I hope that everyone had a joyful Labor Day weekend. Every year, Labor Day seems to mark the change from summer vacation into the return to our normal schedules in the fall.
I hope that all of our young people at Northern Cambria had a good first week of school. For those at NCCS or Bishop Carroll, they’ve been back for a little while now. Still, now that all the schools are back, it feels like fall is officially here.
This weekend our parish religious education also begins. I’m thankful to our new DRE, Sister Karen, all of our returning Catecheists, and all of our parents for working with us to get this very different year off the ground. I know it’s not easy adjusting to a new schedule both for regular school and for religious education, but we will continue to work through everything together. I know that I’m very much looking forward to being able to play a more active role in our High School Religious Ed this year, as we move into a bit of a different format. I know it’s been a bit of a change. Some of our 7th-11th grade young people really liked the idea of being able to sleep in on Sunday Mornings. Others are a little worried about conflicts in the schedule through the upcoming year. With Sister joining us very quickly, and with our information constantly changing, I’m always afraid that information gets missed in the shuffle. Please continue to watch the bulletin every weekend for updated information. I know this is all new territory, and we had to rush some of these changes through without as much of the normal survey process that I would have liked. We know that with COVID, we all need to be hyper-vigilant about sickness, and we’re working on making sure parents have access to online tools to make sure our children can continue to learn about their faith no matter what the future brings.
Please know that if there are concerns, you are always welcome to contact Sister or I about them. Most of the time we can work something out together, but we can only work things out if you talk to us!
I’m also very excited that in the last few weeks I’ve been contacted by a number of adults who were either interested in becoming Catholic or coming back to the Church and completing the sacrament of Confirmation that they had missed when they were a teenager. It’s exciting to know that we’ll be beginning to work with those folks in the near future. As our class is still forming, if you know of any other adults who missed their confirmation or are interested in becoming Catholic, please ask them to call the Church office or contact Deacon Gary very soon.
Last week I mentioned that I’m interested in getting our Parish Council up and running again. I’ll be quite honest, over the last few months of COVID, it’s been overwhelming trying to pull a large number of things together here at the parish and I need your help. I really need better ways to be able to get input from you, our parishioners, work to help you feel like you have a say in what goes on in your parish, and form committees that can begin to work toward building up our parish. I’d really like to thank our Parish Council Steering Committee who between the beginning of the year and March worked to put together the by-laws that we’ll be using as we reform the council. It was a lot of work, but I think time well spent. I’ll be posting a copy of those by-laws to our website and leaving a few copies in Church for anyone interested.
The council will consist of 10 members who will each serve 3 year terms, and a youth representative who will serve a 1 year term. Six of those members will be elected. We’ll have a jar in the back of Church where we ask individuals to drop nominations in the jar. Once I contact those individuals and confirm that they would be willing to serve, we’ll say a prayer at mass, and draw 6 of those names. The other 5 will be appointed to make sure that, as the by-laws state “Members of the former parishes, residents of the former towns, men, women, and various age groups, of the parish shall be appropriately represented.” I would really like to see this new council represent a good cross-section of our parish.
The regular committees that we’ll start with for the council will be Liturgy, Education, Social, Christian Service, and Maintenance. We’ll ask a member of the council to chair each of those committees, working with those in our parish who are already fulfilling some of those roles, and helping us pull things together as a parish. Hopefully, as time goes on, those committees will each be able to have their own meetings, starting to get those various parts of the parish a little more organized, and to give anyone who wants to be involved a way to help make that happen. I’m planning for the meetings to be public, and to have some procedures for anyone who wants to bring up ideas to share.
It’s not a perfect system, nothing is, but it’s my hope that by at least setting up a structure, there will be meetings that anyone could come to, organizing the upcoming events at our parish. I can understand how in the past the decision-making process may have seemed a little secretive. That’s never been my intention, but until we could get committees organized, particularly when we were all shut down and stuck at home, I was left making most of those decisions on my own in the dark.
So I’d ask you again, please keep thinking about individuals who you think would be good to serve on that sort of Parish Council. As a parish, there’s lots to be done, and many areas that I know many of you are passionate about. Let’s work together to build up rather than tear down. Perhaps you know someone who would be a great representative on Parish Council because of a specific area, or might represent a certain group in the parish well. Maybe you know someone who might not want to serve on parish council, but would be interested in helping on one of those committees. I’d love to see as many people involved as we can, working together to build up the kingdom of God.
Finally, our Financial Reports are pretty much completed at this point. I’m hoping to designate Sunday Sept 26-27th as our “Stewardship Weekend” when instead of a homily, I’ll share our financial status as a parish, and a bit of an annual “State of the Parish” update. I’ll try to keep things as straightforward as I can on those days, but I’ll distribute our financial reports to the parish on those masses, and probably give an online video going into more detail for those who love details.
God Bless You Now and Always
- Fr Matt
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.