The Parish Catalyst Project…the what?!

I have to admit…I didn’t make it to church this past Sunday. No excuses, I know, but we were pretty snowed in. So, this morning I caught up on my weekly bulletin. It turns out my Pastor was at an interesting event this past weekend and missed mass at our church as well (He was in California for this particular event and the weather was nice, so I am sure he made mass somewhere). He mentioned that he was invited to be a part of the Parish Catalyst project. Directly from the Parish Catalyst website:

“We are a non-profit organization helping Pastors and leadership teams who are growing vibrant Catholic parishes. We serve as a platform for creative ideas in parish ministry that will inspire the devout, re-engage those who have turned away from the Church, and draw others to the joy of the Catholic faith for the first time.”

I reviewed the website and started to wonder… Why is it that a lay person was the one who was concerned enough to do something about revitalizing parish life? Are their committees or councils that do this in religious life and I just don’t know about them? If so, why don’t I know about them?

I guess I am just curious as to why it took a lay person to step out, diagnose a problem, reach across parish boundaries, dialogue and facilitate a realistic and honest conversation about what is working and what is not working in parish life? If I am missing some grand council or strategic plan within the church to address these concerns from the pews, then someone please tell me!

Time and time again, I am reading articles from the Vatican encouraging us, the church, to go out and change the world. We are encouraged to let our light shine and to be an example of living out the Gospel. Well if you ask me, living out the Gospel begins at Mass. It begins when you shake the hand of the person greeting you when you arrive and then introducing yourself. It continues into the first hymn that everyone sings. It continues on to when the children leave their pews and go to their own Liturgy of the Word. The homily leads us into a reflection on the scripture, but more importantly a reflection on our own lives. We are invited into the Eucharist, and asked to examine our lives while we open our hearts to receive Him. The Mass is a journey into our souls. We come vulnerable, joyful, scared, discouraged, in love, in heartbreak…we come together, one universal church.

It’s not about “stealing” members.

It’s not about being a liberal/conservative parish.

It’s not an opportunity to judge.

It’s not an opportunity to turn away.

Mass is just the beginning; it is the opportunity to see and experience God. Why wouldn’t everyone, lay and religious, have this on the forefront of their minds. How have we let the Mass weaken? If we are the church, if we are the mass, does that mean we have “weakened?”

…If we are weak in spirit, where else better to go than a vibrant Mass?

I guess if we are to make spiritual life better in our parishes, maybe it isn’t just about the parish leadership….maybe it is also about us.

Maybe I just started my next blog post, but let me pose this question to you first: What makes a “weak” Mass?