The Diocese of Rochester has launched a major spiritual-renewal effort that will begin this coming Lent.
The renewal was announced in late November by diocesan officials. The initiative will extend through 2010, focusing on three movements: deepening our individual relationships with Jesus Christ; growing in our knowledge of and appreciation for the Scriptures; and committing to a life of discipleship and stewardship.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark is introducing the renewal during the current Advent season by sending a letter to pastoral leaders throughout the diocese, asking them to read his letter from the pulpit to encourage maximum involvement.
“We hope very much that as many people as possible, young and old, from all walks of life, will participate in this,” said Maribeth Mancini, diocesan director of evangelization and catechesis. Mancini is serving as cochair of the renewal along with Father Peter Clifford, pastor of St. John of Rochester Parish in Fairport.
The projected time line for the renewal is as follows:
* Lent 2008 — Bishop Clark will host a “DVD retreat.” The bishop is currently developing a set of retreat sessions that will be distributed to parishes in DVD form. The DVD can serve as the basis for discussion by small Christian communities, at parish pastoral council meetings and/or during specially arranged programs.
* Pentecost 2008 — The first movement, deepening our relationships with Christ, will be highlighted. In keeping with this theme diocesan Catholics will be encouraged to take part in some sort of pilgrimage, such as attending the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in June 2008.
* Advent 2008 and Pentecost 2009 — The second movement, centered around the Bible, will take place. This will involve ongoing growth in knowledge of the Word.
* Fall 2009 and Pentecost 2010 — The third and final segment, discernment of gifts for discipleship and stewardship, will challenge people to assess how they plan to continue living out their baptismal call. The renewal will conclude during the Pentecost 2010 season with a diocesan-wide celebration of renewal and commitment to mission. Possible venues for this large-scale event are Rochester’s Frontier Field or Blue Cross Arena.
Each Pentecost season of the spiritual renewal will feature specific rituals. Other planned highlights of the renewal will be a toll-free telephone line so that people can call in with questions about the Catholic faith and express concerns and issues; and developing resources on “what we believe as Catholics,” Father Clifford said.
Mancini noted that committees for the renewal originate from all parts the diocese. Among them are the liturgy committee headed by Father Daniel McMullin, director of campus ministry at Cornell University; a committee on restoring Sunday as the Sabbath day led by Father Frank Lioi, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Auburn; a catechetical committee led by Barbara Matterazzo, faith-formation administrator at Church of St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads; and a multicultural committee led by Sister Mary Louise Heffernan, SSJ.
“We’re looking for this to be across the board. We’re hoping this will be a very broad initiative with lots of different kinds of committees,” Mancini said.
Mancini and Father Clifford said that the renewal has been in the works for about two years. They observed that spiritual-renewal movements are common in dioceses around the country, though one has never been done in the Rochester Diocese to the degree and scope of the upcoming renewal. Mancini and Father Clifford also acknowledged that the multiyear focus of the renewal and its inclusion of the entire diocese draws comparisons to the diocesan Synod that was held in the early 1990s.
“I’m a little overwhelmed by the enormity of this initiative, but I feel excited that we in the diocese are undertaking such a commitment,” Mancini said.