February 7, 2009 – Mission On!

I hope you are enjoying the preview of spring we have had the last couple of days.  This is one sure fire sign that I’m getting older – when I was a kid I would be sad to see it warm up and watch the snow melt.  Now I’m deleriously happy to the point that I could do a jig of glee (in private, of course).

My apologies for not getting to blogging sooner.  I just returned from a Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting in Belleville.  I think I’ve talked about this group before, but just as a refresher this a group that meets several times a year to discuss issues of concern to the Diocese – similar to a parish council but at the Diocesan level.  There are 2 representatives from each of the 6 deaneries, and also representatives from the priests, women religious, etc.  To be frank, what the end result of these meetings is can be debated.  Ultimately, the Bishop will either make his own decision on issues, or will steer these issues to other departments to consider.  However, I always enjoy the discussion and I enjoy hearing other people’s opinions on things.

One item that ended up being talked about the most wasn’t even on the agenda, but just came about through casual conversation, and that is the continued decline in the number of people who attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis.  I think this statistic has been thrown out before, but 10% of all Americans consider themselves “former” Catholics.  This 10% figure would represent the second largest religious denomination in the country.  I know myself I’ll see someone in passing and think “You know, I used to see that person in church.  Wonder why they are not there anymore?”  The million dollar question of course is why this phenomenon is occurring.  I know there are many reasons, but there are a couple that were discussed at length this morning:

One is a lost of trust in the church, whether it be because of the clergy abuse scandal or other issues.  And the cold hard fact is that once you have lost trust, it takes a long time to earn that trust back.  The second thing that was talked about is that people do not fear the concept of “sin” as they once did.  I’m sure those of you who are older remember the nuns and priests warning you that “If you don’t go to church, it is a mortal sin, and straight to hell with you!”  (Well, something to that effect).  For better or worse, we seem to have lost the “fear factor”.  The rules of the church have not changed – it is the culture and attitude that have changed.  One of the members of the group even questioned if there would be a church left for his grandchildren and their children.  This may be extreme, but this is a fear that is starting to prevail.

There is obviously no easy solution to this.  If there was, we would have to put out extra chairs at every Mass.  So what can we do in our little corner of the world?  Well, we can of course extend an invitation to someone who we know that hasn’t been to church for a while.  They may or may not accept – that is their decision, but the worst that they can say is “no.”

We will be having an event in September that would be a good opportunity to extend an invitation for people to come.  We have finalized that we are having a parish mission form September 26 – October 1.  Fr. Peter Schavitz, a Redemptorist priest, will be preaching the mission for us.  You will be getting many more details on the mission in the coming weeks, but it is not too early to get it on your calendar and to start getting the word out.  We will also be asking for folks to give us a hand with things such as refreshments after each service, childcare, participating in the services, etc.  We are asked that no other parish events, meetings, etc. be held during this week so the entire focus can be on the mission.  So something to tuck into your brain as we proceed forward.

Well, time to work on the rest of the website.  If you notice something on the website that I haven’t updated or needs to be changed, shoot me an e-mail at webmaster@maryhoc.org.  One aspect of the website that more people are starting to use is the prayer intentions page, which I am thrilled to see.  We can never get enough prayers! 

Don’t forget about sending a Valentine to your special someone this week!  Peace.  

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