One unexpected way the priest shortage impacts evangelization

3 thoughts on “One unexpected way the priest shortage impacts evangelization”

  1. Nick, thanks for another great and thought-provoking post. Bigger parishes do change the dynamic. And the quality of worship is key.

    I just hope we are not headed for the model of mega-church pastors whose personality drives the whole show. I like to think that the bigger Catholic parishes require leaders who are comfortable in delegating. A priest does not have to fill up the room, do everything himself, or be everything to everybody, in order to be a good shepherd.

    In many cases, I think the priest isn’t as great an evangelist as someone in the pew may be. He has to be focused on ministry to the community, and probably has developed a skill set that works for the tasks he has to do most of the time. This is OK as long as he also recognizes and empowers the people who will get out there and spread the good news in more risky ways, and in more varied venues.

    The evangelizers are going out to the margins, talking to people who aren’t in church at all. It’s not that priests can’t or don’t do that, as Pope Francis has demonstrated. But, as you pointed out, the lay person has a significant role in all this too. We all do!

  2. Hi Rita. I agree that a priest doesn’t have to be or do everything. Liturgy is a team sport. But it is difficult (for me, anyway) to be at a liturgy in which the presider seems to think he is in his living room instead of a space that seats 1,000 or more people.

    Even so, as you point out, the real work of evangelization is in more risky ways, and in more varied venues. And that’s mostly our job.

    Thanks for your terrific insight.

    Nick

  3. Catholic priests are, by nature and training, poor preachers and evangelists. Of course there are exceptions.
    It is true that in the evangelical tradition, the senior pastor can make/break a congregation.
    In discussing mega-parishes, it is an unfortunate fact and truth that it will only grow in the future due to mandatory celibacy. Buildings will get bigger and both folks in the pew and the clergy will get “lost in the crowd” unless they are very active and want to be active.
    Evangleists are a special call as Paul tells us. They know how to take the Scriptures and really empower us with its words and message. It does take a person with courage, personality, a little “ham” in them to engage a large crowd and get a message across in less than 30 minutes. Then this same person must manage a million dollar operation.
    Those who have the gift of evangelism must use their call and passion by both words and actions to make Christ alive in people’s hearts.
    When I was at St John’s, we had 8 SRO Masses a weekend. My pastor, already in his 70’s, was outside before and after each mass shaking hands and greeting people. He was a good preacher and had a strong personality. His emphasis was on good liturgy and preaching. As his liturgy director, we had a common mission and did our best to make Christ present in our worship.
    When I attend gateway church(gatewaypeople.com) i was greeted by 10 people even before i entered the auditorium. Everyone said the same thing: “We are so happy you are here with us.” These words were echoed by the worship leader and then the pastor.
    This is a mega church but you felt welcomed and at home. The worship and preaching are awesome.
    Catholic priests should be trained to preach by the experts: the evangelicals. Priests should engage with their local evangelical pastors to seek their help in this area of ministry. We certainly can teach them about ritual!
    yes, all of us are called to evangelize. This is the root of our RCIA: to share the good news of salvation of Jesus Christ; to make disciples; to empower these folks to evangelize in their own way. As you know, “converts” make the best evangelizers!!

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