If you have been following Parish Trends and Challenges in the bulletin this last month or Archbishop O’Brien’s “Wake Up Calls” in the Catholic Review, you should know that the priest shortage is here. One of the reasons Fr. Jicha was not replaced is because there were no extra priests available. Currently, there are four parishes in the Archdiocese without a pastor. When they get a pastor, four other parishes probably will be without a pastor for a good while. Some pastors are now responsible for multiple parishes, and that seems to be the trend for the future. Still, morale among the priests is high. As a matter of fact, theirs is the highest degree of satisfaction and happiness among any vocation – 87%. Firefighters are second – 80%.
Obviously, some adjustments and changes are needed. No quick fix will satisfy the situation. A process involving bishops, clergy, religious, and lay people that is open and transparent is needed. Understanding, cooperation, sacrifice, and prayer will be the key ingredients.
In his editorial two weeks ago, the Archbishop said, “For starters, our liturgical schedules need to be adjusted throughout the archdiocese for the sake of our mission and our goal of nurturing vibrant liturgies and making good use of our priests.” Pope Paul VI said something similar in 1976 when he suggested fewer Sunday Masses with more people attending each to encourage more sense of community. “Sunday assemblies are so much more penetrating when they are well attended, well put together, and pastorally alive.”
The Archbishop has asked area pastors to begin a dialogue regarding Mass schedules, but our area has not yet started, and I don’t know when it will. Eventually everybody will be given an opportunity to provide input. For the foreseeable future, and I think for a long time, St. Jane’s schedule will remain the same. In the meantime, pray for vocations.
- Fr. Carl