.....+Timothy's vision statement at Pius XI High School on Friday.
We were all there:
and priests and deacons;
and consecrated folk;
and various and sundry Church workers;
and a lot of regular old just plain Catholics;
and one canonically-incorrect anchor hold dweller.
And we (every single one of us and us all together) have to be the light of Christ to the world.
The Church is like the dawn, for there is both light and darkness together --- +Timothy said quoting some saint whose name I didn't catch --- and that is obvious both in the glory and in the pain.
There were words to say about the planning processes, both the parish one and the strategic one. +Timothy had written down his list at the beginning and stashed it away in his prayer-place. When the results of the processes --- the goals, the visions, the priorities --- had come out, he took his own little list out, and was pleased (and a little surprised) at how much his list and ours were alike.
It's not about maintenance, it's about mission!
The goals/priorities/vision of our Church in Milwaukee can be expressed in six points, he said.
(1) Seek ye first the Kingdom of God --- always, always first. (it's about interior conversion of heart: "The Kingdom of God is within you")
---- emphasis on the Sunday Eucharist
---- avoiding any parish or school scheduling that conflicts with Sunday Mass
---- promoting regular attendence at Sunday Mass
---- celebrating Sunday Mass with beauty, dignity, reverence, and the very best the parish has to offer, according to the General Instruction, etc., etc.
---- remember that the Eucharist is without and beyond the walls (the Pope spoke of that in this week's apostolic letter, though he did not use those words!)
---- return to frequent use of Reconciliation
---- promote retreat opportunities
(2) To strengthen the parishes.
all of the Archdiocese's/Central Office's/Chancery's activities exest to support the parishes, not the other way around.
---- be certain that chancery offices serve and assist the parishes. Look for the ways this can be best done. Examples include payroll services, land management, insurance pool, and suchlike services.
---- continuation of parish planning with building, expanding, and merging, and prudent assignment of priests.
---- relieve priests of the overwhelming administrative load to allow them to work as priests and do the things that only priests can do.
---- encourage priestly vocations. The number of seminarians is still rising but there is plenty of room (and need) for more. (Could every one of us, in the next, let's say, three years, raise up one vocation to the priesthood, the deaconate, or religious life?)
---- retrieve our "fallen aways"
(3) Foster a sense of vocation.
Every member of the Church, by reason of baptism, has a mission.
yet must promote vocations to (a) Marriage and (b) priesthood and religious life.
We absolutely must foster the sacred vocations of husband, wife, father, and mother. In many ways the priesthood/religious life vocations will take care of themselves if we have healthy faithful families.
---- Proposes the "Nazareth Institute on Marriage and Family Life".
(4)Strengthen Catholic education and faith formation.
(a) the Catholic K-12 school system
(b) religious education for children not in Catholic schools
(c) need for adult faith formation
(d) and for formation in the critical age group post-high-school, pre-marriage.
The Catholic schools have to be affordable to all Catholic students (and they definitely aren't at this time!). Every Catholic student who wants a Catholic school should be able to go (and this isn't right now either).
We may need to build more high schools [understatement?] and definitely need to strengthen the thirteen we already have. And not just academically, but spiritually --- these are not private prep schools, but Catholic schools first!
Adult faith formation has to be readily available --- some parishes do a great job, some not-so-hot --- and this formation could happen in coordination with the two seminaries and five Catholic colleges and universities.
We must train catechists. And support them in their ministry. Volunteer have been working very hard and with the best intent, but not always with the knowledge they should have to do the very best by our children.
And there have to be high-quality homilies at Sunday Mass --- those homilies may be the only "continuing religious ed" many adult Catholics get, for, after all, can't make them go to class......
(5) Emphasis on the mission of justice and peace
The poor and the needy and the alien have always looked to the Church. And we are always called beyond just ourselves and ours, even to the Church Universal.
---- St. Vincent de Paul societies
---- parish twinning
---- shelter work [like Cathedral Center]
---- meal programs
---- etc., etc., etc.
---- strengthen Church presence in the central cities
---- be in the forefront of welcoming immigrants from wherever. "Catholic immigrants are as much at home in the Church as any of us. It is their home, too."
---- defense of the lives of babies in the womb
---- support of Catholic hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, etc., as specifically Catholic institutions, not secular businesses or human warehouses.
---- ministry to prisoners, who must never be forgotten.
---- Mass and homilies form us as witnesses to the whole world.
---- Ecumenical and interfaith outreach
(6) ("and you all knew this was coming") Stewardship
We have to share our time, our talents, and our treasure. A lot of the stuff already mentioned is going to require money.
Some specific points:
---- central services to hold to a budget within the cathedraticum ("parish tax"), freeing other cash, such as the Stewardship Appeal, for other use.
---- an archdiocesan capital campaign for those parish expansions, new high schools, other capital improvements needed.
---- build an endowment for the support of central ministries.
---- increase Catholic Stewardship Appeal to intake $10 million/year.
[first two from the email, others in person]
---- Guidelines for Catholic voters?
---- Why is it important for people to get involved in their parishes.
---- More queries about election issues
---- About the factions in the Church (yes, they are awful)
---- Issue of Confession for very young children, concern about insisting on the sacrament for children not yet capable of mortal sin, and for whom "sin" means "whatever made a grownup mad." ( from a woman who said "I'm probably what you'd call part of the darkness, but I am a godmother")
---- "When will we see the end of exclusive language in the Liturgy?" [the only question that seemed to startle +Timothy, but only for a moment.]
---- about children in faith formation --- could +Timothy visit sometimes? --- problems with CCD kids not being brought to Sunday Mass, so where would they ever see or hear a priest or bishop?
---- merging/closing parishes changing to building/growing parishes
---- when will Redemptionis sacramentum be implemented? [Both questioner and various clauses of +Timothy's answer were applauded --- but not by the same people.]
---- needs and desires of teenaged Catholics, high schools, CCD, etc.
---- what makes Catholic hospitals, SNFs, etc. distinctively different from their secular counterparts.
So, this is how our archbishop sees our future. There are still a few more of these meetings, including on Thursday at Messmer high, and a few out beyond where the transit goes whence dwell dragons [grin], with different folk to talk with afterwards and different people asking their own questions .... If you are Milwaukean, I highly recommend your attendance. Recall the arms of Moses ....