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Newsletter of Mater Dei Seminary
March 2002

Other articles in this newsletter:
The Martyr of Denver
Moral Theology: Payment of Correct Price

The Martyr of Denver: Father Leo Heinrichs, OFM

Dear friends and benefactors,

As the seminarians begin to review the chant for the liturgy of Holy Week and as they practice the traditional Irish songs for their program in honor of St. Patrick, I ask myself, “Is it just happening here at the seminary, or is it the same everywhere else?” Where has time gone? by the time our April Adsum will be sent out, we will have already celebrated the Resurrection of our Divine Savior.

Looking back over the fifteen years (this June) that I have been in Omaha, Nebraska, I ponder the shortness of life here on earth. The older one gets the more one recognizes this reality. During these years Almighty God providentially has provided in a most generous manner for all of our spiritual and temporal needs. And especially in the area of our temporal needs, He has inspired certain souls at appropriate times to support us in the work of His Church.

This is uniquely true of one family, all now departed, who has been primarily responsible for the building of our church, Mary Immaculate, and for the acquistion of the adjacent property for our seminary. The parishioners, clergy and religious will always be indebted to Marie Froemel and her brothers, Erwin and Carl Froemel of Columbus, Nebraska, for their generous support, without which we would not have had the facilities that we have today.

Back in 1987, after a very fruitful lecture on the message of Fatima and the changes in the Church, in which a number of new people grasped what has happened since Vatican II, I was convinced that our small but growing group of traditional Catholics in Omaha needed a regular Sunday Mass. To accomplish this, Marie Froemel’s support ensured that I could fly every weekend from Spokane to Omaha.

After one year, a ranch house and large lot next to our small chapel and rectory were to be put up for sale; however, we were in no position to even make an offer. It was on the occasion of a sick call to Carl Froemel that he asked me if the church could use the property next door to us. I answered in the affirmative, but also explained our financial inability. Carl proceeded to instruct me to go to the seller and to ask how much he wanted for his property. On reflecting back on this incident, I recall how I indeed “opened my mouth and inserted my foot” by asking Carl if he could really afford it. He answered me by saying, “Of course! Why do you think I would have told you to ask for the price of the property?” It was one of those moments when I could only say, “Duh!” Thus, we acquired what is now Mater Dei Seminary.

Shortly after this incident, a few months later — once again, after a sick call to Carl (who was in very frail health) — he told me that he would like to see a church builty on the new lot before he died. Thus within the year of 1988, we were meeting with an architect and an engineer to prepare a proposal to submit before the Omaha City Council for a zoning approval.

This made no little stir in the community — that a traditional Catholic church was about to be built in close proximity (within one mile) of one of the Novus Ordo churches. We actually made the front page of the Omaha World Herald with a full color picture of our former small chapel. Then came one of the local television stations to give us further exposure. This did not come without some good effects (more people came to the Latin Mass), and also some bad effects (the Novus Ordo church misrepresented us as schismatics).

It was on one cold Friday, March 17, 1989, the feast of St. Patrick, and also the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (the Friday before Palm Sunday), that ground was broken to begin our new church. This undertaking would nevertheless be two long years before its completion on August 15, 1991. The reason for the great length of time in construction was due to a shortage of funds (which were eventually made up by parish fund-raisers). During this time, God called Carl Froemel to eternity; however, some months before his death, I was able one day to sneak him out of the rest home in Columbus, Nebraska (some 90 miles away from Omaha), so that he could see what his donations had accomplished.

Within a few years after Carl’s death, God also called Erwin and Marie, all of whom were blessed with long lives. Erwin was in his late seventies; Carl, in his mid-eighties; and Marie, in her early ninetines. Each of them assisted Mary Immaculate Church and Mater Dei Seminary in such a unique way. For tis we will always be grateful and I have no doubt that God has rewarded their generosity.

So now as I look back over the years, it is hard to believe how quickly time has passed. It seems like only yesterday that the young men were just arriving at the seminary. Although there have been many crosses during this time, there have also been many blessings.

Lastly, during the month of March, let us remember St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ and the chaste guardian of the Blessed Virgin, whose powerful intercession is invoked for the Universal Church, for workers, for souls consecrated to God, and for vocations.

With our prayers and blessing,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

Other articles in this newsletter:
The Martyr of Denver
Moral Theology: Payment of Correct Price

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Printed copies of Adsum, a publication by the seminarians of Mater Dei Seminary for the reading enjoyment of friends and benefactors, are sent free of charge to all who request it. Most issues also contain photos of recent events involving the seminarians. If you would like to put on this mailing list, please use this form.

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Phone: (402) 571-4404
Fax: (402) 571-3383
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