Helping Parishes Become ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic’
Annual Diocesan Ministry Day
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 5, 2017

HUNTLEY—The annual Ministry Day for parish staff and priests brought a new record crowd of 41 parishes and 277 registrants to St. Mary Parish Hall, here, Sept. 28.

Two of those parishes — St. Anthony of Padua and St. Bernadette, both in Rockford — were recognized for attending all 13 annual events, held for the first time in Huntley after the event outgrew its last location.

A focus on parish vitality, in other words “making good parishes better,” was the Ministry Day committee’s focus, said Dr. Michael Cieslak as he opened the day.

Although he did not mention it in his public remarks, he told some participants that this was likely his final Ministry Day as he anticipates retiring next summer.

Bishop David Malloy served as the keynote speaker that morning on the topic of “Live It! One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

After expressing his appreciation for the priests and parish staffers, noting “so many of you are doing so much work to bring the faith alive,” Bishop Malloy talked about two “inseparable” witnesses. One is to God Himself and the other, to the Church.

The question asked by many who have left the Church, he said, is “Why do we need the Church?”

Numerous factors including the influence of secular media and the prevailing sense of individualism in society, he said, mix with a tendency to refrain from joining “voluntary societies” where Catholics “were continually rubbing shoulders” and strengthening one another in faith.

The societal breakdown of families and the prevalence of social media technologies also hamper “the joy of belonging,” he said.

“The Gospels tell us that Jesus founded a church,” Bishop Malloy said.

He encouraged “a balance of love and compassion with witnessing to the truth,” remembering that the faith “subsists in the Catholic Church in its fullness.”

Acknowledging the weaknesses found in the history of the Church, he compared it to the fights and embarrassing moments in families who still remain a family.

“The Church is One,” with a unity in its essence, he said, and that “unity begins in Jesus.”

He went on to ask, “Does my ministry, does my work, clearly express that love of the principle of that unity, that Oneness?”

He responded, telling the audience that “the spiritual life must be a part of whatever it is you’re doing.

In particular, go back and read the Scriptures again, and again, and again ... be rooted in that Oneness.”
Bishop Malloy spoke also of the Church as holy, as catholic (universal) and apostolic.

“First give confidence to the faithful,” he said. The squabbles and sins within “don’t overcome the holiness of the Church.”

Signs of that holiness, he added, include the simple faith of Catholics who live a life of prayer, the sufferings of the martyrs and the witness of all who care for the poor, individually and through Church communities and organizations.

“To be universal (catholic) means that the faith encompasses the truth for all men and women, even ... before they formally enter the Church,” he said.

“The catholicity of the Church forms another fundamental attitude ... the universality of
Catholicism, of our faith, extends not just to the world in our own day ... it’s the same throughout time.

That means the Holy Spirit guides the faith and teaching of the Church ...”

In reflecting on the apostolic nature of the Church, the bishop encouraged his audience to “make this a part of your spiritual lives, the reading of the Gospels ... read those passages, the good and bad, that involve the apostles ... those are the ones specially called to accompany Jesus; their strengths and their weaknesses are recorded. So is their love. ... The letters of St. Paul are so important ... the insights, the moral teachings ... they’re fruitful sources for our ministry.”

“They bear the calling that Christ first gave,” he said of the apostles as well as the priests of today.

Whether they are “the great guy” or the one “who is hard to get along with ... they bear the mark of Christ,” and also “the grace and the sacramental ministry that has been entrusted to them.”

The objective, he concluded, “is not just to accompany ... but to accompany (those outside the Church) to Christ, back to the Church ...

“Don’t be afraid to trust Christ’s guidance of the Church.”

Table discussions helped parishes brainstorm and then share ideas about communicating and living those four marks of the Church in parishes.

The afternoon welcomed three other speakers to give “lightning round” presentations of 20-minutes each. Tara Kaufmann shared her passion and ideas for “Reaching Out to the Alienated,” Father Timothy Piasecki gave great insights and ideas on “Multicultural Ministry,” and Matt Schwartz spoke about “Ministry to Millenials,” noting that age 20-35 group now range from college students to adults with several children.

After each, parish staffs reflected about the presentations, sharing insights as the 13th Ministry Day drew to a close.