Thursday, March 8, 2018


Parishes need to do more in order to attract and keep today’s people.”  The answer is always more programs and more ministries.  There is some truth to this and so many parishes have a full week’s worth of activities and special events to make sure that people are involved.

The danger of this is that many people mean that the priest and (usually his staff of about 3 full time paid people) are supposed to put all these things on.  Parishes become like your club membership, one “joins” in order to enjoy all the benefits offered.  But no matter how talented the staff may be, they can only do so much.

If you agree that your parish should do “more,”  maybe you are being called to do something about it.  It takes two of course.  In many cases a pastor must at least allow it to take place especially if you need space and a bulletin announcement.  But supposing that is there, if you see a hole, offer to fill it.

I’ve been heartened by the number of lay run ministries in our area some associated directly with a parish and some not.  Things that with our staffs and budgets we could never have enough to do.  West Side Catholic Couples incorporates a number of people from 5 parishes and they just put on a retreat for 600 people.  The ITE project is going strong.  (See more HERE.)  Theology on Tap Akron and Theology on the Rocks, The Young Adult Book Group, Bible Studies, Social Justice, and a number of other groups thrive in the Akron area with different levels of lay leadership and connections to parishes.  

The fact is, we are a mission people sent out from Mass to do Catholic, Christian stuff.  The rising movement of lay ministry is way to see to it that our parishes are as lively as they can be while not depending on “someone official” to bear the whole of the burden.


Anonymous said...

Father, respectfully, I think there is another facet to this. Many parishes, mine included, have a group of a parishioners who make up a very tight clique of volunteers, who seem to run and show up at everything. Our pastor is very chummy with them, and it never occurs to him to invite others to serve. Those outside of this group are unwelcome. I have repeatedly attempted to volunteer, only to be told I am not wanted or needed, or simply ignored.

I approached my pastor after he gave a very good homily, saying "there is no unemployment in the kingdom of heaven nor at this parish." I was very moved by this, and emailed him. I offered to do anything from scrubbing toilets to serving on parish council and everything in between.

I waited over 2 weeks for an answer. When he finally replied (after informing me his office staff reads all his personal correspondence from parishioners, which I found astonishing and unethical), he told me his homily was meant for parishioners who read the bulletin while he was preaching and that he would let me know if something occurred to him for me to volunteer at. Still waiting. Crickets.

I have an urgent desire to serve God and the Church. I am fully willing to volunteer in any capacity at my parish. But I will not put myself through the humiliation of being turned away as has repeatedly happened. If God wants me, He knows where to find me. And if Father is preaching to only certain, favored parishioners, I will bring my own spiritual reading material to read during the homily. He will receive no more correspondence from me, nor will I trust him with my Confession.

I'm not bitter, but fed up and tired of fighting the parish cliques.

Fr. V said...

I hear you. That is why I said it takes two to tango. At a minimum for many things a pastor and/or staff have to be at least open. That being said, some of the things that I mentioned serve the Church in Akron fabulously and they have no direct connection with a parish. (I realize this is a little to a lot more difficult to get off of the ground.) It is equally as successful (if we can use that term) to have 5 people meet at a coffee shop to discuss the Bible or a part of the catechism. In fact, I would say that is more important. At the end of Mass we are told to GO and live the Gospel - away from the church building - to take what we do in these walls and take it out to the world.)

Easier said than done. And I do feel for you. I am sending a prayer and hoping you find a way to serve.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, that is very kind. I deeply appreciate you listening and your prayer for me.

As my pastor told us, I believe there is plenty of work to do at my parish and in the Kingdom of God. Like the 3rd Luminous Mystery, I want to Proclaim the Gospel by my life. Having been apparently blacklisted at my parish, I will leave myself to God's will to put me where He wants me to serve, if He wants to use me. I am not smart or talented, but I am willing to work very hard and I will serve wherever He wants me.

God bless you and Fr. Simone and everyone at St. Seb's.