Friday, August 12, 2016

It can happen to you

I have returned home from a trip. Between my home and my destination is the city where I was born, baptized, and both my parents now reside. When I was a boy, the city had three parishes and there were a number of rural/small town parishes throughout the county, but most of them were all eventually rolled up into one single team ministry that was then put together into an official parish.

It was in that city where I went to Mass on Saturday. After Mass, I was looking through the bulletin and checking out the news of the combined parish. Up in the corner on one of the inside pages was a box containing information on how parishioners could fill out a survey for a plan to build a new church and parish buildings beside the existing Catholic school building. This bit of news, a small box on an inside page, left me feeling startled and anxious.

I was of course being naive. Other cities have had parishes closed and church buildings sold or torn down. I lamented those events that came to my attention as well, especially in the cases where old and venerable examples of quality Catholic architecture and art were either sold off or simply destroyed

The information about the proposal included diocesan long-range planning that included this datum: by 2019, there would be only two priests assigned to the entire county. The proposal then asks this question: Two priests watching over a handful of church buildings across a wide rural county or two priests watching over one large parish with at most two or three buildings?

This is an old draft that I never got around to publishing.  The circumstances of my hometown's Catholic community have not chanced as far as I know for sure.  I have been told though that protests from influential parishioners have delayed matters.  The moral of the story remains relevant.  In the conversation I had about the delays, the woman with whom I was talking said that a lot of folks were not happy to be losing the churches they grew up in.  She didn't have anything to say in reply when I noted they had only themselves to blame by not having more sons and encouraging them to explore a vocation the priesthood.

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