Ours is a local church that cares about more than babies

Categories: Editorial

“Babies, babies and more babies” the headline shouted on The Visitor opinion page a few issues back.

There’s nothing wrong with babies, to be sure, but our church’s concern for the unborn can give some the impression that the Catholic Church only cares about humans when they’re in the womb, not once they are out.

bobzAnyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to the church’s many contributions to society in the areas of health care and education, not to mention the indefatigable efforts to assist the poor — by Catholic Charities, by Catholic individuals, by Catholic social justice groups and by Catholic parishes — shouldn’t succumb to an impression so patently false.

One of our church’s truly remarkable attributes is its ability to educate, motivate and organize Catholics to address issues that call for organized efforts, for lots of people to get involved, for coalition building with those not-Catholic individuals and those secular entities with similar concerns and the desire to affect change, to make life better for everyone.

It’s one of the benefits of having a diocese.

For the good of all

The structure of the modern  Catholic diocese enables just that kind of information sharing, networking, organizing and partnership building that is intended for the common good — and not just for Catholics.

We’re all about that in the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Folks who work for the church in our diocesan pastoral center on Seventh Avenue in St. Cloud work at keeping in touch with the needs of people in our 16 counties, and they regularly strive to find ways to address those needs.

Janet Brinkman sees much of that work as the folks in the offices near hers go about their ministries. Brinkman, who is the human resources director for the diocese, told me my “Babies, babies and more babies” editorial seemed ironic from where she sits, because she sees her co-workers focusing on “kids, kids, kids — parents, parents, parents.”

Two years ago, for example, the diocese brought in Barbara Coloroso for a presentation to parish and diocesan staff at the annual Diocesan Ministry Day.

Coloroso is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice.

You surely recognize among those topics a few issues that impact everyone, not just Catholics.

“Because she is so well known,” Brinkman said, “it was felt that she would be an added attraction for the general public, especially for parents, teachers and anyone associated with raising those babies, babies and more babies.”

Collaborations underway

Coloroso was asked to stay for an add-on evening session that was open to the public, an event that was made possible through a collaboration of the Diocese of St. Cloud and Resource Training & Solutions, a regional educational service agency that serves more than 40 school districts in Central Minnesota.

Why should the diocese bother?

Brinkman explained, “As the Diocese of St. Cloud, we are committed to serving people throughout the 16-county area. Not only are we committed to our Catholic heritage, but we are concerned with fulfilling our civic and moral obligations to the whole of our society.”

Diocesan Ministry Day this year, Sept. 30 at River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, has among it featured speakers Dr. David Walsh, one of the world’s leading authorities on children, teens, parenting, family life, and the impact of technology on children’s health and development.

As the diocese continues to collaborate with Resource Training & Solutions, he’ll present “The Challenge of Forming Kids in a Culture of More, Fast, Easy and Fun” for the ministry day audience in the afternoon, and repeat it that evening for the general public.

The goal is to offer parents information to help them make wise choices concerning their children and the influence and effect of unrestricted media, noted Martha Roth of Resource Training & Solutions.

A follow-up is slated for Jan. 28, when Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (U.S. Army, retired) will address the topic of the effect of video games on the formation of youth. Catholic Education Ministries of the diocese is collaborating with the St. Cloud Police Department and the Minnesota Juvenile Officers Association to sponsor that evening event that is open to the public.

The diocesan Office for Marriage and Family has scheduled yet another collaborative effort to host a session dealing with pornography this coming February.

To birth and beyond

None of these efforts detract from the diocese’s commitment to conttinue to strive to change people’s minds and hearts about the sin of abortion and to save babies’ lives.

Chris Codden, who directs the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family, told The Visitor, “our pro-life mission must include strengthening marriage and the family. Building a Culture of Life means showing dignity and respect for all human persons that will in turn foster a healthy society.”

The collaborations that are underway show that the ministers who work for the diocese are working hard to create an environment within the community at large that supports healthy living beyond the maternity ward, and, as Catholic Education Ministries director Linda Kaiser expressed it, “outside the doors of the church.”

And these efforts to collaborate with other worthy groups show that the diocese and its staff on Seventh Avenue are just as committed to helping parents raise babies into happy little kids, who will eventually become good parents themselves.