Fr. Steve came to our last council meeting on Tuesday, September 13th and presented a couple of issues weighing heavy on his mind. Across the entire country, but specific to our Archdiocese, attendance is down, at least 20%, which means Sunday collections are also significantly lower. In turn, all the various “worthy Catholic causes” are also feeling the crunch and stepping up efforts for all the area parishes to swing the collection plates a second time during Mass. The mathematics indicate that a large number of donors basically divide up the normal intended Sunday give between the two charities, resulting in both groups getting less. Many area Pastors are forced to disallow the second collections, in order to keep their own finances in check. Fr. Steve will speak to the parish about this soon. Chances are fairly high that it will be met with some resistance.
Fr. Steve has elected to continue to support Ascension Parish and most of our HNOJ favorite charities, but needs to institute a few changes at HNOJ, some yet to be determined. He is creating a groundswell discipleship movement that will need the support of our KC Council and other “bellwether” leadership groups inside HNOJ, to help support Nate and Chris and other staff members, launch the efforts need to succeed. We have always had a great community at HNOJ. In the future, he may call on our council to assist in new ways, as he has always considered us “good disciples”. Our KC Council believes we may brainstorm the topic and help Father come up with ideas. Be sure to do your best to support all of his efforts. There’s nothing easy about being a priest.
Because of the economy, the political environment and the historical and widely reported abuse in the Catholic Church, people are more emotional than normal. Trust levels are at an all-time low, across the board. The various topics are awkward to discuss and polarizing for priests and parishioners, especially the not-so-regular Mass attendee’s. The many openly public “armchair quarterbacks” love to bloviate opinions at work and social encounters, keeping wounds open and topics fresh. The mainstream media has never been an ally. As KC’s, one of our biggest duties is to support our parish priests with time, talent, treasure and prayer. We also need to pray for vocations.
If you believe in history repeating itself, this isn’t the first time the Catholic Church has ever fallen out of favor with the masses. Every once in a while, I’ve engaged in a discussion about the 13 year old Pope that was put into power by corrupt families many centuries ago. At that time, much of Europe’s populace was illiterate, uneducated, poor and oppressed people. Also, during that time-frame, ordinary parish priests; i.e. St. Francis, St. Benedict, St. Ignatius, St. Dominic and many more, were touched by God or saintly intercedents and became infused with the Holy Spirit to create numerous, robust religious orders that educated and evangelized all of Europe. Most of them incorporated the Rosary with their teachings. The Catholic Church grew at an incredible rate, in spite of the dysfunction in Rome.
It’s times like these, where God intervenes and inspires great deeds from ordinary people. Open your minds and hearts to prayer and meditation, attend mass, read the Bible and stay engaged in our wonderful HNOJ community. This, too, will pass.