Paulist think tank looks to ‘future brighter than any past’
When 20 or so Paulists gathered in one of the common rooms at St. Mary’s on the Lake in late July, it wasn’t just to catch up or to be vacation. No, these Paulists visiting the Paulist retreat house on Lake George, N.Y., had weightier things to discuss, such as “how to boost the intellectual impact of the Paulists in a positive way mainly in the realm of ideas,” as Father Brett Hoover, CSP put it. Father Hoover and Father Frank Sabatte, CSP, organized what could be called a Paulist think tank at St. Mary’s to do just that.
“We don’t know where this will lead, so like the Paulists have always done, we are depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us,” Father Hoover said. He noted Father Sabatte devised a process for the meeting that included discussions on the most influential things the Paulists have done, and the gifts the Paulists and the people with whom they minister have to share.
“We talked about what is going on in the world, and ways we can address that,” Father Hoover said. The goal of the meeting was to be a springboard for three or so initiatives that the Paulist community can work on in order to impact the Church and society in North America. The meeting and its process took approximately eight months to plan and came about when a colleague of Father Hoover mentioned the great impact the Paulists have had in the history of the Church in North America.
Father Ricky Manalo, CSP, said the meeting provided the opportunity to generate ideas and a current analysis of the Paulists, Church and society.
“This is all in the hopes that we will develop some new initiatives in ministry,” said Father Manalo, who recently completed his doctoral studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.
Think tank participant Father John Hurley, CSP, called the meeting “very Paulist.”
“We talked about what the signs of the times are communicating to us, the challenges we face as a church and as a community today and our responses to those challenges,” said Father Hurley, who serves as executive director of the Office of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Father Hurley noted the upcoming Synod for the New Evangelization called by Pope Benedict XVI for this October in Rome. “As we embark on the new evangelization, it is good to take stock of how we do church today, and how we can do it differently in order to embrace the vision of the new evangelization,” he said.
For Father Bob O’Donnell, CSP, surfacing the challenges to mission and ministry in today’s Church was at the heart of the discussions.
“We want to find plausible ways the Paulists can contribute to the intellectual and spiritual life of the Church,” said Father O’Donnell, campus minister at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center of the University Minnesota in Minneapolis.
“We need to use the gifts the Paulist have for concrete outcomes,” he said.