Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

A Miss on Mission Statements

August 25th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

At least 15 years ago, when I was consulting with a prominent chemical company on their growth programs, I presented the familiar planning framework which begins with formulating a corporate mission statement.  It is axiomatic in business that a management team doesn’t begin planning its objectives, strategies and tactics until it can articulate the vision and mission for the business; e.g., “What is our unique market niche?” and “What are we committed to accomplish?”  When I flipped the usual powerpoint presentation onto the screen, the CEO said “Oh, we have that down pat.  We’ve already worked through the mission statement for strategic planning.  Let’s move on to the growth strategies.”  I smiled because I knew what was coming.

“Fine”, I said.  “So let’s begin.”  Then I turned to the 25 member management team in the room and said “Everyone take out a piece of paper. You will want to disguise your handwriting.  Now write down the corporate mission statement; don’t sign it, and leave it here on the table in front of me, face down, and grab another cup of coffee.”  To those who were reaching into their wallets to copy the mission statement from a laminated card, I added: “And don’t take anything out of your pockets until we’re done.”  After about 5 minutes, I had a pile of papers in front of me, which I shuffled and gave to the CEO.  He read through them during the coffee break, and when everyone returned he said: “We better begin with formulating a mission statement.”  Later I learned not a single person had properly articulated the mission statement, so that’s where we restarted the seminar.

After such an experience, and many others, though less dramatic, I think it is not surprising (though it is deserving of a mea culpa) to confess that during the diocesan pastoral planning ordeal of about a decade ago, my pastor at that time asked me to be a resource to him for the strategic planning which the diocese was undertaking. On the subject of mission statements, I gave the same input regarding its importance.  The advice wasn’t wrong; but, if we had all been more imbued in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we would have been able to say: “Yes a mission statement is crucial, BUT WE ALREADY HAVE ONE!”  Later, in retrospect, the silliness of months of word-smithing to formulate a mission statement that almost no parishioner knows or can articulate (even though it has been on the front page of the bulletin for years) brings the point home.

Enough time has gone by and, as pastors get reassigned and find themselves with a mission statement which they didn’t formulate, or which they can’t remember, or which doesn’t mean anything anyway, they seem to be quietly dropping the mission statements from the bulletins.  But there are still many afloat in the Rochester Diocese and in other dioceses as well. What a waste of time and effort of so many people in so many parishes!

Think this is a wrong conclusion?  What is YOUR parish’s mission statement?  Does it even have one in the bulletin or has it been quietly dropped without even a mention?  Can you write it down, right now, without peeking?  Do you understand it?  Do you agree with it?  And why does your parish need any “mission statement” which is worded differently from Christ’s own commands?  Did He not say:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”  Matthew 28: 19-20.

And if we really need to add more, could we not remember:

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5: 48.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  John 14:15.

And if we are really hungry for more words, the Beatitudes provide plenty, and so does Matthew 10:42, and also the Greatest Commandment, and the one “second” to it.

Rembrandt's "Laborers in the Vineyard"

Rembrandt’s “Laborers in the Vineyard”

Perhaps one reason why the “new evangelization” seems so challenging at times, is because the “old evangelization” hasn’t been tried enough.  Even now, I have begun to hear homilies which basically say it is our lives that evangelize, that we don’t need to do something else.  How easy it is to set aside the conscience nagging “Maybe I should be doing more.”

If I were “consulting” today, I would say get rid of those wordy, confusing, and self-serving mission statements, and get back to Christ’s words.  Those are enough of a challenge for a lifetime.  Self-serving mission statements?  Yes.  When mission statements are written to describe what we are already doing, or are so nebulous that spiritual success can be claimed, it is fair to call it “self-serving.”  And it is fair to ask if such mission statements serve to placate the urge to “do more.”

Now, as a “fun” exercise, here are 15 mission statements right off the Sunday bulletins in the Diocese of Rochester, minus the names of the parish or extreme identifying characteristics.  Would you like to take a crack at which church each belongs to? Can you tell the identity of any of them?   If you have a mission statement to add to the list, post a comment (without naming the Church, please).  Here are the 15, in no particular order::

1. “______________is a Catholic Community committed to the spiritual growth of all people as we share our faith and serve our community.”

2. “The parishes of _________ and ____________  are Roman Catholic Communities that worship and live in faith.  Nourished by the Sacraments, Scripture, and a diversity of individual gifts, we understand that our mission comes from Jesus Christ who calls us to teach, to preach, to serve those in need, and to be a presence of Christ in the world.”

3.  “We are an urban, Roman Catholic parish that worships and gathers at _______________.  Our mission is to reach all in our community and beyond, teach the word of God, and send forth ministers of the Gospel.”

4.  “We are a Christ-centered community of Catholic Churches working towards the spiritual renewal of all. As we pursue that hope and dream together, our common Mission Statement calls us: to carry on the work and teaching of Jesus through Imitation, Proclamation, Celebration and Social Transformation.”

5.  “The Mission of ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________   Parish in unison with the Universal church is to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ. The mission of the Parish is carried out in Word, Sacrament, and Service to God and neighbor. The continuing vitality of our staff and parishioners, we feel is evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.”

6.  “As disciples of Jesus Christ serving on the Parish Pastoral Council, we collaborate with the Pastor and Staff inviting the people of ___________ to joyfully celebrate the Eucharist, faithfully teach Catholic tradition, and fervently form Catholic spirituality, so that together we may go forth in love to serve the Lord and each other.”

7.  “With Mary as our model, __________ seeks to be a welcoming parish.  Recognizing that we are made up of diverse rural communities, we strive to live as members of the one Body of Christ, ministering to each other, and working together to nurture our God given talents in order to reach out to others in a caring and compassionate manner that witnesses to our fervent love for God.”

8. “We profess our belief that Christ sent His Spirit to bestow gifts on His followers according to their part in carrying out His mission.  We are committed to be visible signs to each other, and to our community, of Christ’s Presence among us: Proclaiming and evangelizing the Gospel, witnessing to God’s love according to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching, ministering to the needs of all; and fostering the spiritual life and growth among parishioners.”

9. “We, the members of ___________, believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Empowered by this belief, we seek through the celebration of Word and Sacrament to be Christ present in our world. As a community of faith, we strive to build Christian unity through worship and commitment to ________ ministries. We invite all to seek Christ through prayer and provide love and support to those in need.”

10.  “We are an inclusive, welcoming, compassionate community united by a faith that is alive and growing.  As sisters and brothers baptized in Christ, our mission is to be Christ for one another, our community, and the world by teaching as Jesus did, loving as Jesus loved, serving as Jesus served, and by seeing in every face the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

11. “As the Church of _________, we welcome all to our parish family. Guided by the Holy Spirit, rooted in God’s word, we seek to grow in faith through the joyful celebration of the sacraments.  Reflecting Jesus Christ through the warmth of our hospitality, we commit to lovingly proclaim the Good News and serve one another.”

12.  “__________ is a welcoming Roman Catholic faith community formed from the heritage of _#___parishes in _____. As one parish in Christ, we are committed to continuing His mission to build the Kingdom of God. As Christ’s disciples, strengthened by the sacraments, we enthusiastically engage in vibrant ministries which evangelize, unify and serve others within our parish and beyond. We are dedicated to worship, faith formation and social outreach as expressions of our faith.”

13.  “Energized by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Eucharist, we the parishioners of _________ and ________, in joyful unity embrace our baptismal call to worship God, spread the good news of Jesus Christ, build up a welcoming community of faith and hope, and lovingly serve and comfort those in need.”

14. “_________  Parish seeks to be a community where: ALL ARE WELCOME!  ALL are INSPIRED to live the Good News of Jesus Christ where • Worship leads to Service • Service leads to Love • Love leads to Eternal Life •”

15. “We are a Catholic Community, called to be faithful, caring and enthusiastic disciples. We build up the kingdom of God by worshiping and praising God, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and witness, giving loving service to our neighbor and strengthening the parish community.”


Truly, can the thousands of “person hours” spent doing these statements all over the diocese have made any difference at all?  Imagine what fruit could those thousands of hours have yielded if directed to the actual services which were being claimed?  And that was just for the mission statement part of planning.  Yet those same “leaders” continue to claim a competence which defies defense.

Some sanity at the parish level is beginning to emerge.  There are noticeable trends to omit the Mission Statement, to reduce the font to miniscule size, and forget it once in a while.  If all pastors were clearly given permission to “drop it,” I wonder how fast all these mission statements would disappear?

Light Under a Bushel?

And regarding church bulletins, another, unfortunate trend is that there is a significant increase in churches/parishes not showing their bulletins on line at all, but rather requiring a subscription in order to access the bulletin content.  That doesn’t work at all for travelers, looking for a place to go to Mass when they plan their trips and who don’t want to end up on mailing lists.  It doesn’t work for those who need to go to daily Mass in various locations, to accommodate work and family schedules, and need to verify the schedule.  It makes a church look closed and insular.

Further, CF occasionally receives inquiries for a recommendation for a parish which is consistent with Church Teaching, with respectful behaviors and dress, and liturgical faithfulness.  How can a church be recommended without a relevant link to which to direct the interested party?  For example, CF was recently contacted by a family in California, relocating to Ithaca.  But most of the churches there don’t have bulletins on line and they require a subscription, so they weren’t referenced, only the one which has its bulletins on line.  Makes one think again about all those “mission” words of hospitality, openness and welcoming embrace, doesn’t it?


37 Responses to “A Miss on Mission Statements”

  1. Sid says:

    Thanks for the great post that highlights the absurdity of the mission statement fad. If there is only a single bright spot among the syrupy mush listed it is that not a single parish indicated that it is a “provider of worship solutions”, “solutions” being another hackneyed term in the spectrum of corporate consulting flavors of the month.

    Will you be supplying the names of the parishes that offered each mission statement you printed? I understand it was somewhat of a quiz for us readers, but I also get the vibe that you were redacting the parish names to save them the embarrassment. My take is this: If your parish is embarrassed by its public mission statement, it’s frankly time to change it, or better yet, cascade it into the dustbin of bad ideas. If groups (not just parishes) feel strongly enough to make a “mission statement” they should be proud of it. If conversely, it’s all just forgettably nonsensical gobbledygook, it’s time to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

  2. CPT Tom says:

    All of these are wordy and or lame. They are often focused on us not God and this world exclusively. My Parish’s Mission statement is short:

    _____________Parish is Catholic family of disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit to enthusiastically build-up the Kingdom of God.

    However, they have a vision statement that is so long and wordy that it is difficult to read through, and actually should be covered by the Creed and just being a Good Catholic.

    (What we “ideally” look like as we carry out our mission.)

    ___________Parish is a Catholic family growing closer to the Lord in faith, hope and love. As disciples of Jesus, parishioners develop their knowledge of Scripture and Church teaching. They embrace a Catholic understanding of the world. They joyfully gather together to worship and pray. ___________ Parish is a place where people develop life long friendships, where grace and forgiveness are generously extended, where families and marriages are strong, youth are faithful to Christ, children discover God, and where single people joyfully experience God’s vocation.
    It is a place where people develop spiritual maturity. Parishioners discover and use their gifts and talents to become equipped for significant ministry and leadership. They collaborate to bring people to Jesus and serve those around them. In the spirit of stewardship, members eagerly respond with time, talent and treasure, meeting all the pastoral and financial needs of the parish.
    ______________ staff is united in vision and in love to serve the parish community. The staff openly shares their God given creativity to further the Gospel. The staff encourages and supports each other in word, prayer, and fellowship. Utilizing their gifts and joyfully collaborating, they work to empower parishioners in their giftedness and leadership abilities to serve God’s people. They are approachable to the parish community.
    The wider community see _________ Parish as a faith community that loves and serves one another and those outside themselves. They see a family that is intentionally and energetically involved in public decisions imparting the society with positive values. People experience unconditional welcoming and a place where people discover the joy of a relationship with Jesus. Making a difference _________Parish is substantively responsive to the need of the community. It is where our thirst and hunger for a spiritually meaningful life is fully satisfied. It is a place where the hurting, the wounded, the depressed, and the confused find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, healing and encouragement.
    It is our dream that, by the grace of God, the Lord would call us good and faithful servants. That we have glorified Him, and that He is at the center of all that we do. That we have faithfully carried out the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us. That we have cultivated the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit as it is reflected in our lives. That we have followed His guidance and will.

  3. Richard Thomas says:

    If I were to find a parish, with priests who preached regularly on sexual morality I would most likely be attending Eucharistic Adoration regularity and associate with parishioners with similar theological opinions. The priests would regularly preach about heaven and he’ll and the catechesis for converts, children and all us adults would reflect these beliefs

    Such a parish would thrive and would attract other Catholics. The problem is I gave yet been able to find such a parish but hope springs eternal

  4. christian says:

    You are absolutely right Diane, about excessive planning time to yield little, if not much at all especially when there is not a clear mission among all members of a board or committee. I was on a Buildings Planning Committee at a previous parish in the Diocese of Rochester years ago regarding Renovation of the Church Building. I couldn’t make the first meeting due to a conflict with work, so I wrote my contribution in writing after reflecting on our limited financial situation -thinking of practical need first in regard to worship, and I gave my written recommendation to the person on staff who would be presiding at these meetings.

    We had weekly meetings (every week except for holidays)-FOR TWO YEARS-in which time, the Pastor had grandiose ideas of what to do with the church building and its usage. His first prevailing idea was to turn the church into a museum and charge admission for a tour, much like large churches/cathedrals do throughout Europe, and apparently a few in the United States. He was viewing the church in terms of its traditional art and beauty and how we could profit financially by converting it to a museum for tourism. I, as well as a few others, questioned the component of worship, and how it appeared to be left out of his proposal.

    All of the members of the committee voiced their ideas/contributions regarding church modification at the meetings. The majority had worship as their concern. Most of the contributions had to do with the Chapel in back of the sanctuary for daily mass, or an additional shrine or side altar. I stated that I wasn’t opposed to the ideas regarding the Chapel or an additional shrine or side altar, but I thought we had to make our first priority a bathroom on the first floor, same level as worship, and we needed to put a wheelchair/handicap ramp in.

    I backed up my proposal of the bathroom on the first floor with the incidents of elderly parishioners who had fallen descending the steep “rough” staircase to the basement, to use the “rough” bathroom accommodation. (The bathrooms on a second level had been out of commission for years). I relayed that it was fortunate that they had not been severely injured. Additionally, I pointed out that the church could be sued if someone fell down the steep, “rough” staircase and was severely injured. I also pointed out that small children were afraid of descending the stairs to the basement bathroom. I relayed that years earlier, I personally had issues with my own children descending the staircase to the basement bathroom; I had to hold my children’s hands and talk them through descending the stairs. I additionally stated that there were persons of that parish that chose to stay home rather than attend this nearby parish, because of the staircase and basement bathroom issue. In one case, it had been in regard to a person needing to get to a bathroom quickly due to a gastrointestinal disease.

    I backed up my proposal of the wheelchair/handicap ramp due to people who would like to come to that church who were wheelchair bound, or needed to use walkers, canes, or other mobility devices. I stated a wheelchair ramp would also help parents who brought their children to church in strollers. I additionally stated, that people can have transitional mobility issues due to breaks/fractures and sprains, and the wheelchair ramp would be of use to those who were temporarily handicapped.

    I received opposition from a fair number of people, thinking the other modification ideas with regard to chapel, shrine, or side altar should be done first. *But I received very strong opposition from the staff person heading up the committee regarding the installation of a wheelchair ramp and the bathroom on the first floor, which they deemed unnecessary. *Interestingly enough, during the course of our meetings, this staff person broke their ankle on church property and had to use crutches with one lower leg in a cast. This staff person who had been so strongly opposed, completely changed their point of view and became strongly in favor of a wheelchair/handicap ramp and a bathroom on the first floor.

    During our two years of weekly meetings, the presiding staff person made arrangements with a variety of individual parishes throughout the Diocese of Rochester for the committee to tour. We were requested to show up to these NEWER, MODERN churches for a tour and then sit in the pews of these churches afterward to share what elements we liked about that particular church. Although I liked particular elements of these NEWER, MODERN churches selected, I (and I’m sure others), could see no relevance to why we were viewing these churches as the building design and other features were not something which could be, or should be, incorporated into our older, traditional church, except that the Pastor made it known that he favored these newer, modern churches. In fact, at one point during our two year weekly discussions, he relayed that our church was outdated and he wanted a newer, modern church with a lot of window space for the sun to shine through. He talked about getting rid of our present, beautiful, older traditional church in a variety of ways so he could build a newer, modern church, which shocked all the lay members of the committee, including me.

    The pastor compromised his idea of the church museum. His second prevailing idea was utilizing the church for office space, that could be rented out to different organizations and businesses, as well as accommodating church offices, in addition to the worship space. How he planned to rent out all this office space in addition to housing the church offices for the church, was by building a second floor in the church over the worship space. He said the walls could be made of glass so the church could still be seen from the second floor. (He planned to sell the rectory or rent it out). I honestly couldn’t imagine a second floor to the church, but a local firm, which does a lot of construction for churches in the Diocese, was contacted and paid a considerable amount of money for consultation and to draw up blue prints for how this was to be done.

    A Large Scale Pledge Campaign was put forth for donations toward the Controversial “Renovation” of putting a second floor in this church to use for church offices and for additional office space for rental. (The wheelchair ramp and first floor bathroom were included in the proposal). Alumni from the Church School, Former Parishioners, and Businesses were contacted as well as Current Parishioners, for this Fund/Pledge Campaign. Shortly after the Pledge Campaign had started, staffing changes were announced in regard to this church. There were not the pledges and amount of money collected as the pastor and a few others envisioned, probably due to the announced staffing changes, as many thought that it signaled the beginning of the end. Others probably didn’t pledge because they were not in favor of a second floor being built over the worship area to house office spaces.

    After further consultation with the Building Committee, it was decided that there was only enough money to build a wheelchair/handicap ramp and install a first floor bathroom. OVER A TWO YEAR PERIOD OF TIME OF WEEKLY MEETINGS, AND AFTER A LARGE AMOUNT OF MONEY HAD BEEN SPENT ON CONSULTATION AND ARCHITECT PLANS, *the same conclusions were reached which I had written out on a sheet of paper and submitted to the Building Committee over 2 years earlier for their first meeting, which I could not attend.

    I think some of the extraneous conversations and ideas, particularly on the pastor’s part, could have been avoided if there was a clear mission statement and a perception of that mission statement. But then again, it appeared to be his “style” and pastors usually get their way, even if others are stuck with the undesired changes after they have left.

    Many have had great solace that our beloved old traditional, beautiful church building was never “wreckovated,” but was beautifully preserved in addition to having an artistically appropriate-style outside wheelchair/handicap ramp and an inside ample handicap accessible bathroom in the back of the church installed.

    Diane, you also have a very valid point regarding church bulletins that are not posted online, not being very useful for people who are traveling, and for those trying to get in a daily or weekend mass in at another parish due to scheduling conflicts. I am concerned that those who are traveling from outside of our region and diocese, in additional to all those who are trying to come back to church at our new bishop’s beckon, could come to, or come back to: a closed down church, a church sold to a different denomination, or a mosque, or an incorrect time or location -if they consult the Diocese of Rochester Website. There also could be safety considerations involved.

  5. Diane Harris says:

    @ Sid,
    It is a good, but difficult, question you ask — about revealing the church/parish names. For the moment I’ve chosen not to name names, although with a few hours of investigation they could be easily identified. I do agree with what you’ve said, and there certainly are a lot of naked emperors walking around, but here is the dilemma.

    I gave only a sampling of parishes, and did not check every bulletin in the diocese. I doubt that I’ve picked the worst top 15. Some bulletins couldn’t even be checked because they require a “subscription,” and I don’t want to “reward” those who are hiding out by NOT exposing their mission statements, if they exist. Also, I began working on this project last January, and some people gave me their bulletins. I’m afraid I’ve left some off the list who really deserved to be exposed at that time. Others had mission statements in January, but not now. All together, it is such a situation in flux, and with only a partial view, that I am holding back on naming names in order to be fair to all, and in hopes of giving space to do the right thing, to drop the drivel, and focus on true “evangelization.” If this helps some folks to say to their pastor: “When are we going to get rid of that silly mission statement?” I think something will have been accomplished without unnecessarily embarrassing anyone. On the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out a more detailed “update” in a few months. 🙂

  6. Choir says:

    Christian – The parish renovation you describe sounds much like what was planned for my home parish of SS. Peter and Paul in Rochester.

  7. Mary-Kathleen says:

    After seeking out over 25 church/parish bulletins on-line, I have identified 5 of the ones listed in the “quiz” (alphabetically listed here): Church of the Holy Spirit(Webster), Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Brockport), Our Lady Queen of Peace & St. Thomas More (Brighton), St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Irondequoit), and The Cathedral Community (Rochester). 🙂

  8. Diane Harris says:

    @ Mary-Kathleen: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. JLo says:

    Thank you once again for such clear-headed thinking. +JMJ

  10. Mary-Kathleen says:

    …Our Lady of Peace Parish (Geneva), St. John the Evangelist (Greece), St. Marianne Cope Parish (Henrietta)…

    An end run around the “subscribe to bulletins” roadblock found on Seek & Find can be had on the Diocese of Rochester website with the Parish Mass Times selection. Most parishes have websites linked there and any surviving Mission Statements are posted. 🙂

  11. Sid says:

    OK, Diane, I concede that being absolutely fair means a current snapshot of all parishes, but that is a tall order. It does seem to me that such a mission statement list, maintained by a few and accessible by all, would be a valuable service to Catholics in the Diocese as well as those migrating through our area. What better way might the curious research parishes and find one(s) aligned with his own “worship sensibilities”? Submitted for your consideration… [fade in spooky Rod Serling theme]

    My current parish seems to be lacking a mission statement, not to my chagrin I might add. So I looked up a former parish. Here is its “VISION statement.” I did not see a separate MISSION statement, so will treat vision and mission as synonymous for our purposes.

    “Our Cluster Vision Statement: The people of our churches, ________________, strive to live the sacramental life together through vibrant liturgical worship, loving service, and life-long faith formation for spiritual growth. Through wise use of our gifts, leadership, and shared resources, we are one community of Catholics worshipping our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we embrace an atmosphere of belonging and discipleship to make visible the life and work of Jesus Christ.”

    Needless to say, I found their liturgical worship a little too “vibrant” for my taste and voted with my feet. 😛

  12. y2kscotty says:

    Richard Thomas – I have to say that if the priests of my parish preached regularly on sexual morality, I’d be looking at another parish to join. And I hasten to add that this has nothing to do with my agreement with the Church’s teaching. I prefer preaching that challenges and inspires and explains – about the Scripture readings of the Sunday. I suspect that if the preaching were as one-dimensional as you prefer, such a parish would have so few members that it would have to close.

  13. y2kscotty says:

    Regarding Mission Statements, Diane, I prefer any one of your scripture statements – plus a statement about particular ministries which have parish support.

  14. raymondfrice says:

    I think that we have to keep in mind that a lot of these statements are products of the last 35 years of an episcopal laissez-faire attitude. I think that you will find that Bishop Matano will help us through our diocesan wide identity crisis which should give greater clarity to whom we really are.

    My favorite mission statement is: We are a Roman Catholic Christian Community which follows and submits to the will of the Father, as revealed by His Son, Jesus Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

  15. Hopefull says:

    Have we noticed that if the word “Catholic” is taken away from many of these mission statements, that the words could as easily refer to nearly any Protestant denomination?

  16. Mary-Kathleen says:

    …Church of the Assumption (Fairport), Church of the Resurrection (Fairport), Our Lady of the Lakes (Naples, etc.), St. Jerome (East Rochester), St. Mary Our Mother (Horseheads)…

    Some of the Mission Statements are not on the bulletins but remain on the websites.

  17. Richard Thomas says:


    Having never heard a homily on those topics for 50 years,I think we the laity need a good dose of this for our own information and salvation.

    No I am not nadvocating preaching solely on these topics and there are many other topics needed to be discussed. But I am adament about these issues because I have seen how they adversely affect society and no one in the church is taking the responsibility to educate the laity.

    But, as I have mentioned previously many times: If 95% of all adult Catholics receive all their information about Catholic identity from the Sunday homily, then priests are obligated to educate them on these topics.

    Your resistance to this can only make me think that you are not in agreement with majesterial teachings on these issues. If that is the case I will pray for you.

    But making these issues, optinal and ignorimg them is equivalent to spiritual malpractice. The culture is in much worse shape than it was 50 years ago. Widespread acceptance to gay marriage, almost universal use of birth control, abortion on demand and partial birth abortion, pornography on the internet and in almost every hotel and widespread premarital sex.

    Now you may think these issues exist in a vacuum but their practice has led to incredible suffering and societical destruction and Catholics have been on board, contributing to the destruction. Many of tyhe social justice issues can be attributed to the implementation of these evils.

    Sitting in church and listening to homilies ignoring theseissues is like ignoring the elephant in the room.

    Charity means telling the truth and these truths need to be preached, especially after being ignored for 50 years.

  18. Diane Harris says:

    @ Mary-Kathleen

    🙂 🙂 🙂
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  19. Richard Thomas says:

    Y2. I will pray for U regardless!

  20. annonymouse says:

    Kudos, Diane, you’ve nailed it. It has long bothered me that squishy, meaningless “mission statements” abound in a Church in which our Founder and CEO already gave and gives us our mission, as you correctly point out.

    As you intimate, a good mission statement must be memorable and useful in focusing the people on the mission. For a good mission statement, how’s this one, that condenses the words of our Founder and CEO pretty well: “Love God, love neighbor, make disciples.”

  21. annonymouse says:

    To the y2k / Richard debate:
    y2k – have you EVER heard a homily on sexual morality? And I disagree that a homily is supposed to “challenge, inspire and explain the scripture readings” – rather a homily is supposed to illuminate our lives in light of the scriptures, and call us to change. Do you really think matters sexual are inconsequential to our lives? I can’t think of a matter that is more consequential, frankly, nor a matter that has proven more fruitful for the devil’s efforts. So I agree with RT – souls are being lost because sexual ethics are being given short shrift at our pulpits.

    RT – while I agree that sexual morality should be a regular topic of preaching, your mentioning it nearly every time you post might lead a reader to think, as y2kScotty and BigE before him have, that it’s the only thing that matters. It is not.

  22. Diane Harris says:

    Thanks, Annonymouse. That is an interesting link you put up. I had to go through it nearly 3x to decide if it is a Catholic site (genuinely targeting “disconnected” Catholics to return) or if it is a Protestant/evangelical/independent church site engaged in sheep rustling. That is a “fresh” approach indeed. I like the way it “jogs” the usual language.

  23. annonymouse says:

    It’s a parish in Baltimore that has more than tripled in size, by emphasizing orthodox teaching, excellent liturgy, and a sharp focus on evangelization.

  24. Sid says:

    I checked out annonymouse’s link as well. It’s an interesting site. Essentially, it seems to emulate much of the way non-denominational evangelical Protestant churches operate. It’s hard to get the “full-flavor” from just the website, but I get that impression. As long as they stay within the bounds of Church teaching and practice (don’t get heretical or innovative with the liturgy), I am OK with it, even if it isn’t my cup of tea. Certainly this approach does work for a lot of people… non-denominational McChurches are growing like weeds in the Rochester area at the same time Catholic and mainline Protestant churches are closing. So there is a market for an evangelical bent.

    I will say, I am not wild in their approach of removing children from the Mass to be sent to a “children’s liturgy.” I know some parishes do that, but in the case of this particular parish, kids are removed until 6th grade (wow…) !!! I didn’t dig deeply, but one assumes this means First Holy Communion is delayed until then as well and Confession along with that (even more troubling). Does that violate the sacramental norms for their Diocese?

    I can’t say for sure with this parish, but my local experience is that these “children’s liturgies” behind the scenes usually turn into a crayon and paste zoo without a lot of real theological content for the kids. There is a certain value in having children learn to behave in Church itself even if they aren’t getting everything going on quite yet. As a father of several kids myself, I know sometimes they little ones start squawking… That’s when you take them out. Crying rooms and “kid liturgies” are just crutches that slow the children’s development, IMO. The best thing is to plop the kids in a parish where there a lots of other families who take seriously proper behavior. Peer pressure works wonders at instilling good behavior.

  25. Sid says:

    OK, I did look a little deeper at the Baltimore parish link. Here are a couple high(?)points.

    (Allow the pictures to cycle through on this first link)

    (note the video screens on either side of the altar. Not quite IMAX, but they are getting there)

    Laptops, projectors, Powerpoint, electric guitars… a veritable multi-media experience! Yeah, this is pretty much a Catholicized clone of non-denominational megachurches like “The Father’s House” out in Chili. The second link above allows one to watch a Mass (or 2!) live on Sundays. It might be interesting. Definitely not my style, but there may be some logic in beating the non-denomiationals at their own game. I’d hate to see a lot of Catholic parishes like this in a diocese, but one or two is a reasonable way to tailor the product to the market. Some people (especially today’s younger people) need a lot of flashing noise and lights to keep their attention.

  26. Richard Thomas says:


    I only mention these things because no one else, especially the clergy, is talking about it. I know of the resistance in the clergy. Our Catholic Physician’s guild was suppressed by the bishop because we explained and advocated the Majesterial teachings on homosexuality.

    We know how society is going down the toilet and morals, especially sexual morals are leading the charge. I got extremely frustrated when the Catholic bishops refused a God given teaching moment over the contraceptive debate with O’Bama Care. They could have started explaining the teaching to all of us ignorant laity but instead discussed it as a conscience issue and never explained Church teaching.
    And Cardinal Dolan clearly stated in all his years he has never given a homily on birth control.

    I love my country and it saddens and depresses me when I see it going irrevocable under. And our Catholic Church is playing a huge role in its downfall.

    God has givenour country so many blessiong. We were spared the devastation of 2 world wars. And we thank Him by promoting mortal sin on such a huge scale.

  27. annonymouse says:

    RT – well stated and I’m 100% in agreement.

    I am hopeful that Bishop Matano will direct the clergy of the diocese to preach about these issues, as sexual morality is the “elephant in the living room” of the Church and lives of the Faithful. I’d wager that every priest, from his experience in the confessional, would tell you that. And that would be based on the relatively few Faithful who avail themselves of the confessional.

    The Church is not going to change her teachings (nor should she) so one must ask why she (through her ministers) refuses to proclaim these teachings as the truth that will set sinners free!

  28. y2kscotty says:

    RT, I have heard sermons occasionally on abortion in recent years. I have heard no sermons on contraception as such, except when the sermon promoted NFP. And I don’t recall sermons in a parish church regarding pre-marital or extra-marital sex. But I have heard those topics addressed sometimes on my annual retreat. Have these topics been preached at so-called conservative parishes, such as OL of Victory or at the St. Stan’s EF Mass (I wouldn’t expect it at a so-called “liberal” parish…)? Have any of the newly ordained priests preached on the topic (seems like the “older” ones are the ones who are avoiding the topic)?
    I would be interested in knowing if our Youth Ministry programs ever address the issue.
    Regarding the teaching on contraception, I suspect that most of our priests don’t believe in it – that may be the nub of the problem.
    I have not heard any Bishop talk about it – including, Bishops Kearney, Sheen, Hogan, Clark. Of course, I can only remember having heard Bishop Kearney 3 or 4 times, Sheen several times, Hogan several times, Clark many times. Probably I never heard them talk about it was because the Mass was for a special event and the topic would have been out of place – so I guess we can cut them some slack). It would be interesting to know how many times Bishop Matano has spoken about it in all his years in priesthood and episcopacy.
    Yes, sexual morality is a very serious problem.
    If there are any ordained clergy on CF, I’d like to hear from them why they don’t (or maybe do)discuss the issue. Is there any way for us to ever know why they avoid it??

    Maybe an effective way that Bishop Matano can start the discussion, is to issue a pastoral letter on the subject.

  29. Richard Thomas says:

    You are so fortunate. In my 29 years of mass attendance I have heard only a handful of homilies where these topics were even briefly mentioned

    You are correct about priest sentiment. An older priest once told me most priests believe birth control is OK. It ‘s their training that was deficient. Many are pro life and are shocked to hear that the pill is an abortifacient. It is cause for soul searching

    I feel for young priests and seminarians. They may believe in all the right stuff but they must be prepared for much suffering in their vocation because if they preach on these topics they will anger the pastor who may try and silence them. And if and when they anger the bishop they face banishment or limitation of their priestly duties

    We must pray for vocations and ask God to safeguard them during their training and ministry

  30. militia says:

    Excellent article which shows the decline of religions which have waived the biblical rules on gay lifestyle and same-sex marriage, vs those faiths which have held onto the word of God.

  31. JLo says:

    Thanks for that link, militia. I only wish the author had mentioned that the group everyone is so afraid of offending is less than four percent of the population! That’s not to say that we should abuse and neglect minorities, but this rush to bow so low to so few in the pursuit of PC behavior is a display of something worse than ignorance; rather, it’s a display of a lack of faith in the Faith they espouse! Jesus warned us about being of the world, and I guess they just don’t get that… they need to be thought of as modern, and so they are complicit in leading their people into thinking that SSA living is okay!

    As to our own clergy who just ignore the mess out there in all things under the heading of sexuality, their lack of courage is so sad. Our country is awash in filth: fashion, entertainment and even “religions”, so while you’re taking count on sermons dealing with such, has anyone ever heard a homilist comment about how sad it is that a Christian church has succumbed to accepting SSA lifestyles in their followers and in their leaders? I never have, but I hope you have. Is our clergy also too polite!?

    Clergy are our leaders and we need them to show the courage of the Apostles AFTER Pentecost, not before. At the very LEAST, could they not speak to the dress of girls and women at Mass: shorts and even shorter skirts and halters and even spaghetti straps and plunging necklines on the altar! Once again I say…. TEACH the people by preaching about personal behavior. And once again I say, the GIRM says that deacons are specifically charged with teaching where necessary. I wish they would take that directive seriously. Deacons could unburden the pastors and priests by talking about correct dress, decorum and … my usual grievance… the improper gestures of the people in the pews as they insist on holding hands, raising arms, and then, a favorite of mine, running all over kissing everyone. Good grief… TEACH them what has just transpired, Who is on the altar during those times they’re engaging in an excess of neighborliness! We have Him on the altar after having just been at Calvary! Oh for some clear teaching to generations so ignorant of CATHOLIC decorum and all the riches we have at Holy Mass.

    Okay okay, I went off on a tangent. I recognize that the serious matters (like sexual immorality) have prime placement in teaching, but the other “stuff” is so distracting, such a departure from what is real Catholic behavior at Holy Mass; and because parishoners don’t appear to know, they miss the graces, the completely unworldly miracle they are present at. Thanks for listening… your patience with me is appreciated.


  32. Sid says:

    Ummm, JLo?
    A couple of weeks ago when we were discussing the Latin Mass Community, I made the mistake of posting a common Latin maxim without providing a translation. I did that in deference to the audience and the topic at hand. I thought the phrase would be generally understood; a translation would not only destroy the laconic punch of the five-word Latin original, but seem patronizing as well. And, it was of course very simple to google anyhow…

    You curtly replied, being careful not to omit the “+JMJ” in your public smackdown of me:

    Unfortunately my Latin studies ended after second year HS class. I guess you don’t care if some of us can’t read what you’ve written. No matter. I’m done. +JMJ

    Which brings us to your latest post above. You’ve got “SSA” mentioned a couple times therein, but when I google “SSA”, it yields about 3,000,000 hits on the Social Security Administration (what I personally think of if when I hear/see “SSA”), as well as hits on hundreds of varied “S.” Societies of America: Soaring Society of America, Seismological Society of America , and the like.

    From context, I gather the gist of what you are referring to in your post, but I don’t quite have it right. Could you perhaps enlighten the less hip of us in on your alternative relationship lingo? I have a hard time keeping up with all this new politically correct jargon. Thanks much! 🙂

  33. Ben Anderson says:

    “I’m hip. I’m with it. Tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka”
    SSA = same sex attraction

  34. JLo says:

    I’m sorry, Sid; right you are, Ben.

    I was doing as instructed by some articles out there, the first of which, I believe, was actually a link provided by CF. That writer suffered from SSA but did not live the lifestyle and preached against it, and it was from him that I first learned that it is best to refer to that lifestyle exclusively as Same Sex Attraction, that all other terms carry untruthful and propagandizing baggage… and the article went on to describe the why of it. I can’t say I remember all his reason, but from that moment on I started to use SSA exclusively regarding that subject. But you’re probably right, Sid… perhaps not everyone has seen that term in use.


  35. Ben Anderson says:

    excellent post, Diane.

    just for reference – we had a somewhat similar discussion a little while back here:

  36. Diane Harris says:

    Hi Ben,
    Thank you for reminding me of what I had forgotten, i.e. your earlier coverage of another troubling aspect of the mission statement. You made a very important point about WHO the mission statement is intended to serve, and I wonder if that abuse is still in place. Or, just maybe, your prior attention on the matter caused it to disappear from bulletin front pages? Thanks; great points you made.

  37. emmagrays says:

    After reading the prior post and all the comments, I am reminded that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
    And the word “everyone” is all-inclusive. Once you start listing who ‘everyone’ is, you are bound to leave someone out or the list is so long it becomes pointless. Why use 50 words, when the one is sufficient?

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