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SYNOD-FABBRO Oct-13-2008 (410 words) xxxi

Canadian bishop urges church leaders to inspire faithful by example

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first ones to be called to spiritual holiness and renewal should be church leaders so their living witness can then help inspire the faithful, said one Canadian bishop attending the Synod of Bishops on the Bible.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London, Ontario, told journalists Oct. 13 that people who profess having faith in Jesus can still be caught in the rut of just "going through the motions" without having "a deep personal relationship with Christ."

To address this shortcoming, he said his diocese is introducing parishioners to the idea of a call to holiness and to focus on the concept for the next couple of years.

Priests, deacons and lay leaders, such as pastoral ministers and coordinators of youth ministry, will be asked to attend a series of retreats for spiritual renewal, he said. Bishop Fabbro said that church leaders should first go through a process of looking at their own call to holiness.

"It will be, I think, the witness of our lives that will speak loudest when we stand up as priests to preach on Sunday," he said.

It has been 20 years since Ontario's priests had a similar retreat, the bishop said, "and it was a powerful experience." Parishioners immediately "saw this new life in their priests" and that renewed passion will positively impact the faithful, he said.

Bishop Fabbro said his diocese offers many good programs such as Bible studies, but the real problem is "how do you reach out to those that aren't in the pews?"

He said just because people are not attending Sunday Mass every week does not mean they are not "hungering for more" nor are they satisfied with today's overly secular, materialistic culture.

Bishop Fabbro said the synod has given him some practical ideas on how to reach those people. For example, there are moments in people's lives when they suddenly become more "open to God," for example, during a personal crisis or sickness or the death of a loved one.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to reach out to them even though they are not in our churches every Sunday," he said.

For example, somebody from the parish who knows the person can go "just to be with them," talk about God, and help break down what had seemed to be spiritual or religious indifference, he said.


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