April 14, 2012 – A Glimpse Into the Future?

Well I have been on an emotional roller coaster the last few days.  We had Confirmation this past Wednesday at the Cathedral, which went very well and which I will talk more about in a minute.  Then Thursday evening I was all jacked up for the Blues hockey playoff game because they have not won a playoff game in nearly 10 years, only to see them lose in double overtime.  Then yesterday I was praising God because the Cardinal game was rain delayed almost 2 hours, which meant that I could get home from work and not miss any of the game.  Of course the game did not turn out well for Cardinal nation as we got thumped by the team with the bad 4-letter word.  So hopefully today things will get back to a higher note.

Of course the most important event in all of this was the Confirmation of our 12 candidates from our parish and the 45 candidates in total from our cluster parishes this past Wednesday evening.  This was the first time we went to the Cathedral for Confirmation so I think most of us were excited but nervous at the same time as to how it would go.  I think it was a rewarding experience and a very nice ceremony.  The Bishop was appreciative of us coming to the Cathedral as a cluster of 5 parishes.  He attempts to perform all of the Confirmation ceremonies during the time of the 50 days of the Easter season, which is the liturgically appropriate time.  So it makes his schedule more tolerable.  He also feels there is meaning to us coming to the Cathedral – the “mother church” of the Diocese, for a Sacrament which truly binds us to the universal church.

I think it was beneficial to us also as a Confirmation Class and as a parish.  As a catechist it gave us an oppportunity to work with catechists from other parishes and to take away experiences that others are having in their own parishes.  Also, working as a cluster allowed us to split up many of the duties which would normally have fallen on a single parish.   I think it was good for the kids because even though it was a long and late evening, it showed them that they are a part of not just one, single church of Mary Help of Christians in Chester, but are a part of a wider, universal Catholic Church.  Also, for many of the candidates and others in attendance, it was their first time attending the Cathedral.  So again, I think the positive aspects far outweighed the negative aspects.

I think it was also an important step for what we may have to do in the future as a cluster and as a church.  At the end of Mass, Bishop Braxton acknowledged Fr. Lawrence who is currently administrator of the Sparta and Walsh parishes.  He is a priest of the Oblate community who has served as a missionary in our Diocese.  His superior is now calling him back to his native India, so there is now an opening in these two parishes.  With the continued dwindling of the number of clergy, the question that now has to be asked is not just who may be coming as a replacement, but is there someone available to be a replacement.  I think it is a realistic assumption that our cluster, which currently has 3 priests serving its 5 parishes, may see a reduction to 2 priests.  Will this happen now?  We don’t know.  What we do know, however, is that at some point the situation will require us to cooperate more as a cluster, particularly if we want to keep all or even most of our parishes open.  We have already seen this on a limited basis.  During months when the Ellis Grove parish does not have Saturday evening Mass, have you noticed some new faces in church?  This is a phenomenon that is going to continue.

Is there apprehension in having to work together more with our neighboring parishes?  Sure.  There always is with any type of change.  However, I couldn’t help but notice at the Cathedral that people from different parishes knew each other, whether it be through family, work, school, etc.  We are a more “moveable” society than we were even 20 years ago.  Also, our ability to cooperate so well together in planning the Confirmation liturgy gives me increased confidence that we can do more things together and utilize each other’s talents.  So for one evening we had a wonderful experience with our cluster, and it just may serve as the impetus for more evenings together in the future.

I wanted to share with you a couple of articles before closing.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is continuing to promote the cause of religious freedom.  They have designated a “Fortnight of Freedom”, a two-week period from June 21 – July 4, as a special time of prayer, study and action for the cause of religious freedom.  Here is a link to an article with more information:

www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1201486.htm

Also, the recent yearly audit of the implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People showed nearly all of the dioceses nationwide in full compliance, and that the majority of reported cases of abuse continue to be from decades ago.  Here is a link to that article:

www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-059.cfm

Finally, are you a Bruce Springsteen fan?  A blog from “Word on Fire” claims that his latest album is filled with influences from his Catholic background.  Here is that link:

www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/April-2012/Music-Springsteen-Can-t-Hide-His-Catholic-Past.aspx

As I complete this, the Cardinals have just hit a home run and now lead the Cubs 5-1, and the world is now back on its axis.  Go Cards!  Go Blues!  Have a great week.  Peace.

 

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