Every so often, everyone’s house needs a good renewal – both in terms of the structure and in terms of how each member of the family shares responsibility for the household.

Our shared “Household of Faith” – the Archdiocese of Chicago – invited members of all Archdiocesan parishes, offices, and programs to a two day summit this week, called “Renew My Church”. Over 2,000 people responded to this invitation from the cardinal, to priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers and members of many parishes.

Based on the work begun by Father James Mallon of St. Benedict’s Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, called “Divine Renovation”, this Summit committed the Church of Chicago to undergo a transformative process so that the mission of the church can, once again, fulfill the vision of God for His people.

Many of you may be familiar with Father Mallon’s book, Divine Renovation Guidebook: A Step-by-Step Manual for Transforming Your Parish. This is a great guidebook for evangelizing the parish – and the greater church.

Father Mallon characterized this transformation as changing the methodology – or the way we do things- so that the mission (of the church) can work, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

The church is pitted against a very changed and changing social culture. That cannot be ignored. Yet it also presents and tremendous opportunity to open the church up to the tremendous gifts that the Holy Spirit has given each and every one of us.

The model of leadership Mallon encourages us to embrace is one of collaboration among all the faithful. Leadership will change and all of us will truly become “the Body of Christ”.

The Archdiocese of Chicago’s participation in this program uses the symbol of the San Damiano Cross for this program. The story of that cross is very powerful as it provided “divine motivation” for St. Francis. As the story goes…

…one day, St. Francis was praying in the San Damiano chapel, and a voice, which Francis believed was coming from the cross, said, “Francis, go repair my church which is falling into ruins.”  The first thing Francis did was repair the chapel because it was falling down.  But God meant something more than that. He was meant to repair the church as a community.

Summarizing this Summit – and the work it has begun- would take much more space than I have here. I would encourage you to look at this program on the Archdiocesan website:

For an understanding “Divine Renovation”. Please see:

My final comment is that I found this a hopeful, energizing, and transformative meeting. I am looking forward to being part of St. James as we build our church so that we can renew THE CHURCH!