A fascinating discussion here: Word on Fire’s Bobby Angel interviews Father Jonathan Meyer of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. His background:
Ordained a priest in 2003, Fr. Meyer has been involved in the formation of youth and young adults through speaking, leading retreats, and promoting World Youth Day initiatives. Tasked with managing several parish mergers, he has led this renewal through creative and innovative ministry.
My background of not having understood the faith has given me a new perspective and a great desire for renewal. I have this sense that “normal” does not work. Thinking outside the box is in my bones. Every priestly assignment I’ve had has been an opportunity for pastoral change. My first parish assignment was to link three parishes that had never worked together before. And then I arrived at my current assignment, All Saints Parish, where four parishes had been closed and were forged into one. In just a few days, I will be shepherding three more parishes while remaining at All Saints. That will now be seven churches in total!
You’ve also brought some creative solutions when it comes to parish mergers. How did you “think outside the box” with your latest assignment?
When faced with having to close or merge parishes, we decided to form one parish with four campuses. This new concept has created one parish with a parish council, finance council, ladies sodality, youth ministry, religious vocation ministry, and so forth while keeping all four church buildings open.
Our parish thus has seventy-four acres and twenty buildings. In the past seven years, it has blossomed in ministry, outreach, and impact. As an analogy, a general of an army can choose to bring all his soldiers into one camp, or he can choose to send them out to several outposts to conquer a land. The concept of All Saints is to be a united parish located all throughout Dearborn County, Indiana. In another analogy, it is like McDonald’s—different buildings but the exact same product. When you come to one of the four campuses of All Saints Parish, you will receive the exact same proclamation of the Gospel, reverently celebrated Mass, youth ministry, etc….
…We need to accept the reality that what has been “normal” is not working. People are leaving the Church in droves; all the data points toward it. One of my mottos is if you are not doing something new, you are most likely failing, because normal is toxic. Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Now, in no way am I speaking of doctrine, the sacred liturgy, or tradition, but how we make it accessible is clearly not working, effective, or reaching the masses. We need to find a way to bring the beauty of the Mass to the masses.
Check out a recent homily by Father Meyer below.