|July 11, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA|
Catholic Book Store Month
Bishop's memoir answer to diocese, Council history
We often use the term "Baby Boomers" to indicate the generation born and raised after World War II in the western world. Similarly, many also use the term "Vatican II generation" to refer to the people and principles that were formed in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.
I really want to learn more about the diocese, and Bishop Cummins' memoir helped me to do just that.
Unlike some autobiographies, it contains more than just personal memories. Bishop Cummins offers the testimony of a witness to many vital and significant events, not only in his own life but in the larger history of the Church. Through his stories he captures the challenges of the universal church at certain periods, as well as the development of his own particular diocese.
Indeed, there is an inseparable link between the person of Bishop Cummins and the growth of the Diocese of Oakland under his episcopal leadership.
Established in 1962, the very year the Second Vatican Council convened, the Diocese of Oakland is more than just a product of Vatican II. It embodies the dreams and desires of the universal church in a new age, and can be seen as a symbol of the hope and renewal that the Second Vatican Council proclaimed.
The Council, we must remember, remains the most significant religious event for the Catholic Church since the Council of Trent in the 16th Century. In response to its call for aggiornamento (renewal) and unity, the diocese developed programs to foster lay leadership and ecumenical participation. Bishop Cummins' memoir presents the development of these efforts, along with those of liturgical renewal, Catholic education, inter-religious dialogue and inculturation. More than just a collection of historical anecdotes, Bishop Cummins' memoir really shows a new way of being Church in Oakland.
I was especially interested in, and grateful for, Bishop Cummins' long-standing liaison work between the US Church and the Church in Asia. Knowing so well that "the split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the tragedy of our time" (Paul VI) and that "Faith which does not become a culture is a faith which is not fully accepted, thought out completely and faithfully lived" (John Paul II), Cummins has promoted and enabled the Church of Oakland to be a mediator between faith and culture, especially for many Asian ethnic groups such as the Hmong, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Cambodians, Laotians and Chinese.
"The word became flesh" (Jn 1:14). Bishop Cummins' memoir offers so much more than personal reminiscences. It captures the theological teachings of the Church guided by Vatican II, and helps readers come to understand the universal church through the lived experiences of a particular bishop and diocese. For anyone seeking a concise summary of Vatican II's teachings and their implementation, or of the historical development of the church in Oakland, Cummins' memoir is the answer.
(Father Hy K. Nguyen, PSS, a priest of the Oakland diocese, serves on the faculty of Theological College at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.)
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