June event to be held at a later date
By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
“We thank you God for being so close to us when we are so unsure,” Michael Havercamp prayed at the start of the Vision 20/20 Steering Committee meeting on March 19. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed “life as we know it,” Havercamp, the steering committee’s co-chair, acknowledged. So, his prayer and the meeting focused on the pandemic and how to reach out and accompany people on this rocky journey.
As steering committee members and directors of diocesan offices brainstormed about ways to support people during this crisis, they chose to shift from planning a Vision 20/20 celebration in June to concentrating on outreach.
Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of the Office of Liturgy who previously worked as a medical doctor, emphasized the importance of a shift in focus. Mitigating the spread of the coronavirus means serving the common good. “This is about trying to keep our entire health system from being overrun,” he said. That approach requires limiting physical interaction between large groups of people for an extended period of time to prevent the infection from spiking. As a result, fewer people would become seriously ill but planning for an endpoint becomes difficult. “It will impact our ability to gather for a longer period of time,” Deacon Agnoli said.
“Vision 20/20 is retooled,” said Kent Ferris, diocesan director of the Office of Social Action and Catholic Charities. “We need all hands on deck,” to deal with the immediate needs of people who struggle with the crisis physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Essential to that effort are approximately 60 Vision 20/20 mentors. Their mission is to accompany the parishes of the Diocese of Davenport to which they have been assigned on a journey to fill every heart and life with the Joy of the Gospel through a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ and his church. The mentors were just beginning to get together with the evangelization teams of their parishes before the coronavirus transformed into a pandemic. Mentors will continue their training and spiritual enrichment as a group in a virtual meeting (online) April 4. Steering committee members and diocesan directors also gathered in a virtual meeting.
After considerable discussion, they agreed to focus on immediate outreach and set aside planning for a celebration to a later date. Bishop Thomas Zinkula said he spoke with someone earlier in the morning who told him that it is a good thing that we have Vision 20/20 in place. “We need it more than ever. We need to adapt it,” the bishop said. “Drawing people closer to Christ, and saving lives in the process.”
“Right now, it’s important that we focus on immediate needs,” said Father Tony Herold, the diocese’s vicar general and pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.
Steering committee member Francesca To stressed the need to remind people of the mentor network and that “we’re here to help and we’re here to connect people during this difficult time.”
“This is our time to be the body of Christ,” Havercamp said. “It’s hard to change how we do things, but we’re showing in this crisis that we can adapt.” Steering committee member Father Bill Reynolds, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, described the crisis as an early and prolonged Good Friday.
“It’s fortuitous that this meeting was scheduled today,” Bishop Zinkula said. “To brainstorm and to share ideas is a good thing … we’re all in this together. How can we work together, supporting one another?”