For immediate release
“It’s our tenth anniversary Assembly, but our focus is on the future,” said Father Greg Barras, chair of the leadership team of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. The theme of the Assembly, held June 21-24 in Minneapolis, was “Where do we go from here?” Keynote speakers and a strategic planning process helped the priests’ group focus on the future. About 150 priests and friends attended.
“Part of ‘Where do we go from here?’ is deeper into the synodal model called for by Pope Francis,” Barras said. “The next synod at the Vatican will be on synodality itself, with diocesan, continental and universal phases over the next two years. We have to help the Church in the United States to be a listening Church.”
Keynoter Michael Sean Winters, a writer for the National Catholic Reporter, tackled the topic, “The Politico-Theological Merger that is Shaping the U.S. Catholic Church.” Dr. Shannen Dee Williams from Villanova University discussed “Why Black Catholic History Matters.” Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee looked to “Pastoral Directions for our Church Going Forward.” Sister Marjorie Klein, SSND, guided contemplative reflection following the addresses. (Winters wrote a column about his experience of the Assembly for NCR. A link is included, below.)
The internationally known scholar of liturgy and liturgical music composer Father Jan Michael Joncas of Minneapolis led a day retreat for in-person and on-line participants on June 21.
About 60 priests and friends went to the George Floyd site on June 22, where a Baptist minister, Rev. Jerry McAfee, challenged them to address the issue of systemic racism. Earlier that day, Assembly participants had identified “Anti-Racism” as one of three areas for the AUSCP to focus efforts over the next three years. Also selected were “Gospel Non-Violence” and “Continuing Implementation of Vatican II Vision and Values.”
The AUSCP was formed in 2011 to give voice to priests and to provide mutual support. How to integrate the voice of the laity remains unresolved after a proposal to add associates as voting members of the leadership team was tabled. “Friends” have participated in the team’s discernment process for the past several years; board decisions are made through consensus, not by voting.
The AUSCP honored activist priest, Father Harry Bury, with the St. John XXIII Award, June 23. Bury played a key role at the George Floyd prayer service, and has been a non-violent activist for over 50 years. (Two reports on the service and the AUSCP Assembly were published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Texts and links are included, below.) Also honored with the St. John XXIII Award was Gayle Uebelhor of Evansville, Ind., who facilitated the historic meeting of 27 “founding fathers” of the AUSCP in 2011.
Sharing leadership responsibilities in the current year with Barras is Father Michael Bausch, who retires July 1 from his parish in the Diocese of Rochester. Barras and Bausch were re-elected as chair and vice-chair of the leadership team. Father Louis Arceneaux, a Vincentian priest ministering in New Orleans and Father Stephen Newton, a Holy Cross Priest from Notre Dame, are continuing as secretary and treasurer. All terms are for one year.
Another part of “Where do we go from here?” is selection of a new executive director to succeed Father Bernard “Bob” Bonnot. Bonnot is retiring from the position but promises to stay actively engaged in the communications efforts of the association, for which he has already developed several topical webinars.
For further information, see www.auscp.org or contact the following:
Rev. Greg M. Barras, Leadership Team Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Kevin Clinton (Minneapolis), Chair emeritus email@example.com
Rev. Bob Bonnot, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Sister Jackie Doepker, AUSCP Office: Office@AUSCP.org, (872) 205-5862
Paul Leingang, AUSCP Communications email@example.com