Vatican II Counsel named the people of the Church a priestly people by virtue of Baptism. The word "liturgy" means "the work of the people." We gather each week to celebrate God and the fruit of our labors and gain the strength needed to continue that work.
We find ourselves in a precarious position today with communities of faithful who have dwindled in most local religious groups, Catholics being no exception. Consolidation of congregations is the No. 1 answer, secularism named the No. 1 culprit. I contend that had we as Christians been doing a better job with evangelization, been more attentive to the needs of those who had been in the community, worked harder at looking for the real reasons why folks left and ministered to those needs we would have less of a problem today. If those who filled the pulpit had done a better job at recognizing problems, developing talents and encouraged participation through example we would not be where we are today. I contend that every time a church closes it is a reflection of failed leadership, failure in ministry, failure to be that priestly people we were all called to be!
Hope, however, is not lost. God still blesses us with many who are talented and willing; hearts still yearn for the Sacred and peace. I pray that our priest, local ministers and Christians will find it within themselves to get creative with social media, services and example to encourage and grow available talents so to locate those who wander in darkness and bring them home to an open, loving church community. Experience tells me that people like to help others; that many hands make light work and that if led and encouraged the people will respond to God's call.
I believe that it is a mistake to close Immaculate Conception Parish as a worship site because it is important to have the Church accessible. I believe that in spite of heroic efforts that short of well-placed sky hooks there is no realistic way to accommodate the parking needs of a growing handicapped community. How much can it really cost to have this Church remain open for one Mass a week under whatever name you want to give it? I ask not as a 'trouble maker' or one with evil intent regarding our priest but as a concerned member of our faith community!
We are a priestly people by virtue of our baptism. Can we stop the hardheadedness long enough to really look honestly at the facts and leave this worship space available to accommodate the needs of so many? Is it that much to ask that we make the services (Mass, CCD, adult education) more convenient for those who may not be able to have them otherwise? Bigger isn't always better and bigger will not fix financial woes unless bigger means more members who are vested in what we believe! Let's work together to gather the flock!
Patricia E. Homan