Glimmers of hope offered at first Janssen Forum
Bp. Morneau inaugurates series for social action priest
By Joanne Flemming
MENASHA - Bp. Robert Morneau offered glimmers of hope for the 21st century to open
the Orville Janssen Forum Sept. 14 at Mt. Tabor Center.
The Green Bay Diocese's auxiliary bishop told the 80 people attending the first talk in
the new monthly breakfast lecture series sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the
Mt. Tabor Center that "hope is looking ahead towards the Kingdom. We've come from
God: one day we're going back to God. We have hope in our lives that there is
Quoting a Baptist minister, he said that discouragement is the greatest arrow in Satan's
quiver. "Once you lose hope, the devil's got you," the Bishop pointed out.
He listed six "glimmers":
-- A keen interest in spirituality. "The greatest treasure we possess that is going largely
untended is our spiritual lives," Bp. Morneau said. People have found that consumerism
doesn't bring them happiness. They are hungry for meaning, intimacy, depth and
commitment in their lives, he continued. He challenged his audience to give one hour a
week back to God by attending Mass and to set aside an additional 20 minutes a day for
prayer, Bible reading, or journaling.
-- Appropriation of the image of being a steward or caretaker. "We take so much for
granted. We are spoiled rotten and living in a culture of complaint, of entitlement. I
deserve more and more," he said. A steward, on the other hand, "says everything is a gift,
and I am grateful. The foundational cornerstone of spirituality is gratitude," he added. A
grateful person is also a generous person, he said, and stewards nurture their gifts
responsibly, share them justly and charitably, and return them to God abundantly.
-- Technology and its potential for use in communications, especially for sharing the
Good News of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
-- Awareness of dead end roads and empty idols. Bp. Morneau said people are
concerned with three idols- security/safety, esteem/affection, and control/domination.
These are important needs, he said, but "they aren't everything. When they become ends
in themselves, we are in the land of evil."
-- Glimmer of hope in the Olympics, international music fests, exchange programs,
music and play, poetry and appreciation of art and literature.
-- Intrinsic goodness of Spirit and of the human heart. God's being "with us, for us, in
us, is a cause for hope." So are the acts of kindness people are performing," he concluded.
Cindi Brawner, diocesan director of Stewardship and Development, said she was pleased with the turnout for Bp. Morneau's presentation. She estimated that the audience included 20 walk-ins. People came from as far as Oshkosh and Brillion. Some reported they had attended the Claude Allouez Forum the previous week at St. Norbert College in De Pere. Its theme is also hope.
Brawner said the diocese set up the Menasha forum primarily to give people a chance during the week to reflect on how spirituality affects their lives.
Mary Joe Widener, of St. Gabriel Parish in Neenah, said she is reading Fr. Ron Rolheiser's book, The Holy Longing from which Bp. Morneau drew some ideas. Both the Bishop and Fr. Rolheiser "take the inner yearnings that we have and take the world in which we live and ... bring them together in a way that seems so obvious when they say it, but we hadn't made that connection before," she said. "I think that is their special
Richard Sheehy of St. Pius Parish in Appleton found the Bishop "excellent as usual. (He) always has a good message. I really enjoy him . . . We need the hope certainly."
For more information on the Janssen Forum, phone Brawner at (920)437-7531, or toll-free 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8173.