Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Oct
  • 17

Banquet honors, challenges laity

Posted By October 17, 2013 | 1:05 pm | Lead Story #3

By Tanya Connor

Go beyond ministry within the church to the periphery, and invite people back, Bishop McManus challenged Catholics from around the diocese Friday.
He was proclaiming Pope Francis’ call at the diocesan Year of Faith lay ministry banquet at the DCU Center.
Lay ministers received awards and were photographed with Bishop McManus, their pastors and supporters. Bishop Reilly thanked God for the gifts he gave honorees and asked blessings on all who serve the diocese. Raymond L. Delisle, chancellor, sang a song he wrote about various ministries. Photographs of activities around the diocese were shown.
Keynote speaker Msgr. James P. Moroney, a Worcester Diocesan priest who is rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, challenged participants to learn from the new pope.
Bishop McManus recalled Pope Francis telling World Youth Day participants to leave their safety zones.
“In these days of the new evangelization, I would suggest we do not give up” work in parishes, but also go out to the periphery, Bishop McManus said, noting that only 25-30 percent of Catholics practice the faith regularly. “For some of us that periphery is our own families. The new evangelization means inviting them back. Tonight I offer you that challenge.”
“It seems … we have been … looking for just the right words to effect the new evangelization, to attract them back to church,” Msgr. Moroney said. He said maybe actions are needed instead.
“Priests and bishops and even popes come and go, but the faith remains the same,” he said. “Some people relate better to this guy and some to the other. … Our job is not to judge but to struggle to figure out what gifts God is offering us in this man and to receive them with a humble and an obedient heart.”
He suggested Pope Francis taught, in a recent interview, about learning from experience, the importance of consultation and collegiality, people as the ecclesial priority and looking for God in all things.
“For the first time … a pope did something entirely new, entirely refreshing: he began by telling us not what he was good at, but what he wasn’t,” he said. The pope said he made decisions by himself, and that created problems, but he learned from it.
“He avoids the extremes of reacting to a fault – either denying it as not possibly true, since I know that God anointed me with infallibility, or … the full fledged panic attack by which I am sure that my latest screw-up will result in the end of the world,” Msgr. Moroney said. “He admitted it and he learned from it. And the result was not just a better Bergoglio, but … a better Church.
“If I sit on my royal throne and issue edicts, I will have an audience of one,” Msgr. Moroney said. ”If I listen and collaborate and build constituencies, I can shepherd a people into the Kingdom of God.”
He called “the notion of the Church as the People of God” a pillar of Pope Francis’ pontificate, and quoted from Vatican Council II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,  12: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief … when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.” Pope Francis said, “God has saved a people … No one is saved alone,” Msgr. Moroney noted.
He spoke of the universal call to holiness and the indispensable role of each Christian, and said the pope “calls us … to reject any ecclesiology which would seek to purify the Church by cutting off the margins.”
Msgr. Moroney asked listeners whether they seek success or service, a career or God’s will. If they seek success, they will think they themselves, and their ideas, are best, and seek to change things accordingly, he said. They will not see or listen to God in others. But Pope Francis said God is in everyone, even those whose lives are a disaster. One must trust God.
Msgr. Moroney said this trust comes from patience “born of prayer, mutual respect and an attitude of joyful expectation of God’s active presence and self-revelation.”
“When the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will, through a new pastor, a new bishop, or a new pope, he challenges us to open our hearts and minds to the truth and the love which we are called to,” he said.