Saturday, April 30, 2016
I want to thank those who came downstairs after Masses two weekends ago, to hear the presentation on major themes that came out of the parish survey, conducted back at the start of the calendar year. Within this presentation, parish council representatives Russ Long and Jesse Feldpausch cited a statistic that was asserted by Matthew Kelly (author of many books, including Rediscover Catholicism and Rediscover Jesus, which we have distributed in past years to parishioners). According to his research, “6.4 percent of registered parishioners contribute 80 percent of the volunteer hours in a parish” (Kelly, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, p. 12).
Now, before you conclude that I am simply going to say, “We need more volunteers,” let me share with you a significant element within our local situation. Both in the written survey and in some of the comments made by individuals who attended the presentation, it was articulated that—with some level of frequency— people have voiced an interest in becoming involved in an area of ministry, and then never received a follow-up contact actually to bring them onboard. Naturally, as a pastor that saddens me. Yet, I am hesitant to start pointing the finger at staff members or heads of organizations and accuse them of being unwelcoming. In my heart, I believe it is a bit more complex. Speaking for myself, it can be easy to function according to a certain mode, and even if it is not “ideal,” to continue “as is,” because naturally when we bring on new persons, it adjusts the whole dynamic. And to be honest, many of us find change, challenging.
On the flip side, I believe it is often the case that when parishioners see gifted, capable people performing their tasks with excellence, the thought can occur: “Oh, they have things so well-oiled, I don’t think I had better disrupt the flow.” This can lead marvelous, giving people to reach a saturation point—the proverbial burnout. It can also truly hinder the cause of continually bringing new blood into the Body of Christ. In our physical bodies, when there is a blockage in the flow of blood, that is called a clot, and it is not a good situation.
In any case, the present moment gives us all an excellent opportunity to pray for an increase of invitation to participation. Another component in this endeavor is ongoing communication of just how many possibilities for involvement there are. Even highly engaged parishioners can be innocently unaware of all the ministries and organizations there are within St. Mary. That has been another “learning” yielded by this survey process. My further thanks to St. Mary Parish Pastoral Council, for undertaking this project and establishing a focus group to keep the momentum going.
Finally, I want to encourage the families of our First Communicants to bring their children to Mass next weekend in their Communion outfits (my sympathies to the very honest young man who told me last week, “I don’t like wearing these clothes”). At the beginning of all the Masses, there will be a procession of the children and a May Crowning of the image of the Blessed Mother, as we honor her in the month of Motherhood.