In my sixth cycle of parish visitations (September 2014 through March 2015), I had the pleasure of joining parishioners at Our Lady of LaSalette in DeQuincy, St. Lawrence in Raymond, St. Raphael in Iowa and Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Sulphur. The visit offered us the opportunity to get to know each other, hear of their concerns, learn of the many good things going on in the parishes, answer questions, and acquaint them with the ministries of the Diocese.
One of the aspects of parish life in our diocese that continues to impress me is the communal enthusiasm that one witnesses. This is particularly evident in the parish meal held either on Saturday evening or following Masses on Sunday. At these gatherings it is obvious that the parishioners appreciate the fellowship and the occasion to meet and share common goals, the most important being their Catholic faith.
It is good to note the concern for the family that repeatedly manifests itself in conversation and in the questions raised. The onslaught of the drug culture is devastating to the unity of family life. The parishioners are gravely concerned over the unraveling of the family in this continually secularized society. We cannot ignore the silent but catastrophic plague of pornography, a multi-billion dollar industry that has no regard for the harm it does to individuals and families. At the same time, movements have arisen in which families can take consolation and strength, for example the Domestic Church and ACTS.
Their children and youth are also a serious concern for them. “How do we reach out to our youth?” is a common question asked. Each parish has some out-reach to the youth, but we could do better. It takes God’s grace, a will to cooperate with it, and, yes, funding. We need to look at this challenge at the diocesan level as well.
Parents particularly want to see an enhanced religious education program. They want it to be decidedly Catholic and this means not only textbooks but also teachers and PCL’s who are transformative and on fire to share the faith.
The parishioners want and expect the availability of the sacraments, which includes home visits to the sick and dying, as well as opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance. They deeply appreciate the pastors who make a real effort to provide for the spiritual ministry that is so essential for the life of the Church. I was so encouraged to learn of the many out-reach ministries being fostered in our parishes.
To the pastors and parishioners who welcomed me so warmly, I offer my gratitude and blessings, as I look forward to another cycle of visits beginning in the fall.
- Bishop Glen John Provost