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May 7, 1993     The Message
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May 7, 1993

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The Message Monthly -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Your parish should be family of believers you've ever watched the show "Cheers," a've probably witnessed the of Norm Peterson. Norm portly everyman character OCcupies the same barstool on end, alternately mugs of beer, ban- his buddy Cliff, and mumbling in- of realistic wisdom such as: "It's a world out there, and I'm wearing Ea underwear!" ch time Norm walks into Cheers M that's of the fictitious Boston tavern -- and , everybody", he hears a chorus of Saout: "Hey, Norm!" And you know im- Norm is home. He has entered a he feels welcome and comfortable. on his barstool, you recall these the program's theme song: "You go where everybody knows your name." Catholics spend at least 60 to 90 our parish churches each week with or hundreds of fellow believers. Car- would not want or expect everyone turn to you and shout: "Hey, Jane!" John!" as you enter the building. But at home? Do you feel welcome? that you are there, or are you dy that hovering, ever-vigilant ueeze into a crowded pew? is -- or should be -- so much just the place where you "go to Commentary By JUSTIN CLEMENTS Director of Development i church." A parish is a commu- nity; it is a family of believers who share similar values and dreams, who support and care for one another, who espouse the same faith and try to follow the same gospel message of Jesus Christ. Ideally, every member should feel attached to this family: cared about and cared for, as well as caring for fellow mem- bers. But it doesn't take a Ph.D. in Sociology to observe that, even as we welcome eager, enthu- siastic new members into our Church through marvelous R.C.I.A. programs in our parishes, we are simultaneously losing many life-long Catholics to other religious groups or to no par- ticular religion at all. In addition to those we are losing there are many people in our churches every weekend whose faith and involvement in parish life is non-existent. As a perceptive friend of mine once observed: "I look at some of their glazed- over expressions and conclude that they are spiritually dead -- they just haven't been buried yet!" A pastor recently told me that every time someone leaves his parish for reasons other than moving to another town or neighborhood, he feels a personal hurt; somehow his parish has not served that person or family well. To his great credit, he makes an effort to contact them to find out what caused their decision. In most cases, the response is the same: "We just didn't feel part of things; we didn't feel welcome; no one seemed to care if we belonged to the parish or not." Well, you might say, just whose fault is that? Do the people in the pews have a responsibility to step forward and become involved, or must the parish family reach out and draw them in? The answer is: both are responsible, the parish needs to provide a wide range of ways to engage its parishioners, and members must take advan- tage of opportunities to become involved. But most of us are not aggressive "joiners." We need to be sought out and invited in. In addi- tion, we need to find ways to energize and en- courage those who do step forward into the ac- tive life of the parish community. Business leaders agree that it takes ten times more effort and energy to make a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. We put enormous amounts of time and manpower into our programs to prepare and welcome new mem- bers into our parishes - and that is certainly not wasted effort. But we need to rethink the way we nurture, engage and encourage our old friends as well. One way many parishes are addressing this issue is through programs of Stewardship Con- version focusing on Stewardship of Time and Talent. In future articles, we will take a closer look at some of the ways parishes are attempting to include all of their members in the life and work of the parish family. Synod: The demands of the law are written in our hearts my uncle were a . mixed-up world if we don't shelf, we have changed some laws, but not our Senator and a i spend a minimum of 15 minutes lives. We would be doing worse than simply diplomat. And he Commentary . every day entertaining the divine spinning our wheels. We would be killing what say he'd arrive on By FATHER SY Guest in our hearts, the Spirit is trying to accomplish in this Synod. evening and would LOEHRLEIN Jesus put it this way: "Re- For "the written law kills, but the Spirit gives sit with me on Thurs- form yourlives! The kingdom of life" (2 Corinthians 3:6} ..... arrived on heaven is at hand. (Matthew Lord God, we have been praying for our up- evening, I'd tell him, 4:17). We reform our lives by giv- get up early to get to work. But I ing up hope of finding true happiness in the coming Synod. We have been asking You to "as- like to sleep in. Feel free to raid the lovely things God created. And we find our hap- sist us in living holy lives". How can we do that en you get hungry. And I'll be back to- piness "at hand," that is, He is in our hearts. If without prayer? Jesus, can we expect You to ". What would you think of my this invitation of Jesus is not the primary pur- "empower us with Your Spirit to use fully the le I have an important guest at pose of our upcoming Synod, I think we are in many gifts You have given us" if we don't let the my own agenda out- for a major disappointment, spirit speak to our hearts? How can we have the Some may think the main purpose of the wisdom "to see Your plan for the Church" and exactly the way we often treat Synod is to pass some laws to make our diocese the humility to allow "our plans to be faithful to confesses to God: "You were run more smoothly. Certainly, there should be Yours?" I was outside, and it was there some laws passed. But if that's al! we do, we are for you. In my unloveliness, I dealing in externals; we are forgetting that the If each of us did little more than spend 15 :o the lovely things which you cre- "demands of the law are written in our hearts" minutes a day praying for the Synod, we cer- Office Readings, Wednesday, (Romans 2:15). tainly would accomplish a great deal. If we don't in Ordinary Time). I don't see how If all we do is pass a few laws and write commit ourselves to daily prayer, how can we can keep our sanity in today's crazy, them into some books and put them on the hope to accomplish anything? New state law bans assisted suicide WILLIAMS scribe, or dispense pain med- questing aid from family percent "contribution," or come and poor Hoosiers. The icConference ication that might hasten or members, and report to the tax, on hospitals continues to program drew criticism for its increase the risk of death. Ad- legislature at the end of the fuel debate, large number of services but a has a law pro- vance health care directives, year. A proposal to reduce eligi- relatively small group of par- suicide, such as the living will and Earlier in the session, law- bility for pregnant womeh ticipants. signed durable power of attorney, makers concerned about the and children struck the ICC Rising costs of services, in- 30, ini- are also exempt from the law. actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian as bad public policy, creasing number of eligible ban on as- An interim study commis- in Michigan and others who "Our concern is for those persons, and reporting of with a Class C sion on assisted suicide is- might follow, responded by low-income pregnant women abuse of the program boosted sues is also established under passing SB 477 which the who may no longer receive a study of program funding :Ontains excep- the new law. The commission governor approved, prenatal care necessary for a and operation. Limiting set- health care will examine difficult cases, Now into a special session, healthy pregnancy," said Dr. vices offered and cracking administer, pre- such as a terminal patient re- the Indiana General Assem- M. Desmond Ryan, ICC exec- down on abuse were some bly continues to battle over utive director. "The state initial ideas on the table for the budget. Controlling a bur- should not attempt to solve saving money. However, the , /. geoning Medicaid program budgetary problems by in- total $900 million cut stymied progress in the legis- creasing lurdens on families needed, according to the gov- Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 lature. Controversy surrounds and children." ernor, to close the gap re- - mains a struggle for Traylor funding measures proposed Indiana's Medicaid pro- lawmakers. Phone: 486-3285 by the governor and both par- gram provides health and ties in the Statehouse. A one nursing home care for h)w-in- Legislators now have an extra 30 days in which to INSURANCE SERVICE - Auto! Home! Fire & Life! Your Personal Service Agent L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. Street 425-3187 reach a compromise on the  ' budget and Medicaid MILLER & MILLER funding. "Funeral Pro-Planning Since 1940" 424-9274