Bishop Kettler calls for voice of the people

Categories: Around the Diocese

New ordinary’s vision of how consultation works shared with pastoral council

Jan. 31, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Since his Nov. 7 installation, Bishop Donald Kettler has been acquainting himself with the St. Cloud Diocese and its procedures.

At the Jan. 18 meeting of the diocesan pastoral council meeting, he learned how the council functions and discussed the role he would like it to have in his ministry.

The council — which focuses on pastoral issues throughout the diocese — is a consultative body to the bishop, along with the presbyteral council, which represents priests.

“I value a great deal the presbyteral council and the pastoral council,” Bishop Kettler said. “You play an essential role in what we do.”

Bishop Kettler said he especially would like to hear the comments and concerns of the people that the council members represent.

“I want you to talk to people out there so when you come here you are not just representing yourself and your own views, which are very important, but you also say, ‘These are the issues that we’re hearing are out there,’ ” he said.

The pastoral council is comprised of lay representatives from each of the seven deaneries in the diocese, a women’s religious representative, a men’s religious representative, a presbyteral council representative, a deacon representative and five at-large representatives.

Two-way communicators

Bishop Kettler said he would like the pastoral council members to not only express comments and concerns from their areas at the meetings but also to bring information from him and the meetings back to their constituents.

He left the question of “What is the best way to do so?” open for further discussion.

Currently, parishes take turns choosing lay deanery representatives, and how they are chosen varies. Some are suggested by a parish council; others are asked to serve by a priest. Bishop Kettler said he would like the constituents to have a voice in who will represent them.

Some of the lay deanery representatives on the diocesan pastoral council stay up-to-date by attending deanery meetings. They also consult with parish liaisons. Ideally, each parish would have a liaison that brings concerns to the lay deanery representative.

Bishop Kettler said the liaisons need to somehow connect with their fellow parishioners, whether it be through observing parish council meetings or visiting with people. He told the pastoral council to continue the process it has in place until it hears differently from him. He has not yet met with the presbyteral council and will need to discuss policies and procedures with it as well.

“We’re going to need a couple of meetings on how to make this go,” Kettler said.

Leaders elected, issues raised

In other business, the pastoral council:

• Elected new officers: chairperson: Lori Kohorst, Foley/Princeton Deanery; vice chair, Darrell Welle, Little Falls Deanery; secretary, Jane Salzl, Melrose/Sauk Centre Deanery.

• Discussed comments and concerns from deaneries: Welle mentioned the great excitement people have for Pope Francis. One concern Welle mentioned is the difficulty parishes have in finding volunteers. Personal invitation was suggested as a solution. Salzl expressed that some people are upset that large sums of money were spent for the defeated marriage amendment. She also said that some people are bitter about needing to fill out forms in response to the diocese’s sexual misconduct policy in order to volunteer for youth activities. Council members suggested more affirmation is needed about why the precautions are taken.

• Listened to an update by Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of multicultural ministry, on her roles and immigration in the diocese. She said that many immigrants do not have access to a path for citizenship. She added that there are many heartbreaking stories in the lives of the immigrants. Bales said integrating is not the goal but rather the focus should be on the process of building relationships.

• Listened to an update on the Mission Office by director Elizabeth Neville. The St. Cloud Diocese is unique in the number of missioners that have come from it and its number of mission groups. About 40 missioners are from or connected to St. Cloud. About 180 mission groups are in the St. Cloud Diocese. The Mission Office promotes the global outreach of the St. Cloud Diocese. It assists in building connections through many projects and educational opportunities. It is planning for a mission rally April 8 in Long Prairie. A discussion was raised on Mass offerings, which are offerings to apply the Mass for a specific intention. When parishes receive more Mass requests than they can handle, they can be forwarded to the Mission Office.