Written by Sherry
Sunday, 29 March 2009 15:48
This is my first post from Corpus Christi. I'm taking advantage of the free wi-fi in their cozy little airport while I can. The craziness of Houston still lies before me. (Yikes, they just announced that the plane that was to take me to Houston won't arrive until after 6pm and that we won't make it to Houston till 7:30pm Fortunately, my connection to Colorado Springs isn't until 9pm. It's gonna be another long night.)
Due to the blizzard on Thursday and my futile attempts to avoid it, I didn't get to CC until 11pm Friday night so had to cram all of interviewer/faciliator training into one long 12 hour day. The hardy band of trainees did well. One woman admitted later that she had been dreading it but that the day had flown by.
This is the second group that we have trained in a month in anticipation of the large Called & Gifted to be held April 17/18 at the Cathedral in CC. There is a lot of excitement building up.
Mass this morning was like CC: a cheerful, Christ-centered mixture of what the Catholic blogosphere usually considers to be mutually exclusive; oil and water. A large new church with traditional statues, the tabernacle prominently displayed beyond the altar *and* state of the art lighting and giant drop down screens. No missals. Latin prayers projected on giant screens. The cantor was a woman with a wonderful voice. 8 Masses every weekend. Some are "traditional". One Mass is openly charismatic. One is boisterously Hispanic. The associate is Polish and introducing the Polish custom of the blessing of Easter food baskets.
A sea of dark heads. Many families of mixed cultural background. I sat next to a young family from India. Not the endless blondes one sometimes sees in California. The congregation was dressed a tad more formally than most congregations I encounter. Some jeans but they were all clean and worn with carefully ironed shirts, etc. The deacons do not wear collars but coat & tie at the bishop's request.
The consecration was done ad orientam facing the tabernacle (as a Lenten practice which will end at Easter) while the homily was preached while the pastor walked around the sanctuary, Bible in hand, and included copious amounts of the basic kerygma. The celebrant and altar servers held hands at the Our Father. They sang songs that many bloggers love to hate, e.g. "We create ourselves anew" alongside Latin chant. The Mass ended with the acknowledgement of birthdays and anniversaries. The strongly extroverted pastor never finished his recessional because he was busy shaking hands and chatting.
As I said, this is not a destination for liturgical purists. But if you are interested in evangelization, practically every parish in the US could learn from Most Precious Blood parish in Corpus Christi.
MPC runs the largest evangelization programs that I have ever encountered in a parish. Encounter, a home-grown ten week Catholic variation on the Alpha process. Something like 600 -800 people a year go through and the results are transforming This parish has the highest number of parishioners who have recently gone through a personal conversion of any parish I have ever worked in. The man who I interviewed in the "mock" interview turned out to have gone through a major spiritual awakening 1 1/2 years ago. But most of the people I met had had a similar experience within the past five years. When you are in a parish where something like 3,000 members have been through an experience like that, the topic of conversion comes up naturally.
It would be interesting to explore what percentage of their active parishioners are intentional disciples. Certainly it is far higher than the discouraging 5% that participants in our Making Disciples seminar have routinely estimated. In a few more years, this parish might just become the first parish I have visited where a majority of the active parishioners are in later, active thresholds of spiritual development. Active seekers or intentional disciples.
And they are engaged in the Catholics, Come Home media campaign this Lent. No word yet on the impact of that yet.
Just consider this another report from the new Catholic heartland. Corpus Christi is 70% Catholic and has the highest proportion of Catholics in the area's population of any diocese in the US. What is happening here is at least as important for the kingdom of God as the dramas that have occupied the attention of the blogosphere over the past month.
It won't be the first time in Christian history that the most significant events happened on the periphery, in Nazareth.