MOSAIC Fall 2015 - Page 15

means of connecting them to the parish, especially given that and therefore needs the parish now more than ever (disarray survey after survey shows the importance young people place on due to divorce, etc.). issues of Christian service and justice. Consequently, the larger Church needs to have a greater All of this assumes, however, that parishes hire more fully “awareness context” about the role of the parish as a socializing trained and educated professionals who can address the needs and ecclesializing force for families and individuals. Pope Francis of people throughout the life-cycle. In particular, therefore, says as much in Evangelii Gaudium: what is most needed in many parishes are theoThe parish is not an outdated institution; logically and sociologically astute professional precisely because it possesses great flexibil“Christian service ecclesial ministers who can pastorally respond ity, it can assume quite different contours projects geared to to the many needs of families. depending on the openness and missionI am not advocating for a more therapeuticallyary creativity of the pastor and communichildren, youth, and oriented approach to pastoral ministry but a more ty. . . . It is a community of communities, a young adults could ritually dense one. Families are in greater need of sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink be a powerful means activities that connect them to the larger parish in the midst of their journey, and a center community. For those activities to be implementof constant missionary outreach. We must of connecting them ed and catch on in local parishes, these parishes, I admit, though, that the call to review and to the parish.” believe, need full-time competent professional ecrenew our parishes has not yet sufficed to clesial ministers steeped in appreciation of these “ritual practices,” bring them nearer to people, to make them environments especially the Catholic Church’s sacramental system. of living communion and participation, and to make them This positon also assumes that parishes are open 24/7 when completely mission-oriented. (no. 28) possible, which also assumes there are parish professional ministers available in order for the parish to be accessible. More Staffing, More Devotions This also assumes parishes will have larger parish staffs than I argue that one of the main reasons parishes have not many parishes have at present. “brought people nearer to them” is because many local parishes are understaffed (especially youth and young adult minReservoir of Renewal isters) and therefore are not able to offer families a host of reFamilies, especially young families, are in need of robust ligious, spiritual, and social experiences. Parishes need to take parishes that are filled with Christ’s joy and steeped in the lead in offering families opportunities for greater connecoccasions for engaging families in ritual practices. In sum, the tion to the local parish community by offering a whole array parish needs to be a more prominent agent of ecclesialization of social ritual practices, such as socials, dinners, breakfasts, and socialization of the family. festivals, picnics, youth ministries, Christian service, etc., and With seminaries such as Sacred Heart Major Seminary religious ritual practices, especially specific religious devotions providing the approthat fit this particular priate professional community (for extraining for such ample, certain saints’ ecclesial ministedevotions). rial roles and pastors As for religious rithiring them, the loual practices, popular cal parish can be a devotions could be powerful reservoir implemented at the of ritual practices parish level that foof social connection cus on the needs of and, consequently, children, youth, and a dominant force young adults or other in the formation of particular needs withfamilies. in the parish. Moreover, offering Dr. Michael McCallion a host of Christian is the Fr. William service projects geared Parish group activities, devotional and Cunningham Chair of to children, youth, social, provide young people rewarding Catholic Social Analysis and young adults opportunities for interpersonal connection. at Sacred Heart. could be a powerful shms.edu 13