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Introduction

Creating Peacemaking Communities for the New Millennium
Catholics and Mennonites Bridging the Divide

St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota

July 12-14, 2002

In March and April 2001 a group of Mennonites and Catholics met with Abbot John Klassen, OSB, and Father Kilian McDonnell, OSB, of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, to explore the possibility of initiating an on-going dialogue that would make the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition of discipleship, peaceableness, and lay intentionality more accessible to Roman Catholics, while sustaining those practices by reconnecting them to their spiritual, liturgical and sacramental roots in the Catholic tradition. These initial contacts proved very positive, and on November 16 and 17, 2001, a planning group again met at St. John’s to design the initial meeting for dialogue. The members of this planning group were Marlene Kropf, Weldon Nisly, Gerald Schlabach, Ivan Kauffman, Abbot John Klassen, OSB, Rene McGraw, OSB, and William Skudlarek, OSB.

We believe that the events of September 11, 2001, make it even more imperative that Christians devote themselves wholeheartedly to the task of fashioning a just and lasting peace in our world. The coming together of Mennonites and Catholics to learn from and support one another in this central mission of the Church is, we believe, a sign of hope and encouragement for all the followers of Christ, and indeed for all who long for and strive after a world in which people are resolved to work out their conflicts without resorting to violence. We hope that the meeting to take place this July will be the first of a series of grassroots dialogues between Catholics and Mennonites. Through them we hope to share the spiritual riches with which God has blessed us, grow in mutual love, and learn ways of fostering within our communities the spiritual virtues needed for peacemaking.

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