By Elizabeth Skalski | Catholic News Service
BALTIMORE (CNS) – Hundreds gathered at the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leadership to learn about strengthening pastoral ministry at parishes.
The congress kicked off in Baltimore March 8 with Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., encouraging those gathered to be proud of their Catholic faith.
“We are trying to work in a world that is craving hope, yet seems so far from an encounter with Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Kicanas, chairman of the board of Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.
The three-day conference worked to strengthen pastoral leaders from across the region in their ministry and in the Church. It offered classes, trend sessions and nearly 100 breakout sessions. The theme was “Witness Hope!”
Nearly 70 dioceses and archdioceses were represented at the conference. It is co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Department of Evangelization and the Association of Catholic Publishers. Next year’s conference is scheduled for March 7-9 in Baltimore.
Jesuit Father James Martin, the unofficial chaplain to the “Colbert Report” show with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central, underscored the way that humor can be used at church in his March 9 talk.
“Joy, humor and laughter feed hope,” said New York based Father Martin. “(These are) unappreciated ways of showing people our hope. Humor evangelizes; joy shows your faith in that you believe in the resurrection. That is good news.”
Carolyn Woo, president and chief executive officer of CRS, spoke about business and the Church.
“It’s not good enough to have good intentions,” Woo said. “Business is a force for good and, of course, hope. When we talk about hope we have to understand the best case. It depends on the moral energies of people to make it happen.”
Paulist Father John Hurley, co-chairman of the congress and director of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Department of Evangelization, said in his homily during the March 9 liturgy that coming together as leaders “gives each of us hope and we must continue to give witness to that hope in our lives.”
“Each of us as disciples and leaders in our communities gather during this Lenten time to remember that we are called and our being here at this congress is no accident,” Father Hurley said.
A few hundred pastoral leaders experienced the Way of the Cross March 9, with multimedia presentations and testimonies from Catholics who had experienced suffering recalled in events lived out in the Stations of the Cross.
Michael Ruzicki, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s coordinator of adult and sacramental formation and the creative director for the Way of the Cross, said it celebrated the Stations.
“Growing up, I would see Catholics come together to ‘celebrate’ the cross on Fridays in Lent. However, it never seemed like a true celebration,” Ruzicki said in an email. “Celebration doesn’t need to have clapping, dancing and an overwhelming amount of joy. More so, we know this celebration of the cross ends with the greatest glory of all.”[[In-content Ad]]