By Bishop Thomas Zinkula
A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Summer Forum Series at COR (Come, Observe, Reconnect) in Waterloo. I was asked to present on the topic “Causes of the Church’s Abuse Crisis and What We Can Do About It.” A couple of other topics in the series are “Pope Francis and the Call to Holiness,” “What You Need to Know to Read and Understand the Gospels,” and “The State of American Politics: Question and Answer Forum.”
In this column I will share a little information about COR, since it is an example of the out-of-box thinking that Vision 20/20 hopefully is inspiring.
COR is sponsored by the four Catholic parishes in Waterloo under the auspices of Waterloo Faith Formation. “Cor” is the Latin word for “heart.” This Catholic hospitality center was named COR because it is located in the heart of the city and its sponsors want to touch people’s hearts.
COR is envisioned as a vibrant event venue in the commercial and entertainment district of downtown Waterloo. The mission of COR is to bring the Church and the broader community in closer contact with each other.
It is inspired by the words of Pope Francis: “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes when so many people are waiting for the Gospel…. Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away…. Go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets.”
The broader community is invited to use the space as a venue for events such as art shows, music concerts, poetry readings, fundraisers and meetings, as long as the event doesn’t conflict with the teachings of the Church.
COR also offers opportunities for the local community to engage with the Catholic faith community through various faith formation opportunities designed for individuals who are not currently connected with a faith community due to broken trust, hurtful experiences, skepticism, apathy or indifference. The hope is to create a place where people can share their unique story, discuss their questions and concerns, and accompany one another on life’s journey.
COR may be the only free-standing Catholic hospitality center of its kind in the country. Some parishes and student centers have coffee houses and hospitality centers, but they are located on parish grounds. COR wants to be accessible to people who feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, entering a Catholic institution.
At the end of my presentation, audience members shared their heartfelt thoughts and concerns with me. They were appreciative that COR provided a topic and a space in which they felt free to express themselves.