Thursday, December 11, 2008

IT'S (not as) GOOD TO BE THE KING (as one might think)

I find it sad as anyone does that we will be closing so many parishes in our diocese. I find it sad, but not entirely unnecessary. With exact parishes and methods I may have other ideas but I am sure glad that I do not have to try out my ideas. Thanks be to God that the bishop is the bishop and not me.

To that end there are those who also have differenting (is that a word?) than the bishop and lob criticism at him. Such is the nature of the position; ever was, ever will be. But there are a few criticisms that are entirely unfair. It is a criticism that covers our own lack of action.

Two of these come to mind. Both were angry jabs heard on a number of occasions recently. One is that the bishop should be doing more to recruit our young men so that we have enough priests and the second is that he should be doing more in our neighborhoods that have become mostly non-Catholic to convert the people there to Catholicism so that the parishes will still be vibrant and not close. In truth these are the mandates of a bishop. In reality it is the job of the people.

One man in an office that covers eight counties can only do so much even with a staff (small) and budget (also small.) Even if he had more power, more staff, more time, and a bigger budget what he would be able to do is only so effective. The number one way that men make their way into the priesthood, the number one way in which people are persuaded to take that step to checking out the Catholic Church is by personal invitation. By far. It is not programs, posters, ad campaigns, diocesan initiatives, clever marketing slogans, or the bishop commanding men to be priests and non-Catholics to convert. It is fathers saying to their sons, “Did you ever think about becoming a priest?” It is people who go to parishes where the parish boundaries have become largely non-Catholic and engaging the neighborhood and then inviting them to be Catholic. It is seeing a young man serve Mass well and going up to him and saying, “I think that you would make a good priest,” or talking to your neighbor or co-worker and inviting them to church. That is how you increase vocations. That is how we convert people to the faith. That is how we save our parishes. That is how we will save them in the future.

Does it sound hard and scary? It is! Think of how much harder and scarier it is to be one man in an office charged with doing this. But sometimes we have to face hard and scary to gain the fruits of our faith.


Father Schnippel said...

On the 'it is the Bishop's mandate, but the responsibility of the people' to promote vocations:


Elena LaVictoire said...

There's another way too.

Catholics contracept and abort at the same rate as the general population. Somehow, someway the beauty of Catholic church teaching on openness to new life just isn't getting through. But I think that's the first place to start. It is much easier to "grow your own" than to recruit from outside!

Anonymous said...

Hello Father -

I am a member of a parish in the largest cluster group in Akron, and feel you have hit the nail on the head. Even though my beloved parish may close, I personally feel we are in very good hands with Bishop Lennon. I think Pope Benedict thinks long and hard about the appointments he makes, and Bishop Lennon is the right man for us. I respect and admire him, and I wish more of the rest of us would feel the same.

In turn, I think Bishop Lennon carefully considered our situation when he sent our current priest nearly a year ago, and I am very happy with our current pastor - er, administrator (somehow that title sounds a lot more cold and distant than pastor, but we have to move with the times!)

I am glad your parish has been spared!

Very best wishes from Susan @ St. Bernard

Kevin Hammer said...

To me, the remarks you quoted seem a little "cart before the horse" - priests and people don't exist to maintain a parish, a parish comes into being to bring priests and people together for the sacraments (among other things). Still, any parish closing is a real trauma.