Stone Cathedral or a Towering Sequoia?
Which is your parish more like - a stone cathedral or a towering sequoia? Before you answer, recall that even the greatest of the cathedrals, neither stood as tall, nor lasted as long as the redwood giants. Some sequoias, still standing today, pre-date Christ. These mighty trees are living testimony to the importance of cooperation. Sequoias are even more incredible when one considers their height and the forces of nature that these trees have withstood century after century. While most trees rely on a single tap root that anchors it deep in the earth to resist the buffets of wind and weather, the sequoia does not. And yet it is the sequoia that has proven the most successful, standing taller and living longer than any tree or cathedral. Their strength is in their roots.
The genius of a sequoia is attributed to its interconnected root system. That is the secret of their towering height and incredible longevity. These members of the cypress family are unique in that they literally hold each other up. The sequoia lives as a cooperative community. This is a vital lesson for vibrant Catholic parish life. Cooperative purpose has been the strength of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries. We are a communion of communities, who share a united identity and a cooperative destiny.
The days of parochialism are over. There are many ways that parishes can benefit from cooperative efforts. Examples of ways that parishes have already benefited through mutual cooperation include:
- Saving on expenses (e.g. program supplies, subscriptions and quantity purchases)
- Sharing part-time staffing
- Scheduling Mass and holy day events
- Large scale faith formation events
- Jointly sponsored RCIA
- Sponsoring joint reconciliation and devotions
- Shared hospital chaplaincy coverage
- Enrichment for liturgy or faith formation leaders
- Outreach/evangelization efforts
- Care for the poor (building projects, community dining room, pantry or clothes closets)
- Occasional pulpit exchanges
- Idea sharing between liturgy committees
- Marriage preparation programs
- Large or extensive programs that lend themselves to pooling resources (e.g. Lenten speaker series, JustFAITH, Come and See, or a youth rally)
Consider practical suggestions for greater cooperation today...
Sharing Best Practices - Toward Parish Cooperation
Leadership in Multi-site or Parish Clusters