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Day: March 14, 2016

“Dear Pope Francis” by Pope Francis, in conversation with Antonio Spadaro, S.J.


Dear Pope Francis” by Pope Francis, in conversation with Antonio Spadaro, S.J.; Tom McGrath, Project Managing Editor

c.2016, Loyola Press
$18.95 / higher in Canada
72 pages


Getting something in the mail is a lot of fun, isn’t it?

What was the last thing you got from the mailman?  Maybe a birthday card with money. Maybe you got a postcard from Grandma or a package from your Auntie. Getting mail is a nice surprise, even for Pope Francis. He receives letters from all over the world, as you’ll see in “Dear Pope Francis.”

Imagine being the guy who brings mail to Pope Francis. That’s what Antonio Spadaro did one day: on a “hot August afternoon,” he took thirty letters written by children from all over the world, and gave them to the Pope. Then Spadaro waited for answers, which he knew the Pope was eager to give.

“…these are tough questions!” the Pope said. Even so, he knew just what to say.

Pope Francis loves children, and he likes to talk with them and see their drawings. He remembers how it was when he was young: he liked to dance the tango, he liked soccer, and he recalls what it’s like when people you love argue.

Don’t argue, he says. “That will be good for everyone.”

In his answers to the letters, the Pope explains a few mysteries: a Canadian boy wanted to know what God did before the world was created. A boy from Argentina wanted to know how Jesus decided on twelve men as Apostles, instead of more. A Nicaraguan girl wanted to know if bad people have guardian angels. A boy from Syria asked the Pope if the world might be “as it was in the past…”

Lots of kids asked personal questions of the Pope:  What makes him happy?  Does the Holy Father feel like a father? What was the hardest thing he ever had to do?  If he could perform miracles, what would he change?

And then there are the really tough things: a Chinese boy asked if his grandpa will go to heaven. One child wanted to know if God can feed poor people. A Peruvian boy wanted to know where the miracles are. And an Australian boy asked if his mum in heaven has grown angel wings…

Out of the mouths of babes?  I think so; the questions inside “Dear Pope Francis” are sweet and innocent, but heavy in nature and they may be issues that you wrestle with, too. That means you’ll likely enjoy what you read, just as much as your child will.

The Pope you see from video and visits is inside this book: there’s love and joy here, as well as gentle humor and a delightful amount of insight on his life and personal thoughts.

Fr. Spadaro, in his afterword, tells what it was like to spend an afternoon with the Pope, where the letters came from, and how this book came to be.

For 6-to-13-year-olds, that makes the Pope more accessible. For adults, there’s a lot of comfort and wisdom in this book. For both of you together, “Dear Pope Francis” will get your stamp of approval.

Dieker stays as chamber leader, for now

Christine Dieker
Christine Dieker

Of the Keizertimes

And the new executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce is…

Actually, it’s still Christine Dieker for now.

Dieker announced during the monthly chamber luncheon on Tuesday at Keizer Quality Suites a person was offered the position, but was retained by her current boss.

“You get me for another couple of months, maybe three,” Dieker said. “I want to thank you for the wonderful experience. The executive director that was decided upon got an offer she couldn’t refuse from her current employer, so we are restarting the process.”

Dieker and Bob Zielinski, president of the Keizer Chamber Board of Directors, both declined to name finalists when asked after the luncheon. Zielinski gave the same story as Dieker.

“We made our decision,” Zielinski said. “She had accepted our offer and she walked into her boss’s office to resign. Her company wanted to keep her and made her an offer that made her decide to stay. We are starting over.”

Dieker said there were 20 applicants the first time around, with eight or nine of those people getting interviews. There were two finalists decided upon, with one getting the offer.

“She was a great person, but she got a better offer where she was. She’s a real asset for them,” Dieker said.

The executive director job has been reposted on the chamber website at The deadline to apply is Monday, April 4.

There are two key differences with the job listing this time, with the most obvious being the pay.

“There’s an increase in pay, and we wanted to clarify how the insurance could be broken out,” Dieker said.

The pay is listed as $62,000 which includes an optional $7,000 health insurance stipend if desired. There is also a $60 monthly cell phone stipend.

By comparison, the pay range last time was $45,000 to $50,000.

When the news was originally announced in early December, the plan was for an offer to be made to a new director on Feb. 3. Dieker hoped to help with the transition through the end of that month and show the ropes, but that hasn’t happened yet.

According to Dieker, the revised deadline calls for interviews to start in early April and for the new person to be on board by mid-May.

“It would be ideal to have them on board by the Keizer Iris Festival,” she said. “I’ve been looking forward to changes, but this job has always been a blessing.  My family has been supportive of me staying on board.”

Dieker would like to focus on building up the various runs put on by the chamber.

“The potential of the runs is amazing,” she said. “I really feel I can grow those if I can focus on them. But by still doing this, I can’t stir the run pot as much as I’d like.”

Dieker took over the position in March 1998.