Sunday, September 9, 2007


We Valencheck men were sometimes referred to as “Jacks of all trades, masters of none,” meaning that we could do just about anything but the trade off was that that we did not do anything particularly well. Bishop Lennon of the great Diocese of Cleveland called his priests together this past week and said that although we as Church would like to do everything and be all things to all people, we then end up being jacks of all trades, doing everything but not doing anything really well. So he proposed a vision for the diocese. It is a vision that the bishops of the United States have stated for the Church in the U.S., and what he has asked the priests to initiate in the parish, and what we as the Body of Christ should try to enact in our own loves.

The vision has four main points and the key is to understand exactly what he means by them. They are 1) Catechesis, 2) Marriage and Family Life, 3) Vocations, 4) Respect of Life. Today and Wednesday through Friday we will take a brief look into each of these areas in which we are asked to focus our attention, talents, and treasure.


Thoughts turn quickly to teaching young folk about the faith and that is certainly part of it. There are some major problems we are facing in this area. Catholic grade school education is in grave danger in this nation. The rising cost of benefits, technology, and state mandated services are crushing our schools. The solution is to raise tuition. But once you raise tuition you lose students. When you lose students you lose your money base so you raise tuition and the vicious cycle goes on. As less parishioners are involved in the school there sometimes develops a certain resentment by parishioners that so much of the collection goes to subsidize the school. Solving this problem will be a big hurdle.

On the heals of this is the shoring up of our CCD/PSR programs. They may soon be the primary way in which our students are catechized on the parish level and so we must work hard to make sure that we are making our best effort here.

PSR/CCD is to be only the most formal aspect of children’s formation. The primary place is in the home by the parents. In the baptismal rite it states that parents are “the first” (and I add the most effective) “teachers of their children in the practice of the faith. May they also be the best of teachers by what they say and do.” Home is where they learn their prayers, ask about God, witness parents praying and going to the sacraments, reading Bible stories, and having the symbols of our faith around. Without that, CCD/PSR is not very effective.

In addition the bishop challenged the priests in adult catechesis in such areas as when couples plan to marry, when they present their children for baptism, and when they face end of life issues. He also challenges us to take seriously our obligation in continuing education. It is our moral obligation to grow so that we might in turn nourish those who come to us thirsting for truth.

In that same vein all Catholic, Christian, disciples of Christ must challenge themselves. There is so much out there to be taken advantage of. There are the Scriptures to be read, books and magazines to be devoured, classes to be enjoyed, the Internet to explore, videos to be watched, CDs to be listened to, and programs to be experienced. We all must cultivate this desire, which to some extent you must have already or you would not have read this far.

Catechesis is the way the faith grows and is passed on from one generation to the next. There is no substitute for it. Find some aspect of the faith you enjoy (or really need) and start searching it out! Who knows how you (or who else) will be blessed by it?


Rob said...

Well, after three weeks of school and one of the three people replacing me having quit, I have finally relented and given in to repeated requests for my return to school. I will go back in today, part-time, to help the Catholic school I and many others started last year. Yuck.

But I don't want to see the school fail, so I go. Pray for me.

Fr. V said...

Oh yeah -

You've got prayers coming!

Anonymous said...

Based on this, should we assume that the "other" duties that our Priests were performing (e.g. financial) would be fulfilled by the parishioners?

Sounds like the Bishop in Cleveland is trying to center the faith back toward the Sacraments.

Fr. V said...


Yes and no.

It is a very popular thing to stand up at a meeting of preists and say that we need to get out of the business end of the parish and concentrate more on our sacramental duties and our people and everyone gets all excited and claps. So to some extent (depending on the priest/parish/bishop) much of that work is taken over by the parish finance council, a business manager and other personnel.

There are two problems with this. The first is that more employees means more paychecks, benefits, offices, computers etc. Great if you have a good sized parish with a healthy collection.

The second problem is that because of the way the Church is structured, priests and subsequently the bishop is ultimately responsible for any malfeasants that should occur both ecclesially and legally. There is no claiming, "It isn't my job" because it is his responsibility.

This is a matter of canon law and is world wide. It would be more than just a little trick or simple legislative act to change. It is redefining how the Church opperates and just because it amkes sense in the U.S. does not mean it does so elsewhere. So the whole matter gets complicated.

So the pastor can hire (problem) the service out, but he still has to know what is going on and know enough of the job to make sure it is going well.

Good question! Hard answers.

Anonymous said...

One longs for the day when the Church in America will dance to Rome's tune and thus, become catholicly Catholic. Still, I have always tried to do what is asked of us. The "grumbling" as mentioned below in the quote of Bl. Marmion realllllllly applies.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, Rob. You're between a Rock and a hard place. Count on my prayers as well.