Council discusses Year of Mercy, bishop’s new pastoral letter

At the Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting Jan. 23, Bishop Donald Kettler asked members to talk to their liaisons about his new pastoral letter, “Be Merciful, Just as Your Father is Merciful” (see pull-out section, pages 1B-12B).

“I hope that every parish will take this letter and use the 14 questions at the end to talk about mercy during Lent,” Bishop Kettler said. “I hope that it will be used in religious education classes for both youth and adults. I hope that everybody will read it.”

He also encourages parents to talk about it with their children.

1B“Parents are the primary educators of their children, and I hope they will take the time to read it and discuss it as a family,” he said.

At the November DPC meeting, Bishop Kettler asked the council to find out what their parishes and organizations are doing to celebrate the Year of Mercy. Many of them are focusing on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

The bishop also is inviting all Catholics, especially those who have been away from the church, to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, particularly during the Festival of Forgiveness March 4 (see story, page 1A).

Last, he encouraged the council to continue to spread the word about making pilgrimages to the designated shrines around the diocese.

A voice for life and dignity

In addition to discussions about the Year of Mercy and pastoral letter, Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, gave a presentation to the council about the overall work of the conference and, more specifically, the Catholic Advocacy Network.

The network informs Minnesota Catholics about the responsibilities of faithful citizenship while also providing them with practical tools to engage in the political process.

“When the church participates in politics, it is one of the highest forms of charity,” Adkins said.

“As the church goes forth, as Pope Francis calls us to do, we go into the community to serve, to go out to the margins,” he said. “We do all these things because we want to help our [brothers and sisters], not because they’re Catholic, but because we are. We also want to foster “encounter,” out of love, to show the face of Christ to others. Politics can be one of those ways in which we foster an encounter because we are acting out of our own charity by speaking for human dignity and the common good.”

Adkins, in conjunction with Bishop Kettler, asked DPC members to consider becoming area leaders in identifying contacts in each parish to do three things:

  • Form a phone tree in parishes or organization to spread the world about opportunities to contact legislators.
  • Organize a legislative visit with state representatives or senators with the parish or organization.
  • Hold a parish Catholic Advocacy registration drive.

On the weekend of Oct. 22-23, every parish in the Diocese of St. Cloud will hold a Life and Dignity Sunday registration drive for the Catholic Advocacy Network.

For more information, contact Chris Codden, the diocesan liaison for MCC at 320-252-4721.

Next steps

The next assignment for the DPC is to connect with parish leaders and liaisons and report back to Bishop Kettler with responses to the following question:

  • How will you be using the bishop’s pastoral letter for the Jubilee Year of Mercy in your parishes or organizations?

Additionally, the council hopes to make their presence more widely known within parishes and help others understand that they have been chosen by the bishop to serve him in examining matters relative to pastoral activity, weighing them carefully and proposing steps to be taken.
The Diocesan Pastoral Council meets again April 23 in St. Cloud.


Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.