Minstry Day audience gets refresher on Vatican II challenge to Catholics

Categories: Around the Diocese

Oct. 11, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

More than 930 people from across the St. Cloud Diocese gathered to celebrate the “Hands of Justice” at Diocesan Ministry Day Sept. 30 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

The day kicked off with a keynote by Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University in New Orleans, L.A., and former president of Catholic Charities USA. His presentation was followed by learning sessions, Mass, lunch, more learning sessions and closing prayer.

Participants included teachers, parish staff, priests, parish volunteers, parishioners and others involved in ministry.

“I always pull something away for the classroom, personal and religion,” said Susan Massmann, faith formation instructor at St. Wendelin Parish in Luxemburg. A substitute teacher for public and Catholic schools who has attended four Diocesan Ministry Days, she said, “I get excited about what workshops there will be. I try to go to workshops I can apply in more than one area.”

Focusing on the theme of the conference, “Hands of Justice,” Father Kammer explained the Second Vatican Council document, “Gaudium et Spes,” the pastoralconstitution on the church in the modern world.

Father Kammer called it the most authoritative document on Catholic social teaching, one that was approved on the last working day of the Second Vatican Council, Dec. 7, 1965, by a vote of 2,309 to 75.

The tone and the message of the document is captured in the first sentence, Father Kammer said. It reads, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”

“With these words the council fathers placed the church squarely along all of humanity in common concern and common cause,” Father Kammer said.

“Gaudium et Spes” has two main parts, Father Kammer explained. Part one developed teaching on human dignity, on social relations, on essential social needs and the role of the church in the world and it went into the Scriptures and captured 2,000 years of Catholic teaching.

Part two focused on what the council called four problems of special urgency. The first was marriage and family life, including over-population, responsible parenthood, respect for life and family stability. The second issue was culture diversity and development across the world.

The third issue was socioeconomic life and fundamental imbalances between rich and the poor, the requirement of justice, the sufficient share of goods, duty of public authority and the common good.

The fourth addressed the crisis of modern weaponry and explained that peace could only be built on the basis of respect, justice, harmony and love. It legitimized nonviolence and rejected blind obedience to command and condemned the arms race, Father Kammer said.

A call to action

Diocesan Ministry Day participant, Linda Kielty, a member of St. Mary of Mount Carmel in Long Prairie, found the keynote to prompt people into action, to be people of hope and to work for change. The change first has to start with the individual, she added.

Doug Watercott, youth minister at Mary of the Visitation in Becker and Big Lake, said the keynote taught him about the need to view all people with love. He especially liked how Father Kammer described the preferential option to the poor, explaining that God does not love anyone more than others but gives special attention to where the need is greater.

Father Tony Oelrich, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Augustine Parish and Christ Church Newman Center, all of St. Cloud, gave the homily at Mass. He explained how everyone’s gifts are important.

“The church is meant to be a city fully engaged, fully alive,” he said. “We are all called, and we are all called at every stage of life. . . . We are still in the Year of Faith. The Year of Faith is about rekindling the joy of Jesus Christ. We get to be part of that.”

Learning sessions varied from youth ministry to sacramental record keeping to biblical studies to cultural fluency. One of the most attended learning sessions was given by child development expert David Walsh, founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family. He spoke about forming kids in a culture of “more, fast, easy and fun.”

Jennifer Gerads, faith formation coordinator for All Saints Parish in Holdingford, learned to encourage parents to set expectations and limits for their kids and stick with the consequences. She said having expectations and abiding by them can help children feel they have succeeded and are loved.

“It was wonderful,” said Chris Pahl, a fourth grade teacher at St. Katharine Drexel School in St. Cloud. “[Walsh] had a nice approach. It was easy to understand and made you reflect on what you can do in the classroom. For example, for kids who seem to be by themselves, it is important to make them feel needed.”