Pastor’s Reflection for June 18, 2017
Our Archdiocese has gone through some significant changes since the turn of the century. In the 70’s and early 80’s, around 75% of people went to church. Today, statistics state that Mass attendance is around 17%. Looking at our own parish, we had at that time 3 priests and a deacon. Today, there is one priest now serving this parish. All this is due to the lack of attendance and the shortage of priests. Attendance is down significantly in many parishes and that results in a lack of income causing many parishes to be in debt. This has resulted in the closing of some parishes. On the positive side, our parish of St. Joseph was ranked sixth in the overall attendance at our Sunday liturgies. Our daily Masses are also well attended. I have had visiting priests come in for a 10 o’clock Funeral commenting on our 9:00 a.m. daily Mass attendance, which consists of around 125 people. The visiting priest will tell me that I have more at our daily Mass than they do at one of their Sunday Masses.
Despite the trend of low Mass attendance and lack of priests, Cardinal Sean does not wish to close any Churches. What the Archdiocese has chosen to do instead is to form collaboratives. This means that a number of Churches will maintain their own identity but share one pastor and pastoral team as well as their programs and ministerial leaders. Each parish will have their own financial responsibilities. The main focus of the collaborative will be evangelization. How do we, as a Christian community, use our gifts and talents to share the good news of our Christian faith? How do we go forth and invite others to grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus. We have done a good job in sacramentalizing our people to receive Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation but not in evangelizing. People are coming when receiving a sacrament but seem absent the rest of the time. We have approximately 100 children in this parish receiving their First Communion each year. Each year, we should be adding 100 children to our Sunday Children’s Mass but we do not see them returning. We can say the same with our 10th Grade Confirmation program. Many see Confirmation as graduation from Church and fail to return. We are in a very difficult situation.
We see the result of people abandoning their relationship with God reflected in society. Sad to say but our country is drifting away from our Christian principles. Many of our laws are in direct opposition to the laws of God. We need a fresh beginning of being followers of Jesus. Thus, in 2013, the Archdiocese started the process of collaboratives. One collaborative that is local is in Lynnfield comprised of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish and St. Maria Goretti Parish. There have been 5 collaboratives thus far and this process will continue up to the year 2023. Concerning our own parish, we will be in collaborative with St. Florence, which was originally a chapel of St. Joseph, beginning in the summer of 2020.
I will be available for confession this week on Monday, June 19, from 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
May Jesus continue to shepherd you in all of your needs.
God love you,