That could happen depending on the outcome of a process set in motion on February 20. Bishop Robert C. Morlino issued a decree constituting a diocesan Board of Inquiry to examine a "presumed miraculous cure" attributed to Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P.
Bishop Morlino named Fr. Kevin D. Holmes as judge delegate in charge of the proceedings. He also appointed five other persons as members of the tribunal: Msgr. Michael E. Hippee, promoter of justice; Dr. Richard M. Carr, a medical doctor for the inquiry; Grant R. Emmel, notary; Carolyn J. Fangmeier, first vice-notary; and David R. J. Stiennon, second vice-notary.
The tribunal was convened on February 20 at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison. Each member took an oath to fulfill their duties and maintain secrecy.
Bishop Morlino told the tribunal members, "This is a very serious moment, because the truth of what we're about to investigate matters for the whole Church. If all goes well, it will lead to an infallible proclamation of the pope."
If Father Mazzuchelli is eventually declared a saint, this could bear fruit for our diocese, said the bishop. It would especially inspire vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
"I have the greatest enthusiasm," said Bishop Morlino. "I feel confident that the Lord will bring our efforts here to a good conclusion."
Life of Fr. Mazzuchelli
After thanking the tribunal for their willingness to serve, Bishop Morlino gave a synopsis of the life of Samuel Mazzuchelli.
In 1828, the young Mazzuchelli - just 21 years old, a Dominican friar not yet a priest - left his native Italy to labor as a missionary in the United States. Not even knowing how to speak English, he came in response to an appeal that he heard from Bishop Fenwick of Cincinnati.
After further studies and ordination, Father Mazzuchelli was sent to Mackinac Island on the northwestern frontier of the Diocese of Cincinnati as the only priest to serve an area larger than Italy.
Father Mazzuchelli spent most of his remaining years working tirelessly to build up the Church in southwestern Wisconsin and the adjacent parts of Iowa and Illinois. He established more than 30 parishes and designed and built more than 20 church buildings, along with a number of civic buildings for his pioneer territory. He also founded the congregation of Dominican Sisters, whose motherhouse remains at Sinsinawa.
The outstanding virtues and heroic labors of Father Mazzuchelli were never forgotten by the people of this area nor by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.
Cause for canonization
His cause for canonization was formally opened in 1964. After an exhaustive investigation of the facts of his life and his surviving writings, Father Mazzuchelli was declared a Servant of God - honored with the title "Venerable" - on July 6, 1993.
Before he can become "Blessed," the Church waits for his sanctity to be proven by testimony in the form of miraculous favors granted through his intercession.
Fr. Vito Gomez, a Dominican who is postulator of the Cause of Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli, has named Sr. Mary Paynter, a Sinsinawa Dominican, as vice-postulator for the cause. Sister Mary asked that a diocesan inquiry be convened to examine whether a miraculous cure was granted to a Madison man through the intercession of Father Mazzuchelli.
She presented the summary of the case to Bishop Morlino, who granted her request to establish the tribunal. A list of people to give testimony was presented, including family members and doctors.
The tribunal will meet March 9 to begin hearing testimony. The testimony will be collected and reported to the bishop to ensure that the norms for the process are observed. The results of the inquiry will then be sent to Rome.
First 'White Mass': Brings together health care workers
MADISON -- Dr. Bill Evans and Dr. Joseph Bellissimo are partners in more than their medical practice. The two doctors are also active in the Catholic Medical Association (CMA).
They are spearheading the first "White Mass" to be held in the Diocese of Madison on Sunday, March 18, at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, 404 E. Main St. in Madison.
Bishop Robert C. Morlino will celebrate the Mass, which is customarily celebrated for health care workers. The "white" refers to the traditional color of the attire of health care personnel, as well as the symbol in the church of hope and comfort to the ill and hospitalized.
All medical professionals are welcome and encouraged to attend, along with priests and religious in the health care ministry. After the Mass, Bishop Morlino will speak at a reception for all attendees. A light meal will be served.
Evans and Bellissimo have been attending national CMA meetings as well as activities in Milwaukee. "We hope to establish a guild of the CMA in Madison," said Evans.
The White Mass is usually celebrated on the feast of St. Luke, the physician. But since there is a Mass in Milwaukee on that date in fall, the Madison Mass was planned for what is traditionally "Rose" or Laetare Sunday, which it still is, noted Evans.
Evans said it is difficult to identify Catholic physicians and other health care workers, so he hopes people in the health care field will see this article and come to the Mass. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, pharmacists, home health workers, paramedics, EMTs, and medical and nursing students - anyone involved in the health field.
Evans said people in the health profession face many challenges. "I think one of the biggest challenges for professionals is that there is a disconnect between one's professional life and one's faith life," he said. "That gap makes us think we have two consciences. But as Bishop Morlino has clearly articulated, we are only given one conscience. It isn't easy to integrate your professional life with your faith life. Some people are caught in the void and need help to bridge the gap."
Evans said the CMA is an "extremely effective tool" for Catholic physicians and others in the health field, offering many resources.
The lunch on March 18 is free but people are asked to register online at www.madisondiocese.org. For more information, contact the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach at 608-821-3087 or Dr. Bill Evans at 608-824-9281 (home) or 608-219-3842 (mobile).
Guided by the Spirit: Living into parish mergers
Given the current diminishing number of priests, the capital needs of some parishes, inadequate funding, close proximity to other parishes, and a desire to maximize human and financial resources, some parish clusters will be suggesting mergers and the Planning Commission may be recommending parish mergers to other clusters.
While acknowledging the need to consolidate parishes one must also recognize the pain and loss that is being experienced by the merging communities.
As Catholic Christians we know that the "life-death-resurrection" of Christ is at the heart of our beliefs. Through baptism we are incorporated into that mystery. It is when we actually experience loss in its many forms that we are challenged to believe that some "new life" can come from it. When parishes merge, loss is experienced on three levels.
First on a personal level we realize that life will be different. I may need to leave behind participating in liturgy at a church which my great-great-grandparents worked and sacrificed to build.
The windows that I have looked at since I was a child will not be what I see every week. The holy water font that I diligently cleaned each Saturday before Easter will not be where I dip my hand and make the sign of the cross in the future.
The sacred space where I was baptized, made my First Communion, and was married no longer will be my regular worship site. I will not sit in my same pew. Everything will be different.
Secondly, my interpersonal relationships will change. My friends with whom I have worked on funeral dinners, festivals, church picnics, religious education classes may go to different parishes or may not want to get involved in the new parish. We may not be asked to help in the future.
There will be people there that I don't know. I will feel like a stranger. I won't know where anything is in the sacristy or the ushers' room or the kitchen. My children will not know others and may be in catechetical classes with those they do not know.
Thirdly on an organizational level things will not be the same. The music may not be what I know and love singing.
The pastor won't know me. I won't know how they do things at the new site. The church is so different. It is so big. I may just feel lost. They do things differently there.
I won't feel at home in my new church. Will I be able to really pray there? I know we can use our church occasionally, but I wish we did not have to change. It is so hard.
Change is a difficult process on many levels. Many people experience great emotional loss when their home parishes are merged with other parishes. They will truly go through a grieving process and need the sensitive tender care of the larger Church community.
While parish mergers call for at least two communities to change and experience new life, the parish that is losing its regular worship site will feel the loss more poignantly than the parish that is not.
There are certain pastoral practices that can alleviate some of the pain of mergers. They include:
1. Making sure correct information about the assets and liabilities of the merging parishes is available. (The assets and liabilities of the merging parishes stay with the newly formed parish.)
2. Ensuring that parishioners know that the church which will not be used for regular worship may be used for weddings, funerals, and other liturgies occasionally, as long as feasible.
3. Helping all parishes in the merger to realize that a new entity, a new community, will be formed. A small parish will not just be absorbed into a larger one. The parish, whose worship site is being used, will also change. It will have the gifts and talents of other parishes upon which to build a new community.
4. Considering the new name for the merged parish will help signal a new community. Involving all in the selection process of three names to suggest to the bishop will generate a sense that something new is happening. It will help in forming a new identity.
5. Using closing and welcoming rituals which are authentic and touch the hearts and minds of the parishioners from all the merging parishes will empower them to begin to experience the new life of the body of Christ.
6. Helping parishioners to reflect on what is staying the same, what is not changing can be very beneficial. Our sacramental celebrations are not changing; they are celebrations of the life-death-resurrection of Jesus Christ and are there to nurture us through the changing times. The Scriptures which are proclaimed are unchanging. The source of our spiritual lives - sacraments, Scripture, and tradition - are not changing.
Merging parishes is not easy. There is no way to eliminate pain. However, mergers provide real opportunities to encounter the risen Christ and be transformed by him both as individuals and as new communities. Such an experience strengthens the faith of individuals and the newly formed parish.
The prayers, sensitivities, and support of the whole diocese are needed to sustain those going through mergers. For merging parishes to know they are not alone, to know that their struggles are understood, helps lessen the sense of loss and some of the suffering involved in merging. It also gives some energy to the newly merged parishes to move forward with new life and new identities.
All this takes time and patience and lots of prayers for guidance by the Spirit.
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org