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American Catholic Council a Success

"This isn't heresy. This is history." —Sr. Joan Chittister

John Hushon and Janet Hauter, co-chairs of the ACC planning committee.
John Hushon and Janet Hauter, co-chairs of the ACC planning committee.

Detroit pastoral musicians chant Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Detroit pastoral musicians chant Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Bob Kloos educates about parish closings at FutureChurch preconference.
Bob Kloos educates about parish closings at FutureChurch preconference.

l to r: Nina Rodriguez, Emily Holtel-Hoag, Joan Brausch and Sheila Peifer at Opening Prayer created by FutureChurch.
l to r: Nina Rodriguez, Emily Holtel-Hoag, Joan Brausch and Sheila Peifer at Opening Prayer created by FutureChurch.

Sr. Chris Schenk introduces Sr. Joan Chittister with great joy.
Sr. Chris Schenk introduces Sr. Joan Chittister with great joy.

Anthony Padovano and Joan Chittister OSB. The faces say it all.
Anthony Padovano and Joan Chittister OSB. The faces say it all.

Between 1800 and 2000 enthusiastic Catholics from the United States, Canada and Europe attended the American Catholic Council on Pentecost weekend despite misguided opposition from the Detroit Archdiocese. The assembly unanimously approved the North American Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (see box),  applauded dynamic keynote speakers and strategized action plans in breakout sessions covering a variety of topics. Overall it is believed that about 20 percent of the attendees are new to the reform movement.

Perhaps Oak Park, IL reporter Ken Trainer said it best:  “The lowerarchy represents the future of the Catholic Church — the empowered, emboldened, prophetic laity is just beginning to awaken. They can’t be silenced, won’t be driven underground, and their numbers will continue to grow as the corrupt, institutional structure continues its slow-motion implosion. The Catholics in Detroit on Pentecost weekend seem to be of the opinion that it’s time for the laity to live up to its mission.”

Or as Joan Chittister put it, “This isn’t heresy. This is history.”

Here are some highlights of FutureChurch’s contributions to the weekend:

Our preconference on “Keeping your integrity while changing the Church” was sold out and Sr. Caridad Inda’s presentation on the nonviolent organizing theory of Gene Sharp was well received. International representatives from Italy, Holland and Germany were in attendance. Small group strategy sessions on parish closings, women’s issues, optional celibacy and resisting abuses of authority were lively and well led by discussion leaders Bob Kloos, Sharon Harrington, Rita Houlihan, Joan Brausch, Bill Wisniewski, Linda Pinto and Judith Prior, respectively.

The opening prayer service Friday night was a moving experience. The service included excellent participation from multiple national and international reform groups with outstanding dramatic readings and gospel music by diverse folks. Planned by Sr. Chris Schenk with the help of Cleveland liturgist friends, the prayer invoked the transforming power of the Holy Spirit throughout. A dramatic proclamation of the Ezekial “Dry bones rising up” reading (Ez 37:1-14) was followed by a “litany of lament” for our wounded church.  As the laments were proclaimed, choir and assembly chanted the Taize mantra: Veni Sancte Spiritus.  At the close, participants exchanged the ancient Christian gesture signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit, the laying on of hands.  The service concluded with a Vatican II prayer to the Holy Spirit, composed by Pope John XXIII and prayed by Council Bishops at the beginning of every session. Numerous people including some national reform leaders approached Chris afterwards to say they had wept throughout
(Three were men!). 

FutureChurch representation in seven breakout sessions.  FutureChurch board and staff led four breakout sessions,  three of which were repeated.  Sr. Chris Schenk and Sr. Caridad Inda attracted a total of 160 folks to their “Creating Nonviolent Responses to Common Abuses of Authority in the US. Church” workshops.  FutureChurch board members Rita Houlihan and Sr. Diana Culbertson participated in a panel on Empowering Women in the Church attracting about 180 participants in two sessions. The session on Alternative Models for Ministry: Strategies for Systemic change included our board member Anthony Kowalski who worked with Ron DuBois from VOTF and Therese Koturbash from Women’s Ordination Worldwide.  Our postcard and open letter efforts asking for discussion of restoring married priests and women deacons were featured.  Emily Holtel-Hoag of FutureChurch and Lisa Hawley PhD attracted about 80 people to their session on connecting with a new generation of reformers. (See article on facing page).

For proceedings from the weekend and future plans visit http://americancatholiccouncil.org.

You can watch a video of the Friday night Opening Prayer below. The service is also available for download.

Opening "Lament Prayer" at the American Catholic Council from FutureChurch on Vimeo.

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2011

 

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