Hi Y’all, I used to be a parishioner at a nearby Catholic Church, where the pastor believed that if someone believes something religious, with all their heart, even if they are dead wrong, they’ll be okay when they die. My Baptist wife hated going there, and I despised Sundays too because I usually spent the afternoon trying to defend the pastor, and finally realized I couldn’t!
Thank God the Bishop finally formed a new parish, even closer to me, which was named Most Precious Blood, and appointed a young priest as our pastor. Fr. Stephen Parkes was 40 at the time, and had been ordained for seven years. His older brother Gregory was named the pastor of another parish started at the same time called Corpus Christi, (they were both formed in 2005, which Pope John Paul II had dedicated to the Eucharist). Fr. Stephen is a deeply spiritual priest and a great preacher.
Since I am now retired, in the very beginning I offered to help him with anything he needed explaining that there were lots of talented lay people who would become members of the new parish, who would want to be more involved than just attending mass. I reminded him of the idea of a former pastor of mine, who was Fr. Stephen’s pastor and mentor for the previous seven years, which is the pastor can’t do everything for everyone, and is called to be the spiritual leader of the parish. He went on to say if the grass needs cutting, or the airconditioner didn’t work, take care of it because he will be at the hospital, hearing confessions or comforting families who were hurting.
So from the beginning, Fr. Stephen was predisposed to allow the lay people to do what they are good at, and to reserve for himself what God called him to do, and the Bishop told him to do, “go and make saints”.
He is a shy man, and maybe not a “natural” preacher, but he was very well trained in the dioceses seminary, and I keep reminding him he can preach a little longer, we aren’t looking at our watches, or figiting with hymnals, we are listening.
As a result of his spiritual leadership, we have built the “Church” here in our community, but we haven’t started to build the church building, and a large part of our new parish is made up of people like me from the previous parish who are looking to deepen their faith.
At mass, our worship space, (which for the time is only a rented school cafeteria), fills from the front, not the back like most churches both Catholic and non-catholic. So if you want a seat in the front, you had better get there early. (By the way, my wife likes to sit in the 2nd row, and rarely goes to her Baptist church any longer, because she is “being fed”, by our pastor, for the 1st. time in 36 years of our marriage.)
So the point of my long explanation is your pastor is the key to evangelizing your parish, and evangelize you must! About 40 years Pope Paul VI urged us to evangelization, and make Jesus truly known in our world. Pope John Paul II urged us to start with parishes first, then into our communities.
If you can get your pastor fired up to evangelize, you must let him know there are people in the parish who will help him, because he can’t do it alone.
The Catholic church looses too many of it’s members to the exciting, dynamic, entertaining non-denominationals, even though the theology is incomplete, or sometimes even wrong. But after all if they were taught that one is as good as the other, what do you expect.
Our website is www.oviedocatholic.org. You can check out all that we are doing, and even download Fr. Stephen’s homilies.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.