Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out and About – September 2010

The summer dying . . .
September lives in flame.

"Flaming September"
Marianne Faithfull
(from the 1995 album A Secret Life)

Where did the summer go? Indeed, the whole year seems to be just speeding by. And now the radiant colors of autumn surround me – overhead and underfoot. It is definitely a beautiful time of year – especially in Minnesota. The colors this year seem particular brilliant – no doubt because of all the rainfall we received throughout the summer. Indeed, I didn't need to water my garden once! The hose never left the garage.

Of course, the down side to this was that I never really spent time in my garden this summer. I basically let it take care of itself. Not surprisingly, it felt like having stranger hanging around outside the house, a stranger with whom I had no real engagement. I kinda regret that now. But then it was a very busy summer for me, so maybe it was just as well that I didn't have to worry about the garden.

Above and right: The big event in September was the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's Synod of the Baptized: "Claiming Our Place at the Table," which took place on Saturday, September 18, at the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis Hotel.

I had the honor of being one of the main organizers of this inspiring event – one that saw 500 Catholics gather in a spirit of hope and joy to discuss ideas and strategies for church reform.

My friend Paula Ruddy, another key organizer, has written a report on the synod for The Progressive Catholic Voice. It can be read here.

Above: Paul Lakeland, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, CT, and author of The Liberation of the Laity, Catholicism at the Crossroads, and Church: Living Communion delivered the synod's keynote address: “The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission.”

Following is a brief excerpt from Lakeland's insightful and inspiring keynote address:

If we pay close attention to our national or even our local Church, which is certainly where we can have the most impact, I think it is helpful for us to reflect on the not altogether alarming possibility that our Church has entered hospice care. This startling thought, with which I first became acquainted in an address that Fr. Bryan Massingale gave to the priests of the Milwaukee archdiocese, suggests that the structures of the Church as we have known it are dying. Like the loved one in hospice care, it is coming to the end of a long, fruitful and loving life spent in the service of God. Its accomplishments should be cherished and celebrated, in the knowledge that God is about to wonderfully change them into some new life. After death comes resurrection, in the Christian view of things. But as Christians we also know that it is God who brings the new life and that it will be wonderfully changed from the old life while being its culmination and fruition.

Whenever a loved one is dying, the temptations to denial and despair are always present, and this is no less true when the patient is the American Catholic Church as we have known it. In my view, this is what is going on in the conservative or traditional temperament, whether among the baptized in general or in the ranks of the hierarchy. They love the Church, just as more progressive Christians do. But they love it in denial of the life of the Spirit, which will persist beyond the death of the present form, so they cling to the details of the Church the way it has been. But be warned, the liberals have their own form of this problem. If traditionals are in denial, liberals can be tempted to despair. Like the traditionals, liberals too can fail to put enough trust in the Spirit, in this case in the power of the Spirit to overcome the entropy of traditionalism. For both groups, hope in the power of the Spirit to lead us into the future is sometimes lacking.

Looking to the future, on the other hand, is not a matter of waiting for the Spirit to act, but of acting prayerfully with trust in the guidance of the Spirit . . .

To read the full transcript of Lakeland's keynote address, click
here. For a printable PDF version, click here.

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.

Left: Terry Dosh is presented with the Adsum Award by CCCR board members and synod organizers Brian Willette and Mary Beckfeld.

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.

Right: My friend 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.

For a detailed history of CPCSM's Safe Staff Training Project, one which culminated with the 2007 publication of the book, Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective, click here.

Also, for the installments to date in The Wild Reed series documenting CPCSM's relationship with the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, click here, here, and here.

Left: Bret Hesla (left) and my friend Kathleen Olsen (right) were just two of the numerous musicians and singers who shared their gifts at September 18's Synod of the Baptized. Liturgy, prayer and music played an important role throughout the day – contributing mightily to the spirit of joy and hope that infused proceedings.

Right: Pictured second from left with Paul Lakeland and friends Eileen and Bernie Rodel. Bernie serves as a co-chair of CCCR, along with Paula Ruddy and I.

Interestingly, a few days before the synod, it came to the our attention that some within the chancery of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis disagreed with that part of CCCR's synod media release that stated that CCCR "considers itself in union with Archbishop John Nienstedt and as working for church reform within the Catholic tradition."

When the media release was posted on The Wild Reed, archdiocesan spokesperson Dennis McGrath left a comment which, in part, said: "CCCR is not 'in union' with either the Archbishop nor the Archdiocese in any way, shape or form."

To read Paula Ruddy's thoughtful reflection on what it means for Catholics in a diocese to “be in union” with their bishop, and CCCR's official response to McGrath's statement, click here.

Above: Doug and Nikki: My beautiful man and his cute little dog!

Above and below: Electric violinist and Emmy-winning composer Mark Wood performing with young musicians from the Twin Cities - including my friend Joey on violin.

Wood, a respected music educator, had been invited to the Twin Cities by two public school music teachers. The young people invited to play with him learned their music in less than two weeks. The concert they performed took place on September 24 at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. It was a great – dare I say, electrifying – night of music!

Above: Standing third from left with other local faith leaders at a press conference in Coon Rapids, MN, that focused on the Anoka-Hennepin School Board's refusal to implement anti-bullying education programs aimed specifically at anti-gay bullying. There have been seven suicides in the past year by students who attended or were connected with Anoka-Hennepin schools. At least four of these young people had been harassed and bullied by their classmates for being gay or for being perceived as gay.

I plan on writing more about this tragic situation very soon. So stay tuned! In the mean time, check out the previous Wild Reed post, Dave Navarro to LGBT Youth: "We Need to Hear Your Voice", and the Star Tribune article, Schools Struggle with Gay Policies.

Above and below: Autumn colors along the Mississippi River – Thursday, September 30, 2010. "Flaming September," indeed!

Above: Young Cass, pausing in his gathering of herbs from his grandparents' garden in South Minneapolis – September 30, 2010.

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