A Word from Father

  Słowo od Pastora

Announcement 5/1/2021.  Father Guanella has been appointed Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, with residence at the parish rectory, effective July 6, 2021. Father Mark A. Miller, Pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Ettrick and St. Ansgar Parish in Blair has been appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Polonia and Immaculate Conception Parish in Custer, with residence at Sacred Heart Parish rectory in Polonia, effective July 6, 2021.  Please keep both Fr. Guanella and Fr. Miller in your prayers during this transitional period.

JUNE 13, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


June is the month of the Sacred Heart since the feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated each year during it. I was recently sent a devotion that I had not heard of before: the “Rosary to the Sacred Heart.” It’s really a form of chaplet prayed on ordinary Rosary beads, similar to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I will outline how it is prayed below. Perhaps you will want to add it to your devotions this month.


The Rosary of the Sacred Heart. This Rosary is said in honor of the five wounds and ordinary beads are used. Instead of the Apostles Creed, say the Anima Christi prayer. Instead of the Our Father, say: “Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto thine.” Instead of the Hail Mary, say: “Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my love.” Instead of the Glory Be, say: “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.” To conclude, say: “Most holy Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere.”


As we meditate on the Sacred Heart this month, I wanted to share with you this text from St. Bonaventure, the Italian medieval Franciscan theologian and Cardinal Bishop of Albano who was canonized in 1482 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. St. Bonaventure writes: “It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open [Jesus’] sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting. Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God’s service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart.”


—Fr. Guanella

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Fr. Alan Guanella


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JUNE 6, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, known as Corpus Christi. This feast began in Italy with a priest who had lost his faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and decided to walk to Rome as a pilgrim in an effort to once again believe in the Real Presence.


One day in 1263 in Bolsena, Italy, while this priest was celebrating Mass, the consecrated Host he held above the altar began to bleed onto the corporal, the small cloth upon which the host and chalice rest during the Mass. The remains of this Eucharistic miracle and the very corporal itself are still in existence and you can venerate them if you ever get to go to Italy and visit the Cathedral in Orvieto in Umbria. I have been privileged to visit that Cathedral several times and attend Mass in front of the corporal.


St. Thomas Aquinas, who was living in Orvieto at the Dominican studium generale, a school of theology, was asked by Pope Urban IV to write the Office (the texts for the Liturgy of the Hours) and the Mass texts for the solemnity of Corpus Christi that the pope was to institute the following year, in 1264. St. Thomas wrote the hymns for the Office which include the Pange Lingua, the Tantum Ergo, and the O Salutaris Hostia. Thomas also wrote the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem which we chant on every Corpus Christi Sunday. Thomas also wrote the prayers for the Mass on Corpus Christi, which we use in English translation as well.


You may have noticed that we sung a sequence on Pentecost Sunday as well. There are several feasts in the Church year where we sing sequences. Sequences are hymns sung before the Gospel. Traditionally it is sung after the Alleluia but in modern times, it is sung before the Alleluia. Before the year 1570 there were sequences for many of the feasts throughout the year: in fact, at the height of their use, there were sequences for nearly every Sunday and feast day of the year. After the Missal of Pius V was promulgated in 1570 the number of sequences was reduced to four but one other (the Stabat Mater, which we traditionally sing at the Stations of the Cross) was later added in 1727. By the time of our current Missal, there are only four sequences left in the Mass and only those on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Day are required.


I end with a strophe from Thomas Aquinas’ Pange Lingua. May it be our encouragement today:

Therefore, the great Sacrament let us reverence, prostrate: and let the old Covenant give way to a new rite. Let faith stand forth as substitute for defect of the senses.


—Fr. Guanella

MAY 23, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


When I was studying philosophy, I took a course on non-western philosophy. After having studied Aristotle and Aquinas, it was quite a jolt to my mind to read Islamic, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophy. Reading the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is certainly different than Aquinas. Nonetheless, Aquinas himself studied non-western philosophers and makes use of the writings of a number of Islamic thinkers, such as Averroes (also known as Ibn Rushd) and Avicenna (also known as Ibn Sina). Aquinas relied extensively on Averroes’s interpretation of Aristotle (but did disagree with him on many points) and Avicenna influenced Aquinas’ metaphysics (the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality).


I say all of this because I was sent a text from the 13-th century Persian Islamic thinker Rumi. He writes about what he calls “The Three Gates of Speech.” Rumi writes: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?’” I was struck by Rumi’s words. In a world where words are thrown about on radio, TV, and social media so quickly, these three gates of speech are hardly ever considered.


While Rumi’s thought is very different from our own Christian thought, his three gates of speech can act as a certain “pre-examination of conscience” for our own words. Before we speak or spread information (whether in person or online), we should ask ‘Is it true?’, ‘Is it necessary?’, and ‘Is it kind?’ If we say ‘no’ to any of these questions, we really shouldn’t speak or say what we were going to say. How many sins of gossip, slander, or calumny could be avoided if we only speak what is true, necessary, and kind?


This brings up the virtue of prudence. Prudence is the knowledge of how to act or how to conduct one’s life rightly. The Dominican priest, Fr. Reginald Martin, OP, writes: “Our goal as Christians is to share everlasting life with God. Prudence helps us achieve this goal by enabling us to apply to concrete situations whatever speculative knowledge we may possess. This sounds fairly simple, but making a prudent choice is actually a complex and sophisticated process. It begins with learning whatever we can about the matter at hand and making a judgment about what we have learned. Only then are we equipped to make a prudent choice.”


In all of our conversations, whether they be with another person or virtual, we should practice prudence with what we say. Aquinas was able to use non-western thinkers to help him. Let us use Rumi to help us in our speech: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?’”


—Fr. Guanella

MAY 9, 2021


Dear Friends in Christ,


This is not an easy bulletin column to write to say the least. As I am sure you already know, as I publicized last weekend at the Masses, Bishop Callahan has announced that I have been appointed pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, effective July 6, 2021. This came as quite a surprise to me and, in fact, to the diocese itself. The former pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, Father Valentine Joseph Gasparraj, was called home to his own archdiocese of Madurai in India. As a priest of Madurai, Father Valentine must follow the decision of his archbishop. His departure was unexpected to the Diocese of La Crosse and that left the parish vacant without a pastor.


Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish is also a parish that has a parochial vicar (associate pastor). Parochial vicars are newly ordained priests who spend time “learning the ropes” of what it means to be a priest and how to work in a parish. In our diocese, most newly ordained priests spend about four years total, in two different assignments, as parochial vicars. In addition, many parochial vicars are also assigned as chaplains to the Catholic high school and middle school in the deanery. In Wisconsin Rapids, the parochial vicar of Our Lady Queen of Heaven is also chaplain to Assumption High School and Middle School.


Because the pastor of the parish where there is a parochial vicar is a “mentoring pastor,” not every priest is well-suited or willing to mentor newly ordained priests. A mentoring pastor must be willing to spend time guiding, teaching, and helping the newly ordained priests understand their vocation as diocesan priests and instructing them about the administration, operation, and working of a parish in the Diocese of La Crosse. That being said, with the departure of Father Valentine, the bishop needed to find a priest well-suited and willing to mentor a parochial vicar and, at the same time, be the pastor of the parish. It was my name that the bishop chose for this assignment, even though the bishop and personnel board had not intended to move me this year—these things come up and it cannot be helped. I was quite shocked to receive that telephone call from the bishop since I’ve only been a pastor here for one year (and one year as administrator). Nonetheless, the Rule that I follow as a Dominican reminds me that I should be ready at all times to work wherever a greater pastoral need demands it.


I am happy to announce that Father Mark Miller, currently pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Ettrick and St. Ansgar Parish in Blair has been appointed pastor of Sacred Heart in Polonia and St. Mary’s I.C. in Custer as of July 6, 2021. Father Miller and I have known each other for many years and I have no doubt that he will do well as pastor here. In fact, his parents were parishioners at St. Raymond of Peñafort in Brackett where I served as a parochial vicar and his mother was the parish secretary of SS. Peter & Paul in Independence where I served as a seminarian. I trust that you will treat him with the same care and affection that you have shown me.


I know many of you, perhaps most, were surprised and possibly upset with this transfer but I hope you understand the reasoning behind this unexpected move. My cousin, Saint Luigi Guanella, noted that, as Christians, “the whole world is our homeland” since we are all pilgrims on the journey, striving for Heaven, no matter where we actually find ourselves. Nevertheless, I won’t be too far away: you’re always welcome to come and visit me at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Wisconsin Rapids! God bless you all.


—Fr. Guanella

MAY 2, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

During this month of May, Pope Francis has requested that the entire Church invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the end of the pandemic and, in a special way, he is inviting all of us to pray fervently for those most closely affected by it. The month of May will be dedicated to a “marathon” of prayer to ask for the end of the pandemic, which has afflicted the world for more than a year now, and to ask for the resumption of social and work activities. Pope Francis wishes to involve all the Marian Shrines around the world in this initiative, so that they may become vehicles of the prayer of the entire Church. The initiative is being conducted in the light of the biblical expression: “Prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God” (Acts 12:5).


During each day of May, guided by a calendar with specific intentions, all the Marian Shrines around the world, united in a communion of supplication, will lift up their prayers, which, like the fragrance of incense, will rise up to Heaven. Thirty Marian Shrines will take turns leading this prayer throughout the Church and offering the faithful a series of prayer moments for them to participate throughout the entire day. The Marian Shrine for May 17th will be our own Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC with the specific intention of praying for all world leaders and for all heads of international organizations. May 3rd will be the Shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Poland, with the specific intention of prayer for all those infected with the coronavirus and all the sick.


The Holy Father will open and close the prayer, along with the faithful around the world, from two significant locations within the Vatican City State. On May 1st, Pope Francis will pray at the icon of Our Lady of Help, an icon venerated as early as the seventh century, inside Saint Peter’s Basilica erected by Pope Gregory XIII in 1578, at the Gregorian Chapel, where the relics of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor and Father of the Church, are also kept. On May 31st, Pope Francis will conclude this prayer marathon from a significant place in the Vatican Gardens.


Therefore, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ “prayer marathon” you are encouraged to pray the Rosary daily for the end of the pandemic, for those most closely affected by it, and to ask for the resumption of social and work activities. There are sheets available in the back of church with the Marian Shrines and daily intentions listed. You can also view it online at:



—Fr. Guanella