2 September 2017

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain

I read the recent document to come out of the Archdiocese of St John's, Newfoundland.  A pastoral plan, I suppose, though that phrase is not used.  What are used are a lot of current terms and catchphrases.  Here's the first paragraph of the introductory letter, to give you a sense of the document.

With much joy and hope, I received and have accepted the Report and Recommendations from the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee on July 07, 2017. I am pleased now to offer you their report, “A Promise of New Life for Our Archdiocese.” This report will become not only a final report, but also our Archdiocesan Renewal Plan, “A Promise of New Life . . . Courage to Renew.”

Planning committees.... renewal... a plan... a strategic plan... that last term is nice.  Strategy is a term for games and for war.  Generals have a strategic plan when they go into battle, hopefully so they win.  The makers of this plan don't seem to be hoping to win, only to lose at a slower rate.  That's a strategy of sorts, I guess.

There will be much shuffling and reorganizing in the archdiocese, according to this plan.  Amalgamations, transfers, and committees to oversee the whole affair.  What is missing from this plan, at least as far as I saw in my casual glance, was any mention of Jesus, any mention of going out and bringing home the lost sheep, any recognition that they or their predecessors blundered badly at some point, and that it is time to fix the mistakes and perhaps chart a different course.  But especially, no mention of Jesus, and of bringing Christ back to the people.

The document reminded me of a an old Dilbert comic strip.  Wally is speaking to the pointy haired manager.

W:  I don't understand how the new reorganization will help us 'focus on our core business'. Did our core business change, or are you saying every reorganization prior to this was a misdirected failure?

PHM: Wally, when a car gets a flat tire, what  do you do?

W:Well, if I'm you, I rotate the tires and drive home.

Except, in the archdiocese's case, they are surrendering the homes to drive back to.

I am also reminded of remarks made by Msgr Schuler regarding efforts to end the priest shortage in his diocese:  “They’re like people during a famine who wring their hands and discuss how they are all going to starve to death, instead of planting crops.”

Again I say: there is no sense of turning to the Lord, going out and bringing the Lord to the people to be found in the document.  Shuffling the remaining cards in the deck, trying to stop a little bit of the bleeding, ignoring the cause of the wound in the first place.  It's as though they are placing their hope for the salvation of their archdiocese in accounting.

When my mother was alive, and I began to vent my frustration with some priest, or bishop, or other member of the hierarchy, my mother would stop and remind that, instead of criticizing these people, it is better to pray for them instead.  So I will stop here, and ask my readers to pray for the priests and bishops and people of St John's, and for their own priests and bishops.  Ask for the Lord's intervention on their behalf, even if they are not.  Especially if they are not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds an awful lot like the " 5 year diocesan plan" of the Diocese of Antigonish which began in 2013....Rebuilding the Church, my People...or some stupid blather of this sort. No mention of Jesus and or salvation of souls....all social justice issues and empowerment of the laity. Then again our Bishop is from Newfoundland and the "facilitator was Ms. Ann Walsh who studied theology in a protestant school/ seminary...whatever!