Monday, September 20, 2010

Synod of the Baptized Uncovers Deep Well of Hope

By Paula Ruddy

If signs of the Holy Spirit’s action in a group are joy and hope, Saturday’s Synod of the Baptized was a Spirit-filled place. Most of us were not able to see tongues of fire, but we heard voluble talk and shining eyes while people spoke of their experience of oneness.

The experience boiled over into Sunday liturgies in at least three parishes with many Synod goers.

Sponsored by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) and held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Industrial Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis, the Synod attracted 492 participants. About 40 signed up who, when the day arrived, were not able to come.

Paul Lakeland, Fairfield University professor and prolific author, spoke on the mission of the Church and what we have to do to become the Church we need. (To read the full transcript of his keynote address, click here. For a printable PDF version, click here.)

Lakeland is an ecclesiologist, a student of the theology of Church. He said the mission of the Church is to the world and the role of the institutional structure of the Church is to support the laity in doing that mission. The test of the value of any policy or practice of the institutional Church is whether it supports the laity in its mission.

The Synod was a full day of talk and plans for action.

The two-hour afternoon break-out sessions were conducted by the Coalition’s 10 work/study groups. At work since April 18, 2009, they zeroed in on policies and practices and tested them in the strobe light of conscience. Some questions we asked:

• Does the culture of clericalism among an exclusively male clergy, supported by the discipline of mandatory celibacy, serve us in showing to the world a community of equality and holiness? Or does it stand in our way?

• What is the strength of our Catholic identity? Do we need strong identity to do the mission?

• What about the depth of our psychological development with regard to intimacy and out spiritual awareness as a community? Does Church teaching support our individual growth?

• How do we form our children in the faith?

• What about our commitment to social justice?

Some work/study groups turned their minds to questions of structures that are needed to support the laity in doing the Church’s mission.

• What kind of communication structures are needed?

• What kind of leadership do we need and how can we have a voice in selecting the leadership?

All the talk led to the plan of action. The Action Coordinating Team (ACT) of CCCR took over the Synod after the break-out sessions. They asked the Synod participants to sign up for organizing ways to wake ourselves up to awareness of the mission and to ask for institutional support to fulfill it.

The local Church of St. Paul and Minneapolis is rapidly changing. On October 16-17, the Archbishop will announce his decisions about streamlining the parish system of the Archdiocese to save money and to accommodate the priest shortage. We do not know yet whether this reorganization will serve us in doing the Church’s mission. We have been told that it is in the service of mission but it is not immediately obvious how that is so. Our intent is to organize ourselves to act responsibly during the reorganization process.

Click here to view the sign-up sheet and to volunteer to help organize.


Above: Over 400 people filled the Grand Minnesota Ballroom of the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis Hotel for the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's September 18 Synod of the Baptized: "Claiming Our Place at the Table."

Left: An overflow room was set up in the hotel's Itasca Ballroom for an additional 80 attendees.

Right: Terence Dosh and David McCaffrey, recipients of CCCR's inaugural Adsum Award, presented at the Synod of the Baptized.

Adsum is a Latin word which means "I am present and listening." Whenever the participants in Vatican II were gathered at St. Peter's Basilica their traditional prayer was the exclamation: adsumus - "we are present and listening." The Adsum Award recognizes those individuals who are known within the local church for having committed to being present and attentive to the Spirit. Accordingly, they have served as partners with the Spirit in re-creating the face of the church here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Terry is a married priest and church historian who for over 40 years has been a dedicated advocate for church reform. Inspired by the vision of church launched by Vatican II, Terry began research on mandatory celibacy in 1962. This led him to significant involvement over the next four decades with numerous church reform organizations, including CORPUS, the International Federation of Married Priests, Call to Action Minnesota, and various other Catholic organizations for renewal. He also helped found the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) in 1980, serving on its board for 24 years. Since 1975, Terry has edited and published four church reform newsletters, the latest being Bread Rising. He has also taught church history, scripture, and justice and peace topics extensively in parishes and other forums within the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

David McCaffrey is one of six co-founders of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), an organization that has worked since 1980 within the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis for the equality and dignity of LGBT individuals and their families. In the 1980's, David played a crucial role in CPCSM's groundbreaking Needs Assessment Survey of local LGBT Catholics. He was also the executive producer of CPCSM's 1988 video, Silent Journeys of Faith, and the editor of its companion guidebook. Both resources were major components in CPCSM's training workshops given to pastoral and social justice professionals of 25 parishes throughout the archdiocese. In the 1990's, David played a major role in the development and implementation of CPCSM's Safe Staff Training Project, which provided sensitivity training around LGBT issues to the educational leadership of the archdiocese and to administrators and faculties of eight of the high schools of the archdiocese.

Liturgy, prayer and music played an important role throughout the day - contributing mightily to the spirit of joy and hope that infused proceedings.

Above: Bret Hesla (left) and Kathleen Olsen (right) were just two of the numerous musicians and singers who shared their gifts at September 18's Synod of the Baptized.

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

1 comment:

  1. " What is the strength of our Catholic identity?" This is the key question in my opinion. I have communicated about it for years. I'll try again since I have a new audience who genuinely seeks answers. The work/study groups are essential. Esteemed and beloved Progressive Catholics, your intellectual desire is basic. There is plenty of assistance available to sort out the issues. It is the political will to become more serious that is so needed. You are the only group in the church that I have seen in about 70 some years that has the honesty and courage to really pursue the truth wholeheartedly and then to act in the light of the truth. May you flourish!