“Francis, go and repair my house, which is falling down.”
Jesus’ words to St. Francis of Assisi
Maggie Albo presides at prayer service in Spokane. Albo met with USCCB
president Bishop Skylstad to deliver 35,000 synod petition signatures.
By Emily Holtel Hoag
Lay leaders and ordinary Catholic all over the U.S. organized
prayer services, press conferences and diocesan delegations to
help get the priest shortage and solutions on the agenda of the
International Synod on the Eucharist.
Lay Leaders Deliver Petitions, Priest Survey To Bishop Delegates
During the last two weeks of September, FutureChurch organized
lay delegations in five U.S. dioceses to meet with and/or deliver
copies of 35,000 petition signatures
and the results of a survey of 15,000 priests in 55 U.S. dioceses to Bishop delegates
to the Synod. The same materials and a cover letter requesting a meeting were
sent to the Pope’s administrative offices in Rome. Sr. Chris Schenk also
personally delivered survey results and petition signatures to church officials
while she was in Rome. For outcomes of Bishop delegations in five dioceses visit
Members of CTA South Florida pose for photo after an inspiring
synod prayer service.
30 Prayer services call for reform
As bishop delegates gathered in Rome for the synod,
Catholics all over the world prayed, reflected and discussed the
Eucharist and the shortage of priests. Over 30 groups of faith-filled
people gathered in the
U.S to pray in parishes, in private homes, in religious communities, in Church
meetings and even at the beach.
As the Holy Spirit would have it, the opening of the synod coincided
with the same week of the October 4 Feast of St. Francis. Just
as Francis called the Church
of his time to a truer meaning of the gospel message, the prayer services called
upon the leadership of our Church to a truer message of the Gospel.
Chris Schenk accepts National Coalition of American nuns award
on behalf of all the Mary of Magdala celebrators who “stuck
their necks out” with her. Sr. Jeannine Gramick presented
the award. Magdala scholar Jane Schaberg on right.
Participants proclaimed that married people and women are also
called to priestly ministry, that the Church is all of us - the
People of God - and that the priest
or lack of the priest does determine the vitality of the parish community. As
parishes are closing and clustering all over the world, and the Eucharist is
being denied to faithful believers, this message and the prayerful support of
the Church is both necessary and critical.
FutureChurch members in Spokane, Washington held two prayer services
after participants requested another because they were so moved
by the appeal to St. Francis’ to
rebuild the Church. The Association of Pittsburgh Priests and Call To Action
Pittsburgh called a press conference to publicize the 35,000 petition signatures
going to the Rome Synod. In response, Pittsburgh’s Bishop Donald Wuerl,
a synod delegate, publicly promised to address the priest shortage at the synod.
Sally Latkovich, CSJ gave the reflection at the service held by
CTA Southwest Florida. She said, “The Mass means everything to Catholics. It means
everything to us who are gathered here in prayer this day. It means everything
around our diocese, around the country, around the world ...May it mean everything
to the bishops gathered in synod; let us pray that the Spirit indeed breathe
in them ... just the way that the Spirit hovered over the chaos at creation.
And, may new and renewed life be created for us all.”
Sr. Celine Goessl reads over 80 names of women called to ordination
at prayer service outside November U.S. Bishops meeting. The
names were attached to roses symbolizing that, like St. Therese
of Lisieux, they desired ordination. The roses were later
presented to Sr. Mary Ann Walsh representing the U.S Bishops.
The formal services were not the only places that prayer and witness
took place. FutureChurch distributed thousands of copies of its “Prayer for the International
Synod on the Eucharist” for the past year in publications and correspondence
for personal and public use. Many downloaded the prayer and the prayer services
from the FutureChurch website. Others included their concerns in the Prayers
of the Faithful during Eucharistic liturgies.
Although the synod is over we still pray to be like Francis and
speak prophetic words of challenge for the Church of our time.