July 28, 2006 - Issue #15
Local News | Opinion/Editorials | Letters to the Editor

Local News

Moving Wall stirs memories of Vietnam War

Father Tom Killeen joined the Army in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War. He spent an intense year ducking bullets and bombs northwest of Saigon, anointing dying soldiers and ministering to survivors.

The heroic work of the medical staff, other chaplains and the soldiers themselves impressed him deeply. He remembers faces and events, even sounds and smells, with clarity.

So when he went in 1986 to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., he expected to recognize some of the 58,191 names etched into the polished black wall.

He searched and searched, poring over the seemingly endless list. But none of the names was familiar.

Finally, it was too much. He broke down and wept.

"I started crying out of shame," he told the Anchor last week. "I couldn’t remember their names."

That episode from 20 years ago was still fresh in Father Killeen’s mind when he learned recently that The Moving Wall, a traveling replica of the famous memorial, was coming to Cordova, where the 74-year-old Oblate serves as pastor of St. Joseph Parish.

The priest was determined to find the name of at least one soldier he knew.

An Internet search turned up a Charlie Company Web site that listed some of its dead. There, finally, was a familiar name — Capt. Gary Carlson.

"I saw it and I could almost picture his face," Father Killeen said.

Later, finding Carlson on The Moving Wall during its June 23-29 stay in Cordova brought immense relief to the priest.

"It gave me a name," he said. "I didn’t feel so empty."

After ordination in 1958, Father Killeen quickly left his Midwestern home far behind, joining an effort to open an Oblate mission in Greenland.

He served there six years, using an old boat and later a Piper Super Cub to travel hundreds of miles to reach Catholic families.

But the airplane and Father Killeen found themselves no match for Greenland’s inclement weather and lack of air travel infrastructure, and he took his second accident in the aircraft as a sign to try something else.

When his Oblate superior began listing options, Father Killeen stopped him at "Army chaplain."

That began a 20-year career with the Military Archdiocese.

Father Killeen said he joined the Army knowing he’d likely be sent to Vietnam. But he wasn’t making a political statement.

"I just wanted to do something interesting," he said.

As it turned out, those long, slow boat rides and harrowing airplane accidents in the wilds of Greenland had prepared the young priest well for his new assignment.

"Flying and sailing in Greenland, I had made my accommodations with death many times," he said. "So then in Vietnam I could help other guys die, because that was already all behind me and settled."

Later, he would drive that point home to the chaplains under his tutelage.

"Some chaplains were so afraid of death they were no good at all," he said. "I advised them to get square with the concept of their own death first."

When Father Killeen arrived in Vietnam, death was everywhere.

His first assignment was in Tayninh, northwest of Saigon, at a surgical field hospital that he said was much like the television show MASH.

There were hours and days of boredom, games and attempts to beat the heat.

"And then all hell would break loose," he said.

Helicopters heaped with dead and wounded would arrive in droves, sometimes so many that they would be sent away to the next hospital.

He saw every imaginable injury and superhuman attempts to save lives and limbs.

Surgeons operated for 36 hours straight. Nurses and medics kept their composure in the face of terrible trauma and screaming victims, working with whatever supplies were available.

Father Killeen was the only chaplain at the tent hospital, where he served for six months. He anointed every person who needed a serious operation during that time.

When a patient was nearing death, the medical staff called him in and said, "Father, do your thing."

They respectfully stood back while he conferred last rites.

American soldiers and their enemies received equal treatment at the hospital, Father Killeen said.

"It wasn’t ‘us first,’ it was ‘the worst first,’ " he recalled.

He told about a young medic sitting in a hot tent with a burn victim — "the smell was enough to drive you out" — gently and patiently peeling the man’s dead skin.

"Their compassion was just enormous," he said.

The twofold role of a battlefield chaplain is to console the dying and to help the survivors "come back home to be good husbands and fathers," Father Killeen said.

In the operating room, his mere presence sometimes helped.

"They’d see that white cross on my chest and they’d calm down."


Sometimes it took more, like the time a guy arrived "full of shrapnel," screaming and thrashing.

"Tom, do something!" one of the medics cried.

So the priest pushed his way through the crowd trying to subdue the man, knelt down close to his face and yelled, "Shut up!" as loud as he could.

It worked. When the startled soldier quieted, Father Killeen began a routine he had used hundreds of times before.

"God is with you," he began. "God is here."

He repeated those lines over and over for three hours before the man calmed enough to be operated on.

Ten hours later he died.

That happened a lot, Father Killeen said. But the medical workers always tried.

In the second half of his one-year assignment, Father Killeen was assigned to a cavalry squadron attached to the 25th Infantry Division.

He frequently traveled from base camps to the battlefield by jeep or helicopter to minister to the squadron, about 800 men whom he counseled and, if they were Catholic, provided the sacraments to.

He said that although he was never wounded, many times rockets, grenades, mortars and small arms went off around him.

Chaplains were appreciated out there, he said.

"They really felt utilized in a good manner," he said. "Guys were looking for and they found God, and the priest was the facilitator."

Father Killeen said he was inspired by the men he served, who on many occasions put themselves in harm’s way in order to carry out the mission or retrieve a wounded comrade. He saw men die trying to save someone else, and others survive impossible odds.

"They were magnificent," he said.

He marveled at the leadership and valor of men who were often right out of high school.

"The preponderance were 18, 19, 20 years old," he said. "Quite often I heard them say, ‘Take my buddy, he’s hurt worse.’ "

And his fellow chaplains were inspiring as well, Father Killeen said.

"These were guys who had been at home, seeing the war on their televisions, and they had the unstoppable desire to be there with the troops."

When The Moving Wall came to Cordova, a lot of memories came flooding back, for him and for the other veterans, Father Killeen said.

It was a time of healing, he said, especially because townspeople were very respectful and gracious to the veterans.

At the opening ceremony, Father Killeen said he told the crowd, "This is a lot different from the reception we received when we got home."

He advised people who meet a veteran to "just say thanks — thanks for your service."

Looking at the sea of names on the wall, he said, he thought of all the "young men, very young, who never had a chance to love a woman or have a family."

He pondered war, as he has many times in the past.

For him, war is a reality that good people can only make the best of.

"In war people die. In war people are hurt; families, broken and devastated," he said. "It’d be nice if we could get away from it. It’d be nice if we didn’t have any murders in Washington, D.C., or Detroit. It’d be nice if we didn’t have to have a police department.

"It’d be nice, but that’s not life, so deal with it."

That’s what he saw soldiers, medics and chaplains doing in Vietnam — dealing with a horrible situation, and doing so with great honor and courage.

"I was very proud," he said. "Then and now, I never felt worthy to be their chaplain."



Youths, elders look for ways to stop violence in Anchorage

Editor’s note: First in a two-part series on gun violence in Anchorage.

Homes are riddled with bullets, fistfights escalate into gunfights, drive-by shootings claim young lives and a football skirmish ends in a spray of bullets on the field. These events from the last few years in Anchorage have prompted parents and children at St. Anthony Parish in East Anchorage to ponder ways to make the city safer.

The shootings resulted in a clampdown in Ana Lolesio’s neighborhood, even after some of the city’s Polynesian leaders and youths gathered in Fairview to talk about youth gun violence July 10.

"Even at the park," the 16-year-old said, "it’s empty there." Lolesio speaks Samoan in her family’s Mountain View home and is active in St. Anthony’s youth group and faith-formation programs.

In the church basement July 16 after Mass, Lolesio told the Anchor how she used to ride her bike through the neighborhood with friends. But when her 20-year-old cousin, Tinius Talamaivao, died in a liquor-store shootout last year, "that was it," Lolesio said.

No more going to the movies with friends. No more walking to the park. The neighborhood was off limits.

After another young Samoan was shot July 9 during a pick-up football game at Anchorage Football Stadium, Lolesio said her relatives and friends are again riding shock waves of fear and confusion.

"That’s been a lot for our culture — just for Samoan youth," she said.

"It makes me mad," she added. "It affects the kids in their community. We’re not allowed to go here because you shot somebody. Because (parents) are afraid that if you get into a disagreement, somebody’s going to shoot you over it."

Tua Thompson, a 16-year-old Samoan who attends St. Anthony, also spoke with the Anchor on July 16 after Mass.

Thompson, an East High School honors student who sports a sparkling studded earring, recalled seeing his cousins scatter when a police car came down his neighborhood street, even though they were just playing volleyball.

"I think they were scared of cops," he said.

Thompson and Lolesio said they want better relations with law enforcement.

One successful idea, according to Tua, is simply bringing youths together with police officers to talk.

He has attended two "Clergy/Cops/Kids" forums sponsored by AFACT (Anchorage Faith & Action — Congregations Together), a network of a dozen city churches, including St. Anthony, and other Christian faith congregations.

Thompson said he wants more.

"I think we should have it every two weeks," he said.

Viliamnu Pili, a Samoan "high chief" and member of St. Anthony’s parish council, said the presence of guns and a lack of effective parenting may be feeding into a deadly flare-up in violence among youths. The gun violence is "not a blacks and Samoan thing," he said.

"All these kids (have) access to guns," or others who can acquire guns for them, Pili said. That armament combined with a lack of communication in families can lead to trouble.

Pili and his wife are raising seven children and two extended family members, ages 10-23. The large-framed Samoan high chief knows his kids’ teachers, principals and friends, and what his kids are up to. When Pili’s nephew got into fisticuffs with a fellow football player, Pili asked for permission to come to the family’s home with his nephew to resolve the issue. School rumors had flown, the teammates had become hard and bitter, but the meeting ended in apologies, forgiveness and a hug, Pili said.

He likens that to a Samoan tradition of conflict resolution whereby a perpetrator’s chief kneels outside the victim’s home cloaked in grass-woven fine mats until the time when the victims can accept the apology and remove the mats out of forgiveness.

There is another part of Samoan culture, though, that Pili said he is revisiting. He learned from his parents to discipline using corporal punishment, but "kids are not learning anything from that," he said.

"Maybe that’s why some of these kids are acting bad and getting in trouble in school. … You spank. And now I realize maybe that’s not the right way. There’s other ways we can do it. We talk with them. We can tell them the reason why."

Pili said parents can open avenues of secure communication: "Dad, I did this wrong. I need help to correct this. I’m going to do better instead of fighting. I need help," are words children should be able to share, Pili said.

Lolesio and Thompson agreed that people of faith can help by communicating with and mentoring youths in their churches.

"Counsel us," Lolesio said. "We’re not all troublemakers."

Some teenagers are "good kids with bad reps," she added.

Young people need allies, role models, adults they can talk to and second chances. Youths need to know the "world is open to them," she said, and church is an ideal place to build those relationships with elders.

"My faith is what keeps me going — I always think twice about my actions," Lolesio said.

Thompson said he feels "way safe" in his church community and that if he needs guidance, he talks to a few trusted catechists or a youth leader.

The trick is carrying that advice out into the real world — to school where Lolesio once knew a kid with gun in his locker, or to the volleyball court where Thompson once grabbed a guy by his shirt collar before simmering down and walking away.

"God says love your enemies," Thompson said.

"Make the kids know that church is a safe place," Lolesio said. "You can turn somewhere. … Church is always one place you know that will always be there for you."




Priest gets wish: A parish in Alaska

PALMER — Father Tom Brundage can be, as he says, "persistent."

Ever since the new millennium, he’s dreamed of heading north from his Midwestern hometown to pastor an Alaska parish. The 43-year-old priest spent nearly his whole life in Milwaukee, but ever since a brief trip to Alaska in 1999, he’s felt a northern calling.

While making several work-related trips to Alaska over the past six years, Father Brundage’s desire to move to Alaska grew, and he regularly pleaded with his superiors in the Milwaukee Archdiocese to let him work in Alaska. Shortly before Easter this year, he got the nod. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan finally agreed to release him to serve the Anchorage Archdiocese for at least two years, perhaps three.

On July 8, after a weeklong road trip with Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Father Brundage rolled into Palmer to begin his newest task as pastor of St. Michael Parish. On July 17 he officially took the reins from former pastor Father Leo Desso, who retired this month.

Father Brundage admits he’s a city-grown priest, but he’s excited about his new rural setting in the Last Frontier.

"I’ve always lived in a major metropolitan area — never a small town," he said. "There’s a big part of me that is very relieved to be outside of a big city."

Father Brundage will have duties beyond St. Michael during his time in the archdiocese. A canon lawyer, he served nearly a dozen years in the tribunal — the office within a diocese that adjudicates marriage annulments and other matters of canon law — of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. He has also taught canon law to seminarians at Marquette University for 14 years.

Beginning in 1999, he began regular visits to Alaska to assist the Anchorage Archdiocese with a number of canonical issues. Now that he’s here full time, Father Brundage is serving as judicial vicar (head judge) of the Anchorage Archdiocese tribunal.

Archbishop Schwietz also asked Father Brundage to help forge greater collaboration between Matanuska Valley parishes, with a special emphasis on efforts to establish a Catholic school in the area.

"I believe very strongly in Catholic education," Father Brundage told the Anchor. "If you want a vibrant Church in the future, a Catholic school can be a very vital part. It is also a seed bed for vocations to the priesthood and religious life."

Father Brundage also has plans to establish a local chapter of the Society of St. Thomas More for Catholic attorneys.

"The aim is to be a practicing lawyer who has the highest ethical guidelines and to never, in anyway, break those guidelines," Brundage said of the society.

He may be thousands of miles from his hometown, but Father Brundage said he views his time in Alaska within a larger context of his vocation to the priesthood. It is a lifelong calling that continues to surprise him.

"I was born with a vocation to the priesthood," he said. "I felt this is what God wanted me to do and it was just a matter of enough life experience to discover it for myself."

It wasn’t until he began studying at Marquette University and helping with several campus ministries that he seriously explored the priesthood.

"It was through those service projects that I realized I liked helping people," he said. "I was searching for what I wanted to spend my life doing, and the whole concept of the vocation to priesthood grew and grew."

His sophomore year he enrolled in seminary studies at Marquette. He was ordained in 1988 at age 25.

The move to Alaska is just the latest turn of events, Father Brundage said. In March 1999, Archbishop Francis Hurley, who has since retired, unexpectedly asked him to help evaluate the archdiocese’s tribunal. As his plane approached Anchorage, a feeling overwhelmed him.

"I remember a very powerful experience of seeing the lights of the city and I had a sudden feeling, almost like an epiphany, that I was home," he said.

Father Brundage said he’s already enjoying the mountains and wildlife that surround his new home in Palmer. He’s even looking forward to winter, when he hopes to explore a new pastime, cross-country skiing.




Aquaculture in Zimbabwe, with a big help from Anchorage

So how did you spend your summer vacation?

If you want a unique answer to that question, ask Jesuit Father Vince Beuzer and local parishioner Joe Sullivan.

The two men visited what Father Beuzer called a "remarkable" group of religious sisters in the African nation of Zimbabwe. There, Sullivan led the women in the hard labor of building a "fish pond" for sustainable fish harvesting, while Father Beuzer shared his knowledge of St. Paul.

And along the way, the two men collected and delivered to the sisters’ clinic $10,000 worth of pharmaceuticals contributed by donors in Anchorage.

Zimbabwe, a country of 12 million, is bordered by Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique and was formerly known as South Rhodesia. The sub-Saharan nation is in the grip of burgeoning inflation rates and deepening poverty.

Enter the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth, a group of Shona tribeswomen (the largest African tribe in Zimbabwe) whose order is affiliated with the Benedictines.

Their leader and foundress, Mother Lydia Fabian, studied at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit institution in Spokane, Wash., where she became acquainted with several Jesuits, including Father Armand Nigro. It was Father Nigro, a spiritual director at Holy Spirit Center in Anchorage, who first invited Father Beuzer to Zimbabwe, where the two visited the sisters three years ago.

"In three years, Mother Lydia got two degrees (from Gonzaga), one in history and one in religious studies," said Father Beuzer, who added that when she returned to Zimbabwe after her studies, her religious community had taken a turn away from the contemplative lifestyle she favored.

So she started her own community, using a large tract of land donated by her family, which she and her sisters have turned into a virtual cornucopia, growing guava, mango papaya, and about 30 other fruits and vegetables.

The sisters support themselves and feed up to 25 people who come to the convent begging each day. They also keep a clinic stocked for the occasional doctor who comes through.

The complex includes solar panels on the houses, a windmill that pumps drinking water, a private chapel and a church for local Catholics.

"These women are farm girls and they know how to work," Father Beuzer said. "The whole place is one big miracle."

So what more could they need?

Although the sisters had a small lake on their property, it provided scarce fishing opportunities.

Enter Joe Sullivan, a man with the valuable combination of technical expertise in a field and the desire to use it for the good of others.

Sullivan and his wife, Faye, who often attend Mass at Holy Spirit Center, are members of Holy Cross Parish.

Sullivan is something of an expert on tilapia.

"It’s a white fish," explained Sullivan. "It’s the most widely raised fish in America."

So widely raised, he said, that Alaska, which prohibits all fish farming, is the only state in the union in which tilapia is not raised commercially.

"It’s a warm-water fish — in many states, it’s raised indoors," he said.

Sullivan, 59, has a doctorate in fisheries and allied aquacultures from Auburn University in Alabama, and he has spent his career working in the field.

In 1998, he retired from Alaska’s Fish and Game Department, and when his last daughter graduated from college in 1999, he decided to put his knowledge to work for the poor.

Sullivan entered the Peace Corps, and with the consent of his wife — "she had to sign a notarized letter saying I could go" — left for Zambia, where he spent two years teaching people to build fish ponds for tilapia.

Later, Sullivan would help in the same way through another federal program in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic where the Taliban from neighboring Afghanistan "destroyed everything," he said.

And in September, he leaves to assist the government of Kyrgyzstan, another former Soviet republic, with a similar project involving trout.

Building a fish pond is a very precise operation. First, Sullivan and the sisters located an area where, even though it was the dry season, water was still standing amid the rice stocks.

Next, the sisters — there are 15, and 11 of them are between the ages of 18 and 32 — began clearing the land of all vegetation. A few relatives and locals assisted.

Then, using "strings, sticks, hoes and shovels — what people have," Sullivan said, the hard labor of digging the shallow, 300-square-yard pond began.

Although the sisters might have been able to obtain better equipment, they wanted to learn how to teach other farmers to build a pond.

"And no farmer could afford earth-moving equipment," Sullivan said. "No one can afford cement."

The final step was transporting fingerlings (juvenile tilapia) from the reservoir on the property to the new pond.

Sullivan, who brought back pictures of smiling sisters hauling huge wheelbarrows of dirt through mud, marveled at the way the sisters could remain cheerful, and clean, through all the labor.

He likes to point out that the fish placed in the pond is a variety of tilapia called Galilee tilapia.

"It’s the same fish Jesus caught," Sullivan said. "When you read in the Gospels Jesus saying, ‘Cast your nets out here,’ he must have known where the warm springs were."

After the "box," or basic pond, was dug, the sides had to be sloped precisely.

"Tilapia like to spawn in shallow water," Sullivan said. "We want the sun to penetrate to the bottom so that photosynthesis produces oxygen throughout the whole pond."

Sullivan consulted with a Jesuit, Father Roland Lesseps, who has spent 25 years in Africa working in organic agriculture, to provide advice to the sisters on organic farming and "appropriate level farming" — using what you have available.

For instance, certain leaves are high in necessary nitrogen, Sullivan said, including beans, peanut leaves and sun hemp. Some of those leaves went into the pond.

A Mass of Thanksgiving marked the end of the "big dig," and the first fish were blessed and released. Six months from now, at least 60 pounds of fish should be ready to harvest, Sullivan said.

While in the country, the men took a side trip into Zambia. For Sullivan, it was a return to the country he had served, and for Father Beuzer, it was a chance to visit Jesuits who labor in the Province of Zambia-Malawi, where the order has assisted for 100 years.

"The Oregon Province has had exceptional numbers of men go there — we’ve had about three men serve as Zambian provincials," he said.

It took the two men nine hours for what should have been a three-hour drive into Zambia. Problems at the border, plus a lorry that spilled its load in front of their car on a mountain pass, extended the drive.

It was a reminder of the difficulties faced each day by people in that part of the world, they said, and the resilience of a group of women determined to overcome some of the problems.




Foreign students seek host families

Two Catholic high-school youths are searching for an Anchorage host family for the school year. Seventeen-year-old Michael of Zermatt, Switzerland, and 16-year-old Marta, of northern Italy, are affiliated with STS Foundation, a nonprofit, Arizona-based, international student exchange corporation. (The foundation does not publicly release students’ last names.)

The exchange foundation has facilitated exchanges for the past two decades between students in several European nations, South Africa, South Korea and Vietnam. Students have raised their own spending money and possess health insurance. For more information visit www.stsfoundation.org, or contact Sean at (800) 522-4678 or seant@stsfoundation.org





World Cup shows the world at its best — each country competing on equal footing

The World Cup soccer tournament that just concluded continued an admirable tradition of fierce but more or less peaceful competition between nations. This "beautiful game" seems, like religion, to be touched by divinity.

The Olympics also come every four years and draw the world’s eyes and hopes to the highest levels of athletic pursuits. But there is something special about the World Cup; there is something special about a tournament that draws contenders from practically every nation and in which even relatively poor, underdeveloped and unstable countries can put forth teams that go toe to toe with superpowers.

Soccer is a great equalizer; for whatever reason, its popularity seems to transcend culture and geography and economic standing.

The beauty of the game — especially as executed by the playful, exceptionally skilled Brazilians, the high-speed and powerful Ghanaians or technically divine Germans — filled World Cup fans with awe and exhilaration.

But it is also awesome and exhilarating that Ghana — whose gold mines powered down during the tournament so people would have enough electricity for their televisions — can compete with the likes of England (from whom Ghana gained independence in 1957) and the United States (whom the Ghanaian team ousted from the tournament with a 2-1 victory).

At the Olympics, certain countries excel at certain sports and are expected to do well, but as the World Cup demonstrates, nearly everybody plays soccer well.

In the United States, the game is flourishing in suburbia (where soccer moms reign), but in most other countries it is everyone’s game.

Kids grow up playing in deserted parking lots of inner city Eastern Europe, the hard-dirt, trash-strewn "fields" of South America and even the rickety stadiums of the Middle East.

(It would have been great to see Saudi Arabia, where conservative Muslim players refuse to wear short pants, play Denmark, where newspaper cartoons satirizing Islam last year inflamed the Muslim world. Let them compete on the field, and hopefully exchange jerseys afterward.)

Brazil plays Iran plays South Korea plays Ukraine. That’s as catholic a phenomenon as the church itself, and evidence that this game that inspires athletic greatness, brings players together in millions of peaceful competitions and fills billions of fans with awe and inspiration must be connected to the divine.

More up-to-the-minute Catholic news

The Catholic Anchor Web site has a new feature for our Catholic news junkies: a "news feed" that provides national and international stories and news briefs the moment they are posted by Catholic News Service.

From the top of our home page click the "Catholic News Service" tab and scroll to "CNS News Feeds."

Print newspapers that readers can curl up with on the couch or some other comfortable computerless place are not likely on the path of the stegosaur, as techies loved to predict in the early days of the Internet. Nonetheless, as more people spend more time online, print publications can’t afford to turn up their noses at their digital counterparts.

The print and digital worlds needn’t compete; they ought to mesh and collaborate in order to accentuate the strengths of both. That’s the best way to reach the most people and provide the most useful content, which is of course the primary aim.

Sharing the Good News has come a long way since that carpenter’s son had to walk from place to place around Galilee and yell his message from hilltops.

We can’t exactly say CNS Newsfeeds are an improvement on the original method but they do help spread the word in this digital age.



Letters to the Editor

Latin would be appreciated
As my parish, St. Benedict, was preparing for a multicultural celebration of our patron saint, it made me appreciative of the sensitivity the church has shown to those who wish to worship in their own language and cultural heritage. In our parish we have regular Masses in three languages to accommodate different heritages. We often have special celebrations to recognize those religious ceremonies each culture wishes to maintain. What I do not understand is, why can’t those of us who were raised with the Latin Mass also be given that same opportunity and respect? This was not outlawed by the church and, assuming we properly celebrate the Novus Ordo, what is the church here in Alaska afraid of?

Editor’s Note: Celebrating this particular liturgy requires a competent priest who is approved by the archbishop, other competent liturgical ministers, and a time and place for the Mass to be celebrated. At present all of these necessary ingredients are not in place, according to archdiocesan officials. Furthermore, the primary aim of Catholic liturgy is the "full and active participation by all people" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). To justify securing the resources to provide a Latin Mass, there would need to be a large number of people who understand Latin well enough to be able to participate fully and actively in the liturgy.

We weren’t made to get rich
Bob McKissick shows guts, honesty and civility in his July 14 column on immigration. Bob’s right: "Not all people know and accept (Jesus’) commandments." But that doesn’t change the fact God created humans to and for love. Whether we’re Catholics or not, greed and selfishness frustrate the reason we were created and therefore jeopardize our national security. Jesus doesn’t berate the widow who gave what she needed for her lack of "common sense" but makes her a role model. He guarantees that if we seek first the kingdom of heaven, he’ll provide. We’re going broke spending not on desperate Latinos but on sending American aliens illegally into Iraq. We need to address the real problem: Our neighbors are desperate because our system uses our and their governments to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. Masons aren’t to blame for that. Satan is.

Speech about God was great
I was both touched and inspired by the Expressions of Evangelization column by Matthew Finkler (Community Page, June 30), a reprint of his speech to the St. Andrew (Eagle River) Gavel Club. The story Matthew related, "The God Who Knocks," was a beautiful reminder that we can never outgive God. In the end, what we do for him is a benefit to ourselves. And Matthew’s crayon story is another wonderful reminder — that God designed each of us to fill a particular place. Each of us should be the best "I" we can be and not waste our precious gifts wishing that we were someone else. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your insights with us.