Happy Veterans Day! Our gratitude goes out to all veterans in our community: veterans of all the wars and conflicts in living memory, and those who helped preserve the peace in times of tension and conflict. Our gratitude cannot remain just a pleasant feeling but must be translated into concrete actions of support, especially for those physically, psychologically or emotionally wounded in the many conflicts of this century. Congratulations to you all! Thank you! Happy Veterans Day!
This coming week I will be at St Paul’s College in Washington, D.C. for the annual Paulist Pastors/Superiors meeting. This is a chance for the “middle management” of the Paulists to gather and get some updating. Last year we had an interesting presentation on our legal and moral responsibilities as managers for the use of parish and institutional internet and websites. We managers can be held responsible for illegal or inappropriate use of the internet in our organizations (parishes) if we have not stated that such use is not permitted. It seems like a no-brainer, but in this litigious society such is the case. The result was the inclusion of an “internet use policy” in our parish personnel handbook, which each employee signed. It is just part of all the wonderful aspects of being a modern pastor!
This year the presentation at the Pastors’ meeting will be by Dr. Marti Jewell, an assistant professor of theology in the School of Ministry at the University of Dallas. Her presentation will focus on reaching out to those who have left the Church and even more especially to those under 30 years of age. This is a big and growing problem in the United States. I hope I come back with some great suggestions to share with you. In this Year of Faith, with its theme “The Door of Faith is Always Open,” unfortunately the door swings both ways. Not only is the Door of Faith open to welcome everyone, too often it is open for people to leave the Church. In this country, for every person we bring into the Church through the RCIA, four others remove themselves. The most effective type of “New Evangelization” we could devise would be to stop loosing so many adherents.
Next weekend Austin hosts the first of the Formula One races to be held here. As I am sure you have heard, we are expecting MANY visitors to our city for this event, something like 300,000! I am avoiding the crowd by not attempting to fly back into Austin on the weekend after my meeting in D.C., but will stop to visit my family in St. Louis, Missouri and then return to Austin on Monday as the crowds are leaving. However, for all of you I pray that you will have an easy time coming to church on Saturday or Sunday. Avoid downtown! Our garage will of course be open and available, so parking should not be any problem, and we are just far enough from downtown to avoid street closures and the brunt of the traffic. Therefore I encourage you to not be scared away from church next weekend.