The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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December 22, 2000 Issue
Local News

Signs of hope in church, world shine forth for pastor

Forums in De Pere and Menasha hear of glimmers


By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

Next Allouez:

What: Claude Allouez Forum, sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the St. Norbert College Theological Institute; it is open to the public.

When: 7:15 a.m. Jan. 12.

Where: Bemis International Center, St. Norbert College.

Who: David and Monie Brunner.

Topic: Glancing Ahead: Glimmers of Hope as Farmers.

Cost: $8, includes breakfast.

Reservations: (920)437-7531 or (toll-free) 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8173.


Next Janssen:

What: Orville Janssen Forum, sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the Mt. Tabor Center; it is open to the public.

When: 7:15 a.m. Jan. 4.

Where: Mt. Tabor Center, 522 2nd St., Menasha.

Who: Dr. Ed and Shila Scanlan.

Topic: Glancing Ahead: Glimmers of Hope as a Doctor and Parish Nurse.

Cost: $5, includes breakfast.

Reservations: (920)437-7531 or (toll-free) 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8173.

Catholics who do good things every day in and outside churches provide glimmers of hope for the church's future, a Green Bay pastor told the Allouez and Janssen Forums last week.

Fr. Dave Pleier, in talks Dec. 14 at the Mt. Tabor Center in Menasha and Dec. 15 at St. Norbert College in De Pere, said he sees such hope when people are generous, when they do the right thing, and through growth and vitality in the church.

As an example, Fr. Pleier told about the Advent giving tree in his parish, St. Bernard, Green Bay. After one couple explained the idea behind the tree to their son, Jake, the boy went through his belongings and decided his present would include a pair of shoes, a toy hatchet and a plastic Easter egg containing candy. The box containing these items, marked, "For a little boy from Jake," serves as a sign of hope for him, Fr. Pleier said.

"Love of neighbor will go on, no matter politics or anything else, as long as people believe in Jesus," Fr. Pleier said. "Love of neighbor transcends all the muddle that is part of daily life."

He said he is heartened, too, that the most requested song by young people lately on WIXX radio's Top Nine at Nine is "Christmas Shoes," a schmaltzy song about a boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his sick mother in case she meets Jesus.

He said he was heartened when a woman in the parish gave him for Christmas the treasured glass angel ornament she had received from her mother years ago.

"Ultimately, the only joy that matters is giving of ourselves," Fr. Pleier said. "I have great hope when people give, not for fame or recognition, but as disciples freely giving of themselves without counting the cost."

When we choose to give of ourselves, as is the case whenever we choose to do the right thing, we are approaching the perfection of God, Fr. Pleier said.

But choosing to do the right thing can be hard because it's not always the easy thing and it can mean giving up something we'd rather have at that moment, Fr. Pleier said.

For example, he said, the innkeeper could have found a room for Joseph and Mary. Instead, he put them in the stable, which at the time would have been a second room attached to the house.

That was the right thing, Fr. Pleier said, because if Jesus had been born in the hotel, he would have just been passing through. Instead, he was born with the family, because he was staying and becoming part of the human family.

Fr. Pleier also said he is heartened by vitality and growth in the church, despite clergy shortages and the linking, merging and closing of parishes. He listed four reasons for the growth:

-- Joy and a growing sense of welcoming. "No one wants to be part of a community that makes people feel grumpy or dour," he said.

-- Service, through projects such as an Advent giving tree or by reaching out to anyone in need. "When we reach out in service, people want to be part of us."

-- Faithfulness. While everyone has something they would like to change in the church, these same people remain faithful to the church - and that is a particularly strong sign to youth.

-- Generosity. A willingness to be truly generous and to treat everyone with respect no matter who they are.

"We are called to be a people of hope," Fr. Pleier said, "and seeing that in action is where my hope lies as a pastor."



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