By Colleen Rowan
WHEELING—Daniel A. Maul, the new director of Faith Formation & Mission for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, has begun visiting parishes across West Virginia and meeting the people.
After 21 years of serving in parish life and teaching, Maul decided to make the move to the diocesan level. Prior to accepting his new position in Wheeling-Charleston, Maul was director of religious education at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Chicago, where he served for 10 years. Before that he was director of youth ministry at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in De Pere, Wis.
Maul began in his new position in the diocese Jan. 6. He is based in Wheeling, but said he is a person who does not want to just stay in the office. Rather, he wants to be present to the parishes and people he is here to serve.
“I want to get out there and meet the people and be in the parishes and learn from them, learn what their needs are, what their gifts are, how I could help,” he said, noting that he does not want to impose, just to help where he can.
“I see the first year as more of a learning year, a listening year. Much like the bishop has said about his first year,” Maul said, and getting to know the state and the needs of the parishes.
“I have learned that there is a large spectrum of parishes in the diocese—from large and more urban, to tiny and rural,” he said. “So I don’t think you can take a cookie-cutter approach.”
His first visit took him to Pocahontas County to one of the smallest parishes in the diocese, St. John Neumann in Marlinton. He also planned to visit a number of other parishes, including All Saints in Bridgeport, Holy Rosary in Buckhannon, St. Brendan’s in Elkins, St. James in Clarksburg, St. Leo’s in Inwood, St. James the Greater in Charles Town, St. Anthony’s in Fairmont, and Holy Spirit in Monongah. On March 25, he will be giving a presentation at St. Michael Parish in Wheeling.
Important to Maul in this role as director of Formation & Mission is supporting the DREs (director of religious education). “Setting them up to be their best, to do their best,” he said. “Setting them up for success and listening to them, and learning what they need for me.”
This summer Maul will be holding a catechist training circuit over 12 weekends in 12 different parishes. “Why? Because that was my concern as a DRE for 10 years,” he said. “I often thought if the diocese wants to help me, they can help me get my volunteer parish catechists trained for little to no money, and make it easy on them. Don’t make them travel 50 miles to go to the training. So, that’s what I want to do.”
This, Maul said, is a primary focus, supporting those who are working with the people on a weekly basis. “I’m here to assist and support and evaluate our professional church workers, our lay ecclesial ministers,” he said, “but if I’m right what they want is help with the training of the catechists.”
Maul also reflected on the current state of the church. He said the Catholic Church is losing young people, and for a number of reasons. Scandal being one of them, he said, but that’s just a fraction of the reason. The main culprit being the current culture.
“The culture that says get what you want and focus primarily on your own needs, and your own dreams, and your own hopes and just focus on you. And that’s contrary to the Christian message,” he said. “We are battling against the modern culture that doesn’t value selflessness, that doesn’t value concern for our neighbor which is the Christian message.”
Another area of focus for Maul is the teaching of the faith—faith in God as love.
“Every place you study the faith, everywhere, whether it’s in scripture or church teachings, with catechism, everywhere the word God is we need to translate that word to love,” he said. “And then we will attract people, I think.
Understanding that life is not black-and-white but a lot of gray, Maul said, all are called to make a difference in bringing about peace and comfort to the afflicted, the poor, those suffering.
“If we really follow the message of Jesus Christ I think we will attract young people,” he said. “The closer we stay to the authentic message of Jesus Christ— which is feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, the corporal works of mercy along with the spiritual works of mercy—the more we will attract young people. So I think we have to get back to that, and I think Bishop Brennan is calling us to that too. Get back to the message of Jesus Christ, get back to the gospel message. The kingdom is here and now.”
Maul also feels that the small population of Catholics in West Virginia can be a positive, and that there is a great opportunity for evangelization.
“The minority status of those people can be a blessing because there’s a pride there,” Maul said, “there’s a respect for the church saying ‘We’ve got something special here.’”
Maul holds a Master of Arts in theology which he received in 2007 from Catholic Theologi-cal Union at Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and philosophy which he received in 1999 from St. Norbert College.
He previously was an adjunct professor at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Ind., and a part-time instructor at Loyola University Chicago. He also taught at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond, Ind., and Notre Dame de la Bae High School in Green Bay, Wis. He has taught courses in social justice, Christian the- ology, morality, ecclesiology, church history, and introduction to the bible. For the Archdiocese of Chicago, he taught a Creed class for ongoing catechist formation.
New Faith Formation & Mission Director is on the Road, Visiting Parishes
By Colleen Rowan