Thursday, April 5, 2007

More than 250 accept district's invitation to Come Home

Denise Konkol reported Special to your Catholic Herald, following up on the recent 'Coming Home' conference.
With 100 people pre-registered and with more than another 150 expected to attend the afternoon event at Alverno College, sponsored by the 14 parishes in district 16, which comprises part of the southwest side of Milwaukee County, Kuemmel [Gina Kuemmel, director of evangelization at St. Gregory the Great parish] added the day was not about numbers.

"Having such a turnout is great, of course," she said, "but even the one person we are able to bring back to the church would be wonderful."

The question is not about numbers, as such, but how the numbers produced compare to what might have been produced by an alternate expenditure of time and money.
A keynote address by Fr. Bryan Massingale, associate professor of theology at Marquette University, further welcomed those who perhaps had "given the Catholic Church a time out" for varied reasons.
As I've noted, he's the one who suggested the image of the Church in hospice. If that's still his view, he ought to tell the prospective reverts what he really thinks they're getting into. (And if he's changed his mind, I'd like the link.)
For Art Brandl, who hasn’t been a practicing Catholic in about 42 years, hoping to recapture the same feeling he had as a child toward the church was enough incentive to attend the seminar.

"Fr. Bryan alluded to the ritual we love, and I want to experience the same church I did as a child," Brandl said.

In my case, that would be the standing-room-only church with ten Sunday Masses.

Just as the earlier article did, this one contained information about St. Al's that the parish didn't think needed to be communicated to the parishioners.
However, parishes of the district ... have been given a mandate by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan to increase Mass attendance by 20 percent.

... St. Mary [Hales Corners] and St. Alphonsus parishes opted not to participate in the Come Home event.

I'm told it was Fr. Meinholz's decision as pastor of St. Al's to not participate, based on the cost, which, again I'm told, would have been thousands of dollars just for our parish. But the parishioners might have been told this by the parish. I'm assuming the parish will tell the parishioners about the 20 percent mandate now that it's been in the paper, though I have doubts it would have otherwise. I've become convinced the real, unstated, parish policy is against communication, just as it is against evangelization.


Anonymous Quiet Catholic said...

If you were in charge of a parish, what would you do to increase mass attendance by 20% (which is 20% of registered parishioners, not 20% of those currently attending)? It seems insurmountable.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Terrence Berres said...

I hope Archbishop Dolan has suggested some means to reach this end, and has a plan for follow-up. Doing more of the same won't change anything, and most parishes won't change if no one's checking back for progress.

Rather than assume I'm in charge, I'll assume someone in charge asked me.

Usually I say let's start by taking one of those fundraising campaign plans and wherever it refers to money, cross it out and put "Jesus". I said pretty much this very thing when on Parish Council, to no effect. The current fundraising campaign at St. Al's includes bulletin inserts with people's "faith-sharing" stories. If we can use "faith-sharing" for fundraising, why not for faithraising? (A bit more detail here.)

But I'd go on to suggest looking for present examples of parish turnarounds, and for examples in Church history and the history of religion, and for parallels elsewhere. To start with, there should be an analysis of comparative results of various parishes' actions in response to Archbishop Dolan's mandate. These results should be published, and summarized in the Catholic Herald. We might find that someone's figured out how to do it, or no one has, or something in between.

2:06 PM  

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