MADISON -- The vigil outside the eastside clinic where abortions are performed was as peaceful a witness to the desire to end abortion as the silent reminder on the billboard opposite the clinic that reads "Defend Life."
People entering the Planned Parenthood Clinic either stared at those gathered for the vigil, especially during the talk by Bishop Robert C. Morlino and the rosary that followed, or they avoided eye contact. Occasionally passing drivers would heckle, beep their horns, or offer crude gestures.
But those at the vigil, some sitting in lawn chairs and others standing or kneeling, simply held their beads or pro-life signs and continued in the spirit of prayer.
"We're not here in a spirit of human combat," Bishop Morlino said. "We're here in a spirit of spiritual combat, which from our point of view is always a spirit of peace."
The vigil was organized by intern Scott Emerson with the Diocese of Madison Office of Vocations and associate director Tom Nelson of the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach.
The prayer outside the clinic off of Stoughton Rd. was held simultaneous with Eucharistic Adoration at nearby St. Peter Parish and a prayer walk from Holy Redeemer Parish downtown, which was organized by pro-life members of that parish. Full story ...
CONNECTIONS: Small group initiative off to great start
MADISON -- The new small group initiative in the Diocese of Madison called CONNECTIONS seems to be off to a great start.
Participants who have already attended training sessions for the program are enthusiastic about it.
Tina Schoebel, director of religious education at St. John the Baptist Parish, Montello, attended the Montello initial training session and three weeks of ongoing leadership training regarding CONNECTIONS.
Schoebel said, "CONNECTIONS training was like going to a retreat and getting fed on the message of Jesus Christ. It supported my belief that small faith communities are very important for a parish that wants to reach out to others. Wonderful experience! I feel spiritually nourished and ready to go!"
CONNECTIONS was started in response to a need for Catholics to experience more effective evangelization. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin said that the anonymity prevalent in U.S. parishes makes effective evangelization difficult. He suggested restructuring the parish as a community of communities in which Catholics gather to pray, read Scripture, share, and experience authentic community.
Cardinal Bernardin said, "Authentic community is vital to effective evangelization. It nurtures believers. If Catholics experience community on a smaller scale, they may form and experience more of a community when they gather for parish liturgies on the weekends."
Launching healthy small groups that become authentic communities takes time and effort. Preparing facilitators, choosing materials, and providing ongoing support for the leaders is essential for a healthy small group program. Full story ...