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Mardi Gras Open Mic. Night
By Fran DeChant

Sweetwater Landing, overlooking the Emerald Necklace Marina, provided a winter wonderland setting for FutureChurch's third Open Mic. Night held on the snowy evening of February 16. Over forty participants gathered to combine Mardi Gras celebration with a serious purpose--to explore what the Catholic Church might resolve to do for Lent.

Master of Ceremonies, Bob Kloos, affirmed FutureChurch's mission in his introduction of four panel speakers. "Love for our Church is our mission. If we are here to throw stones we will break our own windows. We must make room for the Spirit of God, the spirit of understanding."

Emily Holtel Hoag and Kathleen Thomas (both standing) introduce FutureChurch's Open Mic night. Seated in back is panelist Mary Grasela.Emily Holtel Hoag and Kathleen Thomas (both standing) introduce FutureChurch's Open Mic night. Seated in back is panelist Mary Grasela.

Heather Gerheim-Gladden led off by wondering "Is my Church that I love headed in a direction I think not positive? We need to mentor, to lead with love, not order each other around." Heather's resolutions for the Church include a focus on the Mass as a gathering of the family of God and the Church's hierarchy as "equal opportunity employers. Find the faith beyond religion and politics; keep questioning, keep asking why."

Matt Rossman drew from his recent experience in facilitating the merger of his parish. He emphasized two dynamics he learned were essential in this challenging process. "Moments that were most powerful were those when people really tried to relate to one another by humanizing our experience in the Church." Along with respecting one another's humanity, Matt encouraged greater involvement in the issues of our Church, locally and in a wider context.

In a ringing, poetic presentation, Megan Wilson-Reitz asked us "today to take responsibility, to bring the good news, to love what He loved." Her resolution was also a prayer that we find ways to abstain from "fear that the poor will hurt us or convert us, from racism, from sexism, from judgments arising from superior attitude, from divisions that only hurt us all."

(l to r) Matt Rossman, Bob Kloos (facilitator), Megan Wilson-Reitz, Heather Gerheim-Gladden and Mary Grasela (not pictured here) provide much thoughtful inspiration.(l to r) Matt Rossman, Bob Kloos (facilitator), Megan Wilson-Reitz, Heather Gerheim-Gladden and Mary Grasela (not pictured here) provide much thoughtful inspiration.

Mary Grasela based her resolutions for the Church on her experience of living in community. Simplicity in living, the practice of social justice in work and leisure and a spirituality that pervades everyday life form the fabric of her life as a Jesuit Volunteer. She encouraged us, who are the Church, to carry out Lenten traditions in a new way. Prayer combined with journaling can lead us to fasting from destructive behaviors and from overuse of distracting technology. Almsgiving can be expressed by giving time and talent. "Lent is bettering one's relationship with God and with one another."

Everyone who presented prepared or spontaneous remarks at the open mic spoke with the passion of sincere conviction. Opinions ranged from those adhering to strict tradition to searches for creative answers to problems confronting the Church. On the conservative side, we heard an exhortation to return to the teachings of the Church which is according to God's plan a monarchy. Sister Marian Durkin asked that room be made at the table for everyone. Her work with AIDS and HIV survivors has shown her how important it is to support parents of gays and lesbians. She quoted Albert Einstein as saying that the most important thing is not to stop questioning. From firsthand experience, Mary O'Malley pleaded for a return of ministry to the family level which she thinks the Church forgets. For Lent she urges that quality time be spent with children in hospital pre-op situations to comfort them and allay fear. Mary wonders if we are getting the sacraments we deserve and we love as Catholics.

Emily Holtel Hoag referred to the term, "infallible" used by a previous speaker. She observed that this word is being used as a power play and suggested we try eradicating it from our discourse. "Perhaps," she said, "we can substitute the truth of the Gospels and our gospel call to love one another."

Bob Kloos summarized feelings expressed by panel and mic speakers:

Bob spoke for the staff of FutureChurch in thanking all for their sincere and valuable contributions.

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2010

 

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