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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
May 20, 2007
Is the Spirit Alive in our Midst

     Last week we spent some time reflecting on the work of the Holy Spirit in our parish. We did this by focusing on the discussion of the combined meeting of the Finance and Pastoral Councils on Monday of April 30th.  We saw that the present financial situation is less than satisfactory partially due to a decline in church attendance.  It would be less than appropriate to focus all of our attention on financial matters however.  We know that a parish does not live on money alone.  There is a strong pastoral life that cannot be ignored.  The evening’s discussion was very much alive with respect to the findings of this topic.

    In relation to our Pastoral life, it was decided that we needed to take a serious look at the present statistics of the parish.  We began by looking at the number of registered families.  According to the information on our data base, we presently have 308 registered families.  We have an average of 85 families who attend church weekly.  These are not necessarily the same families every week but rather, an average of attendance.  Also, we must realize that 85 families attend during the school year from late September to late April.  When Religious Education classes are not in session, the average number of families in attendance decreases to 60.

    Some discussion was held on the reasons for such a low percentage of weekly attendance.  An argument could be made that we do not have the room to accommodate more
than those already present.  This is not true with respect to the 6:00 pm Mass however.  There is more than enough space to accommodate many more families.  In all fairness to the parishioners of St. Paul, Father mentioned that this was a normal percentage for most parishes in the diocese.  The question that arises is: Where are all the others?  Why is it that only one third of all registered families attend Mass somewhat regularly?  Is this a matter of faith or lack thereof? Of poor Christian Formation? The result of a pervasive secular society that gives the impression that God is in his heaven and all’s well with the world? 

    In close conjunction with the small number of regular attendees at weekly liturgies, it was also brought up that the number of Baptisms have decreased over the past four years.  While we were baptizing somewhere between 35 and 40 infants and adults each year from 2000 - 2003, it was noted that the numbers have decrease tremendously over the past three years.  In the year 2004 we had only 25 Baptisms, 2005 registered 17, 2006 showed a drop to 15, and this year we will be having our second Baptism of the year this weekend.  Again, what is the reason for this drop in young families failing to bring their children to Baptism?  Or, could it be that there are no young families having babies?  Could it be that only one baby was born over the past 6 to 8 months in the entire parish? 

    As you see, there are many questions that need to be answered if we are to continue and to grow as a parish?  Next week we will be celebrating the great feast of Pentecost.  It is clear that we are in need of the Spirit among us.  Perhaps God’s Spirit is working in ways we do not yet understand.   Let us take some time each day to ask the Spirit’s help in understanding where we are to direct our focus and our energies.     (To be cont.)

                                    Lorette P. Nault