Recently, a Syracuse television report covered the closing of what used to be a large, vital and impressive Catholic parish on the south side of Syracuse — Our Lady of Lourdes.
That parish will merge with another and be called by a new name — Our Lady of Hope.
The reason for the closing is due to a decline in membership and changes in the makeup of religious faiths in that area of the city.
In addition to this is the absence and choice of Catholic people from 20 to 40 years old to not participate in the faith that was practiced by their families for decades, even centuries — although those non-practicing people still seek out the church for weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations, counseling and other special moments in their lives.
But when the participation and dutiful presence at weekend Mass is not there, and the support in terms of money, energy, time and prayer are lost, what is inevitable is the closing of the parish.
Every Catholic parish household and pastor hope and sincerely pray that new people of all ages — whether families or single persons — will find their church and parish life and community helpful and attractive and spiritually vital enough to be drawn there, to join there, to become active in worship and the faith life that is found there.
We are fortunate and prayerfully grateful at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament to experience on a fairly steady basis the influx and addition of new parishioners. Not many months go by when this does not happen. The merging of Blessed Sacrament with St. Mary of Mount Carmel certainly brought with it a good number of very devoted and gifted Catholic brothers and sisters in faith.
Our autumn homecoming invitations to be passed along to others encouraging a spiritual homecoming weekend for folks who have strayed away is one attempt to reach out. The church’s fancy word for these attempts is evangelization — which means to encourage and invite the regular practice of the wonderful heritage of the Catholic faith that has been given to us.
Let’s all do our part in any way that works toward the future.