Participant reaction to what they heard at “Return to the Upper Room” was positive.
Ivan Hernandez, a member of St. Patrick Parish, Racine, said he “felt the call to the ‘Upper Room.'”
Archbishop: ‘Fulfill dreams for stronger, more responsive church’
“I feel that call is important in this moment for all the community of the archdiocese,” Hernandez said through his daughter, Palama, who translated from Spanish to English.
In addition to continuing to serve as a catechist in his parish, Hernandez plans to evangelize.
“I will follow the example of St. Francis (of Assisi), who said, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.'”
Macarena Correa, a member of St. Monica Parish, Whitefish Bay, called the “Upper Room” event and what ASIC is planning for the first year “exciting.”
“There’s a lot of potential in Milwaukee and a lot of hunger, she said, noting she saw it firsthand through her involvement in young adult ministry. “Last summer we had a hundred people come out to one of our Theology on Tap events. You see the hunger there.”
A daily Mass attendee, Correa believes that the church will be able to evangelize young adults and bring them to Mass.
“People are looking for it,” she said.
The emphasis on evangelization was welcomed by Sallyanne Hassert, coordinator of the evangelization team at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee.
Noting that 40 people, spanning “young adults to our mature disciples,” participated in watching Fr. Robert Barron’s evangelization series at the cathedral during Lent, Hassert said it made an impact.
“Now I understand what the New Evangelization is,” she said. “Now I’m not afraid. Now I understand what I’m called to do.”
Hassert credited faith sharing in small groups with the increase in confidence among participants.
“We’re seeing a good number of the 40 stepping forward to volunteer in liturgical ministries and for pastoral council,” she said. “They’d never come forward before.”
Hassert said when the cathedral evangelization team started as a task force nearly three years ago, it did what ASIC is instructing.
“Our very first talk was evangelizing ourselves and then the parish. Teach people what the Good News is and how to present it,” she said. “We’re really more confident now.”
Hassert added, “In the work of evangelization, we’re starting to show, with good planning and good materials, some very, very good things can happen in parishes.”
Tony Montemurro, a member of St. Mary Parish, Kenosha, said having people from all over the archdiocese at the Upper Room was “terrific.”
“It inspires you, puts you in the mood to do things,” he said.
A delegate to the synod, Montemurro said post-synod activity in his parish had been “slow moving until three months ago,” but that things have “kicked into high gear.”
“Things are starting to move,” he said, noting one of the focuses has been on parishes working as a cluster.
A member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC), Montemurro cited one reason why he is confident implementation of the synod initiatives will occur.
“Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know (Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki) and he’s not going to let the binder get on the shelf and get dusty,” Montemurro said, paraphrasing part of the archbishop’s “Upper Room” presentation. “And I think that’s wonderful.”
He is hopeful, based upon what he has seen and heard of the archbishop at the APC meetings.
“I see how he thinks, and I see his enthusiasm; I would be absolutely stunned if this hit the wall and stopped the motion,” Montemurro said. “He’s inspiring us and he’s pushing us.”