This week will hold wonderful opportunities for pastoral ministers of our diocese.
From Sunday evening through Tuesday evening our priests and all who serve our parishes as pastoral administrators will gather for our annual convocation.
On Wednesday, the convocation group will be joined by a wide range of men and women who offer pastoral ministry in the name of the church. We refer to this latter body as the ministerium, a Latin term for a body of ministers.
This event will mark the third-annual convening of the ministerium, but it will be the first time that it will be held back to back with the convocation.
The principal reason why we join them this year is that both groups are gathering around the theme of spiritual renewal, and we want all participants to be able to enjoy the wisdom of our two main speakers. They are Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP, and Father Richard Rohr, OFM. Both are noted authors and celebrated speakers who will do much to help us think about personal and corporate spiritual renewal.
I am delighted with the gathering theme of these assemblies, and am particularly pleased that we can explore it together so early in the Easter season. It is the challenge and the graced opportunity of Easter that all of us, whether Catholics for life or newly initiated, probe more deeply into the mystery of the Christ life we share. It is our privileged opportunity to hear again, take to our hearts and to fold into our day-to-day reality the good news that Christ is risen, and that through baptism we share the gift of his life.
In preparation for the events of the week, I have enjoyed reading Father Radcliffe’s What Is the Point of Being Christian. I have enjoyed the experience and have found our Dominican friend’s writing to be clear, humorous, challenging and encouraging.
Why? Because he has a remarkable ability to bring the light of the Gospel and the Christian tradition to the knotty, vexing issues that can test the spirit of anyone who wants to live in the spirit of Christ. He gives me courage and renews my hope that joy, freedom, happiness and courage inevitably mark the lives of those who lovingly, honestly strive to respond to the Lord’s gift of self.
Father Radcliffe’s writing, as also is true of Father Rohr’s, has been a welcome and concrete reminder to me that we do not and can not live our lives in a vacuum. We need the witness of one another’s faith convictions for our own spiritual growth. As I write these words, I remember with renewed gratitude the way in which the spiritual sharing of the members of our Presbyteral Council for the last two years has strengthened my spirit. That interaction has deepened my desire to grow in holiness and strengthened my confidence that with God’s grace, not withstanding my sin and selfishness, such growth is possible.
I have no doubt that our two distinguished speakers will help us focus on spiritual renewal in very helpful ways. Nor do I have the slightest doubt that our pastoral ministers, gifted and committed as they are, will find ways to share with you the fruits of this experience.
I do ask you the favor of taking the theme of spiritual renewal to your thoughts and prayers throughout the week.
What does the term spiritual renewal (or spiritual growth) mean to you? What experiences or relationships help you to grow in faith and holiness? What realities impede that kind of growth in you or in those whom you love? How can others (friends, parish, family) help you to grow in holiness? What might you do to help them come closer to Christ?
It is the joyful work of the Easter season to explore such exciting possibilities. I hope that we can do it together.
Peace to all.