Thursday, October 27, 2011


A Church just bought a local theater that went under a few years ago. The Baptist Church needed a place to grow and the building needed a buyer. It was a perfect match. It also exemplifies one of the great differences between many Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church.

The article mentioned the pastor’s name and reported that under his leadership the church had grown significantly. The growth under this pastor made their current facilities inadequate for the congregation and so they simply moved to a bigger building in a new location.

Now think of what happens when the same thing happens to a Catholic parish. There is a reason we are called parishes and not churches. We are the Catholic Church, and the local Church is the diocese. So around here where Adam’s Ale is written, we belong to the Church of Cleveland and are parishes in that local Church. When one of our parishes starts to grow dramatically we first might add a priest and few Masses and expand the building. But if the parish continues to grow from there it would not mean that the parish would move in most cases or that a professional football stadium sized church would be built, we would create another parish.

One reason we do this is because the success of a parish should not be about the personality of the priest (though a good priest certainly helps.) It is about Jesus and the sacraments. Keeping our parishes from becoming too large based on the cultic personality of the priest helps keep our focus on what is important and also from being stuck with gigantic buildings that empty after the priest is moved to another parish and those who were only there for the personality of the priest disappear.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Same problem for Catholic parishes who decide to separate from a diocese and "occupy" a building.

What happens to the priest's flock once he retires or dies? Does he ordain himself a bishop beforehand, so that he can ordain his successor? At what seminary does the potential "replacement pastor" study?