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Evansville, Indiana
October 3, 1997     The Message
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October 3, 1997
 

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October 3, 1997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Letter to the People of God in the Diocese of Evansville My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Every year at this time I sit down to write to you about World Mission Sunday. In late August, I heard Cardinal Arinze give a stirring address at the National Black Catholic Congress in Baltimore. He is the head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Nations. In his address he reminded those of us in the audience of our personal responsibility for spreading the good news of Jesus to the world. It is not just a nice thing to do, it is an obligation that came to us with baptism, for through its cleansing waters each of us became one with Jesus. It is he who told us to "teach all nations.., all that I have taught you." Down through the centuries we have heroic examples of missionaries who went to foreign lands and'differing cultures to serve as the arms, legs and Voice of Jesus. You and I can be reassured, however, by the life of St. Th6r6se of Lisieux. She showed us one does not have to "go" to the mission fields to be missionaries. She -- by her contemplative life -- met her responsibility by prayer for the missions and the Simplicity of life. Her example leaves us with no excuse. The same sacrament of baptism that St. Th6r6se received directs us to proclaim Jesus by our daily lives. In examining my conscience about my own stew- ardship of the gift of faith, I confess that it does not always meet the test of "sharing" with others throughout the world. At least it-feels that way. Faith is not to be kept, but shared. My journey as "missioner" is, however, one that I could never have imagined. It was in seeing a movie of the Maryknoll Missioners in Africa that I first became conscious of a call to priesthood. Think about that. American Missioners in Africa through a movie inspired a kid at home in Indiana. The call was sim- ple: To be a priest like my pastor. The community of the Church through the Arch- bishop of Indianapolis called me to the Holy Orders of Deacon and Priesthood many years ago. In accept- ing the formal call, I consciously took on a public responsibility to be a preacher of the Gospel in addi- tion to the one given me in baptism. It is one that I share with all priests throughout the World. I served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for 28 years. I did not serve in the foreign missions. Eight years and more ago, I received yet another call. This time the call came from the Holy Father. He invited me to serve as the Bishop of Evansville, in the footsteps of the apostles. The mandate to "teach all nations" rang more sharply in my ears since Jesus first gave it to the apostles. Though willing to go to foreign missions should there be another call, I have pledged my fidelity of service to the Diocese of Evansville. With St. Th6rse, by my way of life, prayerful support and financial contribution, I reach out vicariously to the missions and missionaries in far off lands. I invite each of you to join me to do the same in your chosen way of life. Through the intercession of St. Th6r6se, Patroness of the Missions, may all those who serve in far off lands be strengthened and encouraged by our con- scious efforts on their behalf. Faithfully yours in Christ, The sculptor, the tools, and the object of art ,, Throughout the course of a Federation of Catholic Youth typical" week, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Min- echetical Leadership, National munity. Mentors are called to refining, the shaping, and the Ministry, National Catholic Cat- lstry receives at !east five phote calls requesting youth m"  y programs that really work. Commentary by MICHAEL H. EPPLER Director, Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Over a " .. typical year, I read 'review and recommend ab:: 100 books, pro ram resources ,,,,:_,_ g _ . . ,-m;_c'L. . ,,,m:n are Catholic, deveqU' or interested in the " upment of adolescents. Most of these recommendations roeparish volunteers or ro- e nai ministers. P Would have to say that for the most part, resources comin u.ut of national Cathol g UShln. L lc pub- --"s aOUses are ret - resource , p ty good; int- o from organizations erested in Cathohc and tic ado' " holis- escent develo excelled,,,,, - - pment are nati ,,' and resources from tions" o,,,,,,t protessional assocm" - or example, National African American Catholic Youth Ministry Network or National Hispanic Youth Min- istry Network), are the best. The best-written program, though, is only as good as the artist who holds this tool in his or her hand. In the last three years, Fhave seen well-formed artists take mediocre programs and work them into objects of art. I have also seen excellent programs just not work that well, because the artists didn't take the time to work on the most important part of their ministry  their own spiritual formation. Ministry and formation of youth is relational. Adolescents know when we, as adult men- tors and guides, are authentic about our faith. Adolescents know when we "don't know the answer," and are trying to create one for them. Teens know when we really care about them and their well-being. When we enter into a relationship with teens, if the organization had a 425 to another Harvey said. for looser govern- on religious a appealing to some Who believe that once Service client gets into a substance abuse will the client's life will . added. or is it Simply a matter of tax laws charitable giv- getting out of the char- business, as some said Second t food banks could get it government support percent increase in donations. "Is it possible? Yes. Is it like- ly? No," she said. Tax changes still beg the ques- tion, Father Harvey said. Last year's welfare law got rid of dependence as a tenet of anti- poverty programs, but it did not address how toget rid of pover- ty itself. Father Harvey recalled the words of Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Amata Miller, an economist, who said, "One of the challenges for our economy is to have as many people view themselves as citizens as we have people who view them- selves as taxpayers." we open ourselves to being "linked, yet distinct." We are linked to the teens' issues, their hopes, and their dreams. We are distinct from their persons, and adults need to create an envi- ronment where their space is sacred. In being "linked, yet dis- tinct," we allow the story of the adolescent to transform us as adults. And through listening to the story, we become genuine mentors and trusted guides to the adolescent, so that we can then share our stories, which are rooted in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It takes time to develop a rela- tionship. Programs are nothing more than vehicles for adults to develop with adolescents rela- tionships which are health); holistic, and transformative and always pointed in the direction of integrating youth into the life, mission and ministry of their families and parishes. The end- point of youth ministry rela- tionships is not the self-benefit of youth or adult, but rather, the transition of youth into young adulthood and active participa- tion in the parish community. Adult guides and mentors re called to the monumental work of seeking God, seeking a rela- tionship with Jesus, allowing the spirit to be active in the ordinar- iness of daily life; and, guides already form them before we work to be rooted in the corn- even receive them. But it is in the the task of being in motion towards God's self. If you were to stop and reflect on when you have been ministered to, would you consider the minister a per- son of prayer and refle(!tion? Did that minister spend time in study and reflection? Did that minister express a mission that was rooted in Jesus Christ and the community of believers? Did that minister make Jesus present to you? The Office of Adult Formation is the starting point for getting a youth ministry and formation program going in your parish, if you are just starting out. Bene- clictine Sister Geraldine Hedinger and Donna Gish are available to help the minister design a learn- ing and spiritual formation plan. Ministers who are in prayer and are open to the movement of God in their lives are authen- tic witnesses for adolescents. The programs they employ are s'un- ply tools in the hands of an artist. It is not the youth minister alone who is the artist. It is the youth minister who is in relationship with God  Who is the Artist. The youth we reach are works of art. Their families, schools, communities, and parishes polishing that the artist assists God in the creation of beauty. When the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry does not endorse a youth movement or youth program, it is generally because the program does not focus on the spiritual develop- ment of the adult mentor, or the program does not follow the principles of the National Con- ference of Catholic Bishops' pas- toral letter on youth ministry (1997). This does not mean that parishes are not "allowed" to use the program. This means that the program has deficiencies that do not enable, empower, or encour- age youth to be active partici- pants in the total life, mission, and ministry of the parish. Please call to ask what pro- grams the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry recom- mends. A good "program" place to start is with the Girl Scout and Boy Scout programs, Teens Encounter Christ, the Outpost, Youthworks, Confirming Disci- ples, Faith Ways, Disciple Ways, and Family Works. But the best place to start is always in the personal and spir- itual formation of the adult minister. The power of the pen: Write a pro-life letter The following suggestions are from a pamphlet, Program Mode/s, prepared by the United States Catholic Conference. A pro-life letter written to an elected official need not be long or elaborate. A short, simply-writ- ten letter urging your representa- tive to support or oppose specific legislation is all you need to con- vey your message. On Capitol Hill it is often said one personal letter represents the views of 100 people. Do not underestimate the importance of your one letter! Letters to the editor The "Letters to the Editor" section is one of the most wide- ly read features in a newspaper. A newspaper is most likely to print a letter written in reaction to a current story. Just one letter in your local newspaper will be read by thousands of people. In addition, legislative offices monitor all newspapers pub- lished in their districts. Personal letter-writing is an important tool to educate the public, communicate with leg- islators, and effect public pofi- cy. One letter has the Power to change minds, and what is - more important, change heart rot nnm on on -rson- al letter-writing, contact: The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, 1511 K Street, N.W., Suite 335, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: (202t 393-0703; Fax: (202 M7-1383.