As I continue on my Catholic journey, My list of questions and what ifs continue to grow. I always have to know how everything works. What are all the contingency plans if plan A doesn’t work. What is the entire alphabet doesn’t work?
Being solution oriented is one of my greatest strengths. BUT…your greatest strength can also become your greatest weakness when taken to the extreme–as are most things in our lives when we become unbalanced.
Do I really trust God? The answer is ummm, complicated. The short answer is No, I don’t. I don’t trust God. I’ve been burned too many times thinking that something is coming from Him and its really me. I’m too insecure. I could go on and on. Have I said “I” enough times? It’s always about me and my world. My trust correlates to how much of my environment I can control. What are the probabilities of a positive outcome if I go left or if I turn right? It’s all about me and my abilities and limitations. There is no room for God and his input until there is no where else to turn. Nice huh? These are the not so pretty shadowy parts of myself that I’m not proud of. If I were married to someone like me, I don’t think I could stand it. But God is God and he just waits until you exhaust yourself and then asks most kindly if you could use some help.
So what does all of this have to do with Jeremiah 29:11? I have been looking to see where I could be of service in the church and I’ve been looking into Faith Formation. The needs there are long. Too few helpers. “Many are called, but few are chosen” Few are chosen because few show up– even when they are called repeatedly. The most frequent answer is: “I don’t have time”. But we have time to binge watch, bnge read, socialize and spend countless hours on social media and Pinterest. Our parish has over 4000 families and I’m going to guess that (at my most optimistic estimate) perhaps we have 10% who help in the 30 ministries within the church. There are quite a few folks who are in multiple ministries which is why I believe 10% is probably optimistic.
I have been exploring different ministries within the church. Our Formation Coordinator is strong young women who is smart, creative, dedicated, grossly overworked, yet I’ve never heard her actually complain. She deals with the reality of the situation and doesn’t have time to dwell on her inner thoughts and concerns. I like her. She’s transparent, doesn’t sugar coat; is infinitely patient and in spite of the fact that she’s 20 years my junior, she’s someone I look up to as a role model. I’d like to have some of her qualities when I grow up.
This weekend, I was invited to attend my first catechist training. Very non committal on my part. Just putting my toe in the water. Fr. T opened up with a prayer followed by the importance of being (not working as- but being) a catechist. Going back to the the days of the apostles, the disciples were the forerunners of the catechists. Catechists are the guardians of the faith. They serve so that the faith continues from generation to generation. They are teaching, planting seeds with the hope of harvesting priests, deacons, nuns, ministers, faithful families, faithful workers, faithful leaders who will live their faith daily in whatever path they have chosen in life. Catechists are so important that the church has special laws concerning catechists. With the approval of a Bishop a catechist can in cases where there is a community of believers but no clergy, administer sacraments. That totally blew me away. The immense honor, responsibility and commitment. And the reality that this might actually come to pass if we follow the bleak statistics.
Statistically, and I’m quoting Fr.T’s statistics that he heard at the last Catholic educators conference. The outflow of Catholics is greater than the inflow. In our Diocese this year there was only one priest ordained and in 2018 we will only see one more priest ordained. This is in the Orlando Diocese. Orlando one of the fastest growing cities we have an increase of only 2 priests? Children take their first communion and confirmation with small likelihood of returning for the next 20 years–if at all.
So here is the sobering statistic: At the rate that we are going Catholicism as we know it will be non existent by the year 2060.
Whaaaat? How could this be? What are we doing? What, How. No words. Just an overwhelming sadness of pending loss, of compassion for the already overworked clergy and lay people who love God so much that they continue forward knowing that the statistics are working against them. I went home very disheartened and very ashamed. Because I know that I have been called and I have been dragging my feet. I am part of the problem…
Stay tuned for Part 2: KEEP CALM–GOD HAS A PLAN. JEREMIAH 29:11