Gift of the Spirit

tongues of fire We’ve probably all gotten Christmas presents about which we weren’t quite sure. That’s how I began my homily last weekend. Specifically I was referring to a “present” from Bishop Callahan that arrived in the mail about a week before Christmas. There was in the letter, first of all, his formal declaration that our two parishes are being united into one parish, and then he rather matter-of-factly identified the name of that new parish.

To be honest I had read a line or two beyond the name before it hit me: That’s the name. I had expected trumpets and drum rolls, or at least bold-faced type, but it was almost mentioned in passing. The name wasn’t a surprise, of course. It had come from our consultation process of soliciting names, reviewing them, discussing them, and then offering recommendations as to our preferences.

And yet now, looking at the name on this sheet of paper, I wondered about this gift we’d been given. Was it the right name? What about all those other noble and appropriate names parishioners had submitted? And, to be honest, I wondered whether we were worthy of this name.

It was with those thoughts, not doubt or dread by any means, but a tad bit of apprehension, that I came to our celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent three weeks ago. And as we prayed that weekend, I became much more sanguine, convinced of the validity, the wonder, the grace of this name; as again and again we made reference to this name — our name — in the prayers of the Mass, in the assurance of an angel in the Gospel.

To be honest, my first choice all along for a new name had been the title given to the story proclaimed in that gospel. I thought Annunciation Parish would be a great name for a community dedicated to annunciating, giving flesh and blood and heart and soul to the Word of God. But few of you favored that name. Instead hidden within the story of the Annunciation is the name among those few that rose to the top in our consultation that was chosen by the Bishop, that was proclaimed by an angel to the soon-to-be Mother of God. The angel who proclaimed, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”

And as I proclaimed those words in the gospel that weekend, my apprehension was replaced by a confidence, a joy: that the Holy Spirit had come upon us and will continue to be with us, encouraging us, inspiring us, challenging us, guiding us. The Spirit of the Annunciation. The Spirit of Pentecost. The Spirit of the Epiphany.

The Spirit that gave mission to the Magi, that encouraged a determined young man named Stanislaus on his 500-mile quest to enter religious life, the Spirit that gave wisdom and eloquence to Cardinal Newman’s preaching, the Spirit that bestows it’s gifts upon us, it’s gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, piety, counsel and fear of the Lord. Gifts given to each of us, to our community, to our new Parish of the Holy Spirit. (And, notice the boldface type!)  TL

From Bishop Callahan’s letter of 12 December 2014
In recent times it has become imperative for the Diocesan Bishop to alter parishes in order to address forcefully the more pastoral needs of Christ’s faithful in our diocese.
Having consulted the Presbyteral Council, the Diocesan Finance Council, Personnel Council and Pastoral Council according to the protocols of the diocesan pastoral plan, I hereby erect the quasi-parish of The Holy Spirit so that the process of merging the current parishes into a single canonical entity may be expedited (and brought) to a definite conclusion by 1 July 2015.

Unification Questions and Answers
Does this mean the merger is complete?
While unification is much closer to formal completion, there are still pastoral and technical details to address, which will occur between now and July 1. The various unification committees have begun to address the pastoral aspects of worship, parish activities, stewardship, social justice, campus ministry and facilities. We will soon begin preparing to implement diocesan guidelines pertaining to finances and various legal aspects of merger.

What is a quasi-parish?
That’s a term from the Church’s code of canon law used to identify a community that for some reason has not been established as a parish. While remaining a quasi-parish until July 1, Holy Spirit Parish will function largely as a regular parish while the details mentioned above are put in order.

Should contributions be directed to Holy Spirit Parish?
Eventually, but not yet. Please continue writing checks for parish contributions and other matters to either St. Stans or Newman, as has been the case.

What’s next?
The Unification Team has prepared Mission and Vision statements for the new parish that will be presented to the Joint Pastoral Council Jan. 29. Revised drafts will then be presented in the bulletin to seek parishioner input. Those statements will help to guide the work of the unification committees. Another significant matter of business to be addressed soon is revising the Lord’s Day Mass schedule from five Masses to four.

Mission – Vision – Name

20141102_145951An ancient prayer, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, was given new dynamism as sung by those participating in the Nov. 2 joint meeting of St. Stans and Newman parishioners. The prayer, Come, Holy Spirit, was sung throughout the gathering in pursuit of light, strength and wisdom.

Father Frank Corradi, a senior priest of the diocese helping to guide our merger process, reminded the 200 parishioners gathered in UW-Stevens Point’s Dreyfus Center that the church is “God’s house,” but it also is the “house of God’s people.” The focus of the gathering and anticipating a new faith community, he said, should be on the people, not a building.

Families often move from one house to another, but they remain a family, a 20141102_145434household, regardless of where they live. The same can be true for two parishes with separate houses who now seek to create one household, one family of faith, he said. We bring the gifts, talents and insights of our existing parishes to make a stronger, new household.

“As we prayed, we need to open our hearts to the Spirit,” Fr. Corradi said. “We cannot stay in the past. We look to the past for our values. We look to the future as to how we live out those values, as they prepare and lead us into our future.”

There were three primary tasks for the gathering. The first was for parishioners seated in groups of eight to consider questions related to the mission of a new parish. Why do we exist as a parish? What do we do at the most basic level? Who do we want to reach or connect with? Responses20141102_143439 to those questions will guide the Unification Team in preparing a mission statement which will be presented to parishioners in a few months for further review and input.

The next step was a discernment of vision, which helps identify specific goals for the new parish to pursue in order to make the mission effective. Participants identified strengths and areas of needed improvement for the existing parishes, as well as opportunities to help the new parish better be of service to God in the world.

The mission and vision statements, once agreed upon by the Joint Pastoral Council, will influence action plans crafted by six merger committees that will soon begin meeting.

20141102_143241Finally, participants considered a name for the new parish. After spending time praying silently, there was discussion as to pros and cons of various options and then individuals ranked their three or four preferred names from those suggested by parishioners. Those rankings will be compiled and ultimately three to four proposed names will be submitted to Bishop Callahan.

What happens now? The Unification Team will begin reviewing input from the meeting in drafting mission and vision statements, while Bishop Callahan concludes his diocesan consultation regarding the merger of our parishes. A formal decision from him 20141102_143147is expected by Jan. 1. In addition, committees addressing Worship, Stewardship, Parish Life, Social Justice, Facilities and Campus Ministry will begin meeting Nov. 17 to address more specific aspects of the new parish.

The afternoon concluded as it began: in prayer and song: “Let us bring the gifts that differ / And, in splendid, varied ways, / Sing a new church into being, / One in faith and love and praise.”

Questions about a name

Why do we have to choose a new name?
One of the advantages of many parishes having merged prior to us is that we can benefit from their experience. Experience has shown that when two or three or more parishes unite as one parish there is benefit in that new community having a new name. It prevents one name from taking precedence over another, but more importantly there is a new identity for what must clearly be a new parish. And so Bishop Callahan has encouraged us to help him identify a new name for our new community.

But doesn’t the church keeps its name?Correct. St. Stans Church and the Newman Center will still be identified by those names. However, the community gathering for worship or programs in those facilities will be known by its new name.

Won’t that be confusing?
Maybe at first, but experience in other merger situations has shown that as the new name is used, with some frequency and intentionality, parishioners become familiar with that identity. However, that doesn’t happen overnight.

So, this weekend’s meeting completes the merger?No. The Bishop is continuing to consult with diocesan councils and we have a lot of conversation and work to do on the parish level as well before we are ready to celebrate our unification. Our joint meeting will help us articulate what the mission and vision of the new parish should be. As Fr. Corradi said last week, “Why does this parish exist?” Six committees will then begin meeting to develop “action plans” as we begin to pursue that mission and vision.

Naming names, names — and more names

More than two dozen parishioners have submitted names for the new parish that will be created with the combining of St. Stans and Newman.

Between now and Nov. 2, the date of a joint parish meeting at which we’ll begin to discern a name, suggested identities will be printed in the bulletin, along with brief explanations offered by the parishioners who submitted them.

The proposed names are offered in no particular order. They have been edited in some instances for space and clarity. Some will be repeated, with different reasoning, because they were submitted multiple times. All of the information shared in the bulletin also will be provided at the Nov. 2 meeting.  It might be helpful in reviewing these suggestions to also review some of the basic information found at right under
About a Name and Giving a Name to Something New.

So, let’s start “naming names” and praying to discern which of them might best identify our new community:

Communion of Saints: Gathered for Mass we are united with Jesus, all of those who’ve gone before us, and those who will follow us — in the Communion of Saints.

St. John Paul II: A son of Poland this new saint has strong ties to our area, having visited Stevens Point as a cardinal in 1976. People in our parishes met him or were present for the various events associated with his visit. His whole life, but especially 26 years as pontiff, showed what a humble, intellectual and saintly man he was.
At the end of this post you’ll find more explanations from parishioners who suggested this name.

Holy Spirit:
We have prayed to the Holy Spirit during the creation of our new parish and the Spirit guides us peacefully toward our new union. The Holy Spirit is alive in all of us every day helping us to follow the teaching of Jesus. This name would be a wonderful way to fulfill our community life together.

St. Peregrine: He is the patron saint of cancer patients, and so many people have had cancer or have this dreadful disease now. Also, since so many relatives and friends have not survived cancer, we think he would be a good patron and this would help more people become aware of St. Peregrine and his miracles.

St. Faustina: This would recognize the Polish heritage of St. Stans and the Stevens Point community.

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus: She was known for service.

Holy Spirit: The third person of the triune God, is the source of inspiration, depth of thought, motivation, courage, endurance and the ability to rise above polarization and negativity — if we choose to listen to that “still small voice.”

St. Katharine Drexel: One of three American-born saints, she was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Born to wealth she established a trust to benefit black and native Americans, but soon realized money wasn’t enough. She established a religious order dedicated to teaching marginalized people.

St. Ursula: She was a Polish nun concerned with youth. This would honor the Polish sisters who came here and established schools for our youth.

St. Clare of Assisi: Inspired by St. Francis, Clare established an order of women dedicated to poverty and tending to those living in poverty. Her selection would honor Franciscan religious communities who have served our parishes, as well as recognize her faith in Christ,       commitment to the Gospel, care for the people of Christ, concern for justice and the integration of minorities, and affirm the place of women in the world.

Transfiguration: This luminous mystery of the rosary and scene from the life of Jesus gives us one of only two encounters in which all three persons of the Trinity are present. Our new community seeks to take the best of both parishes and dazzle the rest of the world, as at Jesus’ Transfiguration. By our name we seek to model what we see and love in Jesus, and in our lives to be truly changed — transfigured. We are different because of our faith. The Transfiguration offers a glimpse of who Jesus really is — and who we are.

Our Lady of Good Help: The name recognizes that Mary wondrously chose to appear at a site in eastern Wisconsin located in the middle of ordinary farm land. The added attention to Mary through this new parish would be very uniting.

St. Lucia: Lucia was martyred in Sicily when she resisted the advances of a man who wanted to marry her because she wanted to dedicate her life to prayer and the poor. She is the patron saint of the blind. The name Lucia means “light,” a perfect name for two parishes coming together, called to go forth and be a light in a dark world.

Divine Child: Christ came to us as a child to bring joy and salvation to the world. We are initiating a new beginning for our parishes and so it is appropriate to name our new community after that Divine Child who introduced a new reign of love and peace.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: She was a scholarly woman who worked to translate the letters and diaries of Cardinal John Henry Newman, but faced resistance in the male-dominated world of higher education. Born a Jew in Poland, she converted to Christianity and sought to become a Carmelite nun, but was also denied that privilege until 1934, eight years before she died at 51 as an Auschwitz martyr. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

St. Peter Damian: As a bishop of the Church he confronted various battles. He offers two names for combining two parishes.

St. John of Kanty: A Polish priest he was a university professor for many years. He helps to represent ethnic roots and our mission to UWSP students.

St. Martha: She was a close personal friend of Jesus, along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus. She exhibits a can-do spirit, a concern for others and an absolute faith in Jesus — timeless virtues. Her attributes are reflected in both of parishes. She is the patron of housewives and serving professions.

Our Lady of the Rivers: Recognizing our location amid the Plover and Wisconsin rivers.

Divine Mercy: Our prayer must be that we become one in Jesus’ Divine Mercy.

St. Catherine of Siena: She spent her life in humble intense and courageous service to others, beginning with her family. Although she had little formal education, she found a way to teach and evangelize even the most learned of her time. She worked tirelessly for the good and unity of the Church and referred to Jesus as a bridge flung between heaven and earth. Her intercession might help to create a bridge between our two assemblies.

Grace to Glory: Because it is by God’s grace that we are on this earth and when we pass to eternal life we hope to be forever in his glory.

Epiphany of the Lord: As defined this is an “appearance or manifestation, especially of (God),” or in our case it is the appearance of a new parish.

Pax Christi: Latin for “peace of Christ,” this name is a reminder that we need more peace in our very troubled world.

Risen Savior: We too often focus on the crucifix and not the resurrection.

Communion of Saints: Our communities are coming together as another means of being in communion with Christ. This name recognizes our existing patrons and our place in the Communion of Saints.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, into a Jewish family. Losing her faith in God at 14, she went on to become a brilliant philosophy professor. The words of St. Teresa of Avila drew her to Catholicism and eventually a Carmelite cloister. Taken to Auschwitz by the Nazis because of her Jewish heritage, she was killed in Aug. 9, 1942. She served students as a professor and was Polish.

St. Francis de Sales: Patron of educators, writers and journalists, he struggled much of his life with ego and pride. He co-found-ed the Visitation Sisters. He guided people to deeper discernment, humility and conviction of faith, which is our common parish goal.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: She lived in our time and offers a challenging example. Her commitment to the poor and hurting was boundless. This name would challenge us to think globally in our response to the gospel.

Servants of the Lord: We are meant to be of service to one another — fellow parishioners, students and the larger community. It is by serving that we are served — and blessed! It is a name that proclaims quite clearly our mission.

Spirit of God: We come together as one parish under the wings of the Spirit.

St. Faustina: She worked diligently to advocate for prayers to the Divinely Merciful heart of Jesus. She brought to us, from Jesus Himself, prayers and novenas to his Divine Mercy.

Christ the Redeemer: It is Christ who brings us together and as Redeemer we are united in his love.

Ascension of the Lord: Christ ascended to heaven leaving us with the task to lead others on the path of faith. Uniting our parishes speaks to the journey we all share seeking to ascend to a better life.

Ignatius of Loyola: Our parishes have strong connections: St. Stanislaus Kostka joined St. Ignatius’ Society of Jesus at the age of 17 and died a Jesuit a year later. The Loyola Club, established in 1915 and named after St. Ignatius, was the first organization of Catholic students on the UWSP campus.

St. Francis of Rome: Born into an aristocratic family, she was inclined to religious life but forced to marry by her father. She offered charity to the poor while fulfilling her motherly, household and social obligations. She founded a religious community of women who, like her, dedicated themselves to prayer and service while honoring their family commitments. After nursing her dying husband for seven years, she moved to a monastery she had founded.

Pax Christi: We seek to bring the “peace of Christ” to our parish and community.

St. Katherine Drexel: American born, she gave away her worldly wealth. An amazing role model for today’s world.

St. Clare: Born to wealth, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and remains an inspiration for Franciscan communities, such as our Sisters of St. Joseph. Our parish’s mission will be to serve the poor and needy in Stevens Point, our parish in Haiti and beyond.

St. Sebastian: The patron of athletes, he was extremely fit and able to withstand long physical endurance. While often portrayed bound to a tree with arrows piercing his body, he was actually beaten to death and then buried in the catacombs in Rome. He offers a witness of strength and courage.

All Souls: United with the saints and sinners of all ages we are the Body of Christ. This name honors those who’ve established the foundation of our new parish and our ultimate destiny— eternal life with God. And we will meet on All Souls’ Day.

Divine Mercy: This name speaks to ethnic roots in the past and helps us look the future. Pope John Paul II grew up with this devotion and declared Divine Mercy Sunday. He said, “How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!” This name speaks to the future since Pope Francis’ ministry is so rooted in sharing God’s mercy.

Sts. Mary and Joseph: Two names for our new parish would speak to our unification of two parishes.

St. Tarcisus: He is a patron of youth.

St. Francis de Sales: He speaks to a brevity and clarity in the media.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: Sick for five years before she was healed by a vision of the Virgin Mary, she became a nun and saw a vision of Jesus and his Sacred Heart.

St. Vincent de Paul: Commitment to the poor.

St. Thomas the Apostle: Namesake of our current pastor.

St. John Paul II: He walked the streets of our town and visited some of our churches. His presence in the past should be our present to him now.
— He is a relatively new saint, is of Polish heritage, was widely loved and respected, and visited Stevens Point in 1976 when he was Cardinal Wojtyla.
— He was a young, courageous Polish man during World War II, visited our city as a cardinal, and was a strong, positive leader as our Holy Father.
— This name would maintain a Polish connection and be current, since he was recently canonized. He exemplifies holiness, selflessness, intelligence and strength.
— There are many parallels between this saint and our present communities. He is a new saint, vocal advocate for human rights, champion of the dignity of life and love, promoter of peace, healer of divisions, his parish in college was named St. Stanislaus Kostka, he served as a chaplain to college students, and he was a university professor.
— This name would help retain some of our Polish heritage and Pope John Paul II spoke highly of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
— This Polish saint visited Stevens Point, and we are unique because of that. He offers a connection for St. Stans, a parish of Polish origins, and for Newman, since he was a mentor-priest to college students. He took the name of two visionary pontiffs, John XXIII and Paul VI, who called and implemented the legendary Second Vatican Council, at which John Paul II participated. They were visionary and what we are doing is visionary.
— Since he is a recent saint there probably is not a parish already named after him.
— He is a new saint and of Polish ancestry. The “II” at the end of his name is significant in that it remind us that we are two parishes becoming one.
— This name would be unifying in that John Paul II blends attributes of St. Stanislaus Kostka and Blessed John Henry Newman. Like St. Stanislaus, the pope was Polish, and like Bl. John Henry, the pope was a writer and theologian. St. John Paul II was beloved by young people and had a special love for them. He is the only saint, thus far, to have visited Stevens Point.
— John Paul II was of Polish descent, like many St. Stans members, and he inspired young Catholics, similar to Newman’s mission of Newman. He established World Youth Day and was an inspiring figure for all people.
— I would like to suggest John Paul. Bet I’m not the first to suggest him!


Unification Team

Guiding preparations and helping to communicate information to parishioners as we move toward creating a new parish is a committee of representatives from both the St. Stans and Newman pastoral councils. The Unification Team members are Michele Miller, St. Stans Pastoral Council chairperson, and Jack Bennett, Newman Pastoral Council chair, as well as Mary Trautschold and Kurt Mansavage of St. Stans and Bill Fehrenbach and Erin Olson of Newman.

This group coordinated the parish meetings in May and will facilitate the Nov. 2 gathering mentioned above. They will also assist Fr. Tom in overseeing several working groups that will focus on specific aspects of life for the new parish, including stewardship, worship and traditions, parish life and celebrations, facilities, campus ministry, and rituals related to ending and beginning.

Nov. 2 – Save the Date

A meeting of parishioners from both parishes, as well as interested college students, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday Nov. 2 in the Dreyfus Center at UW-Stevens Point. Father Frank Corradi will lead a process to review suggestions and discern a name for our new parish, as well as considering and preparing mission statements for the new parish.

About a name

Holy womenA few things to consider:

Since the naming process was initiated, a couple observations have been shared with me that I think are worthy of sharing and consideration:

► A member of a neighboring parish suggested the desirability of choosing a name related to the life of Jesus or a teaching of the Church (as explained at right), as opposed to a saint. That way, she said, the emphasis upon St. Stanislaus Kostka and Blessed John Henry Newman is not diluted by a third, competing saintly presence.

► A parishioner did a little unsolicited analysis of the diocesan list of parish names and discovered that 91 parishes have male saints as patrons, 29 are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 28 bear names related to the life of Jesus or teachings and traditions of the Church such as Christ the King or Holy Cross, and only eight are dedicated to holy women. While she counted eight, my own research found only seven: Anne, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bridget, Agnes, Therese, Hedwig and Bronislava. Thus the parishioner observed, “I definitely think we need to look at a female saint.