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From the Director's Desk

Photo of Chris Schenk CSJ

I will admit to feeling a bit nostalgic now and again as it begins to sink in that these are my last months as FutureChurch Executive Director.  This has been offset by the excitement of receiving a generous grant to begin building a new website (going live late Fall) and the frenzy of media work and organizing around an unexpected papal resignation and conclave. 

Given the impending conclave, I went to Rome a few days ahead of our previously planned pilgrimage (see next page). And so it was that I found myself huddled beneath a red umbrella on a cold, rainy night watching white smoke billow from the Sistine chimney.  But it is too early, I thought with dismay.  Church pundits predicted that an early election would mean a conservative Italian cardinal had won.   I couldn’t express my distress aloud however, because I was being filmed for a documentary on sisters.  I didn’t want to be recorded for eternity as going negative on the next Pope.  So I held my peace. (By the way, the documentary is teaching me the ballyhooed “fifteen minutes of fame” is way overrated.  I got sick of me many moons ago. I can’t understand why the filmmakers aren’t sick of me.  But that’s another story).

Sr. Chris Schenk, with filmmakers Shuling Yong and Rebecca Parrish in St. Peter’s night of papal election. Sr. Chris Schenk, with filmmakers Shuling Yong and Rebecca Parrish in St. Peter’s night of papal election. Visit http://sisterthefilm.com.

At last, the massive doors swung open and the world learned that an Argentinean, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had been elected.  And he had taken the name Francis.  Francis!  Would he be someone close to the people?  It didn’t take long to find out.  Francis proceeded to stand protocol on end by humbly asking a blessing from the crowd before bestowing his own. A deep hush ensued as our new Pope bent low to receive the prayers of the People of God.  When Francis referred to himself as the “Bishop of Rome” (a title we haven’t heard for 30 years), I was moved to tears.  Something new is being born - at least symbolically - in our Church I thought.  A Pope who recognizes the mutuality of spiritual giftedness and himself as “first among equals,” will have far reaching implications for how we relate to one another.

So, as I transition to my next adventure (taking longed-for time to complete a book project) it is with great gratitude for indescribable experiences such as these.  It has been a tremendous gift to work for renewal and reform of a Church I love deeply, sometimes in spite of itself, (and truth be told, sometimes in spite of myself).

On a more practical level, our extraordinarily competent search committee has been hard at work interviewing some truly excellent candidates for FutureChurch’s next Executive Director.  They hope to present the final candidate for approval at our June Board meeting.  As soon as I know who it is, you can be sure we’ll let you know. 

Maybe we’ll figure out a way to do a little white smoke.

Chris Schenk CSJ, Executive Director

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2013


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