The lives of the saints manifest the many sacrificial things they needed to do in order to die to their own will and cooperate with the Holy Spirit for God’s plan for their lives. We know, for example, that many of them suffered great trials, accusations and, like the martyrs, the willingness to die for Christ by cooperating with his grace when told they must renounce God or die.
While we never know what we may be asked of in life on this earth, one thing we do know is that if we accept with humility whatever comes our way, God will bring good out of it. We hear in Scripture that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). This is especially hard to believe when the good does not appear good or in fact requires suffering, sacrifices or changes in our lives that we would not choose for ourselves.
As we continue our journey of strategic planning for our diocese, we are asking all parishioners to review and understand our Current Reality Report so that we can all help plan for our future. The changes that will be required will be hard. They will require sacrifices. They will require understanding, compassion with each other, and the necessary changes that will affect parish life in our diocese.
The alternative is not good. By not planning and adjusting to our current reality and projections for the upcoming years, we will create more hardship for future clergy and faithful. Planning and making changes now will help us to even more fully empower our laity to help with church related matters, to help right-size workloads for our clergy, and reduce duplication so as to be the best stewards we can be by capitalizing on the opportunities that lie ahead that will require change now.
After I reviewed the Current Reality Report and received insights from our clergy and our lay-leader diocesan advisory board, through prayer, it became clear that change will be needed if we are going to reallocate more priest time to do spiritual, pastoral, educational and liturgical ministry by delegating more administrative duties. We also need to allocate more priest time to key ministries we currently are not able to do because of the decreasing number of priests we anticipate will be in active ministry in the upcoming years.
While there are various ways planning can be done, priorities can be established and realignment can be completed, I am hopeful that from what we have learned from other dioceses who have used similar modeling of parish structures, that the planning process we will use will help us provide more stability for the upcoming years. I humbly ask for your prayers and engagement in the planning process.
While it will be hard and require some heroic acceptance of the Current Reality Report and the reallocation of clergy and lay duties that will affect so many of us, I am praying that we all can step forward to assist in a positive manner for a deepening renewal of parish life so more and more souls become Lifelong Catholic Missionary Disciples Through God’s Love. I invite you to join me in the diocesan prayer for our planning process, which can be found at setablazesf.org.
Know of my prayers for all of you, especially those who will find the changes most difficult.