Byline: Rukmini Callimachi Daily Herald Staff Writer
Nine months before the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church began to dominate the news, best-selling author Paul Wilkes set out in 2001 to find the top eight Catholic parishes in the nation.
Last night, at a town hall debate meant to tackle some of the thorniest issues facing Catholics today, it was easy to see why the Holy Family parish in Inverness was chosen as one of the top 8 parishes nationwide - and the only one in Illinois to receive the honor.
"We're not done with the Reformation," said Holy Family pastor Rev. Patrick Brennan, pointing to the scandal that has unfolded in the last few months. "But there has not been a conversion of the heart."
As Brennan watched, 70 parishioners broke into seven discussion groups and expressed their concerns, frustrations, visions and hopes for the church.
The resulting strategies proposed by the groups began with a zero-tolerance policy and the recommendations set forth at the recent policy making Conference of Bishops in Dallas but quickly digressed.
"I feel that it is imperative for women to be included in the leadership of the church," said Tom Franklin, one of the members of the church's original congregation, founded in 1984. "I think that Mother Teresa would have made a wonderful pope - not to mention a cardinal, a bishop, and not to mention a priest."
"We are the church, not them," said Dawn Watkiss, whose group called for cardinals to be elected by the laity, not Vatican- appointed, in much the same way that the Holy Family congregation had been involved in the choosing of its future pastor years earlier.
But in addition to comments that called for radical change - whether in terms of women's role in the priesthood or the election of cardinals - others also stressed the need for an agenda more in keeping with core Christian values. …