We have two seminarians as of the moment. When you have seminarians you need someplace to teach them – a seminary. A seminary needs graduate level teachers in theology, Scripture, ethics, and a host of other topics. Those teachers need training. All of this requires resources. LOTS of resources. That is one of the strengths of being a diocese. All together we accomplish quite a bit more than we could as a collection of individual churches.
In fact, we are not individual churches at all. True, we each have church buildings, but that is “church” in a slightly different understanding of the word. First we are the Catholic Church. The local Church is the diocese (or eparchy.) So, from where this is being written, we belong to the Church of Cleveland. Each of the entities within the local church are not “churches” per se but parishes. So the proper name of such a place is not St. Sebastian Church, but St. Sebastian Parish.
The institution of the diocese and bishops have been taking quite a beating on the chin as of late. Some of it well deserved. But we must not lose sight of the fact that their being allows us to be who we are. Despite the screaming headlines to the contrary there is also an incredible amount of good about a diocese and a bishop which is often taken for granted.
This coming advent we will begin using the new Missal. Priests need to be trained. Someone needs to inform and train them. Someone needs to call them together. Someone needs to make sure we are all on the same page. Someone needs to make sure St. Idontwantochange gets on board with the rest of the church whether the local priest wants to or not.
Or schools function because we are part of a larger system of diocesan schools that help us be accredited, helps us find qualified personnel, sets curriculum, negotiates benefits, helps inform about new laws and state mandates, etc. etc. etc.
Catholic Social Services, annulment work, having a place to complain to, having a voice in local government, having a unified diocesan wide voice, having an official teaching voice, the list goes on and on and on. That is why when a Catholic parish goes down in a struggling neighborhood it is far more devastating that when many other churches or institutions close. Because of our unity the neighborhood has a voice, has resources coming to it, and when the parish closes that extra attention disappears.
So we can talk about all the goofs, all the things we disagree with, and some of the scandals coming out of “downtown” (as we call the diocese in these parts) but it must also be remembered that we cannot be who we are without them. A tremendous amount of good comes from downtown. Great work, good deeds, great concern, and heavy loads are carried our daily by dedicated, determined Catholics working for the benefit of the whole local church.
Pray for them. For we are as healthy as we are as a Church.