Report on the
CCCB Annual Forum with National Associations
Launch Out Into The Deep
Ottawa, May 31 – June 1, 2002
REPORT ON THE CCCB ANNUAL FORUM WITH ASSOCIATIONS
May 31-June 1, 2002
“At the beginning of the new millennium, and at the close of the Great Jubilee during which we celebrated the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus and a new stage of the Church’s journey begins, our hearts ring out with the words of Jesus when one day, after speaking to the crowds from Simon’s boat, he invited the Apostle to ‘launch out into the deep’ for a catch, ‘Duc in altum’ (Lk 5:4). Peter and his first companions trusted Christ’s words, and cast the nets. ‘When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish’ (Lk 5:6). (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2000)
The Episcopal Commission for Relations with Associations of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Laity hosted its seventh annual Forum with Associations from May 31-June 1, 2002 at the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity in Ottawa on the theme of Launch Out into the Deep.
The General Objectives of the Annual Forum are: 1) to discuss and make recommendations on a topic that is a priority for the Commission; and 2) to enable the associations to have some time to share their concerns and activities with the Commission and with one another. The Commission has found the Forum to be an effective vehicle for fulfilling its mandate to assure dialogue between the CCCB and national associations.
Eighteen associations attended the Forum (seven bilingual, five French-language and six English-language): Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada, Association des Scouts du Canada, The Canadian Association of the Knights of Columbus, Canadian Association of Ministries Programs, Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry/Canadian Catholic Student Association, The Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association, The Catholic Health Association of Canada, The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, Conférence canadienne des instituts séculiers, Canadian Religious Conference, Foi et lumière, Mouvement des femmes chrétiennes, National Federation of Presbyteral Councils, Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, La Vie montante, Ukrainian Catholic Council of Canada.
The associations had introduced themselves in advance of the meeting by providing for circulation to all participants a one page self description which included information such as their mandate, mission, objectives, current priorities or major projects. The self-descriptions of the associations are in a document entitled Who’s Who? which is available from the CCCB Secretariat.
At the opening session of the meeting individual participants introduced themselves in light of the theme by responding to the question “For me personally ‘launching out into the deep means….”
For the participants, “launching out into the deep” includes:
INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME
Father Richard Coté, OMI, Director of the CCCB Office for Theology, provided an excellent focus for the theme with a presentation inspired by section 50 of Novo Millennio Ineunte, “Now is the time for a new ‘creativity’ in charity.” He began by explaining that in inviting us to “launch out into the deep” and embrace a new “creativity in charity”, the Holy Father is asking us to find new forms of communion within the Church and new ways of getting close to those who suffer and are alienated in our society. The balance of the presentation was divided into two key points: 1) What exactly do we mean by creativity? and 2) Where does the creative inspiration of our charity really come from?
Father Coté proposed that “creativity” is all about uncovering hidden connections and relationships between things we customarily think of as different, incongruous or completely unrelated. It is the ability to see things beyond appearances, beyond what actually meets the eye. There are many examples of making connections in science such as when Sir Isaac Newton saw for the first time a link between a falling apple and the law of gravity. Jesus revealed a deep connection between love of God on the one hand and the love of neighbour on the other hand, so much so that we must now speak of these as but one and the same commandment.
The creative imagination of Jesus is one of hope and promise, which abandons nothing and nobody, which breaks down barriers, and sets people free. The creativity of Jesus’ love gives us the courage to embrace what we hitherto believed quite impossible and unthinkable.
Creativity is not only the natural ability to be creative, but also the gift everyone received at Baptism, the Holy Spirit who dwells in each and every one of us. The Spirit is the source of all Christian creativity, of this new “creativity in charity” referred to by Pope John Paul II. Father Coté invited the participants to think of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them as God’s divine imagination, which everyone receives at baptism. The great saints and the great missionaries have always tapped into God’s divine imagination; they were always in touch with Jesus’ creative Spirit. They saw creativity as a constitutive dimension of faith itself, a baptismal birthright, and the hallmark of their spirituality and missionary zeal. It was this that enabled them to think the unthinkable, to conceive the inconceivable, and to imagine the unimaginable, namely, “a new heaven and a new earth”!
In conclusion, Father Coté wondered whether in the past we have centred our spirituality and pastoral practice a bit too much on the virtue of obedience and not enough on giving new meaning and actuality to Christ’s own creative imagination and Spirit of love for and in our changing times.
Exchange in Plenary
Some of the points made in the exchange among participants following Father Coté’s presentation were:
§ In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus opens his heart to his friends. We have tended to emphasize the rational over the experiential; we need to open up to the Spirit who creates new things.
§ We are called to listen to the Spirit, to be more attentive to the Spirit in our midst. Creativity comes from discernment, listening to God within us; we need an interior life to be effective.
§ We need to rediscover the Spirit and move into relationships of reciprocity and mutuality. In fact, reciprocity is the new word for evangelization and missionary zeal.
§ Creativity can be a healing of dichotomy, a reciprocity that calls us into relationships that may be broken, relationship becomes the foundation of our mission.
§ Creating links through the Spirit, promoting unity is one of the tasks of the Church today, which is rooted in the world and culture.
§ Creativity is a call to follow the Holy Spirit; Jesus dared what others would not; to find a new order out of chaos; the Holy Spirit gives us discernment in community, which yields peace, joy, justice and goodness.
§ On a practical level, it is sometimes difficult for associations to be creative because when they try to do the vision work they get bogged down with all the obstacles such as lack of money. But if you really have the vision, the money can often be found. Is life a problem to be solved or a world to be admired? If life is a problem, then the search is for solutions. But people are not hungry for solutions but for initiation into mystery; God is not a problem.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS
In small groups, the participants discussed two questions related to Father Coté’s presentation. The following are some of the points raised in the discussions.
1. Recall and share an instance in your own faith journey when someone (friend, neighbour, or stranger) was especially creative in the way they came to your assistance.
§ Common to many of the personal stories shared was how the assistance was spontaneous and gratuitous. In many of the examples given, creativity consisted in anticipating or intuiting the special need of another person.
§ Some participants spoke of creativity coming through action and others about the importance of someone trusting in their creativity.
§ In other instances, the creative dimension came more as an example on the part of some individual or group such as voluntary workers, care-givers or the poor who demonstrate an incredible will to serve and share what they have with others.
§ Creativity was also evident in those stories that spoke of someone taking the initiative to offer hospitality to strangers and making them feel at home in a foreign country.
§ Other stories spoke of individuals who assist people by referring them to someone who could offer them even more assistance than they themselves could provide.
2. What gospel episode stands out in your mind as a fine example of Jesus’ own remarkable creative charity? What external factors did Jesus have to overcome or endure in order to be so creative?
Many examples were cited of Jesus’ creative charity:
§ The woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:3ff)
§ Jesus conversing with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:7ff)
§ The bent woman (Lk 13:10ff)
§ The multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mt 14:17ff)
§ The disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:28ff)
§ The episode with Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2ff)
§ Mary at the wedding feast at Cana (Jn 2:1ff)
§ The Roman centurion (Mt. 8:5ff)
§ The woman with the hemorrhage (Mt 9:20ff)
§ The Syrophoenician woman’s response to Jesus (Mk 7:24ff)
§ Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38ff)
§ Mary at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25)
§ The parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart (Lk 18:ff)
The groups’ reflection on these texts included the following comments:
§ In all of the above episodes some boundary-crossing was involved, some obstacle, social convention or difficulty confronted and courageously overcome. (e.g. attitudes to women and different cultures, lack of resources, legal regulations, personal needs, feelings and judgments).
§ Participants recognized that charity often becomes creative when it makes bold to surmount these inhibiting social obstacles. It is not only the boldness of Jesus but also of others in the episodes. Jesus was a risk taker. He was not afraid to lead but he served and empowered those who were considered outcasts.
§ The Gospel makes it clear that you can’t launch out alone but that our creativity must be done in community, in dialogue.
§ What is striking in the gospel passages is the love of Jesus; with love you can take risks, go beyond your limits and discover new ways.
§ A constant element in the Gospel is that Jesus intervened in very specific ways in the lives of people and created something new and something positive, generating happiness and joy. It is demanding and sometimes a burden to be a Christian, Jesus died because of it, but it doesn’t change the results, which are joy and happiness.
§ We have been created to be creators and we have to let flow out what is already in us, perhaps through foolishness.
Panel Discussion -- For My Association launching out into the deep Involves …
Four associations made presentations in response to the above noted statement.
The following is a summary of what they said.
The Catholic Women’s League of Canada – Marie Cameron, President Elect.
The theme for the CWL for the next two years will be “Cast Out Into the Deep”. The League will focus on encouraging the formation of Small Christian Communities as a continuation of its work on the “new evangelization” and in keeping with the League vision statement.
Small Christian Communities are about belonging where we can be comfortable, be accepted and supported as we grow in our personal faith life. The sense of belonging is missing from large parishes and it is hoped that League members will establish communities in these parishes, especially in the rural areas where many churches have been closed and amalgamated with other distant parishes. In this way they can help to keep the Catholic faith community alive and to support each other on their faith journeys.
Small Christian communities are about learning where we reflect together in small groups and make the Gospel real in our daily lives. In Novo Millennio Ineunte, #40 the Holy Father tells us “to nourish ourselves with the word in order to be ‘servants of the word’ in the work of evangelization.” In these small communities people of faith will gather together to study the readings which will be proclaimed in their Church on the following Sunday. The League will be recommending that members use the resource, Celebrating the Word, from the Resurrection Centre in Waterloo, Ontario because it is user friendly and accessible on the Internet.
Small Christian Communities are about praying. In Novo Millennio Ineunte #32, the Holy Father tells us that “we have to learn to pray” and to “develop that conversation with Christ which makes us his intimate friends”. Rural League members are devastated at losing their small rural churches and having to travel long distances to attend Sunday Eucharist. Small Christian Communities could help to nourish spiritual life in rural areas.
Small Christian Communities are about reaching out. By establishing these communities in parishes, people will become more aware of the needs of others from rides to Mass, to companionship, to other actions for social justice in Canada and around the World.
Through Small Christian Communities it is hoped that League members will be able to internalize their relationship with God to a greater depth and able to experience that spirituality of communion envisioned in Novo Millennio Ineunto #43.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – François Gloutnay, Director of Communications
Development and Peace celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, 35 years of international solidarity with over 12, 000 projects supported in 70 countries. It is also 35 years of creating awareness in the Canadian public of international questions, particularly about the structural causes of poverty (e.g. campaigns against apartheid and third world debt).
In this anniversary year, Development and Peace is launching out into the deep by looking inward instead of outward by having an institutional review of its members and staff. Such a review may not seem very dynamic but we have chosen to reaffirm the importance of the concerns of our members and staff without whom Development and Peace would not exist. We have done so by using simple means of listening to their views and by using the new technology of the Internet.
The results of a survey in March 2002 of the 4100 members (27% response rate) of Development and Peace showed:
§ The members consider Development and Peace to be an efficient organization both inside and outside of Canada and the level of satisfaction is high.
§ Nevertheless, the members think that the organization must rejuvenate itself because it is not considered “cool” to be a member.
§ Members are generally older, women, practicing Catholics, with post secondary education.
§ Members belong to Development and Peace because of a concern for social justice (65%), their Christian faith (54%), and their interest in international development (52%).
§ They are very satisfied with the principal educational activities, particularly the autumn action and Lenten campaign.
§ Members wish improvement in three areas: formation of new members, leadership development and formation of volunteers at local and regional levels.
§ More than one half of the members knew little about the organization’s structure of governance.
§ Members think that Development and Peace is not as well known as it should be among the Canadian public.
Virtual Guide for Staff
In order to ensure that all the staff of Development and Peace, wherever located, have access to all the information about the organization, a special website for staff only has been created.
The Internet is a great tool to unite staff and members who are scattered across the country. It helps us to work together, to exchange ideas, to support one another, to react quickly to difficult situations and even to enrich our faith life. As the Holy Father said in his message for World Communications Day on May 12, 2002:
“Like the new frontiers of other times, this one too is full of the interplay of danger and promise, and not without the sense of adventure which marked other great periods of change. For the Church the new world of cyberspace is a summons to the great adventure of using its potential to proclaim the Gospel message. This challenge is at the heart of what it means at the beginning of the millennium to follow the Lord’s command to ‘put out into the deep’: Duc in altum (Lk 5:4)"
The Canadian Religious Conference – Sr. Jocelyne Fallu, f.d.l.s., General Secretary and Bro. Barry Lynch, CFC, Vice-President
There are presently 26,000 religious in Canada. By 2015 it is anticipated that there will be 14,000 and that only one in ten will be under the age of 65. For religious it is a time of letting go and making adjustments. There are fewer vocations, aging members and changing ministries. Whereas at one time the religious were the keepers of the large institutional ministries of health care and education, they are increasingly transferring this ministry to lay leadership.
The religious have been very creative in serving people at the margins and played a significant role in the recent reshaping of the ecumenical social justice coalitions. Religious communities are responding to the challenge in Novo Millennio Ineunto to live a spirituality of communion by living in small groups sharing a prayer life and attending to the needs of the marginalized.
The transformation that religious are living calls them to experience the Paschal mystery where dying is a significant part of learning to live again in new kinds of ways. There is tremendous hope in living the Paschal mystery and being in small committed prayerful communities. It is both a challenge and a richness that the CRC includes men and women and French-speaking and English-speaking religious.
The priority for the CRC is social justice, to be with the poor and the disadvantaged in the areas of the environment, the economy, peace and human rights. They are streamlining their national structure to make it a more effective voice for the voiceless and to improve communications among the members and with their partners. They want to be with the poor in a significant way and speak with one voice to the Government. It is fundamental to listen to the Spirit who calls us to move forward.
The Catholic Health Association of Canada (CHAC) – Dr. Richard Haughian, President
The Catholic Health Association of Canada focuses on health in four main areas: ethical reflection, social justice, values and spirituality.
At its annual convention in May a major project was approved that will require the letting go of some other work.
The CHAC will launch into the deep by sponsoring a national dialogue on the preferred future of Catholic health care ministry in Canada. This will involve moving away from some traditional concepts about health care and the healing ministry.
We are at a turning point in the health care system and the Catholic health care and healing ministry. The Romanow Commission will be setting new directions for the health care system and it is important that Catholic health care begin to clarify now what role it should play in a transformed health care system. The greatest threat to health care is for people not to get involved and speak out.
This is the end of an era. Many religious congregations of sisters have decided, or are in the process of deciding, to leave active involvement in the institutional health care ministry. New leaders are emerging within health care sponsor organizations and institutions with needs for formation in the values and history of the church’s healing ministry.
We have a mandate to rediscover the healing ministry of Jesus who proclaimed the word and healed. The healing ministry is an essential ministry of the Church which includes and goes beyond the care provided in hospitals and long-term centres – e.g. home care, community clinics, health promotion, disease prevention, spirituality, poverty. The national dialogue will encourage the participation of many new voices such as Catholic social services, Church leaders, diocesan representatives, Catholic charities, and housing advocates.
Catholic health care is rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus. It is hoped that the national dialogue will create a new dynamism, broaden the concept of health care ministry and provide an opportunity to discern the ways in which the Spirit is moving us to live this ministry in the new millennium.
PANEL DISCUSSION – As a bishop launching out into the deep involves …
The four members of the Episcopal Commission responded to the above noted statement.
When Bishop Boissonneau became a bishop one year ago, he adopted Novo Millennio Ineunte as the guide for his pastoral ministry and recommended it to the school chaplains. The challenge in launching out into the deep in pastoral service is not so much the program because the program is Jesus but rather how to adapt it to the diversity and needs of the particular community. Toronto is especially diverse with over twenty-five different language groups, large parishes and thousands of families.
It is a challenge to know how to strengthen the community in the face of the legitimate diversity that exists within the tradition.
The Pope has no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiative should be done in the context of holiness. If we do that we shall be accepting the “primacy of grace” (#38). We can do all the planning, visioning and organizing but will get nowhere if we think that it all depends on us. Putting out into the deep should lead us to the face of Jesus. Though it may be frustrating or slow, we should be prepared to let the Lord tell us when to let down our nets, to listen to his voice and to act as if we believe in the primacy of grace. It is especially important for a bishop to listen and to learn how to listen to conflicting voices.
The new evangelization is not for specialists but involves a commitment by Christian communities to proclaim Christ to the world every day. Begun in the context of communal connectedness to the word of Jesus, the task of the Lord will keep us young, refreshed and hopeful.
When Archbishop Gaumond became a bishop seventeen years ago his priorities were organizing the diocesan Church, making appointments, solving daily problems, and understanding the relationship between Church and State in the field of education.
Many things have changed. His major preoccupations now are trying to meet the challenges of the new evangelization, faith education and making intergenerational links.
When he was first appointed, Bishop Gaumond felt as if he were being pulled out into the deep in spite of himself. Now he feels invited to launch out into the deep – to go further out with something new and new perspectives. History is made up of those times where we just repeat what we do and then there are crises where we are forced to rethink and renew our approach. This is where we are now; it is energizing, dynamic, difficult, dangerous and tiring, but it is our vocation and the future of the Church rests on our launching out with confidence and faith.
Even if we don’t know the future shape of the Church, we do know that there is a pilot on board who knows the itinerary and the destination. While we may be asked to face things more intensely today, and living with faith is not always comfortable it is a sure place to be. This place is for sure the Church.
The Apostolic Letter is not about projects but about attitude. The letter is full of hope and this attitude should be communicated to our communities. The invitation to launch out into the deep counteracts the tendency to be disheartened with the various problems in the church.
After the Jubilee Year no one should be satisfied with business as usual. The Bishop should be a kind of cheerleader, giving a sense of hope that is based on the primacy of grace and the promise of Jesus to be with us always. It is a hope that is built on something solid.
While the pastoral needs of the diocese can preoccupy the bishop, there are also larger questions about globalization and biotechnology. How do we bring a faith perspective to these great questions that are on people’s minds?
In the fourteen years that Archbishop Ebacher has been the bishop of Gatineau-Hull, he has ordained one priest and buried thirty-five. Five per cent of his diocese attends Church regularly and when a believer dies there is no one to take his or her place. The challenge is to transmit the faith from one generation to the next and to be present to the poor and wounded.
The Church is the school of communion, the sign of communion in the Kingdom. Yet there is so much in fighting between clergy and laity. Religious pluralism is increasing in Canada and interreligious dialogue is essential to peace in the world and the survival of the planet but it is a challenge. Québecers also need to learn how to relate to Catholics from other cultures. We need to make the connections with those who are or who seem different from us. For us the deep is the idea of communion.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS
In small groups the participants discussed two questions related to the panel discussions. The following are some of the points raised in the discussions.
1. How will your association launch out into the deep in the coming year?
Attempt to reconcile Ex Corde Ecclesiae with the fact that here in Canada we live in a secular society and our Catholic colleges are often closely associated with secular institutions of higher learning.
Explore the possibility of making greater use of the Internet, articulate more precisely our priorities, especially concerning vocations, and take the call to holiness more seriously.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Speak more readily of Christ in such a way that the poor can see Christ better; reach out and serve the poor more effectively; do a better job of communicating among ourselves and with others; give our association greater visibility in the public eye and make our mission objectives better known.
Give greater priority (a) to the call to holiness, (b) to reaching out to the more recently retired folks, who by and large are more distant or disconnected from the Church, and (c) to fostering greater sharing between the English and French sectors of the association.
Ensure that there is effective follow-up to World Youth Day; prepare the September 2003 National Conference of Students; articulate even better just what campus ministry entails and finalize a clearer statement thereof.
Collaborate even more closely with the CCCB on some national projects and give greater priority to the education of families, which have become very diversified in our day and age.
Strengthen ties with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, focus on good communications, develop leadership at the parish council level, and use the Internet to deliver spiritual programs.
Be more open to youth and other peoples; continue to finance projects in the world with a special care for other religions.
Return to the basics, to the values that we have let fall along the way.
Try to build a network in French speaking Canada and with those involved in formation of deacons; have a closer connection with the CCCB; gather those involved in pastoral work for a discussion about what is a pastoral agent; get a more focused sense of who we are, who we include and what are our links with other associations; get rid of barriers that prevent us from being creative; use the Internet; explore how we live the spirituality of communion in the association and in the larger Church.
Association des Scouts du Canada
Work on the formation of young adult educators; at World Youth Day there will be an evening of prayer animated by the Scouts for the Scouts of the World for in six languages. To launch out into the deep is to return to our sources, our obligations to God, to others and to ourselves.
Our association is constantly launching out into the deep; every year some communities die and others are reborn. We hope that the Church will open its doors to those who have disabilities.
Being involved in University Day (which features Jean Vanier) and the University Café at World Youth Day and the September 2003 national leadership conference.
National Federation of Presbyteral Councils
Build on the joint meeting with the U.S. Federation that was held this year and have an international component to the annual meeting; positive collaboration with the bishops.
Canadian Religious Conference
Try to walk with the tension that women religious feel with the institutional Church; balance membership issues with focusing resources on the poor.
Ukrainian Catholic Council of Canada
Strive to preserve our rite and tradition and spirituality in the face of dwindling numbers.
How would you like to see the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops launch out into the deep next year?
§ There is a major need for adult education in the dioceses, in families.
§ The image of the Church would be stronger if there were more joint statements with the CCCB and the Associations.
§ Greater creativity and boldness are needed to promote the role of women in the Church not only through inclusive language but also in terms of church administration, decision-making and ministry.
§ Greater recognition should be given to the diversity of ways of being a good Catholic in today’s world so that all may feel truly at home in the Church.
§ Participants wondered what the CCCB was going to do about the shortage of priests; would laymen and women assume some of the responsibilities? Would married men be considered for ordination? Women?
§ There should be a concerted follow-up to World Youth Day to capitalize on the enthusiasm generated by this singular event and to foster at the national level more contacts with young people and listen more attentively to their aspirations and views. In this respect the CCCB website could be more youth friendly.
§ There should be more communication with parishes before taking on national projects.
§ It would be helpful for the healing ministry if the CCCB would endorse by their presence the National Dialogue on Catholic Health care.
SUGGESTIONS FOR NEXT YEAR’S TOPIC
A number of topics were suggested for next year’s Forum:
1. Celebration of what it means to be Catholic, our history, what we bring to the world.
2. Explore what it means to be Church in a post-modern time.
3. Follow-up on the theme of this year’s Forum – how do we launch out into the deep in a secular society?
4. What is the call to holiness in a post-modern culture?
5. Communications (the technology and the message)
This was a very lively and fruitful Forum thanks to the quality of the presentations and the full participation by everyone in the Plenary and Small group discussions. We left with a greater understanding and appreciation of the Apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunto, and ready to launch into the deep with hope, faith and confidence.