"I don't see the need to improve the present parochial model, but to radically rethink it on the lines of Vatican II ecclesiology, where the parish is an itinerant, prophetic, and missionary community rather than a building for cult and multiple ecclesiastical services.
I would like to think that this 'thinking the unthinkable' is in accord with gestures and words of Pope Francis. He has constantly called the church to 'open up the doors and go out to meet others'. He has on several occasions lamented the current situation of the parish which 'has nothing of missionary about it'. Strong words!
Will we dare to move from institutional expansion towards transformation, beginning with ourselves at the grassroots?"
|Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Eucharist on Saturdays in Sarasota, Florida|
Bridget Mary's Response:
Holy Spirit priest Paschal Kearney offers recommendation about the formation of ecclesial faith communities that could help renew the church, especially if these communities welcome everyone on the margins and open all the ministries including ordination to women.
In the United States, there are many closings and mergers of parishes Some Catholics recently expressed anger about closings in the New York Archdiocese.
Does it have to be this way or are there alternatives?
Imagine what would happen if Catholics today formed small faith communities when a local Bishop made a decision to merge or close their parish. If the bishop refused to provide a priest because of the shortage of priests. , then they people could discern that they wanted to stay together, and call forth their own liturgical leaders. Some communities in Cleveland and elsewhere have done so. If a Catholic community wanted to ordain women, there are several choices including contacting the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. www.arcwp.org
At Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida, my local faith community, we have married priests couples, a male priest, and four women priests and a woman deacon who co-preside with non-ordained ministers at our liturgies. We focus on nurturing community and mutual, circular sharing in our dialogue homilies and in our Eucharistic Prayer, Everyone is welcome around our Table. We reach out to the larger community by placing an ad in the local newspaper each week in which we invite newcomers to come and see for themselves. in our ads, we reach out to alienated Catholics like divorced and remarried, gays, lesbians, transgender as well as others on the margins who are seeking a spiritual home. We also demonstrate and support local and global social justice causes.
It is wonderful to read that priests like Paschal Kearney are advocating change away from the traditional parish community to a mroe dynamic ecclesial model . I agree that is a positive step to transform Catholics' spiritual lives and to foster justice in our church and world.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.marymotherofjesus.org