Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

May 10, 2015

Reflecting on our Ministry

When I read Archbishop Cupich’s latest column, I was struck by the connection between honoring jubilarian priests and Catholic school teachers. Archbishop Cupich was at Mundelein Seminary celebrating the work of priests who had served 25 and 50 years as priests. I encourage you to read his column/homily:

He makes an argument that these priests have had to turn a deficit mindset (based on a limited resources) into a creative mindset founded on the idea that resources can be found.

“Where can we find enough food to give them something to eat?”

That is the question of Jesus. That is a question that our jubilarians, whom we celebrate today, have faced throughout these 50 and 25 years of their ministry. Over their years of service they have had to respond to an ever-changing landscape. Pastoral practices, which once nourished the people, in time became unsatisfying and unnourishing. Resources, once counted on as reliable, diminished… So much of what they depended on before has been uprooted. And yet, through their nimbleness and flexibility, their creativity and their imagination, they have fed the people of God. They have found ways to bring nourishment in changing times, with different resources, by going deeper into the storehouse of our tradition and the Word of God, as the Second Vatican Council has invited us all to do.

Today, Gamaliel provides an insight into how the church from her earliest days drew from the wisdom of the Jewish tradition to respond to new questions, new situations, new developments… And so Gamaliel tells his colleagues in the Sanhedrin to make prudent decisions, wise decisions, based not on what they are observing in terms of the crowds’ expectations or reactions, nor based on how they feel at that particular moment — their anger, their disappointments, their fears — but rather to ask the question: “Where is God working in all of this? Where is God moving us now?”

That is the approach that our jubilarians have taken in their ministry, not looking at how to please people in a particular age, nor avoiding the tough and unsettling questions of the day, nor even collapsing in self-pity in the face of the new and surprising demands. Rather, they have been strong, loving and wise in asking the question: “Where is the Lord now leading us? Where is he leading us to find food to feed the people?”

Cupich goes on to claim that ministry (read—teaching) involves three realities:

1. Respect for all who come to you. “The Holy Spirit was there before you,” said Pope Francis to missionaries. The Holy Spirit is working in the lives of all of our students and need to respect their realities. Also, Cupich points out that if we see our work as only our own and not dependent on others, it will fail.

2. Collaboration is essential because true ministry represents the involvement of many people.

3. We need to use hope as a basis for measuring our success. Are we creating hope through our work?

As we wrap the school year, those three questions can help us reflect on our successes and failures this year.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena)

Tuesday: office (morning); Browning (afternoon)

Wednesday: Browning (morning); Missoula (afternoon)

Thursday: Missoula meetings

Friday: office (Helena)

This week: 603 miles

Last week: 2,108 miles

2014-15: 45,360 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

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