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Catholic Voice
 May 19, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Teachers' contract asks conformity
with Church

Bishop Barber discusses
teachers' contract

Diocese distributes financial report noting sound condition, transparency  

St. Joachim girl meets,
blessed by Pope Francis
Leader named for diocesan
evangelization, faith formation

Margaret M. Turek

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has appointed Margaret M. Turek to lead the Diocese of Oakland's response to the pastoral needs of its parishes and diocese in the areas of faith formation and evangelization.

In announcing her appointment, the bishop described Turek as "uniquely qualified to help our diocese implement Pope Francis' vision for Evangelization: 'Being Church means being God's people, in accordance with the great plan of his fatherly love. This means that we are to be God's leaven in the midst of humanity. It means proclaiming and bringing God's salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way.'"

Bishop Barber said, "I have asked Dr. Turek to envision, plan and organize our efforts to bring more people to Christ and Christ to more people, both inside and outside the Church. She plans to hold listening sessions and consultations throughout the diocese. She will also broadly survey the wider Church for emerging initiatives and pastoral programs and practices that might be useful within our diocese."

The Department for Evangelization and Catechesis will continue its current work during this time of transition, the bishop said.

The bishop said the appointment was made after extensive consultation, including interviews with five senior pastors of the diocese.

Turek was graduated from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland with a doctor of sacred theology degree, with a master's degree from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley and with her bachelor's degree in Theology and English at the University of San Francisco. She has taught at St. Patrick's Seminary as associate professor of systematic and spiritual theology since 2001. Before that, she was a tenured theology faculty member at the University of Dallas in Texas.

She will be a member of the Bishop's Administrative Council. Her appointment is effective July 1.

"Dr. Turek knows the situation of our local Church very well, having lived here for so many years." The bishop said. "She has taught all the young priests ordained in Oakland for the last 13 years. We are so fortunate to have her joining our pastoral team in the Diocese of Oakland."

Formation, theology intimately connected, Turek believes

Margaret M. Turek, the new leader of faith formation and catechesis for the Diocese of Oakland, answered questions for staff writer Michele Jurich:

Q. This new role at the diocese appears to be quite a change from your academic life. Why make this move, and why at this moment?

A. My core commitment has always been to formation. At the same time, I have a strong interest in theology. I see the two as intimately connected, because theology is meant to be life-transformative. Theology is to enlighten, inspire and shape Christian life, precisely so that Christian lives can offer a credible and effective witness to Christ in the world. Before coming to St. Patrick's Seminary in 2001, I had a tenured position at a university. I left to join the seminary faculty, because I saw in priestly formation an opportunity to combine theology, spirituality and pastoral practice. I see now another opportunity to follow my core commitment in the Diocese of Oakland. So for me, my journey is unfolding along a definite trajectory leading from the university to the seminary to the formation of lay leaders, catechists, spiritual mentors, disciples and witnesses.

I am inspired by Pope Francis' call to evangelization on the part of us all. There is such excitement around his vision as spelled out in "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"). I am eager to devote my energies to stirring up "enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction" (in the words of Pope Francis).

Q. What challenges — and opportunities — do you see in this new role?

A. The opportunities are many, given the inspiration of the Holy Father and the growing desire of so many to deepen their understanding of the faith, celebrate its beauty, be nourished by a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer and the sacraments, and serve others in his name. There are challenges, of course. I see one in extending evangelization beyond the individual's relationship with God to include the transformation of society and culture. A second challenge is to proclaim the Gospel in a culture that does not readily appreciate the fundamental role of faith and religion in society. A third is to heed the invitation of Pope Francis to be open to rethinking the goals, approaches and styles of forming the Catholic faith and practice of the youth and young adults.

And finally, what amounts to both an opportunity and a challenge, follows from the richness of the cultures of the people of the diocese, which I have come to appreciate through my work at a very culturally diverse seminary. On the one hand, we need to draw from the riches that they bring to the expression and celebration of the Catholic faith. At the same time, we need to reach out to those who do not know or have drifted away from the faith. And in everything we need to show that to believe in and follow Jesus Christ is the natural response to an encounter with God's merciful love and the profound joy it brings. To be sure, in order to meet these and other challenges, it is vital that we seek advice and input from our pastors and parish leaders who know firsthand the needs of our parishes in the areas of faith formation and evangelization. Our efforts will be in response to and shaped by this consultation. I'm eager to get started.

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