I want to say a big thank you this week to Sister Karen. We just finished our parent meetings this week, and I was joking with her that we’re trying to do 3 months of work in about a month. I’m pleased to say that for the most part things seem to be going well on the religious education front. It’s going to be a bit different than in years past, but well, everything this year is already quite a bit different than any time that I think any of us have ever known. I know change is hard, but as we move forward, it’s good to hear a little bit of excitement starting to build. I’m ever so thankful to both our families and our catechists for working with us to keep teaching our children and young people the faith and making sure that Jesus is a priority especially in times when it feels like everything is changing.
I’m also happy to say that our State Prison Chaplain’s conference went very well this week. We had some wonderful speakers, and I know I learned a great deal. It’s a blessing to be able to live out one of the corporal works of mercy that Jesus gives us and be able to visit those in prison. It was also a blessing to be able to work with a group of really caring and invested chaplains who worked very hard to plan the conference. Thank you for your prayers this week.
This Monday we celebrate Labor Day, one of the American Holidays that our Church played an enormous role in creating: a commemoration of the dignity of work and the average worker. In the late 1891, Pope Leo XII wrote an encyclical that shook the world, Rerum Novarrum, on the Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor. That encyclical formed what would later be called our Catholic Social Teaching. Just to give an idea of the impact, later Popes would write 14 more encyclical following up on what Pope Leo XIII taught, three of those were simply named the 40th, 80th, and 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarrum. It’s an amazing document that lays out what we believe as Catholics about the dignity of human beings, the dignity of work, and that document helped change the face of work in the world forever. What’s amazing is, even though updates were given since, even 129 years later, if you read it now, we can hear these same issues being talked about and debated in the news. It’s very easily available online and it’s well worth your time to read.
As I was thinking about that, and as we start to get things up and running for the fall, it got me thinking of all the things that we beginning to happen in March just before we got shut down. Coming off an experience working with a wonderful committee, I look around here at the next few months in our Church, and realize that we’re going to have to make some serious plans for the future. I don’t know what the future will bring any more than you do. What I do know is that we’ve got a lot of things going on here at our Church and I really need your help as we look forward to the next few months and years. Back in March we had formed a Steering Committee to reconstitute our Parish Council. That group had just finished all the by-laws, and we had been just about ready to publish those by-laws and put out the call to ask for nominations to get it up and running again.
Obviously, a few realities have changed since March. I’d really like this council to be both representative of the parish, able to really help everyone feel like they have a say in some of the directions our parish is going, and be people capable of leading committees who can work to figure out good ways to not just keep our parish running, but to help our parish grow into an ever more excited and faithful group of Catholics.
So with that in mind, for now, I’d just ask you to start thinking about capable, faithful people in our parish who, if they were running a committee, you would be willing to work with and help. Perhaps it’s someone who is already active. Perhaps it’s someone who hasn’t had a leadership role in the past, but you think would do well. As we look forward to the fall, realizing what we went through in March and April, members of council will need to be willing and able to meet virtually in case that becomes a need. We’ll have nominations soon, but for now I just want to give you a few weeks to really think about names. Talk to each other. Ask each other what you’d like to see at our parish and who would be a good person to represent that interest who you would be willing to help if they asked you. I don’t want people who are simply going to say “This is what I think we need”. I want to find people willing to say “This is what I think we need, and I’ll organize it, will you help me?” So I’d ask each of you. Start to think about it, pray about it. I’ll share more details in the upcoming weeks on how the initial nominations will work. But for now, I just want us all to start thinking seriously about not just what you’d like to see at our parish, but who would be good on a parish council to help actually make it happen.
Please know that you're always in my prayers.
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.