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Evansville, Indiana
December 25, 1987     The Message
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December 25, 1987

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:5" Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 25, 1987 1 i &apos; i ' ! II I Faith Todav 15 A supplement to Catholic newspo, punished by NATIONAL CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE 1312 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. wl grant assJstom.e from The CBthohc Church EXTENSION So,w 35 East Wac Or., Oicago, IIIin0is 60601 All contents copyright 1987 by NC News SeMce. I On pilgrimage: a retrospective .gy Katharine Bird NC News Service hen planning for the 1987 visit to their ci-. ty by Pope John Paul II, parishioners at St. Mary's Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Miami drew up a proclamation stiting that "we, the people of the cathedral, offer ourselves as a sign that it is possi- ble for men and women of good will to live together in peace." Father Gerard LaCerra, the <; cathedral's rector, spoke with me about the proclamation and its creation. The proclamation was written in the languages of the three groups served by the cathedral: Hispanics, English-speaking blacks and whites, and Creole-speaking Haitians. Signed by 2,000 parishioners, the proclamation was given to the mayor of Miami at Thanksgiving 1986. A copy hung in the church through Advent to remind parishioners of their pledge. Pursuing the goal stated in the proclamation often involves a fine- ly balanced juggling act because at times the parish experiences "a lot of tension," Father LaCerra said. In working on the proclamation, a special effort was made to in- clude the cathedral's three groups. This was especially important for the Haitian community, whose members tend to hang back, fearful of being stigmatized by stereotypes as poor, diseased and illiterate, the pastor said. Including them in parish ac- tivities is a way of uncovering "for the wider community the beauty of the Haitians," he added. A direct spinoff of planning for the proclamation grew out of the discovery that many Haitians could not sign their names. Without fan- fare, parish leaders set up a pro- gram to teach writing and introduc- ed it to the Haitians as a means of helping them to participate in the project. Another step toward bringing Haitians into the parish mainstream occurred recently when the Miami cathedral parish commissioned nine Haitians as eucharistic ministers. The cathedral had obtained per- mission to translate the archdio- cesan program for training eucharistic ministers into the language of the Haittans. Until then the program was available only in English and Spanish, effectively eliminating most Haitians. The new training program in Creole "puts a great deal of em- phasis on the shared responsibility we all have for each other" as Christians, Father LaCerra explain- ed. It stresses that "we are God's family and all have roles to play" in serving the community. The cathedral's translation will be a "pioneer program for the en- tire archdiocese" in training Haitian eucharistic ministers, Father LaCerra said. He noted that for the first time at Thanksgiving 1987, eucharistic ministers at St. Mary's "represented all three of our com- munities." Another Miami priest, Father Gary Wiseman, talked with me about the church's pilgrimage of faith as seen in his ministry this year. He is secretary to Miami Aux- iliary Bishop Norbert Dorsey. A special interest of Father Wiseman is his work with youths in a weekly Christian awareness program. Many come from Boys Town of Florida, a residential home for neglected youths. The awareness program, attended by an average of 45 youths, also draws on teens from the local com- munity to discuss spirituality and God as well as problems such as alcohol and drug abuse in teen life. Father Wiseman said the youths often arrive at the first meeting rebellious about religion and God. But over time, in a gratifying number of instances, the youths discover that it is possible for them to develop their own relationship with God. Recently the young priest was tickled to have a former student call to say that he wasgetting mar- ried, wanted a church ceremony and "wanted me to celebrate it." Father Wiseman also enjoys ecumenical and interreligious outreach. He told of coming to know Jewish people professionally and socially through his work. It was in Miami that Pope John Paul engaged in a major meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders. Give-and-take with people from other religious traditions builds trust and respect on both sides, Father Wiseman said. Such friend- ships prove invaluable when ten- sion arises, he said. They provide a framework in which people can meet to talk out some of their hurts and pain -- often in the pro- cess renewing their "mutual respect, care and peace." (Ms. Btrd is associate editor of Faith Today.) This week Faith Today looks back on 1987, a year of pilgrimage for the church's people. Our writers revisit Miami, ; San Antonio and Phoenix, three stops on Pope John Paul Irs September journey in the United States. They discover that for many people, the pope's visit was the occasion for a closer look at Christian life and the work of the church. It also sparked new efforts toward justice, reconciliation and renewal. [ 't':t. g ./' Y'. .';'N;,. ;.L,,,Lt ?/',/ '4.o .,,'i, .,f" t4 ', .ti?- . (- :ik!"