Our 2014 Assembly turned talk into action. This historical event took place Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, Connecticut. If you were unable to attend, just click here to see a copy of the agenda.
The 2014 Assembly featured guest speakers John L. Allen, Jr., Associate Editor for Catholic news and analysis at The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter, and Fr. Thomas Reese, NCR’s Senior Analyst, former Editor-in-Chief of America magazine and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.
Six afternoon workshops helped us turn talk into action. Each workshop was presented twice, so participants could attend at least two workshops:
- “Parish Level Financial Accountability: Tools for Securing Collections” covered simple steps that you can take to secure your Sunday collections from basket to bank and all points in between.
- “Diocesan Level Financial Accountability: The Montana Hustle Case Study” showed how one Parish Finance Council doggedly pursued their bishop after their pastor misused funds and how new tools VOTF is developing will help monitor your diocese’s finances.
- “Clericalism” define what is clericalism, how we can recognize its signs, and how we can remove remove this primary obstruction to collegial lay participation in our Church.
- “Priestless Parishes: There IS An Answer” showed how we can open the doors to optional celibacy and a priesthood embracing the celibate and the married, and ensure the availability of the Eucharist.
- “Female Voices” covered how we can change the equation in a Church that too often positions women only in a mother or helper role and discussed today’s realities and the potential for the future with four women who serve as pastoral associates and in positions of ministry.
- “Survivor Support: What You Can Do” discussed how, despite sexual trauma and clergy betrayal that leave scars that may involve rejecting church hierarchy and structure, the need for non-clerical spirituality continues. Fr. Thomas Doyle also explored ways of healing and fulfillment.
An expert panel also discussed Pathways to Healing and Reform. Panelists presented views on how we might restore our Church. Panel members included Fr. James Connell, a canon lawyer and retired pastor who helped found the Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Thomas Porter, a trial lawyer, mediator, and Methodist minister, who teaches restorative justice in Boston University’s School of Theology; and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program at the Northern Virginia Medication Service, and former chair of VOTF’s Board of Trustees.
Click here to read the 2014 Assembly’s opening and closing prayers.