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  May 7, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 9Oakland, CA

articles list

Strategic plan focus for cathedral ministries

Oakland police chaplain offers solutions to violence

Rallies call for just immigration policy reform

Richard Kruska named superintendent
of Catholic schools in Oakland Diocese

Two men to be ordained for the Oakland Diocese

Average age of priests to be ordained in United States this year is 35

Hundreds of Catholics visit Sacramento to lobby lawmakers

Convocation of lay Catholics set for S.F. with Pleasant Hill priest as speaker

Leading U.S. doctor says health workers need to argue for 'just and valid' system

Religious groups call for reform of U.S. food and farm policy

EWTN will broadcast Pope Benedict’s visit to Brazil

Antioch parish hosts Eucharistic Adoration

Rosary Bowl to be held May 19 at Rose Bowl

Critiquing limbo: Vatican responds
to changes in theological thought

Taking a stand against TV violence; how will TV producers respond?

























Strategic plan focus for cathedral ministries

Sister Rose Marie Hennessy, O.P.

Late last year, Bishop Allen Vigneron asked Dominican Sister Rose Marie Hennessy to chair the committee that will develop a strategic plan for ministries at the new Cathedral of Christ the Light. She brings to this responsibility many years of leadership within the Oakland Diocese and the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. She was diocesan superintendent of schools for 15 years and served her religious community as its congregational prioress for 10 years. Currently, she is principal of St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Oakland, a post she also held from 1968-1974. She was principal of St. Joseph School in Fremont from 1964-1968.

She met recently with The Voice to talk about her new role in the diocese.

What does your new appointment entail?

I feel honored to have been asked to be part of the ministry planning for the cathedral. This planning will focus on diocesan ministries that will center in and flow from the cathedral itself. I have been asked to form a committee to prepare a strategic plan for the three-fold ministry of liturgy, education, and service, which is the ministry of the bishop of every diocese.

As flowing from the diocesan cathedral, these ministries will impact all the people of the diocese, its parishes, and its civic communities; all will be connected through our commitment to bring Christ’s light to the peoples of the two counties of our diocese.

How will the committee work?

I envision our committee, once formed, to do the research and planning in the three areas the bishop has designated: liturgy, education and service. We will present the plan to Bishop Vigneron and to the Board of Trustees of the cathedral. The final decisions on the recommendations will be made by Bishop Vigneron based on his vision, whatever advice he chooses to seek and accept, and the available resources.

Speaking of resources, are there budget parameters that will influence what types of activities and programs your committee can recommend?

We have not been given any budget parameters. I am aware that the priority in fundraising and allocations at this time is the money needed for the construction.

Here’s hoping that soon there will be an endowment for the ministries of the cathedral.

It could happen that the strategic planning process develops a plan with “price tags” that are not possible. But, if we don’t dream, nothing new will happen and what a tragedy it will be if we have this beautiful building from which Christ’s light does not emanate.

Are you working with a timeline?

Yes, the strategic plan needs to be completed and in readiness for implementation within a year. At this time it would be helpful to have your ideas for the strategic plan for the ministry of the cathedral. Dream a little…how do you see our cathedral being a source of Christ’s light in Alameda and Contra Costa counties?

This is a 21st century cathedral. How will it differ from the diocese’s original St. Francis de Sales Cathedral which we lost in the Loma Prieta earthquake?

Being a 21st century cathedral provides the opportunity to incorporate the best of the long history of cathedrals from around the world into the ministry for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.

The strategic planning process needs to identify how the Catholic, ecumenical, and civic communities within our two counties can be served. That will require the creative thinking of representatives of a variety of ages, skills, and experiences. It will need to be an on-going process.

When people think cathedral, the initial focus is, of course, liturgy. How do you see the cathedral serving the liturgical life of the diocese?

I would hope that all people will see Christ the Light Cathedral as their church: one in which they can come to rejoice at times of special significance, such as the inscription rite, graduations, ordinations, significant anniversaries, etc. It will also be a worship site for significant times of mourning, including funerals for both Church and civic leaders.

This will be the bishop’s church for the regular celebration of Eucharist and special prayer experiences as well. I see the liturgy there as a source of prayerful support to our entire diocese. It is through Word, Eucharist, ritual, symbols, preaching, and music that the cathedral will become a focus of Catholic worship and spiritual growth in our diocese.

I think the cathedral will also provide liturgical resources and education to our parishes. I hope our plan will include ways for parishes to experience Eucharist at their cathedral church and for the priests of the diocese to preside at Eucharist on a regular basis.

The cathedral will also be the Parish of Christ the Light and the parish’s commitment to quality liturgy, education, and service will continue and grow.

Will the cathedral have ways to accommodate the devotional needs of the various ethnic groups that make up the diocese?

If the Cathedral of Christ the Light is the “people’s cathedral,” it will need to be welcoming, supportive, and available for all of the people of the diocese. This means providing for the various devotional and prayer styles that support the faith life of people in our diocese today and those who will come in the decades ahead.

The outdoor plaza, the garden, the café, the bookstore, the conference center and the cathedral itself are going to invite participation and outreach to/of all ages, ethnicities, and races.

Meaningful art and symbols are planned that will support the faith life of people who live, work, and visit in the area.

Bishop Vigneron mentioned in his Nov. 20 article in The Voice that the cathedral center will be a place for evangelization and faith formation. Does that mean that classes will be held there?

There are so many ways to be engaged in evangelization and faith formation -- classes, prayer groups, lectures, multimedia experiences, satellite conferences, retreats, outreach programs, art exhibits, drama, dance, contemplative hours, and more!

The strategic planning process needs to include a lot of listening to the thoughts, challenges, and hearts of the people who are the Church of Oakland so that we can recommend what will work best.

For example, there are many professionals who work in downtown Oakland and live somewhere else. I think the cathedral can offer some wonderful opportunities during their lunch hours – everything from a brown bag spiritual book group to discussions on ethical issues in the workplace.

Will outreach to the community extend to direct service to those in need?

There are already many direct services in the area of the new cathedral – A Friendly Place/Manor, St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, the Visitation and Champion Centers, St. Mary’s Center, Next Step Learning Center and St. Martin de Porres School. The Parish of Christ the Light also provides direct services. The cathedral will not duplicate what is already happening but hopefully will collaborate with the parish and the various outreach groups in the area.

However, there might be “unmet” needs that will be identified during our planning process so response to these are opportunities for sponsorship by the cathedral.

In addition, diocesan departments will be located at the cathedral center so their ministries will emanate from there.

How will the cathedral interface with the parish that will be the core community there?

When the strategic planning committee is formed there will be someone on the committee from the parish core committee so there will be coordination with the parish community. I envision a model emerging that is based on mutual respect and bringing together the skills of parish leaders, both priests and laity, and cathedral leadership, clerical and lay.

You have spent your life as an educator. What made you agree to chair this committee?

As an educator I see my commitment in ministry to the growth of people of all ages.

I know that there is a need for a Catholic high school in the Livermore Valley and that need has existed for a long time. Bishop Vigneron is committed to bringing that to reality as soon as possible. He is also committed to strengthening our city schools, providing options for families.

When Bishop Vigneron asked me to consider taking on this aspect of the cathedral project, it took prayer, consultation with some wise people in my life, and further conversations with the bishop before I accepted the challenge. His vision for the cathedral is so “wholistic,” creative, and filled with his love and energy for the future of the Church of Oakland that my creative and administrative fire was lit. This vision definitely includes Catholic schools.

I must admit that as the months have gone on I question my “time management” skills in having said yes to this volunteer role.

What are the next steps for you?

I need to form the committee of 8-10 people to create the strategic plan for the ministry of the cathedral. Then get to work.

The task of forming the committee really has me challenged because the committee needs people who are generous with their time, know today’s experience of Church, have a vision of Church beyond today into the future, and have administrative skills.

So I am seeking recommendations to find the best people in our diocese for this important task.

If anyone reading this interview believes they might be one of those people, I want to invite them to send me an email, telling me about themselves and why they believe they should be considered for membership on the strategic planning group.

Also, if anyone knows someone who has the listening skills, vision, and administrative abilities to participate in the committee, I’d like him or her to ask that person if they agree to be recommended. If they agree, then just e-mail me their name, parish and reasons why they should be considered.

Bishop Vigneron and I will review these recommendations and make the final decisions.

How can people contact you?

E-mail is the best. My email is: rosemarie@msjdominicans.org.


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