Yes, it is time to rethink the parish. (Is it time to rethink the parish? WCR, June 3.) Change in the Catholic Church comes slowly.
More than 20 years ago, Father John Spicer, recognizing that the parish no longer was a community, proposed that Catholics form mini-parishes within existing parishes, the mini-parishes being groups of people who know each other because of familial relationships, work relationships, recreational relationships and/or living locations.
While it was a great idea, nothing ever came of this proposal, probably because the powers-that-be never understood or accepted it.
In order to bring about some of the necessary changes in or with our parishes, we need to also rethink the role of the parish priest and the meaning of the Sabbath, a holy day.
Why must a parish be headed by an ordained priest? Why couldn’t it be headed by a deacon or a similar person? In the early history of the Catholic Church, parishes or parish-like communities were headed by committed lay people.
What’s wrong with that? It would make it possible for priests to do what Christ commissioned them to do: Teach.
For many years the Sabbath was celebrated always and only on Sunday. Not so many years ago, it was changed to include Saturday afternoon and evening. Why Saturday, I don’t know. Why not Monday morning? And even if it is Saturday, why only the late afternoon?
I would submit that is time to rethink the meaning of (a) the parish and take appropriate action to create communities, (b) the role of priests – as teachers not administrators, and (c) the meaning of the Sabbath. All of these need to be considered at the same time, because one impacts another in a significant way.
Editor’s Note: Christians celebrate, not the Sabbath, but Sunday, the Day of the Lord.