Ministry Day keynoter says church needs laity’s voice
By Sue Schulzetenberg
The voice of the laity is needed in the church to help it face challenges and even to point out failures, Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe told about 1,000 people at this year’s Diocesan Ministry Day gathering Sept. 26 at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.
“If you’ve been silent for a long time, it can be very difficult to find your voice,” said Father Radcliffe, the event’s keynoter and capstone presenter. “ When you start to speak, you may rant, make ridiculous claims and generally show you don’t know the teaching of the church.”
However, when people do not voice a concern articulately, others should not silence them, but rather listen for a grain of truth and help them discover the words they were looking for, he said.
Father Radcliffe, former master general of the Dominican order, said that giving the laity a voice should not make members of the clergy nervous or cause them to feel they are losing their authority. One only has authority if one gives authority, he said. For example, Jesus spoke with authority because he recognized what people were trying to say. Often, when he met people he did not immediately give them grand statements but asked them what they needed.
The baptized are anointed to share Christ’s kingship, Father Radcliffe further explained, and in exercising Christ’s kingship, everyone has a role in the common responsibility for the common life.
Father Radcliffe quoted Pope Paul VI who said the laity need not wait passively for orders or directives to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live.
“That’s part of being grown-up; you have a say, you bear your responsibility, your kingship,” Father Radcliffe said.
He told DMD attendees that they are all anointed as prophets. Being a prophet, he said, is not about telling the future, but rather speaking God’s true word.
“We exercise our role as prophets a hundred times a day, talking, chatting, exchanging the news, gossiping, joking. Every time we use words, we’re making the great choice: do we speak words that give life? Or do we speak words that undermine?” he said.
Connecting with others
In addition to Radcliffe’s keynote, DMD included 43 learning sessions on topics including human resources, praying with Scripture, missions, youth ministry, relationships, liturgy and bullying. Forty-six organizations, plus diocesan offices, set up booths in the exhibit hall. Bishop John Kinney presided at Mass, with Father Radcliffe and priests of the diocese concelebrating.
Local religious communities were highlighted in various ways — with a blessing during Mass; by the keynoter, whom they sponsored; at booth displays and by their presence. Attendees also included parishioners, educators, parish staff, deacons and priests.
“This is a nice way to connect with all the teachers in the diocese,” said Amy O’Neal, media specialist for SS. Peter, Paul and Michael School in St. Cloud. “To see all these people so dedicated to Catholic schools and parishes in the diocese is so wonderful. There’s a lot of dedication and commitment.”
Sue Pundsack, a sixth-grade teacher at St. Mary School in Melrose, said she found the learning session on “lectio divina” very refreshing. The speaker explained how “lectio divina,” a form of prayerful meditation on the word of God, can be used with an object, image and Scripture. Pundsack plans to use the prayer method in her classroom.
“It is always a wonderful day for me,” said Jan Minke, faith formation director for St. Mary, Help of Christians in St. Augusta. You always learn so much. For me it’s a boost to make me want to share my faith and to be more confident. It strengthens my convictions.”
Bishop Kinney highlights importance of church’s social ministry
Years ago, when St. Cloud Bishop John Kinney was headed for a confirmation in the Bismarck Diocese, he stopped to pick up a man who was hitchhiking.
It was a snowy day and Bishop Kinney did not think anyone else would stop. The man told the bishop what it was like to be homeless. First, the man explained, when going into a town, one tries to find a food shelf, and if there aren’t any, then a place to wash up. The man said the best dumpsters were at pizza places because the boxes prevented food from sliding into the dumpster.
“There are a lot of people living like that day by day; there are a lot of young people who are living that way, day by day,” Bishop Kinney said.
Bishop Kinney explained the importance of social ministry in his Diocesan Ministry Day learning session titled after his new pastoral letter, “As I Have Done For You… So You Also Should Do.”
He said he revised the letter on social ministry, first written in 1998, because societal changes have taken place since the first version was written. Family farms have declined in numbers, populations have shifted and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has outlined seven themes of Catholic social teaching.
“I wanted make sure a document on social ministry would be up-to-date and include what the church is talking about,” he said.
Bishop Kinney explained what the pastoral letter includes and examples of how people in the St. Cloud Diocese are living out Catholic social teaching. He said the letter is not only meant to be read individually, but also in small groups, which he encourages.
“This is meant to be a good resource for you to really connect with Catholic social teaching,” he said.
“As I Have Done For You… So You Also Should Do,” is available in English and Spanish. Companion guides have been written for adults, youth leaders and college students.
For more information on the letter and accompanying materials, or to place an order, contact the Office of Social Concerns at 320-229-6020. The letter can also be purchased at the St. Cloud Bookshop and Archangel Books and Gifts in St. Cloud.
The Spirituality Center at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph will offer two sessions on Bishop Kinney’s pastoral letter on Catholic social teaching — on Oct. 3 and 17 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Attendees can attend either or both sessions. The fee is $15 per evening. For more information, contact Sister Eunice Antony at 320-363-8927.
Bullying expert offers insights
Barbara Coloroso — a speaker, author and educational consultant — provided insights on bullying during her Diocesan Ministry Day learning session, “The Bully, the Bullied, the Bystander: Breaking the Cycle of Violence.”
Here are some of her key points:
• Turning people into “its” and dehumanizing them leads to inhumane violence
• Kids who unquestioningly please adults will later eagerly follow peers
.• Parents should have flexibility and structure, like a backbone.• Bullies will smile after hurting someone because they gain pleasure from others’ pain
.• Bully children tend to have bully parents.
• Children should not need to be dependent on rewards to do good.
• Arts are critical for children; singing invites children to stand up straight, rather than hunching down.
• Nothing justifies mean.
• Never ignore a bullying situation.