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Evansville, Indiana
March 5, 1993     The Message
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March 5, 1993

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2! Parish Pastoral Council: Historical By PAUL R. LEINGANG, Message editor "Ther are some who think that when John XXIII threw open his win- dow to let in fresh air, he also let out the Holy Spirit who flew around looking for a receptive spot to settle and found it in the Diocese of Evans- ville." So wrote Mary Alice Zarrella in 1969. Zarrella wrote a history of the Diocesan Council, which was published in a special newspaper supplement on Dec. 19, 1969, in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Diocese of Evansville. Establishment of parish councils was an integral part of the process. The first bishop of the diocese, Bishop Henry Grimmelsman, attended Vatican Council II. "And when his successor, Paul F. Leibold, took over the reins, Evansville was ready for any challenge the Vatican II documents could offer," wrote Zarrella. In 1969, Bishop Leibold reflected on what he had found when he sized up the diocese: "We had a Diocesan Council of Catholic Women -- none of men; we had vestiges of a Catholic Youth Organiza- tion; we had an excellent St. Vincent de Paul and Legion of Mary; some places had active CFM groups; there was good PTA and a Serra Club; and innumrable parish and in- terparish societies and fra- ternal organizations: Knights, Ladies, Daugh- ters, etc. So there were ac- tive laity indeed; but to pull them all together and ct priests, religious and ity working together in a parish and diocesan orien- tated structure and effec- five program evidently re- qutr4d some doing. Whbre +does one start?" To start with, Bishop Leibold called into exis- tence a special 46-member committee. Father Francis Schroering was named di- rector. Thomas J. Weber was engaged as executive secretary. BY December 1967, a lmember working com- mittee had drawn up a re- port on their activities toward starting a diocesan council. A steering committee met in March 1968, approving the report member committee. It was at that point that parishes began naming steer-i:! ing committees to work towards parish councils. Adult educational programs were held and training sessions were ducted throughout the diocese. January 1969 was the suggested target for all parishes to have established their parish councils. In December 1968 the draft of the proposed Evansville Diocesan was completed. In the meantime, Bishop Leibold had begun involving clergy, re i i i i iiiii Two views of the Diocese from 1969 Among the articles and columns published in the "Criterion Anniversary Supplement" to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Diocese of Evansville in 1969 were columns written by S. E. Durcholz of Jasper and Dottle Lane of Vincennes. Following are portions of their columns, dealing directly with parish councils and the diocesan council. "Without dealing in statistics or attempting to prove certain points, there are a number of observations that I feel can be made about events that are taking place within our diocese. These events are in the new relationships between the people and the priests; and even be- tween the peoples themselves. The new types of relationships necessary to develop parish councils; the lay participation in decisions affecting the parish; the contemporary perspec- lives on the message of the gospels -- all demand patience, and time. "However, parish councils demonstrate that, given the opportunity, laymen can perform responsibly many duties and services within the parish community that add to a successful operation. By no means are all councils totally successful; nor are all pastors encouraging full participation of their laity in the affairs of the parish. But there are many lay people who are capable of leading and of helping discover the dormant talents among previously veryreserved people. There are pastors who are open to such leadership. Even the typical non-involved types can be encouraged by pastor and lay leaders to speak their minds and take active parts. "The highlight of lay participation in the affairs of the church in the diocese was dramatically demonstrated this past May at the Diocesan Synod Convention. The numbers in attendance [about 3,000]; the intense interest of the delegates in the issues of the day gave ample cause for optimism. The future parish councils may well involve a greater plu- rality of people and give new life to parishes and the diocese. -- S. E. Durcholz "An excellent example [of the concern of lay persons] is to recall just two years ago when pastors asked members of their parishes to form steering committees which shouldlay the foundation for parish councils. Councils were unknownto the laity; and the pastors had no assurance that they would work, But the shared faith and trust in one another brought the councils to a reality. For each layman who doesn't seem happy with this involvement, there is another who does more than his share. Both the active and the passive parishioners are to communiate and be open to each other's views .... "With this involvement process, many laymen are enthused at the opportunity actually to share in the planning process of their parish and diocese. Before parishioners had com- pletely different understanding for those two words 'parish' and 'diocese,' than now. For instance, there were many who considered their 'parish' that building they called Church, on Main Street, which they attended each Sunday morning occupying the same pew week after week. today, however, in our diocese, parishioners feel 'parish' as community- minded. The people within their parishes and their diocese are important, vital persons, members of the Mystical Body of Christ. "The same with the term 'diocese.' To most people a diocese was a tract of land marked off on the map and ruled by a bishop. Now diocese carries the same meaning of community." -- Dottle Lane I [ II I I I I III and laity in the of the Third Diocesan Synod. Committees worked on synod ments on topics of Church Affairs, tional Services, nity Affairs, Youth, nonce, Family and Education. The Third Synod convened on May 4, . Only one document  a- document on Social tion -- was rejected synod participants. other documents -- with amendments and: reservations proved. A document on Organization the directives for councils. That was promulgated on 8, 1969. i The Diocesan Council was formed on Sept. 1, : 1969 at Washington. -- : total of 425 represen- taitves of parishes met to: elect the council membe and officers. A1 Harding:+ Jr. of Evansville was named council Bishop Leibold corn- mented: "No one wouk be so naive or as to say we have a completed today. started. Now we 1 build together." The structure of l councils took in the Diocese of Evans" viffe. The diocesan cil, however, was sus- pended by Bishop :: Francis R. Shea, who s.u ceeded Bishop Leibol d in 1970. Representatives Continued from previous page -- "Would prefer to scale back, where necessary, rather than close a parish." "Priests need to have . -greater unity." "Clergy need ongoing formation to be facilitator-co-   ordinator-enabler of spiritual : formation and lay involve- ment within the Church." Suggestions about what to do included clarifying the role of priests and promoting : . the use of deacons in he life t   of,the panh,:Other iees- ;': --submitted included having a married clergy, limiting the time of vows, considering women's role in the Church, recalling Catholic clegy who have left the active ministry, and changing our attitudes about our own children be- coming clergy. Other sagges- tions concerned training laity to perform non-priestly func tions. As for allocOon of priests in the dioct:ane suggestion called .t'e- cision to be based h attendance. - " : Evangelization ati but- reach -- Healing and Re, con. ciliation Why is this an important issue? People are really hurt- ing in the diocese, said one articipant. Others said that ivorced and separated peo- ple do not feel welcome in our Church, and that the an- nulment process is very painful and the Church needs to take a close look at what is happening to people. Ideas about what to do in regard to healing and recon- ciliation included communal reconciliation for divorced and remarried, a public ser vice of annointing of tile Sick and praying for the sick. and celebrating a Jubilee Year "like they did in the Old Tes- tament" when "all would be welcomed back with open arms." Specific suggestions also included offering dean- ery evenings or workshops with skilled professionals to cally on evangelization and outreach were made. They in- cluded deciding how to pub- licize our faith, educating people on basic beliefs and responsibilities, identifying target groups, publishing pgrish or deanery newsletters and training people for this work. Family Life "The success of the Church more family centered activi- ties, providing child care at all church functions, and helping heal and reconcile families broken by divorce. Another suggestion involved including single parent, older couple and single person in the definition of "family." Another idea concerned de- veloping the school as more of a common focus or rallying point for the family within and the nation depend on a the parish. those problems trai: volunteers for form a committee to religion books. Justice i i "There is less justice since the 'Justice Office was ued," was one corn: "The Church has a to practice justice preaches to others," other. return to the stron 8 tradi- tional family values%gjJff - , Catholic Schoifl) . . Seven., suggestions mented one participhn. , 'T'-en r:si- no cl, .o,mm_ 1". -: .l?a.. '`n tne issue of Other comments inclh}t: ment on the part of ihe Die- -t. uut:u establishing "Family life is going cese to the future of Catholic of peace and justice, down hill." There is a "decline in importance of family in soci- etv the Church must show tle importance of the fam- ily." -- "The family is the cor- nerstone of the Church and Schools." said one comment. "We need the bishop's letter on Catholic Education," said another. firm stand on aborti other life issues, arlt nating injustices diocese and church Suggestions for schools -- 17 in all -- included develop- ing, promoting and encourag- deal with specific family is- we must build on it.  ing a program of tithing or sues, increasing education , ++:++. proportionate gw!ng by all and understanding about he- 'Programs to ettu .Catholics; setting up a com- mosexuality, and bet. empower families iii; mittee to contal every tar know the miadan- proper roles" was : C, atholic family x k'ds nulment proc "" " /i"i!| +'v .... ' .++' ,+ . - " o "7 "" +1:'::+ I0 suggestlns+'-)::&re glng t P'} I+' z suggest,ons altI:healing about what couldb + 6nd try to get tl+4p,+#d and reconciliation were improve family life?] ti kids td Catholic sci;fiid- collected, gested were deveiopin: yp- ing out why kids go to public Five suggestions specifi- port groups for fmnili nd school eat) tlum addressing