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Gesu parishioners discuss archdiocese reform

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Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Church of the Gesu parishioners discussed Catholic stewardship and final preparation plans for the months leading up to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s 2014 synod in June by holding its second and final parish reflection session Sunday.

The synod, the first held by the Archdiocese since 1987, will be “an assembly where the faithful deliberate on the pastoral needs of the diocese,” according to the archdiocese’s website. Upon completion, it will map out archdiocese reform set to occur over the next 10 to 15 years.

An estimated 37 parishioners participated in the reflection and broke into small groups to discuss creative ways to deepen Catholic faith and reach out to individuals not actively involved in the parish. Their ideas will be reviewed by Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome E. Listecki, during the synod.

Marge Melton, a session attendee and member of the Gesu choir, said she understands people may feel reluctant to join the Catholic church after the archdiocese’s bankruptcy and sexual abuse scandals that occurred over the past two years.

“There’s a lot to be done, not only at Gesu but also in the archdiocese to welcome more people back into the Catholic religion,” Melton said. “Not to force it on them but to say ‘come with me,'”

The attendees proposed that the archdiocese reach out beyond its traditional boundaries, form human concerns groups and introduce personal ways of promoting the church via mail. Those propositions were brought up in order to increase Gesu’s emphasis on Catholic stewardship.

Mike Heimbach, the facilitator of Sunday’s proceedings and a Gesu parishioner, said the last major step of synod preparation is the District Gathering held March 22 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Twelve Gesu representatives, including the Rev. Eddie Mathie, will attend the meeting “to pray, dialogue and further discern the priorities and initiatives identified at the Parish Reflection Sessions,” according to the archdiocese’s website.

The synod will be held  June 7-8 at the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center. Gesu parishioner JoAnne Baez will attend as the Church of the Gesu’s sole representative.

“The week after (the synod), I would like to sit down with our representative and hear her thoughts on what happened,” Heimbach said. “I know that archbishop Litsteki is going to hear all of this information and then respond to what he’s heard, not just verbally but also in implementing different programs around the archdiocese.”

Before stepping down from the papacy last February, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called for a Year of Faith. In response to his call, Archbishop Listecki wrote a pastoral letter titled “Who do you say that I am?” that was the basis of discussion between reflection session attendees.

For Matt McDonald, second year graduate student in the School of Dentistry, attending the Gesu’s reflection session was very beneficial.

“I’ve learned that there’s a great love of Christ out there in the world and in our community especially,” McDonald said. “It’s nice to see people who are so passionate about their love of Christ and (who are) willing to take that out in the world.”

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