Saturday, October 10, 2015
Medium is the Message In Our Evangelizing
Progress is made in many fields by working together, cooperating: in medicine, science, politics, etc.. We can't say we don't have cooperation in the church, but it is not evident and central in our apostolate. However, is it not precisely the movement of the Spirit towards unity that should make us the preeminent example of this way of operating? We pray, play, celebrate and talk about our work, and many are the communities that live, pray and discuss together but rarely does this extend to working together.
We call this type of working together with many different names: team ministry, cooperative ministry, partnership in ministry. Working together is a form of catechetics: we become the message, by the way we live and work. Overcoming the obstacles faced, and the effort made to work together is a powerful message.
This is the way Jesus set up his church. We have many examples of this approach to ministry, and many failures, which is a reason for the negative feelings many have about the whole idea. We do have success stories and in Korea, we continue to hear of parishes and dioceses who are experimenting with the idea.
Recently, both Catholic Weeklies had articles on the cooperative ministry in Pusan but there are other parishes that have been working with this cooperative approach to ministry for many years. Hopefully, they will continue to increase and include more of the laity in the ministry.
The auxiliary bishop has mentioned that in this experiment, they will have two priests who want to work together in a cooperative parish. Concern is expressed that this will divide the parish into different allegiances to one or other of the associate pastors; he doesn't see this as a problem. The possibility of this happening is present, but with the desire of the two to work together as partners, and this seen by the parishioners, the response, he says, will be appropriate.
Many are the reasons for the attempts in cooperative ministry. Both Old and New Testaments give us words that show the wisdom of the attempt. " Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor, If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion" (Eccl. 4:9 ), and in Proverbs: "As iron sharpens iron so man sharpens his follow man." The very nature of Church, seen throughout the New Testament, should be a sufficient reason to work towards this ideal by our actions. Synergy, a principle with which we are familiar also provides us with a motive.
We have many studies and surveys that show that Catholics who have been catechized, show little difference from others. This has to make us think long and hard on what went wrong. We have succeeded in imparting knowledge but not done well in moving hearts. In most cases the fire is missing. The means of presenting the message may need to change, and the often heard expression that the 'medium is the message' may help to explain why we have not done a very good job in evangelizing.