Friday, September 21, 2012

Pastoral Care Workers Are Few

The 62-year-old woman said "there are none behind us" to take up our pastoral jobs.

Unaware of the depth and serious of this vocational job among the faithful, let alone clergy, I appreciate her comment.

She's tired of long hours with little pay.

And, she did look haggard from the toil of parish ministry.

Couple that with the demands of the diocesan offices, that used to be central services, assisting parishes primarily, and a messy moment is made.

When Detroit's Dearden, a distinguished voice in the decades past, and first president of the Untied States Coference of Catholic Bishops, was at the helm, he led, and Chicago and New York looked to "Iron John" as he was called before his elevation to Detroit as archbishop of a vibrant church.

There were speak up sessions and Church, World, Kingdom, and home church in the late 60s and 70s.

I remember sitting on the red-carpetted floor of Cobo Center in downtown Detroit for the 1976 Call to Action.  The hall was filled with wall-to-wall attendants there to listen and to respond.

Now, the silence is deafening and sad.

All one seems to hear about is the next casualty silenced or told she or he can't do this or that.

Go figure.

A different kind of leader leads or runs with fear that only freezes and locks a church into paralysis and retrenchment from collaboration to living liturgy to enthusiasm everywhere. Like firemen, they tend to "fires" and fear that drives them with attorneys in each year to guide these officials.  Unlike shepherds of Jesus, they walk in fear.

"It's as though there was no Vatican II," a church worker of close to 4 decades sadly said the other night as we were "cathartic" about what we're witnessing. I could hear the passion and the pain poking deep within him.  "I have opportunities," however.  And, like other disatisfied leaders, he will find another place, or church that respects the charisms he brings.  That Vatican II called forth.

And, when you don't have a common game plan, there's disarray.

When most of the clergy and faithful today thought that Vatican II was the plan, some other voices come along and "know it all" and give all kinds of messages about this Spirit-driven Council.

Go figure.

I can't.

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