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Local Briefs

July 14, 2006

>> A roundup of news from around the archdiocese


Vocation education at Camp St. Francis

S'mores were on the menu June 15 for seventh and eighth grade campers at Camp St. Francis at Mount Michael Abbey in Elkhorn. Boys from throughout the Archdiocese of Omaha attended the 2 1/2-day camp. Activities included daily Mass, rosary making, rosary walks, dodge ball, horseback riding, campfires, and question and answer periods. The camp was lead by seminarians and newly ordained Father Bernard Starman, a past co-director of the camp, returned to celebrate Mass.


More than $95,000 raised for Madonna School

The fourth annual Arby's Charity Tour golf tournament in Omaha June 12 raised more than $95,000 for the students of Madonna School in Omaha. Teeing off on the fourth hole is Andy D'Agosto, director of operations for Panda, Inc. The tournament, held at Indian Creek Golf Club, raised the money through sponsors, a live auction and dinner.

New leadership team for Sisters of Mercy

The 2006-2008 Omaha Regional Community Leadership Team for the Sisters of Mercy officially began duties June 15.

Sister Patricia Forret remains president, a position she has held since 1998.

Vice president is Sister Norita Cooney, who recently resigned from her full-time position of vice president of mission services at Alegent Health Healthcare System in Omaha.

Other team members include Sisters Monica Marie Reichmuth, Mary Ellen Quinn, Jean Sitter, Stella Neill and Sharon Ford.

Omaha's leadership team now includes three former presidents/provincials. They are Sisters Patricia, Norita and Mary Ellen. All of the other team members have been in leadership for at least eight years.

Dates set for youth ministry training

The Archdiocese of Omaha, in conjunction with the Center for Ministry Development, has scheduled the dates for the certificate program in youth ministry studies for the upcoming year.

The courses include prayer and worship, Sept. 9-10; justice and service, Nov. 11-12; pastoral care, Feb. 10-11, 2007; evangelization and catechesis, April 14-15, 2007.

This program provides a ministry education for youth ministry, campus ministry and religious education leaders, combining resources for youth ministry theory, skills and practice.

For more information, contact Rita Ramos at 554-8493, or visit the Web site,



Holy Name dedicates Lajba sculpture

A bronze sculpture by internationally known artist John Lajba of Omaha was unveiled and dedicated June 11 at Holy Name School in Omaha. The sculpture, set at the entrance of the school, is meant to embody the spirit of education at Holy Name School. Unveiling the sculpture were, from left, John Lajba, Sister Ginny Silvestry, OSM, Sofia Kock, Holy Name School principal, and Father Frank Baumert, pastor of Holy Name Parish.

Parishes celebrate Corpus Christi

Parishes from throughout the archdiocese celebrated Corpus Christi June 18 with traditional processions of the Blessed Sacrament. In Omaha, left, more than 500 people participated in the procession, which began at St. John Church on Creighton University's campus, traveled through downtown  Omaha and ended at St. Peter Church. The procession was organized by Father Damien Cook, pastor of St. Peter Parish. Processions also were held at St. Bonaventure Parish in Raeville, right, where Father Daniel Andrews is pastor, at at St. Boniface Parish in Menominee, middle. Father Michael Schmitz is pastor at that parish.


Missionary Benedictine Sisters head to Rome

The Missionary Benedictine Sisters will hold their general election chapter in Rome Sept. 20. Attending from the Norfolk priory are, from left, Sister Rosann Ocken, secretary to the general chapter, Sister Kevin Hermsen, Norfolk prioress-delegate, and Sister Gabrielle Marie Oestreich, elected delegate. The delegates will elect a new prioress general to replace Mother Irene Dabalus to lead the congregation during the next six years.

Belsky joins CSM fundraising arm

Jeremy Belsky has joined the staff of College of Saint Mary in Omaha as the new major gifts and planned giving officer.

'We are excited to have another person on our team who believes so firmly in the mission of College of Saint Mary and has the skills, personality and experience to share that mission with others," said Dr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM, college president.

Belsky, who holds a master's degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary University in Winona, Minn., comes to CSM after seven years fundraising for St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

Serra presents pyx to Father Beran

In preparation for his departure to Iraq as a chaplain with the Nebraska National Guard, Father Mark Beran, assistant pastor of St. Cecilia Cathedral and an Army first lieutenant, received a pyx from the Serra Club of Omaha. The pyx, a container in which the reserved Eucharist or host is kept, was given to Father Beran by, from left, Ron Bobka, club president, and Jim Taphorn, treasurer. In May, Father Beran reported for duty in Kearney where he joined the 734th transportation battalion. The unit will train at a base in Indiana before traveling overseas to Iraq in September.

Stewards of the Year named at luncheon

The fifth annual Stewards of the Year award luncheon was held June 8 at St. Elizabeth Ann Church in Omaha.

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss presented the awards to five laypeople, two priests and two parishes from both the Omaha and rural communities.

Stewards of the year from Omaha included Julien Van Haute, St. Bernadette Parish; Jackie Simmons, St. James Parish; Sara Wostenberg, St. Robert Bellarmine Parish/Skutt Catholic High School; and Father Joseph Hanefeldt, St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Parish.

Award winners from the rural community were Rodney Wiebelhaus, St. John the Baptist Parish, Fordyce; Paula Wolken, St. Leonard Parish, Madison; and Father Gerald Gonderinger, St. Mary Parish, West Point, St. Aloysius Parish, Aloys, St. Boniface Parish, Monterey, St. Anthony Parish, St. Charles Township.

Parishes named stewards of the year were St. Cornelius Parish in Homer and St. Gerald Parish in Ralston.

Fitzgerald honored at recognition dinner

The Archbishop's Committee for Development honored William Fitzgerald of Omaha as member of the year at the 31st annual recognition dinner May 31 at the Omaha Country Club.

The Archbishop's Committee for Development (ACD) was established in 1972 by 15 local business leaders and was originally known as the Archbishop's Committee for Educational Development.

The ACD provides leadership and expertise in the areas of stewardship, estate planning, development and finance, while maintaining support and passion for quality Catholic education.

Fitzgerald, one of the original 15 local business leaders, was nominated for the award by his peers.

Born and raised in Omaha, he attended Our Lady of Lourdes School, Creighton Prep and Creighton University.

After serving as chairman and chief executive officer of Commercial Federal Savings and Loan, Fitzgerald retired from banking in December 2005.

He has served on several committees of the ACD including the executive committee, education committee, convening chair and marketing committee. He also serves as chairman of the board for Creighton University.

Fitzgerald and his wife, Barb, chaired the first ACD dinner in 1978.

They have three children and nine grandchildren.

Fitzgerald is a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha.

Omaha priest sinks first hole-in-one

Father Don Shane, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, scored his first hole-in-one June 14 at Riverside Country Club in Grand Island.

He used a 6-iron on the 163-yard 14th hole.

'It looked like it was a pretty good shot and when it was in the air somebody said, "˜hole in one' and we kind of laughed," said Father Shane. 'Then I saw the ball disappear and the bishop said "˜my gosh it rolled in.' I was in a daze, I could not do anything, I could not believe it."

The ace was witnessed by his long-time golf group, which includes Bishop William Dendinger of the Diocese of Grand Island, Abbott Raphael Walsh, OSB, of Mount Michael Abbey in Elkhorn, and Father Melvin Merwald, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha.

'It is just a lovely memory to be with good friends and to have them all actually witness it," said Father Shane. 'My goodness that is exciting."



Christ the King School Educational Trust Dinner

The annual trust dinner at Christ the King School in Omaha raised nearly $157,000.

About 270 attended the June 1 dinner, The Big Apple Event, at the parish center.

Britt Thedinger, master of ceremonies, entertained the crowd with a meet-the-pastor interview with Father Steve Stillmunks, pastor of Christ the King Parish. The children's chorus also performed routines from a variety of Broadway shows.

The Christ the King Educational Trust was formed in 1979 to insure the availability of a Catholic education to all members of the parish.

In addition to tuition assistance, the trust has funded a remodel of the school, development of computer and technology facilities and professional development for teachers.

Practice and expression of faith awarded

Six freshmen from Omaha's all-girl Catholic high schools recently received the Ann Louise Urzendowski Micek (A.L.U.M.) award for expressing their faith within parish and school.

Natalie Gorup and Cally Pflung from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Adrianna Magistro and Kim Patterson from Marian High School, and Mandy Homan and Katie James from Mercy High School each received a $2,500 three-year, renewable award from Ann Louise Urzendowski Micek.

Micek, a parishioner of Christ the King, is an Omaha native who believes in Catholic education.

'The awardees were chosen for exemplifying the qualities of Mary and living out virtuous habits apparent to all who know them," said Micek. 'This gift is to encourage these young women to grow in holiness as they ward off the worldly callings to mature into grace-filled women who will pray, discern and carry out the plan that God has for them."

To date, 18 girls have received this award, given each year to two freshmen from each of all-girl Catholic high schools in Omaha.

Elkhorn students take fundraising honors

Students at St. Patrick School in Elkhorn placed first in the state in recent fundraising programs for both the Heart Association and children's research on lymphoma cancer.

Through Jump Rope for Heart, the students raised $15,000 for the Heart Association. The school was motivated to help because one of its own kindergarteners, Emma Panowicz, was born with a heart disease.

For children's research on lymphoma cancer, the students participated in the Pennies for Patience program and raised $2,270. This event was inspired by Rachel Raymond, second grader, who is battling the disease.

Pope John varsity choir performs in New York

The 20-member varsity choir from Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School in Elgin traveled to New York City May 26-29 to perform a concert at The Statue of Liberty.

Choir members included Kirby Hoefer, Nathan Kuhlman, Chris Warren, Mark Moser, Steven Dvorak, Andrea Pelster, Spencer Heying, Andrew Childers, Kyle Childers, Christian Stokes, Patrick Moser, Cassie Olnes, Makayla Beckman, Nathan Kallhoff, Jenna Heithoff, Anne Mlnarik, Kelli Schmitt, Grady Ramold, Kevin Moser and Kayce Potter.

The four-day trip also included tours of many landmarks including Radio City Music Hall, Yankee Stadium, Battery Park, Wall Street, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building.

The choir is directed by Patricia Miller.

Summer school in 35th year

This summer marks the 35th year of summer school at St. Cecilia School. Courses were offered in math, reading, drama, science and computers. More than 200 children are registered this summer, including third grader Erin Horner. Horner displays her most recent project, a creation story in a cup. Each Popsicle in the cup explained what happened on one day of creation.

Handmade quilt presented to retiring nun

Holy Name School in Omaha students, from left, Madison Kologenski and Claire Larson, presented a handmade quilt to Sister Angeline Hakel, OSM, June 27 in appreciation of her dedication to education.  Sister Angeline retired this year after 34 years at Holy Name School and was recognized by the school May 17 at an all-school assembly. For the past several years, Sister Angeline has been assisting in the library. The quilt, sewn by Holy Name parishioner Peg Worthing, was signed by all the staff and students.

IPF summer program in full swing at Creighton

A total of 122 seminarians from 53 dioceses across the country are enrolled in the Institute for Priestly Formation's (IPF) summer program at Creighton University in Omaha.

'The summer program has been excellent," said Father Richard Gabuzda, IPF executive director. 'We have a group hungry for holiness, and a desire to welcome the healing and strengthening presence in God."

Now in its 11th year, this 10-week program runs annually from late May to August, integrating prayer and shared faith, study, and pastoral work in personalized style.

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