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My bishop doesn’t have time to ask me a bunch of questions I suggest would be good ones. I understand that. Nevertheless, I’ve become interested in knowing my own answers, and so am following up on the project I started for myself.
The last three sets of Qs are addressed in this post and the two following.
How could the Bishop improve life within your parish?
Without knowing exactly how bishops are supposed to interact with parishes, this one is hard for me to answer. Could he visit more often? Help promote the Church’s greatest music across the archdiocese? Make it more clear how to handle parish-level problems, and when (if ever) to involve him? Probably those would all be good, but I don’t have a list of demands. Priests would surely have more suggestions. I just think it’s a worthwhile question to ask.
What excites you most when you think of the future possibilities for our Church?
I sense that there are undercurrents of some great things happening in our archdiocese. I know Benedictine College is experiencing something of a renascence. Donnelly College just got Msgr. Svetland as its President – what a coup! Kim Rode continues the Art, Beauty and New Evangelization program she spearheaded. I know of several young, orthodox Catholic couples interested in the growing Catholic agrarian movement. St. James Academy, the Apostles of the Interior Life, Nativity House, School of Faith, School of Love, the Institute for Faith and Culture, A Simple House and other initiatives excite my interest.
Please briefly describe any distressing, upsetting, or negative experiences you’ve had with the Church.
I can’t even bear to answer this one publicly, but would gladly write my response for the archbishop, if asked. I think it’s an important question to ask, as nothing will be learned from such experiences if they are never brought to light. Various responses might also help the bishop teach us how best to handle the different kinds of experiences constructively. We could develop better ‘best practices’ if such problems were addressed.
It seemed strange to me that, at the Bishop’s listening meetings, everyone only said what they loved, what was already great, what wonderful things they thought the Bishop was doing. I could agree with every comment, and I’m sure the Bishop was gratified to hear so much affirmation of the archdiocese, but it wouldn’t forward the planning process much to know everything that needs to stay the same. When asked how the Church might look in ten years, no one at my table could imagine it would look any different than it does right now.
Maybe we should round up everyone who left the Church last year and ask them why. Even a business conducts exit interviews with departing employees to learn everything it can about how to improve operations.
…it is difficult for poets to remain acceptable or contented party men; they ask too many questions.
Dorothy Sayers, in the Introduction to her translation of Dante’s Purgatorio