PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish

_______________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                      October, 2022

A Pastor Does It All

              In September of this year I had an opportunity to visit Scotland.  One Sunday while there I went to Mass at  St. Mary’s in Fort William, a town on the western side of the country.  The church was well attended.  There was no cantor or organist present when the pastor walked down the aisle.  He and the deacon bowed and went up to kiss the altar.  He then headed over to the side and sat down at the organ to lead the congregation in the opening song.  He did the same for the responsorial psalm between the readings, as well as for the offertory and communion songs.  When it was time for the final blessing, the deacon did the honors while the priest made his way over to the organ to lead the recessional .  He, in other words, did it all – and he did it well.  The people responded by following his lead.  The only problem was, it was all his show.

A Different Approach

              The document on the liturgy from Vatican II encouraged all present “to full and active participation in the liturgy.”  To make sure this happened, people were hired to provide the accompaniment, select the songs, direct the choir, lead the congregation.  Because of this, liturgical staff people were hired to provide music at most of the weekend Masses.  The same emphasis on hiring staff members was true for religious formation, administration, community-building and outreach ministries.  The number of staff members in a Catholic parish now numbers between ten to twenty people, if not more.  As a whole they are dedicated people who usually work more than 40 hours a week, agree to a pay scale that is below what they could earn elsewhere, and provide a compassionate, pastoral presence to all seeking help, support, direction and a sense of community.

Celebrating Their Ministry    

            While giving of themselves for the benefit of the parish and beyond, they can often be taken for granted.  Because they are the instigators and planners for much of what happens at the parish, they may not be given the recognition they deserve.  Listed below are options for fostering greater appreciation:

  • At one or more of the weekend liturgies, inviting all of the parish staff forward to receive some form of thank you for their service and dedication, such as a plaque, certificate or gift
  • A joint meeting of the staff and pastoral council at which staff members pair up with a member of the council to describe the ministry that staff person does. The council member then describes to the entire group what was shared
  • Making a video of each staff person’s ministry that is shown at all of the weekend This could be done either as one presentation for the entire staff or separate ones for each area of ministry that would be presented over a number of weekends.
  • An insert in the bulletin that has pictures and descriptions of the various staff persons, along with how to contact each one to voice thanks for that person’s ministry in the parish and elsewhere
  • A special dinner celebrating the staff and the contribution each one makes to the parish. This could be a catered meal or a potluck at which staff members make known their favorite dishes.

These are only a few of the many ways the staff might be given the recognition they deserve.