Friday, September 14, 2012

We Have Our Work Cut Out For Us

We have our work cut out for us.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is sponsoring a two-day conference (October 1-2, 2012) called Summit 2012: Revitalizing the Domestic Church, to be held at the Dayton (OH) Convention Center.

It is described as "a two-day gathering for prayer, celebrating and envisioning of dynamic ways to effectively proclaim the Gospel message in our time. The goal is to explore the challenges that families face today and discover with one another viable tools and methods for evangelizing and ministering to the church of the home."

The program is for all parish leaders responsible for nurturing family faith, including pastors and all clergy plus catechetical leaders, school principals, youth ministers, high school religion department chairs, seminary teachers. Already over-worked staff are challenged to attend and implement.

We have our work cut out for us.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will launch a series of television commercials, airing December 14 to January 20, for the Catholics Come Home evangelization program.  It is an outreach to Catholics who are no longer attending Mass or otherwise practicing the Faith.

Reasons given for not practicing are many: upset with pastor, angry over pedophilia and disappointed by cover-ups, too busy schedules, divorce and remarriage --it is that last one which will be the biggest challenge to pastors and church communities welcoming returnees --how to say "Welcome home, but you can't receive communion..."

We have our work cut out for us.

The Archdiocese has announced significant changes for its CMA (Catholic Ministries Appeal), the annual diocesan-wide collection, in 2013, including raising the goal from four million to five million dollars. The promotion suggests that additional revenues will be applied to the ministry of New Evangelization, that is, initiatives that "'go and make disciples' as we are called to do." Pastors and parish ministers are likely to be challenged on that suggestion on the grounds that evangelization should already be the primary mission of every Church institution. Further, many parish communities will be unable to meet new goals.

We have our work cut out for us.

Over the past few months several parishes with large "summer festivals" (fund-raising ventures with games, rides, food and drink) were overwhelmed by groups (one is tempted to say "mobs") of adolescents moving roughly, rudely through the festival site, trying to buy beer, and even snatching money boxes from festival booths. In some cases pastors and parish leaders are debating whether to have a festival again. "If only the festival revenues were not a budget item," one pastor lamented, "I'd cancel it in a moment."

We have our work cut out for us.

Several parishes with multiple Masses on the weekend are reduced to one priest. One priest for four or five weekend Masses plus confessions, and perhaps a wedding or a funeral added to the schedule, seems a recipe for burn-out, ill health, loss of enthusiasm. Aging pastors lament their lack of energy for multiple celebrations, and the lack of time for homily preparation.

We have our work cut out for us.

The expectations placed on pastors and parishes by  diocesan initiatives, the priest shortage, and cultural challenges pose a threat to the healthy life of our church communities.

Rearranging priorities, reducing Mass schedules, requesting greater involvement by the lay members of the parish are potential plans of action.

The old order of things is changing, and will necessarily have to yield to new ways of thinking and acting --of being Church. The process of effecting change will be difficult and upsetting.

We have our work cut out for us. Let us begin with prayer.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we have our work cut out for us in the Church. One sad fact is that the brand name "Catholic" has and is being so badly abused. Some using "Catholic" tied to some dissenting group are not in line with actual Catholic teaching and as such cause grave error and confusion and the media uses them as their willing pawns to attach the Church. The Bishops need to step up and put a stop to this using whatever means necessary to clearly stop this abuse, even legal means if required. Any organization which does not have a clear and consistent message is doomed to failure and too many are distorting what the Catholic Church stands for and teaches. Stop that and you will go a long way toward restoring the Catholic brand name. Stopping nuns on the bus would be a good start as would stopping catholics for choice and other democratic pro abortion groups who go against non negotiable teaching of the Church for their own purpose.