Presbyteral Assembly Gives Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Priests a Chance to Discuss Current Pressing Issues, Notably Sex Abuse Scandals

June 18, 2015

Just two days after Archbishop John Neinstedt's resignation, and two weeks after word the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis would face criminal charges for allegedly failing to protect children against sexual predator priests, Neinstedt's interim replacement came to Rochester to celebrate mass with the priests of the Archdiocese.

Pope Francis himself named Archbishop Bernard Hebda to the position of the Apostolic Administrator of Twin Cities diocese.

Hebda celebrated mass just after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning with priests gathered at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester. Most priests, both active in the ministry and retired, gathered for the Presbyteral Assembly of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. This assembly happens every two years in Rochester, and it runs through Thursday.

The assembly is a time of fellowship, and a chance to discuss issues facing priests and their ministries. Reporters weren't allowed inside the mass on Wednesday morning, and the priests we spoke with preferred not to talk specifics about their meetings.

It's no question that there's a lot of pain among leaders of the Church and the priesthood. The lingering question for so many is as follows: How do we move forward in the wake of the sex abuse scandals?

Thanks to the writings of two Minnesota priests in their church bulletins, just this past weekend, we have a better grasp of their thoughts and feelings in this Presbyteral Assembly.

This year, they're hoping for inspiration from some major leaders of the church in North America, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan from New York City, who some feel could be a candidate for Pope some day; Archbishop John Michael Miller of Vancouver; and a professor of philosophy from Boston College, Dr. Peter Kreeft.

Father Dennis Zehren of the Nativity of Mary Catholic Church of Bloomington noted in his blog that "It's a great time for us priests to come together and to be strengthened as brothers. I look forward to it. We share war stories and lick our collective wounds (we have plenty of wounds to lick lately)."

Father Zehren continued and asked his parishioners: "Pray for the priests while we are gone. Through our hope and prayers together, may God begin something new and beautiful for our Archdiocese."

Father Mark Juettner of The Church of St. George of Long Lake wrote to his parishioners: "Perhaps more particularly in this challenging time, we can hear a call both to seek God's grace more readily for ourselves, and to encourage the People of God to persevere in their call to holiness."

The priests will be here in Rochester through midday on Thursday, and then will go back to their daily work.








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