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This Time Around PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 27 September 2007 05:51
I am going to be in Detroit on October 24 to appear on Ralph Martin's The Choices We Face and to speak at a graduate course in the New Evangelization.

The thing that has intrigued me is how Ralph Martin responded when I asked him the other day exactly what he wanted me to talk about. I presumed that it would be about the significance of charisms in the new evangelization.

To my surprise, he said "Tell us about the Institute and its work. Talk about what you've seen in the church as you travel. Talk about collaboration between the clergy and the laity, about evangelization, about charisms. Share from your heart. The whole class is yours."

I'm still startled two days later. No one ever asks me to just talk. About anything that I think is important. Like the humbler class of professional speakers everywhere, I'm always having to work inside parameters established by the sponsoring organization in light of their priorities (which is perfectly appropriate). You know, 45 minutes on charisms or a day on discernment. And I've got loads of pre-packaged talks for those sort of invitations.

But not this. And never has anyone asked me to speak from my heart. In the circles I run in, few Catholics ever talk about your heart - they definitely want your head.

The last time I had a chance to do something similar was 12 years ago before the Institute was a twinkle in anybody's eye. It was to the Dominican pastors of the Western Province. I had never seen that many priests before (I don't know if I believed that priests were entirely human at that point) and my knees literally buckled as I walked up the podium - which Fr. Michael Sweeney found highly amusing. (I remember fiercely muttering "you can faint when you are done, but not now!")

I had no credentials, was unknown outside my parish of Blessed Sacrament and Fr. Michael Sweeney, who had asked me to do this, had never heard me speak. As far as I knew, this was the only chance I'd ever have to do what many lay Catholics dream of: give a group of priests a piece of my mind.

My topic? The Strategic Role of Lay Catholics in the Dominican Mission. The impact of that talk helped birth the Institute.

And now I get to do it again. Dizzying. I'm really gonna have to pray about this one. If I could say anything to an international group of Catholic leaders, mostly clergy, what would I say? I hope and presume that I'm past the knee-buckling stage.

Because this time around, they know where to find me.

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