The Fire of God
As I return from our Parochial Vicar meeting, I’ve been thinking about two sorts of responses to Set Ablaze that seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum, and both tend to be unhelpful. The first is to think that not much is really going to change on July 5. To let complacency and sloth direct us. Just a slight reorganization of parish groupings. Some priests being moved, as tends to happen every July, but otherwise, it’s all going to be business as usual.
But this is not the aim. Without opening ourselves to new possibilities for the spread of the Gospel, pooling of resources, gifts, charisms, collaboration and coordination between parishes, between different priests and deacons working together, between the clergy and lay faithful, placing our gifts at the service of Christ and His Church—in ways and to a degree that we have not yet seen—we will not be able to disrupt the downward trends of these past decades to bring genuine renewal in worship, service, community, and mission. It will be different. It’s meant to be different and to provide new opportunities in every area of parish life.
The other extreme is to think that drastic changes will take place immediately or without warning or consultation. To let fear direct us to dig in and just cling to what we think of as ours. To bury our talent in the ground, to make sure it doesn’t get merged with the talents of any neighboring parishes. Rest assured, not all that much in the current operations of most parishes will be changing on July 5 itself or even in the coming year. Religious education will continue. Bills will still need to be paid. Parishes and their accounts will still operate independently as they have up till now. And any other changes on the way will be part of a planning process set to begin this September.
So it’s not time to panic, and it’s not time to sit back and disengage from the life of the Church and the discussions and work that will be crucial for the future of our diocese and the Catholic Church on the prairie. Now is the time to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the openness, generosity, collaboration, and creativity that will be the hallmarks of parishes that will thrive within the new pastorate model. Come, Holy Spirit!