I have read a lot of criticism in various magazines and newspapers of the bishop’s plan for closing some parishes within the Diocese of Camden and for merging others.
It is certainly understandable why some people are angry having in some cases been born and raised in their parish and worked with their pastors and priests to make it a meaningful place of worship for themselves and their children. Their argument in most cases is that they are self sufficient, would remain a viable and self sustaining parish without a merger, and could continue that way without the diocese diluting what they now have.
There is no doubt that most merged parishes could operate independently with conditions as they are, in the same sense as businesses that merge could operate efficiently and profitably without undertaking a merger with another partner. But the purpose of a merger is not to maintain the status quo, or to benefit just one partner, but for each to benefit from the strengths of the other and for the whole to be better in the future than what each is now. It is to form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
It is not the taking of resources from a parish to make it weaker. It is parishes joining together and willing to share their strengths in a Christian way so others may benefit through a sharing of those strengths. I think some fail to realize that mergers bring resources and benefits to parishes not had before, and that in the long run will produce a renewal and regeneration of Christian life and vibrancy.
Wasn’t it Jesus that talked about hiding your light under a basket, or the consequences of the steward that buried what was entrusted to him instead of giving and multiplying what he was given?
Why should we hoard the talents we were given by God just to keep the status quo or secure our own domain? Look how sharing our strengths and our talents could benefit so many more. It’s the invitation of Christ to share, and the vibrancy that’s created by the Christian Spirit that enables people to grow in faith.
I think people who want to keep their church to themselves are denying others the benefits they were given by God, of sharing fully in the Body of Christ and reaping the graces of Christianity for themselves and others.
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