I had the opportunity to meet today with Jim Schellman, Executive Director of The North American Forum on the Catechumenate. I wasn’t sure how the conversation would go. I was a team member in Forum institutes back in “my other life” as an RC. Jim Dunning, the first Ex Dir of the Forum was a huge influence on me in my own journey into this ministry. I still hear his voice in my head. So I went, not with “fear and trembling” but with the apprehension of meeting a person I have long wanted to meet because of our common interest but who come to that common interest from different denominational perspectives.
Or do we? We share a deep appreciation of the Tradition that birthed and sustained the catechumenate from the primitive church through today.. We share a gratitude to the Vatican II Council Fathers (I wish there had been “Mothers” there too) for the liturgical reforms they unleashed. We share a love not only for this ministry but for forming catechumenal ministers. And, of course, most importantly, we both are Fighting Irish alumns (though I didn’t find out his feelings about college football in general and the Irish in particular).
Our conversation progressed from sharing personal stories to where each of is at now to how we can work together in the future. We met as strangers and parted as friends. I left the “Catholic Corner” of Washinton, DC (CUA, The National Shrine, RC colleges and seminaries all over the place) enthused and excited.
Despite the many misgivings that I do and will voice about the RC branch of the Church on these pages, I have a very strong commitment to ecumenism both among Christian denominations and for Christianity with other religions. In the former, we baptize into the Church Universal (one, holy, catholic, apostolic…or we try to be). With the latter, there are many rooms in the mansion that is the Kingdom of Heaven and many holy paths. (This is an entry unto itself.)
So, Jim, I hope and pray that we will have the opportunity to work together in this vineyard.