Mission staffer’s slogan: ‘That we all may be one’

| August 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
Mike Haasl

Leading with faith winner Mike Haasl. Photo courtesy of Mike Haasl.

Mike Haasl

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

Quite literally, everything I do at work derives from my Catholic faith and values. My work and my being are deeply rooted in the Catholic Church’s recognition and invitation, which we celebrate in the Eucharist every Sunday: That we all may be one.

My work is fundamentally to help parishes and parishioners to engage with this challenge and invitation as it is stated in the 1997 U.S. bishops’ document, “Called to Global Solidarity.” They note that “a parish reaching beyond its own members and beyond national boundaries is a truly Catholic [parish],” and that “the Church’s teaching on international justice and peace is not simply a mandate for a few large agencies, but a challenge for every believer and every Catholic community of faith,” and finally, that this movement toward global oneness — solidarity — is to be imbedded into the ongoing life of the parish. Ultimately, it raises the question: What would our individual, family and parish life look like if we really lived as if we were one global family with God as our Father and all people as brothers and sisters?

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference.

In 2004, Catholic Relief Services invited our archdiocese into a global solidarity partnership with a diocese in Africa to be organized through the Center for Mission. After some discernment and the encouragement of Archbishop Harry Flynn, we decided to invite some parishes from the rural, southeastern part of our archdiocese to consider initiating this partnership.

Each step of the way, we found core people who were willing to say “yes” to the journey, even though they/we didn’t exactly know where it would lead. Next year, we will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this relationship between our archdiocese and the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya.

We have been touched by so many good people of Kitui and have learned so much over these 10 years. We have learned how alive the Catholic faith is in Kitui — growing from just a few hundred Catholics in 1955 to now over 330,000, with vibrant, lively liturgies, with thousands of committed, involved members.

Through delegation visits to and from Kitui, our archdiocese has learned about the immense faith of the people of the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya, where — in the face of terrible drought conditions — Catholics there still say without hesitation: “God is good all the time; all the time, God is good.”

We have always experienced generous and warm hospitality when we have visited. And, we have seen how their small faith communities pray together in their fields and make sure that every member is taken care of — reminiscent of the communities found in the Acts of the Apostles.

On the Minnesota side, we have invited children and adults to become conscious of the precious God-given gift of water in our state, and to partner with the Kitui Diocese to help build earthen reservoirs so that women and children no longer have to walk 10 to 12 miles just to obtain water for their families’ daily needs.

And again, so many have responded with an enthusiastic “yes.” The monies collected have gone to pay wages for small farmers to dig and create immense earthen dams, and to purchase a backhoe-loader to deepen the earthen reservoirs.

Our inter-diocesan partnership has become a tremendous gift to our archdiocese, truly a bridge of friendship, holy connection and hope.

Who or what has been the most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

My sources of inspiration have been many. I have been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to meet many people who live lives of very difficult struggle, yet who have tremendous faith and hope, and generosity and courage.

I recently led a trip to Guatemala for Catholic educators in our archdiocese, and we met women who work so hard just to daily put food on the table for their children, yet have such a deep, abiding trust that God will provide. Their lives are always inspiring to me.

I am also inspired by the people from our archdiocese who are willing to step out of their comfort zone, to go to an unfamiliar place simply to touch and be touched by the lives of the people who are more marginalized, and who perhaps then re-think their own lives and faith back here in Minnesota in light of that new relationship.

All of these, together with the other “cloud of witnesses” I read about each morning in my prayers, inspire me greatly. And, I am inspired by the tremendous source of hope and wisdom that we have in our Catholic tradition, which invites, calls and cajoles us to “be one.” And finally, I am inspired by our new Pope Francis, who is trying to lead and embody this invitation to oneness.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

I am so grateful to God for the slow but steady growth and deepening of our inter-diocesan solidarity partnership with the Diocese of Kitui. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those many people throughout the archdiocese who have taken up interest in this little-known, arid place, and have now become “neighbors” with the people there, not because we want anything from them, but simply because Christ calls us to become neighbor.

I am quite sure that this is the most significant connection of our local Church with the vibrant, lively Catholic Church in Africa, and it has been a privilege to be a leader of this growing connection.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

I experience God’s presence most manifest in unexpected moments of welling up in amazement and joy. These moments occur not infrequently in my work when groups engage with inspiring people of other cultural or socio-economic or historical backgrounds and when they reflect upon that encounter.

It seems that when people humbly enter into these mission encounters with openness and vulnerability, the Spirit just seems to enter into those spaces and offers new insight, new energy, and hope for a new world of being bound up together. That my work gives me the opportunity to witness this transformation is a great blessing.

Profile

Age: 61

Organization: Center for Mission, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Title: Global solidarity coordinator

Parish: St. Gerard, Brooklyn Park

Spouse: Mickie Micklewright

Children: Emmamarie, Mary

Activities: Adult faith formation facilitator, sister parish committee active member, advocate for just policies

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Category: Leading With Faith