GMD 84-86: The Parish

The US Bishops tout the parish as “the most fitting location” (GMD 84) for working toward the three goals. Why? Because of the celebration of the Mass–Word and Eucharist. It is this summit of the Christian life to which we draw people.

These sections also highlight the missed opportunities of the past twenty years. They present an ideal which has been realized in parishes very rarely, and more often in fits and starts in a minority of places that have even put evangelization on the “committee map” of the faith community.

With a mission statement like this:

These goals assume that an evangelizing spirit will touch every dimension of Catholic parish life. Welcome, acceptance, the invitation to conversion and renewal, and reconciliation and peace, beginning with our worship, must characterize the whole tenor of our parishes. Every element of the parish must respond to the evangelical imperative—priests and religious, lay persons, staff, ministers, organizations, social clubs, parochial schools, and parish religious education programs. (GMD 85)

.. why didn’t evangelization take off in the 90′s? Because the evangelization effort was seen as another programmatic effort in a faith community built on programs rather than the call of the Gospel. The bishops wrote that evangelization is the “reason for the parish’s existence and the objective of every ministry in the parish.” (GMD 85) I don’t think this country’s parishes quite absorbed that. Too often, the parish serves as an exclusive club for the faithful elder siblings. Evangelization is one ministry among many, a committee that doesn’t seem to have a place in a traditional parish line-up.

One way in which this can be countered is to see evangelization as a “partnership between the clergy and the laity.” (GMD 86) But again, the warning of the bishops that evangelization might become “merely another program to be done” has largely been realized.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in evangelization, Go and Make Disciples. Bookmark the permalink.

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