Sunday, September 19, 2021

Change is coming. Change our hearts to get ready (Sunday homily)

 Today I’m going to talk about the “Beacons of Light” 

reorganization project that is underway. 

Let me lay this out very plainly:

Like it or not, change is coming. 

Some people are getting too nervous about it – please don’t do that! 

This isn’t the end of the world, or even close.

But there are others who aren’t paying attention; it’s a boring topic. 

Yet, when change comes these folks will be surprised and angry, 

saying no one told them! 

So: I’m telling you: change is coming! What change?

Archbishop Schnurr is preparing to organize all 200 or so parishes 

in the diocese under the leadership of 50 pastors. 

Right now he’s weighing the possibilities, and in about ten days,

he’ll lay out a tentative plan with all the priests.

On October 1, his proposal will be published online for all to see. 

Then you and everyone will have 20 days to post comments.

After that he will announce a final decision 

and then this will all start being put into effect in 2022.

Then begins several years of adjustment and adaptation.

All this means that most likely, starting in July, 

this parish will begin sharing a pastor with several other parishes. 

This arrangement will probably mean a second priest 

will be assigned to help take care of the new “family” of parishes.

Why is this happening?

In many places, pews are empty and those parishes are struggling.

Meanwhile, we have 110 pastors in the diocese.

Fifty-eight of them – more than half – are over 60, 

which means a big wave of retirements during the next decade. 

The Archbishop is acting now to get ahead of that challenge.

Right now, my purpose is to alert you,

and to provide all the information I can. 

Please read my weekly column; I will share information there, 

including links to websites where you will find more. 

If you have questions, please ask. 

I can’t promise to have the answer, but I don’t mind the question.

I can tell you that I’m sharing everything I know;

I’m not holding anything back, not keeping anything secret.

But I am just hitting key points. If you want every last detail, 

I urge you to go to the Archdiocese’ website and dig deep as you want.

That web address will be in the bulletin.

Meanwhile, keep praying: this is a great time to heed the advice 

of St. James and the Lord in the Gospel: 

to keep our egos in check, and to try to appreciate the bigger picture.

For example, there will be changes in Mass schedules.

That will cause a lot of grinding of teeth.

For this parish, the biggest change will be sharing your priest 

with several other parishes. 

It’s been over a century since we had to do that. 

Early on, our priest would have duties in Versailles, later in Piqua.

When a priest is asked to shift from being a pastor to one parish, 

to leading three or four, you can’t expect him to operate 

as if he were three people. 

He can’t do the work of three people. No one can.

He shouldn’t be expected to attend three times as many meetings;

and why would you want him to?

And when you take three or four parishes that were on their own, 

and ask them to operate as one “family,”

everyone is going to have to adapt and be flexible.

As you can imagine, I’m thinking about this A LOT.

And I will predict that when the time comes, 

some changes will be made that will have people saying 

they can’t see the reason, and that will breed frustration.

Let me give you an example.

It occurred to me that our weekly bulletin will have to change. 

Instead of having a bulletin all about St. Remy,

while the other parishes have their own bulletins,

we’ll need to start having a common bulletin for the whole “family.”

Why is that?

Because one of the things that will breed distrust really fast 

is if everyone isn’t operating from the same information.

If you have three or four parishes that are now one “family,”

they need to plan together, not independently.

And that means everyone needs to have all the same information.

If you keep each parish isolated from the others, it won’t work.

I can’t give you a comprehensive list of all that will change.

It’s going to take time to figure it out.

I’m simply trying to give you a sense of it, so that you can prepare.

There’s no denying the negatives of this, but there are some positives.

Not every parish has a well organized religious education program;

lots of parishes’ youth programs are minimal.

Grouping parishes together this way will share these benefits,

truly making us brighter “beacons” of Christ’s light in this area.

Remember: our Catholic faith is NOT changing.

The sacraments are not changing. Jesus Christ is not changing!

If we have to adapt and stretch and even make sacrifices, 

that’s something the Catholic Church has had to do in every century, since the beginning. 

Why should you and I expect anything different?

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