Concluding reflections and discussion on ‘A Church on the Move’

This week’s column concludes this year’s reflections and our discussion of Joe Paprocki’s book “A Church on the Move.”

In many ways, Paprocki’s “52 ways to get in motion” may seem overwhelming, perhaps unrealistic, but behind them all is an important insight. Paprocki puts it this way: “It’s time for us to become a church on the move, inspired by God’s triumph over sin and death through the resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.”

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If you would bear with me, I would like to conclude these thoughts with a parable, which goes like this:

 There was once a traditional Catholic family consisting of a husband, wife and six children. For all intents and purposes, they were a perfect Catholic family. They attended church faithfully, sent their children to Catholic schools and were in-volv-ed in various parish activities.

When the children grew up, one married a person who was not Christian, another got in trouble with the law and spent time in prison, and a third announced that she was gay and planned to marry her partner. The parents barely tolerated the first, shunned the second and rejected the third.

The oldest child, who was single and lived with the parents, generally agreed with his parents’ attitude. Two of the younger children urged their parents to be more open and accepting but were told that they could not change what they believed was right.

Eventually, the family stopped seeing each other altogether, because it was just too painful and only added to the hard feelings. The parents spent the better part of their senior years alone, estranged from all of their adult children except for the oldest who continued to live with and care for them.

In the end, no one ever knew if they had regrets about their commitment to being perfect Catholic parents.

This is a parable about family, but in a broader sense also about church, and like Joe’s book, it raises important questions:

Can we imagine being parents who, in the face of the tension between “the ways things should be” and “the way things are,” choose accompaniment over rejection, patience over perfection and mercy over justice?

Do we want to be a church “on the move,” as Paprocki puts it, or a community resigned to becoming “a smaller, purer church” living in isolation from so many of our sons and daughters?

Do we want to be an “Easter People” who believe in the reality of the incarnation and the resurrection, or a church gripped by the fear that much of creation and most of the people in it will end in destruction?

When Jesus left the tomb, the Gospel says, he went first into Galilee, by all accounts a place on the margins of Jewish and Roman society. I think the question is, will we have to faith to follow him?

What do you think?

Learn More

Find a summary of Joe Paprocki’s 52 suggestions for a church on the move on our Facebook page at: facebook.com/FaithLeadersCorner/.

Pray and Reflect

Use one or more of the following questions for personal reflection, group discussion or private journaling:

  • On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) rate how important you think it is for the church to become “a church on the move.” How would you have rated this five years ago?
  • Where or how do you see a need for “a church on the move”? In what ways do you think this will be challenging for yourself or others? Where and when do you experience a tension between “the way things are supposed to be” and “the way things are.” How do you respond to these tensions? How do you think the church should respond to these tensions?
  • I think “a church on the move” means ….

 Join the Conversation

Add your comments to this week’s discussion at facebook.com/FaithLeadersCorner/.

Dave Cushing is director of adult faith formation for the Catholic parishes in Waterloo. The Disciple’s Corner is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Office of Faith Formation and Education and is funded through the Archdiocesan Educational Development Board. It is designed to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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