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September 10, 2017

Did you have a good summer?   It was very quiet in the office during the summer months, but it was good though.  Kids have gone back to school and all ministries in the parish are gearing up again.  One day I asked a group of good people in the parish 4 questions and here are their answers:

1. What parishioners think our parish does really well?

Answers: We are very generous, warm and welcoming; we have great liturgies, great music, great homilies (sometimes), lots of volunteers, great Catholic schools; great St. Vincent de Paul Society, great K of C and great CWL.

2. What do we need to improve?

Answer: We need more youth involved; more young adults involved; more parents involved; more teachers involved; more volunteers (same people do everything); more financial support; better homilies; better music; better maintenance and better church beautification.

3. What should be the top needs this year?

Answer: More youth involved; more parents involved; more young adults involved; more teachers involved; more money for the budget.

4. What should be the parish’s goals in five years?

Answer: More youth involved; more parents involved; more young adults involved; more teachers involved; more money for the budget (same answer to number 3 question).


I guess if you go to any parish in our diocese and ask the same questions, you may have a great chance to get the same answers!  Most parishes in our diocese are not growing much, but rather surviving.  The new immigrants help our number but fewer people are attending Mass weekly, and fewer families are enrolling their children in parish religious education programs.  Is it because we are not trying hard enough? Is it because the people don’t care anymore? Is it because we have the wrong textbooks for our formation programs?  What is it?  I don’t have the correct answers for these questions.

What I would like to see is that all ministries can articulate how the work that they do fits into the larger mission of the Church that is to draw all brothers and sisters to God.  All ministries should focus on advancing individuals to be the best disciples of Jesus.  We should start every meeting by asking ourselves, “How have we helped grow our Church since the last meeting?”  Beyond the financially poor, what other areas of needs and concerns fill our community with anxiety and pain and how can the parish offer to ease that pain?  All levels of religious education have to make sure we are following the Church’s teachings and documents.  Non-Christian behavior by any volunteer or staff should not be tolerated and must be addressed immediately.  If anyone refuses to change and refuses to care more about the mission of the Church than his or her personal agenda, that person has to go, regardless of the number of years of service.

If you want the Church or the parish grow, you have to grow yourself first.  It may take a total different approach to ministry. It requires an authentic desire to serve others, to meet them and to assist them on their journey.  As far as our Christian ethics go, correction of one another is our responsibility.  Listen to the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading this week again: “If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked person will die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand.”