11/15/2012 9:01:00 AM PERSPECTIVE Keeping your parish open is up to you
BY LORI NUNZIATO
(Editor's note: Ms. Nunziato, previously pastoral associate for administration at St. Patrick's parish in Ravena, is now associate for pastoral care there. She wrote this plea - appropriate to all parishes - in the parish bulletin and included the Mass schedule.)
As we celebrate the 122nd anniversary of our parish and begin the third season of our diocesan evangelization program, "Amazing God," I invite you to read this and share it with a family member, friend or neighbor.
What will be the future of St. Patrick's Church of Ravena? It is really up to you! In the last 25 years, we have seen our attendance drop from 1,100 parishioners on a weekend to our current average attendance of 300. Where have all the people gone?
We know that everyone has a busy lifestyle, but are we really too busy to come and worship God for approximately an hour a week? Is it that someone has offended or upset us while we attended Mass? Only you know why you may or may not attend Mass regularly.
Most of our schedules limit us to having little time to ourselves. Do you remember when you were a child growing up in this community and church was a priority on Sunday? It was a day we can look back on and reminisce about: a Sunday Mass, a stop at our local bakery to pick up a loaf of bread or a bag of Italian rolls to consume during a leisurely afternoon of reading the Sunday paper.
What happened? Why isn't this something that we take the time to do?
Unfortunately, we have had many churches close within our Diocese in the last 10 years - many, due to lack of interest. Do you want that to happen to our community as we move forward with the consolidation of churches?
Do you want to lose the church where you, your children and your children's children received all or most of the sacraments? What happened to the word "sentimental?" Do we really go to church only if we like our pastor, only if we need something?
How many times do we say, "I don't have the time?" Well, we have the time to do the things that we really want to do: watch a TV program, go to a sporting event or concert, be with our friends at social events and so on. Why do we continue to make the excuse that "I don't have the time to come to church on Saturday or Sunday?"
Why do I say that I don't have the time to pray, read Scripture or attend Mass? Why do I never have the time to come to a parish social event - yet complain that "I don't know anyone anymore?"
I am often asked why we don't have more young people in our parish or why we don't have more new people. My response is, "When was the last time you asked a young person, a neighbor or a young family to join you at church?" When was the last time any of us asked someone to come to church with us - and kept asking until they did?
How many of us have called someone who has been away from church for a while and told them what's happening at St. Patrick's? When was the last time you spoke up in a conversation about why you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit? When was the last time you spoke proudly about St. Patrick's and told people why you are a parishioner?
These are responsibilities each of us share equally. The life, growth and sustainability of this parish is the responsibility of every one of us, not just a chosen few.
Help us; help the church. It is never too late to renew your spirit and join us for Mass. We look forward to seeing you all back in the pews that have been empty for far too long. Peace and blessings!