This is the fifth in a series of articles introducing the 17 members of the Archdiocesan Synod Implementation Commission (ASIC). In addition to this group, all of whom were appointed by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and which meets quarterly, the commission includes four ex-officio members: the archbishop; Randy Nohl, archdiocesan director of synod implementation; Barbara Anne Cusack, archdiocesan chancellor; and Rich Harter, director of the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization.
Tonya Johnson has a wish for the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin.
“I hope that people get a chance to rediscover the Mass and how powerful it is,” she said. “Come to it with wonder and mystery.”
The Mass and evangelization are synod priorities parishes and clusters will be working to implement in the coming year.
Johnson, a life-long member of All Saints Parish, Milwaukee, and director of administrative services for the parish, said the vision she brings to ASIC is one of having “a more just society based on my lived experience.”
“I’m very much expecting we will do things through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, and making sure we are looking at things in Catholic Social Teaching,” she said.
Johnson said the love Jesus taught was “love in action.”
“We’ll be concerned about the needs of the poor, that the hungry are fed, that immigrants get the help they need, there’ll be opportunities for employment,” she said of that love in action.
Johnson said making the Mass a synod priority “was an awesome way to go.”
“It can deepen our spirituality throughout the archdiocese, uniting our prayers with people throughout the country and world,” she said.” “It’s a very powerful thing.”
For Johnson, evangelization will come through Catholics’ witness of the Gospel.
“We are learning that the love of Jesus Christ is not just a religion, it’s a lifestyle; it’s our Catholic identity,” she said. “When we live it, others will see it; they will see how people are living their faith.”
Randy Richard brings a rural perspective to ASIC. Raised on a farm in Kieler in the Madison Diocese, Richard spent his professional life providing service to John Deere dealers in various parts of the country before retiring in 2013.
A member of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Beaver Dam, he said the synod was “timely.”
“Our culture is crying out, looking for an identity,” he said. “It’s sad the number of people who are doing self-destructive things.”
A former member of the parish council, Richard serves on the stewardship committee, is involved in faith groups, and helped conduct pre-synod meetings at his parish.
“Parishes may find more than what they thought they were looking for; folks aren’t counting on the diocese to fulfill fundamental needs anymore,” he said of parishes undertaking synod priorities.
Richard is certain about one synod outcome.
“The synod will help folks focus to have a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.
Richard cautions those who feel implementation will occur quickly.
“The synod is going to be a journey. It’s a mistake thinking that we’re going to be waving a magic wand; it’s going to take some time,” he said.
Richard said patience will be worth it.
“Through persistence and prayer, we’re going to make the culture a better place,” he said.