Bishop Martin Amos established a special Diocesan Planning Commission in January 2009 to create and oversee a process to help parishes plan for the future with fewer priests. The commission’s process continues the Living the Faith Task Force study of 2005. Last week’s brief on the planning process talked about the importance of prayer. This week’s question is about change and growth.
Q: How do we deal with change?
A: It has been said that “nothing is permanent except change.” Change affects all of us, whether it be a change in family (e.g., birth of a child), change in community life (school district consolidation) or the change of seasons. Viewed from the eyes of faith, change is central to our belief in Jesus. Christ’s death led to his rising to new life. As Christians we embrace change. For example, conversion is a changing from sinful ways to grace-filled ways of life. Evangelization is sharing the good news of Jesus with others so they can change and grow in faith. Stewardship is recognizing that all life is a gift from God – and how important it is for people to allow the Holy Spirit to work through their giftedness to continue the mission of Jesus of ushering in God’s way of life – God’s kingdom.
The important way to deal with change is to not let our feelings give way to fear. Fear can consume us. Fear can alienate us from God and from one another. Jesus teaches us to not be afraid. As he told his disciples in the boat after calming the stormy waters: “Courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14: 27)
Matthew Kelly, a well-known Catholic author, reminds us: “Courage animates us, brings us to life, and makes everything possible. Fear stops more people from making positive changes and doing something with their lives than the lack of ability, contacts, resources or any other single variable. Fear paralyzes the human spirit. Life takes courage. Be courageous!”
Seven area meetings, about two hours long, have or are being held throughout the diocese to present the planning process to pastors, parish life administrators and parish leaders. All parish leaders are asked to attend one of the meetings.
Meetings already have been held in Solon, Richmond, Albia and Mount Pleasant. The remaining meetings are Sunday, Sept. 26: St. Mary, Pella – 5 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 3: St. Paul the Apostle, Davenport – 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 3: St. Joseph, DeWitt – 5 p.m.