Sunday, March 3, 2024 – The Third Sunday of Lent
The Beacons Of Light process here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has come under greater scrutiny and media coverage recently with the announcement of the closing of a number of Catholic schools and rumors of upcoming parish closings. Appeals being made to Rome to preserve parishes and schools from closing are being heard. These developments are not foreign to me since I experienced similar circumstances and events during the Vibrant Parish Life process in the Diocese of Cleveland roughly fifteen years ago. The Cleveland process was messy and controversial as we are now addressing here in Cincinnati. It makes clear how important one’s own church, school, priest, mass is to the Catholic individual.
As the difficult conversations, deliberations and decisions are being made about how the Archdiocese will look in years to come, I must admit, things do need to change. We do not have the priest personnel to maintain past and current church structures. The active Catholic population has also been shrinking. And church doctrine, sometimes correctly and sometimes questionably, has “handcuffed” the church from maintaining the status quote. Close to home for me, as I have recently written, our own Marianist religious order, like many other religious congregations is facing the same hard decisions determining what longstanding structures and institutions we can proceed into the future with as we have fewer and older religious. Yes, the times are tough and challenging for all the faithful.
As we move into an uncertain future, an important principle of Marianist education comes into play and is very relevant for today’s situation. We, in the Marianist tradition speak about to “Educate for adaptation and change.” Allow me to share some important beliefs from our Marianist education documents to further explain this and can be applied to our challenging times.
“New times call for new methods,” Blessed Chaminade said. The Marianist school faces the future calmly, balancing acceptance and adaptation. We accept change in faith, at the same time responding through strategic planning based on Marianist pedagogy and Christian wisdom. Our intention is not acquiescence to the future but the hope-filled shaping of it. We encourage the same attitude in our students, educating them to be bearers of the best of our tradition, and to meet change actively with discernment and reflection. We view the signs of our times in faith, prayerfully open to their possibilities.
In Mary’s fiat, we see her openness to the signs of her times, her “yes” to the mystery of the future. In her counsel at Cana to “Do whatever he tells
you, “we hear Mary urging us today to be equally available to God’s call.
Again, Father Chaminade calls us to have the faith and belief of Mary, a woman of faith and one who had to walk in faith through the joys and struggles of her son, Jesus, and was present with the apostles as they were often fearful and had their own doubts. Mary, lead us by your faith today and always—Amen!!!