This past Friday and Saturday, clergy and lay members of every parish in this Diocese of NY met for the canonically mandated Diocesan Convention. As a priest, I am required to attend. Our parish lay representative whom you elected at last year’s annual meeting, Cecilia Stempel, also attended as a full voting member.
Each of these annual gatherings is both a time for “catching up” with friends and “listening” to the stories of other parishes in addition to receiving reports from Diocesan authorities. We heard of the good (a dying parish that has come back to life in Hamburg, NY) and the bad (even the diocese as a whole now struggles financially and is tapping into resources because parish assessments often are not being paid). We approved a diocesan budget and set further standards for new clergy in terms of interfaith knowledge. Yet we also couldn’t agree even to speak about how health care costs are going to be met in parishes – as the issue had to be tabled for further study.
And through it all, we broke bread at table and later at the altar. We sang, we discussed, we argued and most of all, there was an optimistic spirit that as one church under the authority of our Bishop, we will do God’s work and be what the Lord is calling us to be. I saw St. John‘s story being played out on a larger scale. We’ve got work to do, but “…(His) will be done on earth as in heaven.” It will happen.
Strong by 17