Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Parish: Mission or Maintenance?

In a very interesting read from The Catherine of Siena Institute, comes the following document:

The Parish: Mission or Maintenance? The Untapped Potential of the Parish in the Formation of Lay Apostles.

It raises interesting questions for me as a Voctation Director, for it has implications into what type of man I am looking for to enter seminary formation, what is the role that he sees for the priest in the parish, which is the main 'locale' and ministry for us.

But the main drive comes towards the end of the document, in the expectations:

We will first see—indeed have already seen—lay men and women begin to understand the relationship which pertains between their faith and their secular activities. We will see that parishes can, indeed, be places in which the issues of the day are brought for discernment and common initiative. We will witness new initiatives on behalf of the Church and world, undertaken in a spirit of genuine collaboration with the hierarchy.
We will begin to see other, less expected results. If the discernment of one’s vocation becomes ordinary in our parishes, if every member is urged to discern the personal call of God, then we will also witness an abundance of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to religious life. The lay movements of the Church have demonstrated that, whenever the evangelical ends of the Church are emphasized in conjunction with the discernment of one’s own call, all vocations—lay, clerical, and religious—flourish.

If this begins to happen, even on a small scale, it will certainly make my position much easier, for much of that initial discernment that men go through: "Should I or should I not enter the seminary?" would already be accomplished. If even just ten percent of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati took this call seriously and dynamically, I think we would have to add on to the place out on Beechmont Ave.

UPDATE: There is a similar conversation theme going on over at Amy Welborn's new site.


Sherry W said...

Hi Fr. Kyle:

This is Sherry Weddell, Co-Director of the Institute and co-author of the article you linked to: The Parish: Mission or Maintenance.

It isn't an abstraction for us.

In Seattle, we saw the fruits of facilitating initial vocational discernment at the parish level. We held a Called & Gifted workshop twice a year in the parish because we have noticed that when people start to discern charisms, they start to discern vocation as well..

In addition, Fr. Michael Sweeney, who was then pastor, facilitated a monthly small group meeting in the parish for all (men and women) considering religious or priestly life.

All participants made a promise of confidentiality, which gave tentative inquirers a safe place to talk about their questions, perhaps for the first time, without pressure from family and friends. Member of the group who visited a religious community could debrief with an understanding community afterwards. Of the 15 who participated, eight entered seminary (diocesan priesthood) or religious life (Dominican, Benedictine, Trappist, Carmelite) over a two year period.

Our parish was small – 650 families - and yet it produced more ecclesial vocations in those two years than any other parish in the archdiocese. Imagine what could be possible if all our parishes were providing this kind of basic support for the discernment of the full spectrum of vocations.

Father Kyle said...



This along with Eucharistic Adoration can really set the Church ablaze, eh?