David and I have spent the last ten years or so working for the Catholic Church. We have been in some extremely pro-family work environments, and some pretty strict business type environments, but as our family has grown, we have spent a lot of time discerning how to put our vocation first and live out the ministry through our vocations.
We are extremely blessed to live and work in Dodge City and we have been blessed along the way in the many other places we have traveled/been employed — THIS IS NOT A VENT POST ABOUT THOSE EXPERIENCES!!! This is an encouragement to all Church employers and personnel to re-think how we approach employment policies to make them as family friendly as possible, to set the bar for all industry to promote LIFE & FAMILY!
Something that is very important to us:
We don’t ever want our kids to think they are competing between our attention for them and our attention to those we minister to in the Church.
We want our family to be a place where vocations to the priesthood and religious life can grow. We know that the witness of families in the Church can promote vocations not only in our own family, but in others as well! We believe that a parish supportive of its own working families will be a place that grows vocations!!!!!
We have been blessed to work and minister at many parishes around the country full-time, part-time, and in itinerant ministry. Some of the thoughts I share in this blog are rooted in those experiences, but many of the points I make are rooted in the larger conversation about how to be a light for the rest of the world in not justsaying we are *pro-family* but setting up environments that ARE, in fact, *pro-family.*
People who work for the Church by and large do so at great financial and lifestyle sacrifice. There are long hours, weekends, nights, early mornings, weeklong trips, and retreats. There is never a *turning off* of the ministry, which in some ways is the same as having vocation to ministry. You are a witness. It is crucial to represent the Church not just at the office, but the grocery store, the home, among parishioners, among friends, among family, etc. You are a resource. You are the example of faith in action.
The salary, benefits, and living wage debate are not part of this blog. I don’t believe we need to put a number on what is *just*! I think with a lot of creativity, a lot of hard work, a lot of prayer, a firm budget, God`s provision, the generosity of others, stewardship, etc., that we can get by! We do have an obligation to provide for our families, and anyone working for the Church understands and must appreciate and acknowledge that it is a struggle! That debate is for another time, but it is really almost an impossible debate since everyone who works for the Church, both religious, ordained, and laity, depends entirely upon the stewardship of parishioners! We have an obligation to support, financially, those who do ministry just as the early church helped support the material needs of the Apostles. David and I do not just see ourselves as recipients of that stewardship, but we, as we call on other pastoral ministers, do our best to be generous in time, talent, and treasure towards the Church and those in need.
What IS part of this blog, however, are some ideas that are outside the box, outside of the traditional business mentality, that could set the bar for workplaces to be pro-family everywhere. As I was doing research for this blog, I found the following list of companies considered the best places to work for families. The Church did not make the list!
Some of the policies include extended paid maternity leave, bringing kids to work, areas for nursing babies, onsite childcare, financial support for adoption, etc.
Why do you want families working for the Church?
1. Promotes vocations
2. Ease of ability to minister to parishioners in all walks of life
3. More bang for your buck! (The free stewardship of the spouse and family comes right along with the employed!)
4. Because GOD IS FAMILY! Triune, Son, Father, Spirit.
I have seen parishes so rigidly conform to a secular business model that they have lost the ability to be pastoral. Without being pastoral, the Church is weak, doesn’t attract new members– much less vocations, and doesn’t keep faithful, qualified workers in the vineyard. The reality is that no matter how committed we are to the Lord and working for the Church, and sacrificing for Him, when our Church home becomes just *the office* burnout not only in our ministry but in our faith occurs. When we cease to be shepherded and begin to be corralled, our light begins to dim. Sometimes I walk into parishes and encounter those walking wounded. It doesn’t matter if they are ordained or married or single — there is no person that burnout does not touch!
Next week: my proposal for how the Church can revolutionalize the workplace.
Copyright 2016 Noelle Garcia
About the Author: Noelle Garcia is a Catholic speaker/recording artist with World Library Publications and One Voice Media. She has worked in youth, music, and evangelization ministries for over ten years and was featured in CNN’s Latino in America and EWTN’s Life on the Rock. She currently resides in Dodge City, Kansas with her husband and four young children. Listen to Noelle’s presentation, “Getting Others to Heaven” through Lighthouse Catholic Media and visit her blog: Ministry through Vocation.