Nothing in Common?

Nothing in Common?

Greg Bakker imagines how life could be different for parish priests and pioneers

Parish priests and pioneers need to listen to each other.

Frequently the atmosphere of hostility between pioneering and parochial hides a shared narrative. What parish priests and pioneers hold in common is, sadly, the experience of feeling under resourced and unsupported.

For parish priests, it is the expectation of being asked to do more with even less, the sense that superiors lack a genuine concern for their wellbeing, and the perceived message that parish ministry is no longer valued in the era of large strategic grants. For pioneers, it is the profound disappointment flowing from initial recognition of their calling, receiving initial support and roles, only to see interest in their ministries and funding evaporate.

These are indeed challenging times for both pioneers and parish priests. In many cases, what happens beyond the parochial or pioneering context is beyond the control of those on the ground. Yet, the experience on the ground is only compounded when disappointment, anger, and misunderstanding are focused on those who ministries take a different form.

Pioneers and parish priests are mixed up together in this protracted environment of scarcity. Yet, God’s resources are abundant. Often, resources are not visible to either pioneers or parish priests until they have chosen to stand in a different place. And what if part of the resources which God makes available is the gift of each another?

Imagine what might unfold if parish priests and pioneers were listening deeply with compassion to the hurts and aspirations of each other’s hearts? What discoveries might come to light? What might we be able to set aside in order to thrive together in reaching a wider range of people? What might be unlocked through a generous relationship of collaboration rooted in mutual understanding and a deep desire to see both pioneers and parish priests thrive?

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