By Barb Arland-Fye
Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics around the world to celebrate a Year of Faith which begins Oct. 11. That date commemorates two anniversaries in the Roman Catholic Church: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of promulgation of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Year of Faith will conclude Nov. 24, 2013, on the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world today — capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the ‘door of faith,’’’ Cardinal William Levada wrote in a “Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith” (Jan. 6, 2012). He is prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Clergy and lay leaders in the Davenport Diocese have been exploring ways to make the celebration particularly meaningful at the diocesan and parish level. During their May 20 meeting, members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council proposed a number of ideas for consideration:
• Evening celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation in parishes across the diocese on the opening day as a fresh start to the Year of Faith. “Pope Benedict states that evangelization begins with reconciliation,” noted Diocesan Pastoral Council member Mary Jo Dopson of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.
• An opening day videotape showing people celebrating the Opening Day of the Year of Faith.
• YouTube (website videos) featuring individual Catholics of all ages expressing their faith, along with print and online articles in The Catholic Messenger of these faces in faith.
• Inviting people who have been away from the Church to participate in activities at neutral locations, such as Theology on Tap, or Habitat for Humanity house-building projects. It’s “more of a living the faith approach,” says Father Thom Hennen, vocations director for the Davenport Diocese. “We pray what we believe; we believe what we pray; and we live what we pray and believe,” he said.
• Incorporate the Year of Faith as the theme for the annual diocesan high school and junior high school youth rallies.
• Celebrate a liturgy in each deanery during a week in September 2013. Bishop Martin Amos would preside at each one.
• Encourage participation in the live concert by David Haas which the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation has planned for Oct. 22 in Iowa City. The venue will be announced later.
• Encourage attendance at a presentation on Vatican II that David Haas will give Oct. 23 at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation. He also will talk about a new program for active and inactive Catholics called “Come to the Table.”
• Pray the Year of Faith prayer at all meetings in the diocese.
• Collaborate with St. Ambrose University in Davenport, the Newman Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and other campus ministries on activities geared toward college students.
• Provide opportunities for people in the diocese to read and study the 16 documents of Vatican II.
“Faith is strengthened when we exercise it,” Dopson said. “Faith is a verb!”
Catholics with additional suggestions for celebrating the Year of Faith are encouraged to share them with the Davenport Diocese. Contact Msg. John Hyland, vicar general for the Davenport Diocese, by email at email@example.com, or by calling (563) 324-1911.