Shortage or Abundance? Print
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 21:37
I've been prepping for a day of training for lay ecclesial ministers and experienced one of those major "convergence" things when 10 or 12 separate realizations:  theological, historical, and demographic  -  suddenly come together in my head and form a whole that sheds a new light on everything.

I'm still working through it but while doing so, I came across this and I just had to publish a brief compare and contrast.  To begin:  Two archdioceses, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene . . .

OK.  Maybe not. - but we will start with two archdioceses with populations of 500,000 Catholic apiece.

That's where the similarities end and where a window on the realities of this new world of southern Catholics opens up.

Archdiocese of Cincinnati
500,000 Catholics                                               
221 parishes                                                       
493 priests                                                        
122 brothers                                                      
468 lay ministers                                                  

Archdiocese of Lahore, Pakistan
500,000 Catholics
29 parishes.  A rural parish includes 90 - 130 villages
22 priests
12 brothers
190 cyclist catechists:Each is responsible for evangelizing and catechizing and staying in touch with 250 - 500 families.

And this glimpse of one catechist:

Arif Noor gets up just before dawn six days a week to rouse children for catechism classes.

“Wake up kids, time to go to church!” shouts Noor as he passes through the streets of Salamat Pura, a small village in a northern suburb of Lahore. About 10 years ago, the 58-year-old Catholic layman became the driving force behind a subsidized Christian educational center at St. Paul’s Church in Lahore archdiocese. Since 2007, the number of centers has risen to 10.

They open at dawn and enable children aged five to 15 to get a religious education. After class, the children go to school, if they attend school, or return home.

The centers are helping to fill the gap left by a shortage of Sunday school teachers in the 29 parishes of Lahore archdiocese.

“There aren’t any Sunday school services specifically for children in our community,” Javaid Joseph, catechist of St. Paul’s Church, told UCA News. “Noor’s program is actually helping our mission.”

Noor, an electrician, is also vice president of St. Paul’s Church.

He said his catechism mission is an act of gratitude for the help his daughter received from a Christian charity after she was badly injured while playing with fireworks in 1986.

I'm sure that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is worried about its priest shortage.  There are 42 parishes without resident pastors.  But we live in a world where one diocese's shortage would be another's unimaginable abundance.