Today is the feast of Martha, a dear friend of Jesus; a woman who was a willing hostess for him and his travel-weary Apostles.
I don’t think Martha would mind if we used her feast for showing our appreciation for the lay people who keep the Church going. I was in great admiration of the parish council people at St. Paul’s on Park Street. In 1983 Bill Sulzbacher came forward, saying that a good number of capable people would like to serve the parish in a parish council.
We put out a call for any who had a desire to volunteer themselves, and a large room-full of parishioners showed up. They batted ideas around, promising to return a month later after thinking about all proposals. In fact, they had those monthly meetings for almost a year. When our ideas had clarified, we elected four very competent people to write a constitution for our own parish council.
People back then had been talking about a book by the Jesuit Avery Dulles. Calling his book “Models of the Church,” Dulles pointed out that Jesus played five distinct roles among us: he was teacher, friend, servant, shepherd, and way to address the Father. Our constitution had us attempting to duplicate each of Our Lord’s roles. We had a service commission, an education commission. a worship commission, a management commission, and a friendship commission.
We elected chairs to oversee each of the five commissions, and we set up committees to serve in each. Like, the worship commissions had six committees that took care of lectors, server training, singing and all the rest.
For twenty-four years the monthly parish council meeting drew members working together smoothly for the good of the church.
Independent of the parish council, but working in agreement with it, we had the Ladies Guild. The parish council is no longer operating the way it had been, but the Ladies’ Guild is durable. It is doing a bang-up job of keeping the parish alive.