My parish is one of the parishes selected for the Dynamic Parish program. The costs of the program for the parishes selected are being covered by Dynamic Catholic donors. In part, they are endeavoring to discover what works and to adjust the program based on feedback. So a definite work in progress. The goals seem modest in that it works towards an increase in parish involvement over the standard 7 percent of people generally heavily engaged in the parish.
Matthew Kelly isn’t quite my cup of tea, but I have reviewed some of his books and find them generally solid in content. I am allergic to promotional speaker talk, and so am annoyed by the language. Hearing “Being the best version of yourself” so many times is apt to put me on a suicide watch. As an app developer, the version metaphor doesn’t work for me positively knowing all the bugs still in the best version of your software. Although the bugs metaphor kind of works in the spiritual life in that the saints saw clearly their imperfections. I just prefer the more traditional language in regard to growing in holiness.
Still, I am slowly learning that everything doesn’t have to be about me and I know a good number of people that have found his books very helpful to them and impactful.
I am also pretty skeptical of the Dynamic Parish program, but I am willing to see how it develops and what impact it actually has on the parish. So last night I attended the “Dream Event” which is kind of a kickoff to the program. Yes, it was pretty difficult for me to curb my skepticism and attend something called a “Dream Event”. Especially one that is given by a “Certified Dream Manager” working for Dynamic Catholic. I find it funny to go to a Dream Event after recently reading ‘Querida Amazonia’ with the Pope’s four great dreams for the Amazon region. What is all this dream stuff going on? Oh well, my parish is St. Joseph so I should be down with the dream stuff.
Certified Dream Manager Tony Ferraro gave the talk, and yes that is his actual title. Mainly this was used as a focus to outline goals we see for ourselves and for the parish. To not be just content with the way things are and to just stoically accept them. To focus on what is truly important and what we want to accomplish as Catholics. So I see where they are going with this, even as the delivery is not to my personal liking. Promotional speaker talk just seems so manipulative to me. Still, my real criticism is that I wish it had been tied more profoundly to Gospel imperatives instead of seeing the goal as being dynamic Catholics. I understand that term as they use it as an umbrella term for being fully engaged Catholics spreading the Gospel. I just wanted it to be tied more directly to the language Jesus uses in the call to holiness and the message of the Gospel.
On the tech side, I found part of this event interesting is that they had people answering questions via text messaging on their phone and the anonymous results being displayed on the screen in a word cloud. I think this did result in some actual engagement in getting people to think about the topics that were presented.
As a pessimistic optimist, I am taking a wait and see approach to this program as to what the actual fruits are. Like many active Catholics, I certainly have my list of hobby horses as to how to increase engagement in parish life. I am not quite ready to send my hobby horses off to the glue factory, but again am trying to objectively evaluate this program.
Just to be clear, I do have concerns considering the Matthew Kelly “takeover” of parish life. The “Christ Renews His Parish” program is now under his auspices as the renamed “Welcome”, CRHP 2.0. I am not a fan of the new name, although the old name didn’t grab me either. There are certainly blurred lines between Dynamic Catholic’s paid consultancy and these forays into parish life. I am not skeptical at all about Matthew Kelly’s motives, just that some of this can be problematic and something to be aware of.