So Little Time

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

July 18, 2002

 

            So much work to do. So little time.

            That is what struck me when I was driving home today from the nursing home where I had visited a dying parishioner.

            Lots of people in need.

            When I was stopped at a traffic light my worries were made worse. I saw a van turning the corner, which had printed on its side, “Igelsia Pentecostal.”

            I felt bad.  Here was a church reaching out to our people. I know that there are probably more than a 1,000 Spanish-speaking people in our county. I have tried to reach out to them by learning Spanish and having at least part of one liturgy in Spanish. Also by having dances and Bible studies and celebrations for the Latino community. But I know that many have never heard of us. And I know that many who are going elsewhere looking for spiritual nourishment.

            There are other groups we are missing. People who are falling through the spiritual cracks.

            The people in the jail don’t get to see us. Partly because there are few Catholics there and partly because the jail does not make time for us. But Jesus said to visit the imprisoned and He did not say to check first on their religious identity.

            We have the people who are being treated for drugs. Our deacons visit them once each week.  They do a great job, but I know we need to do more for the drug addicts and alcoholics.

            Then there are the teenagers. We have a youth group. We are sponsoring a group to World Youth Day in Canada. We have a work camp every summer. Our confirmation preparation program attracts about 70 to 80 teens. But there are so many we are not reaching. So many stop coming after they are confirmed.

            The young adults are neglected too. They come by themselves. But most of our Bible studies and spiritual and social programs are targeted at the families and children. So they drift away.  It takes great persistence for the young adults to keep coming on their own to the average parish.

            Then there are the disaffected. The women who feel the church is patriarchal and male dominated. The women who are victims of abortion and the babies that need to be saved. The gays who feel rejected and hurt. The poor who feel that we cater only to the rich or upper middle class. The conservatives who feel we have abandoned the tradition and mystery of the old church. The elderly who feel that everything is geared to the kids and the young families. All of them feel slighted and to some extent all of them are right.

            There are the big issues, which we as a middle class American church hardly touch. There is starvation and an AIDS epidemic in Africa. There is the scandal of Christian division and the friction between world religions. There is the violence in the Holy Land and terrorism in many places.  The church should be helping to heal and transform.

            All I know is that I go to bed every night tired. I worry that I am failing the Lord.

            I also know that the priest cannot do it all alone. In fact he cannot do anything alone. I am blessed with companions and co-workers. I just wish that everybody could see that there is plenty to do.

            There are people to visit that I will never get to. There are groups I will never have a chance to speak to and names I will never know. I need help. Or rather the Lord needs our help. He needs us all to reach people and tell them some good news and show them they are valued.

So much to do. So little time.