Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 18, 2002
Look to the signs for the shortage of priests
Aging priests complain of becoming 'Mass" priests
By JERRY ARCHIBALD
Perhaps this 'sign' is a call to ordain married people who lead exemplary lives.
Our new churches are becoming extremely large in order to accommodate the faithful with a fewer number of priests. Our priests are getting older and are working very hard. I have talked to priests who feel they are becoming "Mass priests." This is a rather irreverent way of saying they have no other time available except to preside at official functions of the Church.
We all know Mass and the Eucharist are central to our faith, but the priesthood must engage in much more. Priesthood must truly mean being a "pastor." Priests must know parishioners on a personal level in order to share their lives.
As a result of these extremely large parishes, many Catholics have already lost touch with their faith let alone with their priests. Many parents are desperately worried about the future of their children and grandchildren as far as their faith are concerned. Are these "signs of the times?"
A yearning for the spiritual is another sign. There is considerable research backing this up. Sociologist Reginald Bibby has done pioneering work in this area. The growth in some Protestant churches has been phenomenal. This seems to confirm the research that people are responding to something that is more meaningful for them.
A review of the history of the Church indicates that it has made many changes since the time of Christ. However, we seem to be drifting badly and losing relevance in today's society to a serious extent.
I believe all organizations, religious or not, need to change in ways to meet the needs of people they serve.
Jesus was a model of servant leadership in his day, and the changes he proposed were indeed radical. We have the Holy Spirit guiding us as promised by Jesus. Yet we do not seem to trust this great promise. Above all, let us all keep the needs of the faithful foremost in mind. The Church is here to serve. I pray we can all be open to ways in which the Church can become more present and relevant in people's lives.
(Jerry Archibald is a freelance consultant who works with organizations in areas of governance, leadership, and change.)
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