Father Stefan Reflects on Bishop Loverde Letter, “Go Forth with Hearts on Fire.”

Bishop Loverde asks this question, “Is our parish on a treadmill of activity where ‘maintenance’ is overshadowing ‘mission?’ Are there current activities that can yield their place in our parish priorities so new activities focusing on evangelization might bear more fruit?”

What does a maintenance model look like? For one thing the maintenance model resists change at every level. A maintenance model is about keeping the people who go to daily mass happy, keeping the parish secretary happy, keeping the director of religious education happy, even keeping the cat happy. If I had to paraphrase what the maintenance model looks like, it could be summed up in this one statement, ‘we are the church people need to come to us.’ The one group of people that the maintenance model forgets is everyone outside the Church. Or as pope Francis said in his latest letter, “I dream of a ‘missionary option’ that is a missionary impluse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, time and schedule, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than her self-preservation…..This presumes that it is really in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few.” 

The maintenance model is breaking down. For one thing people are not knocking at the doors of many churches looking to get in.It is true that the Church is the One True Church. However,  we need to read the signs of the times so that we can better transmit the Gospel. Pope Francis said, ‘what is the pastoral plan of our parish like. Does it make the essential visible, namely Jesus Christ.”

Too many people in the church, maybe even the majority of people who are most active in the church, like the maintenance model. Why do we like it? Well it ‘feels safe.’ This is what pope Francis said in his recent letter on the ‘Gospel of Joy’ “each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel.”

The Mission model is all about following the words of Jesus, “Go out to all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit and make disciples of all nations.” 


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