Hours after his first Communion, boy begins remarkable recovery from debilitating illness – NWCatholic.org

Hours after his first Communion, boy begins remarkable recovery from debilitating illness – NWCatholic.org


Joshua, Jessica, Jonathan, Lillian and Lucas Dahlberg pray together during Eucharistic adoration at Epiphany in Coon Rapids, Minn., May 2, 2024. They pray once a week at the chapel. (OSV News photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

COON RAPIDS, Minn. — No mom would ever want to spend Mother’s Day like this: in a hospital room with a 7-year-old son paralyzed from the waist down and told by doctors he might never walk again.

Such was the scenario one year ago on May 14 for Jessica Dahlberg, a member of Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Her son, Joshua, had been hospitalized after a fall while playing soccer five days previously. An MRI at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis May 13 revealed he had transverse myelitis, which, in his case, caused paralysis from the waist down. Doctors told her there was only a 10% chance Joshua would ever walk again.

Jessica, her husband, Andy, both 35, and their other five children were trying to process this radical new reality, which would mean Joshua using a wheelchair for the rest of his life. They also were thinking about how Joshua had to miss his first Communion at Epiphany, which took place the same day as his MRI, May 13.

The devastating news plus missing a sacramental event Joshua had been eagerly anticipating for months weighed heavily on the entire family, especially Jessica.

“Stunned, devastated,” she said of her reaction to Joshua’s condition and grim prognosis. “He always was the healthiest, active boy — loves sports, loves soccer and basketball. So, hearing that my 7-year-old was never going to do any of those things he loves again was heartbreaking.”

Joshua cried, Jessica cried, and now she was going to spend Mother’s Day in a hospital at the bedside of her paralyzed second grader.

Then, at 3 p.m. that day, there came an unexpected turn that the Dahlbergs say was the start of a remarkable — maybe miraculous? — recovery, one that led to him running in three events at a middle school track meet just one year later, on May 5, in which he left all doubts about his return to health in the dust.

Father Paul Baker, at the time a parochial vicar at Epiphany, got a phone call from a parishioner the weekend of Joshua’s hospitalization suggesting he go to Children’s Hospital to give Joshua his first Communion. Father Baker obliged, and while he was there also gave Joshua the anointing of the sick, generally done for people at the end of life.

Hours later, Joshua started wiggling his toes. In 10 days, he was home and walking with some assistance.

According to Jessica, this befuddled the neurologist who worked with Joshua, and he was not able to offer a medical explanation.

“He said he’s been in the field for about 40 years,” she told The Catholic Spirit, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “He said he’s never seen anything like this before.”

Joshua’s recovery continued after he got home, to the point where he played soccer just weeks later, scoring a goal in his first game. Then came basketball during this past winter and, after that, middle school track this spring. Before the recent May 5 meet, he even bantered with his older brother Lucas, one year ahead of him in school, that he would beat him in the 400-meter run. And beat his brother’s time he did, which reinforces how his parents view the strides that he has made.

“It had to have been some sort of a miracle,” Andy Dahlberg said. “I don’t know how you could deny it at this point.”

Said Jessica: “It is just clear in our heads now what an incredible thing that was. And to be honest, how could it not have been a Eucharistic miracle?”

Father Baker, too, sees something beyond modern medicine at work.

“I don’t have any authority to say whether something is a miracle,” he said, “but you know, how can you not see the hand of God in that?”

For the Dahlberg family, the start of the journey came when they enrolled their oldest four children, including Joshua, at Epiphany Catholic School at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

After previously sending them to public school, they became dissatisfied with how public schools handled the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. Andy and Jessica felt they needed to make a change. Andy had gone to Epiphany Catholic School and felt this was the best choice for their children.

They knew it would be a financial pinch. But, their faith, and a commitment by both the school and parish to make it financially affordable for all families, propelled them to enroll Joshua and three of his siblings: Lucas, 10, Lillian, 7, and Jonathan, 6.

Their decision would be powerfully confirmed months later.

“As the end of the school year was approaching, all of a sudden, this happens,” Andy Dahlberg said of Joshua’s illness. “Then, we get all these prayers from the whole school. … We would have never had any of those prayers at a public school.”

That collective prayer might be the actual miracle of this story. By the time school resumed after Mother’s Day weekend, prayers were being offered by the entire school — students, teachers, parents, all the way up to the principal, Ann Coone, who mobilized intercession throughout the building. This was her battle cry: “Let’s assemble the army and pray.”

“The communion of saints is powerful,” said Coone, 65, who retired last August after being principal at the school for six years. “It makes me cry thinking about it. And so, it’s just, ‘OK, Lord, what do we do for your glorification and for this little boy and his family?’”

The Dahlbergs were keenly aware of the intercessions being offered for them. “Our whole school was pouring their hearts and souls into praying for him,” Jessica said. “It was amazing seeing our whole community come together.”

As the daily prayers in school continued, including the rosary during morning announcements, Coone came up with an idea. She would create a ceremony to give Joshua the opportunity to offer flowers to Mary, something he had been chosen to do for a crowning ceremony but missed because of his illness. This special ceremony for Joshua took place after he regained the ability to walk but before his return to school.

Coone recalled visiting him in the hospital during his 10-day stay and listening to him describe the disappointment of not only missing his first Communion, but also missing the chance to take part in the crowning of Mary. During that visit, she said to Joshua, “I promise you, you will walk flowers up to Our Lady.”

Her promise was fulfilled with a gathering of students assembled to watch him place a bouquet of flowers at the feet of Mary. As he processed up the aisle toward the sanctuary, “there wasn’t a dry eye in the church,” Coone recalled, noting that Joshua wore his first Communion suit. “It was so beautiful.”

Among those witnessing this event was third-grade teacher Jona Winkelman, who was teaching Lucas at the time and who teaches Joshua this year. She has a sacred theological license in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum in Rome and has taught theology at both the high school and college level. She became a third-grade teacher at Epiphany three years ago because her daughters attend the school.

She paid close attention to Joshua’s illness and recovery, leading prayers in the classroom daily and playing videos of Joshua’s progress that Lucas brought to class along with updates on his brother.

“We saw the videos and we were like, ‘Our prayers are being answered,’” Winkelman said. “It increased their prayer, and the prayer was more fervent and more eager. And we just knew that God was answering our prayers.”

This comes as no surprise to Winkelman, who believes in the power of prayer, especially the prayer of children.

“I have the conviction that God loves the prayers of children better than any other because the prayers of children are perfect and innocent, and they go straight to (God’s) heart,” she said. “And he can’t help but hear them.”

She also said that Joshua’s first Communion in the hospital connects strongly to his healing, noting that the “extraordinary grace of holy Communion is a gift not only to his soul, but to his body.”

Interestingly, Epiphany is home to a display of Eucharistic miracles designed by Blessed Carlo Acutis before his death in 2006. The exhibit features more than 150 Eucharistic miracles that have taken place around the world, with panels showing images, evidence and testimony. Epiphany makes this display available on loan to parishes that are interested.

That the display and Joshua’s recovery both are connected to Epiphany seems fitting to Father Baker, who now serves at St. Agnes in St. Paul.

“I was there for four years at that parish, and I would say it’s a parish where there’s a lot of people with a tremendous Eucharistic faith,” he said. “You could maybe even see (Joshua’s recovery) as a confirmation of that.”

Dave Hrbacek is senior content specialist for The Catholic Spirit, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Which saints were also wives and mothers?

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Which saints were also wives and mothers?

In every century, God has raised up valiant women who achieved holiness through the vocation to marriage.

In every century, God has raised up valiant women who achieved holiness through the vocation to marriage.

It’s easy to slip into the error that great holiness is only achievable for those in religious life. But married men and women are called to sanctity just as much as religious.

If you’re a wife and mother, it’s probably hard to stay focused on spiritual things and find time for prayer and spiritual reading. The obligations of caring for a family are constant and pressing.

But God is eminently just and does not expect those in the world to keep the same schedule as a monk or nun. Instead, He uses the duties of our state in life to perfect us. The very things that seem to “distract” a wife and mother from spiritual things are, in fact, God’s tools to bring her to holiness. God sanctifies us through our vocation, never in spite of it.

The saints are always our best role models on the path to holiness. Which ones found sanctity in the role of wife and mother? Here are a few of the countless women who did just that.

Our Lady. God Himself sanctified family life by coming to us in the context of a family. Mary, His Mother, ran a household, cared for a husband and a Son, did laundry, cooked meals, went to the market, and more. You can do all these things together with her.

St. Frances of Rome (15th c.). St. Frances was a devoted wife and mother in a marriage that lasted forty years. She and her husband Lorenzo welcomed six children into the world but mourned the childhood deaths of five of them. Frances perfectly harmonized a wife’s prayer life with her domestic duties. She said, “A married woman must leave all her devotions when the household demands it,” having still managed to cultivate a profound interior life.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (17th c.). St. Jane was an embodiment of the “valiant woman” of the Book of Proverbs. She loved her husband dearly and ran his household competently during his frequent absences at the royal court. Jane endured the deaths of three of her six children, and the death of her husband after nine years of marriage. She went on to found the Order of the Visitation with St. Francis de Sales.

St. Gianna Molla (20th c.). St. Gianna was an Italian wife, mother, and medical doctor. During her fourth pregnancy, a tumor was discovered on her uterus that forced her to choose whether to have an immediate hysterectomy or to continue with the pregnancy. The first option would have ensured her personal welfare but caused the death of her child; the second gave the child the best chance but was very risky for the mother. Gianna’s choice, resulting in life for her child and death for herself in 1962, has made her a heroine to mothers everywhere.

Share the courageous story of St. Gianna Molla with your own children with this St. Gianna Beretta Molla Board Book! This book invites children to see the beauty of Christian holiness, family life, and find in St. Gianna a new heavenly friend. Order your copy today from The Catholic Company!

Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

By Francesca Pollio Fenton – CNA Staff, Apr 26, 2024 / 06:00 am

Students, faculty, monks, and staff at Belmont Abbey College took part in their first “Cover to Cover” Bible Marathon Reading Event from April 8–12, 2024.. | Credit: Nicholas Willey

Eighty-five hours and 42 minutes. That was the time it took students, faculty, monks, and staff to read the Bible from beginning to end at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina during its first “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon reading event earlier this month.

More than 110 readers took turns standing at a podium in Stowe Hall, the college’s main administration building, reading aloud from sacred Scripture throughout the day and night beginning Monday, April 8, and ending in the early hours of Friday, April 12.

Tom MacAlester, PhD – Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life at Belmont Abbey College, told CNA in an interview that the idea came from an experience he had during his time in college at Florida State University.

“There was a group of a number of campus ministries at Florida State that kind of undertook an ecumenical approach to reading the Bible from cover to cover, nonstop,” he explained. “Baptist students and Catholic students — we even had some students from Hillel come and read parts of the Old Testament, and it was a really cool event.”

“It’s stuck with me all these years, and I was excited to be able to try it out here at the Abbey and ended up having a fantastic reception,” he added.

Ahead of the event, sign-up sheets were sent out to all students and staff giving them the ability to find a time that worked with their class schedules.

MacAlester shared that once they shared the vision for the event, “it was an easy sell” and “students got really excited about it.”

“There was a moment where we were like, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll just do the New Testament,’ but then students started signing up for the Old Testament,” he said. “You know reading the Book of Numbers at two in the morning — that sounds like really exciting stuff, right? But our students signed up really quick.”

He said many students have reached out to share how meaningful the event was to them and how, for many, “in a beautiful and a providential way, the Lord had them reading a very specific verse just for them and how touching and moving that was to them.”

There are now plans in the works to ensure each incoming class to Belmont Abbey has the opportunity to take part in the “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon at least once during their four years at the college. This will most likely mean a once-in-three-years cycle, MacAlester explained.

MacAlester hopes that students recognized “the power of Scripture” by taking part in this event.

“It’s a blueprint right? If we’re looking for a guide, if we’re looking for inspiration in how to live a holy life and one day hopefully get to heaven and bring our friends, we can’t be ignorant of Scripture,” he said.

Catholic Answers Pulls Plug on ‘Father Justin’ AI Priest – National Catholic Register

Catholic Answers Pulls Plug on ‘Father Justin’ AI Priest – National Catholic Register

After his fall from virtual grace, the apologetics ‘expert’ to be replaced by lay character.

Matthew McDonald  – Nation – April 24, 2024

JMeet Father Justin, Catholic Answers’ AI priest. (photo: Screenshot / Catholic Answers )Father Justin, we hardly knew ye.

Less than two days after debuting an artificial intelligence (AI) priest character to overwhelmingly negative reviews, Catholic Answers has given “Father Justin” the virtual heave-ho.

The lay-run apologetics and evangelization apostolate, based in El Cajon, California, told the Register that it will replace him on its app with a lay character named “Justin” within a week.

“We won’t say he’s been laicized, because he never was a real priest!” Catholic Answers said in a written statement to the Register late Wednesday afternoon.

“We chose the character to convey a quality of knowledge and authority, and also as a sign of the respect that all of us at Catholic Answers hold for our clergy,” the statement, from Catholic Answers’ president, Christopher Check, explained. “Many people, however, have voiced concerns about this choice. We hear these concerns; and we do not want the character to distract from the important purpose of the application, which is to provide sound answers to questions about the Catholic faith in an innovative way that makes good use of the benefits of ‘artificial intelligence.’”

Catholic Answers said it would continue to tweak the way it works with AI.

Depicted wearing a black cassock sitting among chirping birds, the bearded AI “priest” appeared oblivious to the cascade of criticism that erupted on social media after Catholic Answers debuted the character Tuesday at midnight.

Some found him creepy. Some didn’t like his voice. Some worried about replacing actual human beings. Some didn’t like his character being a priest.

“I say this with nothing but respect for you guys and your work, but … this should’ve just been a plain search engine,” said Father Mike Palmer, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, on the social-media platform widely known as Twitter (but formally called X). “Dressing it up as a soulless AI avatar of a priest does absolutely nothing except cause confusion and invite mockery of your otherwise excellent work.”

Even so, “every knock a boost,” as the old saying about negative publicity goes.

About 1,000 people an hour were using the “Father Justin” app as of Wednesday afternoon. Traffic at the Catholic Answers website (Catholic.com) was up 77% in April 2024 versus April 2023, said Donna Barrack, director of marketing at Catholic Answers.

Demand was so high that it was taking minutes to receive an access code by email on Wednesday, something that normally takes a few seconds.

The Register ran into technical problems when it attempted to interact with “Father Justin” on Wednesday. Questions had to be shouted into a laptop microphone, and the app took time to translate them into printed words on the screen. “Eucharist” came out “caressed” and, later, “you, you, you.” “Communion” came across as “commute” and later “commune.”

When he understood a question, though, “Father Justin” provided a short, substantive answer.

Asked why you should go to church on Sunday, Father Justin answered with brief quotations from Scripture (Psalm 122:1; 1 Corinthians 12:27; John 6:54) and also explained: “When we gather together for Mass, we are united with Christ and each other in a profound way. We hear God’s Word in the Scriptures, and we receive Jesus himself in the Eucharist. … Going to church isn’t just an obligation, it’s a privilege and a joy.” But The Pillar reported that “Father Justin” said it was okay to baptize someone with Gatorade.

“Father Justin” was aimed at providing answers to questions faster than was possible with human apologists on staff. Several years ago, the organization took down a question-and-answer feature on its website because its staff apologists were inundated with thousands of queries.

“With our mission to explain and defend the Catholic faith, we do think artificial intelligence has a usefulness, at least as a starting point. I would caution against it being an ending point in your journey or in your search for answers,” said Chris Costello, director of information technology for Catholic Answers, in a Zoom interview Wednesday, several hours before the decision to end Father Justin was announced.

Barrack said the “Father Justin” app was an attempt at “gamifying the question-and-answer process” to appeal to young people.

Costello said the intent was never to replace human apologists.

“Obviously, there’s something different in the human delivery,” Costello said. “People … don’t just want the answer. They want to understand the answer. And they want to talk about it and have a back-and-forth, which you can actually do with the application. But I think that there’s always going to be something missing if you don’t have an actual person.”

Bishop Checchio will ordain Ketan Christian, the first Gujarati as a Deacon along with 15 candidates and one other as a transitional Deacon.

Bishop Checchio will ordain Ketan Christian, the first Gujarati as a Deacon along with 15 candidates and one other as a transitional Deacon. The ordination will take place on Friday, May 03, 2024, at 4:00 PM at The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, 32 Elm Avenue, Metuchen, NJ 08840.

Bishop Checchio will ordain Ketan Christian, the first Gujarati as a Deacon along with 15 candidates and one other as a transitional Deacon. May 03, 2024

The permanent Deacon is an ordained member of the Church who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders (as does a Bishop and Priest) and is deemed a cleric. Permanent Deacons make promises of obedience to the Bishop. They also promise to pray the Liturgy of the hours each day for all the people of God. Deacons can perform Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. A Deacon also assists Priest or Bishop at Mass and may give the Homily.

From Left Max, Stephanie, Ketan Cristian, Bishop James Checchio, Ila Christian and Christine.

My younger brother and son of Late Mr. Joseph Beda Parmar and Late Sushila, Ketan Christian is married to Ila Christian and they are proud parents of three beautiful daughters, Christine, Stephanie and Sydney living in South Plainfield for the last twenty plus years. He and his family are the members of the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Coincidently Bishop Checchio was ordained and installed as a fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen in the same very Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield on May 03, 2016. On the 8th anniversary of his ordination to bishop on May 03, 2024, Bishop Checchio will ordain Ketan as a Deacon. May 3rd is the Feast of Saints Philip and James.

Ketan and Family Invite to attend the ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacon – May 03, 2024

Link of Live streaming – https://www.youtube.com/@CathedralofStFrancisofAssisi/stream

The video of the ordination :

Pease note Ketan and family is pleased to invite you for dinner after the ordination on May 03, 2024 at 6:30 PM at Royal Albert’s Palace, 1050 King Georges Post Rd, Fords 08863. Please RSVP by April 26, 2024 Call/Text (732)331-5192

Ketan and Family invite for dinner after the ordination on May 03, 2024

Traditionally, the beginning of the order of deacons is traced back to the story in Acts of the Apostles, Acts 6: 1-6. The time finally came during deliberations of the Second Vatican Council in 1963, calling for restoration of the diaconate as a permanent level of Holy Orders. In June 1967 Pope Paul VI implemented this decree of the Council when he published the apostolic letter “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” (“The Sacred Order of the Diaconate”) in which he re-established the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church.

Please click here to read: THE PERMANENT DIACONATE: A HISTORY.

Please click here to read: Diaconate A Short History of the Permanent Diaconate.

The very first time in US history five men from the Archdiocese of Baltimore were ordained as a Deacon On June 12, 1971 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland.

Members of the first class of permanent deacons and their wives stand outside the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in 1971. The deacons and their wives, from left to right: Charles and Janet Kruger, Hubert and Dolores Derouaux, George and Joyce Evans, Bernard and Antoinette Bak, Doris and Americus Roy, and Angelina and Richard Johe. (CR file)

Please click here to read more about the first class of permanent deacons from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Although a resolution was already passed by the CBCI for accepting the permanent Diaconate in India as a proper and permanent state of the hierarchy in 1966, it was only in 1982 that the CBCI finally petitioned the Holy See. A year later, the CBCI received permission from the Holy See to restore and promote the permanent Diaconate in India, with a proviso that before it could be introduced in any diocese, the bishop would consult the bishops of the region. On January 22, 2006, Bombay was the first and only diocese in India to introduce the permanent Diaconate when, the then Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Ivan Dias, ordained two permanent Deacons, Mr Lloyd Dias from Sacred Heart Church, Vashi and Mr Elwyn De Souza from St Joseph Church, Juhu.

Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Ivan Dias, ordained two permanent Deacons, Mr. Lloyd Dias from Sacred Heart Church, Vashi and Mr Elwyn De Souza from St Joseph Church, Juhu.

Please click here to read more about the above.

One more Link to read more about the above.

Please click here to read about The Diaconate within the Diocese of Metuchen.

Please save the date and join: Ketan will serve as Deacon of the Mass and preach is first homily.

Church of The Sacred Heart, South Plainfield Bulletin April 14, 2024

Sunday, May 05, 2024 @ 11:30 AM
Church of the Sacred Heart
South Plainfield, NJ 07080

Fr. Paresh Parmar, the Episcopal Vicar of The Diocese of Ahmedabad, Gujarat will be attending all above events and will offer a Mass in Gujarati as per details below:

Fr Paresh Deacon Ketan-Guj-Mass 05-05-2024N
Fr Paresh Deacon Ketan -Meet N Greet 05-05-2024

મારું જીવન…મારાં સ્વજન…મારો સમાજ…મારું જગત…૨૦૦૪ થી આ જાળું ગૂંથી રહ્યો છું…