The morning speaker, Ed Hahnenberg was outstanding in presenting on a wider sense of vocation in the Church, and how this is a needed corrective. If I were to blog on that, I would use up my spare free time today.
Instead, I wanted to relate a thoughtful breakout session from Barbara Humphrey McCrabb of the USCCB’s Department of Education and Fr Frank Donio, SAC, of the Catholic Apostolate Center. They presented on “Collaboration and the New Evangelization.” I was concerned that the session was going to be more psychological and not enough theology, but I needn’t have worried.
They presented collaboration largely within a theological framework. Their presentation zeroed in on three essential qualities:
- Cenacle spirituality
- Communio ecclesiology
- Cooperation technology
In brief, the spirituality of collaboration involves the engaging and intersection of prayer, discernment, and action. In other words, individuals don’t “figure it out” on their own and launch initiatives fully formed from their own interior life. A healthy ministry life also involves action. Plus a balanced approach to discernment. It strikes me as eminently sensible: we always check in with a director, and a community we serve while remaining engaged in prayer.
I like the surfacing of Communio here. The presenters defined it as Trinity (the primal communion of the universe) plus the Word, plus the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. How do we know we have achieved communio? One attendee mentioned when a group of collaborators experience a sum (in ministry) greater than the individual parts brought to the table.
By cooperation “technology,” the speakers were using the term to mean more broadly the “how” of engaging people in a group setting. They stressed the need for actual conversation–that people would be talking to each other. Most importantly, that while one is talking the others listen–truly listen. Listening does not imply agreement. It means engagement.
This last point is a difficult one for many extreme believers. For some of us, we cannot bear to be in the presence of people who disagree with us, and worse, who utter those disagreements. It’s almost as though we are tainted by the very expression of such heinous thoughts as ordained women, moral boundaries in sexuality, or, say in the popular culture, advocacy for the “wrong” sports team.
Much to think about for my own approach to ministry, for service with my colleagues, and certainly for the ministries of the parish that sent us.