Friday, March 8, 2013

Diagnosis of a Middle Class Parish

The parish with the largest percentage of Catholics in the Seoul diocese, with over 30 percent, recently made an in-depth study of its  pastoral situation. The results of the study, undertaken by a  professional center equipped for this type of diagnosis, and published in the Peace weekly, will help in planning for the future. Of the 6000 parishioners, 2370 participated by answering questionnaires and being interviewed.

The socioeconomic status of the surveyed parish was considered middle class, and the goal the parishioners selected as being the most important was Christian maturity, followed by peace of mind, a happy family life, a genuine faith life, and health, in that order.

Concern for community life and its needs, however, did not rank very high. Only 10 percent of the parishioners were involved in parish activity as members of a group. Members of the Legion of Mary had the highest number of participants. Concern for individual spiritual health was seen as uppermost by the parishioners, but there was not much interest by the  parents in giving their children a religious education, with many parents believing that a religious education was less important in life than having a good secular education. Half of the children answering the questionnaire said that their parents did not want them to go to church. Getting a good job was the parents primary concern for their children, and doing well in school would be more helpful in the business world than would living a virtuous life.

This same thinking was seen as the number-one reason for not going to church: making a living and studies. Over 30 percent of those who are tepid, stopped going to church within three years after baptism. Over 64 percent had no help from their guardians or god parents. 56 percent said they didn't know any parishioners when they stopped going to church. Only 9 percent said they had at one time belonged to a parish society before becoming tepid.

Being a middle class parish the enthusiasm for faith life and daily life was noticeably different. The idea that all life is one was not of special concern. The results of the diagnosis are intended to direct future plans to improve community life, help new evangelizing efforts, educate parents to take more of an interest in their children's spiritual health, to spend more time on the pastoral education of the parishioners rather than spending more money on construction projects, and to be more actively involved with the poor, and with issues of peace and justice.

The pastoral center stressed that the study and the recommended efforts to implement the most pressing needs uncovered by the study will have to be continued for years to come and should  be the concern of all. Not only the quantity but the quality of effort has to be emphasized, and the necessary infrastructure has to be put in place to continue the work. A report of the study will be summarized and given to each household within the parish. The pastor will use the study to make plans for the future. He hopes it will be the means of maturing the Christian life of the parish.


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