In the last few years parishioners (especially parents who have children preparing for sacraments) have asked: “Why do you have to change everything? Why don’t we do things the way it was done before?”

To answer that in detail would be an entire semester lecture. In brief, we probably are aware that around the world in the last century (and especially the last 50 years) the Catholic Church has not been doing very well on many accounts. This is why we had the big Vatican II Council in the 60’s. This is why Pope St. Paul VI and John Paul II and Benedict XVI pounded on the theme of evangelization. The popes and bishops and parish leaders have known for decades that we cannot continue with business as usual. 

For the last several decades there were two things happening at the same time:

#1 Back in the day, the whole Western World supported Christian ideals, and there was a strong Catholic Culture that lived the faith every day at home and at school, in the media and the marketplace; there was a tremendous support system in place. We lived in a Christian culture. It is just not like that anymore. 

#2 Even though the culture was somewhat Christian, the Catholic culture was missing the mark. There was not a lot of talk about personal holiness, about life-changing power from the Holy Spirit, about a personal relationship with Jesus, about social justice, or about as sharing the good news of Jesus.

Sacraments and much of Catholicism came to be understood almost like superstition—we show up, say what we are supposed to say, and BINGO! God gives us a sacrament! To me, it started to feel like an assembly line. One-size fits all. There was very little conversation about IF anyone even believed in Jesus. Most of the time, no one really expected anything to change. That is nothing like what Catholicism actually teaches or what it is supposed to be.

So under the guidance of our Bishop and Fr. Chas, mostly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are focusing on what is called the Domestic Church—the little church of the family—the parents are the priests by virtue of their baptism, the church building is the home, in a sense the altar is the dining room table.

The church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children. And that includes teaching religion. That might sound obvious. Or it might sound shocking. Parents are the #1 religion teachers. I started to realize a few years ago: no one told the parents this.

The general response we hear is: “I don’t know enough to teach them religion—that’s why we send them to Catholic School or Religious Ed…” No, no, no… somehow we have turned this all around. Our Jewish friends have known for 4,000 years that the faith gets passed on primarily through the family. The religious school HELPS. Research shows clearly: if we want the next generation to stay in the Church and be vibrant Catholics, alive with the faith, the most important piece that has to be in place is a Domestic Church—a family that goes to mass, talks about their faith, prays together, and lives this every day. 

In the Domestic Church the Mass is the class. And so, we shifted everything around to be connected to Sunday Mass. 

We invite the entire Parish to enter deeply into this Catholic experience—and most especially our young families preparing for First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

We invite them to jump in deep. Seek us out. Ask questions. Participate in everything we offer that you possibly can. 

If you’re not sure—you kinda’ want this—but it sounds like a huge time commitment and a little too different: we invite you to put a toe in. Try it. Enter in the shallow waters at the kiddy pool. 

And if you know you don’t want this, it’s just too different and little weird….that’s okay. We cannot force someone to be a disciple of Jesus. That never works. It has to be a free choice. We are not chasing down people to be compliant with a check list, we are offering to walk with our families. We will invite, invite, invite… we will not push and pull.

Jesus doesn’t ask very much from people who don’t know him. If someone has never encountered him, and doesn’t know his voice, he is gentle and merciful and inviting. 

But from disciples, followers, his students, those who know they have been rescued—-he does ask a lot. It is a high call. It is a commitment. It is a sacrifice.

He wants to be the very center of family life, the heart of the Domestic Church.