Today’s Parish Is Not What It Once Was

by | May 9, 2021 | Mindwalk | 1 comment

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Updating Vincent’s view of the parish

St. Vincent was barely 30 years old on May 2,1612  when installed as pastor of  a parish in Clichy with some 600 parishoners. He was only there for about a year. Yet what a difference the year made in his life and parish life in France. The lessons he learned are still relevant today as we face similar situations in our parishes.

At the end of his life he would say, “The Congregation is not now what it once was; nor is it what it will be.” Some 400 years later Greg Gay, his 23rd successor, adapted these words. “The world is not now what it once was, nor is it what it will be.” Today we can say “The parish is not now what it once was, nor is it what it will be.”

Questions today?

Standing in this tradition, Miles Heinen, a current Assistant Superior General, asks  

How do we respond to the massive secularization most prominent in the northern hemisphere but by no means absent in other sectors? “

“… The Church is seriously reflecting on Parish Ministry, as evidenced in the publication in July of 2020 of an Instruction “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church The document is rooted in the vision of Pope Francis, stated in Evangelii Gaudium #27.

I dream of a ‘missionary option’… capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

“Our constitutions define our major task as “Make the Gospel really effective… (bring about) the new world, the new order, the new manner of being, of living, of living in community, which the gospel inaugurates (St. Paul VI.)

 He then references the Siena Institute

Sienna Institute observations and questions

Evangelism:  The Essential Mission of the Church

“Our whole way of being church must stem from knowing that the purpose of our faith is to be lifelong disciples.”

Lay Catholics:  Witnesses to the World

“People today put more trust in witnesses than preachers, in experience than in teaching…”

Clergy and Laity: Apostles Together

“Do we believe, with the Church, that the 990 million lay Catholics in the world are more than simply recipients of the Church’s ministry?”

Formation: a Right and Duty

“If formation for mission is essential to true catechesis, then the overwhelming majority of lay Catholics are not being truly catechized.” (No wonder Pope Francis is instituting “Catechist” as an official ministry!).

The Clergy:  At the Service of Lay Apostles

If we do not understand the role of the ordained as formators of the laity, we do not understand the ordained office itself.”

Collaboration in the Mission of the Church

“We have not yet called the laity our friends…We have inherited a whole manner of relationship which the Church requires us to change.

The Role of the Parish in the Formation of the Laity

“Until the parish is a community of formation and collaboration, we cannot hold that we have actually implemented Vatican Council II in the Church. “

Your thoughts?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.

1 Comment

  1. Manny

    Before St. Vincent became parish priest of Clichy, he had already for an accompaniment Father de Berulle. So, as he was undergoing his own formation with Father de Berulle, he was also helping his parishioners form themselves (not formed them).

    I remember of a bishop in Mindanao who organized a monthly formation sessions for his priests.

    So true is the observation of Sienna Institute, stating: “People today put more trust in witnesses than preachers, in experience than teaching…”

    St. Vincent’s personal experience of his very own poverty and weaknesses was the spark that lighten his way to the hearts of his parishioners…

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