September 30, 2009

Redraw the Map

Parishes are territorial in nature. It used to be that one always attended their territorial parish. Territories still exist and the faithful are encouraged to attend church in their territory but church shopping is the norm these days. The faithful seek parishes that present the teachings of Christ and His Mass in ways they individually prefer.

It’s sad that, in many instances, our community and our parishes are weakened by church shopping. However, the larger issues are: not enough priests to serve all the parishes, a decrease in membership in some parishes, financial challenges inherent in maintaining parish infrastructure when costs outweigh income received.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis is currently seeking input from the faithful as part of a planning process. It’s clear that some parishes and schools will be closed or merged with others.

It’s an unspeakably sad process.

It does not, however, mean that the faith is dead or dying. The faith is more than our buildings. Buildings matter and the faithful are attached to them. As a member of a small parish, I suspect we may be facing closure or a merger. This doesn’t mean that I will not have access to the Eucharist, the Sacraments or Adoration. I will continue to have these things. I prefer to think of the possibilities presented by a new community. I may get to meet some new Catholics. I may get to share with them my love of Faith and they can share their love of Faith with me.

Evangelization does not always mean with non-Catholics; it can also mean evangelizing other Catholics.

Pope John Paul II, of happy memory, said; “Be not afraid”

Faith whether individual or collective waxes and wanes. Think of the great centers of faith in history: Corinth, Alexandria, Ephesus…where are they now? What are they now? As a collective they may not be what they once were but people of Faith still live in them. Smaller in number but still in love with God and His Church.

Pray for the people in charge of the process that the Holy Spirit guides them in their work. Participate in the process as you’ve been invited to do.

When it’s over, give in to your emotions for a time and move on to acceptance. What matters is what we become after the process. Will we embrace the possibilities or be consumed and paralyzed with hurt, anger and bitterness?

Will we let our enemies think we are weaker or will we assure them that we are unchanged and as strong as ever?


Blogger Angela M. said...

I think it's unhealthy for a parish to be homogenous. Ours is quite varied - we have the fruit cake social justice types, we have the Rad Trad faction, we have large ethnic groups, we have pew warmers, we have people who volunteer so much they really need to spend more time at home. Catholic MEANS universal, after all. My only hope is that JofA gets shut down.

September 30, 2009 7:33 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angel Baby: Good point.

September 30, 2009 7:58 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

When I had my interview to join RCIA (two years ago, now!) the associate pastor asked me why I had decided to come to that particular church. I'm afraid I gave him a rather blank look and said, "Well, I live in the parish." Silly me. Little did I know that Catholics church-shopped just like the Protestants. And why did I think they didn't? Well, I suppose I thought better of them!

Still, I'd have to say that, at least in cities where church-shopping is even a possibility, Catholics seem to hop around less than our Protestant brethren.


September 30, 2009 8:19 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

The ignoramuses out there who are saying the Church is dying ought to check out what's going on with their schools. 6 or 8 closing in my local school district.

Reasons: low birth rate, projected to be ongoing 20-30 years.

The reasons churches are closing are exactly the same: low birth rate...even among Catholics!

Our population is imploding and no one can see that abortion and contraception are direct causes of this problem. They blame school closures and especially Church closures on really stupid things.

And given the Strib article today, it's pretty obvious how violently bitter people who know nothing about the Church are, and how much hatred they carry for us.

We need to pray.

September 30, 2009 10:12 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Good one, Adoro. As usual!

It's also the reason we have a shortage of priests and nuns.

And without priests and nuns the Catholic education system has been destroyed and sin has ceased to exist in the minds of 70% or more of what Catholics there are.

You shouldda been at St. John's on Sunday with Cathy and me when Fr. Z gave an old fashioned "tell-them-like-it-is" sermon (not homily). They knew where he stood when they left.

September 30, 2009 10:31 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Bede: Time flies when you are having fun! :-)

Adoro: Superb point

Ray: Whatever. You are into punishment and reward in a big way; witholding the LJ's from me on my other post. Paybacks are hell-remember that! Heh.

October 01, 2009 8:59 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Good points all of you but Adoro hit the nail on the head.

October 01, 2009 11:12 PM  

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