Building a new church in the Diocese of Camden


Have you read it? “Rebuilt” and/or “Tools for Rebuilding,” I mean. This past spring, books were distributed to each parish at the House of Charity Report Meeting; almost immediately the conversations began.
Catholics throughout the diocese, pastors, deacons, parish staffs, pastoral councils, finance councils and people in the pews have read one or both of the books. The books are not how-tos as much as what-ifs: what if we imagined a different way of being church, what if we were able to engage those who are not with us on Sunday? What if our “conviction that things could go better” is right? What would we do to make that happen?
The authors are very clear that this is one parish’s story. They share their triumphs and failures and growth in understanding on the journey of growing a healthy parish. Specific details will vary from parish to parish. It is the strategies for effecting change which can be translated into different parish settings. Each parish is special. Locale, ethnicity, and economics are some factors which will effect individual parish’s experience.
The response in the Church of South Jersey has been very exciting. Some parishes have read the book, some contacted the staff at Church of the Nativity in Maryland to talk, and some staffs and interested parishioners have made the trip to see things in action at the parish.
MaryAnn Exler, pastoral associate at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, tells us their pastoral and finance councils have read “Rebuilt” and the parish staff has read both books. They are looking forward to the May 1 workshop at Christ the Good Shepherd Parish, St. Isidore Church, in Vineland, because they “have lots of questions” for the authors. MaryAnn tells us they found the books “invigorating.” The parish already does some of the strategies outlined. They gained new insights reading the books and also ideas for the future. She feels the point of the books is to “get us thinking”; the staff continues to re-read and discuss the books.
Another Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL) tells us she read the book in a day and immediately contacted her counterpart at the Church of the Nativity to discuss the parish’s experience.
If you answered the question above with “no” or “what” book, don’t worry. We have just the thing for you. A great opportunity to ask and join the conversation on the following questions:
How can we “awaken the faithful” in our parishes, in our families, in our communities?
How can we “reach the lost” in our parishes, in our families, in our communities?
How can we “make church matter” in our parishes, in our families, in our communities?

What: Making Church Matter
When: Thursday, May 1
Where: St. Isidore Hall, Christ the Good Shepherd Parish at 1655 Magnolia Road in Vineland.
Time: 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Mary Lou Hughes is co-director, Faith & Family Life Formation in the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, Diocese of Camden.