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Keeping the Faith in Tough Times

Posted on October 24, 2018 in: Pastor


ON KEEPING THE FAITH IN TOUGH TIMES:  As I look around at all of the empty pews each weekend here at Visi, & as I observe the downward spiral of contributions that enable our parish to function, I’m quite aware that a great many of our people are very seriously scandalized & have abandoned the regular practice of their weekend worship & support of the church over the recurring awful news of clergy abuse settlements & cover-ups by powerful leaders.  We have received numerous phone calls, voice mail messages, letters & emails angrily denouncing such atrocities, & sadly—even a few hateful communications sent our way.  While I fully understand & also personally resonate with the anger, the haters elicit in me only pity & sadness, for such hatefulness infects & inflicts themselves first & foremost. 

I want to be clear in telling you that not a single penny of your parish contribution that serves as support to the archdiocese (every parish pays a periodic assessment to keep the ‘mother church’ to which we belong running & operational) goes towards paying any settlements for clergy abuse.  Any such payments come from the liability insurance that is held by the archdiocese.  So, those who believe in their righteous anger that they’re punishing the wider church by refusing any generosity at the parish level are only hurting us here locally & it will soon result in a curtailing of parish services & our ability to serve the needs of our people.  If things do not begin to turn around financially, we will commence an ‘austerity mode,’ where you will see ‘mission essential’ as the criteria for determining where any monies are spent--& that will mean that things are going to look different around here. 

We have a large parish school, which the parish subsidizes very heavily—that is to say, the tuition paid by our school families does not come close to covering our costs in operating the school.  I am chagrined to learn that some of our school parents no longer support the parish financially, believing that their tuition payment is their support--& such is an entirely self serving attitude of entitlement.  More than anyone, our school parents need to support the parish financially, because it enables the school to function.  Many school parents are also shirking their parental responsibility in bringing their children to weekend Mass.  Please let me say as clearly as I can that sending your children to our parish or any Catholic school will never ‘get them religion’ if you as parents are not practicing regularly what we’re trying to teach them.  Your faith practice behaviors form a lasting example. 

Everyone who is a student of church history understands that our church has been through similar & even worse crises than what we’re experiencing now--& it has & will continue to survive.  Ironically, Pope Benedict some years ago prayed for a ‘smaller, purer church’:  I’m sure that he never dreamed of it happening like this—the church is being pruned/purged & must undergo a painful process of purification before renewal can occur—much like how a boil must be lanced so that the poison can drain before the healing balm is applied.  Ugly, running pus is an unpleasant although apt image for where we are & where we’re heading.   I invite you to join me in committing ourselves to become agents for healing, part of the solution & not part of the problem.  Please reach out to your fallen away family members, neighbors & friends &encourage/invite them to come home & rejoin us.  Please God, hasten the painful process of purification so that we may experience renewal & new life!