It’s too bad the headline speaks of a fight and a win, but if a contest between a bishop and a lay person must be spoken of as a conflict, it might be better for the lay person to come out a winner, since it seems to happen with depressing infrequency.
Religion News Service has a nice feature up today on Patricia Schulte-Singleton who pushed back against her parish’s forced closure, and got much of what she wanted: an independent inquiry by another bishop, and ultimately, a decree to reopen. Two aspects of this story struck me.
Saint Patrick Parish had 1,100 registered households when it was closed? That amazes me. Parishes smaller than that have thriving schools in my diocese. In Iowa, the threshhold for considering a closure is about one-eighth the number of parishioners. No wonder the Vatican was quick to reverse Bishop Lennon on these closures.
And a key to evangelization: orthopraxis trumps just about everything else when making an impression on people:
Schulte-Singleton started attending St. Patrick parish in 1990. Initially, she was not involved in parish activities, but an accident — one of her daughters lost two fingers from an exploding firecracker — changed that.
Schulte-Singleton said she was surprised by the outpouring of support from parishioners who brought food to her home and baby-sat her two other kids while she and her husband attended to their daughter in a hospital.
“That really showed what St. Pat’s was all about,” she said. “The parish became part of my family. And then I became really involved with the parish.”