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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 16, 1994     The Message
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December 16, 1994

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16, 1994 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 -" Bishop's Forum -- Vision Statement: Paragraph five Our Catholic parishes will be the sites where our families gather together as a supportive commu- nity. There they will be supported in their common beliefs, find nour- rnunity, family members will grow d share responsibility for deci- on making for the life of the aurca, a church beyond the con- -nes of the home; a church that By BISHOP reaches out to the poor and needy. GERALD A GETTELFINGER sehP , ttelfinger is devoting a - uICOtumns to an in-depth ex- Planation, r _ .of his "Vision Statement for the Diocese Vvv;n. s lle, which was publishe'd in its entirety ne Column below expands on the ideas contained tn the fifth paragraph. ]eEhCHURCH IS A BUILDING AND MORE... orae is the domestic or 'little' church. It is th a place and a gathering The parish church is t.h a house of prayer and a'gathering of the Eathful nembers. l'ae Church house is the place to which members celebrate life in a sacramental way. It is the members rejoice with each other, cel- birth of its new members in the waters of receive reconciliation from human broken- nourishment both from the 'little and the 'large table.' From the little table or are nourished with the Word of altar, or large table they are fed with Body and Blood of the Lord. In this sa- rs are confirmed in the t place that we take the bodies of orrner temples of the Holy Spirit, to resting place until the day of There are two other sacraments that are essential for the life of the community. The first is that of Holy Matrimony, the foundation of fam- ily life. From families young people are challenged by the Lord to serve not only their own families but also the larger community. Some young men are called forth to serve in the unique roles of deacon, priest and bishop. As in marriage, the sacra- ment of Holy Orders is ordained for the life of the community. Indeed both spouses in marriage and men in holy orders benefit from the sacrament personally, but the com- munity benefits too. In the Catholic parish, men and women find pro- grams of education in the faith for learning about the faith as a journey which begins at birth and concludes with death. As pilgrims they can never learn enough about the Lord and his teachings that guide them in daily living. Parents have the primary right and obligation to educate their children in the faith. They also have the right to expect appropriate programs of reli- gious education to assist them in this awesome task. Where it is possible, there should be available to all parents of children and young adults the op- portunity for Catholic schooling from preschool through high school. The Catholic school remains the best tool available for the instruction of our young people in the faith -- in an environment that reflects the values we hold sacred. The parish community in turn should hold par- ents accountable for the proper education of their children in the faith. The leadership of the parish community should make this expectation clearly known, not as idle meddling but truly a concern that affects the spiritual life of the whole commu- nity, not just those young people who are deprived of proper education in the faith. This is a hard con- cept for Americans who have been brought up on the frontier mentality that "what I do with my life or in my family is nobody else's business." The fact is quite the contrary. Personal conduct does affect the life of the community, like it or not. Teaching children the truths of the faith is essential if the faith community is to continue living. It is also the responsibility of all members of the parish community to participate in its communal life. Sharing in decisions that touch the parish is both a privilege and a burden. Individuals can make a difference if they are to avoid being the 'vic- tims' of community decisions. There is a personal responsibility to help to formulate decisions that will enliven the community of believers. Non-par- ticipating members, and apathetic ones can kill the very spirit of the community. The parish does not exist in isolation from the rest of the universal church. As the family is the smallest unit of the church, the parish is the sec- ond smallest. As families bond together to form parishes, parishes bond together to form dioceses, dioceses make up the Church of a nation, the churches from the nations form the universal or catholic Church. The true measure of the spiritual life of the parish community will be found in the concern of each of its members for those who are poor and in need. Reaching out to others, be they of the same faith, race or national origin or not, is the true mark of a follower of Jesus. "Is your parish church a hospitable place to go? Are you a community of people of whom it can be said "they never meet a stranger?" Can the poor and needy, both in and out of your parish, feel safe and maintain their personal dignity in their poverty? Our parishes churches are buildings -- but so much more indeed! Parable Wter's name is Withheld with her two In a rental Street in Ough it has electricity, tries the house is Srepair from the r chil- in and out of the Screens and on the doors kitchen floor ng. A broken the wall. The COnditioning, Washer or dryer. daughter a "" sleeps on the liv- m that also happens to betrue ing room couch under faded curtains and cracked paneling. Food stamps buy many meals. And for a low, low price the nearby discount store fur- nishes clothes that last for a few washings before fading and tearing and coming un- fringed. They own a large color television and a cordless tele- phone, one lumpy mattress, a trophy from a fishing contest long ago, and of course, the liv- ing room couch. There is no car; the city's short bus sched- ule curtails many activities and makes many trips out of reach. The father is gone -- alive but not present. Mother works hard, for six years, six days a week in food service -- within walking dis- tance. For this she earns $6.25 per hour: $1,000 per month be- fore taxes. No health insur- ance. No retirement fund. But she works, and every evening she confronts the havoc her older children and their friends and lovers and babies deal to her home. Her children are not involved in gangs or drugs or theft or violence. But the older kids dropped out of high school and have problems with regu- lation and self-discipline in their lives. This mother can barely get her youngest two children out- fitted and prepared for school. Dictionaries and encyclopedias are unthought of, partly be- cause of money and partly be- cause the idea of owning such books -- or of having a book- shelf- just never occurred to them. There is no library any: where close to home. And due to both the lack of a car and mother's work schedule, a missed bus is a day missed from school. This woman cannot afford over-the-counter cold and flu remedies; they just tough it out. Their thermometer is the back of her hand against a cheek. She is still paying the hospital for a surgery long ago: $14 a week like clockwork. The primary care physician is a free clinic on Tuesday after- noons. Without insurance or the money to pay deductibles even if the family was insured, this clinic meets their needs. In addition to kids, a job and a television, this woman has a father. And the father is ill from a stroke. After a short while in a even with the poor choices I think she makes, I admire her. I do not understand her, just as I must be a mystery to her. This mother, this daughter is doing more than I could ever do. How many more like her live in this city, working and strug- gling and looking so much older than their years? We see their homes every day -- screenless windows, cushion- less couches on the front porch. We see the people, too, through our car windshields as they stand at the bus stops along Walnut Street. And we see them misuse "our  money in the groceries. We see them, but we do not know them. Who is doing the greatest AWAY FROM CI.IURCff & SACRAMENTS ? ,,; JOin a small group of Catholics willing to help you come home and stay home. 'LANDINGS,, is a safe harbor for returning Catholics, a 10 week process to explore Your faith and future with the Church. NA TI VI TY 3635 Pollack Ave. (Bet. Oreenriver & Vann) 11 Dottie about coming home again - 476-7186 zed/Unchurched but looking, call Dottle. nursing home, he begged to come and stay with his daugh- ter. He will only stay the time it takes to die. This woman, with more troubles alone than most of us have in a family of lives, takes her father into her troubled home. She makes a bed for him and she never complains or be- moans her troubled life. She lifts him to the toilet. She bathes him with a sponge: His grandchildren feed him and wipe his face at meal times. The mother handles it with grace and dignity and faith. I look at this woman, whom I know well, and I cannot de- cide if she is insane or a saint. But she is real. And her story is true. And even with her lack of control over her household; good: this woman with her tat- tered home and family and maybe a food stamp steak for dinner or me sitting down for a meal in a restaurant with cloth napkins and wine and leaving a generous tip? When the time comes to share love with diffi- cult parents in need of a place to die, who is more apt to re- spond as a Christian? Our Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, but thank- fulness should not be confined to a day or to a season. I invite you to think of this woman and her children on Garfield Street. Give thanks for those poor like her. And pray that you can share her kind of grace.