By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Diocesan Pastoral Council members covered a variety of topics Nov. 7 including a new faith-building initiative, parish planning, Year of Mercy preparations and their impressions of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.
Bishop Martin Amos began the meeting with the prayer for the Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8 at the Vatican. Following prayer, Don Boucher of the diocesan Faith Formation Office introduced two teens from the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee (DYMC) who exuded enthusiasm for their faith and ministry.
“We’re passionate about our faith; we’re passionate about our ministry. We get to help make that connection with other kids,” said Wendolyn Hannum, 15, a student at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Fort Madison.
“I’ve always been very passionate about the youth voice. So when it comes to the youth voice and faith, those merge together to create something very powerful for me,” said Louis Del Vecchio, 17, of Our Lady of Victory Parish and Davenport Central High School in Davenport.
Both students plan to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 19-21 in Indianapolis. They are among 840 youths and adults from the Davenport Diocese planning to attend NCYC. “That’s about 50 to 60 more people than we had the last time,” said Boucher, who leads the Faith Formation Office and Youth Ministry.
Getting faith to stick
Boucher told the council members that DYMC is an important part of the Faith Formation Office. The involvement of young Catholics in the church is an essential element of passing on the faith, he said. Equally important is for parishes to partner with parents in helping that faith “to stick” into adulthood. At the present time, many youths — even those actively engaged in their faith — leave the church as adults and don’t return.
The Davenport Diocese is involved in a pilot project of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry aimed at facilitating change that will help make faith “stick” for young Catholics. The pilot project, a three-year process, will include conversations at the parish and diocesan levels with parents, youths, young adult Catholics and adults involved in youth and young adult ministry.
T Waldmann-Williams, PhD, asked how the initiative fits in with the Strong Catholic Families Strong Catholic Youth initiative that kicked off Oct. 7-8 at her parish, St. Anthony’s in Knoxville. Boucher said the two initiatives fit together. “Strong Catholic Families Strong Catholic Youth (SCFSCY) gives us a jumping-off point to begin this process.” He noted that five parishes have expressed interest in SCFSCY and two of the parishes are committed.
Diocesan Pastoral Council President Ken Miller asked whether a group of young adults in his parish, St. John Vianney in Bettendorf, would fit into the conversation process. “Oh, yes,” Boucher said.
Parish planning update
Bishop Amos informed the council that five priests will retire effective July 1, 2016, which will require part of the Parish Plan (developed in 2011) to take effect in some parishes. The priest personnel board will be reviewing the annual survey of priests on their preferences for placement in parishes. Roseanne Wisor, a new member of the council, reported that the parish cluster of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is going very well. In August, Sacred Heart Parish in Lost Nation and St. James Parish in Toronto merged to create Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
The parish is clustered with Sacred Heart Parish in Oxford Junction and Ss. Philip & James Parish in Grand Mound. Bishop Amos said he was impressed at how everyone came together and listened to one another in the planning process. It was a wonderful experience.”
Carol Kaalberg, cluster coordinator for Ss. Mary and Joseph Catholic Churches in Lone Tree, Nichols and Hills, reported how that cluster is working with seven other parishes in the region. “We continue to dialogue and share,” she said. Waldmann-Williams asked Bishop Amos asked about the possibility of sharing priests across diocesan lines. While that is happening with the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary cluster, other areas of Iowa need to have priests obtain a letter of suitability to minster across diocesan lines for one year at a time, the bishop said.
Year of Mercy
Deacon David Montgomery, diocesan chancellor, showed the council the diocesan website that has been created for the Year of Mercy. The website (http://www.davenportdiocese.org/YearOfMercy.htm) features resources and information about the Year of Mercy in the universal church and the local church. Also listed are the churches in the diocese’s six deaneries that will serve as pilgrimage sites during the Year of Mercy. Bishop Amos will open the Holy Year Door at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, the mother church in the diocese, on Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. A communal penance service will be held later that day at 3 p.m. at the cathedral. Kaalberg shared that parishioners are getting excited about the Year of Mercy because the Nichols church is one of the designated pilgrimage sites. “To be a pilgrimage site, it’s a whole new dimension of what it means to be church in the Diocese of Davenport.” She described the elaborate display that has been placed in the church in preparation for the Year of Mercy. Miller talked about the Year of Mercy planning process that St. John Vianney Parish initiated. In the process, the parish asked itself “are we a welcoming church?” Activities are planned and a welcome center is being established in the gathering space.
U.S. visit of Pope Francis
Diocesan Pastoral Council members were deeply moved by the visit of Pope Francis to the United States. “I continue to be very touched by his approach to the poor, the children, his visit to the prison,” said Sister Laura Goedken, O.P., the diocese’s development director. “I was inspired by how much he knew about our country,” Miller said. “You can hear the gratitude in his voice. He sees the goodness in everything,” observed Nancy Roberson of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. “He’s positive, but he challenged people at the same time, too.”
Msgr. John Hyland, the diocese’s vicar general, was moved by Pope Francis greeting every prisoner in the room at the prison he visited and his message encouraging them to not give up. “His speech to the prisoners really touched my heart.” The speech also caused Msgr. Hyland to wonder “how much do we do to reform our prisoners?”