By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Catholic and non-Catholic religious leaders reflected on aspects of Vatican Council II during an Oct. 10 vigil at St. Ambrose University to mark the 50th anniversary of the Council’s opening. Several of the speakers were young adults or teenagers when Vatican II opened; one was an infant and another was born long afterward. But each one shared how the work of the Council has impacted their lives and faith traditions.
“At a time when so much conflict in the world originates over religious differences, the Council’s vision of dialogue is so necessary,” observed Father Chuck Adam, one of the vigil’s coordinators and director of Campus Ministry for St. Ambrose. “The Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions officially condemns intolerance and calls for an acceptance of what is ‘true and holy’ in non-Christian religions. The Decree on Ecumenism calls us to confront the scandal of Christian division and recognize the diversity of gifts that make up the whole church of Christ. The power of this vision is so badly needed in our world today.”
Students, faculty and guests from inside and outside the Davenport Diocese participated in the vigil, which began with song and prayer in the university’s Christ the King Chapel. Representatives from St. Ambrose read excerpts from Pope John XXIII’s address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962. The student representatives were Kristin Upah and Mark Brauweiler. Sheila Deluhery, director of faith formation in the Campus Ministry department, and Professor Mara Adams, chair of the theology department, represented staff and faculty.
In that opening speech the Holy Father said the Second Vatican Council sought to muster the Church’s best energies and to study with earnestness how to have the message of salvation more readily welcomed by people. “By that very fact it blazes a trail that leads toward the unity of the human race, which is so necessary if this earthly realm of ours is to conform to the realm of heaven, ‘whose king is truth, whose law is love, whose duration is eternity.’”
Vigil organizers selected six religious leaders — four Catholic, one Lutheran and one Jewish — to give brief talks on the fruits of the Council. The Catholic Messenger is publishing the talks in a series beginning this week because of requests from audience members who thought the content needed to be shared with readers.
• Bishop Martin Amos, reflecting on holy orders and episcopacy
• Professor Corinne Winter of St. Ambrose’s Theology Department, reflecting on the role of laity
• Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of Liturgy and of the diaconate for the Davenport Diocese, reflecting on the renewal of the liturgy
• Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose, reflecting on the renewal of religious life
• The Rev. Richard Priggie, chaplain of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., reflecting on ecumenical dialogue
• Rabbi Tamar Grimm of Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island, reflecting on interreligious dialogue
Listening to the speakers gave Gale Francione, a second-grader when Vatican II opened, fresh perspective of the significance of the Council’s decisions. The reflections rekindled childhood memories of a Church on the verge of change, added Francione, who serves on the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.