St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
10431 Twin Rivers Road
Columbia, Maryland 21044
September 14, 2018
To: All those who volunteered to work on planning our future parish “Town Hall” meeting, and/or who met on Thursday, August 30th, at Wilde Lake with myself and Fr. Ferdinand and Scott Miller.
From: Fr. Gerry Bowen, St. John, Columbia, Maryland
Re: Our follow-up to this first meeting
Dear Friends in Christ,
First, I want to thank each of you for your commitment to helping our parish, and our larger Church engage in the work of healing and reformation at this time of Crisis. At the August 30th meeting, we intended to gather to plan the format for our future “town hall” meeting with parishioners. What you taught us, and we learned from that meeting of more than 50 people, our first time to come together over the abuse crisis, was that we needed not first to plan, but to listen.
It was the first-time people came together in a group, and we all needed to vent, to ask questions, and to share our shock at finding our beloved Church in such a betrayal of trust. We understood, upon better reflection, that so many of us were traumatized, and needed first a chance to be heard. That realization will also help us as we in seek to plan ways in which our parish may also have time to be heard, and to put forth whatever actions we may propose as being appropriate, as we go forward seeking justice and healing and change for our beloved Church.
To that end, after consultation with lay professionals in our parish last evening, we are inviting all task force members to another meeting, October 4, from 7:30 – 9:00 pm again at Wilde Lake, to do what we should have done in the first place, and which we learned many of you wanted to occur at that first meeting on the 30th, namely to give time for people to ask questions, and to share concerns, thoughts, and frustrations, as we take time to listen and to learn from each other. We will first be present to one another, and with one another. That will be the entire purpose of that rejoined meeting. At conclusion, we will set a time to plan the format and shape of what other meetings may follow for our larger parish, consistent with what may come out of this next meeting. Since this group is so large, it will essentially be a trial run of how to conduct a “town hall” meeting for our wider parish community.
You have already shown your willingness to care about your parish, and to be part of your Church’s future directions in responding effectively to this crisis. I am counting on you to again return. This session is not equipped nor intended to provide therapy, but it will be led by the professionals of our church who are skilled in facilitation of discussions.
May I ask you to please rsvp, so that we may plan appropriately? I look forward to our being together, this time, with expectation of our taking the time to hear from one another.
In the Peace of Christ,
Fr. Gerry Bowen