We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics. My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”
Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe
Too Much, Too Little
(The suggestion for this issue is from my great friend,
Br. Edward Adams, F.S.C.)
We expect too much from our priests, and they expect too little from us.
Too many of us consider a priest to be an oracle with some extraordinary or supernatural power. He’s expected to be an expert in all fields, the wisest of advisors, a healer and psychoanalysis who doesn’t charge. He is president and CEO of a million dollar operation. We expect him to be an excellent administrator, a good speaker (damned few are), loving, happy-all-the-time and healthy.
Realize the limited first-hand experience a priest has. He doesn’t have a wife to note and remind him of the stupid things he does. He’s never suffered through the pains of parenting teenagers. Throughout life, his broadening advantage of having a wide variety of friends is limited mostly to that of other priests. During my bachelor days, my married friends sought my willing advice regarding family and kids. After I married and had a family, I realized how wrong I had been.
Operating and managing a Catholic church is a one-man job. Yes, a priest needs ushers, lectors, maintenance people and a skeleton office staff, but he makes all the decisions and answers only to a higher Church authority. When I have asked priests how many of their parishioners participate, I get a rabbit-looking-into-headlight expression. “I never thought of that” is the standard reply. One priest coped out with: “All of them are, because they come to church.”
In governing his parish, I wish more priests would learn from the boss. Last month, Pope Francis fired the entire board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog and brought in Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, the man who turned around the Singapore economy, Juan Zarate, a former financial advisor to USA presidents, and Ernst & Young. Last week, he hired Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to overhaul the Vatican’s approach to the media. How many priests you know have chosen from the parish financial advisors and other experts to help keep the Church healthy?
A Parish Pastoral Council is a toothless advise-and-consent group, appointed by the pastor. Its guidelines state it is “not a body which makes binding decisions.” It’s as effective as a two-year-old, helping row the boat.
I learned much from a few Protestant Churches. The Handbook for Vestry in the Episcopal Church gives authority to the elected members to:
- Take charge of the property;
- Oversee the business aspects of the congregation;
- Elect a Rector and provide for the Rector and other clergy;
- To help the Rector in the furtherance of the Gospel.
A nearby Methodist Church has a list of 14 groups with parishioners’ participation. With 600 parishioners, the pastor estimated they have 100 members who volunteer in their many programs, several serving the outside community.
A small Anglican Church with 170 parishioners has 70 of them volunteering to serve in their nine programs, which include serving retired people, a Saturday morning group, bridge games, care-giving, visiting shut-ins, mission outreach and an exercise group.
Next Sunday, when leaving Mass, after complimenting your Priest upon his homily, ask him, “How many of our parishioners do you estimate are participants in the operation of our Mission?”
Expect a shock.
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A special acknowledgement is for Father Robert Kus and St. Mary Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. In seven years, he has doubled the number of family parishioners, by creating a happy church with a bushel of activities serving both the Church and community. His 4-point requirement for developing a joyful parish are to (1) have a happy priest, (2) develop as many ministries as possible, (3) find, select and recruit good leaders and don’t look over their shoulders, (4) respect people; realize they are magnificent and will perform miracles.
- The State Department has added eight countries, including Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt to the list of worst religious offenders.
- France has offered asylum to the 23,000 Christians (half the number from two years ago) left in the Iraq city of Moslum after the bastard Moslem militants took control of the city. The ISIS mob, condemned by the United Nations, is generously offering the Christians to (1) pay a heavy tax, (2) convert to Muslimism, or (3) be killed.