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PAST EVENTS (Beginning with the earliest)
January 24, 2012
An excellent Review of the Ohio Regional Gathering, by Fr. Norm Langenbrunner, AUSCP member, http://fathernormsnotebook.blogspot.com/2012/01/auscp-voice-for-priests.html
February 28, 2012
AUSCP Regional Meeting in Detroit
Fr. Bill Petron sent in a good summary report on the Detroit Gathering. He said that Frank Eckart gave an update from the AUSCP leadership board and a good peak at plans for the summer assembly at St. Leo’s in Florida.
Bishop Tom Gumbleton spoke about how Vatican II changed his ministry from focusing on “saving souls” to answering the call to promote social justice. The council documents called us to minister with an emphasis on collegiality and subsidiarity, particularly as it was modeled by Archbishop Deardon, who set the pace for USCCB conferences for years to come.
Jim Bacik focused on how the disciplines of spirituality can help us hold our “center” amidst the many stresses of ministry today. He invited us to keep the best of Vatican Council II alive by retrieving the best values of Gaudium et Spes and the other documents and not by letting nostalgia distract us.
The general discussion affirmed the gift of pastoral ministry that we share. Vatican II was and is a pastoral Council. Thus we need to focus as pastors on the development of our own distinct wisdom tradition, our own voice as an association, “to grow our own spine gradually.” Click here to read the full report.
March 24 During LA Religious Ed. Congress
Six men joined a luncheon with Bob Cushing and Frank Eckart, board members of AUSCP, on Saturday, March 24 at noon at the Doubletree Suites, in Anaheim. We enjoyed one another's table fellowship for an hour or so, until some had to get back to the LA Congress workshops. We met several new faces who felt the need to share about their frustrations with the Roman Missal. The Inaugural Assembly was more of the focus until some ordered dessert, then ice cream became more savory. Still we enjoyed the hour of connection with brothers about common concerns.
St. Louis (April 18) and Kansas City (April 20)
Many of the comments expressed in these gatherings are similar to those of previous gatherings. The New Roman Missal was not greatly appreciated. One mentioned that there was too much concern about the afterlife and not enough about here and now. Some mentioned that there was a sense of fear and intimidation in the church today. Many mentioned the need for dialog and for a reduction in the polarization in the church. Many wondered what the attack on the LCWR was all about and whether it was really necessary. Some suggested that the AUSCP could do a better job of marketing itself. We are not on Facebook and do not Tweet which younger priests are into. Some suggested that the AUSCP should foster local groups. And how can one find out who the members are in their local area?
AUSCP Inaugural Convention June 11-14
Two hundred and forty priests from 55 dioceses across the country gathered June 11-14, 2012, at St. Leo University, northeast of Tampa,Florida, for the first national meeting of the newly formed Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP).
The focus of the meeting was "Vatican II Lives," a call to keep alive the vision and passion of the Council. Key-note speakers were Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, president-elect of the Catholic Theological Society of America, and Father Anthony Ruff, OSB, teacher of liturgy and Gregorian Chant at St. John's UniversitySchool of Theology. The AUSCP was founded in August of 2011 when an organizing committee of 27 priests met and agreed that US Catholic priests need a common voice in their efforts to "celebrate and keep alive the visionary concepts of Vatican II."
Father David Cooper, one of the founding fathers and chairman of the AUSCP board, explained that the association is not positioning itself to be a controversial voice, but a collaborative one.
AUSCP is one of several associations of priests around the world, including Ireland, Austria, Australia, and the Philippines.
LAMENTATION: The convention began with a session in which priests were invited to verbalize their "laments" about their ministry, their perception of the Church, their struggles with living the priestly vocation. The intent was to spell out what a priest can control, what he can influence, and what are the facts of life he cannot change. Their lamentations included recognition of a climate of fear, a distortion of Vatican II, the return of legalism and clericalism, the manner in which women are treated in the Church, stretching priests to the breaking point, struggles with the hierarchy, and loneliness.
The exercise served as a kind of release valve, a letting go of negative energy, recognizing that "mourning can move into kairos" as Psalm 42 implies.
Gaillardetz's key-note presentation described Vatican II as the construction of a new set of walls around the old Church. The old remains (continuity with the past is maintained) but the new construction enables the old to relate to the world of today. He urged the AUSCP to insist on the "facticity" of the Council (Vatican II happened, and it was an ecumenical council), and at the same time to engage in "holy conversation" (avoid demonizing those who disagree).
In his key-note Ruff addressed the issue of the translation of the Roman Missal, noting that the responsibility of episcopal conferences for translating into the vernacular, as spelled out in Vatican II'sSacrosanctum Concilium, has been reclaimed by the Curia. He believes that Liturgicam authenticam, the 2001 instruction from the Holy See calling for exact, word-for-word translation of the Latin, should be withdrawn. In effect an office in the Vatican is translating the Mass prayers in a language foreign to the people who are to pray them.
Three sessions of the conference were devoted to business: 1) approval of by-laws/constitution, 2) acceptance of the board of officers, and 3) consideration of several proposals. Among the proposals passed by the assembly were a letter of support to the LCWR (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious), and the acceptance of all US bishops (retired and active) who apply for membership in the AUSCP.
The median age of the priests in attendance was about 70. Most consider themselves "Vatican II priests." One celebrated his 86th birthday during the convention. Among the younger clergy was a priest who had been ordained for one year; he assessed the association as a threat to the Church.
Retired Bishop Rembert Weakland, who led a workshop on liturgy, and retired Bishop Tom Gumbleton were present.
Father Hans Bensdorf, a representative of the Austrian Priests Initiative, and Father Luis Alfonso Contono, from El Salvador and a representative of the COOPESA for priests, spoke briefly to the assembly and audited the sessions. Other presenters were Cleveland diocesan priest Father Don Cozzens (author of several books, including The Changing Face of the Priesthood) and Father Peter Fink, SJ (author of Worship: Praying the Sacraments).
In a general assessment of the conference, a number of priests were vocal: this is an intelligent, pastoral and fun group... this has nourished my hope... I realize I am not alone... "thank you" to the leadership team... this was good "holy conversation"... we must go forward, not back to the 50s, not back to the 70s, but forward... Vatican II was a gift and it is our job to be faithful to the gift God has given us.
The next AUSCP national convention will be held June 24-27, 2013, at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington. As of June, 2012, there were 650 members.
The Convention of the Australian Priests Association (July 16-20,2012)
By Alan Jurkus
Their Convention was attended by about 160 priests (more than double their usual number) including 2 bishops. Bishops are welcome to attend as brother priests. It was held in Warrnambool in the diocese of Ballarat. Frank Eckart and I were very warmly welcomed as reps of our association in typical ‘aussie’ style. There was a prayer service each day and a concluding Mass at St. Joseph Church, which was attended not only by the priests but by many members of the parish as well. The music was outstanding. The now retired Bishop Peter Connors presided.
The convention schedule itself was quite full. There were three keynote speakers.
Fr. TimothyRadcliffe O.P. gave two talks. In the first -“Navigating the present crisis of the church…where are we at?” - he spoke of the church leadership as being ‘stuck’ in the middle ages, symbolized by using things like: coats of arms, titles, vesture, lack of accountability, a sense of ‘absolutism’. This talk was followed by discussion and sharing. He promised his second talk (“What is the way forward?”) the next day would be about the ‘adolescent church’ emerging. I found that the second talk - which he admitted he changed after listening to other speakers the day before he spoke - to be a bit of a disappointment. He spoke of the need for dialogue and went out of his way to say that people who work in the Vatican are really good people trying to do a job and that most of us would really not want to be there. When asked what should be done if dialogue does not work or if listening does not happen and it’s business as usual, he did not have a clear and helpful response. He did say that it is too bad that many times both the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ are so sure they are correct that they don’t listen to the other side in any meaningful way. He did urge us not to be ‘marginalized’ in presenting our hopes and dreams.
Chris McGillion, a layman who did an independent comprehensive study of the Australian priests which resulted in a book called “Our Fathers,” spoke forcefully about the issues facing the clergy in Australia. The title of his talk was “A view from the outside”. While most priests are happy in their ministry, the study shows much discouragement and many challenges there are when dealing with the issues of the larger church. These issues are not much different than those we face. I found his talk the most valuable. Chris has offered to come to our next assembly and perhaps consider doing a similar study of the American priests.
The third Key note speaker was Veronica Lawson, a noted biblical scholar. She walked us through the Gospel of Mark and showed us the latent feminine themes contained in the Gospel. These are often missed or misunderstood by preachers. She entertained a variety of questions. The title of her talk was “Two Gospel Imperatives for a changing Church: Mk. 1:15 and 16:15”
Fr. Peter Beck presented a paper “New ways of living the Gospel. What Mary MacKillop may be able to say to us”. Mary MacKillop is the first Australian saint. She was a person who had her own struggles with church leadership even to the point of being excommunicated by the bishop. Her life and struggles can be an inspiration for us today.
The business meeting dealt with internal issues for the association. However the second session of the business meeting consisted of some unplanned laments. (This was similar to the planned process of lamentation that we used at our assembly.) Many found that this was a very powerful and emotional experience.
As expected, the casual conversation and ‘table’ talk were most interesting and informative. I was amazed that, even though we are 6000 miles apart, priests of the Vatican II era are feeling the same stresses, challenges, hopes, dreams, and disappointments.
The convention ended with the start of the process of selecting a new chair. These results were to be announced in a month or so.
All in all I am so happy that I had the opportunity, along with Frank Eckart, to represent the AUSCP at this convention. Their next meeting will be held in 2014 in Brisbane. I would hope that we would again be represented. Frank extended an invitation to the Australians to send a representative to our next assembly.
Greater Cincinnati Area July 30, 2012
Thirty Five priests from the Greater Cincinnati area gathered on July 30, 2012, at Good Shepherd Church, for an informational presentation on the talks, policies and plans generated at the Inaugural Convention of the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP) held at St. Leo University, neat Tampa, June 11-14, 2012.
The Cincinnati meeting was organized by priests who attended the Florida convention and were eager to share its spirit and promote its enthusiasm.
Using techniques from the Tampa schedule, the Cincinnati-area priests began with a session lamenting their experiences of the post-Vatican II Church followed by a session on hopes and dreams for the future.
The lamentations were similar to those at the Florida gathering: abuse of power, fear, the Roman Missal debacle, the rift between younger and older priests, loss of vitality in the Church, hierarchical arrogance, lack of dialogue.
The hopes and dreams included maintenance of the Vatican II vision, dialogue with Church leadership, a symposium to review and celebrate Vatican II documents, seeing AUSCP become a voice for priests across the country.
Brief oral summaries of Fr. Anthony Ruff's key-note on the Roman Missal and of Dr. Richard Gaillardetz's key-note on the unfinished agenda of Vatican II gave a taste of the theological concerns raised at the Florida meeting. Among the hand-outs for the Cincinnati gathering was a list of the policies/resolutions adopted at the AUSCP meeting in June.
Participants at the two-and-a-half hour meeting were vocal in support of the local gathering and of the goals of the AUSCP in general.
It was agreed that the Cincinnati-area priests (including one priest from Columbus OH and four from Covington KY) would meet quarterly to continue the effort to promote Vatican II values and to encourage other priests to join the national organization.
New England Regional Meeting
September 26, 2012, Holy Family Retreat House
For whom: AUSCP members and any US Catholic priest or bishop in good standing, active or retired
By whom: The Membership Committee of the AUSCP, represented by
- Fr. Bob Nee (Boston), Ph: 617-823-5461, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fr. Bernard Survil (Greensburg), Ph: 724-850-1616, email@example.com
- Fr. Bill Petron (Detroit, Ret) Ph: 586-228-1316, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Nicholas Cesaro (Hartford), Ph: 860-666-1591Fr. Bill MacKenzie (Boston, Ret) email@example.com
Our Agenda included a SKYPE session with AUSCP board members Dave Cooper and Bob Cushing. Also a presentation in the afternoon by Sr. Ann Kane, CSJ of Hartford, speaking on the LCWR August, 2012 Assembly which she attended as a delegate. Sixty-one priest attended representing ten dioceses.
Michigan Regional Meeting, October 31, 2012
November 14, 2012
Hurricane Sandy huffed and puffed, knocking the power and damaging property of some of the AUSCP members who were planning the Nov 14 New Jersey Regional Gathering, but the show went on. It was hosted by AUSCP member, Ray Cole, pastor of St Joseph's parish, Hillsborough (Metuchen Diocese).
Thirty-five priest, more than half not yet members attended to learn from the LCWR playbook as described by Sr. Camille D'Arienzo, RSM, a former president of the LCWR. Attendees also dialogued via SKYPE with AUSCP Board members Len Dubi and Dave Cooper. Also via SKYPE they heard AUSCP canonist, Mike Boccaccio review the Association's communication with the USCCB's president Archbishop Dolan, with special attention to the AUSCP Inaugural Assembly's resolution on the New Roman Missal.
Despite the fact that many were meeting their fellow priests from other dioceses for the first time, a Steering Committee was chosen to provide follow-up to this first AUSCP event in New Jersey. They plan to convene the State-wide membership on December 6th, the place to be announced.
Contacts for more info:
Kevin Ashe (Newark Archdiocese) Ph: 732-477-3085, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ron Cioffi (Trenton Diocese), Ph: 732-687-0016, email@example.com.
Besides the New Jersey men, priests came from Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia, PA. There were four religious order men attending since no distinction is made by the AUSCP between "regulars" and "seculars."
Metro New York Regional Gathering
Wednesday, JANUARY 9, 2013,
10:00 AM to 3:00 pm with lunch
The Redemptorist Residence, 7509 Shore Road, Brooklyn, NY ( Near the east end of Veranzano Bridge).
Registration required. Provide the following: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: 724-850-1616
Planning Committee: John Rowan (Rockville Centre), Francis Gargani, cssr, Bob Frueh (Brooklyn), John Duffell (New York), Ron Richardson (Rockville Centre), Bill MacKenzie (Boston), Bill Petron (Detroit), Bernie Survil, (Greensburg).
10:00 a.m. Opening Prayer -- Fr. Francis Gragani, CSSR
10:15 a.m. Welcome & . . . -- Fr. Francis
Simple intro by those present:
Name, diocese, present ministry
10:45 - 11:30 Presentation -- Fr. John Shea, OSA on
The Call of Vatican II to Adult
11:30 - 12:30 Questions & Conversation
12:45 - 1:30 Luncheon
1:40 - 2:40 Sharing of Expectations &
Concerns & Issues -- Fr. John Rowan (Rockville Centre)
2:40 - 3:00 "What is the AUSCP" -- Fr. Bernie Survil (Greensburg)
3:00 - 3:15 New Members Invite -- Fr. Bill Petron (Detroit)
3:30 - 4:00 Final wrap-up & Prayer -- Fr.
Twenty eight were in attendance. A steering cmte was established with co-chairs: John Rowan and Francis Gargani.
Northern California Regional Gathering
Meeting open to AUSCP members and other interested diocesan and religious priests in support of Vatican II vision and ministry
January 11, 2013,
10am – 2pm
Gibson Hall, Corpus Christi Parish
322 St. James Drive
Reservation were required with Fr. Jim Schexnayder, Phone: 510-708-5762, or email@example.com
Welcome & Introductions
Report on Association of U.S. Catholic Priests - purpose, issues and actions with Board members Bob Cushing and Bernie Survil holding forth on a speaker phone for some 40 minutes.
Common Statement: Irish and American Associations
Discussion of your local issues, challenges and action recommendations
Lunch provided ($10 suggested donation)
Where do we go from here
What actions in Northern California would advance Vatican II pastoral development? Opportunities to engage bishops?
There were at least 15 priests in attendance.
A more fulsome report can be expected.
Pittsburgh-Tri-State AUSCP REGIONAL GATHERING
Allison Park PA, February 6, 2013
(Priests from Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Erie, Buffalo. Columbus, Youngstown, Holy Spirit Fathers)
21 priests gathered at the Kearns Spirituality Center on the grounds of the Sisters of Providence to hear Jared Wicks, S.J. on John XXIII and the first session of Vatican II, to learn more about the AUSCP, and to share experiences, perspectives and concerns 50 years after Vatican II. The youngest priest present was 63.
Expectations for the day included:
- Learning more about and gaining new insights into John XXIII and Vatican II
- Re-grasping the main intentions of V2 and current status of those intentions
- Finding out who the AUSCP is and what it is doing vs. disappointment with NFPC
- Knowing more about AUSCP and helping it grow; addressing concerns for its future as some press it to address the issue of women’s ordination
- Refreshing hope that the church will begin to deal with reality, the issues of today
- Mental stimulation and new ideas
- Hope and encouragement that V2 is alive and will be going forward
- Recovery of the Gospel and V2’s outward vs. inward look and thrust to the poor
- Addressing disconnect between V2 and what we see happening in the Church now
- Clarifying how we got to where we are
- Addressing the bitterness and anger among priests
- Standing with one another as we look for signs of hope
- Exploring how we can be the future and support what is important
- Getting legs for our hope and then put our hope into action
- Helping get ourselves and our church on the right side of history
- Bridging the gap between older clergy and younger clergy.
To those expectations Jared Wicks spoke about John XXIII. He reviewed his bio and traced how elements of his outlook were planted early in his life. He shared the impact on seminarian Roncalli of a 1900 talk in Rome by Peoria Bishop John Lancaster Spalding to address Vatican concerns with Americanism. In his diary John recorded elements of that talk, seeds of the youthful and positive disposition that he later carried into the depressing atmosphere of the Vatican and subsequently into the Council.
After lunch those present dialogued about a raft of concerns for the Church including disappointment with the leadership and disconnect with younger clergy. Seminary formation was discussed in a search for why the shifts. A range of our options from ignoring the situation and doing what each judges best to moving the AUSCP to take prophetic action were identified. In the end the group settled on a preference for “Affirming and Accenting” the vision and values, principles and teachings of V2 to express our concerns in an attempt to change the current dynamic. The AUSCP’s way of encouraging the Bishops to reclaim their Council-delegated power over liturgical translations is an example.
Wick’s second presentation developed how John’s persistent expression of his vision and youthful optimism through three key documents/speeches eventually took hold of the Council Fathers and gave direction to Vatican II. Discussion included affirmation that we need to keep before us how much Vatican II has been ‘implemented’ as we deal with how much more needs to be done. The development of AUSCP in just a few years was affirmed as itself a prophetic action.
Program to be announced