Ham Lake Talk Sets Aside Discord to Heal a Hurting Catholic Church

The thick manila envelope landed in Bob Schwiderski’s mailbox in March. He tore it open — and found something he’d never seen in his 25 years advocating for victims of clergy abuse.

Inside were 20 notes of support from parishioners at a local church. “We love you and hold you in our hearts,” wrote one woman, pledging to devote four masses, 30 rosaries and other prayers to the abused. “I am praying for healing for us all,” another wrote.
Stunned, Schwiderski eventually called the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake and proposed a face-to-face meeting with church members.

As many Minnesota Catholics struggle to reconcile their faith with the revelations of clergy sexual abuse, the gathering provided one grass-roots model to bridge the divide.

The Rev. Tim Norris, who shepherded the project on the church’s end, called it a “small step” to help all parties involved.
“It’s kind of like when something goes wrong in a family, the whole family can be hurt,” Norris said. “We’re trying to bridge those hurts.”

Article by: JEAN HOPFENSPERGER, Star Tribune May 10, 2014
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