Archbishop Hebda says ‘tarantulas’ and credible parishes don’t mix

| October 28, 2016 | 3 Comments

Speaking to almost 700 archdiocesan and parish staff members Oct. 27, Archbishop Bernard Hebda called for an extermination.

Of an attitude in parish life, that is.


Archbishop Bernard Hebda

His presentation at the Fall Formation Day for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis concluded with a story about Pope Francis’ recount of a parish secretary in Argentina who had been called by many a “tarantula.” It grabbed the attention and laughter of the crowd gathered at St. John Neumann in Eagan, hearing the antithesis of being a welcoming parish.

“He [the pope] said everybody referred to her as the tarantula,” Archbishop Hebda said. “People were afraid to go to the parish because of what the tarantula would do. How important it is that we tame the tarantula in ourselves.”

Archbishop Hebda spoke of the need to become credible parishes at a time when the archdiocese still has more recovery to do following the clergy sex abuse scandals and general drifting away of people from the Catholic faith.

He emphasized that parishes need to seek Christ in a united approach and spread the core message of the Gospel. Moreover, all need to reach out to the poor and respond to the “real needs of the people.”

Archbishop Hebda also said that he sees the move of the archdiocesan offices from Summit Avenue to St. Paul’s east side as an opportunity to recognize the poor anew.

“We know that at the end of our days, Jesus is going speak to us about when we’ve clothed the naked or fed the poor, because that’s the way we related to him,” Archbishop Hebda said. “If we’re going to be credible communities, we’re going to have to be communities of service. It’s that way we not only show others who we are and what we’re about, but it’s also a way in which we’re able to have that encounter with Christ in the poor and needy, that that enriches our understanding of who we are as the Church.”

Archdiocesan and parish staff will have another formation day in the spring at St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove with Bishop Frank Caggiano from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bishop Caggiano’s talk will be a follow-up to last spring’s formation day, when he spoke at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie.


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