Bishop's Blog

The Parish of the Next Millennium - I

Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates were invited to have dinner with God. During dinner, God told them, "I need you three important people to send my message out to all people: "Tomorrow I will destroy the earth".

Yeltsin immediately called together his cabinet and told them, "I have two really bad news items for you:

1) God really exists and 2) Tomorrow, He will destroy the earth".

Clinton called an Emergency meeting of the Senate and Congress and told them, "I have good news and bad news:

The good news: God really does exist; The bad news: tomorrow He's destroying the earth".

Bill Gates went back to Microsoft and happily announced, "I have two fantastic announcements:

First, I am one of three most important people on earth, and second, the Y2K problem is solved".

Pope John Paul II talks about the end of the second millennium in terms of a New Advent or Coming, a time of joy and hope, memorial and celebration. From this vantage point, the year 2000 becomes the Great Jubilee, a year long celebration marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ with the call to become a Jubilee people. "The pressing pastoral task of the new evangelization calls for the involvement of the entire people of God and requires new fervour, new methods and a new expression for announcing and witnessing of the Gospel." [JPII]

The view of John Paul II stands in direct contradiction to the millenarian thinking that says, "Humanity is progressing very nicely the way it always has; business is fine. We're only on this earth temporarily and, in fact, the world is probably coming to an end, and we'll all go on to a better life anyhow, so let's not upset the way things have always been done. Our concern should be with our corporate economic profitability and personal well-being, and we shouldn't waster time in risky acts of creative transformation and envisioning the new. Let's keep things the way they've always been, enjoy life today and not worry about the next generation."

Denial represents the most primitive and likely the most dangerous defence against transformation. It is a desperate attempt to protect the way things are by negating the existence of difficulties with the present mode of functioning. Everything is just fine the way it is. Denying any need to restructure or re-envision, the organization engages in heroics as it attempts to shore up its present modes of operation by pouring more money into maintaining the present system of doing things. As it bleeds from every orifice it continues to ask for transfusions. Emphasis is clearly on maintenance, not on mission. Because of its commitment to maintain itself, it deludes itself into thinking it is effective because it appears very actively engaged. The only problem is that no one asks, "What is this thing and what is it supposed to do?" Denial prohibits an organization from asking the question, "Who are we becoming and what should we be doing in response to today's needs?"

Within the diocese we are beginning to formally tackle these questions through the work of the Diocesan Planning Commission.

The Diocesan Planning Commission on Future Planing and Development

Phase I: Research

  • to identify the key planning issues and concerns that will impact the planning and operation of Parishes within the diocese of Calgary over the next five to ten years
  • to collect all relevant data and to undertake the appropriate research that would be necessary for the full identification and understanding. of the identified issues and concerns
  • to discuss and define the most relevant models for parish planning based on the research and discussion on a draft basis

Phase II: Public Process

  • to undertake a public information and discussion/input program on the research and the models and to incorporate as appropriate the input received from the Catholic Community into the final report of the Commission

Phase III: Report

  • to present recommendations in report to the Bishop on the strategic options and choices, preferred alternatives and an implementation plan as appropriate

Phase IV: On-going

  • to advise, counsel and provide ad hoc recommendations as requested by the Bishop or Diocesan staff
  • to be an on-going resource for the Bishop relative to the implementation of the report and this study day is another attempt to broaden the base of involvement in wrestling with these questions. It is possible to identify a number of key considerations in regard to parish planning and development.
  • to an ad hoc task specific approach to parish planning is not likely to be adequate in supporting future parish planning and development in increasingly complex urban communities o there is considerable variation between parishes in regard to the level and quality of lay involvement, ministry availability, financial stability, leadership approaches, overall parish performance and member needs and expectations
  • the availability and profile of parish priests is changing
  • population shifts and demographic profile changes are influencing and will continue to influence the future development of parishes in the Diocese o parish physical plant costs and improvements need further systematic analysis and planning relative to the larg amounts of financial resources they are absorbing

Planning Strategies:

  • to operate parishes that increasingly reflect the character and needs of their members and their surrounding communities and which meet a minimum level of quality and scope of liturgies and programs to which any Catholic person should have access to across the Diocese o to expand the opportunities for spiritual leadership in parishes through a comprehensive program of priestly vocational promotion in the parishes, through the institution of a permanent diaconate program and through the mandating of more laity for parish ministry service
  • to provide the training necessary to support the changing roles and responsibilities of the laity and clergy as well as new initiatives to enhance the program and administrative operations of the parishes o to develop and implement a more systematic parish planning, development and evaluation program within the Diocese to update and implement policies and more formalized approaches and monitoring processes related to capital projects and statistical planning data It would be helpful to address the issue of "what is pastoral care?" in order to lay some kind of foundations for a consideration of new possibilities.

I. Pastoral Care

The pastoral care of parish communities is an all-embracing phrase that could extend to every possible activity. However, the revised Code of Canon Law spells out well what the church considers to be basic pastoral work in a parish community (Canons 528-529). This includes:

  • Instruction in the full range of the faith and catechetical formation.
  • Programs promoting Gospel values, including issues of social justice.
  • Catholic education of children and young adults.
  • Outreach to inactive Catholics.
  • Ecumenism and evangelization.
  • Programs of sacramental life and preparation.
  • Promotion of Eucharistic devotion.
  • Enhancement of programs for the sacraments of penance and holy communion.
  • Inculcation of prayer life, especially within families.
  • Effective participation in the liturgy.
  • Methods of acquaintance with parishioners, the welcoming of newcomers, home visiting, efforts at building community.
  • Motivation of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
  • Efforts of special care for the sick and dying.
  • Tangible concern for the poor, the afflicted, the lonely, the exiled.
  • Fostering of solid Christian family life.
  • Promotion of the lay apostolate.
  • Strengthening of extra parochial relations with the bishop, diocesan pastoral efforts and a worldwide Catholic identity

Though the above pastoral works are listed as the responsibility of the pastor, it is obvious that other clergy and lay staff members assist in responding to these pastoral challenges on a professional or volunteer basis. Moreover, the parish pastoral council has the responsibility to help identify pastoral needs, plan pastoral programs and seek to improve pastoral services. Pastoral leadership must also arrange to evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs and recommend their continuance, improvement or termination. These pastoral works essential for a parish community are the responsibility of all baptized Christians who share in the teaching, sanctifying and collaborating ministry of the church. Canon 530 addresses the functions that are especially entrusted to the pastor. These functions which impact parish life include:

  • The administration of baptism.
  • The administration of the sacrament of confirmation to those who are in danger of death.
  • The administration of viaticum and the anointing of the sick.
  • The assistance at marriages and the imparting of the nuptial blessing.
  • The performing of funerals. -The blessing of the baptismal font during the Easter season.
  • The more solemn celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

The pastor is the ordinary minister of these celebrations, but there are exceptions, e.g., emergency baptism. The deacon is also a minister for the celebration of baptism, marriage and funerals. Moreover, since Vatican II, some lay ministers share in functions once reserved to the priest, e.g., ministers of the Eucharist, lectors and, in exceptional restricted situations, as officiants at baptism and marriage.

II. Pastoral Leadership

The traditional form of pastoral leadership in a parish community is the priest-pastor. According to Canon 519, the pastor "is the proper shepherd of the parish entrusted to him, exercising pastoral care in the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share; in accord with the norm of law he carries out for his community the duties of teaching, sanctifying and governing with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful." The ministry of the priest-pastor calls for the recognition of the parish as a community of persons which the pastor serves in a spirit of collaboration with other baptized ministers. The Code of Canon Law realistically faces the situation when there are not sufficient priests to serve as resident pastors and to provide quality pastoral care for people in parish communities. Canon 517 introduces "team ministry" as a form of leadership where the pastoral care of a parish or several parishes can be entrusted to several priests. There is the requirement that one of them should be the moderator who would direct their combined activity in exercising pastoral care. Likewise, Canon 517 goes on to describe the situation of what can be done when the diocesan bishop decides that there is a "dearth of priests." He may entrust to a deacon or some other person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons a participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish. The Code of Canon Law includes religious women and men under the category of lay persons. However, the diocesan bishop is expected to appoint some priest endowed with the powers and faculties of a pastor to moderate the pastoral care of the parish community. The appointment of a deacon or layperson to share in the pastoral care of a parish is a designation of a new pastoral ministry. It is not the creation of a new liturgical office. Rather, the deacon or layperson fulfils liturgical ministry according to his or her role and responsibility. In implementing new forms of pastoral leadership for parish communities, it is obvious that collaboration is essential if such leadership is to be effective. However, pastoral leadership that calls for the "full care of souls" can only be exercised by an ordained priest and cannot be validly conferred upon someone who has not yet received priestly ordination (Canon 150). It is the ideal that each parish community has a pastor appointed to fulfil the pastoral care of the community. All pastoral ministry must be characterized by collaboration, trust, shared responsibility and a respect for the individuals with designated duties and responsibilities.

III. Towards Visionary Markers

While it might be comforting to bind organizational anxiety through processes designed to articulate a clear vision, it is probably more honest to admit that there can only be visionary direction. Vision at best is fuzzy business, something like trying to see your way through a fog. You see some things in outline but not clearly and distinctly. I have no clear or absolute vision of the destination but I am confident in the direction that we are moving in. Furthermore, I am passionately committed to our mission of evangelization and believe that the Spirit of God is with us and that our future is filled with possibility and potential. It is a time of birthing the parish of the next millennium, I'm now going to offer a few of the markers that I think will characterize the so-called parish of the next millennium.

  1. The parish of the next millennium will be grounded in baptism and charism rather than ordination and office. The common baptismal call to discipleship will bind us in a common mission. There must be the charism of leadership but leadership will be respectful of others' gifts and will, to an extent, be earned. That is, there will be some kind of broader input as to who that leader might be. Perhaps the people will put forth nominees for the pope or bishops or pastors to ponder or ratify. Somehow, the process will be opened up in such a way that will include the rights of the people and the rights of the hierarchy. You want to avoid the extremes of a popularity contest (or unseemly campaigning on the Internet) and the current secret, unilateral foisting that goes on now.
  2. The parish of the next millennium will be relationally rather than numerically or institutionally defined. Like the early Christians gathered in households, there will be a more personal, communitarian sense to being church, e.g. small faith based communities. We will both need and desire the institution for its strengths and tradition, but we will also need it as servant to our relationships to God and one another. In the process of relating, we will move to the middle and away from the extremes that divide the faith community. Without losing our passion for reform, we will give priority to the more urgent agenda of finding God.
  3. The parish of the next millennium will complete the process of moving from pyramid to koinonia church. It will strike a better balance between male and female spiritualities and influence. It, like the universal church, will have more female representation on the decision-making level. The parish of the next millennium will return to our roots and reconnect community, leadership, and ordination into a communion of mission. Therefore, for both theological and humane reasons the church will ordain married clerics (deacons) and, perhaps, married men but I don't expect this to happen in my life-time. The growing negative impact of communities without the Eucharist (communion is not Eucharist) and leadership without ordination will force the issue. Finally, the parish of the next millennium will remain true to our tradition, an ecclesial community. It's our heritage. We are an ecclesia, a worldwide community. Our bishops are at once our visible sign of unity and its glue and servants of that unity. We are united to each other and to our universal brethren, those gone before us and those to come after. We are, in a word, Catholic.
  4. The parish of the next millennium will emphasize the prophetic and wisdom tradition rather than the intellectual tradition. There will be a revival of our mystical tradition, a movement away from rules as defining who we are. There will be a renewed emphasis on the more holistic spirituality.
  5. The parish of the next millennium will be less program-oriented and more spiritually oriented. The gifts of spiritual direction will be more widely scattered. Sensitivity to the hidden God will be heightened. Daily life will unfold as harboring both the Spirit and the cross by which we are saved, a concept totally rejected by the therapeutic models presented in the best-selling spiritual consumer books. The parish of the next millennium, prodded by the New Age, will offer a rounded, Christian spirituality, a Savior by whose wounds we are healed.
  6. The parish of the next millennium will retrieve the Catholic imagination. Our sacred buildings will reflect this. Our liturgy will rely less on gimmicks. The communion of saints will be present to us. I am hopeful that a renaissance of art and theatre and music will return us to what we were famous for being: patron of the arts.
  7. The parish of the next millennium will, in a pluralistic and multicultural society, speak from weakness rather than from power. It will be more Catholic in every sense of the word. We will downsize. Rectories will give way to more familial or communal living. Our poverty will align us with the poor. Our minority status will move us to witness. Our humility will lead us to practical ecumenism. We will align ourselves less with the power structures and more with the disenfranchised.
  8. The parish of the next millennium will focus on inter-generational education rather than just child education. It has to. The numbers are there. And the parish of the next millennium will be wired.
  9. The parish of the next millennium, honed by shared and collaborative ministry and encouraged by a renewed episcopacy, will operate on the principles of subsidiarity and collegiality. The priesthood will be lived within and among the people in a common communion in ministry.
  10. The parish of the next millennium will move closer to the male-female partnership that is needed for true communion in mission by coming to a real balance of male-female cooperation and ministry, redressing any imbalance of this millennium.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Of the ten points I raised, which strikes you as important for our local church?
    • As the most important for your parish?
    • How would you list them in order of priority?
  2. Which is your parish most able to do something about?
    • On what area do you think your parish should focus its energies in the next year? Why?
  3. What sign of hope is most important for you?

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

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The Parish of the Next Millennium - II

How are we going to make such momentous changes?

My nieces and nephews tell this joke:

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time otherwise you might choke.

If you look at the whole elephant it will be overwhelming and you won't be able to eat it. Just the very thought of eating a whole elephant is too much. So, instead you focus on your plate in front of you three times a day and at the end of a year you've eaten the whole elephant.

The theory of continuous improvement will help us make the changes that are required. Continuous improvement is about incrementalism.

Continuous improvement is like a child learning to walk. You encourage them to stand to begin with - and they wobble a bit. They may fall over. But you don't criticize or condemn them for that. Then they take their first step and you encourage that. And then they may take a second step.

Continuous improvement is a journey of a thousand miles. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All that a journey of a thousand mile is -is a repeated series of steps. But if you think about the whole journey at the beginning you may never begin. Because it's too much for you - it's too overwhelming. All you concentrate on is one step at a time.

Continuous improvement is very much opposite perfectionism. Perfectionism is: e.g. we will not roll out the garbage reduction plan until it is perfect -- until marketing department has pilot tested it to death, until the politicians have approved it, until the image design department has approved it, until this department, that department - until everyone in the world has approved it.

Continuous improvement is all about having a bias for action. Its about doing things. It's about progress not perfection. Continuous improvement is an always moving yardstick. Whatever you do - you can always do it better. The process requires incremental change as well as total transformation of pastoral care delivery system.

Immediate issues: the Eucharist and the reality of fewer priests; a policy on Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest; and criteria for a good parish.

1.The Eucharist and the Reality of Fewer Priests

In the history of the church, changing situations and conditions often compel the community of faith to reflect deeply on the way in which it lives and celebrates the mystery of Christ and to discern how best it can remain faithful to the Gospel. Such a time of discernment has arrived for the local churches in our country and around the world. This is because of both the opportunities presented by changing patterns of ministry in the church and the challenges presented as fewer priests are available to our growing parishes.

We have begun to reflect on what it means to say the Eucharist is central to our lives as Catholic Christians. The question concerns both how we celebrate the eucharist and what it means to be a Eucharistic people living a Eucharistic life. The eucharist is the central event and action of reconciliation for a community of faith. God's people gather to hear the word, to offer themselves with the gifts of bread and wine, to remember the mighty acts of God in Jesus Christ and in so doing to join themselves to Jesus Christ, who is the perfect offering. We gather at the table and then go forth to live what has been said and done. This action of sacrifice and worship is the way we celebrate and keep as our focal point the event of the paschal mystery of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

Week after week, year after year, since the time of the earliest Christian communities, Catholic Christians have come together to celebrate eucharist on the Lord's Day. This Sunday gathering of the community for the purpose of celebrating eucharist has been and still is a hallmark of the church.

The Sunday celebration of the eucharist is crucial to our understanding of our Christian identity. It is the centerpiece of the church's liturgy, which the Second Vatican Council refers to as the "summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all the church's power flows" [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10].

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the place of the eucharist in the life of the community in this way: "It was above all on 'the first day of the week,' Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection, that the Christians met 'to break bread.' From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the church's life" (No. 1343).

This understanding of the eucharist as the action of the whole community gathered at prayer is a defining characteristic of our Catholic faith. In this action of praise and proclamation, offering and receiving, we know Jesus present in the midst of the assembly, in the proclamation of the word and in the bread and wine, now the body and blood of Christ. In this Eucharistic action we are fed and nourished so as to go out into the world to be the presence of Christ, to live Christ's dying and rising in our worlds of family and friends, work and play, neighbor and stranger.

The Eucharistic issues are many and diverse. They include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. Our need to understand that the reception of communion can never replace the action of celebrating the Eucharist," especially our understanding that the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy is at the core of our life and nothing can equal it.
  2. The quality of our Sunday celebration of the eucharist and the expectations of the church in this matter as church documents set forth.
  3. The number of Masses within an area and the impact those numbers may have on the quality of Eucharistic celebration.
  4. The appropriate place of communion services and the development of alternative celebrations when a priest is not available for the celebration of the eucharist.
  5. The development of leadership for alternative celebrations.
  6. The recognition of the value of the local community gathered in prayer and the question of when or if it might become advisable to ask particular local communities to join with others for the celebration of the eucharist.
  7. The appropriate use of the marriage and funeral rites outside of the eucharist.
  8. The recognition of what can be expected from the individual priest that balances the norms of the church with real human needs, i.e., vacation, retreat, study, day off.
  9. The development of appropriate Eucharistic devotions.

2. Towards a Policy on Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest

The parish is the usual place where all the faithful gather for the Sunday celebration of the eucharist. "The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: It gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love."' [CCC2179]

"Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday eucharist is a testimony of belonging and being faithful to Christ and to his church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."' [CCC2182]

The priest will always remain essential to the eucharist, therefore, and will always be an important gift to the church.

Holy communion regularly received outside of Mass is a short-term solution to the so-called shortage of priests that has all the makings of becoming a long-term problem. Some of the disturbing implications are:

  • A blurring of the difference between the celebration of the eucharist and the reception of communion.
  • A blurring of the distinction between a priest and a deacon or a non-ordained minister presiding over communion service.
  • A blurring of the relationship between pastoral and sacramental ministry.
  • A blurring of the connection between the eucharist and the works of charity and justice.
  • A blurring of the need for priests and therefore a blurring of the continual need for vocations.
  • A blurring of the linkage between the local church and the diocesan and universal church that is embodied in the person of the parish priest.

Because of these implications, I believe that the distribution of holy communion outside Mass on Sundays could well contribute to the erosion of our many-sided belief in the Eucharist. It is for this reason that I intend to restrict such services to emergencies only. And by that, I mean unforeseen circumstances when a priest is not available. We recognize that this policy calls some of the faithful to sacrifices and hardships that match those of our ancestors in the faith.

Where great distances impose unreasonable sacrifices and hardships, an exception to this policy may be made by the local bishop. Such an exception is rooted in the universal law of the church.

"If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families." [CCL 1248.2]

In this context it may be helpful to recall the role of the priest beyond word and sacrament. The priest is not just a functionary who consecrates the eucharist, pours water, anoints with oil or absolves the penitent, important as these functions are. He is not just a circuit rider who offers Mass and celebrates the sacraments.

He is also a builder of the communion of the faithful, a co-worker with the bishop in building up the diocesan church and a symbol of the universal church in the particular parish. He is not only one who sanctifies, he is also one who proclaims the Gospel. He is not only an administrator, he is also a shepherd who serves the cause of human dignity. He is none of these things alone, of course. Nor is he any of these first, of course. He comes to these, as we all come to these, by way of the family, and often by way of a parish family in which the seeds of his calling were first sown by a small band of lay persons or religious men and women.

3. Criteria for a Good Parish

In accordance with the theory that the parish is and should be a local church, I would like to propose some criteria that set goals for a parish in terms of what a local church should be, what a local church should do and what a local church needs in terms of resources for its mission.

These criteria also lend themselves to some form of objective measurement by numerically scorable indicators The criteria are listed in three groups: structural, functional and supportive.

STRUCTURAL CRITERIA are set for the community as a whole and for the roles of oversight, decision sharing and staffing reflected in the original roles of the episcopos, the presbyterium and the diaconate.

FUNCTIONAL CRITERIA are developed from the traditional descriptions of the ministry the church used at Vatican II: kerygma or proclamation of the word, koinonia or embodiment of the word in community, leitourgia or worship, and diaconia or service.

SUPPORTIVE CRITERIA are developed in terms of adequacy of numbers of people, availability of financial resources and suitability of facilities.

Further, the criteria are developed specifically with an eye to the mission of the church in our diocese as we prepare to cross the threshold of a new millennium. Other times, other places or other cultures might develop the basic structural, functional and supportive aspects of a good local church in different ways and with different emphases. The factors that are emphasized in the 14 criteria which follow reflect the vision of Vatican II.

It is probably not possible for any parish in the real world to rate near the top of the scale in all of these criteria. It is to be expected, for example, that large parishes will tend to do better than small parishes on criteria such as adequacy of number of parishioners and financial resources to accomplish all its ministerial needs, and that small parishes will tend to do better than large parishes on criteria such as sense of community, level of participation and personal relationship with the pastor. No one community can excel at everything this side of the Parousia. It is nonetheless useful to get some objective measurement of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each parish so that each can seek to grow by capitalizing on its strengths and shoring up its weaknesses.

Structural - What a Church Is

  1. Sense of community. A good parish will have a strong sense of itself as a community of faith, called by God, united in Christ, led by the Spirit. Members will identify themselves with the community and be relatively well-satisfied with it.
  2. Lay ministry. Members of a good parish will see themselves as ministers and will participate actively in the leadership of the parish and in staffing its various ministries.
  3. Pastor. The pastor of a good parish knows the people of the parish, and they know and feel comfortable talking to the pastor. The pastor, in person and/or through others, presides well at liturgy. The pastor announces in personal life as well as in homilies both the comfort and the challenge of the Gospel. The pastor identifies the people's talents, helps them experience the empowering and demanding love of God, and challenges and encourages them to take part in the ministry of the parish.
  4. Staff. Parish staff, both ordained and non-ordained, are adequate in number for the work of the parish. They are properly trained for their ministries, have a sense of the purpose of the parish and cooperate effectively with the pastor and the people in achieving parish goals. Functional - What a Church Does
  5. Participation. Members of a good parish community will participate in its life and activity. They will take part both in the liturgy and the other functions of the parish.
  6. Vitality of worship. A good parish will see the liturgy as the point to which all else leads and the font from which all else flows. Clergy and laity alike will take active roles in making the liturgy alive, resources will be devoted to it as necessary and people will have a sense of pride and ownership of the parish liturgy.
  7. Religious education and spiritual formation. A good parish is strongly committed to the religious and spiritual development of its adults, youth and children. People participate in these ministries to contribute to their own formation and that of others. Resources are made available as needed for all groups, and people feel a need to keep growing in Christ.
  8. Evangelization. A good parish experiences the call of Christ to spread the Gospel and responds with an active program of evangelization. The Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults is seen as a vital part of parish life, and people are active in the ministries of sharing the faith.
  9. Service to the poor. A good parish will, in line with the church's preferential option for the poor, direct its services especially to the poor both within and without the congregation.
  10. Presence to neighborhood. As a part of its service mission, a good parish is involved in the life of its surrounding neighborhood. In cooperation with others, ecumenically and civilly, the parish contributes to meeting the various social needs of its community.
  11. Other service ministry. People will be concerned with and active in ministries which promote equality, freedom, justice and peace. The parish will be active in advocacy for those in need and will have active programs to assist those with special needs, such as the elderly, the handicapped, etc. Supportive - What a Church Needs
  12. Size of community. A good parish has enough people, especially in their most active years, to take on all the ministries seen to be necessary and to perform the other work necessary to keep the parish functional. The distribution of parishioners by age, race and sex indicates a healthy inclusion of the whole people of God and an ability to keep the parish healthy in the future.
  13. Financial condition. A good parish has enough financial resources to be able to carry out its work without placing undue strain on its people and without becoming preoccupied with financial matters at the expense of the ministry.
  14. Facilities. A good parish has facilities that are useful for its life and work, and that are being maintained in acceptable condition. The community is not constrained by a plant that is too small, nor burdened by a plant that is too big, nor consuming its own future resources by not maintaining its plant.

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

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