Roxane B. Salonen
FARGO — Growing up near Chicago, Richard Henderson delivered newspapers. But before heading out on a delivery, he'd read them, top to bottom. "Back then, in the 1960s, there was so much happening," he says. "I remember when Martin Luther King Jr. came to Chicago and was hit with a brick. For a young person, that really made an impression." Raised Lutheran, Henderson grew unsatisfied with the prominent religions' claims that they were the only true religion. "That didn't seem quite right to me," he says. "I was puzzled how they all fit together."
NASHVILLE — Author, speaker and musician Kelly Minter wants to propose a radical idea to women when she's in Fargo next month: suffering doesn't have to be meaningless. "So many women I know are going through hardship, and often we can't make sense of it," she said through email. "Would a loving God really allow pain in our lives?"
FARGO — The call about the vandalism went to Frank Lalonde's home phone as he was heading to work as office manager of Nativity Church the morning of Aug. 4. En route, he missed the warning of what he'd soon witness. Arriving at the sacred place he knows so well, he was met by a parishioner with worry lines on her face. "There's a bit of damage to the building," she'd said. "When I opened the door, I was greeted by a sea of glass down the hallway," Lalonde recalls. "The parishioners were standing there in shock and awe."
FARGO — Many here connect Austen Schauer with the former television reporter and anchor who, for three decades, gave them their dose of daily, local news. But few know the interior of the veteran media man — that he grew up a preacher's kid in California, found Christ at age nine and as a teen, discovered a passion to mentor youth. "I've always been actively involved in the church and in ministry to kids — that's always been my heart," Schauer says. The mentoring began at age 16, in inner-city Sacramento, where Schauer coached youngsters.
BISMARCK, N.D. — Jewel Hecker has seen some deep-down lows. At one point in her life of addiction, she says, things had gotten so bad she was living like character Matt Foley from "Saturday Night Live," "in a van down by the river." Other times, Jewel says, she would find a tent and camp out with her boyfriend, or a cheap hotel room to live in for a while. They weren't below stealing if necessary. Scars she's collected reveal how addiction and abuse can erode the soul.
FARGO — While living in Amarillo, Texas, in 2015, Paul Braun hoped to raise funds for area youth and his local Knights of Columbus council by inviting Christian musician Matt Maher to perform a concert there. Though Maher's crew was receptive, logistics pulled the plug on the Amarillo gig. "You owe me one," Braun told them. After he began work the following year for the Fargo Diocese, Amarillo's loss became Fargo's gain. Maher's performance at the Fargo Scheel's Arena Aug. 12 will mark his second touch-down in North Dakota, following a Bismarck concert in 2015.
When my friend from New York came to Fargo recently with her youngest three boys on their way to Glacier National Park, it was a given our time together would be short. Road construction and rush-hour traffic factors further pushed their hoped-for arrival behind. By the time they pulled into our driveway, the sun was dropping low. I knew the brevity of the visit would only allow our travel-worn guests enough time to lay down their weary heads for the night, before an early-rise morning. But as they inched their way closer to Fargo, a plan began percolating.
WAHPETON, N.D. — The diamond jubilee for Sister Margaret Mary reflects that "diamonds" are truly rare. The occasion highlighting the Carmelite's 60 years as a cloistered nun point to a simple but extraordinary life of prayer, labor, living with grace in community, and singularly seeking God. Though she entered Carmel of Mary monastery at 18, Ottilia Sticka first heard the invitation in eighth grade. "The Lord gave me an inspiration to be a contemplative nun."
FARGO — When Peter Mehl checked his blood pressure shortly after arriving in the Ukraine on May 11, something seemed off. "He had me take mine, because he wasn't sure it was reading right," recounts his wife, Jill, co-founder of Russian Harvest Ministries, a Christian outreach the local couple founded 25 years ago. It would be their last conversation. Just as Jill turned away to check her own blood pressure, Peter stood up, and collapsed. An autopsy showed the 61-year-old died instantly.
Recently, my 17-year-old daughter, two of her good friends, their mothers, and I embarked on a trip to Chicago that turned truly unforgettable, in every way, as Nat King Cole once sang. Our journey had been planned around the wildly popular, modern, rap musical "Hamilton," based on Alexander Hamilton's dramatic, historically-significant life.