Renewing Our Church
The Renew My Church 2018 Summit took place on
Monday and Tuesday of this week at Stephens Center
in Rosemont. Over two thousand volunteer leaders and
selected employees (business managers, principals,
Directors of Catechesis and other Pastoral Staff)
representing parishes of the archdiocese gathered for
this event. Jodi Reuter, our principal, Sister Nadiya, our
Coordinator of Religious Education, Deacon Ray Gavin,
Janice Seipp, Bill Attea, and three members of the
Parish Council; Barbara Sunko, Russ Perrine, and
Sabine De L’Herbe represented St. Catherine Labouré.
Theo McManigal, the Mundelein intern seminarian, also
The two-day Summit centered on “Divine Renovation,” a
term created by Fr. James Mallon, pastor of St. Benedict
parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Fr. Mallon and
his Divine Renovation team presented vital topics focused
on two themes: “We are called” and "We are sent.”
“We are called” argued the case for hope. Fr. Mallon
invited us to reflect deeply on how we do church. He
asked, "Are we a mission-driven church or a maintenance-
driven church?" The mission-driven church, first of all,
looks outward not inward. The story of the forgiving
father, presented in Luke’s Gospel (15:11-32) presented
the father as outward-focused in his mission of welcoming
back his prodigal son. Secondly, a mission-driven church
contemplates the Holy Spirit and seeks ways for each of
its members to have a personal relationship with the Holy
Spirit--a Pentecost experience. Fr. Mallon challenged us
to re-evaluate how we receive the sacraments. Do we
experience the Holy Spirit? For example, in confirmation
are we mostly driven by the process of completing the
ritual of initiation or are we really seeking the power of
the Holy Spirit to govern the life of the confirmandis? A
missionary church must evoke the Holy Spirit at all times.
On the other hand, the maintenance church focuses on
itself. Borrowing the words of Pope Francis, Fr. Mallon
spoke of the “self-referential church.” He went on to say
that such a church “lives in itself, of itself, and for itself
and it becomes a house of pain.” According to
Fr. Mallon, “the Christendom model of the parish is
dying” and “any parish engrossed in the method rather
than the mission will die.” The presenters included four
witnesses who shared the experience of Divine
Renovation in their parishes, one in the Joliet diocese
and one in Dallas, Texas. Presenters agreed that while
change is absolutely necessary, it comes with challenges.
We have to accept the change and embrace it as if
running a marathon—participating in intense training
and taking that training one step at a time.
The summit was one of many training sessions for the
Renew My Church marathon. Soon we at St. Catherine’s
will engage in Renew My Church and I ask that you
embrace this initiative which seeks to help all parishes
reshape how we “do church.” Please watch for a timeline
that the archdiocesan Renew My Church office will issue
for when St. Catherine will engage the initiative together
with Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St, Norbert/Our
Lady of the Brook. I am grateful to the people of
St. Catherine’s who attended this summit and have
agreed to be the leadership team for Renew My Church
at St. Catherine’s. I will share more about the summit in
A second important topic pertaining to changes coming
for St. Catherine Labouré parish relates to my time here.
Fr. John Kartje, the rector of Mundelein Seminary, asked
me to join the faculty of Mundelein in formation work.
I answered yes to this call in the spirit of being called
and sent by the Holy Spirit. I decided in the context of
prayer and consultation. Therefore, beginning July
2019, I will move on to Mundelein seminary, relinquishing
my duties as the pastor of St. Catherine Labouré. This
means that St. Catherine’s enters into pastor replacement
process and the priest placement board will be working
with us to prepare St. Catherine’s for our next leader
who will help the parish, especially through the Renew
My Church process. I have expressed my wish to remain
at the parish to provide both sacramental and ministerial
help on weekends or as needed while at the seminary.
Meanwhile, we have work to accomplish between now
and July. First, we have to replace the gym roof and
siding which continue to leak. We have prepared all the
necessary paperwork and the work will probably begin
next week. Also, the church bathrooms require
renovation and expansion. I hope that by April of next
year we will have the necessary funds and plans to
initiate this project. I ask for your financial help to ensure
successful completion of this project. So now is not the
time to say goodbye, but a time to roll up our sleeves
and accomplish some vital tasks for the life of the parish.
May God bless you and your family.
With you a Christian, for you a priest
A Stewardship Prayer
Loving God, I come to you in thanksgiving, knowing that
all I am and all I have are gifts from you. In faith and
love, help me to do your will.
I am listening, Lord God—speak your words into the
depth of my soul that I may hear you clearly.
I offer to you this day all facets of my life, whether at
home, at work, at school or at church—to be patient, to
be merciful, to be generous, to be holy.
Give me the wisdom and insight to understand your will
for me and the fervor to carry out my good intentions.
I offer my gifts of time, talent, and treasure to you as a
true act of faith, and to reflect my love for you and my
Help me to reach out to others as you, my God have
reached out to me. Amen.