Tuesday, February 12, 2008

St. Stephen, here I come

Cause Way Tuesday
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ell it straight, tell it truthfully, tell it with passion, tell it with no fear, tell it with love. Ever been in a situation where you needed to give the real hard word to a group where some will be 'with you' and some won't even understand what the concern is all about?

Sometime ago in years past [under a previous pastor, now deceased] our Parish Pastoral Council year, which begins in September, began with a half-day mini-retreat. All members of the Council and the heads of the various Apostolates which functioned under the oversight of the Council were expected to participate. I was asked to lead this retreat.

Our pastor didn't micro-manage, but he did want to know, in general terms, what was going to be the main thrust or theme and what I was going to emphasize. My main theme was going to be 'God's call'. For this group, a main focus was going to be on our willingness to volunteer and serve.

Very early I hit on the issue which I wanted to bring to the forefront of our minds. Service to the parish, such as being on this Council, is a 'call' or 'invitation' from God Himself. It should not be viewed as an affirmation of our popularity in the parish.

I continued along the lines of, "If any of us are here today, at the start of this new Parish Council year, for any reason other than as a response to a 'call' or 'invitation' from God, we need to reassess our position. If we never gave that a thought - if we came here to serve merely because it is a 'good thing to do' - maybe we ought to consider not being here at all. It is the beginning of the session and replacements can be found."

Some few understood. Some had no clue what I was talking about. Some became a bit agitated that I was suggesting that some should leave. For a moment I felt like I was going to be dragged out of town and thrown off the highest cliff.

As I then proceeded to flesh out those ideas, I won some over. Some, I believe, still had no understanding of being called to serve. At the conclusion, some thanked me. Several expressed that they had not ever given it any thought in terms of it being a response to a call. The pastor was satisfied. I did not joint the list of martyrs of the Church.
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So what is the point of telling this story?

Please read the two entries for Monday Feb 11 [yesterday] by blogger Adoro at Adoro Te Devote by 'clicking' here. Then pray for her as she makes her presentation tonight, Tuesday, to a second group.
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Adrienne said...

One of my greatest fears is being nominated to serve on the Parish Council. This is a HUGE fear. When they are getting ready to elect and all that I just sit and cringe in the pew.

I really like the way you gave folks a way out if they wern't handling it well.

Adoro said...

My parish leadership is made up of several Commissions, (we're a huge parish) and the chair of each Commission is on the parish coucil.

We have a "discernment" process for those nominated, which is really more informational in nature. Well, I discerned on to a commission, and at the end of this year I'm stepping down because of school and my job. Too often I can't go to the meetings because of my coursework which MUST take priority, or my work hours. For example, tonight I am giving a presentation....tonight is also the Comission/Council meetings. My choice is clear.

I'm not sure at all that God truly asked me to do this, although I was nominated. But in the last couple years I have learned that I never plan to serve on a council again. I HATE meetings and I hate exercises in futility. I already let our Chair know that I'm not returning next year, and all I have left is 1 year.