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Scud Missile Alert!

posted Feb 1, 2014, 12:49 PM by Pastor SPX
One of the goals of our Restore! plan for parish renewal is to move parishioners from a "consumer Catholic" mentality (I come to get, not to give) to true discipleship; one who makes Christ and faith the center of his/her life. At St. Pius we encounter consumer Catholicism in many ways, but it becomes especially noticeable when it comes to sacraments.  Folks who are not members or are former members approach us regularly requesting baptisms, weddings, funerals, sponsor forms, etc.  Funerals can be especially challenging for us on many levels.   In their book Tools for Rebuilding (the follow up to their best seller Rebuilt), Fr. White and Tom Corcoran devote a chapter to funerals, which they refer to as "the scud missiles of the parish".  Now, let me begin by saying the parish staff and I consider it a great honor to host funerals for our parishioners.  Our goal is for our funerals to be true celebrations of the lives of dedicated disciples.  And we prepare for them while continuing to do everything else that occurs in the daily life of our parish (as I write this column my associate and I just celebrated four funerals in the past five days!) We want the family to be able to show up and experience a well planned, comforting and beautiful funeral liturgy. But we regularly receive requests for funerals for non-members or those who for many years have not been members our parish or any parish.    These are the scud missiles. These calls come without warning and can reek havoc depending on how we respond.  But because of the time and effort required to give our members the best we can at a time of death, we simply cannot do this for non members. I estimate that one full day of the week is given for every funeral (consider the time meeting with family, lining up liturgical ministers, homily prep, viewing, Mass, and interment). The myth is that if a parish pulls out all the stops and does funerals for non-members that it will "bring them back to church". In my 28 years as a priest I have seen this happen only one time. I wish a funeral had this power in the life of someone who is not practicing, but it doesn't. Folks choose to not come to church for many reasons. The funeral of a loved one does not change that.  Why am I telling you this?  Partly for educational purposes, but also because you may know someone who has been told, "Sorry, we can't".  I know that no one wants to hear the word "no" when it comes to a sacrament. And a Catholic funeral is a sacrament; meant to be an expression of the committed faith life of the deceased.  Our Restore! plan aims to lead folks from a consumer mentality to true discipleship. It's a solid plan to bring people to Christ and the Kingdom. The goal of which is, ultimately, eternal life with the Lord.