History was made in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis when 19 men and women accepted commissions as members of the first lay-organized Council of the Baptized in the archdiocese.
The commissioning ceremony, which took place Saturday, Oct. 22, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, set a precedent as the first organization of its kind for the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The Council’s mission is to hear the voices of the faithful throughout the archdiocese and to be the vehicle of communication among them and with hierarchical leadership. The Council’s purpose is to strengthen the Catholic community to carry on the mission of the Church in the world.
Nineteen women and men answered the community’s summons to leadership to serve the first two year term on the Council. By archdiocesan quadrant, they are: Dan DeWan, Tom Hallberg, Becky Leuer, and Mary Beth Stein from the Northeast quadrant; Michael Anderson, Bob DeNardo, Paul Mandell and Brent Vanderlinden from the Southeast quadrant; Don Conroy, Carol Larsen, and Mary Jane Santele from the Northwest quadrant; Nancy Gotto, Karin Grosscup, Lyn Yount, and Amy Zabransky from the Southwest quadrant; and Rosemary Desmond, David Jasper, Joan Mitchell, and Lisa Vanderlinden, members at large.
The call to leadership in the Council came from the approximately 400 Catholics at the Synod of the Baptized on September 17, 2011. From the 214 nominations, these nineteen people responded yes to the call. The Council’s charter provides for sixteen members representing quadrants of the Archdiocese and five members at large. The Council has one opening in the Northwest quadrant and one opening in the membership at large.
Synod participants are working on thirty-two proposals for position papers and programs that they will bring to the Council for endorsement and publication. Teams are meeting in homes to prepare position papers on subjects such as the need for lay preaching, the need for communication with youth and alienated Catholics, the need to welcome all to the Eucharistic table. The people will make their voices heard on their concerns of conscience through the Council of the Baptized.
Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and at its direction, many dioceses established Pastoral Councils. They were advisory to the bishop of the diocese, composed of lay people, and enjoyed varying degrees of influence depending on the bishop. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had a Pastoral Council until the 1980’s when it was disbanded. The Council of the Baptized established today is entirely lay organized and has no official authorization but is consistent with church canon law:
According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which [the laity] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons. (Canon 212 §3)
Also, Christian faithful, either as lay persons alone or in an association with clerics, may organize in "a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate . . ." (Canon 298 §1)
In that spirit and in concert with church law, the Council of the Baptized invites participation from all the faithful and dialogue with the hierarchical leadership in the spirit of Vatican II.
The Council’s organization was sponsored by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), but it is now an independent organization with its own leadership and purposes.
Images: Kathryn Warneke.