By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Catechists from across the Diocese of Evansville attended the annual Formation Day on Aug. 27 at the Catholic Center in Evansville. The Diocesan Office of Catechesis focused the event on the ongoing Eucharistic Renewal in the diocese. Keynote speaker Steve Angisano talked about it a lot, and breakout sessions throughout the day highlighted various elements.
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel welcomed attendees, who filled the Catholic Center’s Celebration Hall to capacity. Noting that Aug. 27 is the feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, the bishop prayed that we all look to the example and intercession of St. Monica, whose prayers undoubtedly played a major role in her son’s turn from heathen to, ultimately, saint.
The bishop explained that the Eucharistic Renewal is intended to encourage everyone to return to the roots of our faith. And with that in mind, he suggested that the catechists – and all across the diocese – should make this a time to invite our family home to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Bishop Siegel assured all of his admiration for them and his ongoing support.
Although keynote speaker Steve Angrisano is based in Texas, he is no stranger to southwest Indiana. He earned a master’s degree in theology at St. Meinrad Archabbey’s School of Theology, and he served on the staff of the Archabbey’s “One Bread, One Cup” summer program for young people.
Steve, an internationally known Catholic musician and composer, adeptly mixed his music with his passion for ministry during his presentation. He talked about his first trip to the Holy Land with a story that was as humorous as it was enlightening. He said, “My biggest take-away from that trip and all that happened was that, no matter where we are, God is there with us.”
He also talked about writing a song that many readers of The Message know and have sung, “My Soul is Thirsting.” He said, “I had the music for years, but I could never come up with lyrics. One night, my wife told me it was time to finish that song or just stop playing the music. When I told her I could not come up with lyrics, she gave me a Bible and said to just open it.
“I did … to Psalm 63: ‘O God, you are my God, it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, In a land parched, lifeless, and without water’ (Psalm 63:2). So I wrote the music, but David wrote the words thousands of years ago.”
Steve also talked about encountering the Franciscan order of Sisters known as the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose convent is in Amarillo, Texas. He described how they pray for everything – literally everything – in the moment, using the example of encountering people in a restaurant where they took him to dinner on his way to the airport after an appearance.
He offered quotes from St. Bernard and St. Pope Paul VI regarding our ability to take St. Augustine’s words to heart: “Let us live our life so all much see that our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
Steve said, “St. Bernard tells us that we cannot be conduits of grace, but reservoirs – so filled that we’re overflowing. And St. Pope Paul VI said that people listen more readily to witnesses than teachers. If they listen to teachers, it’s because they also are witnesses.”
Steve encouraged the catechists to work toward being those reservoirs of grace, and to be witnesses to all they encounter.
The Diocesan Office of Catechesis scheduled a group of morning and afternoon breakout sessions following Steve that centered on the Eucharist and its celebration. Presenters included Father Benny Alikandayil Chacko, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Evansville; Father Chris Forler, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Daylight and St. Bernard Parish in Snake Run; Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen, former rector of St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville who recently began serving as rector of the Cathedral of St. Peter in the diocese of Belleville, Illinois; Father Juan Ramirez, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Washington; and others.