In 2022, the Parish Pastoral Council welcomes 3 new members. We asked each one four questions to get to know them a little better.
7/28/2022 Thank You from Sister Carrie
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
My feeble words can’t come close to describing the beauty and outpouring of love of my farewell weekend. My cup overflows with gratitude. I appreciate your every expression of thoughtfulness and the opportunity to bid farewell within a moment of so much abundance. Your well wishes, cards, and gifts are so appreciated. Monetary gifts will allow me to offer a donation in your name toward the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and her neighboring countries as well as assist me with personal needs and expenses during this time of transition.
My prayer for you:
May you be blessed with a sense of beauty and may beauty come and visit your life. May you be given the grace of recognition so that you may learn to see in a new way all that is beautiful about you.
The Divine Imagination -John O’Donohue
In our Risen Lord, Sr. Carrie Link, PBVM
Moving Day By Sharon Iano
We had a good time when we (Sharon and Tony Iano and Bill and Kathy Kelly) took Sister Carrie to the Presentation’s Motherhouse in Dubuque IA. We had the opportunity to visit with other sisters who served at St Henry’s.
Our first stop was in Charles City to have a brief visit with Sister Diana. Sr Irma had dinner with us at our own special dining room table. She seemed very cheerful and happy to see us. She has Alzheimer's but shared a fun story about Fr Sipe who was the priest at St Henry’s in the 70s. Sr Emilie has Alzheimer's and is not able to talk. But she did light up when she heard Tony laugh and talk so his laugh was familiar to her. Sr Carrie's cousin, Sr Susanne, was there to greet us. She guided us into the dining room for dinner then on to unpack. Two staff and two sisters were right there joyfully helping Sr Carrie move in to her apartment. Kathy and Sharon set up Sr Carrie's art studio in the adjoining room. The studio has windows on both sides and Sr Carrie is very happy to have her own art studio with a North exposure. Sr Carrie has lovely living quarters and the grounds are beautiful. The Parish gift of a power lift recliner fits in just fine and she is overjoyed with the comfort and the CCW quilt. We all settled into comfortable quarters after unpacking. The next day as we were leaving, we had a good feeling about Sr Carrie's new residence at Sisters of the Presentation.
4/22/2022 Parish Pastoral Council
What is the Parish Pastoral Council?
The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body, and it strives to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s people in our parish. The Council serves to advise the Pastor, who presides over the council, through researching matters brought forth by the Pastor or by members of the parish, reflecting on them, and making recommendations. Council members also serve as liaisons to parish ministries in order to help implement the parish vision and mission. In this ladder role, they provide an additional path to communicate ministry needs. Most of all the Parish Council consists of a diverse membership that reflects and represents the parish.
Specifically, the Parish Pastoral Council’s purpose is to enhance the process of:
Pastoral planning, Developing pastoral programs, Improving pastoral services, Evaluating the effectiveness of various ministries, programs and services.
The Council is not a body which makes binding decisions, although the recommendations of the Council are to be taken seriously when grounded in prayer, discernment and common wisdom.
Who is on the Parish Pastoral Council? Current members are Donny Lill (chair), Dean Flicker, Brian Lutes (Secretary), Michelle Rosnow, Jill Nelson, Renee Berens (Co-Chair), Melissa Anderson, Judy Ashley, Tim Davis, Karen Dehmer, Ryan Graham, Dick Frie, and Father Barnes. Pictures of the council members can be found on the bulletin board by the office. You will recognize these members by the Parish Council badge many of them wear when they are attending mass or other parish events.
When does the Parish Council Meet? Parish council meets monthly, usually the third Tuesday of the Month after Mass.
Can anyone attend a Parish Council Meeting? Yes, anyone can attend a meeting. If you have an agenda item that you would like to discuss please reach out to Donny Lill, Council Chair and request an agenda item.
What to do if you have an issue or question to bring to the council? You may contact the Parish Office.
How does someone become a member of the Parish Pastoral Council?
Parish Council members serve a 3-year term and each year nominations are received from the Parish at large for the terms that are opening at the end of the parish fiscal year (June 30). Once collected and reviewed there is a discernment period and then we call those chosen to discuss their nomination. The nominations are usually accepted in May, discernment in June and new members start in July.
Is information about the parish council on-line? You can find information about the parish council and the meeting minutes on the Church of St. Henry’s website under Parish Life and are posted in the Parish Council board in the office hallway. The link is https://www.sthenrycatholic.info/Parish-Pastoral-Council.
Parish Pastoral Council liaisons:
Communications & Stewardship which includes:
Council of Catholic Women, Knights of Columbus, Communication, New Member Welcoming team, Stewardship team, and others.
Sacraments & Worship which includes:
Altar Servers, Cross Bearers, Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Music Ministry, and others
Charity, Pastoral Care and Justice which includes:
Hospital Communion, Help Center & Food Shelf, Mission Outreach, Pro-Life Ministry, Prayer Chain, and others
Administration & Maintenance which includes:
Building & Grounds Board, Cemetery Board, Church Cleaning (Church Mouse), Finance Committee, Garden Group, Trustees, and others
Faith Formation and Evangelization which includes:
Adult Small Groups, Faith Formation, Youth Ministry, Library, and others.
Remember – Be Who God Created You to Be!
4/8/2022 Eucharistic Adoration to get new Software
Beginning April 25, the Church of Saint Henry will begin using an automated software program called, We Adore Him for Eucharistic Adoration. We Adore Him is software used by adoration programs throughout the archdiocese and has a high satisfaction rate among adorers. The program is easy to learn and simple to use for all ages, English, and Spanish users. All parishioners can see which hours need another adorer should they want to spend time with Jesus in adoration.
“What is not to like? I love the reminder notification, and if I need a substitute, I simply push a button and my request goes out. I do not have to spend time making phone calls.” -Susanne from St. Ambrose in Woodbury
Benefits for committed hourly adorers include easy ‘check in.’ An iPad screen is located on the pillar near the cabinet where the paper sign in currently is. Adorers tap it, that is it! This feature allows us to keep adorer contact information private. Another benefit is ease in finding a substitute. When an adorer needs a substitute, they will use the tool that automatically contacts substitute adorers one at a time until someone agrees to take the hour. No more time-consuming phone calls! Finally, you will receive reminder messages and bulk notifications in the way that works best for you, text, phone call or email.
Learning tutorials will be available online https://www.sthenrycatholic.info/adoration
Eucharistic Adoration Team
Program Coordinators: Marcia Flicker and Deb Fluharty
Adoration Team Captains (Adorer Contacts)
Carol Goodwin and Alan Warmka Midnight – 5 am
Melissa Schaefbauer and Tim Davis 6 am – 11 am
Louise Necklen and Grace Janssen 12 noon – 5 pm
Jenny Meyer and Angela Schaefbauer 6 pm – 11 pm
What is Eucharistic Adoration?
Eucharistic Adoration is a devotion where we unite in taking hours of adoration before the most Blessed Sacrament both during the day and throughout the night. The purpose of this Holy Hour is to encourage a deep personal encounter with Christ. God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to adore Him, praise Him and to give thanks to Him. Use this quiet time to pray, to pour your heart out to Jesus or to sit quietly and just “be” in the presence of God.
The Presentation Chapel is open for visitation Sundays at 6 pm through Fridays at 11:59 pm., except when Mass is occurring. If you do not have an adoration hour, doors are open during office hours. Come, Jesus is waiting for you. Please keep in mind that doors lock after business hours and require security access. Please contact the parish office for more information.
3/30/2022 Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus
Two sisters from the Handmaids out of Hopkins, MN visited the Church of Saint Henry this past February 6th. They spoke with our 6:00 & 7:15 PM Faith Formation classes, giving a brief description of what it’s like to be a religious sister and sharing their vocation stories. They also broke off with the girls for a Q & A session.
In partnership with the Handmaids, a trip was planned to their convent, St. Gabriel’s, for March 12th. We had a wonderful group of ladies attend, 9 girls, 3 moms, Jenna (Director of Youth Formation), and Father Barnes.
Photo: Saint Gabriel's Convent Chapel in Hopkins, MN
A reflection on the trip by Stacy Haag
Thank you for the opportunity to go on Sunday, it was such a wonderful experience. I am happy to share my thoughts. The convent was so warm and inviting which was different from what I expected. I had thought it would be a cold and stark building. Instead it felt like a lovely home with painted walls and beautiful furniture and art work. My daughter and I started our day polishing silver and brass while a Sister joined us and answered any questions we had. She shared that you do not take your final vows until the 8th year to make sure this is the correct path since a lot is sacrificed. They must have a college degree and no debt upon entering the convent since they will be living a life of poverty. All food and supplies are donated. The sisters were all so friendly and welcoming and more than happy to answer our questions. They were also curious about what is going on in our lives. After polishing, we went up to the dormitory rooms and cleaned the radiators in each room. Everyone was working together and it was a great experience. We had lunch at noon that they had prepared for us and had more time to sit and chat with the Sisters. The two we sat with had a very funny sense of humor and were teasing each other about how Hopkins should be called Hoppin Hopkins vs H-Town. They both had played sports in high school and shared that the high school in town allows them to use their equipment. They love to play extreme frisbee, kickball and try new sports (they had just given the lacrosse sticks a try) while wearing their habit. They are always smiling and so appreciative and joyful about the life they lead. Outside the convent, they spend their time teaching classes at the schools, faith formation, visiting people and helping anyone in need. They said they are a complement to the priest so the community has a spiritual mother as well as a father. They view the community as their children. After lunch we went to the chapel and had 40 minutes of silence followed by prayer and singing (which was lovely). It was just a wonderful day and I feel thankful and blessed that I could be part of it.
A reflection on the trip by Hannah
My name is Hannah, and I am a Senior at Holy Spirit Academy. I attended the Sister Visit with some of the St. Henry's Youth Group girls. We went to help the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in Hopkins with some household cleaning and cooking. It was really a beautiful experience. It's one thing to be around these religious women, but it is completely another thing to be with them in their home and to experience their daily life. Their entire way of living is utterly for the Lord, and they give everything to him and rely completely on him. I think it's safe to say that this visit changed my way of looking at religious life. Their home is furnished nicely, but simply. We were able to hear the stories of their road to becoming Jesus' spouse, and we were able to ask them questions about the way they live and the things they do. We also got to spend a holy hour with them, and listing to them chant and sing was very uplifting. They were very much full of joy and so happy to welcome us into their home for the day. I am so grateful to have been able to make this visit because the Lord really used these women to inspire me to grow closer to him.
1/27/2022 Classroom Icons by Jessica Soden
If you have walked through the social hall and the classrooms recently you may have noticed our new icons by each classroom door. I stole this beautiful idea from St. Michael Catholic Church! I noticed their Saints by their doors and thought it would be a beautiful thing to do here! When they made the classrooms here at the Church of St. Henry each room was dedicated to a different Saint, so adding the signs made it a visual way for parishioners and visitors to see the Saints we are devoted to! No one really knew why each Saint was chosen for the rooms, we just had a map of the building with a Saint typed on each room. As we began the work of finding Icons of each one we ran into a few that we were not able to find, so we prayerfully asked for staff input on Saints they’d like to see added.
We also reached out to Holy Spirit Academy. They had some Saints that they have special devotion to and wanted to dedicate the rooms they teach in to these particular Saints. We worked at making sure every room was dedicated. After Saints were determined and ordered a young man named James LaFond, who was attending Holy Spirit Academy at the time, took on the project of designing the frames for the icons. The project became a spiritual work of contemplation for him as he uniquely designed each holder. In some of them he was able to carve symbols that represented something about the Saint.
These beautiful plaques bring beauty to our classroom space. Sometime take a few moments to walk through the hallways and look at each unique icon and ask for the intercession of the Saint represented by the door of each room.
Here is a list of all the classooms and their Saint:
Room 1A – Jesus and the Children
Room 1B – The Good Shepherd
Room 2 – Elizabeth Ann Seton
Room 3 – John Bosco
Room 4 – John of the Cross
Room 5 – St. Luke
Room 6 – St. Faustina
Room 7 – St. Jerome
Room 8 – St. Gregory the Great
Teacher Lounge (Room 10) – St. John Baptist De La Salle
Room 23- Fysh Bowl – St. Thomas Aquinas
Room 22 – St Therese
Room 21 – Blessed Solanus Casey
Room 20 – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Room 19 – St. Michael
Room 18 – St. Scholastica
Room 17 – St. Catherine of Alexandria
Room 16 – St. Pius X
Room 15 – St. Maimillian Kolbe
Room 14 – St. Juan Diego
Room 13 – St. Kateri Tekawitha
Storage Room (Room 25) St. Joseph the Worker
12/20/2021 Wonderfully Real Retreat by Rose Heisel
A new book called, “The Mother of Jesus is Wonderfully Real “by Fr. Paul Murray, O.P. contained two things, a letter from a young girl who wonders if Mary is real and the beautiful response from Father Paul whose answer is simple, powerful, deep, and true. Father Paul is an Irish Dominican, a teacher of the literature of the Western Mystical Tradition at the Angelicum University. He is an author and a poet, living and working in Rome, Italy. The Wonderfully Real Retreat took place on December 11 and was an invitation offered to all women ages 5 to 105. We had mothers, daughters, granddaughters, goddaughters, nieces, and friends. The retreat was a blessed day full of inspiration, Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation, adoration, music, food, and fellowship with fun activities for all.
We had three speakers, Kelly Wahlquist, Alyssa Bormes and Sr. Carrie Link. Kelly Wahlquist is the founder of WINE: Women in the New Evangelization, Director for the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute and contributing writer for the Catholic mom.com She is a well-known author as well. Kelly brought the whole program together making an excellent women’s retreat. Kelly’s talk was beautiful and heartfelt.
Alyssa Bormes is an educator, author, speaker, and radio host. She wrote the forward for the Mother of Jesus is Wonderfully Real and her niece, Isabel is the young girl in the book. “Auntie Alyssa read us the book and Isabel was at the retreat signing books with her Auntie Alyssa. What a lovely Christmas gift to offer friends and family.
Sr. Carrie Link is a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa. Sr. Carrie has served as a teacher and administrator in Catholic education. She holds a certification from Atelier LaSueur Studio School of Classical Realism in Minneapolis, and a certification from the Christos Center for Spiritual Formation in St. Paul, Mn. A life-long learner, Sr. Carrie has studied and practiced Iconography and offered at the retreat a mini hands-on workshop on icons and offered some of her beautiful artwork for purchase. Sr. Carrie describes herself as a seeker of beauty.
On the day of our retreat, the beauty and love found in the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus was wonderfully real.
November 14, 2021 Synod Small Group Summary by Peggy Renner & Audrey Davis
The Synod Small Groups concluded in the last couple of weeks. Approximately 125 parishioners signed up to participate in the six-week program. Thank you to all those who participated! During the two hour sessions, participants watched a video on each of the two topics for the evening, and had discussion time after each video. For each topic, participants completed a feedback form. The results on each feedback form were then entered in a database for the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese will then be evaluating the feedback to prepare for the January/February 2022 Deanery Consultation. During the January/February 2022 Deanery Consultation, parish pastors and ten representatives from each parish will gather to learn, pray and discuss the focus areas. The feedback from the Deanery Consultation will determine the further Synod topics. In June 2022, the Archdiocesan Synod Assembly will take place where approximately 500 appointed delegates (including two from each parish) will meet to pray, learn, and discuss the Synod topics and recommend pastoral priorities to Archbishop Hebda. Then, after discerning the recommendations, Archbishop Hebda will write a Pastoral Letter to be presented in November 2022 (the Feast of Christ the King) leading to the pastoral plan for the future of the Archdiocese.
The Synod efforts by the Archdiocese for the six small group sessions that took place were professionally done. All the presenters were well versed and easy to follow and understand. The personal witness from Bishop Cozzens was inspiring and heartfelt-as were his weekly prayers that ended each session. Archbishop Hebda’s input was so impressive, encouraging, and direct, helping us to understand and feel the hopeful direction of our Archdiocese. The weekly fellowship and small group discussions were powerful and enlightening. It was an amazing opportunity provided for the parishes in the Archdiocese to come together, grow together, and prayerfully unite together. Our Archdiocese is blessed to have such a loving servant and shepherd of our Lord Jesus Christ, Archbishop Hebda, in this endeavor. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music in the final session with all the presenters and staff. Participants especially enjoyed the Archbishop looking up to the heavens with hands raised. Many participants found the six week program to be beneficial and enjoyable.
As the Synod proceeds, information will continue to be shared with the parish. God Bless!
-Peggy Renner and Audrey Davis, Synod Small Group Process Managers
October 13, 2021 My Path to the Seminary by John Rumpza
Life is full of surprises. Growing up, my little brother loved going to church – as a toddler, he would raise his sippy cup and mumble baby words during the consecration. Naturally, my family imagined him as the future priest of our family. Meanwhile I was on the other side of the pew, bored out of my mind! I was much more concerned about sports and about getting to know the young ladies in my class. I chuckle to remember this. My brother is now happily married with kids, and here I am on the path to priesthood.
The way God called truly did surprise me. However, the seed of this priestly calling was planted long ago in 4th grade, when my humble father took me aside one day, explaining it was time to begin discerning my vocation. He encouraged me simply to ask God what He wanted me to do with my life and to listen. He told me that God’s response might not be audible or immediate, but would come as a growing desire and peace in my heart over the years as I continued to ask. Dad instilled in me a simple trust that I would be happiest seeking God’s plan, even if it was surprising. I didn’t sense a call or a desire for the priesthood, but simply kept this question open as I grew.
The surprise of the calling is encapsulated in 3 particular instances. The first surprise was after college, when I became profoundly unfulfilled in the workforce, even in positions where I should have excelled. I had the kind of business career I had always wanted, but it seemed like the more I tried to succeed and press forward, the more my goals slipped out of reach. I also was dating during this time, looking towards a future with wife and family. But I ran into a similar block here. Things would begin wonderfully, but the closer we got, the more my heart would begin to feel restless and uneasy. I was asking myself…why was nothing working out?
The second big surprise happened in 2015. I had moved to San Diego for work, and soon after experienced a corporate restructuring which eliminated my position. I was now frustrated and discouraged, but couldn’t forget my dad’s words from 4th grade. I began praying and searching all the more. Little did I know, the searching itself was changing me and preparing me, and after some months, there was a moment of piercing clarity, where, to my amazement, I understood that God was calling me to be a priest! (there’s another full story behind this part...) I was very surprised, and a bit nervous – it would mean giving up my dreams of a career and marriage. I was also worried that the life would prove too difficult. But, thanks again to that 4th grade conversation with dad, I decided to give God everything. I took a deep breath, said “Jesus, I trust in you,” and applied to the seminary.
And this was when the third big surprise came: From day one of seminary, I experienced an entirely new kind of peace. A new creativity and joy began flowing out of my heart. Painful difficulties became treasured opportunities for God to bring increased healing and joy. My deepest fears and heartaches were no longer something to hide, but something to pour out to Jesus, where I began receiving His strength and courage to overcome them. Life was changing and deepening, and through all the trials and joys, it was becoming a rich adventure!
Even though I had always trusted my dad’s words, it still surprised me to find that in giving up what I thought I wanted most to follow what God wanted for me, I am more bursting with life and joy, more myself than I could have ever imagined.
So my encouragement is this: Give God permission to be a part of every aspect of your life. This adventure will cost you everything, but you will receive incomparably more in return!
September 3, 2021 New PPC Members
I had been thinking of a way that I might be able to serve the church and my fellow parishioners. The Parish Council is a great way to be a ”sounding board“ for Father Barnes and represent the Parish.
My goal is to go out of my way to meet more members of our Parish. My hope is that this will allow me to be the best representative that I can be when meeting with other council members and Father.
The Parish Council represents the St. Henry’s community. We work to meet people as we can. But I would encourage each parishioner to reach out to any of us. We will take issues and comments to the council but I would love to hear about what you like also.
I am excited to become a member of St. Henry’s Parish Council. I look forward to learning about our parish and how we can grow as a community.
Growing in my personal relationship with Jesus is a daily focus. As a Parish Council member, I hope to help other’s increase their faith as well. I hope to do this through community relationships, youth programs, and individual growth.
My husband and I grew up in Monticello and are now raising our three daughters in this beautiful community. I am a small group facilitator, volunteer with baptism and have taught faith formation over the years. Being involved in different ministries is a great way to give back to our parish.
After attending CHRP (Christ Renews His Parish) here 10 years ago, God placed on my heart things like First Saturday Devotion, life-size statues and votive stations etc. I honestly never knew who to take my questions and concerns to other than our former Pastor, Father Tony. Well, now I learned it's the role of the Pastor AND the Parish Council. Our Catholic Faith is so rich and I'd love to see us enjoying more traditions so we can expose our kids to them. I love taking my kids to the celebrations done by our Hispanic family like Our Lady of Guadalupe and Good Friday's Passion. It helps my kids understand the Church history, tradition and culture that exists while being enjoyable and engaging for them.
I accepted this role to be a resource for someone like you to bring your concerns and desires to, that you have for our church. Let's create a church home together, from your input and feedback, that we will be excited to come to together and invite others to join us!
How can you say no to God :)
As a new council member I'd like to learn more about the working parts of our parish. I hope I have something to offer to make our parish even better if that's possible.
I feel so blessed to be a part of the St. Henrys' community and I will do my best to keep us thriving.
July 22, 2021
Despite the lingering smoke and the heat, we had a small but enthusiastic group join Father Barnes at Montissippi Park. A beautiful blessing on our bikes followed by a scenic ride through the park was topped off with the sighting of a deer. Our youngest rider, at just 6 years old, completed his longest bike ride of 2.5 miles!
July 14, 2021 NET Ministries
Hello! Heather Bruley and I (Cecilia Kemmetmuller) will be serving with NET Ministries from Mid-August 2021 to May 2022. As missionaries with NET our main goal is to “Challenge young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church through youth retreats and parish discipleship”. There are 175 young adults that will be moving across the United States with NET Ministries in groups of 8-14 people to proclaim the Gospel to Catholic youth. For us, this means that we will be leading retreats for young Catholics where we will witness to them and to the Catholic faith through fun games, inspiring talks, and, of course, through prayer.
Over the years, Cecilia and I have been heavily involved with the youth ministry at the Church of Saint Henry and the love this parish has poured out to us is something we wish to pass on to others. This ministry gives us a unique opportunity to do this around the United States by truly being the hands and feet of Christ. The mission of NET however isn’t solely about reaching those we serve on retreats, and isn’t simply run by missionaries such as ourselves. Before missionaries even make it to the NET Center, our goal is to reach out to others and have them join our cause financially and spiritually. To spread the mission of NET and to build support, we are all asked to reach out to our family, friends, and parishes to help us raise around $6,000 of support for ourselves and NET. We ask all to consider joining our mission and praying for the youth we will serve, and the NET missionaries this next year! All donations are accepted and needed to reach our goals! As part of our team, you will receive updates throughout the year from us as we serve thousands of youth and hear how you are making a difference! Thank you all for your generosity, we thank God every day for our St. Henry’s family and can’t wait to start this next chapter with you.
Heather Bruley and Cecilia Kemmetmueller
June 17, 2021 The Year of Saint Joseph Click on the image to view the PDF article.
June 11, 2021 Christina's Story: They Story Beyond the Crucifix as told to Tracy Hinkemeyer and Jim Sidla
The next time you visit the chapel at Saint Henry’s, please take notice of the crucifix. And, if you’ve already seen it, after reading this article, most likely you’ll not see it in the same way ever again.
Poland, mid 1930s
World War II was in its early stages, and Germany had taken over Poland. Hitler needed people to work in his factories. One of Saint Henry’s parishioners, Christina Thielen, lived in a small village in Poland at the time, with her mother, father, sister and brother. One night, by the order of Hitler, their home was raided, and Christina was forced to leave her family home; she had just turned 16 years of age.
“My father and mother were begging them not take me away,” Christina said. “They said we had 10 minutes. Having no time, my mother gave me her only shoes and coat, and put a prayer card in my pocket.” Hitler’s troops took Christina that night, and this would be the last time she would ever see her family. They never knew if she had lived or died.
Christina, with many other young women from the area, was trucked from Poland to Germany, where she was forced to live and work in a prison labor camp called Opladen. There, she worked 12 hours a day making military garments, including parachutes. The factory living quarters were cold and wet, with only straw bedding for sleeping. Food rations were extremely small. Their allotment consisted of a piece of bread for three days for breakfast, and they ate from a room-sized kettle of bug-infested vegetables.
“A man with an SS emblem on his uniform was very kind to me”, Christina recalled. “Somehow God touched his heart and he became a friend. He gave me extra rations. But, if anyone knew he was helping me, both of us would have been killed.”
Christina lived in the forced labor camp for four years, and what she witnessed and experienced was horrifying – atrocities we won’t depict here. With tears in her eyes, Christina said, “I prayed unceasingly. Our Lord brought me through.”
Post War Time
After years of living in the forced labor prison camp, news was spreading that Germany was going to lose the war. By this point, people at the camp were starving and neglected. “We learned we were all going to be poisoned so we couldn’t leave.” Christina said. “We didn’t eat for fear of this threat.”
After a bloody battle between the Germans and Americans, the Germans were defeated and fled. “We were just sitting and waiting in the basement, wondering what was going to happen to us,” Christina said. Fortunately, American troops arrived at the camp and rescued the prisoners. “Many spoke Polish – it was the sweetest thing!” she said. We hugged, sang and danced.
From there they were trucked to another city in Wetzlar, Germany, to a large camp for displaced persons of the war. The accommodations were not pleasant, with only straw to sleep on, and men and women were camped together.
Soon after, Christina and a friend, Maggie, were successful in applying for and securing a job, serving Polish military personnel at one of their German base camps. “We had a nice room, rugs on the floor, and a mattress! I was in charge of the dining room; it was a good job”, she said. Later this camp moved to Darmstadt, Germany.
During this time, Christina said many had an opportunity to go back to Poland. However, she reported that she was afraid to go, because, at this point, the Russians had taken over the country, and it was not safe. Communism was not for her. She had a good job, and was being treated well for the first time.
Beginning of a New Life
One fateful night, Christina met the person who would become her husband. Richard Thielen (Dick) was an American soldier, stationed near where Christina lived. “I attended a dance on New Year’s Eve, and that’s where I met Dick,” she said.
Christina reported there was musical instruments, chocolate, and coffee at the dance. At one point, everyone watched as the door opened and two Americans entered. “One of them walked across the dance floor, grabbed my arm, and didn’t let go!” she said with a laugh. “Dick pursued me every day, and I kept putting him off, until my friends finally said to give him a chance!” The rest, as they say, is history. Dick, who is originally from Melrose, MN, and Christina were married 9 months later in Darmshtadt, Germany that year.
Dick and Christina eventually made their home in St. Cloud, MN. They raised eight children, with the youngest child, Grace Janssen, also a member of Saint Henry’s.
Grace discovered 15 years ago that a fund was set up for survivors of the Polish holocaust by the Polish and German consulate. The funds were set up as reparation for the harm, suffering, and atrocities committed against the prisoners of WWII. Grace was able to produce all the documentation needed and Christina, as a holocaust survivor, was awarded a small amount of funds from this account.
“When I received this money, I knew I wanted to put it to good use.”
So, when Father Tim Rudolphi, who was the pastor at Saint Henry’s at the time, was looking to raise funds for a new crucifix, Christina was planning to support the fundraising efforts. “I was going to donate a part of it, but later that night God moved my heart and I thought, ‘OK Lord, let's go for it all.”
Christina went on to say, “When I look at that crucifix, I see Him . . . all the suffering Jesus experienced. I see myself with Him there. In the paradox of suffering, sorrow and pain which led to the resurrection and glorious freedom from captivity and death. What a privilege to be able to donate, as a gift of thanksgiving, this powerful, bittersweet and beautiful crucifix in honor of our Lord and for the people of Saint Henry.
God was always with me during this time, and I want to always be right with Him.”
June 4, 2021
The Upper Room Retreat
May 28, 2021
Clarity with Clergy
Last night was a second offering of Clarity with Clergy, held this time in the Gathering Space instead of electronically on Zoom. We had a nice turn out of 15 people. Ten questions were submitted online and were answered by Father and Deacon, as well as several from the attendees. Topics ranged from Purgatory to Christ calling his mother Woman, from forgiveness of sins to music selection and more. Those in attendance agreed that they had each learned something and were glad they attended.
"Purgatory is like a really nice car wash." -Father Barnes
The Month of May Honoring Mother Mary
As Catholics, we have honored Mary, mother of Jesus, during the month of May since the 13th century. Traditions have included praying the rosary each day, a “crowning” of Mary event, and special readings, devotions, and prayers.
Here are few ways we invite you to celebrate Mary’s special month:
Suggestions of places to purchase your very own statue of Mary.
St. Patrick’s Books and Gifts 25 Birch Ave S in Maple Lake www.stpatricksonline.com
Leaflet Missal 976 W Minnehaha Ave in St. Paul www.leafletonline.com
Click on the links below to view past newsletters.
Spirit on 7th Street Summer 2015 Newsletter