A Request for Ideas and Suggestions — By Fr. Rich, OP

FrRichWebLast weekend, May 13/14 was a busy time for the Newman Center. On campus, graduations were celebrated for a good number of our students. Bishop Gaydos celebrated Confirmation with our high school students and several of our adult members. The weekend Masses saw carnations distributed for the moms in our community. Our Masses were filled with families, visitors, alumni, as only an end of the school year can be. The energy and excitement, the post-Eucharist conversations in the Gathering Space, little people running the circuit; it was great to experience.

It was all in marked contrast to the response to “Dream Big.” The invitation has been “on the table” in the Gathering Space throughout the month of May. It has been an opportunity to share what you see, desire, expect and wish for, when it comes to how the Newman Center can be even more dynamic, even more engaged, even more responsive to its members. At this writing, there have been less than 20 ideas offered. We have approximately 800 families registered. I am sorely chagrined.

I do want to hear what the members of our community have to share, and I am glad that those who have written have offered their concerns and ideas. Someone suggested that the dearth of responses means that our community members are happy with our ministries, educational or spiritual opportunities, our liturgies, our facility. Maybe.

Regardless of how this particular campaign unfolds and concludes, the questions driving it are, or should be, compelling. They are foundational to how we approach our programs, our liturgies, our educational opportunities; the direction our faith community should consider. These questions surface when we discuss financial issues and the creation of our annual budget.

The standard for parish financial support is between 25% and 33% of registered members; I wonder if the same percentage applies for engagement with parish activities.

The opening lines of the Mission Statement for our parish read, “We are called to be a living church; a Catholic faith community on fire with the love of Jesus Christ; passionate about what happens to individuals, disturbed by injustice, impatient for the kingdom of God.” At ministry meetings lately, many of our faithful, hard-working participants and volunteers who responded to that challenge are sharing their weariness.

So, with a week left, I reiterate the questions offered to each of us: “How would you like to see us better fulfill our mission?  What would you like to see happen at Newman?” I invite you once more to take advantage of this opportunity to share what you see, desire, expect, and wish for, when it comes to the St. Thomas More Newman Center. I do believe that we can be even more dynamic, even more engaged, even more responsive to each of you.

I do indeed seek information and suggestions, and I will read each one that is submitted. Frankly, not every wish or suggestion will be fulfilled. I will endeavor to answer frankly and directly when an answer is appropriate.

This summer will be one of conversation, planning, preparation for the school year to come. We are a dynamic, passionate community, driven by faith in the Triune God, supported by our love and respect for each other, fed with the hope that we carrying out our mission to bring God to our campus and our community.