In the Vineyard :: July 31, 2022 :: Volume 22, Issue 14
Join Us for VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration
Twenty years! Please join us on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Boston Marriott Hotel Newton, when our friends and supporters will gather (in person again!) to pray, learn, plan, and socialize–as a community–when we honor our commitment, 20 years and continuing, to Keep the Faith, Change the Church. The venue is familiar to us for its good food, comfortable meeting space and accommodations, and generous room discount.
Prof. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., from Boston College will present an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Tom says. Dr. Groome’s work What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations recently won the top award in the Religious Education category at the 2022 Catholic Media Association conference. In 2020, Tom received top place from the Catholic Press Association for his book Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality.
We also will have our own Synod update and report for you plus updates on the three major studies VOTF conducts: diocesan financial transparency and accountability, governance via Diocesan Finance Councils, and the first national analysis of all 177 dioceses and their child protection and Safe Environment practices. You also don’t want to miss a report on women’s roles and our collaborative work for greater input from the centuries-neglected half (and more) of the Church.
Added attractions: Special appearance by Dr. Phyllis Zagano, recognized worldwide as the premiere scholar on women deacons, who will lead us in Grace before the luncheon and serve as acolyte for the closing Mass with Fr. Bill Clark, who led the benediction during our virtual conferences, and the Paulist Center Community Choir with Normand Gouin, renowned pastoral musician and composer.
Event: Voice of the Faithful 20th Year Commemoration
Date: Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022
Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Lunch included) P.S. It’s a delicious buffet.
Place: Boston Marriott Hotel Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton MA
A venue familiar to us for its good food, comfortable meeting
space and accommodations, and a generous room discount.
Women in the Church Gain Visibility and Leadership Roles
As women are hired and appointed to increasingly higher positions in the Catholic Church, they continue to lead the way for the women who will follow.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis has appointed three women to be members of the Dicastery for Bishops, the office that selects bishops. Italian Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E. is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and has been the highest-ranking woman in the Vatican since she was appointed by Pope Francis in 2021 as the Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State. French Yvonne Reungoat, F.M.A., is the second, who was appointed to the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life by Pope Francis prior to this appointment. His third appointee to the Dicastery for Bishops is Argentinian Maria Lia Zervino, president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s organizations and member of the Association of Consecrated Servant Virgins (Asociación de Vírgenes Consagradas Servidoras). These three women join 11 clerics also appointed to the Dicastery for Bishops, announced earlier this month.
In France, Marie-Anne Vitry of the Archdiocese of Poitiers was appointed the episcopal delegate for coordinating the Chrism Mass, a symbolic appointment that she says is “an important liturgical aspect to fight against the invisibility of women in the Catholic Church.”
In St. Louis, Missouri, Katie Jansen was recently hired to the position of Parish Life Coordinator at the St. Francis Xavier Church. She is one of only three women to hold this position in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, including 180 churches. In high school, she says, she took an aptitude test that told her she had potential to be a coach or a priest. Nearly three decades later, she works alongside a priest, Father Daniel White, and she says “divine intervention” played a role in her career. She began working as the Parish Administrator in 2015 at St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit parish at St. Louis University, taking care of tasks to allow the priest “to do more things pastors should be doing,” she says. She served in that role until early 2022, working to support ministry teams in the parish addressing racism and poverty in their community, as well as working to draw more young people into the parish and supporting opportunities for lay leadership.
Her new position as Parish Life Coordinator combines the human resources, church financial management, and facilities coordination of the Parish Administrator position with spiritual leadership in the Church. Her new role allows her to work with “parishioners and ministry staff to set the vision and goals of the parish.” She says, “I feel like I’m blazing a trail. I love it, but it’s also terrifying. Now everybody is looking at me. But that’s okay. I hope we’re developing a model here that other parishes might follow. I want to see more opportunities for lay people – and especially women – to contribute to the direction of the church. It’s something I’ve really hoped and prayed for.”
As women hold increasingly important roles in the Catholic Church, their appointments echo many of the notes emerging during the Diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality. Many report that women, and in particular lay women, wish to be represented and respected in their parishes. Pope Francis has signaled his commitment to appointing women to vital roles, and perhaps these appointments in parishes are a sign that his actions are trickling down throughout the Church.
For VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the Church, please see here.
- Australian Catholic Church ‘very open’ to elevating role of women, By Matthew Knott, The Sydney Morning Herald
- Women helping pick bishops helps whole church, says new Vatican Dicastery member, By Justin McLellan, National Catholic Reporter
Synod Summary Reports Share Common Themes
The theme of the Synod on Synodality is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.” This theme is borne out in the messages in the summary reports emerging from dioceses, where reports note that participants wish for more support and welcoming, particularly to remarried or divorced parishioners, the LGBTQ+ community, and young adults.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s committee synthesized the participants’ experiences in two categories: where there are challenges and difficulties, and where there have been positive experiences. Generally, Auxiliary Bishop Bruce A. Lewandowski, C.Ss.R. says, “The challenges outweighed the areas of positive experience or where things are going well, where we’re journeying well. I don’t think we’re unique in that, as I’ve talked to folks around in different dioceses and actually being at the conference here has helped with that significantly.”
Participants were happy with their local communities: in their parishes, they feel there is good communication and collaboration. They wished for change in areas they felt were concerning, including racism in the community, the dearth of young people, women’s roles in the church, and the need for more transparency and clarity in teachings. The messages from individual synodal conversations will be presented with topics that came up more frequently prominently represented. The archbishop, William E. Lori, believes that the process is going well: “I think this is extremely valuable. It’s not a 30,000-foot view of the archdiocese. That’s too high up. It’s not quite treetop. But it’s just above the treetops and it enables me and my coworkers to have a kind of a good sense of what’s going on.”
In the Archdiocese of New York, Elizabeth Guevara de Gonzalez, the director of the Adult Faith Formation Office, is relieved to have completed the synodal listening sessions and report process. “It’s great to know that this part is done and so now, moving forward, it’s all about next steps in Synodality here in the archdiocese,” she says. Commonly mentioned in listening sessions in this archdiocese were themes about young people, women’s roles in the church, and clarity of teaching, similarly to those that rose to the top in Baltimore.
While the goal of this synod was to listen and walk together, another important theme mentioned in the report is that parishioners wished to know their communities better. “There were lots of people saying, ‘I don’t’ know the person in the next pew’ and ‘I serve with people within my parish and we do good work, but I don’t know who I’m serving with,’” Ms. de Gonzalez explained.
A major goal of the 2023 synod was to practice synodality itself: listening and being in communion with others. To that end, Bishop Lewandowski in Baltimore believes it has been successful. Francisco Garcia-Quezada, a member of St. Peter and St. Mary of the Assumption parish in Haverstraw, NY, agrees, saying, “The Pope has asked us to really have input into almost like a needs assessment but also an evaluation and a reflection of where the church is at and where it’s heading.”
As reports continue to be submitted, rich descriptions of the needs and opportunities for growth within the church will continue to be discussed and hopefully addressed.
AUSCP Conference Videos
The 4.5-day annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests always includes top-notch speakers. Their June 2022 meeting in Linthicum MD was no exception. The presentations by Bishop John Stowe of Lexington and by Fr. Dan Horan, a young theologian, were especially energizing. The videos of their talks are not yet available but soon will be. In the meantime, you can read Bishop Stowe’s address or link to the other speaker videos on the AUSCP website.
One recommendation: Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, spoke on “Decenter and Transcend: A Priesthood for the Healing of Our Church and World.” The video is available by clicking on the title. The Question & Answer period was also recorded and can be accessed HERE. Mary has an extensive background in restorative justice. She is the first lay Executive Director of NETWORK, which was founded 50 years ago by Catholic Sisters to effect structural change on Capitol Hill.
Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for the Elderly
This month’s prayer intention is for the elderly – those who can be the “teachers of tenderness – and the world needs that now.”
Watch the video here.
U.S. bishops: 2,930 abuse victims came forward in 2020-2021
“The U.S. bishops’ annual report on compliance with the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ shows that 2,930 victim survivors came forward with 3,103 allegations during the audit year of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The number of allegations is 1,149 less than that reported in 2020, according to the audit report released July 12 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
Francis begs forgiveness for ‘evil’ Christians inflicted on Indigenous people
“Pope Francis offered a sweeping apology to Indigenous people on their native land in Canada on Monday (Jul. 25), fulfilling a critical demand of many of the survivors of church-run residential schools that became gruesome centers of abuse, forced assimilation, cultural devastation and death for over a century. ‘I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,’ Francis said to a large crowd of Indigenous people, some wearing traditional clothing and headdresses, in Maskwacis, Alberta, the site of a former residential school.” By The New York Times
- Pope in Canada to apologize for abuse of Indigenous children in church schools, By Reuters in Canada on TheGuardian.com
- In Canada, Pope Francis tells Indigenous people he is ‘deeply sorry’ for abuse schools, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope Francis issues an historic apology for ‘devastating’ school abuses in Canada, By The Associated Press
- Pope’s apology doesn’t acknowledge church’s role as ‘co-author’ of dark chapter, By Rachel Bergen, CBC News
- The pope’s apology to Canada’s Indigenous peoples was truly remarkable, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Have an Eye for Details and a Few Hours per Month to Help?
The VOTF National Office is seeking a person to reconcile all credit card and online donations. The job involves a commitment of around two to three hours once a month. Activities include recording paper transactions in the appropriate Logs, producing Reconciliation Reports, and matching up the paper transactions and transaction lists with the Reconciliation Reports. Filing of original records and Reconciliation Reports is also required. The task requires great attention to detail. Assistance will be provided during the reconciliation process.
The job must be performed on-site, in the Needham MA area. You will be working among staff and volunteers who all are vaccinated and boostered.
Please send a brief description of your qualifications to Database Supervisor, P.O. Box 920408, Needham MA 02492. We need you!
Don’t Forget Our Major Monitoring Reports
If you have not yet reviewed the three benchmark measurements for diocesan adherence to child protection standards, compliance with Canon Law in the Diocesan Finance Council, and diocesan financial transparency, they are available on the website. Take a look!
- “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2021 Report” (VOTF’s fifth such annual report)
- “Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices: 2022 Report” (VOTF’s first such report)
- “Measuring Lay Involvement in Governance of the Church by and through the Diocesan Finance Council: 2022 Report” (VOTF’s first such report)
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Vineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.
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