Friday, October 8, 2010

Archbishop Nienstedt: Schools and Parishes; DVD distribution


School visit offers glimpse of the future

I have been thinking lately how nice it would be to have a crystal ball in order to see clearly the future success of our Strategic Plan for Parishes and Schools. Well, I had an experience a week ago Sunday that came very close to that experience.

The occasion was the fifth anniversary of Holy Cross Catholic School in Webster. This is a consolidated pre-kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school sponsored by three parishes: Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, St. Nicholas in New Market and Holy Trinity in Veseli. The fact that these three parishes came together to form this one school is in itself a great example of pastoral collaboration, but that is not the entire story.

You see, the origin of this cooperative venture really began 41 years ago when those three parishes, each having its own separate school, came together under one administration. For 36 years, they operated as a united entity, using all three sites, busing students to a central cafeteria for lunch each day. It took almost 40 years for them to raise the money for a new school building, but that didn’t stop them from coming together in a collaborative effort.

This is really strategic planning at its best. And the leaders at Veseli, New Market and Lonsdale were way ahead of the curve. Ultimately, what a good strategic plan should provide is a direction for the future. One may not be able to realize full results in six months or a year, but there is a plan and, with that plan, movement may begin toward positive outcomes.

I have tried to calm the apprehensions that some have expressed about the decisions that will be announced on Oct. 16-17. Not all of those decisions need to be implemented immediately. Rather, pastors and parishes will work with the Chancery staff to find the best way to begin the collaborative process of merging or clustering parishes, their staffs, buildings and other resources.

I am grateful to the pastors and people of Holy Cross Catholic Grade School in Webster for showing all of us how good strategic planning can be done. They are wonderful examples for the rest of us!

DVDs not an attack

On another point, I thought it unfortunate that the media has characterized the DVD that was mailed to our Catholic people last week as “an attack on gay marriage.”

In truth, they could have said it was “an attack on divorce” or “an attack on cohabitation.” But the reality is that it was not an attack, but rather the positive promotion of marriage as God intends it to be.

Scripture testifies to the fact that God made man and woman, as complementary beings, in his image and likeness. And he commanded that they “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28). Marriage is the vehicle by which this God-given gift is accomplished.

The obvious connection between the conjugal act and the conception of new life, along with the universally recognized importance of stable marriages for the education and formation of children, removes marriage from the private sphere and places it into the public realm, an institution very much a part of the common good and, therefore, a concern of the state. This has been true across cultures.

To say that ma­r­riage is a kind of relationship that is “reproductive in type” is to define it as unique and, therefore, different from other relationships. To uphold this distinctiveness is not to discriminate against other types of relationships, but rather to acknowledge what God intended in the created order.

The Canadian bishops admit that they were caught off guard when the definition of marriage was changed by their government. The bishops of Minnesota do not want the same thing to happen here. Now is the time to raise the issue. Now is the time to preserve the meaning of marriage as God intended it “from the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8).

The Catholic Spirit

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