Church needs ‘game changers’

By | November 16, 2011

His research concluded that there are four qualities of faith each engaged Catholic possesses: an intentional and rich prayer life, the study of faith and Scripture, generosity and evangelization.


Internationally acclaimed author and speaker Matthew Kelly speaks to some 575 diocesan and parish leaders at the 2011 Leadership Convocation held Nov. 8 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“You put these four things into any person in your parish, and they join the highly engaged,” said Kelly. He challenged Catholics to be “large, generous and fearless.”

Kelly said the key to bringing into the fold those who are on the brink of being active and engaged is offering what he calls “game changers.”

His book, “Rediscover Catholicism, A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose,” has been just that, a game changer. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the book have been given out at Catholic parishes throughout the country. Several parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay are currently offering the book, which Kelly gave as a gift to all convocation attendees.

Kelly’s keynote speech offered fresh insights on how to energize not only Catholics in the pews but also Catholics in ministry. His presentation illustrated this year’s convocation theme, “Parishes: Called to Be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive,” based on Bishop Ricken’s pastoral letter of the same name.

Bishop Ricken’s pastoral letter focuses on six pastoral areas of growth: evangelization; youth, young adult and family ministry; leadership; education; Eucharist; and dignity of human life. He calls parishes of the diocese to focus on these priorities in the next five to seven years.

“It’s always important to step back a little bit and really center on what the main theme and focus is for the next few years,” Bishop Ricken told The Compass. “Having a speaker like Matthew Kelly come in and re-orientate us and give us more data to think about helps us to plan and reach out and save more souls. It’s energizing.”


Members of the Spiritus evangelization team from Mount Tabor Center in Menasha, listen to Matthew Kelly give a keynote presentation at the 2011 Leadership Convocation Nov. 8. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

The themes of Bishop Ricken’s letter were then addressed in two rounds of breakout sessions offered to attendees in the afternoon. Speakers and topics of these breakout sessions included:

• Dr. Jeff Kaster, director of the Youth in Theology and Ministry program at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary, Collegeville, Minn., who presented ideas on engaging our youth, young adults and families in our parishes.

• Frank Mercadante, founder and executive director of Cultivation Ministries, author and experienced youth minister, who addressed the many facets of evangelization.

• Norbertine Fr. James Neilson, professor of art at St. Norbert College, De Pere, who spoke on the joy of the Eucharist in our lives.

• Lucien Roy, senior consultant with the Reid Group in Seattle, and recently retired vice president for mission and ministry at Loyola University, Chicago, who spoke on nurturing leadership in Catholics.

• Thomas Thibodeau, director of servant leadership and associate professor of religious studies at Viterbo University, La Crosse, who offered sessions on welcoming parish communities and the importance of fostering communities in the areas of social justice and charity.

“Various Approaches to Catechesis in the Diocese,” a panel discussion on catechesis, was facilitated by Karen Nesbit, parish director at St. Mark Parish, Redgranite, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Poy Sippi.

Convocation attendees enjoyed several exhibitor tables and a lunchtime cheer led by Fr. Dan Felton, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Manitowoc, and a vicar general for the Diocese of Green Bay. Fr. Felton energized parish staff members and those interested in ministry by singing a fight song he wrote in honor of our “coach,” Bishop Ricken, and his pastoral letter.

The leadership convocation was organized by the Department of Stewardship and Pastoral Services and partially funded by the Bishop’s Appeal.

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