St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church is a vibrant faith community of approximately 700 households located in the lower St. Croix River Valley that welcomes Catholics to worship and practice their faith with reverence and joy. We are rooted in tradition and growing in faith. Through our celebration of the sacraments, faith formation and outreach we offer opportunities for ministry and service.

This week's musings

Sunday, February 21, 2021
B Lent 1
Father Mark's Musings
Vol 6 No 34

            The season of Lent began last Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday evening. It began with grim but honest ashes, the solemn reminder of our limits and the church’s call to conversion. A fifth century homily outlines the ideal of a full Lenten observance, a journey that lead us back to God while leading us also to another: “Prayer, mercy, and fasting: these three are one, they give life to each other. Fasting is the soul of prayer; mercy is the life-blood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them, they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So, if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition heard, hear the petition of others. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give” (Peter Chrysologus; Office of Readings, Tuesday, Third Week of Lent). The practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are not meant to be an exercise in self-improvement. Rather, as St. Benedict’s Rule reminds us, they should be part of every Christian life in every season of the year. The purpose of Lent is to lead us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which releases us from sin, restores us to baptismal innocence and reconciles us to God and to the community.

            The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is always the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. In Mark, the beginning of Jesus’ journey is his experience of forty days in the wilderness. his account is terser than that of Matthew and Luke, which also makes its message quite direct. Jesus has been tested, like the Israelites were tested by the forty years of wandering in the wilderness to the Promised Land and Noah was tested with forty days afloat in the flood waters. Under the protection of God’s angels, he has triumphed, proving his readiness for his earthly mission. The number forty appears a dozen places in the Bible, usually signifying a test that has been administered and passed.  As we enter the forty days of Lent, we can challenge ourselves to embrace the spiritual tests we are facing, transforming them, and ourselves, as we journey to Easter.

            To help us embrace and transform our spiritual tests: our parish community gathers for Mass during the week in the main Church on Wednesday & Friday mornings at 9:00. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated on Saturdays from 4:00 to 4:30 pm and is always available by appointment. The parish is invited to join our Faith Formation students on the following dates and in addition to:

            Faith Formation

                        Wednesday, March 10; Grade 2 @ 6:45, Grade 3 @ 7:00, Grade 4 @ 7:15

                        Wednesday, March 17; Grade 6 @ 6:45, Grade 7/8 @ 7:00

                        Wednesday, March 24; Grade 5 @ 6:45, Grade 9 @ 7:00


                        Saturday, March 20; 3:30-4:30 pm

                        Wednesday, March 24; Reconciliation Day

                        9:30-11:00 am, 4:00-7:30 pm

                        Saturday, March 27; 3:00-4:30 pm

                        Monday, March 29; 4:00-6:00 pm

This year we are trying something new with the Stations of the Cross on the Friday afternoons of Lent at 3:00, before going out to curbside Fish Fry’s. They will also be livestreamed on Facebook. And our Holy Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Lent will be on Friday morning, March 5 from 9:30 concluding with Benediction at 10:30. This year we will be offering “Around the Lenten Circle: a small group discussion on the Sunday readings” on the Wednesday mornings of Lent from 9:45 to 10:45 am following the 9:00 Mass. The weekly sessions will be held in person socially distant in Berg Hall or virtually through a Zoom call on your computer in the comfort of your home. To receive participation material and a Zoom link invitation, please email Cindy Again this year we will also be participating in the Dynamic Catholic’s “Feed Your Soul” a daily Lent experience. When your stomach needs food, it growls to let you know. When your soul needs food, it doesn’t growl. Unless you are praying every day, your soul is hungry. And you can never be your truest, best, most amazing self with a hungry soul. This Lent, let’s focus on feeding your soul with the Best Lent Ever, a free, daily email video reflection with Matthew Kelly. Sign up at And finally, we will once again have the opportunity to participate in Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl. CRS Rice Bowl inspires thousands of Catholics throughout the United States to pray, fast, learn and give as we increase our understanding of our global community and connect that with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching through our Lenten journey. For your convenience, Rice Bowls will be available to be picked up in Berg Hall along with the Little Books for Lent and a limited number of other Lenten devotional and reflection guides; please help yourself until they are gone.

            Thank you to all who have responded to the 2021 Catholic Services Foundation Appeal! If you have not already joined in the work of the CSAF, you may give online or complete a paper pledge form and drop it in the collection basket or mail it directly to the Foundation’s office. The Catholic Services Appeal Foundation partners with fellow Catholics to share Christ’s love with neighbors in need through ministries that serve the poor, support life and strengthen the Faith. Your gift brings hope by helping provide: • Thousands with life-giving care via hospital chaplains. • 12,000 people / week with fresh groceries and hygiene items. • 1,200 hot meals monthly. • 635 people with housing/emergency shelter each month. • 33,000 young people with Faith-filled outreach. • 1,300 women and families with pro-life support. • 28,000 Catholic school students with in-person learning. • Over 50 seminarians studying to be future priests of our Archdiocese with tuition assistance, room and board. The CSAF recognizes each parish itself as a ministry integral to the daily life of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis. Thus, St. Francs of Assisi is a benefited ministry of the CSAF; we receive 50% of all dollars in excess of this year’s goal of $20,700. Visit to learn more or to donate today. Thank you for responding to the Gospel call to Serve the Poor, Support Life, and Strengthen the Faith.

            In making this year’s Appeal, I am very happy to report that we finished at 224% of our 2020 goal of $20,645. $46,784 was pledged and $46,434 was collected from 151 of our household with an average gift of $375. In 2019 only 119 of our households participated. Thank you for your very generous support. And to date St. Francis has received $10,611 back in rebate dollars. Back in 2015 we only received $2,500 so your gift to the Appeal really does make a difference. If we ALL join together and if everyone pledges something, we can continue to make our goal a reality!

            Instead of a Faith Formation Open House this year, Cindy and I have decided we will host “BRING YOUR PARENTS TO THE 9:30 SUNDAY MASS” for each of our Faith Formation grade levels. I will in turn host a Pizza Party on the last night of class, Wednesday, May 5 for the grade(s) that has the highest level of participation. During Mass, I will engage and highlight the particular grade level (and take attendance) that is scheduled on that Sunday.

February 28                 Grade 1
March 5                      Grade 5
March 14                    Grade 2
March 21                    Grades 3/4
April 11                       Grade 9
April 18                       Grade 7/8
April 25                       Grade 6

            We offer our prayers and sympathy to the family and friends of Ellen Levelle who died unexpectedly, Tuesday, February 16. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, February, 22 at 10:30 with an hour’s visitation before. Please pray for Ellen and her family and friends. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in the peace of Christ.

            PAX ET BONUM

                   Fr. Mark


Weekly Schedule

Sunday, February 21               9:30 am Mass (Main Church)
Mass Intention                        + Randy Kopesky

Monday, February 22             10:30 am Funeral Mass for Ellen Levelle (Main Church)

Tuesday, February 23             6:00 pm Lower St. Croix Valley Yellow Ribbon Alliance (Berg Hall)

Wednesday, February 24        9:00 am Mass (Main Church)
Mass Intention                        + David & Mary Quinn
                                                9:45-10:45 “Around the Lenten Circle” (Berg Hall)
                                                6:30 pm – 7:45 pm Faith Formation for grades 1,2,3/4,5,9 (yellow)

Thursday, February 25            7:00 pm AA Group (Berg Hall)

Friday, February 26                 9:00 am Mass (Main Church)
Mass Intention                        + Fr. Stan Maslowski
                                                3:00 pm Stations of the Cross (Main Church)

Saturday, February 27            4:00 pm Confessions (Vestry)
                                                5:00 pm Mass (Main Church)
Mass Intention                        + Peter Ippolito

Sunday, February 28               9:30 am Mass (Main Church)
Mass Intention                        + Richard Abnet