Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Busiest Day

Isn't it a bit weird that Saturdays are busiest days of every week for me? As far as I remember correctly, in Polish, European and American parishes I know, Saturday is quite an easy going day, the day of rest and little things to go about...But not for me. Am I sane?

Since I remember, Saturday is the busiest day for me in the routine and schedule of the week. Starting with early rise in the morning, prayers, rushing to the church for Saturday morning confessions, then the Holy Mass with Eucharistic adoration following the Mass immediately (the Mass is usually attended by the members of the vocational groups in the parish, altar servers, Holy Childhood members, catechumens and those preparing for the First Communion, lay leaders, catechists and parishioners).

A quick breakfast follows the Liturgy. Then, work begins in its earnest.

Quite often we have various meetings on Saturday morning at around 10 am. These may be meetings of the lay leaders council on parochial level or parochial centers or village level. These may be meetings of various committees, like today - we will have a meeting of the liturgical committee of the parish.

These meetings are scheduled for Saturdays as it as a weekend for most of working members of the parish thus enabling them to participate freely in meetings.  I would prefer to meet on different than Saturday days, but this proved to be futile effort in the past, so I grudgingly accept the reality...

At the same time we have a Saturday School for catechumens and First Communion children going on. Primary school catechumens and First Communion children take their religion classes on Saturdays as it proved to be impossible task to have religion classes in schools due to the hostile approach of some school directors of other than Catholic denominations who plan religion classes in such a way that it is difficult for us to provide effective service. Plus, taking under consideration the number of students in each class, ranging from 50 to 170, it is impossible to have combined classes in one religion lesson as there is no space for them...

So, the most effective way for us to provide reliable religious instructions in this situation is to have Saturday School for our school children. They come in the morning for morning prayers before the Mass, then participate in the Mass and the adoration, then go to their respective classes for religion lessons which end around noon time, then go back home for lunch.

I regret we cannot cover all primary and secondary schools located in the boundaries of the parish (mind that this is area of approx. 600 square kilometers, with some 25 rural primary schools and 4 secondary schools in the area). I am alone in the parish with some 13 catechists (not every one of them has a sufficient education as a catechist which prohibits those to go to secondary schools, where solid knowledge and skills are crucial). Catholic teachers employed in schools are unwilling to undertake the responsibility to teach religion in their schools as most of them would like to be remunerated for this and lack proper training and tools (this involves a significant financial effort on parochial side, to prepare a religion teacher, then they get transferred quite often, and we may find ourselves in a situation where we spent a lot of money to get someone educated and then she or he moves somewhere else and we lose a qualified teacher). Parochial budget has no money to pay religion teachers and although the Ministry of Education states that teachers are paid by the government, still most of school directors plan lessons in such a way that religion classes are left out, teachers get their full load of lessons, thus asking for extra money if we want them to teach religion on behalf of the parish... In short, situation is quite complicated and needs a concerted effort - not on a parochial level, but rather on diocesan one. What to do in this socio-economical situation?

Apart from meetings and religion classes for primary school children (secondary students and adults have their religion classes on Tuesdays and Fridays in the evening), there is office work as many people use the opportunity of free Saturday and come to the office to see me and have their agendas taken care of.

The construction works do not know free Saturdays either. So, the Saturday is the busiest day in the construction as everybody waits for the weekly wages to be paid to them, thus working hard to have the weekly load of work done and thus to please me which in turn will make me to settle financial claims for the work of the week in a better mood.

Preparations for Sunday liturgy are of utmost importance. The homily, Sunday announcements, altar servers meetings, cleaning and decorating of the church, meetings with participants in the Sunday  liturgy (ushers, readers, Holy Childhood inculturation dancers, choir - choice of songs) - these need proper attention...

Some people come on Saturday for confessions too and I have to find time for them too...

Then in the evening, once I am done with all this, I can sit finally in the living room, overwhelmed with all have happened in the course of the day and exhale a breath of relief. Thanks be to God, Saturday is over...

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