Council of the Baptized logo
in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
March, 2018


Remember last month we asked you to tell us your thoughts on the retired priests'  letter to the Catholic Spirit about the "cloud of sadness" enveloping our Archdiocese. You will find several responses to that request on the Bulletin Board at the end of this email.  Thanks to those who spoke up.

Well, we may be in various stages of grief--anger, sadness, confusion--about the crises and conflicts of the past several years, but we are not giving up.  We are grateful to Tim O'Malley and Janell Rasmussen, leaders of the Archdiocesan Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, for their work in building structures of prevention of abuse into the Archdiocesan systems.  They are also reaching out to the survivors of abusive clergy. We are grateful also to Archbishop Hebda for his work with the Ramsey District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. As we are well aware, there are clergy and lay leaders serving the people from Rush City to Elysian and from Clearwater to Zumbrota/Pine Island.  We are grateful for that.

Along with being grateful, though, we have the responsibility to name the disconnects we see, to make our Church a visible manifestation of the reign of God.  We wouldn't be doing our job as prophets if we said all is hunky-dory, would we?

So here is the big disconnect we are looking at in 2018:  Vatican II teaching on the Church as a community of communities is about the Holy Spirit, embodied in Jesus and communicating through the baptized Church members.  Of course, the Spirit of God is free and speaking through all of creation and all human interaction, but our baptism is our commitment to discern the Spirit's lead for us in the here and now in this local church. The mission to communicate sends us into the world we live in and also turns us toward our own institutional messaging.   Are we all communicating with each other--Archbishop, clergy, and laity?  If we see something is not so hunky-dory (read: in line with Vatican II), what do we do?

Here is the current situation:  We are an Archdiocese of about 825,000 Catholic members, according to the Archdiocesan website.    Let's say 450,000 of us are adults.  Let's say all of us take our baptismal responsibility to participate in the mission seriously and are working to manifest the reign of God in our families, parishes, workplaces, and neighborhoods.  Then let's say about 20,000 of us see ways that the institutional Church structure can be improved to move the mission forward.  We also believe the Holy Spirit is moving us to do something about it. What do we do?  

If the disconnect we see is an improvement we can make happen, we step up and make it happen. If we cannot by ourselves connect the policy or practice with the Gospel, what then? Tell our parish priest or the lay ministers? Call the Archbishop? Write him a letter? See the problem? We have no structural channels of communication to discern whether we are right or wrong in our assessments or to "escalate" the discussion to make institutional improvements.  We need all perspectives at the decision-making table, but the laity not employed by the Church have no institutionalized way to get heard.

CCCR/ Council of the Baptized is working on two proposals to create channels of horizontal and vertical communication.  One is a plan for an Archdiocesan Synod. The other is a plan to go to the next level on a Lay Network across deaneries.  It is a plan to create a system of 15 Lay Deanery Councils fed from Parish Councils and feeding into a Lay Advisory Council to the Archbishop.  This Lay Deanery system would utilize the already existing deanery system used by the clergy to seat deans on the Presbyteral Council that advises the Archbishop of the clergy perspective.  In communication together, the Archbishop, the clergy, and the laity will be able to discern the Spirit's lead. Read about the 15 parish deaneries here.

You folks, reading this Lay Network Update, are 1500 of the 20,000 Catholics we are talking about.  Would you step up to represent your parish in a Lay Deanery Council? How about stepping up to be one of the 15 on the Archbishop's Lay Advisory Council, communicating the perspective of the people in the pews?  If this plan appeals to you, email us with ideas or an offer to help imagine the details.

Council of the Baptized Open Forum, Tuesday, April 10, 2018
The April 10 Open Forum will be held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling Ave. in St. Paul, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.   Joe Reid will continue our exploration of Vatican II spirituality, talking about freedom. More details will follow.


In response to February Lay Network Update about morale in the Archdiocese:

I am not experiencing a "cloud of sadness" about the Catholic Church. I am a Cabrini Catholic. If that ever goes away and the Roman Catholic church, as it were, tells us we can not continue operating as we do, I will bow out or if Cabrini becomes the 2nd Reformation, I would continue with them.   Ruth Loia _____________________________________________________________________ 

I am sad that four of my five children and their families no longer have any religious affiliation and the one who still is Christian is now attending the Lutheran Church along with her husband and children. Within the past year my wife has joined the Unitarian Church. I alone continue to be active in our Catholic parish. I feel a very real sense of loss. This situation prevails even though we enrolled all of our children in our parish elementary school and have been very active in social justice and parish ministries.  Name withheld at respondent's request ______________________________________________________________________

It makes me sad that I need to go to a Lutheran Church for a meeting of the Council of the Baptized, partner with  the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform. 

It makes me sad that my pastor will not put the announcements of date, place and time for the Open Forum in our  church bulletin. The Open Forums have presentations that are an opportunity to say questions out loud. Some  of the presenters are lay folks, some are priests.

It makes me sad that Catholic Social Teaching about inclusion or those who differ is not vigorously promoted in 
our parishes.

It makes me sad that the Pope's Encyclicals are not studied, discussed or promulgated in our whole church.

It makes me sad that the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council's Teachings and documents are not discussed in our church.

But, God has made me a person of Hope and I can see, and envision, that if I can change anyone can.  
Bonita A Strand
Church of St Edward, Deanery 15


I have been reflecting lately on the much discussed topic of where all our young people are. I had the great opportunity to be in grad school at the same time as the Council was meeting. Each summer we had classes by at least one of the periti (experts appointed to attend Vatican II). I then spent about 30 years teaching about it to a wide variety of people. I think I had a good understanding of its teachings and continued to learn from them. My wondering and sadness these days is that maybe despite all our excitement, great as it was and is, we never got a chance to live the heart of it. Young people certainly heard the mantra "Vatican II" but there were so many walls we kept hitting when we tried to implement the teachings. The successes seem so few and far between that people never saw the whole cloth.   Nancy Davis, CSJ 


Sadness is exactly what I feel. In my 30 years as a parishioner at Our Lady of Peace in Minneapolis, we've had the normal ups and downs of parish life- blending two parishes, agreeable pastors, disagreeable pastors, sudden spikes in school tuition, etc- but no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a parish because the community is always bigger than whomever is at the helm. We knew any trouble would pass, that in the end we were a community that would take care of each other, watch our kids grow up, attend to our elderly, find God in each other and the greater world. Even after our revolving door of pastors in 2015, we stuck together- because the church is the parish, not the pastor or the politics. But then something happened that seems not just wrong but indicative of a direction the Church is splintering off into, and it hurts my soul. One of our veteran teachers last fall decided to marry her long-time girlfriend and our 28-year old priest took it upon himself (in a move, to me, of ultimate hubris) to fire her. She had been a member of our community for nearly as long as this young man had been alive. And she was a great teacher. Our children, grown now, suspected she might be gay when they were students, but they did not care. She was a good role model- kind, dedicated, caring. As a result of her firing, people are fleeing and I, for the first time in all my life as a Catholic, feel desolate at Mass there. I still see members of the community and I love them, their day-to-day holiness (which is kind and devout and humble), and I still feel Christ in the Eucharist- but the meanness, prejudice, and hatefulness (especially toward gay people- who are children of God just as they are!) that permeates because of this priest and his training is so off-putting and non-Christ-like that I want to cry rather than rejoice while at Mass. Please save us from these priests who seem to think (in my opinion) that they are ontologically superior to the people in the pews. Forgive me if I am being uncharitable, but I just think the Church is on the wrong side of history and I really would like a return to the compassionate church and the very fine priests I grew up with.   Christine Long Brunkhorst   Age 56

Still trying, in joyful hope,
CCCR Board and Council of the Baptized