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September 11, 1987     The Message
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September 11, 1987

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4 September 11, 1987 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Synod on laity Survey describes U.S. laity as critical, yet strongly-committed WASHINGTON (NC) -- When Pope John Paul II con- venes the world Synod of Bishops on the laity this Oc- tober in Rome, one of the freshest images in his mind will be the Catholics he has just met in a 10-day visit to the United States Sept. 10-19. What will he see on that trip? What do Catholics along the papal route think and feel? What would they like to see happen at the synod in Rome or in church dealings with lay people in the United States? Lay leaders who were inter- viewed by National Catholic News Service this summer in papal visit cities across the country described a vibrant, ac- tive U.S. Catholic laity -- a lai- ty strongly committed to the church even if critical of some positions, self-starting but also looking for training and guidance. They described a lai- ty that is community oriented and is involved in both social action and ecclesial ministry. Indifference and alienation were there, too -- often express- ed, especially by women, in terms of feeling undervalued or unneeded, or in terms of per- sonal disagreement with church positions on such issues as sexual morality, the role of women, priestly celibacy, or social justice. Marsha Whelan of Miami, first stop on the papal visit, said she would like to say "at least two things" to the Rome synod: "Emphasize the role of the lay people in evangelization" and "really, really look at the role of women in the church." MS, WILAN, Miami arch- diocesan evangelization direc- tor and president of the Na- tional Council for Catholic Evangelization, said consulta- tions for an archdiocesan synod currently under way in Miami have produced lively discus- sion of generally controversial church issues such as women's role in the church and sexual morality. Among local church issues, the role of the laity: in the parish was a central con- cern, she said. Margaret Robinson, a Miami synod participant, parish eucharistic minister and full- time volunteer in the arch- diocesan papal visit office, said she agreed "100 percent" with the pope on issues such as women's ordination, but she strongly supports greater lay in- volvement in ministry within current church rules. Citing her own experience as a eucharistic minister, she said that not only does lay ministry serve other people but "it does something major" to the person who gets involved in ministry. When Pope John Paul goes to Columbia, S.C., Sept. 11 in the Diocese of Charleston, he will be in the most rural and sparse- ly Catholic diocese of his visit. It is an area that abounds with tales of lay people doing the day-to-day work of parishes because there aren't enough priests to go around. "These people don't ask. They do it and they tell you what they just finished," said Trinitarian Father Vernon Danenmann, who heads Catholic churches in Ward and H The Only Bank With Person to Personal Banking I00E)000000BANK, Batesburg, rural parishes 15 miles apart in the west central part of the state. In every diocese the pope visits, lay people now hold diocesan posts that a few years ago were the exclusive preserve of priests. The Charleston Diocese, where ecumenism is the theme of the papal visit, is one of the few in the country which has a lay person, Peggy Sookikian, as head of its ecumenical commission. She thinks that "with guidelines and good training" lay people could do far more in the church than they do now. Her ecumenical experience has also put her in touch with women ministers in other denominations, and she believes "there are women in the (Catholic} church who are very well qualified" for similar roles. The theme of the Rome synod, which is to run Oct. 1-30, is "The Vocation and Mis- sion of the Laity in the Church and in the World." Rick Beben, a parish religious education director in the New Orleans Archdiocese, sees the rapidly growing lay involve- ment in recent years partly as "necessity -- we don't have the priests, brothers and sisters" that used to be available to fill almost any full-time church job. But he adds, "Even if the seminaries were filled tomor- row and all the empty convents were full, the laity should still be playing an integral role." Lay people in ministry are now "less a novelty and more ac-- cepted for their competency." Despite wide publicity given to dropout Catholics, Beben prefers to emphasize what he sees as "a healthy trend" -- that among those who stay "fewer are satisfied with just being people in the pews. They want to do more, they want a sense of belonging." New Orleans is another city on the papal itinerary where Catholics have gone through a wide consultation for a local archdiocesan synod. THOMAS PERKINS, who has worked 20 years for the arch- diocese on its massive involve- i JASPER SER VICE I AND SHOPPING GUIDE Buehlers I.G.A. "THE THRIFTY HOUSEWIFE'S SOURCE OF SAVINGS" QUALITY FOODS and MEATS Also Huntlngburg and Oakland City i KREMPP LUMBER CO. WHOLESALE BUILDING MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION & GENERAL CONTRACTING YARD CONSTRUCTION 482-1961 482-6838 JASPER BECHER & KLUESNER FUNERAL HOME Downtown Chapel, 214 E. 7th North Chapel, 33rd Newton ..... L___' ....... 1 _ .V ][__ m w- ..... = ...... = - -=-- - - KUNKEL INSURANCE AGENCY 811 NEWTON 482..4556 CHRYSLER - PLYMOUTH - DODGE STERNBERG, INC. 1202 THIRD AVENUE JASPER 24 HR. 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