Roxane B. Salonen
MORRISON, COLO. — Despite being in the middle of a holy whirlwind that includes a new-book launch, Christian author Margaret Feinberg paused long enough recently to talk about her upcoming visit to North Dakota. "Leif's (my husband) family is from Grand Forks. We adore your beautiful state," she remarked in an email interview. "I love the outdoors and your farms and countryside are stunning. And you have some of the kindest, most generous people anywhere."
Dear Patty and Jerry Wetterling: The year your dear Jacob went missing, I was a 21-year-old college student rooming with three others in an off-campus apartment near Moorhead State University. When the disconcerting news reached our little abode in the fall of 1989, we four young women were left aching with concern with the rest of the region.
FARGO — The concept of the self-made man or woman has always seemed a bit off to Cathy Schwinden. During her many years working in social-justice ministry, she's peered into places that tell her otherwise. "I think we have a tendency to lean too much on the rugged individualist," she says. "I don't think such a thing exists." Even those people who've always had a roof over their heads have been blessed by someone at some point, she says.
The Ryan Lochte controversy aside, a whole lot of incredible things happened at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio that I'm wanting to hold close. The Salonen brood was traveling back tired and tattered from eastern Wisconsin at the conclusion, so we missed most of the finale. But we watched with great expectation the opening and much in between. These international competitions have a way of lifting the human spirit, and like many, I enjoyed bonding with my family over the outcomes.
It was late 2015 when Skip Rodgers met the pastor from Lebanon who, though now serving in the United States, shared firsthand stories of Christian persecution in the Middle East. Feeling the burden of his brothers and sisters in those faraway places, Rodgers wanted to act. So in mid-June, the 59-year-old Colorado man clocked out of his job at a children's hospital to begin a bike trek across northern America.
In the summertime, the faithful youth of the world gather. Last month, millions of young Christians, including a conglomeration of teens from the Fargo-Moorhead area, convened in Poland for World Youth Day — an event begun in 1985 by Pope John Paul II. I've often lamented missing the boat on World Youth Day. By the time I learned of its existence, my ship had sailed. But I'm grateful to know these events are happening and igniting the souls of our youth — our future. Though likely the largest such gathering, World Youth Day has plenty of smaller siblings.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — In 1997, Dean and Sue Gumz had all but given up hope that their broken marriage could be repaired. "Emotionally, I had already left," Sue says, remembering that difficult period. But after a last-ditch effort talking with their pastor, a small glimmer appeared, not so much in what the pastor had said, but in a brochure he'd tossed to the couple before parting. It introduced them to Retrouvaille, a program designed to be a lifeline for hurting marriages. The two decided they had nothing to lose by signing up for the weekend event.
When our pastor announced the 7-mile pilgrimage from our home parish of Sts. Anne & Joachim Church in south Fargo to the Cathedral of St. Mary's Downtown, I was all in. Walking has become a favorite activity in the Salonen household, but I also love the idea of the spiritual quest. Too, I looked forward to passing through the holy door of mercy, set in place by the cathedral at the commission of Pope Francis.
It's been quite a month for our country. The bangs and sparks from fireworks jubilantly celebrating our nation's independence have been flanked by bangs and sparks from firearms in the streets and at a nightclub, challenging whether we are free after all. In the midst of all this, I stumbled upon a Focus on the Family online interview that seemed worthy of a pause.
WEST FARGO — Nicole Kippen, 23, chuckles over the role reversals that have begun happening with her and her mother, Amy Kippen, 51. Around the time the recent Concordia College graduate begins graduate school and settling into an apartment in Illinois, her mother will be moving into a college dormitory in Saint Paul, studying to be a pastor. "In high school, she helped me with my homework," Nicole says. "Now, it's going to flip-flop, with me being the expert in the academic world — the daughter helping the mother."