Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Why have priorities? Priorities help us to focus on what is important. Urgent matters are part of our daily lives. They demand our attention and must be dealt with. But these urgent matters are not necessarily the most important things in our lives. If we fail to remember what is important to us we can ignore the important things and instead focus on the urgent.
Important and urgent are not same things. It may be urgent to get to the store and by some milk for breakfast, or it may be urgent to put the garbage out before the sanitation truck passes. But the important things usually are not the urgent. It is important to spend time with our spouse, or give attention to our children, or spend time in prayer, or exercise. However, these important things are not urgent so they tend to be set aside because we focus on the urgent and not the important. This is human nature. Unless we keep our true priorities of life clearly in mind, the clamor of the urgent drowns out the call of the important.
The little urgent things of life can clutter up our lives to such an extent that there is no room for the important matters of life. When I pack a suitcase I put the big items in first, then the little items. If I start with the little items, there will not be any room for the big ones. If on the other hand I start with the big items, I find that there is always room for the little items to fit in the suitcase.
Life is like that too. If we start with the big items of life: spouse, family, prayer, exercise, etc., it is amazing how there will be time to take care of the little matters. But if we start with the little matters, we just don’t seem to get around to taking care of the truly important things of life.
Parish life can be like that too. Our parish committee can fall into the same trap. We can spend so much time on the urgent but not that important matters and fail to look at what our parish should focus on.
I recall a businessman saying that at his work the staff meeting focused on the need for a new delivery truck. This was urgent because the old truck had broken down. However, he noticed that staff meetings never seemed to spend time discussing how to improve the quality of the product that would be delivered by the truck. Neither did the staff discuss how to find more customers to buy the product which would be placed upon the truck. In short, the staff meeting at the company focused on the urgent (a new truck) but not the important (product quality and getting new customers).
In a similar fashion, parish pastoral council meetings can sometimes focus on the need for new chairs in the parish hall or restriping the parking lot but not on the quality of the programs in the parish hall or how to attract more people to park in the parking lot and come to draw closer to God. The new chairs or the parking lot improvements may be urgent, but what is needed is to focus on the important matters. Our parishes are meant to be communities of faith where the Good News is shared for the salvation of souls.
After considerable consultation, I have offered four priorities for our archdiocese. These are the truly important matters we need to focus upon in our archdiocese: Evangelization so that the Good News of Jesus Christ may be shared, Strengthening the Family since our families are weakened by many factors in our contemporary society, Concern for the Needs of Neighbor and Fostering Vocations.
As mentioned in this edition of “The Catholic Week” both in Mr. Herbst’s article on Page 2 and in Mr. Arensberg’s article on Page 5, a survey based upon these four archdiocesan priorities is being sent to each pastor. There are already so many wonderful ministries in our parishes which focus on what is important. I pray that this survey can be an instrument to assist pastors and parish leaders in discussing how each parish can further enhance and improve its focus on what is the truly important.

By Editor

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