USD Magazine, Fall 2003
''Vatican II asked for (increased involve– ment of the !airy), and thus far the Catholic communiry has responded very well," he says. "How well they continue to respond is of tremendous importance to the long-term health of rhe church. " To encourage men co investigate the priesthood, St. Francis hosts "Explorer Days" to explain the possibilities of priest– hood and religio us life. But don't look for catchy billboards along San Diego free– ways anytime soon. Better and more effec– tive, Brom says, is to approach potential candidates personally. "I have no problem with such contem– porary approaches (as the billboards), as long as they are consistent with the Gospel message," says Brom. "But chat rype of thing cannot be a substitute for the per– sonal approach manifested in the personal sryle of Christ. Jesus never said, 'Hey, any– body out there wanna fo llow me?' He said, 'Peter, come fo llow me. Paul, come follow me.' Talk to most any priest, and he'll tell you he became a priest because someone - his pastor, a parent, a peer, a teacher - approached him with the idea. In the end, appeals to prospective priests must always be personal and by name." FEAR 0F C01hlhiTiltEilT How long it will rake to remedy the short– age of priests and how that shortage will affect the lives of parishioners in the future is anybody's guess, especially because the church has not defined an ideal priest-to– parishioner ratio. Hoge says the impact is Eucharist is consecrated by a visiting priest before the Mass and parishioners receive communion from lay leaders," he says. "Studies suggest people don't seem to mind, and chat is probably a good thing, as they likely won't have much of a choice. " Many parishes in the United States have scaled back Bible study and similar pro– gram offerings, and in some cases parishes have merged to consolidate resources. Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, a small parish church that for nearly 50 years served the steel mill town of Dundalk, Md., for example, celebrated its last Mass over Labor Day weekend 2003. The Archdiocese of Baltimore determined Christ the King's priests could be better used and the parishioners better served by absorbing them into ocher, larger, parishes. Spahr sees the issue as not juse a chal– lenge for the church, but as symptomatic of already felt on a very personal level. "In more than a few parishes, the
attractive in the wake of the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks. Cutting through the di n of the news media, television, movies, video games and the Internet and projecting a positive image of the priesthood is a very tough thing to do." T he priesthood also is losing recruits to the changing nature of the church itself The call of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 to increase the role of lay people in "WE ITEED T0 EITGAGE PAREITTS,TEACHERS, LAY LEADERS AITD OTHER IhEIT– T0RS T0 ADDRESS THE iSSUE AT THE GRASS R00TS LEVEL AITD EITC0URAGE Y0UITG IhEIT T0 F0LL0W THEiR HEARTS AITD THEiR FAiTH, BECAUSE PRiESTLY LiFE AITD IhinisTRY ARE ESSEITTiAL T0 ACC0IhPLiSH THE Ihission 0F THE CHURCH AS ESTAB– LiSHED BY CHRiST." - BiSH0P ROBERT BR0Ih the ministry radically altered the way parishes are run. According to Dean Hoge, a sociology professor at Catholic Universiry of America in Washington, D .C., and autho r of The Future of Catholic Leadership, the lay ministry has become a growth industry. "Vatican II reduced the distinction ben-veen clergy and lay people, creating many ministerial opportunities for non– priescs," Hoge says. "Men who may have considered the priesthood can now serve the church in a very significant way while pursuing ocher careers and not having to rake the vow of celibacy." Spahr adds it presents a challenge to priests to encourage parish leadership.
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