In this Easter season I have written about experiences I have had that have reinforced and deepened my understanding of these holy days — a time to appreciate our share in the life of Christ, and how that life impels us to share that life in all the ways we can with our sisters and brothers.
May 12 offered another such experience. We had the sixth-annual assembly of our ministerium — a broad cross-section of pastoral ministers who are joined in ministry to the people of our diocese.
As I write, I can picture that assembly who gathered at the Doubletree Inn in Henrietta. Some 400 women and men, lay and ordained, from all parts of our diocese expended the time, energy and money to participate in a day of enrichment, socialization and reunion. There were priests, lay faithful, women and men religious, and permanent deacons. We were married, single, widowed and celibate. We were pastoral musicians, catechists, youth and young-adult ministers, business managers, pastoral administrators and pastoral associates, pastors, parochial vicars, assistant priests, campus ministers, diocesan office staff and a bishop.
For me the gathering itself is a grace. It is a reminder of the great variety of gifts that the Lord continually nourishes in the church. It is a sign of hope at a time when the church is deeply wounded by scandal and division. It is a reminder and a connection to anyone who reads these words and to all of the boys and girls, women and men who are the Diocese of Rochester.
A further and rich blessing on the day was the presence and wisdom of Father Anthony Gittins, CSSp, professor of mission and culture at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
In keeping with the theme of this third season of Spirit Alive! Father Gittins addressed the theme of discipleship. His first presentation was "What on Earth is Discipleship?" and the second was "Discipleship — New Testament Examples." Following each of his talks, there was ample time for questions or comments that participants wanted to make.
It would be an understatement to say that Father Gittins was well-received. By all indications, he made a great impression on all of us and gave us much about which to think, pray and converse. In my opinion he is an excellent scholar, an effective teacher and a faithful disciple — a rare and brilliant trio of gifts. I think we were richly blessed to have him for this year’s Gathering of the Ministerium.
It will be interesting over some time to hear about what fruit will be born in the hearts of those who heard Father Gittins’ words and experienced his presence. We all had the same experience, but in our great variety we hear, understand and live it out in different ways. With faith in the Lord, I am confident that many blessings will fall from the day. My curiosity is about the shape and form those blessings will take, and when they will unfold in our midst.
Please pray for all of the pastoral ministers in your parish and offer them thanks and encouragement whenever you can.
Peace to all.