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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
March 8, 1996     The Message
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March 8, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 When I as a youngster Lent go on forever. nemory has not all that much for me. I don't op's Forum-- Lenten reflection: How much longer? encour- ome Lenten penance. It up candy or It was understood the "picture show" was ," at least that UUpression I had during of it all was that we to spend on candy and we had no way to go to unless our parents were to take us. could amass during Lent was saved Holy Saturday. The services were in so the Lenten observance ended with its to wait for Easter? two clear lessons about the experience. amount one gives up is not nearly so ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER important as the "will" to do it, and the subsequent fidelity to one's com- mitment. The second is that we re- ally didn't put it all together; the real meaning of Lent as preparation for Easter was lost on us; we didn't make the connection that self-control throughout life is necessary if we are to have hope of resurrechon. No sur- prise! We were children. On the other hand, I am still in- spired by the efforts of children to take seriously Lenten practices, whatever they might be. On Ash Wednesday, I cele- brated the Eucharist at Holy Rosary. In my homily there, I suggested to the youngsters that they write down one or two items that they were going to "do" or "give up" for Lent. At the offertory, I noticed a basket with deco- rated slips of paper in it. I leaned over and asked Deacon Richard Preske if perhaps those were the children's Lenten resolutions. He said they were. I commended the young people for "being ahead" of me in having already made a personal decision about what good works they were going to accomplish dur- ing Lent in preparation for Easter. Also at that homily, and in the ones at Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral and at the student Mass at the University of Evansville, I made an additional sug- gestion. It is a clue to success that we can take from "dieters' clubs:" the weekly weigh-in. At Holy Rosary, I made two suggestions to the children. Firstly, I asked them to copy onto another slip their resolutions just offered to the Lord. Sec- ondly, on Ash Wednesday evening, I encouraged them, as they begin their Lent, to tell their Morn or Dad what they had decided for Lent. Then, on each Friday of Lent, I recommended that they. report to that special person their Success or failure in keeping their resolutions. It's much like the weigh-in. Having someone else who knows our intentions helps us to be faithful to our chosen practice of self- control. We need others who will walk wth us on this journey of Lent, this mini-journey of life. If we do, maybe Lent won't seem so long. Parish stewardship: A reality check Office of critical element effec- in com. 4 conference to have to Promise, but Glick- to know by tell winter In the upper in place, bill. of that law the federal Paid out to Crops under Clinton Veto the new Feb. 1 letter leader Dakota, a racer three rVation of net,' and and nic ). activists three met, Order. Would mon? A strong leader? A tal- ented staff?. Productive com- mittees? Clear job descrip- tions? A well-conceived long-range plan? A "can-do" culture? Sufficient operating funds? What single trait do the most successful people have in common? Good health? High intelligence? Big income? Strong moral values? Artistic talent? Positive attitude? Certainly all of the above, and many other factors, are necessary for organizations and individuals to prosper. But there is one element that un- derlies and supersedes all oth- ers when it comes to success. Without this fundamental ele- ment, no organization or indi- vidual will ever realize its, or his or her, full potential. What is this magic ingredi- have only 10 minutes with Glickman at USDA headquar- ters to make their case. In- stead, Glickman spent a half- hour with the group. He backed off somewhat on his earlier veto pledge. "I don't know what we're going to do. We've assiduously avoided say- ing veto or no veto," he said. If Clinton vetoes the finished product, he added, "it could be another way to go toward no farm programs at all." The Catholic rural life ac- tivists restated their own ethic: m Stemming the growth of agribusiness, especially con- centrated livestock and poultry farming. An option for sustainable agriculture with fewer and less toxic pesticides. The concept of price sup- ports as a "minimum wage" and not welfare handouts for farmers. N Finding ways of keeping young people down on the farm and not forcing them to go to cities to make a living. Stewardship of the lan@, both here and overseas. Making links between food production and the elimi- nation of hunger both in the United States and throughout the world. ent? It's good communication! An organization can only be as prosperous and viable as the quality of its communication with all of its members or "publics." An individual can only be as successful as he or she is able to interact well with others. In any successful relation- ship, good communication is the key that unlocks hearts and minds. It is the catalyst that creates the vital interper- sonal networks which fuel an organization's activities or con- tribute to an individual's per- sonal achievement. So how does "good communi- cation" dovetail with this se- ries of articles entitled The Steward's Way?" Specifically, what part does good communi- cation play when we speak about stewardship in the Catholic Church? The answer is simple: good communication plays the leading role in any Catholic organization which is seriously promoting a steward- ship way of life. To illustrate this point, let's explore the link between good communication and steward- ship within the context of a Catholic parish. Canon 515 in the new Code of Canon Law defines a parish beautifully: "A Parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful estab- lished on a stable basis within a particular church (a "dioce- sen); the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop. A parish is, first and fore- most, a community. A parish is people -- human beings -- in- teracting with one another. Human interaction requires yes, even demands -- commu- nication. The better the com- munication in a parish, the better the quality of the parish as a human organization. How can we measure the quality of communication within a parish? What does good parish communication look like? How does it "feel?" What are its characteristics? And how does it relate to a parish's efforts to effect an on- going process of conversion to a stewardship way of life for its members? We can begin with two com- mon sense questions: 1) How often do we commu- nicate with everyone in our parish? 2) What is the nature of that communication? Consider for a moment the usual responses to these two questions: A. "We prepare a weekly 'Sunday bulletin' and dis- tribute it at all weekend Masses." B. "We make announce- ments about special events and activities in the parish at the end of our weekend liturgies." C. "We display flyers on parish bulletin boards about various programs and activi- ties." D. "We send an annual letter to every parishioner asking for a pledge for the Catholic Parishes Campaign (CPC)." E. "We send raffle tickets to every family for our annual fund-raiser." F. "We send a copy of our an- nual report to all households." G. "We submit items of in- terest about our parish to the 'Message' (the diocesan news- paper)." There are several problems, Message policy regarding political activity The Message is the official newspaper of the Catholic Dio- cese of Evansville. The policy of the Message is to observe the rules forbidding 501 (c) (3) organizations from engaging in partisan political activity. The Message continues its long-standing policy of publish- ing news reports and commen- tary about political candidates and issues, and about their re- lationship to morality and Catholic social teaching. Political advertising is ac- cepted at the Merge from all bona fide candidates on an equal basis. among others, with these usual forms of parish communica- tion: A. Items placed in church bulletins or announced during weekend Masses do not reach all parishioners since, on any given weekend, many parish- loners are not present at Mass in their own parish churches or any other church for that mat- terl B. Many people comment that the only time they hear from their parish is when they are asking for money or expect- ing us to sell something." C. The Message reaches only : about one-third of the house- holds in our diocese. Good communication exists in a parish when every house- hold and every member regu- larly receive information about the programs, services and ac- tivities of their parish commu- nity. The two key words are "every and regularly. Happily, many parishes in our diocese are successfully beginning to address their communication needs by means of a monthly parish newsletter. Every parish involved in the stewardship conversion process currently directed by the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and Develop- ment is required to develop a monthly newsletter which is mailed to ever)' parish house- hold. There is almost no limit to the positive impact a good newsletter can have on the life of a parish community. The quality and content of a parish newsletter depend on how much each parish values the many benefits of good commu- nication. If your parish currently pro- duces a newsletter, ask how it can be even better; improve- ments are always possible! If your parish does not have a newsletter or other means of regular communication with every member, begin now. Your success as a human orga- nization depends on it! Watch for the "How-to" Newsletter Workshop that will be presented by the Diocesan Offices of Communicatioe.s and Stewardship and Development. at several locations around our diocese later this spring.