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“Francis, go and repair my house, which is falling down.”

Jesus’ words to St. Francis of Assisi

prayer service in Spokane
Maggie Albo presides at prayer service in Spokane. Albo met with USCCB
president Bishop Skylstad to deliver 35,000 synod petition signatures.

By Emily Holtel Hoag

Lay leaders and ordinary Catholic all over the U.S. organized prayer services, press conferences and diocesan delegations to help get the priest shortage and solutions on the agenda of the International Synod on the Eucharist.

Lay Leaders Deliver Petitions, Priest Survey To Bishop Delegates

During the last two weeks of September, FutureChurch organized lay delegations in five U.S. dioceses to meet with and/or deliver copies of 35,000 petition signatures and the results of a survey of 15,000 priests in 55 U.S. dioceses to Bishop delegates to the Synod. The same materials and a cover letter requesting a meeting were sent to the Pope’s administrative offices in Rome. Sr. Chris Schenk also personally delivered survey results and petition signatures to church officials while she was in Rome. For outcomes of Bishop delegations in five dioceses visit www.futurechurch.org

CTA Sout Florida team
Members of CTA South Florida pose for photo after an inspiring synod prayer service.

30 Prayer services call for reform

As bishop delegates gathered in Rome for the synod, Catholics all over the world prayed, reflected and discussed the Eucharist and the shortage of priests. Over 30 groups of faith-filled people gathered in the U.S to pray in parishes, in private homes, in religious communities, in Church reform organization meetings and even at the beach.

As the Holy Spirit would have it, the opening of the synod coincided with the same week of the October 4 Feast of St. Francis. Just as Francis called the Church of his time to a truer meaning of the gospel message, the prayer services called upon the leadership of our Church to a truer message of the Gospel.

National Coalition of Nuns Award
Chris Schenk accepts National Coalition of American nuns award on behalf of all the Mary of Magdala celebrators who “stuck their necks out” with her. Sr. Jeannine Gramick presented the award. Magdala scholar Jane Schaberg on right.

Participants proclaimed that married people and women are also called to priestly ministry, that the Church is all of us - the People of God - and that the priest or lack of the priest does determine the vitality of the parish community. As parishes are closing and clustering all over the world, and the Eucharist is being denied to faithful believers, this message and the prayerful support of the Church is both necessary and critical.

FutureChurch members in Spokane, Washington held two prayer services after participants requested another because they were so moved by the appeal to St. Francis’ to rebuild the Church. The Association of Pittsburgh Priests and Call To Action Pittsburgh called a press conference to publicize the 35,000 petition signatures going to the Rome Synod. In response, Pittsburgh’s Bishop Donald Wuerl, a synod delegate, publicly promised to address the priest shortage at the synod.

Sally Latkovich, CSJ gave the reflection at the service held by CTA Southwest Florida. She said, “The Mass means everything to Catholics. It means everything to us who are gathered here in prayer this day. It means everything to people around our diocese, around the country, around the world ...May it mean everything to the bishops gathered in synod; let us pray that the Spirit indeed breathe in them ... just the way that the Spirit hovered over the chaos at creation. And, may new and renewed life be created for us all.”

women called to ordination
Sr. Celine Goessl reads over 80 names of women called to ordination at prayer service outside November U.S. Bishops meeting. The names were attached to roses symbolizing that, like St. Therese of Lisieux,  they desired ordination. The roses were later presented to Sr. Mary Ann Walsh representing the U.S Bishops.

The formal services were not the only places that prayer and witness took place. FutureChurch distributed thousands of copies of its “Prayer for the International Synod on the Eucharist” for the past year in publications and correspondence for personal and public use. Many downloaded the prayer and the prayer services from the FutureChurch website. Others included their concerns in the Prayers of the Faithful during Eucharistic liturgies.

Although the synod is over we still pray to be like Francis and speak prophetic words of challenge for the Church of our time.

Fall 2005



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