Back from the ‘Promised Land’

Our Move to Nebraska from California

You moved to be in the Lincoln diocese; was it a difficult move? Are you happy?

EileenWe were very concerned about the dramatic rise in crime, drugs and poverty that the city in which we lived was experiencing.  We were very concerned that, although our children attended our parish school, the catechesis they were receiving, particularly in terms of sacramental preparation, was poor at best.

We also started homeschooling in January 2011, before we moved to Lincoln.  The decision to homeschool really helped us make the decision that we needed to relocate to Lincoln.  We knew we wanted to raise our family in an environment which was safe, nurturing, and we could live our faith daily without having to apologize for being “too Catholic”.

We are very happy in Lincoln, NE, and hope to stay here permanently.

What are your new parishioners and neighborhood like, in contrast to California?

Photo by Cathy Blankenau Bender.St. Teresa School in Lincoln, Neb. pray before entering the school.
PRAYING AFTER RECESS helps students focus at St Theresa’s School in Lincoln, Nebraska. PHOTO CREDIT: Cathy Blankenau Bender

The Diocese of Lincoln is known for its orthodox bishop and priests.  Because of this, the community at St. Francis has not grown significantly over the years.  The people who attend St. Francis do so because they are dedicated to the TLM.

However, coming from our previous diocese, this is a huge improvement!  Our previous TLM experience consisted of priests coming in from out of town from as far away as five hours, to say the TLM.  The feeling that many TLMers had was one of the “ugly stepchild.”

The neighborhood in which we live now is in southwest Lincoln.  It is a very safe and friendly neighborhood.  My kids have introduced themselves to all of our neighbors and they have all been very friendly towards our kids, inviting them to play on their swing sets and use their basketball hoops without having to ask first.

I have no qualms about letting the kids play outside during the day without direct supervision.  In California, we lived in a gated community on a cul-de-sac.  Despite this, we did not know any of our neighbors, and I did not like sending the kids outside alone because I just did not feel that they were safe.

Do you have children? Are you homeschooling? Would you call it a healthy environment for kids?

We have three children, ages 12, 11 and 9.  We adopted the kids as a sibling group out of foster care in October 2006.  I have homeschooled all three children since January 2011.  Lincoln is a wonderful environment in which to raise a family.  There are many parks, hiking and biking trails throughout the city.  There is a terrific library system, and a number of kid-friendly museums.

The Catholic homeschooling community is strong, and it continues to get bigger and better every year.  Whenever we go somewhere in town and the kids tell people that they are homeschooled, the response is often, “You are so lucky!” or “What a blessing!”  We rarely received these responses in California about homeschooling, even from family and friends.

What have been your general impressions of the lay Catholics in Lincoln? The clergy?

EIGHTEEN ORDERS OF CATHOLIC SISTERS are present in the Diocese of Lincoln.

Even though we prefer attending the Traditional Latin Mass, it is such a relief to know that we can take our children to Mass anywhere in Lincoln and feel certain that they will not see the liturgical abuses that we witnessed in our previous diocese.  The Novus Ordo priests in the Diocese of Lincoln have been properly catechized, and I know that I will not hear anything from the pulpit that is contrary to the Church’s teachings.  I feel comfortable wearing my veil at any Mass, and do not get stared or glared at by others as we stay and pray after Mass.

All of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lincoln go to daily Mass.  What a blessing!  The parish school my children attended in California offered Mass only once a week.  Sadly, Mass was frequently canceled for reasons that were never made clear to us.

The diocesan clergy that I have met personally here in Lincoln have been wonderful.  Faith-filled men, dedicated to the Church, but not thrown off by the fact that we attend the TLM.  Some of the more recently ordained diocesan priests have learned how to say the Low Mass, and have offered a Low Mass for an end to abortion once a month.

LincolnprocessionbenderphotoAnother blessing has been discovering the women religious!  There are 18 orders in the Diocese of Lincoln!  And they all wear habits!  Before moving to Lincoln my children had never seen a sister in a habit.  Now, my children see these women in the community on a regular basis, and are able to say, “Hi Sister!” without staring or asking, “Who is that? Why is she dressed like that?”

The ministries these women offer are so valuable to the Lincoln community.  The Diocese of Lincoln was so blessed to have Bishop Bruskewicz at the helm for so many years, and the diocese continues to be blessed with Bishop Conley.  Clearly the faith-filled priests and women religious of Lincoln are a reflection of the orthodoxy of the Bishops of Lincoln.  The longer we live in Lincoln the more we discover what a blessing it is to live here.

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