Some recent time ago, my energy spiked. It’s been rather insatiable. There has been the energy to do things for our home, but an intellectual energy as well. This was in part satisfied through my summer position, interviewing and writing for the marketing department. But other projects have been brewing.
My desire for a stronger community continues to grow. A stronger community for myself and my family, and a stronger community that the Catholic Church is part of. It is a tragedy when the local Catholic parish has done nothing to reach out to the town it is situated in. Too many churches open their doors and expect the people to simply come. Or they have events to encourage and create friendships or projects for those who attend their parish. It becomes a nice little self-satisfied microcosm. Perhaps it will do some pro-life work. But where are the trenches?
We don’t see the individuals, desperate for direction who enter those office doors. We don’t hear about them from the pews on Sunday.
But we need too. In fact, we need to go out into them. We are in a mission field and the Church is the hospital. How can we care for those who are ill or wounded if we never go out to find them, into the hovels, as Mother Teresa did? There are traces of it here and there, but I have yet to see a parish that partners with other local non-profits. If Republicans complain about too big government doing too much for the people and the people accepting too much from big government, then make the churches bigger, stronger and provide more, gasp, social outreach.
Why have the priests and parishioners I talked to never heard of the amazing non-profit where I have worked off and on for the past seven years. In part, it’s my fault, never following through on promoting it. But really, shouldn’t every youth program know about the temporary shelter for teens that provides crisis counseling and family advocacy. Or the family resource centers that hold ESL classes, help people complete paperwork for food stamps or aid for bills or the forms for health insurance? There isn’t enough information being spread around. I’m not sure I believe the local parishes are looking outward enough.
I’m seen touches of it, of course. On youth minister took the teenagers out to feed the homeless. They loved it of course, because teenagers and young adults are zealous beyond compare if we just give them the opportunity to do so. But what else, besides partnering with pro-life organizations are we doing?
So it’s been on my mind. Therefore, I’m beginning a mom’s group in my town. The goals are to provide support, fellowship and formation for mothers in the area, pointing out without reserve that mothers of any walk of life are welcome: married, divorced, never married, abandoned, with children long gone from home, with children who were never born, with newborns and toddlers. There will be play dates at the local park because we need to create third places, those centers in the community where people gather together spontaneously, like the bar in Cheers or Luke’s in the Gilmore Girls. We won’t do that if we don’t ever go there to begin with.
There will also be family potlucks. Too many demographic specific groups serve only that group. It never opens up to a wider group. It never utilizes the incredible gifts of that group to serve the community. Teens feeding the homeless certainly does, but how many Catholic youth groups have regular and consistent service projects? Not enough. So family potlucks because if anyone in the world tends to be other focused, its mothers. It’s the feminine genius after all.
So beyond the temporary support provided by monthly meetings or play date, family potlucks can provide opportunities for free social activities at the parish that are not fundraisers, and help families get to know each other in that soclal setting.
I also would like to see an annual yard sale hosted at the Church, where each family has their own table, proceeds benefiting the family. Some parishes may object because they are cash strapped, but families, often, are too. It’s marketing. Provide things that benefit the consumer and the consumer will come back. “The Catholic Church is a place that understands, where we can be who are, perhaps, as poor as we are. We don’t have to pretend we’re not in need of a little extra cash to paint that room or pay that bill. The whole person is welcome here.” Imagine if ordinary people said that.
I’d like the group to provide concrete support by advertising meal planning websites to the entire parish when a member of the parish has a baby or has a child who is ill or who is grieving.
And I’d like the group to also keep track of important days for members of the group and in the parish. Telling a kid happy birthday when it is some time around the play date. Giving a lady a rose at an evening meeting to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Offering prayers when a day of remembrance, such as the death of a spouse or child rolls around. Seeing if she needs anything when an anniversary of a divorce comes about. Taking into account the whole person. It’s on her mind, and we can be there for her.
So that is the vision! I’ll write more on the patronage soon.