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Evansville, Indiana
October 23, 1987     The Message
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October 23, 1987
 

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Convocation concelebration The Eucharist is shared among priests gathered for the first three-day presbyterate convocation in diocesan history. Bishop Francis Shea and more than 90 priests who serve the Diocese of Evansville concelebrated at noon each day, in an activities building meeting room, at Kentucky Dam Village. -- Message Photo by Paul Leingang Convocation 87 Over 90 priests meet to pray, play and plan By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor : "Amazing" is the one word descrip tion of Convocation 87, by Father William Traylor, pastor of St. Agnes Church, Evansville. "I looked long and hard to try to come up with the right choice of words to describe it to the peo- ple," he says, "and it was an amazing event." More than 90 of the priests who serve the Diocese of Evansville gathered for almost four days at Kentucky Dam Village. Diocesan priests and Benedic- tine priests who serve parishes in the diocese participated in the first of a kind event. "It was amazing that we did it," says Father Traylor. "We took time to pray together, to recreate together and to work together, to look towards the future, to loam what are the questions which have to be asked." The effort was "well worth it," he says. "It brings a lot of hope." The priests who gathered for the con- vocation were guided by Father J. Gor- don Myers, S.J., Ph.D., who led the group through prayer and reflection, discussion, and decision making. In an early part of the process, priests in- dividually and in groups identified the things they believed they had done well; they also identified and discussed the things that they believed they could do better. By the end of the process, priests agreed on three areas for ongo- ing effort: , the role of the priest. Convocation participants' want also tO discuss:the role of lay persons, religious men and women, and deacons. --authority. Participants added "long range planning" as an area of concern related to authority. -- trust, care, and support. The planning committee responsible for the convocation will make plans for an afternoon session, some time in winter, when all priests will be called back together for the follow-up effort. After the winter session, the planning committee will end its activities. Whatever future efforts are undertaken as a result of the convocation will be handled by the appropriate committees and boards already established within the presbyterate. Father Myers is a Jesuit priest of the Detroit province, who studied theology at the Toronto School of Theology, has served on the faculties of the University of Notre Dame, Loyola University's In- stitute of Pastoral Studies, and the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago, according to a brief biography provided to the participants at Convocation 87. Father Myers holds a doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin where he remains associated with the Labratory for the Study of Group Life. Father Myers' specialty is the study of what happens when a group or On the inside The Golden Years -- Look inside for a 12-page retirement supplement. St. Joseph, Vanderburgh County -- Feature parish on pages 10 & 11. Father Hoffman retires --See page 14. i ii i i iiii ii i i i i ill - organization goes through transition. For th.e Evansville Diocese, the transi- tion in progress, is the decline in the number of priests and the changes that result from that decline. Some convocation participants ex- pressed disagreement with the process used by Father Myers. Father David Nunning, pastor of Corpus Christi Church, Evansville, said the convoca- tion was "certainly worth the effort," but he expressed doubt about the gathering of the presbyterate. "I'm not sure that in this time of the decline of male clergy, that a gathering of male clergy is the most useful." Despite some reservations about the structure and process of the convoca- tion, Father Nunning praised the helpfulness of Father Myers for priests working through this time of transition. Father Myers had spoken of the need for priests to allow grieving for the loss of what they had enjoyed in former days of plentiful priests. Father Nunning spoke of the sadness he felt at the convoca- tion. "Priests were not just talking dispassionately about 'ministry.'" he said. "They were talking about their lives." Father Nunning also said the con- vocation provided an opportunity for priests to affirm their love for the priesthood, and a chance to renew their acquaintance with other men of dedica- tion and good will. Making a major presentation at the convocation was Richard A. Schoenherr, Ph.D., a professor of sociology and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In current research sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Conference, Schoenherr is constructing a census of diocesan clergy in the U.S. and Spain, as part of a 20-year study of structural change in the Catholic Church. Schoenherr spoke to the priests about "megatrends" -- among them the decline in priests' numbers and the in- crease of lay participation in church ministry. Schoanherr also spoke of a difficult time in the present and future of the See CONVOCA TlON pase 2 Canon lawyers urge fair labor practices NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NC) -- The Canon Law Society of America, meeting in Nashville Oct. 12-15, approved a report which urges church agencies to respect the rights of their employees to join unions or other collective bargain- ing associations. "Church teaching clearly supports collective bargaining," said the report, which also covered church obligations to provide just wages and to meet at least the minimum standards in ap- plicable civil law for employer- employee relations. The report, developed over eight years, spells out the standards of church law in employer-employee relations. Drawing from ecclesiastical law, papal teachings and the teachings of the U.S. bishops, it is to be given to the bishops and other church officials to assist them in determining what church law says about fair labor practices by the church. About 400 canon lawyers gathered in Nashville for the society's four-day an- nual meeting. In another action, the society com- missioned a study of current norms and practice regarding the ordination of some married men to the Catholic priesthood. Before approving the resolution, the membership voted to delete language that would have asked the study committee to suggest ways in which the practice could be "reasonably extended" beyond its cur- rent limits. In the church in the West, ordination of married men is limited to special cases of married ministers, mainly of the Episcopal and Lutheran churches, who have converted to Catholicism. In a report to the society the outgoing president, Father Richard G. Cunn- ingham, announced that a study of apostolic visitations and limitation of the power of a local bishop would go forward despite some reservations that Archbishop Pie Laghi, papal pronuncio to the United States, had expressed. The study was commissioned last year amid controversy raised when Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen of Seattle was forced to give up some episcopal authority following an apostolic visitation -- a Vatican- sponsored inquiry -- into his arch- diocese. Archbishop Hunthausen's authority was subsequently restored. Father Cunningham said society of- ficials met with Archbishop Laghi last November to discuss that study and other society projects, and after the meeting the papal ambassador wrote to express concern that the project could hurt church peace and unity in Seattle. The society's board of governors con- sidered Archbishop Laghi's views but decided unanimously to go ahead with the study, the priest said. He said the board felt that the study was consistent with the society's history and aims. Such a study "would neither hurt nor help what had already taken place in Seattle," he said. In future situations, he said, some "responsible canonical education" could help dispel the kind of anger and confusion that occurred because of the Seattle case. At their meeting the society members See CANON pae 14