Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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cram half"Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down." – God

The head of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness once described professional football as 22 guys on the field who desperately need rest, and 40,000 spectators in the stands who desperately need exercise.

This, dear readers, is a description of our Church.

Some time ago, I conducted a straw poll of diocesan priests. I asked them what percentage of their time is spent on priestly ministry as compared with administrative work. The majority indicated that they spend more time on business and administrative matters than they do being priests.

Pastors are especially prone to being distracted by nonpriestly functions. They oversee building and grounds projects, repairs, improvements, fund-raising, finance and staffing and stomp out the myriad fires that crop up each day. Add a school, and the projects skyrocket.

A pastor who has excellent staffing, a strong business manager to oversee day-to-day operations and a parish that understands the concept of lay ministry may spend as little as 30 percent of his time in administrative tasks. Others spend 60 to 80 percent of their time on nonpriestly activities. Even parochial vicars, who typically enjoy more freedom from administrative work, may spend up to half their days in paperwork and phone calls.

I think it’s accurate to say that no one goes into the priesthood so he can negotiate roofing contracts or sit in meetings. God calls men by name to be his priests, not business managers or landscapers. Or as my husband says, no one ever died for lack of new bathroom light fixtures, but in a very real sense, people are dying every day for lack of Jesus.

What does this have to do with you?

Everything.

As long as lay Catholics view priests as the guys who are paid to do all that religious stuff while we go to work and live our lives, the problem will persist. One pastor described our confused arrangement like this: the minister ministers, and the congregation congregates.

Nothing in the pages of Scripture even vaguely reflects this view. Neither does the structure of the early Church. Rather, God created each of us with gifts and talents that are to be used "for the common good." In other words, God absolutely, positively expects us to use the talents that he gave us. If we expect the clergy guys to do it all, our Church will remain in disrepair, much like St. Francis of Assisi faced centuries ago.

We’re seeing it now. Many regard their parish involvement as volunteer work, to be doled out only after the important aspects of life are satisfied. In truth, the Church is our family, and in a family, everyone contributes as he or she is able. It’s the only way a family can function properly.

In my family, Meredith is the fix-it guy. Andrew is the photographer. Torrie helps with computer glitches. Tierney sings. Kait organizes. Skip covers medical areas. Chris is a musician and teacher. You get the idea.

When one decides not to contribute his or her particular talent, everyone suffers. Either tasks go undone, or they get done badly by someone else.

Likewise in the Church, we all are called to use our talents for the good of all.

Think of the parable of the talents. Three people were given talents. The ones who used them were congratulated for their prudence. The one who buried his talent in the back yard was roundly criticized for letting it go to waste.

What are you doing with your talents?

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.

 

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.