Church pain. Volunteering.

In the life of being two working parents and raising three little ones Sean and I frequently talk about the ways to integrate justice into the decisions we make: the way we spend money, the people we are intentional about being our lives, the boundaries we set.  One thing that has often left the wayside has been service.  It is hard to do volunteer work when you are in our situation in life.

One way we have been doing service (even though it is small) is by being on the board of a small non profit.  It's not a lot of work but enough that it's something.  In bringing our opinions and voice to the board we try to (again) integrate justice into our decisions.  One of the things that has worked really really well for us has been to share a position in the board.  In doing this we are just one vote. Sometimes we both make it to meetings, sometimes one of us does.  It is kind of the best we can manage and it has worked very well for us.  Sean and I are big talkers so it's not hard about it.


On a separate but related topic we volunteered to hold a position at our parish council.  There was an annoucement at church, "we want someone on the council to represent young families. This voice needs to be more present in our decisions."

We wrestled with this decision and ultimately decided to offer our church the same thing, "we will share the position.  1 vote but we cannot be certain which of us will make the meetings etc."  This is one of a couple of other of times we have tried to be in leadership in our church. . .Well, we were rejected.  I hope that they found another person who can "represent the young families" in our church.  But I am certain they won't find anyone who brings the ministerial skill that Sean and I bear.  Sean and I both work in ministry in the same neighborhood as this parish.  And yet...and yet...the answer is no.

This is so frustrating.  For people to look at us and say, "we want young families..."  We took that invitation seriously.  As a young family where we both work we said, "here is how we can make it happen..." We made an earnest good faith offer to welcome leadership in a way that worked for our "young family." But because we aren't offering the traditional model, or because people are trying to protect our time (as though we cannot discern that for ourselves).

We have a lot of pain around Catholic leadership.  Sean and I are giving our lives to the church.  We work in ministry! We raise our kids surrounded by the work of ministry! We do home church! This is our vocation.  Our student loans are paying off seminary (something priests do NOT have to pay off). We are called to each other, to the church, to the people of God, to the world.    So maybe the whole structure of a parish and a parish council is too traditional anyway. At least for us.


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