The progressive Catholic group named Call to Action (CTA) will hold its 2009 Convention in Milwaukee beginning Friday, November 6.  Last week, I offered a blog post with the agenda for Day one.  Today, I highlight the agenda for Saturday the 7th of November, Day two.  If you are a liberal Catholic, this is the place to be.

Prayer Sessions: 7:45 AM – 8:30 AM

Debra Nell Brittenum Racism to Reconciliation: Praying the Peaceable Kindom to Now and Here

Debra Nell Brittenum of Memphis, TN, guides morning prayer rooted in the principles of Servant BrittenumLeadership. It includes silence, Scripture, memory and our own reflections. Brittenum and 40 Memphians of many faith traditions and racial/ethnic backgrounds have done a three-year study of racism in the context of the South and the Black Liberation Struggle that began there. For 20 years Debra practiced public interest law. She belongs to the Call To Action/USA board and the mission group of the School of Servant Leadership in Memphis. Her Biblical model for reconciliation is grounded in prayer, memory, study, community, social justice action and servant leadership principles. She facilitates retreats and preaches. She was Call To Action Conference homilist in 2005.

Carolyn Gantner Yoga for an Open Heart & Mind

Carolyn Gantner invites us to experience the transformative possibilities of yoga to more fully open our hearts and minds. This year’s CTA Conference calls upon us Gantnerto deeply explore the transformations needed in order to understand and embrace our differences. Yoga helps us do that. Through gentle poses in union with breath work, we create more space within ourselves to be more open to the world. No yoga experience is necessary, just an open heart. We may participate sitting in a chair or on the floor. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Carolyn is a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and teaches in Madison, WI. She is also involved with teaching mindfulness and meditation in the prisons through a local Engaged Buddhism social justice initiative. And since 1994 Carolyn has been involved with solidarity projects in El Salvador where she has had the privilege of spending time in Madison’s sister city of Arcatao.

Johanna Hatch Women Mystics for Today

While we are separated by centuries and circumstance from medieval women mystics, the Hatchevents of their lives echo the struggles of women today. Angela of Foligno was a wife & mother, Margaret of Cortura struggled with anorexia, & Catherine of Geneva with depression. Yet all had ecstatic experiences of God’s love. Johanna Hatch is a graduate of the College of Saint Benedict and has studied spirituality at the graduate level at the Washington Theological Union. Her interests include women’s spirituality and hagiography. Johanna is active in Call to Action’s NextGen community and her local Faith Sharing Communion in Madison, WI.

Meshar / WojtanRoxanne Meshar and Katharine Wojtan Praying in Solidarity with Women in the Americas


Take this time to hear and reflect on the culture and circumstances of our sisters across the Americas. Hear readings related to their lives; reflect as a group on the values, culture and circumstances of women. Dialogue about the meaning it holds in our lives. What is our reaction? What is our action? Roxanne is an Adjunct Theology Professor at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota, and board chair for Mary’s Pence, a nonprofit working with women of the Americas on economic sustainability and increasing their voice in their worlds. Join her and Katherine Wojtan, Executive Director of Mary’s Pence.



Ramerman / CallanSpiritus Christi Liturgy

Spiritus Christi Church members, including Rev. Mary Ramerman and Fr. Jim Callan, host a Eucharistic liturgy. Spiritus Christi Church, in Rochester, New York is an inclusive Catholic Parish known for its outreach to the poor, prison ministry, a mental health center, a recovery house and projects in Haiti and Chiapas, Mexico. The parish has taken a stand on ordaining women, gay unions, and welcoming everyone to the Eucharist. Rev. Mary Ramerman, a Catholic priest ordained in 2001, is the pastor of Spiritus Christi Church. Before priesthood, Ramerman spent 25 years in ministry and was called to the priesthood by her community. Rev. Jim Callan is the associate pastor of Spiritus Christi Church and has been a priest for 30 years. He has been a constant advocate for the poor. In 1998, Callan was suspended for including women in the liturgy, celebrating gay and lesbian unions, and welcoming everyone to communion. He is a well-known social justice speaker and the author of four books.

Lena Woltering Living Our Dream Without Forfeiting Our Catholic Identity

The Lay Synod Movement is designed to create an experience of Church where we live out and share our moral convictions for the betterment of humankind. WolteringIdeally, religion is supposed to provide a nurturing environment for that work to be done, but sometimes it becomes an oppressive stumbling block. When Jesus saw that Judaism was no longer an environment that nurtured love, he felt obliged to reform it by reforming its members. Folks who have become involved in local lay synods are recognizing their responsibility to re-vision their roles as Catholics. They are people who have been grounded in Catholic Social teachings and gospel values and recognize that Catholicism is far more than a membership in an organization; it is an identity that no one (not even the Pope) can revoke or strip away. Lena Woltering has been active in Church Reform and Social Justice work for many years. She served on the National Board of CTA for 11 years and was Coordinator of Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity (FOSIL) from 1993-2003. Lena served on the State Board of the Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project, has worked in prison ministry and served on the board of Seeds of Hope – a ministry advocating for people with disabilities. She currently does local chapter organizing for CTA and travels the country helping folks organize local lay synods.

Morning Workshops: 9 AM – 10:30 AM

Imam Mohamed Abdul-Azeez The life of a Muslim in America: A Bittersweet Narrative

The presentation will cover information about Muslims in America, history, culture, tradition, political pains and advancements and contribution to American Abdul-Azeezsociety. Contrary to common belief, Muslims have been in America since the inception of the union and have had a tremendous impact on American culture. The presentation will cover issues such as Islamic practices in America, post 9-11 American Muslim community and the role of American Muslims in a global world. Imam Mohamed Abdul-Azeez is the religious leader of the SALAM Islamic Center in Sacramento CA. He was educated in Medicine, political science, sociology, Islamic history and Islamic theology and holds an MD from Ain Shams University, a BA from Ohio State University, and an MA from University of Chicago. Imam Azeez has been involved in Islamic activism and education for the past 10 years and is a passionate advocate of interfaith work. He dedicates much of his time educating the community about the true peaceful essence of the religion of Islam. In his capacity as the Imam of SALAM, he is a member of the Sacramento Interfaith Service Bureau, and participates in most inter-religious dialogue in the area.

Stephen Boehrer The Purple Culture And Completing a Revolution

Traces the historical development of the Episcopal culture as it exists today. Reveals the components of that culture and “why” the culture explains BoehrerEpiscopal behavior . . . not only in the clerical abuse scandal, but in the suppression of lay wisdom in the entire moral arena. Understanding this culture provides both the key to reform and the way to achieve it. Stephen Boehrer, STD, is a married priest, former college instructor, chancellor, businessman and author of four novels. His novel, “The Purple Culture,” is acclaimed by such recognized experts as Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe, and Jason Berry for its skilled analysis of the “why” of the sexual abuse crisis and other episcopal behaviors.

Rachel Bundang Feminist Visionary Ethics for the Rest of Us

BundangRachel Bundang discusses what makes a good person and society, what we imagine for a new world and church, and how we get there. Bundang writes on feminist ethics and theology, Catholic moral theology, and Asian Pacific American religion and teaches at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also consults on race and religion, religious pluralism, and liturgy.



 Diana Hayes God’s Welcome Table: Coming Together As One Family

The Eucharist, once symbol of unity, has become a sign of God’s fractured Body today, a weapon to divide not unite. This presentation discusses our need to Hayescome together as family, offering the mass freely and frequently and with renewed meaning to all whom are Catholic. This means continuing to overcome the many “isms” that persist in our Church and communities, reaffirming our true and historical diversity. Diana L. Hayes is Professor of Systematic Theology at Georgetown University. She holds the Juris Doctor (Law), PhD (Religious Studies) and Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD) degrees and is the first African American woman to earn a Pontifical Doctorate in Theology. Hayes is the author/editor of 6 books, most recently Many Faces of the Church (with P. Phan) and over 70 articles and book chapters. She has received numerous awards including three honorary doctorates.


Orville H. Huntington Understanding Climate Change and Tribal Perspectives

In this presentation we will discuss four interrelated issues: the context and knowledge within stories—what academics call Traditional Ecological Knowledge; Huntingtonthe differences between tribes who share their knowledge; the difference between traditional knowledge and prophesy, and the kinds of products from research that are useful to tribes and academics; and lastly, we will examine how all of these issues present intellectual challenges of being a Native American and an academic. Orville Huntington was born in Huslia, Alaska and received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from University of Alaska, Fairbanks. His primary work continues to be the preservation of Native American subsistence hunting, fishing, gathering and trapping rights, and subsistence opportunities, and the significant cultural events that surround those traditional beliefs. Mr. Huntington is committed to protecting the aboriginal rights of Native people to continue to live a subsistence way of life and preserve the cultural beliefs associated with that way of life. Mr. Huntington has participated on many professional panels and testified at several State House and Senate Hearings. He currently sits as Chair of the Interior Athabascan Tribal College Board of Trustees and on the Alaska Native Science Commission Board of Commissioners, and was selected for the Alaska Governors’ Subcabinet on Climate Change Working Groups.


Robert McClory A Theologian For THIS Season

Thirty years ago the Dominican Edward Schillebeeckx used history and theology to create a firm Vatican II foundation regarding eucharist, priesthood, McClorychurch and hierarchy that was so far advanced the Vatican blanched. Now his ideas don’t seem so radical. and many are blooming in the church. After time in Holland and a visit with Schillebeeckx, McClory wants to share the wisdom of this far-seeing giant. Robert McClory, a former board member of Call To Action, is a longtime writer for the National Catholic Reporter and author of four books dealing with Catholic history: “Turning Point, “Power and the Papacy,” “Faithful Dissenters” and “As It Was in the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church.” He is a professor emeritus at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University.


Pace e Bene Team Everyone at the Table: Creating the Vision

Butigan / Preston-PileThrough a dynamic, interactive process, this workshop will offer an opportunity for participants to visualize and clarify their hopes for a JustChurch. Part two of a four-part series. For Pace e Bene, nonviolence is more than a principle for effective protest – it is a way of life. For two decades Pace e Bene’s unique approach has been transforming lives and reaching people around the globe. Since its founding in 1989, over 25,000 people have taken 600 Pace e Bene workshops to gain tools for more healthy relationships and to create a new society. Pace e Bene has offices and associates in Oakland, Chicago, Las Vegas, New England, Washington, DC (Metro Area), Montreal, Australia, and Nigeria, and a growing number of partners and trainers in the US and around the world. Together they work with individuals, organizations, and movements to strengthen their efforts to end war, protect human rights, challenge injustice, and to meet today’s profound spiritual task: to build a more just and peaceful world.




Miriam Therese Winter Turning the Tables: Welcome to Quantum Reality

As our world becomes more and more chaotic and unpredictable, the quantum spirit of the Winterliving God invites us into a new and ever evolving understanding of continuity and community, revealing to us that we too have to change with the changing times. A quantum reality is already defining our lives. Miriam Therese Winter, a Medical Mission Sister, is professor of liturgy, worship, spirituality, and feminist studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She has produced 16 recordings of original songs and hymns and has published a number of books on biblical women, ritual, and spirituality, most recently, Paradoxology: Spirituality in a Quantum Universe (2009).

Keynote – Dianne Bergant: 11 AM – 12 PM
The Outsider Becomes an Insider: The New Center is on the Margin

Dianne Bergant, CSA is Professor of Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She was President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and Berganthas been an active member of the Chicago Catholic/Jewish Scholars Dialogue for the past twenty years. She is the Old Testament book reviewer of The Bible Today, having been a member of the editorial board for 25 years. She is now on the editorial board of Biblical Theology Bulletin, and Chicago Studies. She wrote the weekly column The Word for America magazine from 2002–2005. She is currently working in the areas of biblical interpretation and biblical theology, particularly issues of peace, ecology and feminism. There is a fundamental tension between the Bible’s ethnocentricity and its call for inclusivity. What does the Bible say about people on the margins? How might its religious message help us to address various forms of marginality? These are the kinds of questions Bergant will address in this plenary.

Lunch, Caucuses, Networking, Exhibits: 12 PM – 2 PM

Focus Sessions: 2 PM – 3 PM

Childs-Graham & ValeriKate Childs-Graham & Marissa Valeri Vatican’s Ban on Contraception: What Happened Then and How It Affects Us Now

Kate Childs Graham and Marissa Valeri explore the Vatican’s 40 year ban on contraception and the devastation it has left in its wake in this interactive workshop. In 1968, Humanae Vitae slammed the door on modern contraceptives and sexual health. Now, with the pope’s recent criticism of condom use as a means to prevent HIV/AIDS, the situation has grown dire. Marissa, Senior Associate for Domestic Programs at Catholics for Choice (CFC), coordinates CFC’s Condoms4Life campaign which encourages all people of faith to use condoms. Kate, Communications Associate, works on CFC’s publications, which includes the recent report on the Vatican ban on contraception, Truth & Consequence. Kate is also a member of CTA’s NextGeneration Leadership Team.




Tom Draney The House Church Meal / Liturgy: An Emmaus Experience

House Church – an exploration of the growing movement of Christians gathering in homes regularly for a lay-led liturgy based on the sharing of a Draneymeal modeled on the Last Supper. How this enhances the spirituality of individuals and of the parish community, plus minimizes the mentality of clericalism. Also, the reality of the priesthood of the faithful, and how Christ is present in this liturgy. Brother Thomas Draney, CFC is an “Irish Christian Brother,” he has been a teacher, administrator, co-founder and lobbyist for Catholic School Administrators in NY, regional rep for the Catholic League, founder and director of Christ House, a residence for political asylum cases in the South Bronx.. Most recently business manager for Los Hermanos in Fl., he now in retirement promotes house church and religious education in Naples.

FaithSharing Communities Young Adults: Living the Gospel

Do you want to meet other progressive young adult Catholics in your community? Want to deepen your faith and take action on church justice issues? Catholics in their 20s and 30s are invited to attend this workshop on how to begin and facilitate local FaithSharing Communions (FSC). FSCs are a collaborative program co-sponsored by Call To Action, FutureChurch and the Women’s Ordination Conference.

Fredal / BrownMarian Fredal & Myra Brown Exploring Racism Inside and Out

As Catholics, we know that we are all made in God’s image. Yet, racism affects us profoundly, no matter who we are. The presenters will examine how racism impacts us physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. They will offer possible next steps in the quest for racial justice. Marian Fredal has been active as a White anti-racist activist for 15 years. She has led support groups and taught classes for white people working to eliminate racism. She recently completed a PhD on the work to end racism in the Catholic Church, and is on the CTA Anti-Racism Team. Myra is a Parish Minister of Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester N.Y. For 17 years she has been leading work for racial justice within and outside the church. She founded SPARC, a Spiritus Christi group working for racial justice via advocacy, activism and training, and is on CTA’s Anti Racism Team.




J. Patrick Mahon The Nonviolence of Thomas Merton

Merton sought God and found solitude at Gethsemani Abbey. On a street corner in Louisville, Merton realized that he was not separate. He was one with Mahonall people. Embracing contemplative nonviolence, Merton became the conscience of the peace movement. His stances against war, racism, and nuclear weapons inform Christian witness today. J. Patrick Mahon, STB, PhD, served as a high school principal for 23 years before retiring. Now retired, he and his wife, Joan, are working for peace and justice. They have visited Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Israel /Palestine in recent years. Thomas Merton is Pat’s Anam Cara on contemplative nonviolence.

Fredrikka Joy Maxwell Triple Whammy: Surviving Being Black,Trans & Catholic 

Have you ever met a trans Catholic? Most people haven’t and those who have Maxwellmay not always know it. Curious? Then come listen to a woman of trans experience share the agony and the ecstasy and the journey of faith in surviving the triple whammy of being black, transgender, and Catholic. A lifelong Catholic, Ms. Maxwell attended her first CTA at Chicago in 2001. She has presented seminars from a black trans perspective in diverse venues as Atlanta’s Soouthern Comfort Conference, DignityUSA’s convention at Austin, Philadelphia’s IFGE and the United Methodist RMN Convo. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she lives in Nashville.

Richard Renshaw Recent Trends in Liberation Theology

Biblical interpretations have shaped Western attitudes toward Nature and the Earth. That thinking has played an important role in the contemporary Renshawdevastation of the planet. Liberation theologians in Latin American have begun addressing these issues, as well as taking up the question of inter-religious dialogue with indigenous and Afro-American traditions. Richard Renshaw spent 11 years in Peru; published Dealing with Diversity (2009); translated Along the Many Paths of God (2008); served at the Canadian Religious Conference and at Development and Peace (the Canadian international development agency). He is a member of the Holy Cross International Justice and Peace Office.

Sharon Shepela Raising Compassionate Children in the 21st Century

It is possible to raise compassionate and courageous children in a world filled with violence Shepelaand selfishness. Learn how to help children develop empathic reactions, internalize parental and community standards of right and wrong, and acquire habits of courage, skill, and experience in this interactive workshop filled with hope and takeaway materials. Sharon Toffey Shepela, PhD is a social psychologist, an award-winning teacher who leads retreats and workshops described by CTA attendees as “Extraordinary!” “Animated, practical presentation…”She is coauthor of Courageous Resistance: The Power of Ordinary People which NCR called “a slim, potent book.” See her website

Helen Thompson Let Your Spirituality Evolve

Helen Thompson maps the evolution of our worldviews. This mega-lens shapes one’s spirituality. As our consciousness shifts in this time of radical change, so Thompsonmust our images of the world, ourselves, God, Jesus, the Spirit and the church. Conventional thinking which believes the universe is static and dualistic universe is no longer convincing. An evolving interconnected universe requires us to transform old religious imagery and beliefs urging us to contribute creatively to the Great Work – the evolution of the Cosmos and of the Cosmic Christ. Helen Thompson, BVM, PhD combines insights from her graduate work at the University of Chicago and the GTU in Berkeley with her 18 years teaching at the Berkeley School of Applied Theology to explore how human consciousness creates worldviews and how they shift in an individual life story and in human history in The West. A native of San Francisco, she currently lives in Berkeley, CA.

Dinner: 5 PM – 7 PM
Advance reservations required, available when registering.

Evening Sessions: 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

All Saints Gospel Choir The Milwaukee Choir Joins Us Again

All Saints ChoirAll Saints Catholic Church Gospel Choir is a multi-age, multicultural, and multitalented group of Christians who love to praise Jesus in song. We are rooted in prayer, worship, and love. We believe that when praises go up, the blessings come down.



Film: As We Forgive Discussion led by Rose Elizondo

Could you forgive a person who murdered your family? This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and As We ForgiveChantal—two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The subjects of As We Forgive speak for a nation still wracked by the grief of a genocide that killed one in eight Rwandans in 1994. Overwhelmed by an enormous backlog of court cases, the government has returned over 50,000 thousand genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to dest. Without the hope of full justice, Rwanda has turned to a new solution: Reconciliation. But can it be done? Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Can the government expect this from its people? And can the church, which failed at moral leadership during the genocide, fit into the process of reconciliation today? In As We Forgive, director Laura Waters Hinson and narrator Mia Farrow explore these topics through the lives of four neighbors once caught in opposite tides of a genocidal bloodbath, and their extraordinary journey from death to life through forgiveness. The film will be introduced by Rose Elizondo. Afterwards, she will lead a discussion. Rose is a member of the San Quentin Prison Restorative Justice Roundtable who believes forgiveness has the power to transform society.

Music: Emma’s Revolution

Dancing on the edge of folk and pop, there’s a revolution: emma’s revolution. Emma's Revolution“Bold, profound, moving, hilarious and transformative.” The sound of passion in “deftly-turned phrases,” songs imbued with hope, warmth and the “power and drive” to turn tears into laughter, cynicism into action. A motivating force in intimate concerts and mass demonstrations, infused with inspiration from the legacy of music for social change, Pat Humphries and Sandy O’s dynamic harmonies are multiplied by hundreds of thousands. Emma Goldman stood for everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things. Join the revolution!

Film: Women of Faith

Women of FaithWomen of Faith examines the choice to lead a profoundly religious life. Through interviews with active and contemplative nuns, a former nun, and a woman who was ordained in the face of possible excommunication, a wide range of views on everything from women’s ordination to homosexuality to the very nature of faith are included. It features an honest, challenging discussion of what it means to be a Catholic, even if you disagree with the Church.


Gloria Ulterino & Women of the Well “Mama’s Mansion:” A Liturgical Parable in Story and Song

The reign of God is like a family reunion where everyone is welcomed home. Mama's MansionCome and meet Mama (the Wisdom Woman), Sarah, and the Woman with the Lost Coin. As they prepare for the family reunion, they welcome Eve, Mary of Magdala, the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, and Gabrielle Bossis… 20th century French actress and mystic. So, in the words of the title song, “Come on in… things are’bout to begin… we’ve been expecting you!” In January 1998, Gloria Ulterino first called together a group of women to tell the stories of women in Scripture and Tradition through liturgical drama, story, and song. They now have developed eight programs, bringing them to Western New York… Maryknoll, NY… Hartford, CT… Ottawa, Canada… and now Milwaukee.