Over the past twenty five years that | have been involved in my parish as a
catechist, lector, eucharistic minister, DRE and Lay Pastoral Associate, the number one
concern that | have heard expressed by parishioners is the lack of a feeling of
community among our parishioners. Often in a crisis situation our parishioners respond
generously with their time, talent and treasure, but on a day to day basis, the obvious
lack of connection as a faith family is there.
In my parish as in other parishes there are always exceptions to this general
feeling but for the majority of ordinary people in the parish, the parish with its many
programs, ministries and liturgies, no matter how good, “just doesn't make it" --
parishioners come together on a regular basis just once a week for 45 minutes and then they go back to their lives at home and at work disciples of Christ in a world that
mocks our Christian traditions and values.
The world in which we live is one where individualism and secularism reign. In
many cases the life of the disciple is counter-cultural--she is bombarded everyday to
seek pleasure for its own sake, to spend what she doesn't have for a brief moment's
pleasure, to concern herself with getting richer, attaining more for less money and
getting the most out of what life has to offer--happiness, in other words, is directly
related to what gives an individual pleasure, what helps to accumulate more money and
more fun. Escapism is what it's all about. But for many the moment is all too brief and
what is left is emptiness and despair. Add the stresses of modern life--the high
unemployment rate, the lack of close relationships, the decline of the family unit,
poverty, crime, the threat of nuclear war, the many wars that are being fought
throughout the world, Aids, to name a few, and we indeed have a frightful picture of the
peril that we are living in.