Welcome to the Office of Sacred Worship
for the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin

Today's Mass readings.
Today's saint.

Gregorian Chant Introits for the Church year.








To conclude the Year of Faith, Pope Francis has given the world a message of joy, Evangelii Gaudium, “On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World.”  He opens:  “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”

      Do you have this joy of encountering Jesus?  Have you told others about it?  Ever wonder how this joy could increase?

      Please join us for a profound experience of Christian joy on May 16-17 at St. Mary Church in Marathon.  This event will feature a number of our fellow Catholics whose joy in Christ is radiant.  Featuring Real Life Catholic’s Chris Stefanick, we will hear of the joy of knowing Christ in his Church, consider our own relationship with Christ, and become inspired to tell of this encounter to others.  Please save this date!


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In preparation for the Rite of Election and of the Call to Continuing Conversion (March 9), many parishes (or groups of parishes) offer retreats for their catechumens and candidates.  For those parishes that do not offer a retreat in the parish, there will be five retreats open to catechumens and candidates on the morning of Saturday, March 1:  at St. John the Baptist in Marshfield, St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point, St. Matthew Parish in Wausau, Notre Dame Parish in Chippewa Falls, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse.  Each will be led by a Deacon from the Diocese.

While the morning’s schedule will vary slightly from place to place, each will begin around 8:00 and conclude with lunch at noon. Contents will include:

         Three spiritual talks on 1) the meaning of Lent as a time of preparation for participating in the Paschal Mystery, 2) the meaning of the Apostolic Church and the Church today (in light of their meeting Bishop Callahan, a successor to the apostles), and 3) participating in the Rite of Election, focusing on the questions and prayers it contains.

         Time for private prayer and reflection.

         Mass and group prayer.


A registration form is found here.


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The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion will take place at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman on Sunday, March 9, at three o’clock in the afternoon.  It will be celebrated both for the catechumens who are to receive the Sacraments of Initiation this Easter and for the candidates who are to be received into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church.

All catechumens and candidates for reception into full communion—together with their families, sponsors, godparents and catechists—are welcome and encouraged to attend the celebration at the Cathedral on March 9.


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At the Rite of Election, Bishop Callahan will ask catechumens if they “wish to enter fully into the life of the Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist,” to which they respond “We do.”  To candidates for full communion, he recognizes their desire “to have a place at Christ’s eucharist table” and asks them to “hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to [their] baptismal covenant,” and they respond, “Thanks be to God.”

            Too often, a participant’s response to the celebrant’s question is rather underwhelming.  Why?  Not, it should be presumed, because of any lack of internal fervor or seriousness.  It may be simply that the participant has not thought about the question, or knew it would be asked, or meditated on his response.

            Helping catechumens and candidates make these responses with intelligence, with confidence, and with faith is called “teaching to the rites.”

            Here is a handout designed both for leaders and participants as they prepare to celebrate the Rite of Election and of the Call to Continuing Conversion on March 9.  Developed by the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization, the resource draws principally from the questions and prayers of the Rite itself, and then helps guide participants to reflect upon them in the days leading up to the Rite.


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As catechumens and candidates enter into the final period of preparation into the full communion of the Catholic Church, the RCIA provides a number of rites to assist them.  “This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their own consciences and do penance.  This period is intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.  The celebration of certain rites, particularly the scrutinies and the presentations, brings about this process of purification and enlightenment and extends it over the course of the entire Lenten season” (RCIA, n.139).

A list and description of the various rites that belong to the Period of Purification and Enlightenment is available here.


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Click here for the 2014 Diocesan Liturgical Calendar


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On 1 July 1988 the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults may be published and used in the liturgy.  From 1 September 1988 the use of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is mandatory in the dioceses of the United States of America.  From that day forward no other English version may be used.


With these words, our present Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults was promulgated in the United States 25 years ago.

                Evaluations of the RCIA—its successes and failures in forming adults, its usefulness and complexity to coordinators—are commonplace.  Still, it’s worth asking ourselves how well (or not so well) we have been able to implement it in our local parishes.

                What are the strengths of our own particular programs?  What needs improvement?  What has yet to be implemented?  What might we add or change in the year upon us?

                Here are three suggestions that might help each of us to evaluate and improve our programs.

First, consider re-reading the introductions to each section in the RCIA book (e.g., for the “Period of the Catechumenate,” nos. 75-80, or the “Sending of the Catechumens for Election,” nos. 106-110).  These sections contain not only instructions for each period, but also the Church’s theological presuppositions for each.  Know your rites!

                Second, have a look at the ACM’s “Sample questions that could be used to evaluate the parish RCIA process.”  A good, practical, and annual tool for any parish.

Third, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion considers three approaches of the catechumenate—Doctrinal-Apologetic, Personal-Subjective, and the Sacramental—as well as the strengths and weakness of each (see a summary here).  Which approach best characterizes your RCIA process?  Do you recognize the suggested strengths and weakness?  How, in light of this examination, might you make any adjustments?

                Thank you for your work in the RCIA—may the next year be filled with God’s blessings!


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Learn more about the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman and the man who created it.


Cincinnati architect Edward Schulte designed the La Crosse Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman at the peak of his career as a church architect of national prominence.  The designer of four cathedrals and over 80 churches across the nation, Schulte was recognized as the leading American architect for Catholic churches in the years from World War II to the early 1960s.  With his unreserved commitment to both modern inventiveness and a deep sense of churchliness, he used traditional imagery, texts, materials and allied arts integrated into buildings recognizably of his age, making him a uniquely inventive and successful figure in ecclesiastical circles.

On Saturday, October 6, 2012, Dr. Denis McNamara, Assistant Director of the Liturgical Institute and today’s foremost expert on Edward Schulte, discussed Schulte’s life and work, highlighting in a special way the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman.  Our Cathedral—now celebrating its 50th anniversary—stands as one of the most significant designs of an architect of national prominence and plays a part in an important, but little-known movement, in liturgical architecture.

Dr. McNamara’s presentation can be viewed here.  Enjoy!


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Click here for the "Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass", updated in light of the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.


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All of Christian formation—including and especially the RCIA—is designed to remake fallen men and women into an image of Jesus Christ:  to become a saint, in other words.  For this to happen, parents, pastors, godparents, catechists, and RCIA directors must know first of all who and what Jesus is, he who is the model according to which those on the journey are remade.


                What characterizes Jesus?  What are those things which identify and mark him?  The tradition has come to see three principal ways in which Jesus Christ—the one divine Person in two complete natures—carried out his saving work:  his prophetic office, his priestly office, and his kingly office.  As prophet, Jesus taught of divine things, showing in his very self the “plan of the Mystery,” which is God’s design for men, women, and all creation.  As priest, Jesus showed perfect love, not only on behalf of God to man, but by reciprocating that love from man to God on Calvary’s cross.  As king, Jesus was at the service of his own subjects, healing, feeding, and comforting those in his care.


                The characteristics of Jesus become ours through the sacraments of initiation.  In fact, when our faith speaks of “sacramental character” (especially in the sacrament of Baptism), it is the character of Jesus, in this three-fold office, which is meant.


                Christian formation—that is, forming people in the image of Christ—is therefore remaking them (like ourselves!) according to the character of Christ the prophet, the character of Christ the priest, and the character of Christ the king.  To one of the Baltimore Catechism’s most famous questions, “Why did God make me?”, the response is returned based upon this three-fold ministry:  “To know him [a prophet’s work], to love him [the action of the priest], and to serve him [the role of the king] in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next.”


                Accordingly, the Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults proscribes a formation model based upon these three characteristics of Jesus our model.  RCIA has first of all a catechetical or prophetic element.  Here, the Church (through her pastors and catechists) teaches the truths of the faith to those in formation.  But becoming (or being) a Christian is not simply about how much one knows, however necessary knowledge is.  For this reason, a second element, the priestly dimension, is a part of RCIA’s formation process.  Prayer—and lots of it—is found throughout the time of formation, both liturgical prayer—the Rite of Acceptance, Blessings, Rite of Election—and devotional prayer—becoming acquainted with Eucharistic Adoration or the Rosary.  Yet, while “two out of thee ain’t bad” for some, it’s still not sufficient for one seeking the full stature of Christ.  The kingly dimension, where candidates become increasingly aware of their obligations to others, both in the Church and outside of it, is an essential dimension.


                An RCIA program needs each of these elements—catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral—if it is to do justice to Jesus and those seeking his likeness.

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