Janice Andersen

Director of Christian Life
Christian Life

Janice Andersen has been on staff at The Basilica of Saint Mary since 1994, working with programs that serve our community and advocate for justice.  She currently serves as the Director of Christian Life, overseeing ministries that provide charity and care, justice formation, and volunteer ministry. She began her work as the Director of Social Ministry, working with Basilica St. Vincent de Paul to collaboratively build programs that offer relationship and service to those in need, and advocate for justice.  Janice serves on the Boards of City House and From Death To Life. She holds Masters Degrees in special education and theology, and is a certified Spiritual Director. 

(612) 317-3477

Recent Posts by Janice Andersen

Core to the mission of The Basilica of Saint Mary is our parish commitment to respond to the needs of the vulnerable in our community. Our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry (SVDP) is a cornerstone of this response. In a two-fold approach, we seek to provide compassionate and effective assistance to those in need and to provide a way for parishioners to engage in service. At the heart of this work is a priority to build relationships and an absolute belief in the dignity of all.  

During these days of COVID-19 illness and unemployment, and unrest after the death of George Floyd, work of our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry is more important than ever. Yet, our work is more challenged than ever. The rhythms of daily life and the infrastructure of our community have shifted or disappeared. This is felt most urgently by those who are vulnerable. Our response requires new thinking and imagination—and steadfast commitment.

The work of Basilica St. Vincent de Paul provides a broad spectrum of care. It supports people who live in homeless encampments across the street from The Basilica. It supports people who are recent immigrants to Minnesota—working to establish their lives in our community. It supports parishioner families who lost their job during Stay-At-Home orders, and families in North Minneapolis who are struggling. Indeed, the need is great. 

As we weave our way through the impact of  COVID-19, SVdP provides basic care by ensuring our neighbors who are homeless have a bathroom available. While The Basilica is closed, we installed 2 portable toilets on 17th street for people to use. Using technology and creativity, Basilica SVdP volunteers continued in long-term relationships with students at Minneapolis College who experience homelessness or generational poverty. These students are persevering against great odds to make a change in their life. In May 2020, one student shared the impact of this mentoring relationship: “I am very grateful for having the mentoring program. It has been a rough year for me and my mentor helped me through it. This program is great for people who struggle like me.”

Our daily St. Vincent de Paul programs held in the Lower Level of the Church—programs that serve thousands of neighbors each year—have been suspended, due to COVID restrictions. However, through ingenuity, perseverance and compassion, we are finding ways for volunteers to connect with and assist people in the community with rent assistance through phone and email contact. We are working to bring back more services to the community utilizing technology—ways to provide assistance effectively, but not in-person.

Our immigrant support teams partner with families seeking asylum through a variety of on-line methods. The volunteers who provide meals to the hungry in our community continue with special safety protocols.

These are among many changes we are working through with our volunteers and our community partners. Our commitment to respond to those most in need has never been stronger. 

Look for a special collection to donate to Basilica St. Vincent de Paul in upcoming weeks. Consider supporting this important work. One hundred percent of your donation goes directly to people in need. To find ways to get involved, call my office at 612.317.3477.

There are many competing emotions and thoughts filling my heart and mind, during these COVID-19 Stay At Home days. I have fear for those who are on the frontline of this global pandemic—including my daughter who is a paramedic. I feel deep sadness for those who are suffering from the disease, as well as those who face economic devastation due to the quarantine. I feel despair as I see the way the virus has disproportionally affected the health of racial and ethnic minorities. I feel hope, as I hear stories of people who sacrifice to help another. And, forced to stay home, I feel gratitude through reclaimed meditation and prayer practices.

One of the most troubling emotions and thoughts I have is in response to the apparent politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic. These times are challenging in so many ways. And people are bound to respond to these challenges in so many ways. I admit to feelings of anger and distress as I see the deep divide COVID-19 is exposing in our society through protests and calls for choosing the economy over life. If I am honest, these feelings turn toward judgement of people who I simply don’t understand.

In one of my daily meditation books, Twenty-Four Hours A Day, the reflection for the day pierced my heart. It provided a recalibration and re-centering for my thinking:

Try never to judge. The human mind is so delicate and so complex that only its Maker can know it wholly. Each mind is so different, actuated by such different motives, controlled by such different circumstances, influenced by such different sufferings; you cannot know all the influences that have gone to make up a personality. Therefore, it is impossible for you to judge wholly that personality. But God knows that person wholly and He can change it. Leave to God the unraveling of the puzzles of personality. And leave it to God to teach you the proper understanding.

As I try to process all these emotions and thoughts, I can be overwhelmed. My faith calls me to lean on God—to trust God. Only through this surrender of my own agenda, and recommitment to see God’s presence in all, can I find understanding –and ultimately find the courage, and love to work for charity, justice and peace.

Through Holy Week, we saw Jesus endure betrayals and violence—ultimately succumbing to death on a cross. Only after going through this pain and suffering did he find the gift of resurrection and new life. So too, we must be patient and steadfast as we go through these times of desperation and suffering. We are called to know the truth deep in our heart: God is present. If we walk through these challenges with grace and confidence in God’s steadfast love and presence, we will come out the other side whole and healed—both personally and as a community.

This is not easy. But this is the challenge of our day.  

 

This weekend, The Basilica was planning to hold our annual St. Vincent de Paul pledge drive. Once a year, The Basilica invites our community to learn about, pledge financial support, and become part of the important work of our St. Vincent de Paul ministry. We had brochures created, letters written, stories gathered, speakers identified, volunteers signed up. We were ready!

Yet, today we are being challenged to reconsider what it means to “be ready.” A new reality asks; how are we identifying, preparing, and responding to the unique needs of this day? 

As we learn how to live with COVID-19, and as we seek to make decisions respecting and upholding the common good, new questions arise—new paradigms are developed—new fears are unmasked—new hopes are uncovered—and new responses are called for.

The core of our Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry are relationships. Its mission is “To develop community by providing services to our guests and by working to help all fulfill their potential.” In practice, we know all benefit and experience transformation through these relationships: staff, volunteers, and those we serve. All are touched and changed in our work.

I see and hear the harsh realities of life under COVID-19 through my work at The Basilica. People are suffering. Those who were most vulnerable are more isolated and in greater need than before. Programs that serve have been suspended. People who felt secure are now insecure. The health risks are real, especially for the most vulnerable. The economics of the pandemic are unfathomable—and hitting many people hard today.

As we walk through Lent 2020, the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on Good Friday has become my guiding prayer. Jesus went with some of his disciples to pray. He was distressed and troubled. In his sorrow, he separated himself and fell to the ground. Three times he prayed that his burden would be removed. Yet, he yielded to the will of his Father. He grieved and struggled, and ultimately accepted what he had to do. We know how this story ends—with resurrection and the promise of new life. Yet it was a hard and painful journey. 

To get ready, Jesus went away to pray. He brought along companions. He was honest about his fears and courageous in his actions. Ultimately, he stood up and modeled a commitment to forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice and justice. 

As we live into the unimaginable reality of live-streamed Masses and closed-down cities, we are invited to reflect deeply on how we get ready. We are challenged to let go of preconceived needs and expectations, and surrender parts of our life that sustained us in the past. 

This Lent, as we walk through this pandemic together, we are challenged to find new ways to nurture and build relationships. We are inspired by the courage of first responders, the selflessness of grocery store workers, and the goodness of people who reach out “virtually” to check in and support another. Let us not forget those suffering around us. Though often invisible, we need one another.

Find Volunteer Opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic mary.org/volunteer.

 

 

Fear is a complicated emotion. It serves to protect—alerting us to possible danger. Sensing a threat, we freeze, take flight or fight for survival. When the threat is clear, we can respond appropriately. These instincts keep us safe, offering security and a chance to flourish.
 
Yet fear can also overwhelm us. When the threat is vague, diffuse or constant, we can find ourselves consumed by worry or anxiety. We struggle to make sense of our lives, as we experience times of change, economic uncertainty, natural disasters, terrorism, disease, unemployment, war or death. As we seek to process possible risks, we can find ourselves paralyzed—feeling powerless in front of uncertainty and challenges.
 
It is striking how pervasive anxiety is within our society today. Close to one in five people in the United States experience disruption in their life due to some form of anxiety. I hear it in conversations with parishioners, community members, family and friends of all ages. Manifested in many different ways, our brothers and sisters are struggling to find stability, security and meaning to their life amid challenges and uncertainty. 
 
How do we respond to fear, when it is pervasive and embedded in our lives? How do we reframe the questions we live, to remove the threat?
 
One paradigm to consider: The opposite of fear is trust. When we believe all shall be well and what is needed will be provided, we can let go of fear, worry or anxiety and find peace. 
 
Our faith provides the container for this trust. 
 
Scripture tells us that God understands our tendency to fear, and continually assures us—“It’s alright, I am here.” The phrase “fear not” is used at least 80 times in the Bible. 
• “Don't fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1
• “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
 
Pope Francis states: "The world has great fear, and spreads it. Often it makes this the key for interpreting history, and not infrequently adopts it as a strategy to build a world based on walls and trenches. We too can understand the reasons for fear, but we cannot embrace it, 'for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.' Let us draw from this spirit, and go: open doors, build bridges; weave bonds; establish friendships; promote unity. (Sept. 17, 2016)
 
Ultimately, where does fear lead us? Pope Francis suggests fear leads us to experience the feeling of being closed in on oneself—trapped. We become paralyzed, loosing an ability to dream, grow and create. He states, “When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others." (Prayer vigil at Campus Misericordiae, Krakow, Poland, July 31, 2016) 
 
This Lent, we have the opportunity to root our trust in God’s love and presence. We have the challenge to identify the anxiety in our lives. As we name the undercurrents of fear, God’s love gives us the courage to attend to our hope and dreams—to think about unfulfilled potential and to work toward unity and peace. With God, all things are possible and all shall be well. 
Catholics Vote tshirts

Faithful Citizenship

"We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern."  Pope Francis, 9/16/13

As Catholics, we bring the richness of our faith to the public square. We draw from both faith and reason as we seek to affirm the dignity of the human person and the common good of all. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers us a document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, to guide us as we seek to exercise our rights and duties as citizens.

Everyone is called to participate in public life and contribute to the common good.
Consider participating in two ways:

Minnesota Caucus
Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m
Precinct caucuses are meetings run by all Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values. Find your caucus and learn how to get involved at https://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ 

Minnesota Presidential Primary
Tuesday, March 3 
In 2016, legislation was passed establishing a presidential nomination primary—the first in Minnesota for decades. Two major parties have submitted candidates for the ballot. A voter’s choice of party ballot will be recorded and is private data. Vote in this important Presidential Primary on Super Tuesday. 
For questions and to learn where to vote, go to https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/presidential-primary/

 

 

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