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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 6, 1987     The Message
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November 6, 1987

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4 Editorial The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana November 6, 1987 By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor J essica's rescue is a story about vocations The story about Jessica, the girl in the well, has not quite faded from the screens of national television. News reports will continue in electronic and print media for a while, but the number of stories will diminish rapidly. Almost before we know it, we will see and hear another flurry of reports on the first anniversary of the dramatic 'escue of the little girl from the well shaft through ,solid rock in a back yard in Texas. Already, some of the details are beginning to blur. It was an eight-inch opening. Jessica was 18 months old, if I remember correctly, and she was trapped 22 feet below the surface. Just weeks away from the hourly repetition of the facts, their impor- tance fades. While the details lose some of their urgency, the story gains in its intensity. Jessica brought us together as a people. Her story has become part of our national experience. Most of us participated in some way, as we watched and listened. We prayed, those of us who could; we hoped, those of us who couldn't pray. Some of us asked God to help, some of us asked for better machines. With Jessica's rescue came a kind of na- tional salvation and justification. See, we still care. At the heart of it all, the story about Jessica's rescue is a story about people who responded to a calling. It is a story about vocations. One of the first people at the scene did not come to help, but to report the news. The televi- sion photographer soon gave up his microphone so rescuers could lower it into the well shaft. The microphone allowed the world to hear that Jessica was still alive. The piece of electronic communica- tions equipment was used at its most basic, fun- damental and powerful level; it was the medium through which was communicated the most poweful of all communications: she is,alive. Drill operators who knew their equipment and who knew what needed to be done arrived quickly at the scene, and stayed until the joyful end. The man who finally reached Jessica was small; he could reach through the small tunnel from the rescue shaft, into the well shaft trap. The photographer was sent to the scene, but it was his response to the need of the moment which communicated his humanity. Equipment operators responded with all their skill and determination. Once they arrived, their commitment was permanent; they left fathers and mothers and spouses and families to devote themselves completely to saving a little girl. And then there was the man who finally reached Jessica. Fiction demands heroes who are larger than life. Reality, in this case, demanded a man with small shoulders. Real needs demand real responses; the answers can not be made up ahead of time in such a real story as the story of Jessica. This is a story about vocations, in three parts. The photographer who was sent to do one task was able to adapt to the unexpected. The equipment operators were able to use skills learned for one task to accomplish another. The man who would never play the hero's part in a movie played a cen- tral role in reality. During Vocation Awareness week in the Diocese of Evansville, the challenge is to look around at the needs, and respond to them. Fiction would have our story populated with larger than life heroes. Reality demands that we use available people, skills and equipment, to accomplish what needs to be done. A final thought. Vocations are not as clear as the call for help from a well, you may say. Remember, the first response to Jessica came when someone looked out into the yard and saw that she was not there. I Dear Friends in Christ: Vocations Awareness Week is the central feature of this week's edition cf the Message. What can I say or write which has not already been proposed? The topic of our thinning ranks of ordained priests and vowed religious has been prominent in all Catholic publications and not infrequently mentioned in the secular media. Can it possibly be true that any Catholic in the Diocese of Evansville is unaware of what we are facing today? I have long been acquainted with the fact of how narrow is the scope of attention of any of us, unless we are personally af- fected by the topic under con- sideration. If we are not hungry at the moment, the plight of those who are is more a fact to be noted and regretted than to become a rallying point for ac- tion. Thews area is true of unemploynmiit, poor housing, etc., etc, etciIt is not that we are 008880000 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 4771 1 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week In December by the Catholic Preu "of Evansville. Publisher ........ Bishop Francis R. She =' Alm0clate Publisher .... Ray. Joleph Zlllak Editor .................. Paul Leinglmg Circulation Mgr....Mrs. Rooe Montrastelle Production Mgr ............... Phil Bnger Advertising Mgr ............... Dan Horty Addreu all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47711. Phone (812) 424-5536. Subscription rate: $15 per year Entered as 2nd class matter at the post of- rice In Evansville, IN 47701. Publication number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to the Office of Publication. i heartless and selfish to that ex- tent; we are just overwhelmed by so much to be done in this busy world of ours. We face too many problems for us to react to all of them. In our experience someone else has always come along to take charge of what we cannot personally handle -- or at least we hope so. Today, I am suggesting to you that not a single one of us in this Catholic community called the Diocese of Evansville is immune to the consequences of what seems to be a pervasive trend. Religious vocations are not the "in thing" of this generation. The Church as we have known it for many decades is due to change in.a radical manner. The almost over-abundance of priests and religious which we once en- joyed has dwindled down to where bare statistics give us lit- tle reason for optimism for the future. Now I am as much in the dark as any one of you who may read this piece as to the basic cause of this phenomenon or what to do to reverse this negative trend. What I am try- ing to convey is that it affects all of us, not just me as bishop or the members of the presbyterate andreligions com- munities; every single one of US. Parishes which have had two, three, even four priests to meet the spiritual needs of the peo- ple, are now having to go with a much lesser staff as far as or- dained clerics are concerned. If the trend continues, there may not be enough to have even one priest for each present parish. Are we all aware of this? Have we been thinking and praying about the problem? Smaller parishes are right on the edge at the moment. Some are already studying basic needs in view of coping with what may well be needed for the future. Is such an effort going on in your parish? These and many other things are already at a critical stage in other dioceses in our country and throughout the world. All of us who deserve and answer to the beautiful designation, People of God, have a stake in the future. There are viable answers to the problems, and Christ has promised to be with his Church forever. This time around, the challenge of the future and what the roles of all of us will be is the problem of all the members, not just a few. So Vocations Awareness Weektakes on a new meaning. God has called us all to evaluate Letters to the editor Thanks,i editor To the editor, When the Message arrives, which takes two weeks to reach the West coast, I lay aside everything else, and I'm transported back to southern In- diana to enjoy all that is hap- pening in the Evansville diocese. While on my sabbatical in California, I took advantage of student's subscription to the Message which is half the regular rate. I am getting more than my money's worth, and I highly recommend that all students away from home receive the diocesan newspaper. It would be a nice St. Lorenzo gift too. Thanks, editor, for your To the editor, editorial "Hiking to Ferdi- On Sunday, Oct. 18, 1987, nand" in the Oct. 9 edition, the first Filipino saint was Your article spoke especially to canonized in Rome. The event me because the Ferdinand brought aboutthe'browning'of Benedictine convent is my Rome, as thousands of Filipino home! When we are sure of, and pilgrims converged by the have set our destination, our plane-load, from the Philip- paths may weave back and forth pines and from California, in life's journey, but with our Florida, Illinois, Michigan, eyes fixed on God, we will New York and Indiana. They all reach our goal. came to attend the canonization I like the new look, and the of Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz, the extra points of interest that you Philippines' protomartyr and have added to the Message. first saint. Keep up the good work! St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, married with three children. In 1637, he joined the Sister Geneva Stumler, O.S.B. Dominican missionaries. Berkeley, Calif. The group of Dominican or re-evaluate what our baptism .. entitles and demands of us. If the past is not to be replicated by a new rush of young men and women to traditional voca- tions to roles in the Church, what will the future be like? Are we trying seriously to beg the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide each of us in the way we must go to guarantee the even- tual establishment of God's Kingdom? If we are engaged in establishing priorities, I submit we have a very clear one facing us. May God's grace help us to be equal to the challenge. Sincerely in the Lord, Most Rev. Francis R. Shea Bishop of Evansville priests and the Filipino layman, a church secretary and sacristan were captured by anti-Christian Japanese in Okinawa. After a few days of interrogation, tor- ture and maltreatment, the mis- sionaries were given to the more violent and cruel inter- rogators in Nagasaki. Lorenzo died a martyr on September 27, 1637. St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, a father of three. Saint- . hood is not the monopoly any more of priests and religious. The recent emphasis on the lai- ty, with the Synod on the Laity, makes us realize we too can be saints. J.C. Bacala Scottsburg, Ind. %