Today we all make our commitments of Stewardship (Time, Talent, Treasure, and Tradition) during Mass. Thank you for your generosity to the community of St. Anne's. I hope the brochure that was sent to you was helpful in your discernment process. Next week, we will repeat this process, but in an abbreviated form for those who were gone this weekend or were not yet ready to make a commitment this weekend.
I have noticed an amazing outpouring of parishioners getting involved in many aspects of the parish which warms my heart. The time and talent that people have given over the years has been truly inspirational. I sure love being your pastor and hope that I will be able to grow even more with you in the years to come.
In my homily last week, I felt that I didn't explain as much as I had hoped regarding our sharing of our Traditions. The homily was long enough, eh? So, if I could encourage you to ponder on this, please consider sharing the greatest tradition we have been given: our Mass! Maybe you know someone who is Catholic and has been away for a while. A recent study done by the Pew Research Center (pewforum.org) has shown a decrease in people who affiliate with church (-5% in Protestant Churches and -1% in Catholic Churches) and and large (+4.3%) increase to make up 20% of our population of people who believe in God, but not in any religion. These are called "unaffiliated." I wonder how many of these "unaffiliated" were Catholics at one time. While the percentage of Catholics have seen a smaller down-turn than other traditions since 2007, -1% is actually a large number of people, and I'll bet you know a few yourself.
So, we have to be aware of the issue that there are a lot of fallen away Catholics who have possibly disassociated themselves from any church connection. This is a problem that we need to take seriously. This year, Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a Year of Faith where we need to concentrate on what is called a "New Evangelization." Evangelization is something that we Catholics have a hard time with, no? But, if we don't proclaim our faith in the public square or share our faith with the people closest to us, then we should not be too surprised to see how secular or unchurched we have become as a society. Evangelization doesn't need to be hard. But, it must begin with ourselves. What do we believe and how does our life and words show it? What example do we make in our work?
St. Anne's, as I mentioned earlier, is an amazing community with a wealth of faith and love. We have something great to share and proclaim. Do not be afraid. Seek out someone you know who has been away from Mass or church in general. Let them know of the Good News of Jesus found here at St. Anne's. Encourage them to connect with a Bible Study, or Welcome Home Catholics program, or simply to join you at Mass the next time you go. It doesn't have to be difficult. Remember that we have all been called to go out and proclaim the Good News of Jesus!
Fr. William Holtzinger