Chicagoland

Renew My Church summit encourages leaders to make new disciples of Jesus

By Joyce Duriga | Editor and Karen Callaway | Photo editor
October 11, 2018

Parish leaders gather for Renew My Church Summit

More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathers Oct. 1-2, 2018, for the first Renew My Church Summit at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Leaders from parishes that have completed the restructuring phase of Renew My Church had an additional session on Oct. 3.
Participants stand in front of an artist's rendering of themes from the Renew My Church summit. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 2. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich addresses more than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the Renew My Church Summit on on Oct. 1. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Neil Fackler, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, takes notes at the Renew My Church Summit at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont on Oct. 1. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered for the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father James Mallon of Divine Renovation Ministries gave the opening talk to more than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the Renew My Church Summit Oct. 1. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Sister Katia Alcantar, principal of Immaculate Conception School, 8729 S. Exchange Ave., shares a laugh during the opening plenary session of the Renew My Church Summit with other members of the parish. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont on Oct.1 for the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 2. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Auxiliary bishops, priests and lay leaders extend their hands to each others' shoulders as they all lay hands over Cardinal Cupich in prayer. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered for the Renew My Church Summit at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont on Oct. 1. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Barb Marszewski-Slipek and Father Tom May, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Riverside, chat during a break at the Renew My Church Summit. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont on Oct. 1. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich bows his head in prayer during Mass at the Renew My Church Summit Oct. 1. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the event in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Marieth Quientero of St. Jerome Parish leads the congregation as a cantor during Mass Oct. 1. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich celebrates Mass with Father James Mallon and the Chicago auxiliary bishops Oct. 1 at the Renew My Church Summit. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders attended the event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Auxiliary Bishop Ron Hicks, vicar general, distributes Communiuon during Mass on Oct. 1. Over 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Jason Malave, the cardinal's delegate for Renew My Church, addresses more than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered Oct. 2 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Panelists Kurt Klement and Father Henry Petter from St. Ann Parish in Coppell, Texas, Deacon Doug Wells from the Diocese of Joliet, and Susan Smerz from St Patrick Parish in Yorkville, Ill., address participants for the Renew My Church Summit during a panel discussion Oct. 1. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Milton Wright from St. Walter Parish laughs during a presentation. Over 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 2. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Roberta Becket, Kathy Smigiel and Chris Avell from St James Parish, Arlington Heights, chat after prayer. They were among more than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Oct. 2 for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father James Mallon prays with the congregation of more than 2,000 parish and school leaders who gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Oct. 2 for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Toni Noti and Maureen Roberts from St. Domitilla Parish, Hillside, lift their hands in prayer on Oct. 2. They were among more than 2,000 parish and school leaders who gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that day for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Graziano Marcheschi raises his hand in prayer during the second day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 2. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Miguel Martinez and Vincio Jimenez pray over Rafael Romani from Santa Maria del Poplo Parish, Mundelein, on Oct. 2. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that day for the second day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Parish leaders from St. Mary in Lake Forest pray during the second day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 2. at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. More than 2,000 parish and school leaders participated. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Parish leaders gather at their table Oct. 3 to discuss evangelization. Parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that day for the third day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Tina Johnson from the newly-formed St. Katherine Drexel Parish joins other parish leaders Oct. 3 to discuss evangelization. Parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that day for the third day of the Renew My Church Summit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Leaders from St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish and achool talk during day three of the summit, which was for parishes that have completed the reorganization phase of Renew My Church. Parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the third day of the Renew My Church Summit on Oct. 3. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Dominican Father Raymond Brice and Donna Graves from St. Paul Parish in Pilsen speak on Oct. 3. Parish and school leaders gathered at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the third day of the Renew My Church Summit that day. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

More than 2,000 parish and school leaders from the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered for the first Renew My Church summit Oct. 1 and 2 at the Rosemont Convention Center. The goal was to inspire Catholics to go out and make new disciples for Jesus Christ and move parishes “from maintenance to mission.”

The two-day event — with a third day for parishes that have already been through the restructuring phases of Renew My Church — featured Father James Mallon, author of the book “Divine Renovation: Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission” (Twenty-Third Publications, 2014) and leader of Divine Renovation Ministries, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Divine Renovation’s goal is “to inspire and equip 35,000 parishes to become missional, and through them to bring 2 million people to Jesus every year within 10 years.”

The archdiocese has partnered with Divine Renovation for coaching and guidance for parish communities during the evangelization phase of Renew My Church.

Addressing the gathering at the start of the event, Cardinal Cupich said this is a time for leaders in parishes to “imagine what it means for you to find your place in the church.”

“I look at this as a moment of grace to remind us what we are about as church,” he said. “We’re doing this for the next generation of Catholics.”
Catholics in America traditionally have not gone out and evangelized but relied on ethnic and family traditions to keep people in the pews. That doesn’t work anymore, Mallon told the gathering. 

“We as a church are called to engage the world. We’ve got to go to the culture,” he said. 

This means changing parish cultures to focus less on programs and more on the mission of the church to bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ, he said. It requires parish teams to lead differently and put mission before busy-ness and people before tasks. 

During sessions, Divine Renovation staff offered some examples of how to do that. After parishes go through the restructuring phase of Renew My Church, they will be matched with Divine Renovation coaches to help guide them through the process. 

It all starts with trust in the Holy Spirit, Mallon said during one session.

“Unless the church is constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit we will always return to the Upper Room,” he said. “We need to call on the Holy Spirit again and again.”

While it will be many months before all parishes go through the process, the archdiocese is asking parishes to start working on evangelization efforts by sending leaders to evangelization days and to training events. 

It all sounds good to Mariagnes Menden, principal of St. Nicholas of Tolentine School.

“I have a lot of excitement and a lot of joy for this entire process,” said Menden. “I’ve seen the hope that’s there, that the Holy Spirit is doing something very special, very powerful within our archdiocese.”

It will take work, though.

“It’s going to be a journey but I think that we’re ready for this now and it’s on fertile ground,” she said.

Martha Galvam agreed.

“We need to make disciples. This is the way to do it,” said the St. Nicholas of Tolentine parishioner. “Making disciples is urgently needed in our time.”

Archdiocesan staff from the Office for Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship will accompany parishes through each step and know one size doesn’t fit all.

“Every parish is distinct. It has its own communities, its own charisms, its own spirituality,” said Elizabeth White, the office’s director. 

Renewal programs the archdiocese has implemented in the past had formal steps parishes had to follow, but this doesn’t. 

“It’s coaching you and helping guide you to use your gifts and strengths where you’re starting from,” White said. “It’s all about who you are and what you have to offer and helping you become the best version of yourself.”

It’s also helping parishes look at their internal cultures to make sure they are focused on the mission of the church, she said.

“I hope people got a sense of hope, that these last months in the church have been pretty dark but they see that there’s a lot of light. There’s a lot of faithful people at their side who really love Jesus Christ and this church of his and that they’re very committed to spend the time and effort to figure out how to bring their faith to generations to come,” she said. “I think that’s incredibly hopeful.”

Topics:

  • renew my church
  • parishes

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