Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
First of all, thank you so much to all those who helped with the spring cleanup at each of our campuses last week. I hope this approach was encouraging, as we all worked together to accomplish the many aspects of cleaning up our parish. Unlike many parishes, we have three campuses with many buildings. This is a burden above and beyond the norm. It is much harder – from both financial and personnel resource perspectives – to handle all the practicals of such a parish. How grateful I am for those who were able to step up to the task!
This past week we had our second parish Security Committee meeting. After the church shooting incident in Florida months ago, the question of parish security came up a couple times in our Presbyteral Council meetings with the Bishop. Even back when I had our ushers’ enrichment program months ago, I was approached by a group of ushers who had expected me to talk about parish security. (That ushers’ enrichment, you remember, happened soon after the Florida church shooting. It just never occurred to me to talk about security.) Finally, after the topic of parish security came up in the deans’ meeting with the Bishop, we put together a parish security committee, comprising representatives from each campus. At that point, it had been recommended we consult with local authorities to get their advice. The second meeting we had, which was this past week, was primarily to listen to Sheriff Jason Landers speak from his perspective on parish security. There are several other Protestant churches in our area that are asking some of the same questions.
Although this is only at the discussion stage, and no decisions of been made, the following are some of the questions that were raised and discussed: We discussed the possibility of locking our doors ten minutes into each Mass, since everybody is inside at that point. We also considered whether it would be beneficial to have ALICE training at each of our campuses. (ALICE is the county’s training for dangerous intruder scenarios.) We discussed having appointment people on duty during Masses to watch inside and outside for suspicious behavior. We discussed having local experts walk through our campuses to point out weaknesses, from the perspective of an armed attacker. We discussed the pros and cons – liability issues – surrounding the whole question of concealed carry permission. The Sheriff mentioned that there are some churches absolutely against the idea of concealed carry, yet some are open to it. Sheriff Landers tried to spell out in very concrete terms for us the length of time we are considering between an intruder’s first entry into the building, and the arrival of law enforcement on-site. This is called the “response time” to threats. These are the topics we discussed. Please realize that no decisions whatsoever have been made regarding any of these topics. This was just initial exposure to the topics, hearing from an authority such as the local Sheriff. [I am very, very grateful for Sheriff Jason Lander’s willingness to spend some of his valuable time with our Security Committee!]
At the Defiance Maximilian Kolbe deanery meeting this past week we also discussed security measures at our parishes. Some parishes in our deanery are considering the very same questions. At the last presbyteral council meeting with the Bishop, it was agreed that each of the deans would have discussions in their next deanery meeting, and feedback would be forwarded for our next presbyteral council meeting with the Bishop (to happen in the fall). I am not sure what will be the result. Will the Diocese actually issue some guidelines? Or will our diocesan wide deans’ discussion just serve to enlighten deans, so that they can share more with their respective parishes. I don’t know how all the discussions will end up serving our parish concretely. I do intend eventually to come up with some concrete measures to make our parish safer from a potential attack from an intruder. All of this talk is a clear reminder of the human condition (sinful and very wounded!), such that we even have to be considering such a topic as parish security. People need Jesus! He is the only answer to humanity’s profound proclivity to self-destruction by sin and major evil choices – both individually and corporately. Love Jesus! And help others to come to know and love Him!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,