Every once in a while I think that it is a good idea to stand back and examine how things are going in the parish. Personally, I am rarely satisfied with the status quo. I ask myself: How can we better serve the people given the current resources (financial and personnel) that we have? Are we properly planning for the future? How do we reach out to the inactive and disengaged Catholics in our area? What are we missing?
Specifically as your pastor, I ask you, our parishioners: are your sacramental needs being met? A priest is specifically ordained for certain ministries which only he can perform: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, absolving sin in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and anointing the sick and dying in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This leads me to question: Is the current Mass schedule satisfactory (times and frequency)? Are there enough opportunities given for confession? If people are serious ill, do they understand the need to reach out to the priest before an actual emergency for anointing?
- The Mass times were established before I arrived as pastor. Attendance, from week to week, never seems to be quite consistent. Should the times be adjusted or are they satisfactory?
- We currently offer the possibility for confession only on Saturdays each week. The numbers are never too great at that time. During Advent and Lent an additional opportunity is given after all of the Masses on a chosen weekend. Should we make other opportunities available?
- Holy Communion can be brought each week to any homebound parishioner desiring it by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or a deacon. A priest should be requested for the specific purpose of sacramental confession and anointing of the sick whether at home or in the hospital. A Catholic hospital chaplain is assigned to all of our local hospitals by the diocese. In what ways can we minister to the needs of our sick, homebound or dying better?
Other areas that I think need to be addressed include reaching out to inactive or fallen away Catholics. Should we engage in some type of parish census or door-to-door evangelization effort? This would necessarily require the help of many parishioners willing to visit their own or other neighborhoods.
Frequently, our youth participation becomes a topic of concern in the parish. Do we have more volunteers willing to help with Children’s Liturgy, with our newly-formed youth group, with religious education classes and sacramental preparation? [Remember that all who regularly work with youth are required by the diocese to submit to a criminal background check and must attend a NJ Child Assault Prevention (C. A. P.) program.]
Forthcoming will be a survey about these and other topics. However, I wanted to get people thinking ahead of time about what we can better do as a parish to meet the needs of our parishioners. The ordained (priests and deacons) cannot be expected to be personally responsible for every aspect of any parish. The most effective parishes have great parishioner involvement and support, realizing that there are many gifts, talents and abilities coming from the parishioners within any given parish.
If not me, then who will do it?
Fr. Ed Namiotka
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