I got a solicitation from a parish that I stopped attending. I got the same thing last year and replied in the same vein. It’s pitiful that the ONLY communication I receive from the church is a plea for money this time to keep the architecture pristine. Well, it is easier to fix a building than to fix or minister to people.
Would it kill them to occasionally mail out a note that isn’t asking for money? Can’t they send a prayer or poem?
Here’s what I wrote.
Dear [Parish Committee],
It’s just sad that you sent me this solicitation for more money for yet another building project. In fact, receiving the solitication validated my decision to stop attending Old St. Pat’s because while the parish has several good points, there was a dearth of community that I’ve come to see as key to Christian living.
Two years ago I was struck by the observation that while I’d attended Old St. P’s since the 1980s, there was little besides rousing hymns and eloquent homilies. Community was lacking and the pre-mass hand shaking started to emphasize that point. A mass that provokes thought and action inspired by the gospel is good, but I can get the same words and music on the radio, the internet, on CD or in books. I don’t need to drive to Old St. P’s for it.
I realize you offer social clubs, but I have friends and am far more interested in relationships with a spiritual component from my church.
I do commend you for your social justice outreach, but the times I’ve gone to a shelter or program, I’ve found rewarding as an act of giving, but lacking in community. It’s like showing up for the Red Cross earthquake relief. There’s short term cordiality, but nothing deep.
It’s not impossible to offer community. I found it at my parish in South Pasadena. They had inter-generational as well as more targeted programs. They had weekly Bible study, which would be the first step I think you could take. It doesn’t have to be a grand, complex program, but I know you could do better.
It’s sad that in 2007 and again in 2009 I never received a reply or acknowledgement of any kind when I wrote to your pastor and to make him aware of the need that a Catholic church in Makassar, Indonesia, where I had once lived, had been burned down and was in need of money to rebuild. Is building a new addition to the masterpiece that is Old St. P’s more important than helping Catholic brothers and sisters who are persecuted?
On occasion I’ve written to the cardinal and he’s always managed to reply with carefully written letters. Yet Fr. H has never replied to any of the three letters I’ve written him. Moreover, throughout the year, the only written communication I get from Old St. P’s is a solicitation. Moody Bible has sent me monthly booklets.
So I think I’ll pass on the opportunity to donate to a new building project and I’ll pray that [Parish] decides to tackle its Great Omission, the lack of Christian community.
I left out the name of this church because too many churches fall into the same trap.