December 2020
Notes from Diocesan Offices

Please feel free to put the Sunday TV Mass
in your parish bulletins at

December 1-23 ♦ Advent and Christmas Open House – 10% off ALL Fair Trade crafts, food, coffee, chocolates, quilts and more at the St. Cloud Mission Office. 

December 3 ♦ “Sent Forth to Love and Serve,” a webinar featuring Drs. Mary and Kurt Schwieters, Peg Imholte and Bishop Kettler from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. via Zoom. This webinar, offered by the Diocese of Saint Cloud, is the last in a three-part series focused on our 2020-21 diocesan theme, “One Body: Gathered. Nourished. Sent.” Everyone is invited to attend. For more information or to register for the webinar, visit

December 8 ♦ Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – The Chancery and all curial offices will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and reopen Wednesday, Dec. 9.

December 12 ♦ Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Saturday, Dec. 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, unborn children, and the New

December 25 ♦ Have a Blessed and Safe Christmas! – The Chancery and all curial offices will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 28 and reopen on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

January 1 ♦ Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God – January 1 is the Feast of the
Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Chancery and all curial offices will be closed Jan. 1 and will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4.

Advent Resource Strong Catholic Family Faith, sponsored by the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, has many links to resources for the Advent season for families, schools, and parishes at: This website is also full of resources on the Catholic faith, the Liturgical Year, Sacraments, parent resources and more. 


Bishop Kettler's Nov. 20 letter to pastors regarding the temporary suspension of in-person gatherings for the remainder of 2020: Bishop Kettler’s letter to pastors regarding new COVID-19 requirements (PDF)

The diocese's liturgical protocols and other information related to COVID-19 can be found on the diocese's coronavirus updates page:

David Fremo ♦ (320) 251-0111
Emmaus – Emmaus Institute has moved online for the month of December to begin our winter term. The courses being offered are Moral Theology in Spanish, along with Introduction to Pastoral Liturgy in Spanish and English. In ministerial formation, we will be working on conflict management and how to lead a Small Christian Community. While moving online presents many challenges, it is also another opportunity to use technology to grow in ministry. 
Schools – Our Catholic schools continue to be places of learning and growing in faith, as they adjust to new needs and realities in the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Kettler recently shared with school families his gratitude for their support, flexibility and commitment. Our teachers, staff and principals have worked tirelessly to see that Catholic education continues, whether in a classroom or at home. As new challenges arise, so do new opportunities, and we are focused on keeping our school and greater communities safe, every step of the way. Please continue to pray for our Catholic schools.
Confirmation – Join Catholic Education Ministries on December 7 at 11:00 a.m. for information and resources about how to prepare for Confirmation as well as what modifications to plan for during the liturgy. The Zoom link can be found on the Diocesan Events page,
Becoming Eucharist is now available in English and Spanish! See for a great family resource.

Joe Towalski ♦ (320) 258-7624

Bishop’s Annual Appeal Update As of November 23, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for 2020 has raised total cash and pledges of $1,243,374 toward our goal of $1,300,000 (95.64%). This was made possible through the generous donations of 8,598 people throughout the 16 counties of our diocese. If you would like to know how your parish is progressing toward its goal, please contact Anna Kampa at or (320) 258-7654.

2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal Parish In Pew Kit Surveys were emailed in November.  Thank you to those who have already returned the survey. If you have not yet submitted yours, please do so by December 9. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Materials and resources for COVID-19 response — Dowloadable PDFs of signs and posters to help your parish/school communicate the importance of safety protocols such as mask use, physical distancing and hand-washing are available on the Minnesota Department of Health's website at:

Patrick Flynn ♦ (320) 252-4721

Natural Family Planning Classes for December - All classes will be held virtually – A First Instruction in the Billings Ovulation Method will be offered in: 
  • Little Falls: Tuesday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Long Prairie: Monday, December 28 at 7:00 p.m. 
  • Rice: Monday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Sauk Centre: Monday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m.
  • St. Cloud: Thursday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.
  • St. Michael: Tuesday, December 1 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wadena: Friday, December 18 at 5:30 p.m.

For additional sites, information/register, visit or contact Sheila Reineke at or at (320) 252-4721 ext. 308.

December 5 – Engaged Couples Retreat – Virtual from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. See our website for more details or call the office with questions, (320) 252-4721.
January is Respect Life Month The USCCB has prepared resources for parishes wanting to highlight the gift of human life through key January events and observances. For more details, check out the January Action Guide and other tools on their website

Respect Life Bulletin Announcement:
9 Days for Life (Suggested Weekends: January 9-10 & 16-17, 2021)
Join thousands of Catholics nationwide in the annual Respect Life novena, 9 Days for Life, Thursday, January 21 – Friday, January 29. Get daily intentions, brief reflections, and more. Sign up at

January 9 – Engaged Couples Retreat Location TBD from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Doors will open at 8:00 a.m. See our website for more details or call the office with questions, (320) 252-4721.

January 17 – Vespers For Life – Location: Church of St. Anthony, 2405 1st St N, St Cloud. Rosary at 3:30 p.m. and Vespers at 4:00 p.m. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside at the Vespers service. The service includes music, prayer, scripture and reflection for the over 61 million children who have been aborted since 1973. Monetary donations accepted to Mother Mary’s Fund to assist crisis pregnancy centers in the Diocese of St. Cloud.

January 22 – March For Life, Friday Due to current health concerns, the Diocese of St. Cloud will not be coordinating busses to St. Paul. The Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis is hosting a March for Life Youth & Family Conference from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Details can be found

January 22 – Retrouvaille – As a peer ministry of couples helping other couples who are living in hurting marriages, the Retrouvaille program focuses on teaching couples communications skills that can help them work on their differences. For more information, visit 

January 29-30 – Engaged Couples Retreat, Perham, MN See our website for more details

January 30 – Sponsor Couple Training – Held at the Pastoral Center in St. Cloud from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration for couples (names, address, phone number, parish and email address) should be made at least two weeks (January 15) before training. Call Janet at (320) 258-7616 or email to register. The parish will be billed $110 per couple for the cost of training (which includes Fully Engaged supplies).

March 6/7 – Safe Haven Sunday – The weekend of March 6/7 is dedicated to bringing about awareness of the negative impacts of pornography on individuals, marriages, families and society. Safe Haven Sunday weekend is set aside by dioceses and parishes to directly address the harms of pornography in an appropriate way. Within the context of the Mass, dioceses and parishes are able to provide teaching and resources that will support and protect individuals, marriages and families in making all homes a safe haven. It is inspired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ formal statement Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography. Year 3 Parish Resources can be found at 

Elizabeth Neville ♦ (320) 251-1100

The Mission Office will be hosting a 'month-long' Advent and Christmas Open House for the month of December (1–23) with 10% off ALL Fair Trade crafts, food, coffee, chocolates, quilts and more. Please consider shopping small business and Fair Trade for all your gifts this Christmas.

Please remember to send in to the Mission Office by December 18: all collections, Missionary Appeals, contributions from 2020. We will be doing our year-ends the week of December 20. Thank you in advance.

Linda Kaiser ♦ (320) 251-2340
  1. Try to complete the children and youth training ASAP. Put the data into the CMG Connect platform. Please don’t wait until the last minute to do the training. If you haven’t done the training so far, try to plan a time early in 2021 to get this completed. Remember there is a home option for completing the training.
Please update your list of volunteers and employees. There are quite a few folks who have expired training and background checks and many who have never completed any training. Go over the people on your site to be sure your site is in compliance. A list was sent to all site administrators in November. Go over it and see who you need to contact to complete training. If they are no longer volunteering or working in your school or parish, let me know. The diocese would like all information to be as accurate as possible to complete the audit in 2021.
May you have a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with God’s richest blessings and good health.

Kateri Mancini ♦ (320) 229-6020
Rural Life Initiative Conversations of Hope Series: Next session December 10 
Please share the below information in parish bulletins and announcements: 
Everyone throughout the diocese is invited to join us for the Rural Life Initiative’s monthly virtual sessions, Conversations of Hope: Sharing Community Concerns and Resources. Participants will pray and share together in a community conversation around pressing issues facing our communities; community leaders will also be part of the conversation to answer questions and share ideas for how to address these community concerns. Join us the second Thursday of every month at Noon. Our next session, on December 10, will focus on Civility and Compassion in Continued Times of Disagreement. To join in this or any upcoming Conversation of Hope, email Kateri at or register online (for one session or the whole series) at

Poverty Awareness Month – Looking ahead, please be aware that January is Poverty Awareness Month. Watch for more information in next month’s Diocesan Monthly Newsletter and on the Social Concerns Facebook page (at ), or check out the USCCB’s website now for more information on what poverty looks like in our nation and area, and how we as Catholics can be involved in raising awareness and solutions for our community members in need. 

Catholic Century Farm Awards
Please share the below information in parish bulletins and announcements: 
Catholic Charities Social Concerns is now taking applications for the diocese’s third annual Catholic Century Farm Awards. If your family or members of your parish have been working the same land for 100 years or more, please visit the following link for requirements and application form: Recipients will be honored at the annual Rural Life Celebration (pending pandemic regulations) or a special awards Mass with Bishop in August.

Fr. Virgil Helmin ♦ (320) 251-6557

The Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud has established a policy that the annulment process will not be started until six months after issuance of the final divorce decree.
No wedding date must be set until an affirmative decision has been rendered.
The annulment process requires the following:

A) The petitioner contacts his/her parish priest or a Tribunal staff member in order to petition and begin the annulment procedure.

1. The petitioner needs to present the following documents at the time of the application:
a) Baptismal certificate and/or Profession of Faith of self and of former spouse.
b) Certificate of marriage and/or Validation and/or Dispensation
c) Divorce decree (Final Judgment).
d) Current address of former spouse.
2. The petitioner has a recorded preliminary interview (conducted by a parish
priest, deacon, parish minister or a Tribunal Staff Member) -OR- writes a
narrative that covers in depth the following factual information about the
petitioner and his/her former spouse:
a) Description of childhood and home life of self and former spouse. Alcoholism
or chemical addiction in family background?
b) Description of dating process and maturity of self and former spouse.
c) Description of how the decision to marry was reached.
 d) Description of ability to communicate and resolve conflicts.
 e) Description of problems that developed in the marriage and when they
 f)  Description of attempted solutions to the problems.
 g) Description of performance of roles of husband/wife, father/mother.
 h) Description of how the decision to divorce was reached.
B) When there are ground(s) for a declaration of nullity, the Tribunal will contact both, the petitioner and the respondent.
C) Prior to the formal hearing, the petitioner must complete and return the witness list. Witnesses include 2-3 adult people who knew them prior to and during their marriage and can give us information about the marriage. At the time of the formal hearing, the petitioner must bring these witnesses in with them. A witness can be a brother, sister, parent, friend, co-worker, neighbor or a member of the wedding party. Witnesses should not all be relatives. We do not interview children of the marriage. At the formal hearing the petitioner and the witnesses will be questioned privately. 
D) If the petition comes to formal hearing the following will occur:
  1. All testimony is gathered and sent to the Court Members.
  2. The defender of the bond presents its brief to the Judge.
  3. Judge(s) renders a decision. Petitioner and respondent are notified.
  4. Both the petitioner and the respondent have the right to appeal the decision of the Court of First Instance. Also, both are notified of the decision and given 15 working days to review that decision and/or to appeal the decision.
  5. If the decision is not appealed by either person, the defender of the bond signs off on the waiver. Once that is returned to the Tribunal office the process is complete and the petitioner and the respondent are notified along with the parish of baptism and parish of marriage.
  6. A vetitum (prohibition) may be attached to the decision, requiring that either or both spouses must attend professional counseling with a counselor approved by the Tribunal before being allowed to marry in the Catholic Church.
The average length for the Tribunal to process a petition is 12 months. If the process is appealed by either parties, the process may take longer than 18 months. No wedding date can be set until an affirmative decision has been rendered. The Court could require that the person participate in an evaluation or counseling with their intended spouse. This requirement is made so that the future marriage may be happy and fulfilling. 
As of July 1, 2016, the Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud no longer charges a set fee for annulments. If you wish to make a donation to help defray the cost(s) of the work of the Tribunal, it would be greatly appreciated. Please make checks payable to: Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Or, you may go to: to make an online donation, under “Tribunal – Annulments”. Thank you for your kind donation.

Fr. Scott Pogatchnik ♦ (320) 251-5001

Seminarian Posters and Trifold – We are hoping to mail these to pastors mid-December if not sooner, please watch for these. Once these are received, if you need additional posters and/or trifolds, please contact Julie at or (320) 251-5001. Thank you.

Archbishop’s Discernment Retreat December 18 – 20 at Franciscan Retreat House, Prior Lake. Retreat includes: conferences by Archbishop Hebda, rosary, liturgy of the hours, Mass, reflection time, confession, meet seminarians, and overview of seminary formation. More information at

Vocation Materials – Check out great vocational materials at Vianney Vocations at

Aaron Carpenter ♦ (320) 255-9068
Important Dates

2021 TV Mass Schedule Now Online – Thank you to the many people who support the ministry of the TV Mass for the Diocese of Saint Cloud. I’m sure you can imagine how important this has been over the past several months. Our viewership and requests for Living Liturgy guides has seen a substantial increase. The NEW 2021 recording schedule is now live. All priests and musicians (along with lectors) are encouraged to take a look to see how you might be able to serve. Sign up at Questions, contact the Office of Worship at or (320) 255-9068.

Important upcoming dates:
Rite of Election – February 21
Chrism Mass – March 25
Confirmation of Adults – May 22

Catholic Charities ♦ (320) 650-1641

Catholic Charities Wins Minnesota DHS Circle of Excellence Award – The Minnesota Department of Human Services has announced the winners of its Circle of Excellence awards, which recognize organizations that have partnered with DHS and done an exemplary job of providing food, shelter and other assistance to Minnesotans in need.  
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud has had to change its model for providing low-cost nutritious meal options for older adults in Central Minnesota during the pandemic. By incorporating frozen foods, developing pop-up sites and partnering with food shelves, the Senior Dining program more than tripled its capacity and has been able to prepare and deliver about 91,000 meals per month—up from 26,000 meals a month in 2019. 
Catholic Charities Senior Dining Frozen Meal Expansion Project – Catholic Charities Senior Dining has adapted services amid the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to serve our most vulnerable population. With all our congregate dining sites suspended since March, the new Frozen Meal Expansion Project provides our community seniors with easy-to-prepare, healthy food options in a no-contact, drive-through format.  
These nutritious frozen meals meet one-third of the recommended daily allowance for seniors. The meals are packaged in oven-safe containers that are easy to heat and eat in both conventional and microwave ovens. Meals are available in quantities of 10 and up to 30 per calendar month. Participants must be 60 years of age and older to be eligible, and all clients must complete an annual registration form. There is no cost to participate; however, donations are accepted. The project is partially funded under a contract with the Central Minnesota Council on Aging as part of the Older Americans Act.  
Visit for a current schedule of locations. 
Consider Catholic Charities in Your Year-End Charitable Giving – Catholic Charities Make God's Love Visible 2020 annual appeal launched the weekend of October 17-18 across the Diocese of St. Cloud. 

Make God's Love Visible is Catholic Charities single most important funding request of the year, and your gift ensures our ability to continue helping our neighbors throughout Central Minnesota while continuing our mission of serving and enhancing human dignity for people of all faiths and beliefs.  
Today as we navigate the current pandemic, your support of Catholic Charities is needed more than ever. Our ability to help our neighbors next year depends on the success of this campaign, and 100% of all donations support Catholic Charities programs throughout Central Minnesota. 
Visit to pledge your gift and support the work and mission of Catholic Charities today. 

Happy Birthday to our Retired Priests

Reverend Richard Leisen will celebrate his 92nd birthday on December 9.
308 Third Street S, Apt 107
Sauk Rapids, MN 56379
Telephone (320) 217-8369

Reverend Paul Folsom will celebrate his 82nd birthday December 12.
39880 Crane Lake Drive
Battle Lake, MN 56515
Telephone (218) 864-5916