What Makes Mission?

What Makes Mission?

Readers may appreciate this recent post by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, in which he offers an even-handed assessment of the trend of restructuring dioceses: how we got here, and what problems the restructuring strategies are meant to solve.

Fr. Longenecker takes the frequently-used “maintenance vs. mission” language so often employed, extracting the aspects about which most Catholics can agree.

This is also no abstraction for Longenecker; he’s a convert to the Catholic Faith and has his personal experience to rely upon.

However, he wraps up his article with a crucial summation of one of the main problems: these restructuring plans often fail to consider the question of what has been working successfully, and they run the risk of mowing down those patches of growth that are the seeds of hope, undoing good work already done and blocking strategies that are bearing fruit:

The question our church leaders need to ask is, “What is working? Where is the growth in the church? What do people respond to with joy and enthusiasm?” also, “What is not working? Where is the church dying? Why is it dying?”

I’m no statistician, but I have a hunch that when these questions are asked they will find that it is the more traditional parishes that are thriving. It is the more traditional religious orders that are full of young monks, nuns and brothers, and that the tired trendy religion of the 1960s and 70s is long past its sell by date. I realize my own bias influences my conclusions, but I’m not the only one recognizing what is happening.

To sum up, if maintenance is the main objective, then it will fail. The leaders will not be managing maintenance. They’ll be managing decline and eventual death. Why is that? To consider it in business terms, we have stopped delivering our main product. We have the Catholic faith, but we have watered it down with American Protestantism and the great modern antiChrist religion: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This is catastrophic. It’s like a steakhouse serving veggie burgers. No wonder folks are leaving.

The answer, instead is mission–not gimmicky evangelization techniques or hip hop masses to “attract the young” but families and parishes that are built first and foremost from the knees up–in other words–as communities of prayer and worship. From that authentic life of prayer a new wave of missionary effort could come forth. It is no mistake that the greatest waves of missionary effort were undertaken in the seventh-twelfth centuries by the Benedictine monks. They evangelized by going out and establishing centers of prayer, work and study. From their balanced lives of beauty and truth the world was converted.

Check out Fr. Longenecker’s post & let us know what you think. Have you seen growth & success in your parish? To what do you attribute that growth?

50 Replies to “What Makes Mission?”

  1. As the old year comes to an end and we prepare for 2022, from my perspective the diocese has lived this year from beginning to end shrouded in darkness, lies, questionable financial allocations, new financial categories added when reality does not match the narrative.

    It should be apparent to all by now at the Uniting in Heart process (even the UiH name was used from an old plan to confuse the people) is a process spearheaded by one priest frustrated that his agenda could not gain traction in this diocese.

    And so, with a paralyzed leader who refused to make decisions, the priest took the “bull by the horns” and forced this revolutionary “change“ known as UiH and claimed it was of the Holy Spirit of God.

    As we end this year, let’s remember with holy fear and reverence that we dare not invoke the name of the Holy Spirit to advance our own prideful agendas. If we do, we risk the collapse of everything.

    The collapse has already begun. Parishioner needs throughout the diocese are not being met. People are told they have to bear with and put up with and that help is coming, and yet nothing could be further from the truth.

    Clergy are exhausted, and isolated, feel coerced and used and hear from brother priests who are present when their names are taken in vain by the leadership. Does the leadership really think a demand for confidentiality at meetings means not alerting priests that they are being criticized and judged by name by the leadership?

    This is the reality of Uniting in Heart. If this is what you want for your diocese, let your Bishop know.

    If this is not what you want for your diocese let your Bishop know.

    But know this… In the end it won’t be the bishop making the decisions, making the hard calls, offering any hope to his priests or his flock. It will be someone behind the scenes, whose stated goal is that we all be “the same.“

    B There it is, Uniting in Heart 2021. Let the countdown for its deconstruction begin afresh in 2022.

    1. Every year that passes brings this silly vanity project closer to its inevitable destructive end. And it can’t come soon enough. The corrupting influence of money is so obvious. The sense of the faithful is being deliberately ignored. Clericalism and the raw abuse of power is all the leadership has left as the money-flow wanes. Vocations are tanking and looking elsewhere. The faithful are tithing elsewhere. Heck, many parishioners are now frequenting the sacraments elsewhere. By all the metrics that matter, Uniting in Heart has been a disaster. It’s all so sad because all of it was avoidable. This was a flourishing diocese nurtured by many excellent and holy priests for many years. But these men aren’t super-human. I don’t blame them at all for the largely defensive posture they’ve been forced to take at the hands of the leadership in order to endure the current storm and still save souls where they can. I only pray that their experience of an abusive and petty leadership doesn’t keep them on defense forever, especially if our next bishop actually has a shepherd’s heart and ushers in the change the faithful only dream about now.

      We’ve been witnessing what happens when a shepherd neglects his flock: Chaos, destruction, and loss. Pending some supernatural intervention, unless our leadership has a conversion of heart, it’s pretty easy to predict what 2022 will bring to our local church: More losses. So pray for their conversions. Their time is rapidly drawing to a close. It would be a tragedy for it to end in bitterness, anger, and debilitating conceit. But, as with all things, God’s will be done in Christ Jesus. May His name be praised and may He be glorified no matter what happens.

    2. Amen! Thank you so much for writing this. It is heartbreaking to look at what has happened to our diocese. I feel so sorry for our good priests who are trying to work under this horrible plan. It must be demoralizing and stressful. I feel that way myself, and I do not carry their serious responsibilities.

  2. People are allergic to change.
    Embrace them.
    Pray for them.
    (My former pastor)

    Disclaimer: I’m prolife, conservative, been sitting in the same pew for over 20 years.

    1. People are allergic to senseless change being blamed on the Holy Spirit.

      People are allergic to having all their money sucked away to pay for a dead-end retreat center.

      People are allergic to their priests being mistreated by a corporate machine.

      Come Holy Spirit! Renew the face of the earth!

    2. Ah, yet another UIH troll fouling cyberspace with more steaming piles of insipid, sanctimonious schlock. What a stupid, insulting remark “allergic to change” is. Embrace this: Your former pastor should skip out of the Uniting in Indoctrination formation meetings and attend some good-manners courses. Note to troll: If you’re praying for me to daily avoid sin and abandon everything to Divine Providence, then I thank you. I will do the same for you. If, however, you’re praying that I will beat my “allergy to change” and come to realize how very wrong I’ve been to even entertain the thought that something is not quite right in this diocese and that Uniting in Heart isn’t the coolest thing ever, then spare me your prayers dripping with contempt. I have no use for them.

      Disclaimer: I’m a human being who just wants to get to Heaven and am so tired of my own church putting up obstacles for me to get there.

  3. In searching for something via Google the other day, an interesting link popped up, but I didn’t have time to follow it to read: Maintenance or Mission, by Brian (? I don’t remember his full name) subtitle was regarding an Australian protestant (Presbyterian or Anglican??) Church. The date of publication 1963 or 1962! There was also a note about University of Michigan and a female name on the same link.
    So, all this “New things” may simply be old stuff after all. Just now, as I tried again to search for it, yet another interesting link appeared. I’m a bit old for digging deeper, but if the Red Wolf/Wolves want to research, here’s that link: Mission or maintenance : a study in new pastoral structures / Michael M. Winter
    by Winter, Michael M. (Michael Morgan)
    London : Darton, Longman and Todd, 1973
    The first article/book was listed in some Australian bibliography of published works..

    1. Our diocese is currently being ruined by this schlock, albeit under a different moniker (Uniting in Heart); but it’s all the same corporate decline-management planning strategies dressed in post-Vatican 2 feel-good church-speak. They inspire no one of good will, alienate the faithful, and make a mockery of the sacrifices our Catholic forebears (including innumerable saints) endured over the centuries to bring us the faith. But what do I know. I’m not a “professional Catholic”. I have no church degree. I don’t have a blog. I don’t work for a diocesan consulting firm. I’ve not been invited to the right cocktail parties. I don’t travel the professional Catholic speaking circuit. I’ve published nothing. I don’t have an online merchandise store. I’m not trending and have no likes. I have no bishop endorsements. In fact, the bishops don’t even know who I am and probably don’t care. And I’m fine with all of this. I don’t want any of it.

      I just want to get to Heaven. And the people ruining my church are making it harder for me and the people I love to get there. I take that personally. That is why I resist. And that is why I fight.

  4. Can someone tell us what goes on at these priest formation meetings that happen once a month? Does everyone go? Our parish gets no information about what is going on in our “pastorate” and we get the same story from out friends in other “pastorates.” What are the priests being formed in?

    1. I think if you replace the word “formed” with “being bored out of your mind” you’re getting closer to the mark. I have a feeling being forced to attend a preparation meeting for the Synodal Synod on Synodalacious Synodalization would be preferable. Either way, it’s a safe bet these meetings will never contain the following topics: Salvation of souls, cultivating personal holiness, fostering supportive priestly fraternal communities, reverent liturgies, parish devotional life & culture, spiritual warfare. You know, the things that actually matter….

  5. The Diocese is currently engaging their outside consultants on the question of further consolidation of parish employees in the Lafayette parishes. They will eliminate a few employees’ positions and consolidate it into one operations director for multiple parishes. The goal is to allow Padre Ted to have more direct control and interference in parish operations, especially the finances. Please write to the Bishop and tell him we are opposed to this move and that if he does it we will protest.

    1. To contact the Bishop’s office:
      Mailing Address:
      PO Box 260
      Lafayette, IN 47902-0260

      Shipping Address:
      610 Lingle Avenue
      Lafayette, IN 47901-1740

      (765) 742-0275
      (800) 942-2397
      Fax: (765) 742-7513

      You may contact the Bishop’s Office at the address above. If you wish a response from the bishop himself, please include your name, telephone number, and postal mailing address.

      For matters of a sensitive nature, please do not use e-mail. Please correspond by post. Direct your letter to his attention at the mailing address listed above. Please be sure to include your name, complete address, and phone number so that he will have the opportunity to respond. Thank you.

      1. In answer to both your questions: To discover the truth of a thing, one must first have some measurable curiosity and/or concern for that thing. Our bishop lacks both.

    2. Worse yet this Lafayette “reorg” is being led by the same deacon administrator who brought us Realm and Uniting in Heart. Realm which we’ve spent how much money and thousands of hours on is now being pulled out and replaced – it has been a complete flop that does not work. If the diocese wants to save money and cuts jobs perhaps rather than merging parish offices, they could start by cutting this deacon administrator, who works remotely from Tennessee, out of the picture.

      1. We need some transparency. Who are these people, this deacon, and why are they being protected when it’s our money that is being used for these fiascos? They are stealing from us. Another CMA-formerly Fruitful Harvest is about to be forced upon us. My parish didn’t meet their goal. We will probably will never meet the goal again because of we feel so removed from our own pastor who tells us nothing. In the meantime, this reorganization and bleeding the parishes of money continues in the shadows. It is theft. There are so many other ways to give our tithe that does not involve the diocese. And that is what we are going to do. Sorry Bishop Doherty. You need to wake up and save this diocese.

        1. Deacon Meskell who used to be at Blessed Sacrament in West Lafayette with Fr. Ted Dudzinski is leading the merging of the Lafayette and West Lafayette parishes. He now lives in Knoxville Tennessee and is a Deacon in that Diocese but still works for Fr. Dudzinski in the Bishop’s office.

  6. I know what makes mission, but only now, because of the super duper special edition of The Catholic Pravda, which was delivered to my home yesterday: the St. Joseph Retreat Center.

    1. My Parakeet particularly appreciated this newspaper issue. He found the paper quality in this issue to be much more absorbent and longer lasting than with past issues. Grant money at work! Thanks Lilly Endowment!

  7. Any truth to the rumor that a bishop in the state of Indiana has been (very) quietly gathering information about the alienation of priests and laity from our bishop?
    Any info anyone can provide would be appreciated…

    1. I heard from a reliable source with personal knowledge that it might be better said “a bishop’s representative “ from another diocese is compiling the info. No one is willing to say more than that right now.

        1. If an investigation is ongoing, then perhaps some of the new fundraising attempts will be put on hold. I can’t imagine them asking the disheartened laity to give money to another Catholic Ministry Appeal or a bloated Bishop’s appeal of $80 million. Very few “pastorates” have the money or the will.

        1. No, it really isn’t. It’s actually sad that the faithful can’t look to their bishop and use him as a compass through the apocalypse we are navigating. That said, Archbishop Fulton Sheen warned us of these times.

        2. Hey, when you’ve been brought as low as our diocese has by its own leadership, any bit of positive news/rumors is exciting. Time and the sensus fidelium are not on their side. All they have left is their contempt for the faithful and a steadily evaporating pile of money. I’m no longer angry at them as I was before. It feels more like pity now when I pray for them.

          1. Are we really at the point that files from hidden audio/video recordings are forthcoming? Then again, he’s said and done enough publicly to make some people raise a brow.

  8. The entire post by Father Longenecker is worth reading. Everything he says about our current condition is true, and most of his recommendations are good. The problem is what he doesn’t say. He ascribes the problems in the Church, starting after the Second World War, to unimportant, peripheral developments. Some are irrelevant: “folks moving to the Sunbelt.” Others don’t follow: as people gave up their Italian, Polish, etc. culture, they also gave up their Catholicism. Some are false: “Folks were poorly cathechized.” I am one of the shrinking number of people who was an adult and aware in the late 1950’s and in the 1960’s. I went to Catholic schools and to one of the two best Catholic women’s colleges in the country. In the years up to the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church was healthy, people were well cathechized, there were many vocations to the priesthood, as well as to the religious life, especially nuns. I also know, from having been there, what ruined all this, and what Father Longenecker doesn’t even hint at, much less name: The changes following the Second Vatican Council. One main reason why this resulted in a mass exodus from the Church was that people, especially nuns and to a certain extent also priests, felt betrayed. They had given up so much for a way of life built on devotion to the Church and to the works of God, only to be told now that their sacrifices were unnecessary if not actually harmful. Liberal theories were all the rage. They are still with us, but now boring mainstream. This feeling of betrayal also affected the laity, but to a lesser extent.
    One factor that is often neglected in analysis of the collapse is the attack on beauty. There had, of course, been liberal, modernist currents at work in the Church even before the Second Vatican Council, and it is in architecture that they had raised their evil and ugly heads, since architecture seemed less doctrinal and thus safer. The church of the Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, designed by Marcel Breuer, an atheist, is one example. Which was followed by a tsunami of ugly and of uglified formerly beautiful churches after the Second Vatican Council. The results are still with us—despite some brave efforts at restoration. Why are ugly churches a terrible thing? Because the three transcendentals, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, stand or fall together. Quod erat demonstratum.
    All this is to show that return to tradition is the only worthwhile effort. Certainly, it would alienate some people, but these are people and their children who will mostly leave eventually anyway, because the proposals, such as Uniting in Heart and now “listening sessions” (AGAIN) in preparation for yet another synod in Rome are boring and dishonest.
    The only parishes that are vital are the ones that try to maintain tradition to the extent allowed; and those are the parishes that, rather than being supported, are being undermined in this diocese and elsewhere. But there is one locus of resistance that has some freedom of action and which is attracting more and more people. And that is the SSPX, the Society of Saint Pius X. This congregation of priests, which has chapels in most states, is not in schism. Its sacraments are valid, and its Masses fulfill one’s Sunday obligation. Its priests and the faithful who go there are not excommunicated. But it is administratively in an irregular position within the Church.

    1. So far as I can tell there is no SSPX in the area and practically no impulse here for the Mass in the EF. If there was something closer I’d gladly go there now and then to get at least occasional spiritual relief from the Kincaide-esque kitschy masses we endure. For having so much rural area this is a very peculiar diocese in its liturgies.

      1. For regular unleaded latin masses just outside of the Lafayette diocese: Holy Rosary parish south of downtown Indy is likely closest, unless you’re near Fort Wayne or South Bend, then the FSSP parishes are available in those cities.

      2. Terry, as far as I know there is not, and will not be, an Extra-ordinary form Mass in the Lafayette Diocese. There used to be one organized by Lori Schwarz of Kokomo in connection with their Latin Schola. This Mass was on an irregular basis, whenever a priest could find the time to say one, and it was held in various locations, maybe five or six times a year. There is a regular Extra-ordinary form Mass at Holy Rosary in Indianapolis, but I am not certain that it will continue under the new regulations from Pope Francis. There is a regular Sunday and I believe weekday Masses at the SSPX chapel in Greenwood just south of Indianapolis, and that, of course, will continue, and is gaining people.

        1. Thanks for the info. I knew about both Holy Rosary and St Joseph (Greenwood) and for that matter St Athanasius the Great (Byzantine, Indy). I find that a lot of our young seminarians are rock solid re catechetics and devout but we are [mostly] liturgically the equivalent of a kitschy Thomas Kinkaide painting. I find the stew is pretty toxic for the promotion of tradition here. Our most influential clergy, otherwise pretty solid, seem to have hostility toward the TLM I just don’t understand.

  9. The Vatican ambassador to the US bishops Tuesday: “A church that teaches must be firstly a church that listens…”

    Bishop Doherty – take note.

    1. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Papal Nuncio is simply parroting a tagline from the foul-smelling “Synodal Synod on the Synodalism of Synodalacious Synodality” (AKA: Vatican III) that’s just been vomited on the feet of Holy Mother Church. Oh, listening sessions are coming per this idiotic synod to our diocese; And they’ll be as meaningful and productive as the listening sessions that were held leading up to the forced-sterilization known as Uniting in Heart. Meetings will be held at inconvenient times. A few retirees will show up. Bumper-stickers will be distributed. Notes will be taken. Reports will be written. Boxes will be checked. Money will be burned. Office-holders will feel accomplished. And souls will be lost. Just another day at the office.

      If there was any justice, these “listening sessions” would be “prayer and penance sessions” which would see the diocesan leadership in sackcloth and ashes begging for pardon while the faithful are on their knees praying for the strength of heart to forgive them of all the harm they’ve caused.

  10. When weighing Fr. Longenecker’s post with Eric Sammon’s recent “You Can’t Fix Your Parish” vlog post (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m5fnh_fIWo), one may begin to wonder if our diocese is in an irreparable state? Perhaps, that’s why people are now redirecting tithes, and making the trek to SSPX chapels to fulfill Sunday obligation?

      1. Then you don’t know the beauty of the Tridentine mass you’re missing. Personally, I wish I didn’t have to travel outside my diocese to assist with the mass of the ages. Alas, we are stuck with a bishop who seems more comfortable serving on boards founded by Bernardin than setting up masses that every Catholic has a right to access in their own diocese.

  11. I don’t think Fr. Longenecker would approve of “Uniting in Heart”. Throwing out the old (even if it was good) and bringing in the new (which so far means moving all the priests around, upsetting people, and fundraising) is what Uniting in Heart is all about. Whatever.

    I have a feeling that, one day, books and articles will be written about this time in church history. About how a malformed, faithless generation of shepherds found themselves at the helm of the Church and proceeded to squander all they had inherited to the detriment of so many souls, and that a faithful remnant was forced to pick up so many broken pieces after that generation finally passed.

    It could very well be that the utility of dumb plans like “Uniting in Heart” will be in their ability to serve as a warning to future generations of how not to govern and grow the church. I suppose, to that end, let this “plan” unfold in all of its banality; Best to have a complete picture of failure to more accurately tell the story.

  12. There will be a public rosary rally November 20 at noon at Carmel High School. We will pray against the forces of evil and the culture of death (specifically a Satanist Club which is trying to start at Carmel HS).

    1. You know it’s 2021 when a prayer rally is formed to protest a Satanist Club in an American public school. Satan must be running out of cover-operations for his schemes since virtually every vice and offense imaginable has either a color on the rainbow flag, a month dedicated to it, a Google-Doodle to celebrate its “day”, a half-hour children’s program on PBS-kids, free air-time on CNN, a lecture-tour of major American universities, a “senior-level” position in the Biden administration, or some combination of all of these things. Running low on ideas, Satan’s resorting to declaring himself openly now. Such is the twisted nature of pride, I guess: You just can’t help exposing yourself eventually. Oh well, count me in spiritually at your rally. I think I’ll pray my rosary in Latin just to tick Satan off. Satan hates Latin.

      1. I haven’t verified this, but do you know what I think Satan hates more than Latin?…Faithful Catholics praying in Latin. 😉


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