Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Roman Catholic Church
COMPONENTS OF A STABLE PARISH
In the times we live and in the lieu of the Strategic Planning Process begun in our diocese to assess each parish individually as to their Viability (economic strength) and Vibrancy (spiritual strength), we need to look at what makes a parish strong.
In the past 32 years as a priest of the Diocese, I have found certain components of which a par-ish and its spiritual and temporal leader, i.e., pastor/administrator cannot do without.
1 - Faith Formation and Spirituality Committees are essential as the backbone of any Catholic Christian parish community. The Church’s mission of Evangelization and continued conver-sion of the world, wherever it is found, must continue the message of the Gospel as given to us by Jesus in order for us to acknowledge God as the author of everything we say and do. In our time Evangelization is not only concerned with those who have not known Christ, but in fact those who know Him have rejected Him, or placed Him as an aside to make room for different priorities. This means that often our own Catholic Christians are far from the Church and its Traditions, and their link with Christ has diminished.
Faith formation begins with a strong Religious Education Program which endeavors to teach the young about the Catholic Faith and prepares them for the powerful instruments of the Sac-raments and the life of the Catholic Christian in our society. The Religious Education Forma-tion Program is a vital link to the Catechism of the Church and its teachings and holds account-able not only the young who attend classes but the parents who are the first teachers of the children in the ways of the Faith. When parents fail to teach their children about the faith, then the promises made at the moment of Baptism have been obscured and negated and parents have neglected to develop the spiritual dimension of their sons and daughters.
Spirituality Committee is a continued aspect of Faith Formation. Programs for the high season of the year: Advent, Christmas Lent, Easter, special liturgical events, and the continued forma-tion of the adult segment of the parish are important moments in the life of the parish in which all parishioners are asked to participate in order to be immersed in the full life of Jesus as con-tained within the Church. For instance, how is it possible for parents to teach their children about the faith, if they remain unfamiliar with the Catechism and the Tradition, or absent them-selves from the Eucharist on Sundays?
A Spirituality Committee which I hope to form this autumn will provide us with this celebra-tion of the significant seasons of the Church year as the rhythm of life. But, also will help to create evenings with speakers educating all of us to a more qualitative sense of who we are as Catholic Christians on the adult level.
2 - Trustees of the parish are individuals who assist the pastor/administrator in reviewing the economic viability of the parish. These are people whose hearts and minds are truly focused on the continuance of the parish community for now and the future. In their capacity to sign budgets prepared by the accountants, and advise the pastor/administrator in present situation of the economic realities of the parish, and help keep the parish viable is job capacity which de-fines who they are as responsible individuals whose names are presented to the Vicar General and the Bishop for approval for two years.
3 - Finance Committee are individuals closely related to and work with the Trustees to help ad-vise the pastor/administrator in the finances of the parish. They are individuals selected for the express purpose of presenting ideas and parish programs to help sustain finances so that the parish can continue to meet its financial responsibilities and remain solvent in the years to come.
All of these individuals should also be part of the Pastoral Parish Council and be the basis by which a council can function with concern for the parish and its future. In addition, there should be other members of the Council who may not necessarily be part of the above standing committees, but who have vested interest in the parish so as to continue its life in the midst of the neighborhood, cluster, diocese and city we live in.
Rev. Anthony J. Sansone