Mercy Mondays: Chaplain’s Corner – thoughts on a recent conference
At the end of June, I went to a conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that focused on the Roman Catholic Church and the pandemic. The big question was: where do we go from here? Here are some of the things I have taken away from that conference.
Monday, June 21
Throughout the Day Retreat with Fr. Michael Joncas, we had the opportunity to look at the many challenges the church faces and the numerous blessings that have come out of those challenges. In a particular way, Fr. Joncas looked at the different popes since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council through present day. Some of the great blessings that he highlighted were:
- Embracing aggiornamento not as a mere theory, but rather “living in the present.”
- Much more Magisterial Teachings and outreach to various faith traditions.
- Synodality and discernment amongst other things.
Tuesday, June 22
Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, Catholic history professor at Villanova University, spoke with us virtually on “Why Black Catholic History Matters.” This was an extremely eye-opening presentation. As you may know, I was born in 1974, so I missed a number of world changing events, and I’ve reaped the benefits of the arduous labor of those who worked on these social justice matters.
Dr. Williams spoke about the many myths that are present in the church regarding Black Catholic History. I was particularly struck by the story of Ann Marie Becraft, a young woman of color who founded the first Catholic school to welcome black students. The history of Black Catholics goes as far back as the Slave Trade and finds its roots in Elmira Castle.
Williams left us with a great question: “What should Catholic reparative justice for colonialism, slavery, and segregation entail?”
Wednesday, June 23
The assembly Mass with Archbishop John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, was impressive. We had over 130 brother priests celebrating the Eucharist, and Archbishop Wester’s homily was one of hope and encouragement for all of us, his brother priests. Sr. Margie Klein, SSND was the assembly contemplative engagement guide for the conference, and she shared with us many questions to think about after the presentations.
Bishop William Wack, CSC, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, spoke to us about how we can stir up our hearts to love and serve as we come out of the pandemic. He talked about going forward and used the imagery from Pope Francis that the church needs to become more like a “Field Hospital.” He, too, spoke about Vatican II and the importance of Gaudium et Spes where we are called to renewal. Bishop Wack reminded us that renewal has to start with us. Lastly, he asked us to recall St. John Paul II and his famous words, “Be not afraid.” He encouraged us to revisit our individual calls to the priesthood and find renewal there.
Thursday, June 24
By 11 a.m., I was back in the office in Newport.
Father Scott Pontes
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.