Carol Pisani, director of the DePaul Center for Mission and Ministry at the College of Saint Elizabeth reminded those gathered in Dolan Performance Center of the significance of the day before them, saying, “This is a time for the whole church to reflect on where we find ourselves in this pilgrimage of history. What do we want to never forget? What shall we pass on to a new generation?” The crowd had gathered for the two-day pastoral conference on October 12 and 13, 2012, entitled, Reclaiming & Celebrating Vatican II with a New Generation, that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
Event Began with a Celebration for the Spanish Community
On Friday night, October 12, 2012, the College launched the Hispanic Leadership Institute. The Institute will offer enrichment opportunities to provide an immersion in theological education that is historically, culturally, and religiously grounded in the Hispanic context and experience for those involved in Hispanic ministry. This will be offered in various forms of educational opportunities such as seminars, workshops, community dialogue, special events and academic courses. It includes a new Hispanic Leadership Track for those having already completed their degrees in Hispanic ministry.
Dr. Hosffman Ospino, assistant professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education at Boston College , served as the keynote for the Spanish speaking audience that night. The attendees continued the evening celebrating with the Costa Rican Dance Group Maleku.
Saturday Session Passes on the Power and the Spirit of Vatican II
The Saturday, October 13, 2012, program began with morning prayer for the entire community, invoking the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and Mary of Guadalupe, as first disciple. Dr. Ospino presented the Spanish keynote and track, Retomando y Celebrando el Concilio Vaticano II con un Nueva Generación.
Rev. Richard Fragomeni, a professor of liturgy and homiletics and chair of the department of word and worship at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, gave the English language keynote address with a slight twist. He made Dear Next Generation: Love letters from Vatican II – Here’s What We Hope You Never … interactive. He based his reflection on two questions: What were the gifts of Vatican II? What are the recommendations to the present Church based on the teachings of Vatican II? The first question he answered, and the second was posed to the audience.
For Rev. Fragomeni, the gift of Vatican II presented a paradigm shift. “The Council moved us to a different paradigm, a different imagination, the church as a We, the church as a communion. That is what we need to raise up and celebrate.”
He continued, “We came to realize that it was the responsibility of all the baptized to evangelize. That was a great revolutionary moment that I believe we should be grateful for and affirm because when we recognize the Church as a communion, the people come first. The community is the centrality. This was a big move because we did see in the past the Church much differently. Let us remember and celebrate that the core of the Council was the people of God, the baptized community, the centrality of the sacrament of baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, the great sacraments of initiation that are essential to who we are.”
Next, Rev. Fragomeni commented, “The second piece I want to bring up is that we began to realize that the communion of the saints, the baptized communion, is strengthened and nourished by the full participation of the liturgy in all its forms, not just the Mass, in the daily offices, but in the celebrations of devotions. The popular religiosity that has sprung forward these last 50 years in the United States contains for many people the heart and the inspiration to continue their work and their ministry as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Now it was the audience’s turn: Using the process of Appreciative Inquiry, Fr. Fragomeni asked them, “What do you wish to remember and pass on to the next generation? Several took his invitation, and a lively conversion followed.
Pastoral Day Brings Together Leading Scholars and Theologians
Three breakout sessions followed the keynote. Dr. Thomas Beaudoin led, The Challenge of Retaining Active Catholics: ‘Deconversion’ Among Younger and Older Adults Today. Deconversion is the process of leaving a faith tradition, and it is a new field of theological study. Dr. Beaudoin led a discussion of what deconversion means for Catholic ministry and theology today. He is an associate professor of theology in the Graduate School of Religion at Fordham University in New York where he teaches courses in practice-based theologies.
Rita Ferrone, an independent scholar who writes and teaches about liturgy in Roman Catholic tradition, presented Engaging the Spirituality of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In her session, she looked at the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy through the lens of spirituality, opening up a vigorous perspective on prayer, celebration, proclaiming the Christian message and living the Christian mission. She holds a Masters in Divinity from Yale University and is the author of Liturgy: Sacrosanctum, Concilium, Rediscovering Vatican II.
The title of Dr. Philip Cunningham’s session was The Gift of Vatican II – How Catholics Relate to Other Christians and Other Religions, which highlighted the past 50 years of Catholic-Jewish relations as an illustration of the new climate of interreligious amity that is the gift of Vatican II for the church and the world. It concluded by asking what we can do as individuals and communities to promote mutual understanding, mutual enrichment, and collaborative action among people from diverse religious traditions. Dr. Cunningham is the director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia and vice president of the International Council of Christians and Jews.