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
Consider practical suggestions for greater cooperation today...
Sharing Best Practices - Toward Parish Cooperation
Leadership in Multi-site or Parish Clusters
The Office for Evangelization and Parish Life provides facilitation, consultation and
skill workshops for parishes interested in the collaborative advantage. There is no cost for this service.
Workshops, Resources and Consultation Support
- Inter-Parish Cooperation - Best Practices:
balancing the greater good with making ministry easier, learning from
each other, developing strategies for action (for parish staff and
ministry leaders). tapping the power in choice, the purpose of parish
the role of imagination
- Parish Vitality or Mere Viability - The Choice is Ours: the difference between vitality and viability, signs of a growing church, the secret of a mission-driven parish
- Spirituality for Change: uncovering the
paschal rhythm in change, packing for the journey, a pillar of fire and a
column of smoke (parish staff, transition team and pastoral council)
- Growing an Engaged Church: learn what the latest research tells us about why people come and stay,
explore ways to engage the core parishioners in response to emerging
needs and newcomers (for parish staff, pastoral council and ministry
- Transitioning and Merging Parishes: The role of
a transition team, faith sharing process for newly merged parishes,
panel discussion with a successful parish, answers to most frequently
asked questions about procedures, staffing and facilities, etc. (for
parish staff and ministry leaders).
Parish vitality does not just happen. It is the result of strategic
choices. If you are interested in the cooperative advantage, we are at your service.
795 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14203-1250