November 23, 2009


I've been working on my parish's stewardship campaign lately. I realize now that I was meant to help with this. If I were employed, there is no way I would've had the time necessary to get it going.

There is a financial piece to the campaign, but the parish has a more critical need to get more parishioners involved in the life of the parish. We are financially stable. We are a small parish but we are not in debt. We are blessed to have several really wealthy members.

I think, sometimes, it's easier to ask Catholics for more money than for their time. I know, Catholics can be notoriously tight-fisted. But, our parish relies, heavily, upon only a few who seem to do all the parish activities.

We have critical needs for: a Sacristan, Funeral lunch volunteers, a Parish Festival Chair and a Holiday Bake and Craft Sale Coordinator.

As I was calling around the "regulars" were saying "This is the last year I'm leading this!" or "I'm getting too old and crippled to do it. Let the young people step up!" or "I'm tired of doing it."

Some of these folks have been doing these ministries, leading these minitries, for years-even decades.

God bless them for their efforts.

The stewardship process emphasized to me the importance of our retired parishioners to parish life. Also, the parents who are home during the day are critical as well. Without them, our parish has nothing to offer outside of the Sacraments.

Don't get me wrong. The Sacraments are the primary reason for Church. Sacraments are critical. However, I think the parish used to be the social life or the community as well. Maybe as more of us moved away from the parish of our registration we quit relying upon the parish family to be our family.

I don't hear the younger folks in my parish expressing great enthusiasm for being at the Church outside of the Mass. I think it's great that more of the young people are engaged and excited about the Sacraments. They go to Mass, but, that's it. People have more demands for their attention these days.

Someone said; "Well, maybe we just will not have funeral luncheons. We'll just recommend some nearby restaurants." I don't know about you. But, I'm in no shape to drive immediately after attending a loved one's funeral.

I pray that maybe it takes the absence of things people take for granted to bring people around. Since the Sacristan put his foot down, there are times the Sanctuary Lamp is dark and the Church is locked.

If we don't have a Parish Festival this year (which happens to be our biggest fundraising event), then people are going to have to dig deeper into their wallets. If we don't have a Holiday Bake and Craft Sale, people that don't bake will not have those homemade goods to serve at Thanksgiving or the homemade item to give at Christmas.

I have some hope that the Stewardship campaign will work. Even though our parish numbers are small, most of our parish live in the neighborhood. It's alot easier to persuade someone to give of their time, when they don't have to drive over 1/2 hour to get to Church. A great deal of the parishioners live within walking distance.

What I worry about is that without the active parish life it can be harder to attact new people. Yes, many are drawn to a Mass appropriately celebrated, but in this neighborhood (Thanks Be To God) almost all the parishes nearby are solid. So, we are competing against other solid parishes. Without the activity draw, what do we have?

We have a lovely building, but the interior was wreckovated in the 70's. It's nice, but not what people expect from the exterior.

We need something to differentiate ourselves in order to stay viable. I'm not sure, yet, what that is.

In the meantime, we need volunteers!

The parish does not run itself. Father, certainly, can not and should not be doing all the work. If you are not involved in your parish, outside of showing up for Mass (great!), please consider it. If the Church is your life, then, make it so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Cathy,

My Mom is from Chicago. So my funeral knowledge is generally from Chicago. When we went to Chicago for funerals, the lunches were always held at a restaurant. We had a funeral luncheon at restaurant for my Dad at Tinucci’s. Just some food for thought (bad pun.)

I know we are busy but my hubby is helping out with the parish cub scout group. Many hands make light work.



November 23, 2009 1:30 PM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

The trick is to get people involved in the small projects, and grow them into the big jobs. Need a Sacristan? Start a newbie or a youngster as an usher for 1 Mass. When I coordinated a Young Adults' (20s & 30s) group, I had them start (after I saw them come back & was able to discern that they were solid) to sit in on the coordinating committee. Within a year most of them we leading sessions, were on the Parish Council, were EMHCs & Lectors, etc. Sacristan is a large job for 1 person, so break it up so that one does alternating Masses on Sundays, another School Masses, another Funerals, and one to coordinate & fill in. Need a Festival director? Collect last year's committee chairpersons together and let them figure it out (and find fresh victims for this year). Rotating positions will also give past leaders the chance to revitalize themselves, train the newbies by supporting them, let them try new areas to cultivate interests. People get worn out and fed up by being asked over and over again to do the same old stuff.

November 23, 2009 2:40 PM  
Blogger X said...

Can you publish this in your bulletin? Maybe people just don't realize the state the parish is in.

Also, in my experience there are always the same 20% doing all the jobs. Some people are joiners and volunteers and some people just aren't.

I found too that some of the established groups - as much as they moan and whine how hard done by they are - don't actually want help. They just want to be martyrs.

When I joined the Catholic Women's League I was asked to bring a pot of chili for a fund raiser one day. I happily complied. When I dropped off the pot nobody even looked up at me. I just put the pot down and left.

For funeral lunches and baking, etc. the Catholic Women's League does all that. When I joined I was 40. I went to my first CWL Christmas dinner and was the youngest member by nearly 20 years! It was very off-putting.

Hmmm...not even sure if anything I wrote was helpful!

November 23, 2009 3:28 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Great comments here, thanks!

November 23, 2009 3:33 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Publishing in the bulletin rarely works. Best method? Decide who you think will be best and hone in on them like a heat seeking missal.

I never saw the funeral lunch thingy until I can to North Idaho. I think it is fabulous. They have people on their list they call on rotation to make dishes. I get called for every funeral because it is one thing I really love doing. Not because I'm such a saint. It's because I want lots and lots of food at my funeral. Payback, doncha know?

November 23, 2009 6:39 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

...and if I lived there again - which will never happen - but if I did, I would be your coordinator for everything. My hugest gift from God is organization, as long as it's not me I'm trying to organize. I'm a mess!

November 23, 2009 6:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Auntie: The only thing you need to organize when you come here is the big trip to Mancini's!

November 23, 2009 8:13 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Good for you getting involved.

I don't think our parish does funeral lunches! Nearby, however, my aunt has been bringing something to help out at her parish's luncheons forever. Weird difference between parishes. I taught vacation bible study one summer and that experience took years off my life ;} Now that the kids are old enough (sort of) to be involved, we plan to do more with our parish, but when it was just me and hubby, we were the kind that had more money than time.

I agree with Angela, just from hearing my aunt talk, some of those church ladies are pretty protective of their turf and particular about how things are done!

November 23, 2009 8:29 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Finding volunteers is notoriously difficult. EVERY parish has about 1% involvement...and that's IT. Always the same 1%.

I've also spoken with Protestants...they have the same problem.

With regard to one particular event I have to organize, well, because of the lack of interest on the part of the parish to RUN the dang thing, this year I'm sending letters out to everyone who has volunteered and who has sent their kids to it, and I'm saying if I don't get a core group in place by Feb. 1, we'll be removing it from the calender.

I will be explaining that while I think it's a valuable event and each year the children have a BLAST, if there isn't anyone to organize it, it simply can't happen.

By the way, if it falls flat, that means I'm losing 3 weeks of full time employment. So I'm really sticking my neck out on this.

I hope the gamble works. I have 1 person so far willing to help organize. But this is a big job and it depends too much on me. It needs to depend on the PARISH. What if I have to leave for a family emergency? If that happened, the whole thing would collapse.

And that's not the way it should be.

Once programs quit because no one will step up to the plate, that might send a message to people that calls to help out doesn't apply to "someone else". It applies to "YOU"!.

November 24, 2009 6:49 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Swissy: I agree with that there are some off-putting volunteers in every parish that DO protect THEIR turf way too much. Hopefully, a part of this campaign will be to encourage them to share.

Adoro: Solid plan. I agree. It may take the absence of an event people have taken for granted to make others step up to help.

November 24, 2009 10:09 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...

A minister where I live had harsh words for sports organisers and coaches for holding classes on Wednesday nights and Sundays. He was not happy with that and wished it would go away.

Personally I find myself mandating a trip to church Sunday morning, regardless of where I am that day.

August 10, 2010 8:26 AM  

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