By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Their hearts are burning within them, some 60 Vision 20/20 mentors walking the Road to Emmaus or in this, case, the parishes of the Diocese of Davenport. Their mission is to accompany the parishes 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.
Their second diocesan gathering, held earlier this month, aimed to prepare mentors for their first visits to the parishes. Dan Ebener and Michael Havercamp of the Vision 20/20 Steering Committee led the group in a variety of activities to equip them for the journey.
“We really want to listen,” Havercamp said of the mentor’s role. Jesus modeled this in the Road to Emmaus story in Luke’s Gospel. “He walked alongside of (the two disciples) and started asking questions: ‘Hey, what’s going on, why are you so downtrodden? What’s happening?’”
In addition, “Your spiritual life is vitally important …. You are bringing in with you a sense of joy and anticipation.… These are your brothers and sisters whom you care enough about to spend time with,” he said, referring to parish evangelization teams.
This renewed focus on evangelization comes in response to the many ways in which the church is being challenged, he said. “Culture itself is driving us, the individualization, secularization, technology, all of these things are driving us to change. We cannot continue to do the same things in the same mode.”
Mentors are not supposed to be “the answer person. You have experience. People feel you are relational, that you have the ability to engage people where they are at, ask good questions, listen well, and respond appropriately. And you have a commitment to the Catholic faith.”
The disciples spent time with Jesus, getting to know the Master. Then he sent them out two by two, without him, the model being followed in the Vision 20/20 mentor initiative. The Feb. 8 gathering provided some guidance.
During the “Humble Inquiry” exercise, Ebener listened to mentor John Cooper, who serves as pastoral associate and business manager at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, talk about his parish’s ministries to people living on the margins of society. “We’ve made a decision to participate in messy ministry,” Cooper said and then launched into an explanation of what that entails. Ebener listened intently, maintained eye contact, occasionally summarized what Cooper said to confirm the message and asked questions that caused Cooper to reflect deeper. “A humble conversation is getting lost (or absorbed) in another person’s story,” Ebener said.
The mentors will continue to come together as a team regularly for prayer, ongoing formation and discussion of parish needs and progress.
A diocesan-wide celebration of the parishes’ evangelization initiatives will take place June 14 at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. Mass will begin the event at 2 p.m. Mike Patin, one of three keynote speakers who energized the Vision 20/20 Convocation, will return to inspire people at the celebration. Witness talks, eucharistic adoration and dinner will follow. All are welcome on this continuing journey to fill every heart and life with the Joy of the Gospel.