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November 8, 1996     The Message
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November 8, 1996
 

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B, 1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 -- Bishop's Forum --- Last week when I was en route to Boston for a meeting, I stopped to visit friends in Coopers- town, N.Y. Many of you may recall that it is the site for the United States Baseball Hall of Fame. Oth- :s.:.u may know that the town vs Its name from the famed Uthor, James Fenimore Cooper. till others may remember that i:lsichosen for the Baseball "OZFame comes from the folk- ore that it was there a e a ...L , t Doubleda , l,, .where baseball was first Y mayed. In any case, it is a charm- s place to visit. , My friend and I visited the E i Church Ja ..... - p scopal parish , .... " ....  remmore Conner and his family "'u'aaipPed there Man James a.^ L . :. y of the family, including there,  :':ued m the parish cemetery. While on All Souls'=aeaD our tradition of visiting, cemeteries L  ay, Nov. 2, and praying for the dead mere and for all souls, especially those who gh lhitl: .been forgot ten. t , later in our walking tour, we doubled oac past the Parish school.age ..... cemetery. A class of grade- an u Pa . uungsters. was there with their encils cls taking notes from the informationP:n the By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER Sandlot kid tombstones. This too gave me pause to recall my own childhood and fam- ily visits to our parish cemetery. We oftentimes would try to make genealogical connections between family members, just like my friend and I did last week in the Cooper ihmily plot. These folks who had preceded us in death had names. There were dates marking their births and deaths. All Souls Day is an annual reminder that we too shall die. On this occasion we are invited to recall all those nameless persons we did not know as well as those we knew. We are encour- aged to pray to Almighty God for them for we believe that our prayers on their behalf are power- ful. As we continued our walk along the streets of Cooperstown we came upon a bronze sculpture of a young teenager. The sculpture portrays a strong healthy adolescent clad in overalls with only one strap holding up the bib. On his head was a "Will Rogers" style hat. In his hands was a well crafted bronze bat. He was poised in the classic batting stance. His eyes appeared to be keenly focused on an imaginary pitch- er awaiting the baseball. He was barefoot. The title of the sculpture is "The Sandlot Kid." It was strategically positioned. About two hundred yards away stood the refurbished Doubleday Field of yesteryear. How many of those in the hall of fame first played baseball in sandlots! I was admiring this piece of art work when my eye caught the shininess of the big toe on one of the lad's feet. Yes, I like thousands before me, could not resist touching it for somehow that simple act seemed to put me in touch with all those youngsters who had hopes and dreams, as I did, in my own childhood. Some of their dreams would come to be, others would fade with the passing of time. That simple human act of touching a monument com- memorating other human beings is life-giving. There is something to be said for touching the stones in the cemetery. Most of them bear informa- tion about those they commemorate. There are other stones that commemorate those who might have died as unknown "sandlot kids." They were no less living and breathing sisters and brothers of ours. While living they too had hopes and dreams like we do. Their journey is complete for they have already approached the throne of Almighty God. Let us not forget them in our daily prayers just as we hope that they will remember us before God's throne. ... Help carry one another's burdens.." lary ENTS [ of Stewardship nt r recent- telephoned who, when she Parish several had been quite recent weeks an had virtually Purpose of the Was to invite *an back to her rnent. Opening pleas- how the conver- n: "My ,Just had our sec- re OVerwhelmed I taking care of addition we nto a new house. get our stuff We're also make ends engineer. 'The S Priest held Would often the myster- sYstem or the Point was that on truth is With God one of the S. meet. One of our cars has been acting up and we're not sure what is wrong with it. Every time we take it to the repair shop, the problem doesn't show up. And to top it all off, my mother, who lives alone across town, has been especially needy the past few weeks, expecting me to do things for her I just don't have time to do." The parish staff person lis- tened, expressed concern, told the young mother she certainly understood why she was unable to be more involved in the parish at this time, and voiced the hope that, when things final- ly settle down, she might be able to get back into the swing of things at the parish. The staff person promised to call the young mother occasionally to see how things were going. They said good-bye and the call was finished. From a stewardship perspective, something was missing from this conversation! In earlier articles in this series, we have mentioned three characteristics of a "Total Stew- ardship Parish": 1) hospitality, 2) prayer, and 3) service. If the young woman's parish had been a "total stewardship parish", the staff person, after listening to the young woman's situation, would have said something like this: "It sounds like you are just inundated with so many things hitting you all at once. You kno; we have a very'active New Par- ents Support Group, people who know what it's like to have a new baby in the home. They're ready to help you in many ways dur- ing this time of adjustment. I'll put one of the members in touch with you right away. There's also a group of young people in our parish who call themselves the 'Movers and Shakers'. They vol- unteer to help fellow parish- ioners move from one residence to another in the area. It'll cost you a couple of pizzas and a few soft drinks, however! I'll tell them when you're planning to move and they'll be there to help when you need them. There's also a small group of men  and a couple of women -- in our parish who are known as the 'Shade Tree Mechanics'. They pride themselves on helping fel- low parishioners trouble shoot automobile problems. They have an excellent track record of ana- lyzing automotive difficulties and in many cases repairing the problem themselves for the cost of parts. I'll have the head of that group give you a call. Then there's a group of parishioners who specialize in helping one another and fellow parishioners deal with the growing phenom- enon of parent-child role rever- sal. They can do a lot to take some of the pressure off of you by doing things for your moth- er. I'll have the coordinator of that group call you in a day or two." Imagine how quickly and enthusiastically this young mother would return to her active involvement in a parish that cares so much for her and her family! Total stewardship in a parish is all about making people feel welcome, praying and worship- ping together in a way that touches hearts and minds, and giving good service. In every parish there exists a multitude of talents, skills and interests. A parish committed to total stewardship is constantly seek- ing ways to identify those tal- ents, skills and interests and inviting members to use them to help one another. In steward- ship language, this is the "stew- ardship of time and talent" in action. St. Paul captures the essence of Christian service when he exhorts the Galatians and everyone who would be a disci- ple of Jesus: "Out of love, place yourselves at one another's ser- vice... Help carry one another's burdens; in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 5:13, 6:2. Society not responding on economy, bishops' official says OAKDALE, Minn. (CNS) -- Ten years after the U.S. bishops issued a call for economic justice, society still has not responded, according to the director of Office of Social Development and World Peace at the U.S. Catholic Con- ference. Special Report By CHRIS KISSELL Catholic News Service i "We are still haunted by how the least among us are faring,  said John Carr in an Oct. 26 address to a conference on social justice sponsored by the Archdio- cese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. "By this measure, our society is seriously failing," he added. The ideas of the 1986 pastoral letter, "Economic Justice for All," were "profoundly countercultur- al in the mid-1980s," Carr said. "Sadly, they still are? He said Catholics must take a lead role in renewed demands for economic justice because the church has more firsthand expe- rience in fighting poverty than anybody else. "We have the experience," Carr said. "Who feeds the hungry? Who shelters the homeless? The poor are not abstract issues for us. They have names and faces. Ifyou want to move people from welfare to work, talk to us -- we do it every day." The economic justice letter was written at a time when full employment for all Americans seemed an achievable goal, Carr said. "The letter was not an eco- nomic blueprint, but a cry to put the poor first," he explained. Principles spelled out in the economic pastoral included calls for a national commitment to full employment, for concerted efforts to eradicate poverty, for fulfilling basic needs of the poor and for evaluating all economic policies in light of their impact on family life. Since the letter was issued, poverty rates have climbed and American society has fractured into three economic classes -- the thriving rich, the struggling mid- dle class and the increasingly des- perate poor, Cart said. "Our economy is among the most powerful and productive on Earth, but it's pulling us apart,  Carr aaid. "We may be one nation but we're three economies." Signs of the disparities are everywhere, he noted, from the status of Manpower Inc., a tem- porary worker agency, as the sec- ond- largest employer in the court. try, to the doubling in 20 years of the number of part-time workers seeking full-time employment. Meanwhile, politicians have abandoned the pretense of fos- tering a more just economy, Carr believes. "I believe we are witnessing a bipartisan retreat in the fight to eliminate poverty in the United States," he said. Instead, Ameri- cans face "politics of false choic- es  that offer "debate by sound bite" in place of substantive dis- cussion of issues, he said. The church needs to bring its moral authority to bear in revers- ing the trend toward short-sight- ed policies that promote econom- ic gain for a few at the expense of the many, Carr continued. Ee have quite a vision that begins with the life and dignity of the human person,  he said. "We don't reinvent ourselves every four years. We don't rely on polls and focus groups to come up with our positions. "Ours is a complicated tradi- tion emphasizing both rights and responsibilities. This is not a bumper-sticker, sound-bite tradi- Lion." Catholics must commit them- selves to fighting for economic justice, Cart said. "Our everyday behavior advances or undermines the fight for economic justioe,  he sai& "As a Protestant friend of mine says, 'If you ever got your act together, you'd be dangerous."