Dear Fellow Workers for Church Reform,
As you know, I have spent the last 5 weeks, discerning, dreaming, and scheming and I promised I would share the outcome and the process that led to the outcome with you.
I hope that all of you have had the chance to watch the video that I shared with you of the talk given by Cecilia González-Andrieu. Her beautiful message served as a framework for our workshop as we focused on her 4 important points: ask why, accompany la realidad, imagine expansively, act with power.
Through prayer, reflection, writing and sharing with both a large and more focused small group, I was able to name my gifts and identify what has sparked my passion for working for justice and the reform of the church. I am a part of the hippie generation and spent my young adult years participating in many protests and demonstrations, so that fire is not new to me. When it comes to my history in the church, though, I realized that I had been deeply hurt on more than one occasion by someone I loved or highly respected acting according to their beliefs about what it meant to be Catholic. I left the church for a while and came back when I realized that the church is the Body of Christ and that body has weak parts. No body is perfect, but I wanted to heal myself and help heal that body.
The gifts I feel I bring are the ability to listen to others without judgment and a particular ability to relate well with the young. I spent a good part of my career working with children and adolescents and I was so energized by the many young participants in this workshop. They gave me such hope for the future.
The resistance I feel in myself relates to my age and knowing that I will not see the church I dream of in my lifetime, but if I could help move the church to a place where it speaks to the young and welcomes them, I would feel satisfied. I will commit to work for that in finding venues to reach young people and speak to the issues that are important to them. Much as we learn to understand and build community with people of different cultural backgrounds, I believe that happens when we go to their communities and walk in their shoes, participate with them in events that are important and engaging for them.
I come back to this committee with the resolve to expand our reach and our power in the way that Cecilia talked about power, as a verb, not a noun. We have worked as a committee for almost 2 years now and we have expanded our collaboration and created meaningful dialogue and documents in support of reform around the issue of the sexual abuse crisis in the church. Our parish community made it clear that they felt our job was to work for reform in the structure of the church, which is what led to the sexual abuse crisis. My goal is to continue to persevere in the effort to recognize the power of the women in the church and to sanctify it. When the church recognizes the value of all its people, as Christ did, it will more faithfully spread Christ’s message.
As Richard Rohr shared in one of his recent meditations “Francis and Clare showed us it is possible to change the system not by negative attacks (which tend to inflate the ego), but simply by quietly moving to the side and doing it better!” Maybe that is what we need to do.