A Year to Celebrate

March 6-12, 2003
A Year to Celebrate
The collaboration continues to grow between The Good News Foundation, and the Eastern Region Offices of Religious Education, Catholic Schools, Catholic Charities and Youth Ministry. Their latest endeavor is the creation of a “Year of the Laity,” devoted to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

Kathy Poupart, associate director of The Good News Foundation, said the concept of a year’s worth of events came out of the meeting with Eastern Region Director of Religious Education Cathy Cornue, Eastern Region Director of Catholic Charities Kathy Eichenlaub, Joseph Center Director Dick Vetere and Eastern Region Catholic Schools Superintendent Kathy Coye. “During our meeting with the four Kathys and Dick, we came up with this idea for a year to celebrate the laity and the church,” Poupart said. “All of our efforts throughout the course of the year will focus on the theme ‘We, the church, celebrate 40 years of Vatican II.’”

Cornue said different activities will be held throughout the year, with individual events concentrating on reflecting, acting, praying and celebrating as Catholics. “We talked about Vatican II and how nothing yet had been done for the anniversary and we thought, in light of Bishop Moynihan’s pastoral ‘Equipping the Saints for the Work of Ministry’ and all of the pastoral planning going on, the role of the laity is even more critical than ever before,” Cornue said. “This is a great opportunity to highlight the role of the laity.”

The first event of the year will be a Lenten series held at the Joseph Center in Rome. Poupart said each of the talks in the series will look at a different aspect of Catholic life. Sally Millick, pastoral associate at St. Leo’s Church in Holland Patent, will speak on “We the Church” to kick off the series March 11. “Deacons: The Church’s Servants” will be the topic of the presentation on March 18 given by Deacon Ed Doyle, director of religious education at St. Paul’s Church in Rome. On March 25, Father Joseph Clemente, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Rome, will give a talk on “Liturgy: The Work of the People.” Three more speakers will conclude the series in April. Dennis Manning, diocesan director of Catholic Charities will give a presentation entitled “Serving God’s People” on April 1. Contemporary Catholic musician Ann Walseman will present “Praying Through Music” on April 8. Three local teens, Concetta Griffo, Josh Cornue and Kateri Van Damme, will offer the final luncheon talk on April 15 with the topic “Say Not I am Too Young” about youth involvement in the life of the church.

Cornue said the Lenten series came out of the brainstorming at the group’s meeting. “We wanted to focus on the way the laity is called to be church,” she said. “The Catholic faith is something we live out every day.” Poupart referred to a quote from Archbishop Oscar Romero during a radio address on July 8, 1979: “Each one of you must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet. The church will always exist as long as there is one baptized person. Everyone baptized has received a share in Christ’s prophetic mission.”

“These are wonderful remarks, and one people should take to heart,” Poupart said. “Archbishop Romero was always calling the people to action. They have a responsibility, because of their baptism. Baptism is more than just a ceremony. It’s part of our life-long journey of faith.” During one of their meetings, Cornue passed around a book from the series Vatican II in Plain English, written by Bill Huebsch. A nationally-known speaker and author, Huebsch will be the keynote speaker at this year’s diocesan Journey of Faith, to be held on Sept. 27.

Poupart said Huebsch’s words from the section on the laity stood out. “Huebsch said, ‘Laypeople are leaven to the world.’ We really are. We have to fulfill those baptismal vows and through this year’s events, we hope to be more evangelistic,” Poupart explained. Cornue said people throughout the diocese are taking their roles as laity more seriously. “There are more people in Formation for Ministry, more people in catechetical formation, and those participating in graduate level work through LIMEX. We have 88 graduates and at least 40 more in the process,” she said. “This shows the huge commitment people are making to their church.”

Other events are in the works, Poupart said. The group is working on a liturgical concert or prayer gathering for Pentecost, other smaller events to celebrate Catholic identity and an adult version of ServiceWatch, one of the Joseph Center’s cornerstone ministries, in the fall.

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