The final Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) meeting for the 2014-15 term was held on May 16 at Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School in East Syracuse. During the meeting, an election of DPC officers for the 2015-17 term was held.

   Thomas Tynan, the current DPC chairperson, will continue as chairperson for the next term. Tynan is the parish representative from Saints John and Andrew in Binghamton where he is also a trustee, lector, Eucharistic Minister and member of the parish’s planning council. Joseph Stanton, a member of St. Peter’s Parish in Rome, N.Y., has been elected vice chairperson. Stanton has served as a member and officer on his parish pastoral council, as secretary and membership chairperson for the DPC, and currently as a regional representative on the DPC Executive Committee. David Roman, a member of St. Joseph’s Parish in Oswego and chairperson of the parish’s pastoral council, was elected membership chairperson for the DPC. Marilyn Madison was elected to the position of secretary. Madison is the president of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish council in Syracuse, a Eucharistic Minister, a volunteer for the Emmaus Ministry and is a member of the DPC Executive Committee.

   Following the elections, Mary Hallman, director of the Office of Evangelization, gave a comprehensive presentation on the New Evangelization program. Hallman answered questions and provided resources for DPC members from her office as well as CDs from Lighthouse Media. “The New Evangelization program is directed to the people in the pews,” explained Hallman. “It’s about reconnecting Catholics with the love of Jesus and engaging those who have fallen away. It’s about conversion and helping others know and love Jesus Christ.”

   Following Hallman’s presentation, Father James Schultz, associate pastor at Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Parish in Mexico, Christ Our Light Parish in Oswego and Holy Trinity Parish in Fulton, provided DPC attendees with helpful information on how to replicate the “Extra Mile” evangelization program. Father Schultz began the McDevitt Grant-funded program initially at Sacred Heart in Cicero, and was encouraged by the feedback and participation of parishioners there. The program involves families making a 90-day pledge to choose activities that will help them in their efforts to become “true disciples of Christ and live in the joy of the Gospel.” The activities include suggestions such as saying a Hail Mary or receiving the Eucharist daily. Father Schultz was transferred from Sacred Heart to the Northern Region and introduced the program there as well. The Extra Mile program is now currently underway at Holy Trinity Parish in Fulton. “We need ways to fan the flame of faith so that our parishes can become a light to those around them,” stated Father Schultz. A major benefit of the program is its ease and ability to be customized and personalized depending on a parish’s specific needs.

   Jacqueline Bressette, director of the Safe Environment Office and coordinator of the Victim’s Assistance Office, updated DPC attendees on the efforts made to ensure that all clergy, religious, employees and volunteers that come in contact with children in the diocese have gone through safe environment training or refresher training. Bressette encouraged all DPC members to report to her office, as well as to the police, any suspicious behavior that may endanger a child. There are 241 safe environment coordinators throughout the diocese and any contact with Bressette’s office is kept confidential.

  The final presenter for the DPC meeting was Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, who discussed issues concerning the upkeep and maintenance of the cathedral and also praised the efforts of the diocese’s 22 Catholic Schools that have worked diligently in hopes to receive Middle States Accreditation. “It’s nice to be recognized by secular accredited agencies,” stated Bishop Cunningham.

   Following the bishop’s presentation, a question and answer session was held and then members broke for lunch.

   Suzanne Reardon, a DPC representative from St. Ambrose Parish in Endicott, was pleased she attended the final meeting of the term. “I thought the entire meeting went very well and I thought the Extra Mile program is one that I can bring back to my parish,” stated Reardon.

   Deacon Don Mula, a DPC representative from Divine Mercy Parish in Brewerton, agreed that the meeting was informative and helpful for those in attendance. “I really enjoyed Father Schultz’s presentation. [The Extra Mile] program is a simple plan to follow and I think many parishes will be able to embrace it successfully,” stated Deacon Mula.

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