced and hot flavored coffee drinks will be offered, and guests will be able to order drinks inspired by the java preferences of Fr. Haines, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and Bishop Richard J. Slkba.
All proceeds from the Coffee in the Garden will benefit the cathedral’s Open Door Cafe.
Those who plan to register for the annual Storm the Bastille 5K Run will also have an opportunity to ensure that their efforts benefit the Open Door Cafe. All runners registering online will be invited to make a contribution to the ministry, which was founded 20 years ago by Fr. Louis Koran, a retired priest living at the cathedral. In 2002, the Open Door Cafe was given a permanent indoor home at the Weakland Center, where hot meals are served Monday through Friday to the city’s poor and homeless. It is estimated that the ministry served 57,000 meals last year.
Milwaukeeans have ample opportunity to experience the Divine Liturgy in languages such as Latin, Polish and Spanish, but this weekend the cathedral will hold the area’s only Mass celebrated in French, Saturday at 5:15 p.m.
The tradition of the French Mass during Bastille Days, said Helen Gadbois, time and talent coordinator for the cathedral, is one that goes back decades in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The Mass used to be celebrated at Old St. Mary’s, but the attendance was so great that a larger venue was needed.
“It’s always a big crowd,” she said.
Fr. Steve Lampe will celebrate the Mass for the third year a in a row. Fr. Lampe, who is fluent in five languages, including French, said that what makes this liturgy unique is the fact that French is not a language Americans commonly encounter, especially when it comes to the Mass.
“Unless you live in New England, French is not easily experienced in our country, even though we have roots from the French explorers, as the names of many places give witness,” he said. “The Mass in French, joined with Milwaukee’s festival tradition, celebrates the universality of the church.”
Fr. Lampe urged those who have no familiarity with the French language to attend.
“The same text and the same structure is used, but now in a different language,” he said of the liturgy. “Thus, there is something familiar and comforting about it, while also being new and intriguing.”
The liturgy will also feature classic French hymns selected by the cathedral’s director of music, Michael J. Batcho. Regular Sunday Masses will be celebrated in the cathedral at 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m., July 12.
Also on Saturday evening, the cathedral will hold its sixth annual French Dinner. This year’s theme is “An Evening in Paris,” whose wine and food has been carefully selected and prepared by Pfister Hotel chef Brian Frakes and his staff. Ticket sales are closed for this year, but parish leadership urges anyone interested to consider attending next year’s event.
Gadbois described the dinner as “an opportunity to bring new friends to the cathedral” and said that the evening is designed especially with non-parishioners in mind.
The cathedral will also be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
All told, the cathedral will be open close to 40 hours during Bastille Days. It’s an unprecedented effort mounted by ministers of hospitality, tour guides and over 75 volunteers.
“We would hope that this would be an opportunity for parishioners who are here all the time ... but also people who are here infrequently, people who just come here for major celebrations, and people who are here for the first time,” said Gadbois. “The archbishop always makes a point of calling the cathedral your second home, and that’s the point that I think we’re trying to get across. The cathedral belongs to everybody.”
Fr. Haines put it simply: “Come home!”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayers For Our Local Society: Archbishop Listeki Comments On Milwaukee Art Museum

As a young man living in the city of Milwaukee, it is real men like Archbishop Listecki that I look to for inspiration on how to continue to live my life for God in the midst of such turmoil. Please pray for our world, our country and the city of Milwaukee. Via Archdiocese of Milwaukee

June 23, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There’s a phrase that one doesn’t like to hear, and that is “I told you so!”  Two figures in the Church have been prophetic in what they have written, taught and preached to Catholic audiences around the world and especially in the United States. St. John Paul II and Cardinal Francis George warned of the embrace of radical individualism, its consequences and the ideologies created which are contrary to faith and truth.

In the last few weeks, we have been confronted with Bruce Jenner who wishes to be Caitlyn Jenner and accepted as a woman, and a female director of the NAACP, who presents herself as an African American woman (however was born and raised in a Caucasian family). Now, the Milwaukee Art Museum – the Calatrava – accepted a work that fashions a portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of condoms and refers to it as art. What is similar in all these situations, is that they each rely on the notion of “radical individualism” based on personal freedom, that is exercised without license.

Now, I am all for freedom. Americans hold freedom sacred and the Church is for freedom. Remember, Jesus Christ died to make us free. But, freedom is never exercised in a vacuum. Freedom demands responsibility and that is a responsibility to truth, beauty and goodness (sorry, if I’m bringing the Ancient Greeks into the discussion, but it’s hard to ignore the obvious wisdom).

Here’s the rub. In our society, we have characterized “truth” as whatever we want to make of it. Therefore, truth is only accountable to the individual. In that context, Bruce Jenner can be a woman this week, a man next week or a Labrador Retriever the week after. Our NAACP director can be an African-American woman this week, a Native American the next and possibly an Asian, simply because she likes egg rolls. Would the art museum accept works that depicted various political leaders of our state in cow dung (a significant animal for Wisconsin)?  Would they accept art – pick your favorite religious or historical figures – featuring them in various pornographic poses (which has happened in some international publications)?  What about art featuring national or international popular social reconstructionists in a manner that would depict the opposite of what they represented, such as Gandhi sporting an uzi, Lincoln in Klu Klux Klan garb or Hitler with a yarmulke reading the Torah, all in the name of art and beauty? Whose art and whose beauty? I would offer that even if the art museum considered accepting any of the above examples, there would be an extensive public discussion that would take place before any decision would be made.

There are three areas I believe have contributed to this radical individual craziness which is taking place in our society. First, the loss of objective truth: when we lose objective truth, meaning that something is truth apart from assessment, then we lose language and our ability to speak with one another from a common perspective. Is something objectively true apart from what I believe it to be? Every word becomes subject to a person’s individual perspective.

Second, is the loss of natural law, a concept which is mocked by some in the academic circles. How we come to a conclusion of whether something is right or wrong has been traditionally accepted as coming from reason. We can know the good because it is engraved in our hearts. However, when there is no longer a good or an evil and it is only such if I choose it to be, or enough people affirm it, you can see why we exist in this chaotic situation. The good is subjected to the whim of the individual.

Third, is the loss of the sense of God. There are two ways by which we come to the truth through faith and reason. God reveals His plan or will to us. Cardinal George wrote in his book, “The Difference God Makes,” “In the face of triumphant human reason at the end of the nineteenth century, the First Vatican Council taught that faith is not irrational. Ironically, at the end of the twentieth century, the Church is saying that faith must rescue reason from its own self-inflicted wound of skepticism,” and I might add, radical individualism.

We have lost the sense of sacred and in so doing, everything becomes profane and is subjected to our own individual appreciation. I need not remind us all of the recent tragic situation in Charleston S.C, where a young man killed nine people after praying with them for an hour. What sense of God or the sacred could he have possibly had? When we lose our sense of God, we lose our ultimate accountability and the identification that my dignity depends on the respect of the dignity of my brothers and sisters who were made in God’s image.

Some may want me to be more upset at the museum for their callousness – calling for boycotts, suppression of donations or picketing. God, religion and faith have been insulted by others throughout the ages and by autocrats and movements far superior to our little local museum. But, still God rules supreme, the Church is here and will be until the end of time, and faith continues to inform and form.

An artist who claims his or her work is some great social commentary and a museum that accepts it, insults a religious leader of a church, whose charitable outreach through its missionaries and ministers has eased the pain of those who suffer throughout the world, must understand the rejection of this local action by the believers who themselves have been insulted.

Love your enemies, do good to those who might harm you, said Jesus. In the face of ridicule, we’ll continue to do our best to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

See with God’s Eyes,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Embracing The Way Of Christ: Deacon Christopher Krall SJ Homily At Cor Jesu

                          (Courtesy of Arise Milwaukee. Cor Jesu is held every Wednesday night from 7-9pm)

Wednesday nights are the best! My girlfriend Morgan and I joined a volleyball league and play on her cousin's team at Bradford Beach. While I love playing for the "Setting Ducks" (we're 5-5 by the way, in case you were wondering), I also love the fact that we can still attend Cor Jesu at St. Robert's in Shorewood together for Mass. It always ends up being the highlight of my week and tonight was no different!

Along with Fathers Jacob and Luke Strand and Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani, there were three transitional deacons assisting at the Mass-Deacon Andrew Linn, Deacon Patrick Behling, and a visitor from Chicago, Deacon Christopher Krall, SJ. It was a blessing to hear Deacon Christopher's homily tonight and I wanted to share a few things that touched me personally while he spoke.  

                                       (Deacon Christopher Krall SJ. Photo courtesy of

Deacon Christopher spoke about the need for extra motivation to follow Christ, offering your heart completely to Him.  He referenced the The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and specifically mentioned the Third Degree of Humility. The Third Degree of Humility begins with a prayer to the Father that He will grant you the grace to live in the way of Jesus Christ, who "emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave" (Philipians 2:7). This means freely choosing to lead a life that the world despises. In order to truly become one with Christ, one would have to set aside anything in his or her life that stands between them and God's love. This could also require one giving up some of his or her strongest gifts in order to fully embrace Christ.

As a young man working in the business world, it is easy for me to get sucked into the corporate life. There is a temptation to want to climb the corporate ladder and to want the money, expensive cars and luxurious houses that would come with it. I often get a big head when I complete the smallest of work tasks, or put together a nice presentation, and then I foolishly think that I am on to bigger and better things. I often think about the rich young man that Christ instructed to give all of his riches to the poor and follow him. Could I really do that? Would I turn away just like that young man in the Gospel did?

This is the ultimate challenge. If I really love Christ and want to give myself to His heart completely, then I cannot be blinded by the potential and opportunities I would have to climb the corporate ladder. I have to give all of my naive ambitions, false loves and talents away, trusting in the end that only Christ's love matters.

If I want to take a lesson from Deacon Christopher and truly become humble then my prayer has to lead to a life that would allow me to slowly empty myself to assume the condition of a slave, to be of service to the poor and marginalized, to be satisfied with my current occupation level, transportation and housing, to give money to the Church and to organizations that do the will of God, to go to confession regularly and to be able to stand up for the truth in the toughest of situations. 

How will you empty yourself and become one with Christ?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Brewing The Faith with Vivian Roe

There are so many wonderful new and exciting events and initiatives for young adults in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee these days, that I wish I had the time to go to them all! One event that I have always enjoyed attending is the Brewing the Faith series. Please join me this coming Thursday as we continue to dive deeper into our relationship with the Lord!

When: Thursday, June 11th 7:00pm

Where: St Francis Brewery- 3825 South Kinnickinnic Avenue, St Francis, WI 

Via: Emily Burds

Come & join young adults in their 20's & 30's for an evening of prayer, fellowship & relevant discussion on how to live your faith in the 21st century! 

7:00pm II Fellowship (free beer)
7:30pm II Message & Discussion
8:30pm II Communal Prayer

This month VIvian Roe will be sharing about "Religious Freedom and Truth in a World of Political and Media Spin".

Vivian Roe is mom to Elliot, Ethan and Sophia and wife to Brian. They are Sacred Heart of Jesus parishioners and proud to send their kids to school at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. Vivian is a freelance writer, and former Community Columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She is the founder of TherapEase Cuisine, an on-line nutritional service for cancer patients, and a breast cancer survivor.

Sponsoring parishes: The Basilica of St. Josaphat; St. Charles Borromeo; St. Mary’s Hales Corners; Sacred Heart of Jesus; St. Alphonsus; St. Paul Parish; Immaculate Conception; St. Augustine

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Pilgrimage To Remember

Yesterday my girlfriend Morgan and I joined the rest of my family on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St John, Indiana. Rather than take a bus, my family all crammed into one car and drove straight down ourselves. Two and a half hours in a car together doesn't always paint a pretty picture but we were all buzzing with excitement for what the day would hold!

The pilgrimage began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana, a close family friend and assisted by Father Anthony Jelenik at St. John the Evangelist. Recently built in 2008, St. John the Evangelist was absolutely gorgeous which may seem strange when we often consider modern churches. Connecting both the old churches of the parish with biblical symbolism, we all felt that this was the perfect worship space for the beginning of our celebration.

                            (The outside of St. John the Evangelist- St John, IN. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                         (Blessed Virgin Mary statue outside of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                             (The interior of St John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          (The Altar of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                       ( The presider's chair of St. John's. copyright John Paul Bender)

                         (The tabernacle is two sided. It can be opened from the front and back. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                      (Of course you can't miss a picture with our very much missed bishop: Copyright John Paul Bender)

Eloquently speaking as always, Bishop Hying talked about Pentecost and the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He noted that without the Holy Spirit, the apostles would have stayed in the upper room, Peter probably would have gone back to fishing; the only thing he had ever known, and we would never have existed beyond that point as a universal church.

 Despite all of the fear and negativity in the upper room though, the Holy Spirit breathed in the apostles a renewed love and zeal for the Lord, courage to be able to share all of the teachings of the Messiah, and to make disciples of all nations. It was precisely why pilgrimages are essential to our faith journey. Pilgrimages help us to be reinvigorated in the truth and awe of the Gospel, to be reminded that we can not shy away from evangelizing to others, and to dive deeper into our own individual relationship with Christ.

Right behind the majestic parish is the Shrine of Christ's Passion. The shrine is full of life size stations of the cross set on a vast piece of farm land. Each station was complete with perfectly hand- crafted statues of Christ, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, Veronica, Mary and Simon of Cyrene with music from local artists and narrations by NBC news anchor Bill Curtis. Fr. Anthony joined our pilgrimage and inspired our group with powerful and emotion-filled reflections. Below are pictures that I took of each station of the shrine and the surrounding scenery.

                                          (Gathered around the table at the Last Supper:Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                     (In the Garden of Gethsemane: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                 (Jesus being judged by Pontius Pilate: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                        (Christ carries His cross: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                                             (Copyright: John Paul Bender)

                                                 (Jesus looks with gratitude upon Simon: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                      (Veronica wiping the face of Jesus: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                      ( Jesus consoles the women. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                                              (Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          ( Jesus nailed to the cross. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                        ( The Crucifixion of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender ) 

                                             ( Fr. Anthony prostrating in front of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                  (Pieta- Christ in His Mother's arms. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                   (Christ being laid into the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          (Entering the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                   (Christ appears to Mary Magdalene. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                     ( Christ ascends to heaven. Copyright John Paul Bender)

After walking through the beautiful grounds of the Shrine of Christ's Passion, we decided to pay a visit to original St. John the Evangelist church in Lake Country. Built in the form of a log cabin, the church was converted into a 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel. Hands down, it was the most beautiful Eucharistic chapel I have ever set foot in.

                                  (St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                 ( St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)

After all was said and done I believe this was easily the best pilgrimage I have ever been on! As a family we got to say hello to an old friend in Bishop Donald Hying, we got to attend Mass in a beautiful church at St. John the Evangelist which puts some of our churches in Milwaukee to shame, and we had the opportunity to walk with Jesus Christ as he carried our sins on a cross for us.

I strongly encourage you to attend the Shrine of Christ's Passion, and the city of St. John, Indiana. You will never forget the experience that you will have and you will see God's love for you in a totally different and overwhelming way.

Blessings to you on this Solemnity of Pentecost!