They may soon have their answer.
Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who presided at the prayer service, said during a town hall meeting afterwards that he will be making public his decision on the cathedral in June.
But he was still open to the thoughts of those in the diocese on what will be done.
Look to the future
The prayer vigil, which took its psalms and Scripture readings from the September 29 Feast of SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, was an opportunity to not only think of the past, but also look to the future.
The readers and psalmists, as well as the choir and many of the attendees, had close ties with the cathedral, some going back whole lifetimes.
"As I look at all of us today, and I include myself, by and large, this is not World Youth Day," Bishop Morlino said, "But I think the vast majority of us here have a sense of history.
"And we have some very young people here, and young people don't have a sense of history," he said. "And they have to learn a sense of history from us. But we have to learn a sense of hope from them."
We have to think of what will be in Madison 100 years from now, he said. And that's what this moment is about now.
"We know that we've lost our spiritual home and we know that we're dispersed," he said. "And yet God has a plan for the future of downtown Madison and for our cathedral that I can't know completely at this moment. I can only hope for it. And I can humbly try to play my own role in letting that future happen."
Time of opportunity
At present, St. Raphael parishioners don't have a spiritual home - something a decision on the cathedral would change.
"Those who were parishioners of St. Raphael Cathedral, and certainly those with long-standing ties to St. Raphael Cathedral, still feel the loss of the building acutely," said Msgr. Kevin Holmes, the rector of the cathedral and pastor of the downtown parishes. "I know it's personally painful to some, the cathedral standing in its current state.
"Certainly it's a sad anniversary for all of us, but I am able to look at our current situation as a time of opportunity," he said.
The news that there will be a decision on the cathedral soon is encouraging, he said. "It's difficult for the congregation to be together without a building."
A new cathedral
At the town hall meeting after the prayer service, Bishop Morlino continued the conversation about ideas for the placement of the new cathedral, whether it should be rebuilt, a remodeling of a current church, or no church at all.
The purpose of the meeting was not to debate the subject, but for him to listen, he said. If he debates, he said, people think that his mind is made up.
"There are any number of people who don't think I'm being honest about this," he said. "I'm being as honest as I can be."
At the beginning of the meeting Bishop Morlino read an "open letter" sent to him and several of the newspapers in the area that attempted to persuade him not to build a new cathedral.
The letter cited concerns over cost of a new cathedral, which might take funds from other ministries, as well as the availability of other downtown churches that might be remodeled at less cost.
He said the arguments were a good summary of those raised over the course of the discussion. The only objection it did not raise was the lack of parking downtown.
Others at the meeting raised concerns such as transportation issues for those who use the bus system not being able to get to a cathedral if it were not downtown, as well as questions about how much a new building might cost.
The bishop did not make any estimates for the cost for a new cathedral, but he did reassure those at the meeting that any new cathedral would be completely accessible to those with handicaps.
Guided by the Spirit:
March 1, 2007 edition:
There are two Working Groups with four duos in each group. Each Working Group will meet to consider all of the preliminary recommendations put forward by the duos and to suggest any changes that would make a better recommendation.
At the end of each day the entire Planning Commission will reconvene to consider all of the recommendations from both Working Groups and to come to agreement upon each Final Recommendation that the Planning Commission will submit to each cluster.
These recommendations will be sent out to the core committees the weekend of March 24 following the Planning Commission meeting. This should give each cluster time to think about the recommendation in time for the Planning Commission-Cluster Meetings that will take place March 28 and 29 at regional sites around the Diocese of Madison.
This will be an opportunity for clusters to talk with Planning Commission members about the recommendation. There will be three Planning Commission members available at each site, along with a meeting facilitator. In order that there could be a member from the Planning Commission with knowledge about each cluster, the clusters were assigned a location to meet. Each meeting will last from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
After this meeting, each cluster will have time to study the recommendation with the Cluster Response due back to the Planning Commission by May 11.
The Planning Commission will then meet again to consider all of the responses and formulate their final recommendations to be presented to Bishop Robert C. Morlino at the end of May.
Once Bishop Morlino receives the recommendations from the Planning Commission he is going to consider the recommendations, consult with his diocesan staff and the Planning Commission before giving his tentative recommendation.
With those tentative recommendations that propose a severe hardship, the Bishop will make himself available to discuss the recommendation with the people of the parishes and clusters affected. The Bishop expects that this would be accomplished over the summer months.
Once he has communicated with these parishes he will take the recommendations to both the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Presbyteral Council for discussion with them. After these discussions the Bishop will travel to Rome in September to speak with members of the Vatican Curia to ensure that he has done everything in a proper way, taking into account all of the pastoral issues, before giving the directive to the Diocese on his decision.
While this seems to be a long process, the Diocese will begin the process of implementation during the summer months as work can begin well before the Bishop gives his decision.
For example, Implementation Committees (similar to the Core Committees) will need to be organized in each cluster to ensure that the Bishop's directives are set as goals and to give their best thinking of how each cluster will actually make their goals a reality.
The Guided by the Spirit process is continuing onward with the good efforts of over 700 people in the Diocese of Madison, a process that will take from many months to many years to complete.
In addition there are many other activities planned for the Diocese to help with any transitions as well as to improve operations in the Diocese without burdening parishes. A good example is the Guided by the Spirit Leadership Day planned for October 23, similar to previous Parish Leadership Days in format but with content focused upon Guided by the Spirit.
I hope this discussion of the Guided by the Spirit planning process has been helpful and insightful and you can be assured that there will be more in the future.
If you have any questions at all, please contact us at email@example.com or mail us at Guided by the Spirit, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719.
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MADISON -- If you love life, you should show it by being joyful. That was the message given by speakers at the first diocesan Respect Life Dinner held on March 13 at the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison.
The dinner was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach. With the theme, "Draw Together," the event was planned to draw together people in the pro-life movement as well as to raise money for pro-life efforts in the Diocese of Madison.
The dinner featured talks by speaker and pro-life editorial cartoonist Chuck Asay (pronounced Ay-see) and Bishop Robert C. Morlino, along with remarks by Susanna Herro, director of the diocesan office.
Asay, an award-winning and recently retired cartoonist from the Colorado Springs Gazette, delighted the diners with impromptu drawings demonstrating some of the tactics and struggles in furthering the life debate, some featuring audience members as the key characters.
"In our religious garb, I think what we do is we talk to people, but we don't speak their language," Asay said. He illustrated this (both literally and figuratively) with a drawing of a pair of men in monkish garb holding "Turn around . . . the end is near" signs. After a car speeds by the two and a crashing sound is later heard, one turns to the other and asks, "Do you think our sign should say 'Bridge out?'"
"We speak in terms of the things we're used to, our Scriptures," Asay said. "I think Jesus taught us when he was walking on the earth that we need to speak their language. They need help; they need a warning.
"We need to understand that they know when life begins," he said of another cartoon. "We just need to explain it in a context they understand.
"If we can make them laugh, then we can make them think," Asay said.
Bishop Morlino said we are all together in prayer for life. And just as prayer brought down communism in a bloodless revolution 40 years ago, "so too prayer will bring about a victory for the culture of life. And the activity in which you engage which flows out of prayer will bring about that victory."
No one should doubt that, in the end, the victory will be realized, the bishop said. "It's a matter of time, and we have to have the patience and perseverance.
"Sometimes pro-lifers come across as joyless," Bishop Morlino said. "Perhaps the best thing about Chuck's presentation is that he shows us that it doesn't have to be that way. People have to see us as joyful and hopeful and then ask us to give them an account of the joy and of the hope."
The event was a success in both its turnout and its purpose.
Organizers for the event said they were at first hoping for about 150 people, but they had more than doubled those expectations. The amount of donations was also more than doubled by attendees to support young college students coming to the event.
And perhaps the most encouraging, a challenge to raise $5,000, which would be met dollar-for-dollar by a group of four, brought in more than $11,000 in donations and pledges, raising the total to $16,000.
"Our programs will have a leap forward," said Susanna Herro, director of the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach. "We can now actually fund things that have only been a dream so far."
The outpouring of support is a reflection of the "pent-up energy" for pro-life activities in the diocese, she said, as well as of Bishop Morlino's leadership.
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BERLIN -- A Berlin teacher has been placed on immediate administrative leave recently pending investigation of allegation of improper behavior.
The district attorney's office of Green Lake County is pursuing charges against Gary Lawrence, a former computer teacher at All Saints Elementary School in Berlin, with sexual assault.
Immediately upon learning of the allegation against Lawrence, All Saints Principal, Steve Zangl, called the parish pastor and the diocesan superintendent of schools. The Green Lake County Crisis Information Center was informed of the allegation and the matter was discussed with the Berlin Police Department.
Concurrently, Lawrence was placed on immediate administrative leave, pending the civil authorities' investigation. Lawrence cooperated fully and has since resigned his position at All Saints Elementary.
The school leadership has worked closely with the Berlin Police and all concerned parents and parishioners have been directed to the Berlin Police Department.
Brent King, diocesan spokesperson, said, "The diocese is confident that the parish and school leadership in Berlin have followed all applicable procedures very closely. The diocesan review board and the bishop are aware of the allegation. The matter is currently in the hands of the civil authorities, and the diocese and All Saints School will continue to do everything we can to assist them."
The nature of the allegation, and that the matter remains under investigation and is being dealt with by the court, dictates that this is all the information available at this time. As with all criminal allegations, judgment is reserved and innocence is assumed until otherwise proven.
All Saints School and the Diocese of Madison remain determined to do everything reasonable to protect all children and young people from physical and emotional abuse.
All employees and volunteers continue to undergo comprehensive criminal background checks and must complete ongoing training. Children and young people are, likewise, instructed as to what to do if they have, or a friend or classmate has, been mistreated.
The full texts of the Diocesan Policies and Procedures regarding abuse can be found on the diocesan Web site at: www.madisondiocese.org
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