Bishop Kettler asks for pastoral council’s input on Fortnight for Freedom

Categories: Around the Diocese

April 11, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

In the midst of making rounds to parishes and schools around the St. Cloud Diocese, Bishop Donald Kettler is optimistic.

“I travel around and I see alive parishes,” he told the Diocesan Pastoral Council at their April 5 meeting at St. Ann Church in Wadena. “Let’s build on that.”

Bishop Kettler also knows that there are challenges and told the pastoral council that he will continue to address them.

“I know I need to be consulted and I need to be consultative so I will be working on that,” he said.

Bishop Kettler specifically asked the council for its input on the Fortnight for Freedom, which is an initiative started by the United States bishops to foster awareness of religious liberty through education and prayer.

“I’m looking for information and some ideas on what we might do,” he said. “You could be of help to me regarding Fortnight for Freedom: what you think about it, our approach to things and how to keep it before our eyes, not in a way that will turn people off or become something people don’t notice anymore.”

Last year a Fortnight for Freedom event was held June 23 from noon to 4 p.m. in St. Cloud. It began with a prayerful march from the Cathedral School parking lot to St. Mary’s Cathedral.

At the church, people participated in eucharistic adoration, listened to hourly speakers and prayed. Information packets, including homily notes, prayers of the faithful, descriptions of threats to religious liberty and ideas for parishes, were mailed to the parishes in the diocese.

Deacon Gene Kramer, assigned to Christ the King Parish in Cambridge, said that educational material that would give examples of the effects of the health and human services mandates would be helpful.

Father Greg Paffel, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Sauk Centre, said that evangelization is necessary for people to feel the need to protect their freedom.

“Until they feel their freedom in Jesus Christ how would they care about protecting that freedom to speak about Jesus Christ?” he said.

Evelyn Otto, representative for the Fergus Falls/Wadena Deanery, said that education is needed for children and the whole congregation.

“We have to be aware of the freedoms,” she said. “We have to appreciate them and not abuse them. And we have to be able to know our faith enough to be able to defend it and be accepting of those who are not of our faith.”

Jason Stock, a representative for the St. Cloud/St. Joseph Deanery and a public school teacher for 16 years, said there are many misconceptions about prayer in school. He said that Catholic students can pray in school, but do not request it very often.

Father Paffel said Christians have been conditioned since kindergarten not to pray in school.

Deacon Kramer said that people need to live their lives in a way that follows Jesus and not just say that they do.

“We have to decide whether we are following Jesus or if we are with the Pharisees,” he said.

In other business, the pastoral council:

  • Discussed the missionary cooperation plan, in which a speaker presents his or her mission experience at a parish and a collection is taken for a particular mission organization. Parishes are invited to participate in the program once every three years but may do so more often. Bishop Kettler asked if parishes should be doing more mission activities. Darrell Welle, representing the Little Falls Deanery, said they should. Stock raised the concern of the cost of mission trips and questioned if the money could be better spent other ways. He mentioned a mission trip where 20 people needed to raise $5,000 each to go to another country to build huts. He said the $100,000 could have employed local people to build many huts in the area. Joan Jay, representative of the Alexandria/Morris Deanery, said that sometimes people need to go out to grow and encounter Jesus and that they can use their experience to help many people when they return. Father Paffel said it is important to determine whether the trips are about helping people or building relationships in solidarity. Bishop Kettler asked the representatives to find out what types of missionary activities their constituents do.
  • Listened to a presentation on the Rural Life Leadership Development Initiative by Kathy Langer, social concerns director for Catholic Charities of the St. Cloud Diocese. Training for the social ministry parish representatives in the eastern part of the diocese is nearly completed. Participants in the trainings will bring what they learned back to their parish and form or strengthen parish social ministry teams. The parish social ministry teams will plan how they can help their community and beyond in light of Catholic social teaching. Participants will also work with other civic, community and religious leaders in their area to tackle problems on a larger level. Langer plans to expand the initiative in the central and western part of the diocese when funding becomes available.
  • Continued their discussion on the best way to facilitate information between the pastoral council representatives and their constituents. Members discussed ways to increase the awareness of the deanery representatives and the best ways to contact them. They also questioned whether people should contact the deanery representatives directly or through another person. Currently, each parish should have a parish liaison who is to report concerns and comments to the deanery representative.