When I began this blog, “Charged With Saint Charles” four years ago, it was for several reasons. One reason was that my nearly thirty years of service in Jackson County had ended and I came to the northland as if it were a foreign land—people suggested that this would be a good means to stay in contact with former parishioners and friends. A second reason was that Saint Charles Borromeo Parish had suffered a decade-long downturn and I was also losing energy—I hoped to recharge both the parish and me for the mission before us. A third reason was that the Saint Charles Chargers (our school mascot) inspired me to reconsider, reflect upon, and write about, what kind of church we ought to pass along to future generations as scandals rocked our diocese and sadness loomed over ecclesial structures around the globe. A fourth reason was that Pope Francis was courageously addressing issues that many bishops did not—I was encouraged to imitate his example. There were other reasons, too: in my own way, I wanted to attempt to revitalize Catholics I know to keep doing God’s good works and become motivated by the grace-filled energy of the Holy Spirit.
Around that same time, our parish charged forth with the first phase of a Revitalization capital campaign. It was built upon the work of an ad hoc Sustainability Team that re-envisioned our forsaken school. We addressed decades of deferred maintenance with the generous help of people around Kansas City. We razed a dilapidated old convent that was serving as our parish office, replacing it with a new office; we constructed a gathering-space addition to our church that has proved to be a great place to welcome guests and engage with one another; we upgraded technology and gave facelifts to our parish hall, classrooms, and throughout our buildings and grounds; and we worked our way out of huge debt. It was a wonderful challenge that we accomplished together. Though not yet where we hope to be, we have experienced substantial increases in enrollment, census, and community involvement. Now we are ready to embark upon phase two.
During these years, I have written not only about happenings at Saint Charles, but happenings in the church, both locally and globally. I have written about cultural items from art, politics, music, science, poetry, history, literature, psychology, and the classics, and how they can impact our spirituality. I have written about birth and death and sacramental milestones in between them. I have written about my hopes and fears for the Catholic Church based on decisions made and directions taken by leaders. I have been critical of those in our church who place ecclesial structures ahead of Christ’s message and have praised those, like Pope Francis, who lovingly imitate the mission of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. I suppose I will continue to write as long you are interested in reading my words, and I will continue to charge forward here at Saint Charles as long as I am assigned to do so. In the past four years, the church has operated much more virtually and online than in prior decades. I don’t know what is ahead, but I am extremely blessed and comforted knowing that you are taking the journey with me.