Crazy in love with the church with a love that was contagious was the way Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki described the two-day 2014 Archdiocesan Synod, held June 7-8 at the Cousins Center.
After months of preparation, the synod brought more than 500 Catholics together to chart the future of the local church.
The synod was actually just the beginning, according to the archbishop who in the months that have followed has issued his Archdiocesan Synodal Declaration — a response to and acceptance of recommendations made by the Archdiocesan Synod. Implementation is underway.
The year also saw the continuation of court proceedings in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy suit filed four years ago.
At the state level, same-sex marriage became legal in Wisconsin, and the Ebola epidemic that began in West African countries had Catholic hospitals ensuring health care workers are prepared for any local cases.
Nationally, the number of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy declined in 2013 while diocesan spending on child protection programs increased, and Hispanics approached majority in the U.S. church, as 55 percent of all U.S. Catholics under age 30 are Hispanic.
On the international front, Pope Francis celebrated his first anniversary as the 265th successor of Peter March 13 and the church gained two new saints April 27 when he canonized Blesseds John Paul XXIII and John Paul II – priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century.
Following is a month-by-month look at the major stories of the year, as reported by the Catholic Herald.
-More than 39,700 people viewed the first Midnight Mass telecast from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in 18 years, according to ratings provided by Channel 12.
-St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care in St. Francis celebrated 30 years, and put plans in place to construct a 72,000-square-foot center on the north side of Milwaukee. Groundbreaking took place on Nov. 18 with a campaign goal of around $20 million.
-The Marquette University High School community mourned the loss of Andrew Boldt, a 2010 MUHS graduate and Purdue University engineering student shot and killed on the Purdue campus Jan. 21, and Greg Von Rueden, an MUHS sophomore who battled bone cancer for nearly 19 months who died Jan. 22.
-Shepherd of the Hills School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Eden, completed a 3,000-square-foot expansion project to accommodate its growing enrollment.
-Catholic school enrollment in the archdiocese is on the rise for the second year in the past three years.
-Abune Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, Bishop of the Segeneiti Diocese, Eritrea, Africa, celebrated Mass with the Milwaukee Ge’ez Rite community on Feb. 8 at All Saints Catholic Church, Milwaukee. Archbishop Listecki gave the Eritrean Catholics permission to organize in Milwaukee in 2012.
-Attorneys for the Milwaukee Archdiocese filed the archdiocese’s Plan of Reorganization and the disclosure statement Feb. 12, with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Wisconsin. Among other items, the 337-page document detailed how the archdiocese would settle claims of creditors and continue the work of the church in southeastern Wisconsin.
-Beaver Dam Catholics at St. Katharine Drexel Parish lead an effort to establish an emergency shelter for single, homeless men, and give direction to long-term housing and other life resources.
-Firefighters from 41 agencies in Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Winnebago and Calumet counties responded to a fire that destroyed the two oldest buildings on the St. Lawrence Seminary High School Campus in Mount Calvary March 8. No one was injured in the blaze that leveled the seminary’s original chapel and the adjoining St. Joseph Hall, built in 1873, taking with it the school’s band and choir departments, and personal items. A 15-year-old student from Wisconsin was charged March 21 in juvenile court with breaking into and taking an undisclosed amount of money from St. Joseph Hall.
-Frs. John Endejan and R. Michael Grellinger, known as the faces of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for their roles as director and associate director in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively, died within a week of each other in January.
-St. Joseph Academy, formerly known as The Child Development Center of St. Joseph, the only elementary school in North America sponsored by the Felician Sisters, plans to construct a $4 million, 28,000-square foot addition to accommodate its needs.
-Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, kicked off its Building on Our Faith project, a $19.5 million campaign featuring facility upgrades, including a 32,000 square-foot gymnasium and expanded fitness facilities, chapel, classrooms and campus ministry. The May 1 groundbreaking launched about 15 months of construction.
-Michael R. Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and member of Holy Family Parish, Whitefish Bay, was unanimously selected as the 24th and first lay president of Marquette University, succeeding interim president Jesuit Fr. Robert A Wild, Aug. 1. Lovell announced the hiring of Steve Wojciechowski, associate head coach at Duke University, as the 17th head coach of the men’s basketball team, April 1.
-Capuchin Br. Bob Smith, retired principal and president of Messmer Schools for 26 years before resigning in 2012, was recognized for his contributions to Catholic education in the Milwaukee Archdiocese by the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver.
-Blessed Savior Parish, Milwaukee, received the national St. Katharine Drexel Evangelization Award 2013 from the Black and Indian Mission Office March 1 for its outreach to and ministry with the African-American and Native American people and organizations that support them.
-St. Sebastian Parish, Sturtevant, welcomed, since December, the Maronite Catholic Community, which celebrates Mass in English, Arabic and Aramaic, and hopes to build its own parish in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
-St. Florian School, West Milwaukee, which last operated as an elementary school in 2004, will be the home of Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee High School, beginning with the fall semester of 2015. The high school is part of the Cristo Rey Network, comprised of 28 schools in the U.S. providing Catholic, college preparatory education to students in urban communities with limited educational options.
-The Tyme Out Youth Ministry and Retreat Center, founded in 1980 by two School Sisters of Notre Dame, is renamed Inspirio Youth Ministries Inc. to complement the organization’s expanded ministries.
-Six men, ages 26 to 39, were ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee May 17 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee.
-School Sister of Notre Dame Ellen Lorenz, former president, dean and faculty member of Mount Mary University, received the university’s first honorary degree for her 45 years of contribution.
-St. Patrick Parish, Elkhorn, broke ground on a $3.6 million two-story addition and renovation project.
–The two-day Archdiocesan Synod was held at the Cousins Center June 7 and 8, involving 460 delegates, 28 youth representatives, 10 observers from other religious denominations and 48 small group facilitators who discussed plans for the next 10-15 years for the church in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. It was the first synod since 1987.
-Bishop Richard J. Sklba ordained five men, ages 33 to 50, to the Society of Jesus, at the Church of the Gesu, June 7.
-Archbishop Listecki collected 180 bikes and bike parts and tools, and $1,800 in donations for St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Southside Bicycle Co-op.
-The Milwaukee Archdiocese faced a setback in the Chapter 11 reorganization when Judge Susan V. Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted a motion, made by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors representing victims of sexual abuse by clergy, that challenged the court’s “subject matter jurisdiction” in approving the archdiocese’s plan for Chapter 11 reorganization while an appeal was pending.
-The Hispanic Ministry Office of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee held its first vocational retreat for 500 Hispanic youth at the Cousins Center June 13.
-Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland said he will remain in Milwaukee after plans to return to St. Vincent Archabbey, a community of Benedictine monks in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Sept. 1, fell through a second time because the archabbot needed to work out a situation involving another monk.
-Dan Miller, local pro-life advocate and leader of 40 Days for Life, a campaign to end abortion, lost in court July 17 after attempting to appeal an injunction for harassment made against him by a volunteer escort for Affiliated Medical Services last year; a restraining order is in place until 2018.
-The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked Catholic Charities USA for help with what has been termed a humanitarian crisis – the more than 57,000 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from, primarily Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that have flooded the U.S.-Mexico border since the start of the new fiscal year, Oct. 1, hoping to unite with family or seek refuge from poverty and violence in their homelands. Catholic Charities Milwaukee was asked to identify three potential sites where children could stay until being adequately processed and to pre-position staff to assist at one of the sites if called upon.
-Judge Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled July 30 that the $1.35 million the archdiocese has on hand be divided proportionally among professionals, including attorneys, who have unpaid approved fees pending. Victims’ attorneys had billed the archdiocese in excess of $6.447 million, and asked for interim payment in court last month. As of July 31, the amount of fees filed in the Chapter 11 proceedings are $15.1 million; $8.9 million of that has been paid.
-A $6.4 million renovation project began June 28 at St. Anthony on the Lake Parish, Pewaukee, which will include the addition of a parish life center, parish activity center and gymnasium, and upgrades to the school that should be completed by August 2015.
-Notre Dame Schools, Milwaukee, a Catholic co-educational, dual-language immersion primary school and fifth-through eighth-grade all-girls college preparatory school, announced June 5 that it purchased the former Grace Hmong Alliance Church on South Layton Boulevard for the expansion of its primary school.
-The Center for Working Families in Quito, Ecuador, Pat and Jim Parks “family business,” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Working Boys’ Center Aug. 8-10 with a reunion at Marquette University.
-Judge Kelley agreed to another attempt at mediation in the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 reorganization, scheduled for Sept. 8-9.
-The first phase of Alverno College’s $30 million construction and renovation project that began last spring to renovate the library and classrooms, build a larger commons area, new nursing simulation room and coffee house is well underway.
-St. Lawrence Seminary High School, Mount Calvary, celebrated enrollment growth and rejuvenated dorm facilities following the March 8 fire. School officials are making plans to rebuild St. Joseph Hall and the school’s chapel.
-Archbishop Listecki ordained seven men to the diaconate Sept. 6.
-The Wisconsin Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s Catholic bishops, issued a statement Aug. 26 reaffirming its support for Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and for the voters who approved it, as the seventh circuit court hears a lawsuit on the legality of the state amendment.
-More than 900 people attended a prayer vigil at Gesu Church on Marquette University’s campus, Aug. 26, in memory of MU graduate James Foley, who was kidnapped while reporting on the war in Syria in November 2012 and executed Aug. 19 by the Islamic State.
-Salvatorian Fr. David J. Bergner resigned from his position as executive director of Catholic Charities, which he held for two years, to focus on his priestly ministry. His last day was Aug. 29.
-Two days of mediation in St. Paul, Minnesota, between attorneys for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and attorneys and representatives from the Milwaukee Archdiocese resulted in an agreement from both sides to continue meeting, set to resume Sept. 22. The September meeting failed to produce a settlement.
-Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary Lucia Pulici, 75, Olga Raschietti, 82, and Bernadetta Boggian, 79, were murdered in separate attacks Sept. 7 and 8 at their residence in Burundi, where they helped the sick and poor for the past seven years. Xaverian Fr. Mark Marangone, an administrator of the community in Franklin, spent time with Sr. Lucia in Italy.
-Archbishop Listecki signed his Archdiocesan Synodal Decree – a response to and acceptance of recommendations made by the Archdiocesan Synod June 6-8 – during Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee, Sept. 14.
-St. Francis Borgia Parish, Cedarburg, broke ground Aug. 10 on an education and activity center exceeding 60,000 square feet, which will replace the parish’s 63-year-old grade school building at N43 W6005 Hamilton Road.
-Heather Weininger, 37, a member of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, assumed retiring Barbara Lyons’ position as executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, July 1; Lyons became involved in the pro-life movement 40 years ago.
-At a Mass and dinner, Project Rachel marked 30 years of offering hope and healing through post-abortion counseling.
-The Schoenstatt Movement celebrated its 100th anniversary with worldwide festivities in Schoenstatt, Germany, and in Rome with Pope Francis. Members, including a delegation of about 40 from Milwaukee, would gather Oct. 23-26 in Rome and meet with Pope Francis, including Kayla Doll, 14, a member of Shepherd of the Hills Parish, Eden, randomly selected to present a crown to the pope.
-More than 9,000 supporters of Catholic schools participated in the second annual Catholic Schools Walk at Mount Mary University, Oct. 25. As of Oct. 28th, it had raised more than $336,000.
-The Archdiocese of Milwaukee requested that Hubertus House of Horror, a fundraiser for St. Gabriel School, Hubertus, for 31 years, close its doors after this year because of depictions of “evil violence and hyper-sexuality.”
-Judge Kelley ruled Oct. 22 that the archdiocese can throw out 11 sex abuse claims in its ongoing bankruptcy case that fell into three categories, including claims with court orders dismissing their claims with prejudice and claims against non-debtor persons, members of a religious order or individuals not employed by the archdiocese.
-More than 700 young adults from around the Midwest gathered at the Cousins Center Nov. 8 for the Encounter Steubenville Young Adult Conference, the first event of its kind in Milwaukee and only second in the country.
-The U.S. Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision by Judge Rudolph T. Randa in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Nov. 5 in which he ruled that those who had reached a settlement were not entitled to another one.
-Attorneys will meet in Judge Kelley’s court Feb. 10, 2015, for a hearing on the approval of the archdiocese’s settlement with insurance companies.
-On Nov. 24, Pope Francis named Bishop Donald J. Hying as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. His installation took place Jan. 6, 2015.
-Cristo Rey Parish, Racine, merged with St. Patrick Parish, Racine. A closing Mass was celebrated Nov. 23, and about 400 parishioners processed from Cristo Rey Church to St. Patrick Nov. 30, where Archbishop Listecki celebrated the inaugural Mass.
-Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Wisconsin native and contributor to the Synod of Bishops held at the Vatican in October, decried “spiritual seasickness” in culture during his keynote address to about 300 people at Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee for the Trinity Academy fundraiser, a K4-12 independent Catholic school stresses tradition in academics and the church.
-Attorneys for the archdiocese filed a motion Dec. 17 in bankruptcy court asking for Judge Kelley’s approval of settlement agreements and policy buy-back agreements, totaling $10.3 million, as part of the Chapter 11 reorganization.