Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Develop a Vibrant Parish

In the question and answer column of the Peace Weekly a young priest asks an older priest who manages the column, what he needs to do to have a vibrant parish? The young priest was just made a pastor after years as assistant. He has asked many of his  senior priests for advice, but they all had different answers, confused, he wrote to the priest columnist for help.

The young priest will not have an assistant; as pastor he will not only need to relate with the young, as he did as an assistant, but with all the parishioners, besides the responsibility for administration.  The columnist responds there are no areas of parish life that are not important, but he would select the work with the elderly as the most important.

Elders are the pillars of the parish. They are the ones closest to God. They pray the most and pray for others, the most altruistic; they are the ones that pray for the priest and defend the priest from criticism, the most loyal to the parish and the Church.

The columnist in his experience in one of the parishes as pastor, with the division of the parish he lost most of the older people, and lost most of the income. They are the ones who support the parish. With the drop of the elders the religious goods store could no longer  operate. The spirituality of the parish was noticibly weakened. When concern is made for the elders the families are pleased and thankful. Nobody has  difficulty with the choice.

Another reason is that our society shows little concern for the elders. In a society where money is important the elders go to the periphery. Jesus has told us what we do for the lowly, we do for Jesus. Our society looks on those who are not earning as useless, and they suffer unfairly.

This older generation has built the society we now have and are not respected for their work and are ignored, which has  given them deep scares. This is one of the  reasons the Church has to fight against the spirit of the times, and be on the side of the elderly.

The columnist believes with concern for the elderly the other areas of the parish will run smoothly. There are a few parish priests, who when addressing the elderly will use crude language. He feels this is a fault that comes from their upbringing. There are those who have an anger towards their own parents which is expressed with the elderly.

When we have more concern for money than spirituality, he concludes,  we will find that we will neglect the old people. The mature and healthy mentality of the priest is often known by the way they treat the old people in the parish. Also well to remember that when God selected Abraham, and  Moses to do his work both were over 75 years old.

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