WHAT *IS* THIS: Ruining The Parish Paradigm

Take a moment to read the following letter. I know that your astonishment and outrage will mirror my own. My response follows.

Dear Parishioners, Friends and Visitors:

I hope that Saint Philip Neri Church is for all of you what it is to so many, a haven of peace, a port of refuge from the care and anxieties of life, and a home where your inner strength is renewed by the grace of God. If you attend here on a regular basis, have you thought of enrolling in the parish? By registering, you establish a clear claim upon our staff. You forge and formalize a bond between us. Whenever you need a letter of any kind, perhaps a recommendation, a record of your contributions, or a letter for immigration purposes, or when it is time to arrange a sacrament or a special liturgy, all goes smoothly when you are already registered. Having your information on file helps us in turn to advertise programs and activities, to raise funds, (how is that for honesty?), and to plan for the future. Registering is easy. Just click on the right link . And while you are at it, if you are not already known to us personally, why not make a point of introducing yourself to one of the priests? Are you interested in knowing ways in which you might volunteer some time? Simply click on the right link for volunteers.

God bless you and keep you.

Monsignor Kevin O’Brian


The Catholic Church has thrived over the past two thousand years using the same formula. We have allowed our people to show up at Mass every week, and those people give their money for goods and services we provide. It is a nearly flawless formula! The brilliance is that those people are giving money for our services and they rarely use them! We pay people (sometimes) essentially to do nothing! SHEER BRILLIANCE! How dare someone upset the order we have established! Where does this “Monsignor” get the gall!

I, for one, love this give and take in parish life. It is the perfect “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I don’t ask what the parishes do with my money, and the parishes take the money without telling anyone where it goes. The lack of accountability has allowed people to be employed, unquestioningly, for decades now. Why do we, as parishioners, want a Church that advertises its programming anyway?  Why would we even WANT to be welcomed to those programs?!? As long as I don’t know that these events exist, I won’t feel bad about not going. And, if Church isn’t about letting me feel good, then I’m not sure why I would go!

This pastor is completely ruining that for which we have worked so hard! This parish is actually trying to bring in new people. Who cares about new people? The reason our parishes are so great are all the people who have been there for the past fifty years. We don’t need new parishioners. We need to stick with what works, and that’s with those who know the show. The status quo has kept us going just fine for the past two thousand years, and it will continue to work for the next two thousand!

Well, here’s to you “Monsignor O’Brian”! You’re well on your way to ruining up a good thing. Bringing in new people, advertising your programs, helping people… All you’re doing is opening yourself up to more work: ultimately more annoyances and distractions. I’m certain it’s not too late to pull back this letter. Really, do us all a favor and mitigate the damage you’ve already done. If we all stick with what everyone expects of us, we won’t have to worry about disappointing anyone!