Many of us run into the local convenience store to pick up bread, milk, a cup of coffee, a sandwich or something similar. We’re in and out, usually in a couple of minutes. These stores are usually busy, but still make it easy for us to shop quickly.
Unfortunately, too many people have brought this mentality into church life. They run to the church when they need to have their child baptized, to obtain a certificate of eligibility to be a godparent, to get a Mass card, etc. “Church” is available to me when I need something, rather than being an integral part of it. There’s no real commitment, just some service rendered.
For the Catholic Church to flourish in this or any parish, it needs a commitment by its parishioners to help build the Kingdom of God. This may sound like some lofty ideal, but, essentially it means helping people to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. It means to make disciples. And this task involves commitment rather than just some occasional appearance on an as needed basis.
Remember how God through history made a covenant with His people. I will be your God and your will be My people (Ex. 6:7, Jer. 30:22). All the covenants of old culminated in Jesus’ new and eternal covenant sealed in His Blood. We are reminded of this during the Eucharistic prayer of every Mass. We are told: Do this in memory of me. Covenant involves total commitment. Just look at the cross for Jesus’ commitment to us.
Granted there are all too many excuses that people have for not making a serious commitment to church: “There’s just too many rules,” “The people who go to church are all hypocrites,” “I can pray on my own,” “All they want is my money,” “All religion is pretty much the same,” “As long as I believe in God . . .,” “I am just too busy,” etc., etc. Have you used any of these?
At times, the Church shares some blame. When people did make an initial commitment, they became disillusioned or felt betrayed. Their parish was merged, and their lifelong church permanently shuttered. Some scandal (financial, sexual) upset them. The priests, religious or parishioners did not seem welcoming or even interested. The experience of church, for some reason, did not seem relevant to everyday life.
I am frustrated as much as anyone with the lack of interest or apathy among young adults (millennials) and their families. As someone involved in high school teaching/ministry for 20 years, I look for the young at Mass and am frequently disappointed that they can be counted on one hand. Knowledge of the faith is rapidly diminishing along with its practice.
We need outreach. We need evangelization. We need more youth ministry. We need a commitment to Christ and His Church. And I alone cannot do any of this without your assistance. We should be quite aware by now that the number of priests and religious in our area is insufficient to reach the multitudes.
As we prepare for our Catholic Strong campaign this fall, I have prioritized funds to help us with evangelization and outreach to young adults and their families. I think it is urgently needed.
I also need committed volunteers. Please look in the mirror and see if you meet the qualifications.
Fr. Ed Namiotka