Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012 East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012 West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012

Who Are We as Church Leaders

The New Testament attests to the sacramental leadership of bishops, priests, and deacons. There is no clearly defined “organizational chart” for the Church, but we do see three structural offices which have come down to us in the mystery of the priesthood:
  1. “Elder” (presbyter) was the most general designation, functioning first of all as the ruling council of the local congregation. Later some presbyters would be sent out to oversee rural congregations.
  2. “Bishop” was an overseer, one of the presbyters who was given general responsibilities for the church in a particular city. At first this was probably only one main congregation with perhaps one or two satellites.
  3. “Deacon” means servant or minister and deacons dealt with temporalities and service.
But with these three offices it was necessary to have a congregation. All three offices came from the Laos or laos tou theou – the people of God. From laos we get the word laity. Without them the ministerial offices had no function. The body of the faithful – the laity, being baptized in Christ and chrismated or anointed in the Spirit become part and parcel of the priesthood – the royal priesthood of Christ. We put on Christ and are sent to be another Christ, called to evangelize and live the Gospel. Hand in hand the ministerial priesthood, deacon, priest and bishop , and the royal priesthood – the laity – work to build the Body of Christ, the Church. St Paul presents in imagery a special approach to leadership. In 1 Corinthians 3:10 “Thanks to the favor God showed me. I laid a foundation as a wise master-builder might do, and now someone else is building upon it. Everyone, however, must be careful how he builds.” He presents the builder analogy. The Greek word he uses is architecton from which we get the word architect. Tecton means carpenter. Archi means head – the “headbuilder” is the designer or architect. From this analogy we can see three types of builders/leaders: architect, contractor and carpenter or craftsman. The builder theme for Paul is basic. He uses the Greek word Oikodomeo – easily understood as a house and fellowship group – a “home.” When Paul talks about building, we hear it as “building fellowship.” Fellowship means community which is much more than superficial interaction. The architect draws up the plan, focusing on a foundation and a sturdy design. In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul sees the community as “fellow citizens, with the saints and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together as a community to become a dwelling place in which God lives by his Spirit.” In Ephesians 4:12, he says “to prepare saints for works of service, for building up of the Body of Christ.” Paul acted as a contractor: he sorted out and prioritized contributions (1 Corinthians 8:1, 14:22-26) He recognized the diversity of gifts; (1 Corinthians 12:4-12) “There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord, there different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. “The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ. ... Now the body is not one member, it is many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” would it then no longer belong to the body? If the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” would it then no longer belong to the body? If the body were all eye, what would happen to our hearing? If it were all ear, what would happen to our smelling? As it is, God has set each member of the body in the place he wanted it to be. If all the members were alike, where would the body be? There are indeed many different members, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” any more than the head can say to the feet, “I do not need you. Even those members of the body which seem less important are in fact indispensable... If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy. You, then are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of it. Furthermore, God has set up in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, assistants, administrators, and those who speak in tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles or have the gift of healing? Do all speak in tongues, all have the gift of interpretation of tongues? Set your hearts on the greater gifts. He exhorted members to contribute their part as well as possible (Rom 12) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and not all the members have the same function, so too we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. We have gift that differ according to the favor bestowed on each of us. One’s gift may be prophecy; its use should be in proportion to his faith. It may be the gift of ministry; it should be used for service. One who is a teacher should use his gift for teaching; one with the power of exhortation should exhort. He who gives alms should do so generously; he who rules should exercise his authority with care; he who performs works of mercy should do so cheerfully.” And Paul was a carpenter or hands-on builder. He evangelized, exhorted a house group in Philippi (1 Corinthians 12); he healed at Lystra (Acts 14:8-10); preached in Corinth (Acts 18:5); baptized in Ephesus (Acts 19:5); Taught daily in Tyrannus (Acts 19:9); celebrated the Lord’s supper in Troas (Acts 20:7-11). He passed on the hands-on building to others when he went to prison. This building analogy helps us understand the different leadership roles needed to build up today’s Church.

Christian Leadership: Service

From our tradition then, Christian leadership is connected with being created in the image of God. Because mankind is in the image of the Creator, he is the leader of creation (Genesis 1:26,28): “Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” (Psalm 8:6-7) “You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet:” The same exists in the marriage ceremony – husband and wife are crowned to do God’s work, particularly in their kingdom, the family. Christ, the perfect image of the Father, portrays leadership as servanthood (Mark 10:42-45) “Jesus called them together and said to them: “You know how among the Gentiles those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all. The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve-to give his life in ransom for the many.” At the supper before his passion: “After he had washed their feet, he put his cloak back on and reclined at table once more. He said to them: “Do you understand what I just did for you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and fittingly enough, for that is what I am. But if I washed your feet- I who am Teacher and Lord-then you must wash each other’s feet. What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do. I solemnly assure you, no slave is greater than his master; no messenger outranks the one who sent him. Once you know all these things, blest will you be if you put them into practice.” (John 13:12-17) Christ led by serving His Father’s purposes: we imitate Him if we are more assertive of His will than our own. He washed his apostles’ feet and told them that they too had to do likewise, true servanthood.

Our Blueprint is God-given

The New Testament term for the Church, also used directly in our Divine Liturgy, is the “community in or of the Holy Spirit.” This evokes a pattern of relationships with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with our fellow believers. In Acts 2:42-47, Communal Life - “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ instruction and the communal life to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ... Those who believed shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, dividing everything on the basis of each one’s need. They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Here we find our blueprint to be Church. We are meant to be a people growing together in worship, learning, fellowship, and service. This is all held together by the “mortar” of the sacramental leadership. When we do this and balance out these four tasks we are evangelizing and we welcome others into the Body of Christ. This is God’s blueprint or “mission statement” for the Church – We need no other. The people of God, clergy and lay, all share in making this blueprint work. We must constantly be aware of God’s vision for the Church and His vision must become our vision too. In a book New Designs for Church Leadership by David S Luecke, we see that we need to build a full-bodied fellowship. We are building what the New Testament and the Divine Liturgy calls “the community in the Holy Spirit,” living according to the pattern of the Apostolic Church in Acts. This involves all the interactions that a gathering of Christians have with God and each other – it is the basic identity of Church. The primary dimension is the vertical: our relationship to the Father through Jesus Christ, who has given us the Holy Spirit. This relationship is then shared and therefore made real by the way we conduct our horizontal relationships: those with our fellow believers. Applying this to God’s design or blueprint: a fellowship can be full-bodied in three ways:
  1. In vertical relationships, participating in the fullness of God’s presence (full cycle of liturgical services, spiritual direction, prayer ministry).
  2. In horizontal relationships, involving most members in lively interaction.
  3. In horizontal functions, being active in the full range of community functions: worship, nurture, service and witnessing.
The “building challenge” for each of the kind of fellowships identified earlier is:
  1. Sacramental: to increase liturgical and spiritual life in the community.
  2. Serving: to realize a greater commitment to outreach: works of mercy, works of justice, witnessing.
  3. Occasional: to develop relationships in a nominal community.
  4. Full-bodied: to reach for the heights of Christ’s full stature.
This is the organizational tool for building community. The purpose of the leadership structure in the community is to shape and protect the Church as a community committed to God’s blueprint. Our leadership must be Kingdom centered. The Kingdom of God is here and now. We need to be in accord with God’s vision for the Church, not what we think or want is best, or what society tells us or even what pop psychology or the latest management techniques suggest, but by the vision of the Kingdom of God. When we learned the Lord’s Prayer at the age of five, we learned to say “Thy Kingdom come.” The kingdom is where God rules, where His way is the norm, where His will comes first: absolutely in heaven. This will only be fully manifested at the second coming, but it is here and now by our cooperation: “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” This manifests the assembly or ecclesia – the people of God gathered to do God’s will. In our own personal life or business life as well as the Kingdom of God, we must ask “What does God want?” The Lord says “seek first, the Kingdom, then the rest will be given you.” For putting the Kingdom first we don’t make plans or decisions without seeking God’s direction. And we don’t implement without insistent prayer for the community.

Our Mission as Church Leaders – the Building Process.

In 1 Peter 2:4-5 the Church is described as a spiritual house erected out of living stones (the members of the community). “As you come to Him, the living stones… you also, like living stones, are being built as a fellowship into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Peter uses the same word as Paul does, translated here “to build a spiritual community or house.” A house means a household. The reference to stones means not something inanimate, but the raw material for the building. Peter uses the term “living stone”, probably better translated as ‘lively stone” to describe anyone who has come to life in Christ, anyone who is saved. I think “lively “is better than “living” because it seems to have action in it. “Living” can be a lazy lump – living but not lively. The life from Christ makes people into living raw material that can be built into a spiritual house. The first step of church leadership for mission is the evangelism work of spreading the Word of salvation so people come alive in Christ and are thus able to be in the spiritual house of the church. But the mission is not finished when people become living stones through a church’s ministry of Word and Sacrament. That’s the start and other “stones” are necessary. Passive stones are waiting to be put in place. Lively stones have initiative. Inactive (maybe dead) stones are distant from fellowship interaction that their life in the body (and perhaps even in Christ) is to all appearances dead. Cornerstones help establish where the rest of the material will be placed, help turn a corner or set a new direction for church life.

The Building Process

So the building process is by moving inward and upward. As a leader you must help people move inward toward believing participation in the community (from outsider or inactive stone to participant) is important, and to move upward (from passive stones toward participation in more lively interaction). The first conviction is to make church leadership a compelling mission: it is better in the Church than being outside. This is the work of evangelical outreach. It implies that churches should grow outward in numbers. The second conviction to make community building a compelling mission is that more interaction within the community is better than less. Hebrews 10: 24-25 “We must consider how to rouse each other to love and good deeds. We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another; and this all the more because you see that the Day draws near.” The concept of community includes all the sharing that members do in worship, personal growth, service or witnessing. Lively community life is the preferred direction. This can be compared to shallow or even inactive community life. The building challenge is to move inactive stones in, passive stones to become lively, and some lively stones to become cornerstones. Church leadership must go beyond responding to the felt needs of parishioners (the law of supply and demand). It must seek to:
  1. Elevate members’ consciousness of God’s purposes, presence and power – the Kingdom of God.
  2. Help members grow beyond their self-interest to gain a greater commitment to God and the Church.
The process of building commitment may be called “incorporation” – being formed into one body.
  1. Incorporation into the Body of Christ is first of all, God’s work.
  2. Incorporation next depends on the willingness of members to be in visible contact with other believers.
  3. This contact must transcend the individual’s personal needs.
  4. This contact must also transcend short-term goals.
The first avenue for consistency is a commitment to mutually support one another in our faith: Hebrews 10:24-25 “We must consider how to rouse each other to love and good deeds. We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another; and this all the more because you see that the Day draws near.” Ephesians 5:19-20 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and inspired songs. Sing praise to the Lord with all your hearts. Give thanks to God the Father always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs.” A renewed commitment by the leadership to personal spiritual growth and mutual support is a prerequisite for expanding the community. An extended leadership for the parish can develop out of those in the parish who are committed to their own spiritual growth.

Responsible Stewardship of the Parish’s Gifts and of our Personal Gifts

As I come close to closing this presentation I touch briefly on how all this can be done – I call this Stewardship – probably another topic for a weekend encounter like this one. From the beginning, God made man and woman stewards or managers of creation, giving them “dominion over the work of his hands:” not so that we can exploit it but that we can return it to God in thanksgiving. We are responsible, not only for the material treasures we have, but for the intangibles, such as our time, and relationship with God and our life in the Church as well. Stewardship in the parish involves discerning what gifts God has blessed it with, and building on those gifts for the growth of the community. Planning involves recognizing what God has given and expanding on those gifts for the sake of the Kingdom. Leadership being connected with being created in the image of God, We now have this God-given capacity to lead – we are stewards or managers of creation. Our purpose as human beings is to manage creation for God, to be stewards of creation. Stewardship is at the heart of being human. Being a responsible steward means: a) that we are aware that everything is the Lord’s, not ours to do with as we will; and b) that we are to care for it responsibly and intelligently in His name, not to exploit or waste it. Stewardship exists on the personal level: how I manage my own resources: children, food, money, material goods in a consumerist society which is dedicated to consumption and opposed to stewardship. Spiritual stewardship involves being responsible for the spiritual gifts we have received, including the life of the parish community, the Body of Christ.

Stewardship is the bottom-line principle of Christian living.

Now let me apply that to the community. Every church, like every believer, has specific gifts from God, to enable it to witness to God’s presence in an effective way. Not all communities are the same; the strengths of one may not be the strengths of another. One will stress one aspect of the blueprint while in a second parish another of these aspects will dominate. The first thing we must do in long-range planning for the parish is to discern and recognize the central strengths in its life (for example: good liturgy, social concern, a supportive fellowship). They are there because God has enabled the community to develop them and so affirming them is to recognize that the Holy Spirit has been at work in the parish. They indicate what God is calling us to do as a community. Once the community has claimed its strengths, it should decide on new ways to expand these strengths: to build on its strengths, not its weaknesses. Thus, if your parish has good liturgy, you may encourage people to develop a program to share that liturgy via video media to the homebound or to arrange for Cable TV broadcasts of that liturgy. The next is to plan and see what foundational steps you and your parish have and to develop a five to seven year plan. Here the basic question is “What is God calling us to do for his Kingdom?” Strategic planning is necessary for a parish. It is the application of God’s will for us. It is an indication of the community’s commitment to the careful stewardship of what God has given it. Planning requires vision: God’s vision for us to build His Church.

We aren’t finished yet! Promise of Leadership Training Programs.

I have available for all of you a Leadership Training Program from my Eparchy. It is set up for a weekend of five sessions – each session is up to two hours in length with a facilitator’s guide and participant work sheets for each session. It also includes posters for the themes of each session. The facilitator’s guide is quite dynamic in approach with structured presentations and whole group and small group discussions with some Bible study. I recommend that it is be used in groups of several parishes together rather than just one parish, although this is possible. Anyone interested, please give me your name and contact information and I can make the program available to you free of charge – by email also, much preferred. If you want a printed form there will be a slight charge for reproduction and mailing. A second resource is a small book by Anthony Coniaris: “The Eye Cannot Say to the Hand “I have No Need of You.” From Light and Life Publishing Co, Minneapolis, MN 20005 Part One: “What Does it Mean to be members of the Body of Christ.” Part Two: Laity and Hierarchy: Their respective roles as members of the Body of Christ. Part Three: Syndiaconia, The Shared Role of the Hierarchy and Laity in the Church. Fr. Coniaris in his simple short reflections touches strongly on the role of each person in the Body of Christ. Can we do all this? Can you do all this? Yes you can because you, each and every one of you, are a special gift of God. God made you, God gives you the gifts and God will guide you to develop His Kingdom – Be all that you can be.
Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012 East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012 West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012
This is a real-time transcription of the welcome address at the Eastern Encounter 2012 (November 3rd) by Father Edward Cimbala, the Administrator of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic as well as the pastor of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Hillsborough, NJ. He is currently the Eparchial Director of Deacon Formation and the Assistant Vocation Director of Vocations, and the Chairperson of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary Advisory Committee. Although it has been reviewed, it may contain errors, for which the webmaster unreservedly apologizes. Fr. Ed asked for prayers for the parishes and parishioners in their eparchy who are still without power, some of whom have not been in contact with their parishes so they do not know of their safety, following Hurricane Sandy.

Blueprint for Church Growth

Everybody has a different theory on how churches grow. There are piles of books out there! Example: A great pastor grew a huge church and it was so successful that he wrote books about it. He was asked to become the president of a Christian college. When he left, the church fell apart. The new pastor was blamed, but it is obvious that the original pastor had built a church on personality, not on God, so that without the old pastor’s presence, the church had nothing to sustain it and collapsed. Acts 17: Paul came to preach in Thessalonica. He invited everyone to come. Paul, being Paul, irritated quite a few in the process. They were so angry, they tried to seize him and take him to the authorities. When they couldn’t find Paul, they took Jason instead because he hosted Paul. In charging Jason, they said, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…”
  • That’s what we’re called to do. Wouldn’t it be great if people said YOU turn the world upside down?

Creating Leaders and Disciples—People who Turn the World Upside Down

Discipleship is not what you do, but an attitude that asks what you must do. What is our passion? We Eastern Catholics truly want to have the kind of churches where people are equipped and filled with joy, worshipping God and serving others. 2 Corinthians 9:7: God loves a cheerful giver
  • It’s a mistake to think about this as money alone. We must cheerfully give of our time, talent, effort, and expertise, too.
  • We must do this with joy, laughter, and excitement.
  • God loves a cheerful giver.
How do we become cheerful givers?
  • Finding our passion
  • Finding our gifts
  • Finding our place
When we first recognize our desire to live as Christians, we do it like the 10th leper (cf., Luke 17:15). We run to God and jump in! Then we tire and burn out. Then our service to God and our relationship with him starts feeling like it is going nowhere. We’re spinning in place because in all this we haven’t discerned where God wants us. When we discern our gifts, we’ll be able to be good leaders.
  • Your own passions, gifts, and style will energize you and allow you to enjoy the work.
Galatians 1: 11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…
  • Paul recognized his passion was to preach to the Gentiles. This step is crucial.
  • Passion is God-given.
  • Paul said God set him apart.
  • Passion compels you to make a difference.
Your passion might be for a group (children, homeless, moms…), or for an issue (abortion…), or with functions (assisting with liturgy, being a prayer warrior…)
  • Everyone can have a passion. A passion isn’t necessarily loud or active.
Don’t think or say you’re too old, too young, of the wrong gender, nash…
  • Let’s not step on passion. Let it happen!
When people come to him and say, “You know what we should be doing?” (which usually means, “Do you know what I think you should be doing, Father?), he listens and says, “That’s a great idea! Have at it!” Passion helps you know where to serve and direct your gifts. Galatians 1: 15But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
  • This was a ripening of Paul’s passion to preach to the Gentiles.
  • Paul took the time to think and pray.
  • When we recognize people’s passions and help them to grow in their passion, we see them ripen and mature.
    • Example: A young teen in his parish was guided in her passion to work with her peers when she was in high school, then when she went to college she was guided in her passion to work with her peers there. The books and support she was given through those years allow her now to serve the church teaching ECF.
Galatians 1: 23They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they praised God because of me.
  • If you serve God cheerfully with your whole heart, people will want to know God because they know that you know Him.
  • People will praise God for your presence.
  • Don’t do it for you own glory, but for the glory of God.
Be patient as you package your passion when presenting it to your priest.
  • Sometimes priests have hard or bad days, too.
  • Be wise. If you’re turned down, do what his parishioners do: come back in a few weeks and present it again. He joked that then he thinks it was his idea and he supports it.
Once you’ve discovered your passion, how does that have an effect?
  • The Church is like a symphony. God gives each of us the gift to play an instrument perfectly.
  • There are a diversity of instruments and activities, but it is the same God.
  • These gifts, manifested in the Mysteries of Initiation, are given to all by God.
  • Spiritual gifts are often exercised in an area where natural talents already exist.
  • Spiritual gifts are given for the common good, not to glorify oneself.
  • We are each enabled by God to use a supernatural gift to make a difference.
  • While a person doesn’t have all the gifts, all of the spiritual gifts are present within our community.
1 Corinthians 12: 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

How to Discover our Spiritual Gifts

  1. Prayer
    • Fr. Ed had difficulty with this one. His confessor told him to set his iPhone timer for 15 minutes, to set it aside, and then to pray. He found this very helpful because he no longer had to think about how long he had prayed and he could focus on his prayers. He now shares this with others in case it helps someone else.
  2. Trial and Error
    • There is nothing wrong with failure.
  3. Ask someone
    • What do you see in me? Watch out! Your friends and family will be honest, but that’s what you need.
  4. Assessment tools online
    • Don’t take it to heart, but see what they recommend and discuss it with your pastor.
God has arranged a place for you in the body of Christ that serves the church in accordance with your personality, gifts and style. Dizzy Dean was a pitcher who once won 30 games in a season. He and his brother both pitched a game that won the World Series. He was so good that he had gone into the locker room and told each hitter how he would pitch to them and he’d still won. Then he hurt his big toe. He favored the toe, which changed his alignment, and that affected his pitch. By the time he realized the importance of his toe, his pitching career was already over. The pitching arm cannot tell the big toe that it is not needed. There is a unique and important place for each and every person.
  • When you go home, pray and discover where it is God wants you.
  • Now is a time to reflect on the gifts our Eastern Catholic Churches have brought to our country. And on what we can bring to our Church.
  • The message of Christ needs the seeds to continue to be sown and watered. This is the New Evangelization.
Psalm 145: 4One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare your mighty acts.
  • Our Number One responsibility is to share the Good News.
  • The Christian faith is not a marathon, it is a relay. We need to take it and pass the faith from generation to generation.
  • Our beliefs, our creed, and our relationship with God must be passed on.
What we are to do:
  • Identify your personality
  • Identify your spiritual gifts
  • Identify what God wants you to do
  • Grow in your relationship with Christ
  • Pass it on
Fr. Ed passed out blue papers, rolled up and tied like relay batons. He asked everyone to “pass it on” so the room was full of blue batons moving from one hand to another until everyone had one. Once unrolled, the paper said:
The Blue Print For Church Growth Pass it On … The Creed I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, the only-begotten, born of the Father before all ages. Light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in essence with the Father; through whom all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried. He rose on the third day according to the scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of Life, who proceeds from the Father. Together with the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified; he spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I profess one baptism for the remission of sins. I expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012 East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012 West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012
This is a real-time transcription of the welcome address at the Eastern Encounter 2012 (November 3rd) by Deacon Sabatino Roberto Carnazzo of the Institute of Catholic Culture. Although it has been reviewed, it may contain errors, for which the webmaster unreservedly apologizes. Today, the Church faces a crisis in leadership. No, this crisis is not a crisis in vocations to the priesthood, nor is it a crisis in strong leadership from our bishops. This crisis is a crisis of the laity. Lay leadership and its place in the community of Christ is an essential characteristic of the Church. Without it, the faith risks becoming a relic of the past. In this lecture, participants will examine this important issue facing the Church today, discover the Biblical model for its correction, and explore unique opportunities our Eastern Catholic Churches have to reignite the faith of believers and restore our parishes with the flame of apostolic spirit. Bring your Bibles for this challenging study of God’s plan for the future of our Church!
Deacon Sabatino asked for a show of hands on who brought a Bible. He said electronics don’t count, recounting how he was beside the See of Galilee when the tour guide pulled out his phone to read to them from the Gospels only to find the phone battery was dead. When only a small fraction had a hard-copy Bible, he said we are at a leadership conference for the laity. “If you do not carry your Bible with you, we might as well close up shop!” He encouraged everyone to always carry a Bible and to see the blessings and opportunities God would supply because of it. Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and earth have been given to me.
  • He could have asked for anything at this point. The risen Lord appearing before His disciples! And what does he ask of them? Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.
  • He invited them at that moment to become leaders.
Lay Leadership
  • is not a band-aid that Vatican II has applied to a sick church
  • is not an answer to the vocations crisis
  • is not saying parish councils can hire and fire
  • What is it and why do we do it?
A leader
  • Has to lead someone
  • Has to lead somewhere
  • Has to have something—a purpose, some knowledge, a place to go—that his people cannot have without him
  • Steps out of the way once his job is done so the people he’s taught can now do the same
1 Corinthians 4:15: For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
  • Why be followers of Paul not Christ?
Galations 2:20: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me 1 Corinthians 4:17: For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son…
  • Just as Christ showed Paul and Paul showed Timothy, Paul now sends Timothy to show others
  • A good father rejoices in the fact that his son has grown up and become what he intended him to be.
A distinction--that is helpful, not oppositional—is to be made between the clergy and the laity.
  • When I was clothed in my diaconal robes, I was not stripped of my baptismal robes.
  • An opposition between the clergy and laity “reduces the laity to the status of second-class citizens, defined primarily in negative terms as those who ‘do not have the right’ to enter certain places, to touch certain things or to take part in certain activities.” As Fr. Alexander Schmemann says in The Eucharist
  • The apostolic tradition gives us a positive example of what the people are supposed to do, not a negative one of what they are restricted from doing.
Just as there were three main views of Christ when He lived among us, there are 3 main views of the Church:
  1. Man on the street—newspaper reader
  2. Astute viewer—the woman who finds God in her baklava at the festival
  3. The view of faith
Question: Who founded the Church and when?
  • Jesus on Pentecost?
  • Jesus when He changed Simon’s name to Peter?
  • When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side and blood and water flowed out?
  • Wrong, wrong, and wrong!
  • The church was already present in figure at the creation of the world!
  • We need to return to the beginning.

Genesis 1: 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good... 26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.... God is creator.
  • Not a clockwork god of the deist.
  • Not the all-powerful will requiring the submission of the Muslim.
  • Moses says our God is intimately involved in His creation: “And God saw that it was good.” “…very good.”
  • This is God’s relationship to His creation.
  • To see something as good is to see it as desirable, to want it for yourself. When that desire is properly oriented, we call it love.
  • As married people know, when you give your life to another, there is literally nothing left to give.
  • It is good that you are. Very good. How wonderful that you exist.
  • God the creator of the world desires to share Himself with his creation.
Principle: What is last in execution is always first of intention.
  • When you want to do something important, you have to prepare for it.
    • When you bake a cake, you first have to get the water, the mixing bowls, etc. The cake itself comes last.
  • God made paradise for man.
Man is made in the image and likeness of God.
  • We are made in the image and likeness of a creator who loves his creation into existence.
  • It is God who in the act of creation anticipated all conceivable human love and said: I will you to be; it is good, “very good” (Genesis 1:31), that you exist. He has already infused everything that human beings can love and affirm, goodness along with existence, and that means lovability and affirmability. Human love, therefore, is by its nature and must inevitably be always an imitation and a kind of repetition of this perfected and, in the exact sense of the word, creative love of God. –Josef Pieper in “Faith, Hope, Love”
Principle: Action follows upon being.
  • What a thing is determines what it does.
  • What a thing does points to what it is.
What is it God told man to do?
  • Be fruitful and multiply: What God started when He made me, I now participate in and perpetuate by being fruitful.
  • Till and keep the garden: God puts us here to bring his harvest to fruition.
  • Have dominion over the kingdom: Who has dominion? A king. What does the king do? Unites and serves. A society working together is strong.
The reason our economy is now in the greatest recession since the 1930s is because those in the place of the King of Glory are not acting like their creator. And as the form follows upon the gradual working of the stone, at first somewhat indistinct, but more perfect after the completion of the work, so too in the moulding of its instrument the form of the soul is expressed in the substratum, incompletely in that which is still incomplete, perfect in that which is perfect; indeed it would have been perfect from the beginning had our nature not been maimed by evil./em> -St. Gregory of Nyssa< What exactly is man’s goal according to God’s plan?
  • What is last in execution is always first of intention. Man was made the crown jewel of God’s creation, but the story doesn’t end with man’s creation. There was a 7th day.
  • When God rested on the 7th day, he blessed creation and sanctified it. He made creation holy.
  • Man was made in the image and likeness of the one who blessed and sanctified creation.
  • Man has a vocation to now bless and sanctify creation in God’s image and likeness.
  • We have to go out into the world and lead others to God.
  • In this way, creation is divinized.
It is our job to go out into the world to make it more like Him.
  • Moses was shining when he came down from the mountain so they no longer saw Moses, but saw God when they looked on him.
The fall was so destructive because the one who was to have dominion did not bring things to order, but to disorder. Do not call Jesus Christ your savior unless you know what He saved you from.
  • He restored us to the way it was in the beginning so that we would become divinized.
  • Just like Nicodemus couldn’t understand Jesus without being born again (re: John 3), we can’t understand Him unless we see it through the lens of baptism.
  • Nicodemus didn’t get baptized and Jesus tells him he must return with faith.
John said in Romans 6: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 1 Corinthians 12:14ff: For the body is not one member, but many….
  • Look at a human body and you can figure out what the church is like. If we were all priests, where would the church of Christ be? On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensible.
Ephesians 4: 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
  • Each part is dependent on the others.
  • If your churches are not living, Fathers, we’ve got to ask ourselves if we’re pumping the Holy Spirit into them.
  • When you sin, I suffer. When I do good, you benefit.
This is the New Evangelization and true leadership.
  • Galatians 3:26: For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.
  • God became man so that man might become a god. -St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation 54:3
  • Then let us rejoice and give thanks that we are made not only Christians, but Christ. Do you understand, brothers, and apprehend the grace of God upon us? Marvel, be glad, we are made Christ. -St Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John 21:8
You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
  • Who is the light of the world? Christ is.
  • We must shine His light.
  • If our society doesn’t have salt and light in it, if it is not tasty, it is because we have not brought His salt and light.
Acts 3:1:Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
  • Peter says he doesn’t have money, but will give what he does have, and healed the man.
  • What only God can do (healing) has become the inheritance of all men.
  • We cannot use leadership as our own because it is a gift.
  • People will die and God’s life will cease to be proclaimed if we don’t do our part.
  • We cannot lord our leadership over others.

Have we ever really become disciples?
  • The first step is metanoia.
  • Without metanoia, we’ll lead people astray instead of leading them to God.
John 1:28: These things were done in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is become before me: for he was before me. 31And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, for this cause came I baptizing in water. 32And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. 34And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. 35Again on the morrow John was standing, and two of his disciples; 36and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God! 37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), where abideth thou? 39He saith unto them, Come, and ye shall see. They came therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day: it was about the tenth hour.
  • John knew the exact circumstances of his conversion, right down to the hour of the day.
  • It’s time for us to reclaim that phrase Protestants love to say: “I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.”
  • We should have a testimony like John’s.
What’s stopping us from acting as disciples? Clergy are plagued by the “Me First” Syndrome
  • Are we, clergy, treating our churches as St. Paul would tell us “as our spouses for whom we’d lay down our lives” or are we treating them as concubines?
  • A test for clergy in order to answer the above question can be found in Colossians 1:24ff: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…
  • Do you rejoice in suffering for the sake of the church or do you just complain?
Laity are plagued by the “My Real Estate” Syndrome
  • That’s my job.
  • We’ve never done it that way before.
We must give to others what God has given to us.
  • Paul rejoiced that his son Timothy could do what Paul did.
Stop pointing the finger at others and take responsibility.
  • Is your parish a geriatric ward or a growing family?
  • Most of our parishes have 30-100 people on Sunday. Laity: you know who you stand next to. If you know the person you stand next to wasn’t at church, did you go knock on their door or give them a call?
  • Clergy: if you know your parishioners are going to the Latin Church or to a Protestant Church, go stand in front of the doors of that church and wait for them and invite them back.
  • Pray with them, eat with them, live with them, and then they’ll die with you.
  1. Pray
    • We better put Jesus back in the center of our churches—domestic and liturgical!
    • The average American has a TV in the center of the family room and spends 2.7 hours watching it each day.
    • If you don’t have an icon of Christ, go right now and get one, get a nail, and hang it up. Not in some obscure place, but right in the middle of the living room. Better yet, get a lampada and a censor to go with it. Now!
  2. Fast
    • Don’t wait for the Church to tell you to fast.
    • Obligation was left behind in Judaism. Fasting is an opportunity.
    • Sin causes us to focus on ourselves while fasting focuses on others.
  3. Tithe
    • Do not be one who stretches out his hand to receive but withdraws it in giving. Give a ransom for your sins if you have it to give. Do not hesitate to give, nor give in a grumbling manner, for you know who is the good Paymaster who rewards? –Didache
    • I know times are tough. I hear you say you can’t afford to tithe. You can’t afford not to. That goes for the clergy as well. Yes, it is hard. Do it and God will supply what you need.
  4. Education
    • You cannot give what you do not have.
    • You cannot teach what you do not know.
Adult Formation
  • He used to teach children’s Sunday School. His assessment: What he did in 1hr of Sunday School was unraveled the rest of the week because of the family life and culture.
  • We need to reach the parents so they’re continuing the work through the week.
  • Our current adult programs are culturally oriented, not intellectually oriented
  • We fill our churches for festivals, but not for Bible studies.
  • Play to your strengths! We are culturally rich! If that’s all you have, get up and in the middle of BINGO and preach for 5 minutes, then let the people go back to their games.
  • Our parishes are geographically spread out, yes. But we have other Eastern Catholic parishes nearby. We have to work together!
  • Adult education is expensive. His program has an annual budget of a quarter million. As Bishop Nicholas (Samra) has said: “How much do we spend to spread the Gospel?”
  • Secularism is bankrupt. We have the answer they’re hungry for. Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are ripe for the harvest.
Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012 East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012 West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012
This is a real-time transcription of the welcome address at the Eastern Encounter 2012 (November 3rd) by Fr. Justin Rose of St. Philip the Apostle Melkite Mission in San Bernardino, CA. Although it has been reviewed, it may contain errors, for which the webmaster unreservedly apologizes. Our Eastern Catholic Churches need clergy, monastics, and laity all exercising their baptismal priesthood as defined by the Acts of the Apostles. The Domestic Church is one centrally important expression of the Royal Priesthood. This conference couldn’t be more timely. We’ve heard terms like secularization bounced around in our culture. It is important for us to discuss where our ministry as church comes into place.

What is our job description?

The Pew Forum says there’s a rise in the “nones.” Those who do not identify with any religious affiliation. We need to discuss the royal priesthood in a culture that is increasingly reflecting on the role of faith in our lives. Acts 2:42ff defines 5 aspects of being church and therefore of the royal priesthood: 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. The summary of Christian life is
  • Didache/Catechesis
  • Koinonia/Fellowship or Community
  • Diakonia/Service or Stewardship
  • Liturgia/Liturgy
  • Kerygma/Evangelization


  • The Early Church had the preaching of the apostles. For us, education comes in many new forms: online classes, blogs, websites, publishers, audio books, etc
  • Geography dictated how we did education. To gather people together in one room was the only way to convey information in the past. Now the internet allows greater communication.


  • Because of the changes in communication, we can focus more on prayer and fellowship when we gather together now.
  • The call of the baptized is to grow in community.
    • “It’s not my ministry, it is the ministry of the Church.”
    • A priest addresses a deacon as “my fellow celebrant” and we say the laity celebrate with the clergy. On the other hand, bishops and priests serve the liturgy.
  • He’s pushing back in his parish against social activities that are not communal. Ethnic and cultural celebrations are wonderful but “not lasting.” Family activities are low cost and easily arranged. They give opportunities to “love on each other” which builds community.


  • What are we doing in our communities?
  • Youth and young adults often gravitate to social work.
    • Every Thursday, his parish serves the homeless and the working poor.
  • Want more people in your church? Less parties (BINGO, festivals) and more service.
  • Deacons have a responsibility in the church that they need to reclaim. They are the pastoral arm. They lead the royal priestly efforts to serve the suffering.


  • Liturgy means “work of the people,” not just of the choir or the clergy.
  • Litanies tell the faithful who they should be praying for.


  • Basic preaching of the faith. This is the foot in the door.
  • Early followers of Christ shared a simple, clear message of the Good News.
  • Evangelization must come before all the rest. It comes first.
  • At the end of the Acts passage, Luke notes that the followers of Jesus had the favor of all the people. The community was exercising its royal priesthood by preaching and serving within their daily routine.
  • One of the desert fathers (Abba Pembo?) said, “If you want to convert the world, convert yourself.” This is the heart of the new evangelization.
Our times are similar to the Apostles’ times.
  • Roman roads brought commerce and an exchange of cultures and information, just like the internet does today.
  • The world was rich in literature and culture. Many people were bored with the organized religion around them. Sound familiar?
We continue to function as if there is a Christiandom still in the world.
  • We need to shift our focus. This is the goal of the Year of Faith.
  • The pope and the Patriarch of Moscow’s work together recognizes that the world has shifted.
  • We need to see the world as an opportunity to evangelize.
  • Humility, learning, lived experience, stewardship must come first before we can tell others about it.
At the conclusion of the Synod of Evangelization, the bishops recalled John:
Looking specifically at the context of new evangelization, the Synod therefore reminds of the necessity to revive faith, which risks being made obscure in the context of today’s cultures, also faced with the weakening of the faith by many baptized persons. The encounter with the Lord, which reveals God as love, can only come about in the Church, as the form of receptive community and experience of communion; from this, then, Christians become its witnesses also in other places. However, the Church reasserts that to evangelize one must be evangelized first of all, and sends out a plea - starting with herself - for conversion, because the weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples weigh upon the credibility of the mission. Conscious of the fact that the Lord is the guide of history and therefore that evil will not have the last word, the bishops invite the Christians to overcome fear with faith and to look at the world with serene courage because, while full of contradictions and challenges, this is still the world God loves. Therefore no pessimism: globalization, secularization and the new scenarios of society, migration, even with the difficulties and suffering they entail, they must be seen as opportunities for evangelization. Because this is not a question of finding new strategies as if the Gospel was to be spread like a market product, but rediscovering the ways in which individuals come close to Jesus.
The word that most stands out is conversion.
  • We must be a people of conversion and repentance.
  • Metanoia means to turn away from something.
    • We must turn away from ignorance, laziness, watered down faith.
    • We must turn away from the idea of time-card church where we show up for our 1 hour per week.
The domestic church is the very heart of the priestly work we do.
  • Your dining room table is a second altar. The work done there is sanctified.
  • The love of the family lived in ordinary life is the work of the royal priesthood.
  • An example of the priestly work in the domestic church: when he was a deacon, he visited the house of a family for dinner and fellowship. When he went to leave, the woman of the house stopped him and made the sign of the cross on his forehead. Although he never forgot after she told him the first time, she explained every time she did it that she had blessed every one of her children in that way every night. What a powerful demonstration of the royal priesthood for her to have done this!
  • Another example: He heard glass jars clinking and went to investigate. He found a woman filling many pickle and mason jars with holy water. She explained that she put a little in everything she cooked throughout the year. In this way, she sanctified her priestly work in the domestic church.
We need to turn away from vocations programs.
  • We don’t have a vocations crisis. We have a holiness crisis. We have a domestic church crisis.
  • We need prayer, fasting, and almsgiving programs.
  • We need to keep the faith alive in the domestic church.
  • We need a renewal and re-discovery of the same old evangelization.
We need to see the home differently—as the domestic church.
  • St. Macrina convinced her mom to free their slaves, allow them to work on the family estate for pay, and to turn their home into a monastery.
  • We don’t need to go so far—hopefully none of you has slaves!—but we do need to bring the monastery into our home.
  • I’m not trying to put burdens on people. The domestic church isn’t re-creating Mt. Athos on Elm Street. It’s a place of love.
    • Singing hymns before dinner
    • Reading and listening to the Bible is a joyful part of daily life
    • The Jesus prayer is a familiar comfort
St. Basil noted the importance of community: “If you live alone, whose feet will you wash?”
  • We need to turn away from the ghetto mentality. Archbishop Joseph Tawil used this phrase in his 1970 Christmas pastoral:
We have not yet mentioned the principal dangers which threaten our communities and their mission to the Churches: the ghetto mentality and the assimilation process. In a ghetto life is closed in upon itself, operating only within itself, with its own ethnic and social cliches. And the Parish lives upon the ethnic character of the community; when that character disappears, the community dies and the parish dies with it. One day all our ethnic traits - language, folklore, customs - will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we cannot think of our communities as ethnic parishes, primarily for the service of the immigrant or the ethnically oriented, unless we wish to assure the death of our community. Our Churches are not only for our own people but are also for any of our fellow Americans who are attracted to our traditions which show forth the beauty of the universal Church and the variety of its riches.
  • Is the Church of Christ universal or not?
  • What happens when others come near to our churches? I first used the phrase “into our churches,” but there aren’t many who come in, are there? So I changed it to “near our churches” because that’s as close as we let them get.
  • We must turn away from and repent of this ghetto mentality and turn toward each other.
  • When others ask you what religion you are, how do you answer? Do you say Eastern Catholic? Ukrainian? Melkite? Catholic? Christian? Simply align yourself with Christ. “I am a Christian.”
  • He gave several examples of evangelizing to others and expanding their worldview by giving the answer of Christian. One example: he was at a mall in an elevator dressed, as he usually is, in his cassock. A man asked him what religion he is. He said Christian. The man said, “My pastor is a Christian and he doesn’t dress like that.” The elevator doors opened and Fr. Justin said, “Well, why not?” The man’s view of Christianity just expanded and a seed was planted.
  • We have to turn away from hating each others’ music. How can we come together if we won’t turn away from mocking others?
  • The apostles and martyrs did not see themselves as victims. They engaged the popular culture.

Contemporary (Post-Modern) Culture vs Modern Culture

Modern cultural values were “in the head” or intellectual in focus because of the influence of the Enlightenment.
  • Rational discourse
  • Black and white thinking
  • Celebrating human ability, even at the rejection of God’s ability
    • Science vs. God
    • Evolution vs. Genesis
  • Authority came with a title or uniform (you respect a police officer because of his badge).
  • ost-modern cultural values are relational and wholistic in focus, placing a burden not on rational apologetic arguments but on relationships and experience.
  • Relationships
  • Intimacy
  • Warmth of hospitality
  • Family orientation
  • Experience
  • Authenticity
Don’t try to convince a post-modern person unless she can see you living it authentically yourself.
  • Underlying post-modern thought is the idea that truth or meaning is subjective. We must have priestly compassion for the anxiety and angst felt by the post-modern person because they’re being told to deny the existence of God within them.
  • Pastors can only be shepherds of the flock if they are among the sheep.
  • Many thirst for the living water. You have the bucket in your hands.
  • The Samaritan Woman—St. Photini—should be the patron of the post-modern age and the New Evangelization.
This age, like any other, speaks to new opportunities.
  • Post-modern values pose the same threat to the faith as modern values (communism, atheism) posed 100 years ago.
  • “Nones” believe in God but have a problem with “organized religion.” (Joke: that’s why I tell them they should be Melkite. We don’t have any organization!)
  • We need to open the gates of our ghettos because we have something to offer these people to redefine their understanding of organized religion.
People look for non-conformity.
  • As a PhD student in a cassock on a liberal campus (University of California), you’d expect him to be the subject of attack or ridicule. He’s never experienced that. He has daily conversations with students, faculty, and staff who are happy he is there.
  • While people are looking for their own authenticity, they want to see you being authentic to your own faith.
  • We can exercise our royal priesthood by wading out into the vast sea of our culture and standing with them.
  • Let us be a choir of stewards and leaders who humbly lead people through our own authentic expression of the faith.
We are not just here to change ourselves, but the whole cosmos.
  • Conversion, or metanoia, is the hardest change of all.
Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches Midwest-Cleveland, OH – September 20 – 23, 2012 East-Hillsborough, NJ – October 11-14, 2012 West-Los Angeles, CA – November 1-4, 2012
This is a real-time transcription of the welcome address at the Eastern Encounter 2012 (November 3rd) by Bishop Nicholas (Samra) of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton. Although it has been reviewed, it may contain errors, for which the webmaster unreservedly apologizes. Speaker Bio: An active speaker and author, Bishop Nicholas has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism, Christian leadership and stewardship. He has also published a multi-volume history of the Melkite Church and a book on the legacy of Archbishop Joseph Tawil. He is the past president of the Eastern Catholic Association of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In April 1999, the Oriental Congregation in Rome called him to a meeting. They had an agenda to bring together the bishops in the Americas and Oceana for October 1999. This encounter took place in Boston by invitation only, with about 125 people in attendance.
  • The first day was about their relationships with their mother Churches
  • The second day was about their relationships with the Roman Church
  • The third day was about their relationship with the Orthodox Churches
  • The fourth day was about catechesis, religious education, etc
  • Rome then said, &lquo;God bless you! You’re on your own! Continue what you started!&rquo;
In 2006, they held a second Encounter on the theme of “Evangelization through the Mysteries”
  • It was again by invitation with bishops, clergy, religious, and a few catechists
  • At this encounter, they saw the need to open it to everyone
We’re now at the third Encounter in 2012
  • They thought it might be a catechetical congress, but it changed over time to a leadership theme for the whole church
Bishop Nicholas greeted the participants in the name of all the Eastern Catholic bishops in the United States, those in attendance as well as those who sent their blessings, including:
  • Bishop Nerses Bedros XIX, the Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia for Armenian Catholics
  • Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States of America
  • Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, Major Archbishop Emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
  • Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio of Canada
  • Cardinal LUCIAN (Mureșan), Major Archbishop of Făgăraş and Alba Iulia of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic.
  • Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches
  • Patriarch SVIATOSLAV (Shevchuk), Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
  • Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
We call the feast of Christ’s presentation in the temple an encounter, where he was getting to know His people.
  • It is important to mingle and get to know each other at the Encounter.
“Our uniqueness is not a ghetto mentality.”
  • We must come together and witness to the whole Catholic Church that it is important we are here.

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