Vatican II ‘We the People of God’: Retreat observes 50th anniversary

By Fr. Joe Kilikevice, OP

Oct. 11. marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the the Second Vatican Council (1992–1995) convened by Blessed Pope John XXIII, who said: “I am calling an ecumenical council so that the human sojourn here on earth would be less sad.” It was “perhaps the greatest and most comprehensive theological discourse the Christian world has ever seen.” (Dr. Donald Kehr, Council observer).

Upon its conclusion, more than 2,000 bishops and their successors were entrusted with the sacred task of continuing the work of the Council. Letting go of a fortress mentality protecting it from enemies, the church challenged itself to take its place in the modern world, bringing respectful dialogue, compassion, wisdom, collaboration and proclaiming peace and justice based upon the Gospel.

In the words of theologian John O’Malley, the church went “From commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from threats to invitations, from coercion to conscience, From ruling to serving…”
Having been given the all-inclusive title, The People of God, a title that omits no one, regardless of faith tradition, all were given the mandate to continue to reform and renew the church. Taking this mandate seriously, Shem Center joins with many others who are marking this anniversary with discourse and celebration. Programs and retreats to prayerfully consider the teachings of the council and to remember those through whom the Spirit spoke and upon whose shoulders we stand.

While one can point to disappointment and disillusionment as part of the church’s 50-year journey, we recall the words of Blessed Pope John XXIII, who said, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.”

We the People of God,” a day of retreat to observe the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality, 708 N. Harvey Ave., Oak Park, Illinois. For more information, call 708-848-1095 or e-mail