Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
First of all, thank you so much to everybody who put so much work into our Discipleship Ministry Fair this past weekend, especially our Discipleship Coordinators from each campus, and the leaders of the service areas who prepared displays for the fair. My hope is that people really got a better feel for the service opportunities – and needs – in our parish. And that even more people add their talents to the pool of those already serving so generously to make our three campuses function as a unified, lively parish.
This past week we had our first pastoral Council meeting of the year. Four pastoral council members ended their 3-year terms last spring; therefore four new members joined us. The pastoral council this year includes: Patrick Burkley, Bill priest, John Molitor, Mary Lichty, Ed Reinhart, and Michelle Dooley. Our permanent deacons are always considered members ex officio. Here are summary highlights from the meeting:
– We reviewed the purpose of the pastoral council, including its history back into a document of Vatican II. Pastoral councils have a threefold purpose: They are to investigate and consider matters relating to pastoral activity and to formulate practical conclusions concerning them. The pastoral council is consultative, not deliberative. (That means I can’t blame the council for decisions I make, since they are only recommending!)
– Then I asked a question about whether I should do more as the pastor – or we as a pastoral staff – to address some of the priest abuse scandals that have been in the news, especially with the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, and the revelations regarding former Cardinal McCarrick. There seemed to be consensus that we have said enough, thus far; although everybody is watching to see that the matter gets taken very seriously by Church authorities. We will keep our ears open to see if there is more need to address the situation at the parish level, as things develop. The Diocese did release a Q&A page regarding sexual abuse; and that info will be put on our parish homepage and Facebook.
– Next, I asked for feedback regarding the security committee proceedings that have been in the bulletin on three occasions so far, as well as a couple of security trainings carried out at our Paulding and Payne campuses. Also, the decision to lock the exterior doors after 10 minutes into each Mass, after we make sure all of our doors have a “panic bar”, so that they can easily be pushed open from the inside. Also, the decision to allow persons with a concealed carry license from our state to carry at church functions, once they fill out an application with the parish, which I can approve. One concern was noted, regarding the locking of doors 10 minutes into the service: at our Paulding campus, there’s no way to see the exterior doors from the main body of the church, so there is concern that somebody could be locked out. We have the electronic keypad door that anybody could use (although perhaps not everybody has memorized the code), so perhaps we need to station our ushers somehow within visibility of those doors, in case… Or at least leave the inner doors of the main body of the church open, once this policy is implemented. That way ushers will be able to see and hear anybody trying to get into the main doors after that first 10 minutes. Somebody also related a question that was raised from outside the meeting, i.e., whether we will be able to ensure that nobody with mental problems will be carrying within our parish. I said that we have to rely on the background check done by the state, and that we don’t have the means to do better than this.
– Next we looked at the newly published Discipleship Ministry Booklets to get feedback. It was asked if we would still follow-up, i.e., go after people who seem like good candidates for various ministries, even if they don’t volunteer themselves this weekend at the fair. Of course we will! It was suggested that sometimes people don’t realize how much volunteer work has to go into something like a funeral. Should we somehow highlight what all goes into various facets of our parish life, that require volunteers… and which perhaps parishioners don’t even consider? Or, might we have in the bulletin each week, or every once in a while, an extended description of some service area in the parish? That would keep us aware of these service areas. Also it was noted that we have to continue to recruit new people in each area. This, in our current vision, is supposed to be part of the review that the discipleship ministry coordinators will do once a year with each service area.
– Next we considered my brainstorm idea about the possibility of a prayer clinic, where people could come to get prayer for various needs, even for healing emotionally, or physically. And I could anoint people who qualify with physical sickness that is significant enough, or people who are regularly in the throes of aches and pains from old age. Somebody brought up the idea of a healing Mass, sort of like they have in Carey, Ohio. I said I would have to look into what it means to have a “healing Mass”. And, I really don’t want to add any more Masses, since my weekends are already pretty packed. On the first weekend of the month, I have often had six Masses (Latin Mass Saturday morning, a funeral or wedding later in the day, and then the two regular Saturday evening Masses; then my two regular Sunday Masses). We also remembered the once-a-year anointing Masses that my predecessor had, usually in the fall. Perhaps this is something I could establish again. If I were to have something of a “prayer clinic” for walk-ins, should I consider having it after our 10:30 Mass in Paulding, to make it more convenient for everybody?
So, there is a summary of our past council meeting. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,