PREPARING TO CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
by Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine
This year, 2012, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the
Second Vatican Council. It is a good time to reflect on the Mission
of the event and on the insights gained at the Council and in the
years following. It will lead us to a deeper understanding and
appreciation of our call and journey as followers of Jesus and to
nurture and deepen our faith.
December of 1961, Pope John 23rd announced to the world
that he was about to convene the Council. He shared his hopes for
the outcome of the gathering and invited the whole world to join him
in prayer. He called on the church to be light of the nations and to
be a source of unity with our God and with each other. The goals are
That all Christians would be witness to the Gospel by
their study, prayer and good works, especially works
of justice and peace and by the witness of their
The laity were encouraged to have greater involvement
in their faith communities and were assured of their
importance in the life of the church, where they
were invited to full and active participation.
The importance of liturgy was highlighted in the life
of the church as the “Summit toward which the
action of the church is directed and the source from
which the power flows.” This requires people to
approach the liturgy with the proper disposition and
with deep faith.
Interreligious dialog was also promoted. This will
require respectful listening to each other in order
to develop understanding of each other’s beliefs and
practices and to find a common ground.
People were called on to address and affirm the
dignity of all people, regardless of color, class,
creed or social affiliation. There was also an
urgent call to address discrimination of any kind
and to affirm the dignity of the whole human family.
One of the documents of Vatican 11 “Gaudium et
Spes”,urges us to express our faith in action. “The
joys and hopes, the griefs of the human family of
this age, especially those who are poor or in any
way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the
griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”
People were also reminded that fostering peace was
very important in a war-torn world. The media must
also be directed toward peace and justice for the
The Mission of the Church is
to preach the Gospel in season and out of season, by our words, our
preaching, and our actions with the good of all humanity in mind.
Vatican 11 worked to deepen our understanding of the Catholic
Church, our role as believing people and to make our faith
understandable to all, especially to the younger generations. Today
we need to review the call of Vatican 11 and its impact on our
personal lives and on our faith communities. Some have said it was
the most important event of the 20th century. We are now
called to review it and reclaim the fire of the Spirit and to let
the Word of Truth transform all aspects of our lives.
Here are some questions we can consider individually and in groups
and then decide what we need to do as follow-up in our time and
place. All are called to be prophetic witnesses of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ in whatever way we can
How can we bring about
renewal in the Catholic Church today, in a secularized society
and make contact with the thousands that have left the church
and initiate some dialogue?
How do we bring Christian
values to our world, our communities, families and individuals?
How do we communicate these values to our children in homes, in
schools or wherever they are?
How do we connect with people
of other cultures, creeds, and class?
What are the ways we can
commit to justice and peace and decide on some actions we can
Do we view the Eucharist as
the source and summit of life and let the Word of God and
Sacrament transform us?
Can we imagine and describe
what a renewed Catholic Church and world would look like and how to
be part of the transformation? Let us begin today with courage,
conviction and hope.
Blessings on your preaching.