This past week, a group from our parish attended a diocesan workshop focusing on “Making Church Matter.” The workshop was based on the rebuilding experience of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland. Their story of renewal and growth is related in the book Rebuilt by Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran.
Some suggestions were made to help all of the parishes in the diocese to grow and to flourish based on Nativity’s successful experience. I share a few important concepts here.
Since the main experience of church for most people is during the weekend Mass experience, it is important that we place our initial focus on the weekend liturgies. First, the music during the Masses should be of good quality and lead people to sing and participate. Second, the message (homily) has to be well prepared and relevant to our parishioners. Third, our ministries need to be effective. Most important—beginning with the parking lot—from the first moment someone sets foot in our parish, he or she should feel welcome here. Music, message and ministry are a very important place to begin.
To begin to apply this process to St. Joseph Church, we all need to be united in purpose—clergy, staff, and parishioners.
I think that it is helpful at this point to ask ourselves a few questions:
Is the music ministry here helping to lift your mind and heart to God or do we need to make some changes or adjustments? Because singing demands that we all sing together, it is a powerful sign of our Christian unity that is immediately visible to all who join us for the weekend. What can we do to make our music program and singing better?
Are the homilies by the priests or deacon doing what they are supposed to do? At various times they should challenge, encourage, clarify, motivate, educate, etc., but always with a well-prepared message. Are you being “fed” by a good message weekly?
Our ministries are only going to be as effective as the people who volunteer their services. Have “I” offered my assistance as a reader, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, choir member/music ministry, usher/greeter, altar server, etc.,? Those who volunteer should be willing to receive the proper training, meet all church requirements and be willing to volunteer, even occasionally during Mass times that may be personally inconvenient.
If you would like to hear more about trying to “rebuild” our parish, we are scheduling a meeting on Monday, June 2, 2014 at 7 PM in the church basement.
Come with an open mind. Come with a giving spirit. Come out of curiosity. Come with the desire to see our parish grow and flourish.
Most importantly, please come.
Fr. Ed Namiotka