By Joe Ruff of The Catholic Spirit
With Bishop Robert Barron emphasizing the faith-filled influence of the laity, more than 1,200 people gathered at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis April 27 to celebrate 30 years of the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota’s stewardship and grantmaking for Catholic efforts across the state.
Relying on generous donors, including many lay women and men, and meeting their wishes to help endeavors of the Catholic Church, the foundation since its inception in 1992 has granted more than $240 million to parishes, schools and other ministries. It now stewards more than 1,200 charitable funds totaling $530 million and grants roughly $18 million annually.
In his keynote speech, Bishop Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, noted that Vatican II was largely a missionary council that stressed the influence of lay men and women in all manner of employment and skills supporting and spreading the faith.
“It seems to me it’s one of the great, frankly, unrealized dreams of Vatican II,” Bishop Barron said. “This is the universal call to holiness. What it looks like is the laity going out into the world as great Catholic lawyers, and great Catholic politicians, and great Catholic business leaders and great Catholic educators and great Catholic writers and parents, so as to ‘Christify’ the world.
“So, taught and sanctified by the clergy, it’s the laity’s great privilege and prerogative and duty and responsibility to bring (that) into your arenas of expertise,” the bishop said. “You’re the ones who know the areas of law and finance and government and business and education. You know it in a way that we clergy don’t.”
CCF President Anne Cullen Miller thanked everyone for their support, noting that generous donors help the foundation assist the Church. The gathering included lay people and priests, as well as Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Williams and Michael Izen of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun of St. Maron in Minneapolis, and bishops and retired bishops from Duluth, New Ulm, St. Cloud and Dubuque, Iowa.
Kelly Wahlquist, director of The St. Paul Seminary’s Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute in St. Paul and founder of WINE, Women in the New Evangelization, emceed the event, at one point calling to the stage Father Michael Schmitz, director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Father Schmitz, who created widely known podcasts “The Bible in a Year” and “The Catechism in a Year,” took on a challenge: to explain the seven cardinal and theological virtues in eight minutes. Sitting with Wahlquist, he did it, both seriously and lightheartedly, and talking very fast.
Summarizing the evening, which was titled Come to the Table, Celebrate the Joy and Power of Giving, Archbishop Hebda compared the speakers and the depth of sharing to a fine, several-course meal.
“And for that, my brothers and sisters, we have to be eternally grateful,” the archbishop said, as he closed the evening with a prayer.