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At the end of the day a consensus of satisfaction was palpable.  The richness and simplicity of each human, beautiful story was remarkable.  Each story stirred participants in totally unexpected ways, broadening knowledge, understanding and acceptance of the validity of each experience. 


Opening each table discussion was the question “what feelings stirred in you as each story was told?”   While the table conversation covered a multitude of ideas, questions, opinions and shared experiences, there were commonalities as a whole.  Those commonalities can be summarized as follows:


“I am the only one like me”.  Participants repeatedly said that they felt alone but rejoiced to find in this Lay Council that others were truly “like me”.  Even though we try to live the “Jesus way” we don’t seem to “fit” the model. 


Repeated over and over was the story of having found or having searched for a home, and Catholicism is it.  For some, this call and search to belong did not find corresponding acceptance by the Church.  On the other end of the spectrum, one convert expressed satisfaction with the catholic experience, maintains active engagement in parish youth ministry, acknowledges but will not be drawn into polarizing issues within the Church.


Clearly expressed was the need for a group, a religion, a Church context to satisfy their God-search. 

Typical of participants was commentary by one individual who summed up the majority feeling.  In paraphrase: “from a lifetime of thoughtful study, personal convictions developed that challenge creedal statements and Church authority.  Many people hope they will live long enough to see the kind of church in which Jesus would be happy”.  The remarks were nuanced to show the personal convictions in the broader context of Truth, but Truth imperfectly packaged by Church. 


Common issues of participants were:

• refusal of Eucharist to Christian non-Catholics or divorced Catholics
• words said with insensitivity by pastors
• teaching that sounds rote and patronizing
• priestly celibacy
• the Church is too slow in responding to today’s concerns
• liberal/conservative “split” is encouraged by Church policy
• lack of forums for adult conversation on alternative points of view.

One final commonality was summed up in the statement that there are too few priests and bishops to share the “spiritual treasures” of the Church, and as a consequence today’s laity are impoverished and stories abound of family members and friends who gave up on Catholicism in their faith journey.  The day’s participants are proof that many respond to God’s call to holiness and service, but not all find leadership adequate or supportive.


With prayer and singing, DFW Lay Council III concluded.


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