Journeying together toward Jesus Christ

from Faith Connection, newsletter of Faith Mennonite Church, Minneapolis
June 2004

On Sunday, May 16, I shared with the congregation my plans to be received into the Catholic Church at the Pentecost Vigil, on May 29, at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church here in St. Paul, even while maintaining associate membership at Faith Mennonite. I look forward to opportunities at which to tell my story and answer people’s questions as best I can. I have also placed some copies of the newsletter of the Bridgefolk movement of Catholics and Mennonites at the back of the church. Still more information is available at: http://bridgefolk.net

So why have I decided to join the Catholic Church? I always struggle to answer because there is no one single decisive reason, but rather a whole bunch of reasons that have built up over the years. A list of reasons — not a complete list, and not necessarily in order of priorities– would include the following:

  • Growing appreciation for liturgical and sacramental spirituality.
  • Believing I have something to offer as the Catholic Church stresses nonviolence more and more.
  • Finding myself at home in the Catholic intellectual tradition through the years.
  • Coming to terms with the legacy of Vatican II, which has fundamentally altered the map of global Christianity and opened the door to mutual exchange and learning among different Christian traditions.
  • Not being able to accept any longer the view that has tended to justify the Anabaptist break – that the Catholic Church had utterly “fallen” for 1000+ years –
  • … and so not being able to justify (at least for myself) staying out of communion with the Catholic Church when I find it increasingly possible to take the Mennonite “charism” into the Catholic Church…
  • … especially when God has opened up a number of once-unimaginable ways to be Catholic even while staying connected to the Mennonite tradition.

I believe our traditions need each other desperately. On one hand this means I believe Mennonites need greater connection and accountability to the longer (historical) and wider (global) Christian community. On the other hand, this means that I am anything but blind to the problems in the Catholic Church. In some small way I believe God is calling me to help make the strengths of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition more accessible to people within the Catholic Church – face-to-face community, serious discipleship, lay participation, principled nonviolence, and so on.

Cardinal Walter Kasper has said that the proper goal of interchurch dialogue is not that we move closer to one another but rather that together we move closer to Jesus Christ. I hope that can be our common goal as my journey, and other journeys of discipleship at Faith Mennonite, continue to coincide.

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