Wednesday, 25 March 2009

On gratitude

For more then twenty years, beginning with my conversion to Roman Catholicism, I participated and eventually directed weekly Adult Formation sessions better known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Throughout those years my passion for this rewarding task continued to grow as did my understanding of what it meant to accompany adult inquirers on a Catholic faith journey. My own experience as a convert proved to be a valuable asset along with numerous applicable leadership training seminars, including achieving a Diploma in Ministry from a world renowned Catholic University. Immediately prior to that period I completed five years of Catholic adult education studies under the direct tutelage from several extremely gifted, wise and compassionate religious order priests. It was during one of these sessions that one of these marvelous teachers offered us a challenge (with an obvious reference to the growing conservative attitude of the Church) that will remain with me forever. If you don’t agree with what is happening in our Church” our instructor went on the say “then it is you that will have to find ways to implement change, because our hands are tied” as he clasped his hands as though handcuffed!

As dedicated members of our parish my wife and I served on many committees including Pastoral Council, Finance, Development & Peace, Grief, Marriage Prep., etc. not to mention hosting annual Seder meals, and several anniversary dinners for members of the parish clergy.

In the past twenty years I enjoyed many wonderful opportunities to share the ‘good news’ with interested adults throughout our diocese(we visited as many as twenty five separate parishes). Presentations aimed at spiritual renewal included ‘Life in the Spirit’, plus a series of Lenten reflection programs such ‘An Evening with Fr. Anthony de Mello, Henri Nouwen and Fr. Richard Rohr, just to name a few. All of these group programs were well received benefitting both recipient and presenter.

My work as a catechist and presenter, at these various functions came to a rather abrupt end. A newly appointed priest at our local parish took exception to my honest questions regarding certain theological differences and suggested I take an immediate ‘six month leave of absence’!

The unexpected response, mirrored the growing negative and fearful attitude, (explained in these pages) now so very evident among church leadership even at the highest levels. Subsequently we made the difficult, painful and necessary decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church.

With the exception of several dear priest friends, no (un)official attempt has ever been made, by this same distant church leadership to discover or heal the wounds that brought us, and so many others, to this decision.

No comments: