Pastoral Message – November 12, 2023

Pastoral Message – November 12, 2023

Hey Y’all,

A quick question. Are you a numbers person? That’s to say, you understand and find order in numbers. Some folks love numbers. My Dad did. As a small example, he loved to keep the ledger in his checkbook neatly balanced. And he loved when the math worked out so that the  balance would end in a zero. Not that he ever took issue with a cardinal number (1-9) but he always felt 0 as the final number in a balance was just more balanced. By that thinking, my Dad would feel that $1.50 was more complete than $1.79, or a $1.54. For him it was more complete even if less money.

Well I didn’t inherit this way of thinking or feeling about numbers. I don’t think about numbers unless I can’t help it. Mathematics has never been my thing. But as the Pastor here, I’ve got to work with numbers – bank numbers, enrollment numbers, budget numbers. Plus around this time of year, every year, Mass Count numbers. See, each October every parish in the Diocese is required to submit the Mass attendance for the month of October. This is the third time I’ve submitted the Mass Count numbers. I thought I’d share the 2023 numbers with y’all this year. They’re interesting. Because in 2021, our average attendance at Sunday Masses was 1,411 folks. In 2022, the average Mass attendance was 1,487. But this year, 2023, our average Mass attendance was 1,780! Wow, we just shot up a few hundred folks – and the total ended in a 0. Maybe that zero does make a number feel more complete?!?

Now, I’m not writing this as a pat on the back. I know that 2021 and 2022 we had COVID still lurking around. And as always when interpreting numbers, there are lots of factors, either contributing or mitigating. What gives me some encouragement is the trend up! That upward trend in Mass attendance isn’t happening throughout the Diocese, nor throughout the United States. But it is quietly, gently happening here in our parish. So thanks for coming to Mass! Thanks for making a commitment to prayer and worship. Thanks for saying “Amen” to the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. That’s all very positive stuff!

And while I find encouragement in more folks coming to Mass, I also think about the impetus for Mass attendance. What has motivated more folks to come? Certainly, folks might have a spark of the Holy Spirit – a desire to come and grow in grace and relationship. We need to work to meet these holy desires. Some people might be coming because of an emptiness, a loss, a loneliness, a tragedy, a feeling of being incomplete. We need to present the Word of God, the experience of the Sacraments, and the fellowship of community as healing for these voids and hurts.  Some folks might be coming because the world is a mess, their personal world is a mess, and they experiencing despair. We need to offer both the comfort and challenge of faith, hope and charity.

So y’all, while I am happy the Mass Count is up, I’m also humbled by the mission and the work these increased numbers indicate is yet to be done. That is my work, the parish and school staff’s work, your work – really all our work together. Our Mass Count indicates we have lots of potential to influence hearts, minds and souls. So pray for Saints Simon & Jude Church and all those who come to worship with us!

Fr. Reynold

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