Monday, May 12, 2014

Enrichment in Dallas: It Went Both Ways

Monday greetings from Chicago, where it is warm and humid. I took this photo yesterday while on a walk in Millennium Park here in Chicago.

I had a wonderful weekend in Dallas, Texas. I presented a two hour workshop to the "international priests" of the diocese on Friday afternoon, after a less-than-pleasant experience with my usual air carrier. The skies were anything but friendly on Friday; let me leave it at that.

The workshop with the priests seemed to go quite well. Frankly, for me, priests are generally a challenging audience, particularly when I speak about the RCIA. As is usually the case, they are quite quiet during the presentation, even when asked to share their questions and concerns. I found the Dallas priests to be friendly and warm; they are obviously dedicated to and really love their people. I hope the afternoon was helpful for them.

On Saturday, I met with the deacon candidates and their wives for the entire day; six sessions on various aspects of the RCIA. It was a delight.

We prayed the liturgy of the hours to begin and end the day and celebrated Mass together as the day concluded. This was a long, long day of input and discussion. Frankly, I thought I would "run out of gas" by day's end, but their energy and engagement in the topic really kep my own energy level quite high, thanks to my extroversion! Some of them had had experience with the RCIA. Many of them had at one time or another been a sponsor in the RCIA process. I think they may have come with the expectation of being told about how to transmit the content of the faith in the RCIA. Instead, I believe that they grasped the apprenticeship model; I believe that they began to see the RCIA as a kind of "dynamic novitiate" into discipleship, rather than a course in Catholic teaching.

I have always appreciated and admired the deacons with whom I have worked throughout my lifetime in ministry. These men and their wives in Dallas showed me a developed capacity for critical thinking. So many of them come from professions (attorneys, professors, etc.) where they have had to engage with many different people from many walks of life on many different topics and issues. They bring this experience to their training for ministry and this gave me so much hope. They were open and were unafraid to challenge some of their own assumptions, as well as some of what I was saying! Simply a great day. I believe the parishes to which these men and women will eventually be assigned will be enriched by their presence and ministry.

Thanks, Diocese of Dallas, for the invitation. I was enriched.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Deacon John O'Leary said...

Jerry, we were blessed to have you in Dallas! It was an inspiring and wonderful day.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and love of the RCIA with us.


Deacon John O'Leary