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Apr 10, 2019

Why Jesus Got Fired from His Catechist Position

Mark Hart

The following is an email that was recently sent out to a certain parish staff, alerting them of the latest team update:

To Whom It May Concern:

In agreement with the clearly delineated diocesan norms for termination of employment, below are just a handful of the reasons we were forced to fire Jesus of Nazareth from our parish staff here at Our Lady of the Emptying Pews:

    • He was never in the office.
    • He was constantly leaving work to “go and pray.”
    • He never turned in a single bulletin announcement.
    • He invited all the “wrong kinds of people” into the Parish community.
    • He turned over tables at the annual Parish ministry fair.
    • He encouraged people without master’s degrees or PhDs to share, preach, and teach.
    • He refused to utilize clip art.
    • He had his “team” set up for his own farewell dinner.
    • He gave the church keys to a fisherman instead of returning them to the front desk.
    • He formed catechists and executed a parish plan without first forming a committee to investigate a strategy that might include a committee.
    • And finally—in a display that demonstrated complete lack of pastoral discretion—he was unwilling to use his special “gifts” to multiply fish and tartar sauce, and thereby prevent the Knights of Columbus from looking foolish at the Lenten Fish Fry.

As anyone can clearly see, Jesus of Nazareth was unwilling to abide by time-honored rules and expectations as set forth by people at the parish who are long-since dead, yet whose memories we celebrate with every rule (“sacred cow”) we choose to heed (feed rather than slaughter).

Joylessly yours in Christ,

Members of the Perish(ing) Staff’


Structure is the Means, not the End

Whether you find the above letter insightful or idiotic, jovial or juvenile, the truth is that modern ministry can often take on an institutionalized form that Christ never intended.

St. Peter statue in St. Peter's Square, RomeThat’s not to say that Christ did not like structure. He did, to be sure.

He didn’t just choose the twelve apostles to mirror and relive Israel’s existence in perfect fidelity. In choosing and empowering the twelve and the seventy-two, Jesus created an infrastructure that offered his truth and healing presence to the masses and in time, through apostolic succession at all Masses.

That being said, our Catholic faith is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. Our Church is designed to be dynamic and organic—living and active—not predictable and stale.

Getting into the Spirit of Evangelization

Is there really a “new” spirit of evangelization in our ministries or just the same tired approach with a new name and facelift? Are our meetings more about prayer or agendas? Are our classes interactive or strictly lecture-based? Do souls leave intellectually full but spiritually empty? Do we spend more time talking “about” Jesus than actually talking (and listening) to him?

The Church offers us an indispensible gift in her apostolic structure and visible head in Rome. Our Church also invites us to retreat into the desert (prompted by the Holy Spirit as Jesus, himself, was) and allow the Father to direct our next steps.

If your ministries have gotten stale or predictable or institutional … love your parish enough to shut down ministries or programs for a time.

Reflect.

Discern.

Try new things, and then reconvene to process what the Lord is doing and how the Holy Spirit is moving.

Jesus will still “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5) … if we let him!


This article was first published on The Great Adventure Blog in March 2014.


You May Also Like:

From Desert to Parish: The Challenge of Making Disciples

Bringing the New Evangelization to Your Parish (podcast)

Getting Involved in Parish Life (video)


About Mark Hart

Mark Hart is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books and is the author and lead presenter of T3: The Teen Timeline(a teen Bible study program), Encounter (a pre-teen Bible study program), and Altaration. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he serves as executive vice president of Life Teen International.


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  • People catechize others as they have been taught…But a new approach is needed. One in which the students can feel making up in their own mind. Or at least are able to make comments on the what has been presented. Then have them practice going out to do what they have been taught. And talk about that.To bring people to Church…they must feel like they own it. It needs to become a part of themselves. I love to put the kids in groups of four. Have them read the lesson as a table or as a choral reading. Then as a table have them discuss the questions. Then give them a “project” based on the lesson that they are to do. Giving them time to talk as a group about the lesson. To end the session we talk about the project and what they have learned. And then send them home with a small project based on that lesson. This seemed to be something they liked to do.

  • Again—We have the tools an attempt to quiet the distractions– go to the RC Catechism, Bible and Sacrements..Christ is the teacher the Holy Spirit is the animating force.. be quiet and listen…

  • At first I laughed at this. Then I remembered when I was a member of a Parish that forced a Priest from the parish for acting in a similar manner particularly this one “He invited all the “wrong kinds of people” into the Parish community”.

  • That is a great post. It reflects what is happening in our Diocese but very quietly, step by step. Suddenly I have heard words used, that to me are new to the Catholic Church, and in enough context to send me (internally) screaming to the hills. The limping back is not the easiest journey and I am still trying to get rid of the unnecessary baggage. The early exposure to the signs of what is coming, is helping me spiritually to travel to where God wants me to be and the answer (not the one I expected) to many prayers for our parish and diocese to be living, hungering and thirsting more for God.

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