Whether technology or parish life, change is never easy

| September 21, 2010 | 2 Comments

Kay was “old school” before you ever heard the phrase. In the 40 years and four cities that I’ve worked at newspapers — both dailies and Catholic papers — Kay was the absolute best proofreader I ever saw.

She knew how to spell every word in the English language, she double-checked the spelling of every name, and she added columns of numbers both up and down to make sure reporters’ math added up.

But Kay loved her typewriter.

When the Catholic Bulletin was switching to a new, computerized publishing system, she threatened to chain her typewriter to a radiator in the newsroom.

Like many of us, Kay was anxious about the coming change. She ­wasn’t so sure this new way of doing things was going to work.

To live means to change

Change is hard.

It’s hard for lots of us.

But we humans can deal with change.

We do it all the time.

Disasters happen — natural ones or those of our own making — and we handle them.

Life happens — situations not of our making — and we adapt, we cope and we go on.

We change jobs, we change careers.

We move to different homes, different cities, even different countries.

Can you imagine how difficult it is to emigrate to another country? Yet people do it, moving to places where they don’t know where they are going, don’t know the language, don’t have family or friends.

Compared to making that kind of change, learning new technologies seems relatively easy.

Bonded by love

In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, we’re about to begin a period of unprecedented change in parish life, change that’s going to impact Catholics across all our 12 counties.

It’ll make little difference that parish and school mergers, consolidations and closings are going to be based in solid reasoning; plain and simple, nobody would choose to have their parish situation change, and especially not have their parish close or merge with another. The reason is simple, too: We Catholics love our parishes.

So many of the high points of our lives and our family memories are tied to weddings, baptisms, first Communions and even funerals at our parish.

Parishes are where our friendships often start.

The common ground of our faith, the acts of praying together as a community, the taking the Eucha­rist into our hearts together, the working together on any number of projects, acts of kindness and advocacy for the common good — it all bonds the people of a parish in ways that few other things can.

As a result, we commit goodly portions of our resources to support our parishes, to build and maintain our churches, schools and parish buildings.

We forego the weekend at the lake to work at the parish festival. In­stead of watching Monday Night Football we add our talents, experience and elbow grease to parish councils and committees and scores of ministries that make Jesus come alive in our time. Instead of bowling Wednesday evenings we teach children the Beatitudes and prepare them to receive the sacraments.

And it’s all tied to our parish, or better, my parish.

Which is why it’s so difficult to let go.

We’ll grieve and move on

Everyone who has been involved in the archdiocesan strategic planning process for parishes and schools knows how much we love our parishes.

Still, to be good stewards of our resources, we have to change the way we’ve come to know and love our parishes.

Parish life will change. That’s going to be difficult. But we can adapt. We can make the best of it. And the more effort we put into making the new situation work the better we’re going to end up loving our new parish arrangement, whatever that ends up being.

I don’t think Kay ever exactly fell in love with that electronic box with the cathode ray tube screen, but she learned to use it, to get the job done, and the world didn’t come to an end.

She grieved, and she moved on.

We will, too.

Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit.

Category: Editorials, Spotlight

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  • Jlynn

    This article should be handed to every single parishioner at every single parish every single weekend for the rest of the year.

    People feel ailenated when they feel they aren't heard. Peple feel ailenated when one or two people step forward and try to be the "saviour" of a parish at any cost.

    A parish is not 'I' it is 'We'.

    As these plans unfold people will respond in a variety of ways. It is up to each of us to be compassionate and to listen to one another. My emotions may not be yours or vice versa, but all are important.