Jan 1997 v.p. Call to Action National Activities p. 6

Jan 1997 v.p. Call to Action National Activities p. 6

Cordaro, VP, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1997, Call to Action National Activities p. 6


Compiled by Frank Cordaro and Joanne Kennedy

Over five thousand people attended the national Call To Action conference in Detroit, MI, November 15-17, 1996.  There were four Bishops in attendance.  None percent of the people attending were priests, over twenty-five percent were nuns and more than one third are employed by the Church.  There were fifty-five Iowans in attendance.

Speakers at the conference included Hans Kung, a world famous Catholic theologian from Germany who lost his Catholic teaching job because of his writings.  He spoke about the need for a new world ethic in which all the major religions of the world will agree.  Also speaking at the conference was Bishop Jacques Gaillot, the French Bishop whom Pope John Paul II removed from his diocese for speaking out publicly for Church reform.  He spoke of his experiences of living in solidarity with the poor in France.  It was a very moving and inspiring testimony.  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and leading advocate for church reform among U.S. Catholic Bishops, shared his memories of the original Call To Action gathering in Detroit in 1976.  He assessed the current reform movement and hinted at his hopes for the future.

One high point of the conference was the introduction of John and Jean Krejci to the whole assembly on Friday evening.  John and Jean are from Lincoln, NE, and were excommunicated, along with others, by the Bishop of that Diocese for their participation in Call To Action.  John and Jean are refusing to let the Bishop’s excommunication stand.  When asked about getting excommunicated, Jean said, “It’s a lot like an unexpected pregnancy, you just deal with it.”

One Iowa attendee, Sister Maggie O’Toole reported the following:  “The truth shall set you free!”  This is how I felt when I attended the national gathering in Detroit.  I felt I was among people who really wanted to live by the truth.  The spirit of the whole conference was one of excitement and enthusiasm.  Throughout the whole weekend, there were opportunities for further education, as well as variety of ways to explore one’s inner life through liturgy and prayer experiences.  There were all kinds of people there, young and old, people of color and people from other countries.  There were people with all kinds of gifts and ministries, many of them working in the Church.  It was a real experience of the universal (Catholic) nature of the Church…

The climax of the weekend for me was the great liturgy we celebrated at the end.  The whole assembly was consciously participating in the service – 5,000 strong!  There were no passive bystanders at this Mass.  The music was the best.

I left the weekend full of hope and enthusiasm!  It was the medicine my soul needed.  As I return to the realities of my parish ministry in West Des Moines, I’m looking forward to seeking out the small groups of other individuals who might be waiting for me to share with them some of the spirit I experienced in Detroit.  I’ll begin by telling them that the truth can really set you free, if you give it a chance.




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