History of the Project

The project officially began its work with an international conference on American and German Catholicism in Berlin at Pentecost 2004. The meeting took place during a historic low point of the general German-American relations. Also because of this the mutual knowledge concerning church affairs and theology was virtually not existent. The mere existence of Catholics in the USA was widely unknown. Exceptions like the theologians Prof. Hermann Josef Pottmeyer and Prof. Leo O'Donovan SJ helped a great deal to form the first steps of the project.

In the years that followed CrossingOver was not initiated as a regular top-down research project, but was rather implemented with a new concept, where a university institution with a small academic staff would start a bottom-up learning process. For this process the Fall Visitation Program was of great importance. Administrative problems concerning the new structure of the project at the beginning could be solved with the help of the Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum. Formalized structures were avoided; informal arrangements between the different dioceses under the patronage of the Bishop of Essen were preferred in order to be able to adapt to the different structures. There was no "master plan" but the working stages were determined step by step according to the experiences and the demands.

At the beginning of the CrossingOver project stood a longer phase of exploration, which aimed at gaining fundamental knowledge of the "terra incognita" of US-Catholicism and therefore dealt with finding cooperation partners. In that failures could be overcome. When such partners were finally found the actual program of practical learning started after a test run in the St. Patrick's parish in fall 2006. At the beginning some diocesan staff members were sceptical about CrossingOver but the successful returns of the first participants helped to overcome these negative feelings.

From then on CrossingOver amazingly became a process with internal dynamics. Especially the word-of-mouth recommendations of the CrossingOver participants but also the intensified public relations supported the success. The CrossingOver brochures which display excerpts of the experiential reports have been very popular and people from all over Germany evinced interest. Still given the limited resources of the project the project was limited to six (arch)dioceses in 2008.

With the visit of Cardinal Francis George OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, marked in 2009 the appreciation of the CrossingOver project to be an important program for church renewal in Germany and in the USA was shown.

Because of the positive results people from the dioceses soon asked for a systematic accompaniment of the new ideas provided by the participants. For this additional work Matthias Sellmann joined CrossingOver who created LIGHTHOUSE for this purpose. Therefore CrossingOver again underwent an enormous burst of growth. Especially the relations to the six dioceses were deepened and the first eight LIGHTHOUSE projects could be started.

First academic publications were published at the same time (Henkelmann 2009, Neyer 2010, Reinhold 2011, Reinhold/Sellmann 2011, Sellmann 2011). A major conference in July 2011 with about 100 participants underlines that within seven years starting from the conference in Berlin at Pentecost 2004 a steadily growing CrossingOver network of people and activities has developed.

Crossingover. Kirche der USA erfahren, Kirche hier neu denken.

Ein Projekt zur F÷rderung des Dialogs Řber katholische Kirche und Gemeindeleben in den USA und Deutschland