My talk for this evening

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word.jpgFirst, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to be here this evening. I am grateful that so many wish to focus on the parish and on its future. We have a rich history and it is because so many dedicated priests and laity worked together to make this a vibrant center for worship and for service.

Catholics have a right and duty to express their opinion on what pertains to the good of the Church. The Pastoral Council exists so that the parishioners have a place to make their voice heard for the good of their parish. I have a great hope for this council because I know that there is a storehouse of wisdom in the experience of the parishioners who worship here, and I want to give the parishioners a sense of responsibility for their parish that will endure long after I have moved on to my next assignment.

The purpose of the parish pastoral council is to investigate pastoral matters, to consider them thoroughly, and to propose practical conclusions about them. The council's task is, first of all, to study those matters brought to its attention and shed light on them. Its second task is to reflect on them thoroughly, to discern their true nature, to evaluate and to ponder them. Its final task is to draw sound conclusions. The council presents these conclusions to the pastor and the pastoral team in the form of recommendations. This threefold task of the council-investigating, considering, and recommending conclusions-is called pastoral planning. After the Pastor and the Pastoral Team have accepted the recommendations of the council, they direct their implementation. Council members may assist the Pastor and Team, but strictly speaking, implementation is the responsibility of the pastor and the Pastoral Team, not the council. The cooperation between the Council and the Team can become the heart of a large parish directed toward the worship of God and the building up of the reign of God.

The Council will meet once a month. They may decide among themselves to meet more often or less often. The will have homework, where they seek to gain a greater knowledge of the parish and its people, and its needs. They will be visible in the parish, both on Sundays and during other significant parish events. Tonight we shall choose through a discernment process 12 members for the new Pastoral Council. This is not a popularity contest and there will be no losers tonight. The parish certainly is the biggest winner when generous people choose to offer their gifts for the common good. We have future plans for a building committee, development committee and a liturgy Commission. Certainly people with the gifts we need are going to find a home on those teams and certainly may be available for the next discernment in three years.

We are a very large parish with many groups. There is always something going on here. There is such a great diversity here as many of our parishioners have come from other lands. Sometimes our diversity can bring a chuckle to those of us who work here. Just last Saturday I heard the complaint that the church was too cold, that was just five minutes after hearing it was too hot. And certainly we know that the Organ was too fast and too slow at the same liturgy. All of this difference can sometimes make us narrow. This was certainly the case with the couple getting married who wanted nothing else to happen on the parish plant during the wedding. It is important that we hear from everyone, and that we have a council who has what is best for the parish in their heart.

The Holy Eucharist is at the heart of our parish. The Sacred Liturgy is our principal gathering place, and our attention to the living Word of God forms us as a community. Our new Council will be called to listen to the Universal Church and to the desire of our people as they articulate a vision for our Liturgical Celebrations and our Music program.

Our children and young people are not the future of the Church, they are the present, and they are an important part of the church today. This new Council will provide the vision and the recommendations that will maximize their participation in the Liturgy and in the life of the parish.

Our parish is larger than we know. Many of those who bring their children here for Faith formation do not attend St. Edward because they find a Sunday Mass in Spanish elsewhere. The New Council will help us examine our programs so that we find a place and a way to offer Mass in Spanish on Sunday. This may stretch the boundaries of hospitality for all of us, but that is why this council is so important, so that we are able to listen to many voices.

This need points out the inadequacies of our parish plant. We need to chart our path into the future and make sure that the needs of the people are considered. This council will be given the task of advising the Team in the best way to begin and will help us present the needs as possible solutions to the parish.

Financially we are in the same place we were last year at this time when I arrived. We have severe cash flow shortages and we are unable to pay all our bills. Expenses increase every year with inflation, but the collection does not do the same. We will study many ways to trim expenses without further cutting services. At the same time I have separated the capital campaign from the parish income so that we begin to do some saving for the future. We have almost $40,000 saved now, but it is going to take much more to build for the future.

This new Council is chosen for three years. Each September the council will sponsor a parish assembly in order to report on their progress and hear your suggestions. Three years from now we will hold this four session Assembly again to hear from the Council their report on the completion of their work, set new goals and choose a new council to carry this work into the future.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We shall do this as a Parish of generous hospitality, universal participation, and faithful devotion. We are confident that with the generous gifts of so many volunteers, and especially the New Pastoral Council, we will be able to work together in the service of the Lord, his Church and all his people, called to be deeply participative, non-aggressive or confrontational, but in sincere cooperation, deeply loving one another so that we are the Body of Christ with many different gifts, and so effective in charity that we will be a message to ourselves and to the world the Christianity still works.

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So, how did it go? Or can you say?

It was a great evening, and the new Pastoral Council is wonderful. It give me lots of hope.

Are you eventually going to have staggered terms on the pastoral council, as your diocese recommends?

And are you going to take advantage of the wonderful, simply written in English and Spanish, materials the diocese has for pastoral council development? (Their training days for new councils are pretty good, but I don't think there's one in your area in this fall's cycle.)

Glad to hear of the evening's success. Best wishes.


The answer for both questions is "no."

I believe the "staggering" will happen naturally as some discern a calling to run again in 3 years and others discern that their service on the Council is complete.

From what I've experienced of the current leadership, I think we are actually more, um, how shall I say this?....well, beyond (?) the basics provided by the Diocese. I've read the materials from the Diocese (actually re-read them just this morning, how weirdly coincidental). They are very good, as Maureen indicated, but they are also sort of PC101...Fr. Jeff seems to have taken us a bit beyond that. But, time will tell, I suppose.

So, in three years, will ex-employees be eligible to serve on the Council?

Father Jeff,

The reasons I suggested that you use the materials from the Diocese of Oakland as part of parish council formation are

1. You are somewhat in synch with the Diocese's vision.

2. To avoid the "this is Father Jeff's way" syndrome. When your term as pastor is finished, your contribution would have a better chance of continuing.

(It amazed me at St. Barnabas how so many of the liturgical grace notes you introduced were referred to as "Father Jeff's way" rather than "what the liturgy documents" say. Well, the priests who succeeded you often said the same, so one can hardly castigate the folks.)

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This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on September 22, 2005 6:49 PM.

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