We picked the potluck date just after the rally, unaware of how much would happen between then and now. We are still absorbing the impact of the June 12 comments from Cardinal Levada, June 12 statement by LCWR, and June 13 acceptance by USCCB of the petition from Nun Justice, with 57,000+ signatures.
Some reflections from the potluck - lessons learned so far:
1. Our organizing committee has lots of superb cooks!
2. Foundation in prayer: essential.
3. We had two great hopes for the rally: to attract sufficient people and create a rally experience that would show LCWR and Catholic Sisters that they are supported in prayer and in hope; and to have our letter to Pope Benedict accepted by the Vatican Embassy. Our wildest imagining was that the Papal Nuncio might be personally involved. Everything flowed from those goals.
4. Before the 5/29 rally, we communicated with the Embassy by letter and by phone to explain who we are and express our hopes for a brief meeting. Our advance work was consistent with our hope for dialog and conversation.
5. Grace happens. Archbishop Vigano let the doors be opened.
6. Prepare for all options, both unwelcome stuff as well as the possibility of astonishing good.
7. Both relationships and events are means of making new things come to be. They are different, and require different plans and actions, sometimes even different attitudes.
8. Stay focused on the goal when choosing what to do when. Let everything - timing, place, location, preparation, content, participants, speakers, music, publicity or not - be coherent with the goal.
9. Being tech savvy in advance - that would have helped. In these few weeks we've learned a lot, built a website, hope to learn to tweet, etc. For both Twitter and web search engines, it takes time to be found; and until then, online presence is visible only to people we can directly contact.
10. Our own personal outreach via email to our personal friends and networks was one of the most important ways of attracting people to the rally. Weeks ago, we had talked about all the local parishes and DC-area places that our networks don't reach. It's worth being aware (a) that our own networks were sufficient for success and (b) reaching beyond our networks, or expanding them, could be worth the effort.
11. News is news only if it's new. Having our "rally report" & 5 good photos on the website within hours was probably critical to the online news coverage that the rally received.
12 If possible, we would have chosen a location and time that were easily accessible (not a workday in a park with insufficient nearby parking and no Metro access). But that time and place and date (first day of LCWR's meeting) were exactly right for our goals. Coherence with goals trumps other factors.
... More to come.