Newsletter, Nov. 23, 2011 (Thanksgiving)

ACC LogoAmerican Catholic Council  New Winskin Graphic
Reclaiming the Promise of Vatican II

             — Beyond Detroit in Search of New Wineskins
NEWSLETTER                                                 THANKSGIVING 2011               

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Stories from the Grassroots

Missoula, Montana


Something New on ACN!

This month we feature Concerned Catholics of Montana. Learn how Jim and Rosemary Tackes returned from ACC in Detroit, shared the DVDs with others, and have since formed a group that is now engaging their local Bishop in dialogue.

Join the ConversationA sampling of Discussion Forums Open on the ACN:


Strategies in Grassroots
(Models for Dialogue & Action in the Grassroots)


Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs)  


On the New English Roman Missal   


Nonviolence and the Church Reform Movement




Technical Assistance  

Post Your Local or National Event to the ACC Calendar.

Posting your event adds “steam” to the momentum for reform and demonstrates vitality of our movement in grassroots. We welcome local, regional or national events that engage the reform agenda of the American Catholic Council. Events can take many forms, i.e. Listening Sessions, followups to Detroit, retreats, workshops, conferences, Assemblies/Synods, etc. Whether you anticipate a crowd of a thousand or a gathering in your living room,we’d love to have you post it to the calendar.

If not already a member of the Assemblies Community Network, you will be prompted to sign-up. DIRECTIONS for Submitting Events.

Catholic Spring??

Worth the Read:

The Guardian (UK) 11/10/11

Holy Spirit 2

New Directions:  

Prompts for Thanksgiving Table Talk

As we approach this season of Thanksgiving, it is essential to name the things we are grateful for and why they impact our lives.  On behalf of the Planning Committee of the American Catholic Council (ACC), we are sustained by your continued testimony that our gathering in Detroit this past Pentecost Weekend invigorated attendees with a new understanding of their rights and responsibilities as adult Catholics.


In Retrospect: We took the summer to digest the varied data provided from that memorable weekend in order to determine trends and actionable directions. Those deliberations have reinforced our collective realization that governance continues to be the root cause of the ongoing crises in our Church.  We remain convinced that focusing on solutions that impact leadership and governance structures of the church will yield historic changes.


Early this Fall, the Planning Team concurred that this movement could not simply be a one time event that fades into the history books as a marker event. And so we began to discuss how this movement, with no prior  history, no staff, no office and no guaranteed future funding could define itself and its future.  This was no easy challenge when we were bombarded with calls, emails, notes and letters all asking what our next steps would be.  Because we left the future open to the call of the Spirit and the Sensus Fidelium, we were “listening” but the call was not yet crystal clear.


Toward An Emerging Catholic Spring: Patience has not been consistently one of our virtues, yet in recent months, a future step has emerged with clarity. We are pleased this Thanksgiving to give you a foretaste for your dinner conversations: We are planning to launch an online Institute on Nonviolent Action to be framed by a social analysis of power systems in the institutional Catholic Church. We hope to engage help from the Albert Einstein Institution, the home of Gene Sharp who has been heralded as the father of the Arab Spring.


Might it be that we can stimulate what some have been calling an emerging Catholic Spring? Our pilot initiative will review the theory and practice on nonviolent action, ground it in Gospel imperatives, and then seek to integrate nonviolent methods into a national action plan.We have presented this new direction to a national association of reform groups and debuted it in a caucus held at the Call to Action conference in Milwaukee earlier this month.  Receptivity was exceptionally high.


We are currently reviewing available dates with the Einstein Institution’s staff and are in preparation for the project to begin early next year.  More information will be forthcoming as it becomes available, but our solution-driven goal is to call for a  coordinated action around one or two initiatives that will have national, regional and local applicability and impact.


We are grateful to you for your patience as we discerned this direction, challenged ourselves to take this movement to the next step, and boldly step out into an unknown future with a strong belief that we have been called.  We hope this news finds you well and that the holidays provide you with the rest and refreshment needed to find yourself called to step out in faith to join us in our efforts to act as the Church we have been called to be.


In gratitude and humility,

— Janet Hauter & John Hushon
Co-Chairs, American Catholic Council, Inc. 

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Report on ACC Caucus at Call to Action

Milwaukee, Nov. 5, 2011

Some 120 people participated in an ACC “caucus” during CTA earlier this month.  After a brief overview of the agenda, John Frank asked for one word impressions of what happened in Detroit back in June. Some phrases that “popped” were: Joy; Jump; Enthusiasm; Plant the seed without seeing the flowers; time to be adults; red stoles; energy; empowerment.


Janet Hauter then presented a summary of the significance of Detroit and ongoing energy to promote a Vatican II spirituality to sustain our commitment to church reform. For some of those related insights, see the article ACC Watershed Moment in our last newsletter (Oct. 31, 2011)


Underscoring ACC’s emerging niche in grassroots organizing, Sheila Peiffer then moderated a mini “listening session”, where participants talked in small groups about what ACC could do to nurture the grassroots of church reform and how it might give support to local leadership and local organizing. Some key responses included the following:

  • Use the DVDs from Detroit to educate others and engage local parish priests; publish discussion guides to go with them;
  • Expand the Assemblies Community Network and encourage people to use it as a means to get connected in local communities and organize across the country.
  • Publish resources to further education around the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (CBRR) and other resources that ACC has produced, including the Report on the Listening Sessions leading up to Detroit.
  • Provide a Speakers Bureau to resource continued education in large and small towns across the country;
  • Provide resources to promote further growth of Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs);
  • Engage the secular media;

John Hushon then spoke of the emerging plan for an Institute on Nonviolence and Church Reform. The aim will be to develop a strategic plan for Nonviolent Action to effect the changes we seek in church governance and leadership. The pilot program, to begin this Spring, will consist of three phases: (1) social/structural analysis of Catholic Church power systems and vulnerabilities in its hierarchical structure; (2) training in non-violence theory and methods; and (3) development of strategies to implement these methods in specific targeted actions to produce positive reform in the Church. The plan is to have the Institute operate as a university type “webinar” for up to 40 people that would culminate in an in-person retreat in the late Spring. If proven successful, subsequent institutes would follow.


The ACC Caucus at CTA concluded with a post-session later that afternoon where John Frank provided a tutorial on how to use the interactive communication features of the Assemblies Community Network.


(Compiled by Sheila Peiffer, with thanks to Janet Hauter, Tom Kyle, and Margaret Mary Moore)


American Catholic Council, Inc.
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