More than 700 to consider ministry, polarization - Catholic Courier

More than 700 to consider ministry, polarization

Bishop Matthew H. Clark has invited more than 700 pastoral ministers to participate in the second-annual diocesan gathering of the ministerium June 20 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rochester.

The gathering, which will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., is intended to bring together individuals who are active pastoral ministers in parishes and other faith communities throughout the Diocese of Rochester, said Dan Hull, director of continuing education at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford.

“The bishop wants to collect all those involved with responsibility for pastoral ministry under one roof so he can hear from them and they can hear from him,” said Hull, who has been involved with the event’s planning.

Among those invited to participate in the gathering were priests (diocesan, religious and extern) and deacons who are actively serving at diocesan parishes and ministries; pastoral administrators; campus, prison and hospital chaplains; Catholic elementary- and middle-school principals; such parish staff members as youth ministers and directors of religious education; and parish volunteers with significant ministerial responsibilities, Hull said. Several diocesan employees and St. Bernard’s faculty and staff members also will participate, he said.

Before Bishop Clark instituted the first gathering of the ministerium last year, those involved in various aspects of ministry often met only in their separate disciplines, Hull said, noting that priests met with other priests, youth ministers met with other youth ministers, and principals met with other principals.

“No one was ever getting together to hear the same words at the same time and be a community,” Hull said.

Evaluation forms completed by participants in last year’s gathering indicated that the gathering was worthwhile and beneficial.

“People felt it was good for us to gather, to have meaningful conversations and discussions,” Hull noted. “This strengthens the bonds of ministry, and we realize we’re all in this together. It also gives us a chance to look around the room and see we’re all involved in something much bigger than us. You draw strength from that.”

Bishop Clark will speak at the gathering, which also will include time for participants to break into small groups for discussion, Hull said. Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, who addressed last year’s gathering, will return to Rochester to speak at this year’s event. Gaillardetz, a religious-studies professor at the University of Toledo, Ohio, will give a presentation on “From Polarization to Catholicity: Getting Beyond Left and Right, From Uniformity to Unity.”

Gaillardetz, who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in systemic theology from the University of Notre Dame, will talk about the seemingly opposing viewpoints Catholics have about their faith and the church, and the way those viewpoints can complement each other rather than detracting from each other. In a polarized community, the people on each side of an issue believe their way is the only right way and everyone else is wrong, Gaillardetz said in a May 23 interview with the Catholic Courier.

Catholicity is very different from polarization, he added.

“Catholicity is a belief that there is a unity in differences,” Gaillardetz said, noting that one of the root words of Catholic means ‘fullness.’ “To be Catholic is to embrace the fullness of the faith.”

Gaillardetz said he hopes to help participants learn to recognize and diffuse polarization, to find common ground and to understand that different perspectives can be complementary.

Hull, meanwhile, is confident the gathering will be well worth participants’ time.

“It’s a chance to gather to be together, to pray together and to go back to our ministries as refreshed,” he said.

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