We've begun the autumn flurry of planning, beginning new processes, resuming programs, and all that comprises parish life in the United States (note, my friends in Australia and elsewhere that I have learned not to call this season 'fall' recognizing that not everyone has trees that drop their leaves in the autumn). This is for many a time of renewed hope and of resolutions. In many ways, it is like programmatic new year's. While in our personal lives we celebrate New Year's day on January 1, with its accompanying promises to eat better, live healthier and exercise, programmatic new year's in our parishes is the time in which we re-examine practices, recruit and train new people to join us in ministry, and make resolutions to focus on the big picture rather than getting stuck in the small stuff.
This week resumed my visits to dioceses and parishes throughout the U.S. after three weeks at home. The week began with the International Catholic Stewardship Council's conference, with 700 of us gathered in Dallas for workshops, networking, and gathering of resources. In the coming weeks, I will visit Lexington, Salt Lake City, New York, Owensboro and Wichita. I look forward to seeing many of you there, and hope we'll find much to share as we celebrate "new year's" in autumn. What are your plans for the new year in your parish? What do you hold on to that is of value in parish life? What needs to be changed? Who inspires you to stick with it when the going becomes difficult? Who do you inspire? What do you think?