‘Festival of Forgiveness’ among items discussed by priests’ council

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor

Bishop Donald Kettler expressed his support for the Diocese of St. Cloud to hold a “Festival of Forgiveness” as a way to promote healing, mercy and the sacrament of reconciliation during the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.

“Let’s keep thinking about this and how we can do it well,” he told members of the diocesan Presbyteral Council, which met Sept. 8 at the chancery in St. Cloud.

The event would be modeled after a similar one held last year in the Archdiocese of Chicago, where 24 parishes offered the sacrament of reconciliation for 24 hours.
Father Virgil Helmin, pastor of St. Marcus Parish in Clear Lake and St. Lawrence in Duelm, said the consensus of the priests in the Foley-Princeton Deanery was that each deanery in the diocese would designate a church where confession would be offered on a Friday during Lent for 12 hours — noon to midnight.

Council members supported the 12-hour time frame, allowing each deanery to decide on the church or churches that would host the event and the number of confessors needed.

One goal of the “Festival of Forgiveness” would be to encourage people who have been away from the sacrament of reconciliation to return. The event would be promoted for several months with advertising on local radio stations, articles and advertising in newspapers, including The Visitor, social media and pulpit announcements. Pastors would also receive educational materials focused on the event, Father Helmin said.

The festival would be one component of a larger diocesan observance of the Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis declared would begin Dec. 8 and continue to Nov. 20, 2016. Bishop Kettler said he has begun preliminary work on a pastoral letter on mercy. The Presbyteral Council will talk further about Year of Mercy plans at its next meeting Oct. 6.

In other business, council members:

• heard a report regarding the Priests Pension Board. Father Robert Rolfes, the diocese’s vicar general, said the board surveyed dioceses in the local province (Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota) as well as Wisconsin and Iowa regarding the amount of their monthly pension benefits. The Diocese of St. Cloud’s benefit was the lowest in the province and the second lowest in the upper Midwest, he said. Bishop Kettler would like to gradually increase the benefit so it is closer to the middle of the dioceses surveyed. The board increased the benefit 5 percent this fiscal year, which places the monthly benefit at $1,496 based on 40 years of service.

• discussed the formation of a Diocesan Vocation Committee and parish vocation committees. Father Scott Pogatchnik, diocesan vocation director, said he is still in the process of determining the diocesan committee’s membership, which would be approved by Bishop Kettler. Father Pogatchnik said four to five parishes would be piloting the parish vocation committee initiative. The committees will help promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life and make vocation resources from the Vocation Office available to anyone interested.

• discussed a presentation by Father Greg Paffel regarding possible construction of a Divine Mercy Shrine in the diocese, potentially at St. Paul Church in Sauk Centre. Bishop Kettler said he is in favor of having places of pilgrimage within a diocese, but at this time would like any shrine initiative to be developed at the parish level.