Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why We Get DESTROYED in the Culture Wars

When I first started raising money to try to make "The Third Way" 7 years ago, John-Andrew O'Rourke, owner of Blackstone Films and my partner in the whole crazy ride that was the project, showed me something very early on in the fundraising process.


He showed me a "Go Fund Me" page where a bunch of 30 something year old guys, who were particularly devoted to some completely obscure video game (we'll call it "Alpha Quadrant Gamma") were trying to raise funds to have someone make a documentary on "Alpha Quadrant Gamma".  I know all the cool video games...and this one wasn't one of them.


They had raised $420,000.


You can find project after project like this on Go Fund Me...stupid and pointless and even poorly executed fundraisers raising tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for stupid and pointless projects.


These guys were playing a video game in their mom's basements for 18 hours a day and got people to fork over a HALF MILLION from a very select group of people interested in this particular obscure game.


Those who are part of the "Culture of Life" are getting SLAUGHTERED in the culture war because while the culture of death is supporting stuff that is either inane or outright evil, many who profess Christ support nothing that tries to make our case to the world.  ZERO.


Catholics give 1% to the Church, on average, and to get people to support (and I don't mean buying girl scout cookies or doing the token donation to some project) and really get behind Catholic projects and ministries that are trying to make the case to the world is virtually impossible.



I had to jump up and down for months, call everyone I know, beg, email, etc. for 6 weeks to raise $80,000 so that I could do something that would use up my day off for two years...while in the secular world, people donate tens and hundreds of thousands to documentaries on donuts and video games...let alone the billions that are poured in to more culturally-destructive Hollywood and TV projects.


"The Third Way" has been viewed over 500,000 times around the world, so it certainly has had an impact, and I'm thankful for that.  But how many other good ideas are out there that people are just sitting on?  How many worthy projects and stories are dying because they aren't supported by people?


When we started raising funds for the "The Third Way" people said "WOW THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY!"


But break it down.  $80,000 for 500,000 viewings of a 40 minute documentary about the Church's teaching on homosexuality.  You know what that works out to?


SIXTEEN CENTS PER VIEWING


So for every 16 cents donated, it paid for one viewing of the third way (and some of those viewings have been entire classes or gymnasiums at once...so the real math would probably break down to less than 1 cent per viewing of "The Third Way")



If I sound frustrated, it is because I'm in the midst of another project.  In the US there are 3.5 million coaches coaching 45 million young people this year.  Ask any priest and they'll tell you - families aren't coming to Church anymore because they're all playing sports on Sunday.  So what are we doing about that?

When I was in high school, I had a TRANSFORMATIVE coach who was both wildly successful and who also used coaching to challenge us to become good fathers, sacrificial husbands, to tell our parents that we loved them, to become men of sacrifice, to treat women with dignity and respect, etc. etc.

I know for a fact that his story can be told in a powerful and clear way to try to get coaches to reach their young people and inspire them to become good, holy, virtuous people...it is one of the last ways we can reach kids today.

This project SHOULD BE a no-brainer: pass the hat around...some guys throw in a hundred, some guys throw in 20 bucks...a few people that haven't met coach but agree we need to reach coaches with a great story throw in a few bucks, and there we have it.  Goal achieved.


Despite getting word out to most of the over 600 players who played for him over 27 years, 20 of the 600 have donated.


I have $7,000 dollars to my name, and have already donated $1,700 to this project, and I'll probably put another 2-3,000 toward the project if need be.



I know many of the 600 guys who were coached by Bruce Scifres were equally impacted by him, and many recognize he could have coached for twice as much money at a public school, and most know that Coach is so excited about the possibility of this documentary coming together.  But only 20 former players have donated.



And that's why we get slaughtered in the culture wars.  We are blessed to witness great things but instead of supporting powerful story telling, instead of looking to support art, instead of getting the word out to others about the amazing things we've been able to witness, we sit on the Good News, content to let the godless tell their video game stories.

3.15 million youth coaches have little or no training

That is a shocking number.  THREE AND A HALF MILLION youth coaches in the United States.


This article (click here to read) says that NINETY PERCENT have little or no training.


So 90% of coaches coaching a kid in basketball have not had any training on how to coach a kid in basketball.


That means 3.15 million of our 3.5 million youth coaches have basically no training in coaching.






If 3.15 MILLION coaches have no training on the sport they're coaching, I have to believe the number that have been shown how to use coaching to help people become saints is even WORSE.



This project of mine (click here to visit the donation page) is an attempt to put something together to address this crisis and help show coaches how they too can use coaching to form people for life.


If you can help me raise the funds, I will be partnering with Spirit Juice studios to put together a 10-12 minute VERY POWERFUL, VERY INSPIRING video using one coach's story to show other coaches that they can easily do the same thing!


Again, if you want to donate to make this happen, please click HERE.



Thank you!

Bruce Scifres' Message to friends of Roncalli



This project is something people all across the country will benefit and find very helpful as we try to reach out and impact the 3.5 million coaches coaching across the country. Help is much appreciated!

Friday, July 7, 2017

HELP!

HELP!
In conjunction with Spirit Juice Studios, I am hoping to produce an 8-12 minute mini-documentary titled "Bruce Scifres: Coaching for Christ"

You can click HERE to donate!

Coach Scifres and his wife Jackie


The goal: $35,500

That sounds like a lot, but:

a) I'm donating the first $1,000
b) I'm obviously not making money on this (in case that needed stated)
c) Think about how many young people today are connected to sports - and how many coaches could be coaching our young people in transformative ways if they just saw and heard that it was possible!

I had such a coach when I played football, and I believe strongly that the word getting out about HOW he coached will strongly impact our communities.

Coach won SEVEN state championships, but all throughout his 27 years he preached constantly about
1) loving our parents
2) being men of prayer
3) being good fathers
4) being great husbands
and many other similar virtues

Think about how many coaches are out there coaching our young men and women right now, and then imagine if they all began to realize that through coaching, they could call young people to holiness!

I would be forever grateful if you would consider helping make this happen

Again, you can donate by clicking here

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Pentecost and Becoming God

Poor audio quality and weird camera angle, but an awesome Catholic Solemnity!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The dumbest "sociological" conjecture of all?

Every 5th grade science fair entrant knows that you make a hypothesis, and then you either prove or disprove the hypothesis with data (facts)

Of all the crazy hypotheses that have magically gone from conjecture to fact without ever having gone through the fact stage, perhaps the dumbest of all is the hypothesis that people "had children, up until our modern age, to help with farm work."

You see that statement everywhere!  Everyone used to have kids to help on the farm, and that's why they had so many kids, because they needed a lot of help farming.

Now, it is perfectly okay to HYPOTHESIZE aloud "I bet one of the motivations for people to have kids was to help farm"


But to say that we KNOW that's why people had kids up until "modernity"is because of farmwork....that's simply conjecture masquerading as fact.


Do we have ANY evidence of this?


Have we unearthed a diary from anyone over the past 4,000 years suggesting that the hypothesis has any merit?


Dear diary, me and Helga are really trying to conceive a child so that 8-10 years from now, we'll have a cow milker!

Sincerely,
Jedidiah


Not only do we not have any evidence that would suggest that people had kids to help with farm work, I think it is also worth questioning the conjecture itself.  Was the hypothesis put forward by anyone who has actually worked WITH a kid doing farmwork?  I remember the productivity of my brothers and I working and "helping" in my Dad's garden, and I am sure that our "help" fell into the category of "Dad probably being better off without the help"

So Helga and Jedidiah were willing to risk the mortality rate for mother AND child in child birth, then feed a "useless" mouth for 6-8 years, to risk and put forward all that in order for the CHANCE to get a teenager, 10 years later, who could help milk the cows?



It seems that to me, rather, that in order to justify our own society being the coldest bunch of utilitarians the world has ever known, we have to also project our frigid utilitarianism on everyone that came before us as well.

So, to make ourselves feel better, our child-farming hypothesis needs to very quickly become not a hypothesis but a fact.  I KNOW that farming is why everyone had kids for the first 4,000 years of civilization.


Maybe, just maybe, though, at least some people for the first 4,000 years (and maybe even most people) just loved each other as husband and wife, and were open to their marital love begetting children despite the risk of giving birth.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the people who predate modernity didn't just sit around and coldly calculate how many children it would take to produce X gallons of milk per week and then set out to make love according to that calculus.


Maybe they DIDN'T do it that way, even if people today would

Monday, May 15, 2017

As a member of our Archdiocesan College of Consultors...

...I am not sure but I am assuming we get a consultative vote soon on what we think of the next slate of priest assignments that would take effect the first week of July.

I have not seen the slate, but I am assuming that if it is something close to what I think it will be, I will not vote in favor of it for several reasons:

1) The vote is simply consultative, and so even if all the members voted against it, it could still be implemented

2) My spiritual director told me, when I was struggling over this past year or so, that St. Benedict said that as a priest or monk, you follow the assignment given to you by your superior, and if the assignment is bad/wrong, then that is on the superior.  Well, I will never have anything to do with assigning any priest to two parishes

3) I also can not support leaving any/all of our Archdiocesan high schools without a full time diocesan priest

4) I also can not support leaving any/all of our colleges and universities without a full time diocesan priest



People might say here: "give it time, the situation of 108 Masses within 7 miles of Monument Circle will get fixed, but it takes time."

Sorry, but no.

I had Mass every Friday with Archbishop Buechlein at his home right up to the time he moved back to St. Meinrad.  He said several times, in conversation, that he should have closed/reorganized parishes but that he just couldn't do it.

Archbishop Tobin pulled me aside when he first arrived at the Archdiocese and said "Fr. John, I know you pray, and I trust your feedback here.  Are a lot of the younger guys upset that I didn't close enough parishes in our cities?"  I told him Yes.  He said that he felt like there were ways to fix the issues without closing parishes.  5 years later, we can say that nothing along those lines happened.

Granted both of those men are great father figures to me, and I can only imagine all the pressures a bishop is under.

But my spiritual director has given lots of retreats for bishops around the country, and he said that a lot of bishops around the country know what needs to be done, but lack the courage to do it.

Well, tending to the Lord's vineyard means at times having to prune things so that they can remain healthy.


Someone else might say "hey, our diocese is getting ready to go through a planning process to work on some of this."  Pardon my skepticism, but we just finished a 7 year process that costs tens of thousands of dollars and saw the number of Indianapolis Masses go from 121 to 118...so that means we probably spent in excess of 10,000 dollars per Mass canceled.

If we need another "planning process" to cancel another three Indy Masses, then that would put us on pace for 20 more "planning processes" if we do in fact need to cut 60 Masses in Indy.

So we are currently on pace for losing three Masses every 8 years of planning, thus putting us on a 160 year path to getting close to what we need to do to make the Masses we offer line up with the number of people who are coming in the Indianapolis area.


Or, instead of taking 160 years, a shepherd can come in and fix it now.


But anyway, in the meantime, I would never symbolically vote for something that would give the appearance that I am somehow for the status quo

Priests are Burning Out

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A pro-life t-shirt

This was created by a former student of mine from Cardinal Ritter High School.  Help out a starving artist!



https://www.etsy.com/listing/512488802/pro-life-tshirt?ref=shop_home_active_2




Hell on Earth and the Good Shepherd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An urgent recommendation for what needs to be done in our diocese (and probably yours too)

For all the talk about the Church embracing modernity, we are still often structuring our American dioceses as if people don't have automobiles


Problem: our priests are spread too thinly.  Many of our priests who have left active ministry in recent memory have left as a pretty direct result of being given multiple parishes.  There is no doubt that being a pastor of a giant parish with a huge staff presents its own challenges, and I have great admiration for our priests pastoring our mega-parishes, but there is something really problematic in having priests be pastors of multiple parishes

Related Problem: Vatican II said priests ought to live in community.

Related Problem: priests pastoring multiple parishes is not sustainable (the assignment of guys to being pastors of multiple parishes is often being done by people who have never been a pastor of two parishes.  It is not a healthy situation)

Related Problem: we have 17 seminarians

Analysis
            
            Within 7 miles of Monument Circle in Indianapolis there are 118 Masses on the weekend

I took the seating capacity of each church and added the numbers up

Our presbyterate is saying Mass for 71,210 seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle

Those parishes have 27,678 registered families

Most parishes see about the same number of people on the weekend as they have registered families

Using this as an approximation, there are a couple of amazing ways to frame the same stat:
a.       Our presbyterate is saying Mass each weekend for 44,000 empty seats within 7 miles of Monument Circle
b.      We are saying over twice as many Masses as we need within 7 miles of Monument Circle
c.       We could cut out roughly 70 of the 118 masses and still have a seat for everyone that is currently coming to Mass within 7 miles of Monument Circle
d.      Those 70 Masses we don’t need mean we have approximately 20 priests within 7 miles of Monument Circle saying a weekend’s worth of Masses we do not need

This is not just an Indianapolis thing.  The figures are even worse in the only other place I looked – Terre Haute city.  6,950 seats each weekend for 2,352 attendees.  That’s 66% of the seats unfilled each weekend (4 Masses at St. Patrick’s each weekend would cover every Catholic Mass attendee in Terre Haute with 600 seats to spare each weekend.  Terre Haute currently has 15 Masses).

As priests we are asked to demonstrate business skills – the Lilly Grant/pastor’s toolbox/the book we were all mailed by Patrick Lencioni and Amazing Parish that encourage priests to become more business savvy.

That’s Great!!!!   My classmates and I asked for this repeatedly in the seminary, and we noted it as a weakness in our class exit interview from our seminary.

But it isn’t just priests that could benefit from thinking corporately.  The diocesan leadership needs to also put some corporate principles to work as well, in my opinion

Solution: Studies show that 70 -90 percent of Catholics are walking away from the faith from 18-34.  What company would learn that it is losing 70-90 percent of 18-34 years olds and would not have alarm bells going off and having emergency board sessions?
            
    And yet we are pulling priests out of precisely the places where these kids are found.  In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis no priest is assigned just to a college.  No priest is assigned just to a high school.  I was assigned to a high school in my first few years, but the Archdiocese pulled all of its high school chaplains out of the high schools and replaced them with part time priests who are supposed to do high school ministry as a part of their slate of other jobs.               

Corporations pay attention to their key demographic, their future, and it is pretty clear we are not paying attention to that demographic.  Investing in FOCUS ministries on our college campuses has been a good start, but even FOCUS will tell you that there is no substitute on a college campus for a full time priest chaplain. 

Putting some kind of limit on the number of Masses at parishes would free up priests to be present to the generation that will provide us with our next generation of priests, nuns, and faithful lay Catholics

Doing something about the number of Masses HAS to come from the diocese and the bishop.  We would get killed as the boots on the ground pastors if we canceled Masses.  But if it came from the diocese we’d be okay. 

And here’s the thing – every parish I’ve gone to has had to cancel a Mass in order for me to only say 5 Masses each weekend.  They’ve all grumbled, but because it came from Canon Law (a priest can only say 5 Masses a weekend), they accepted it.  They’ve all reported liking it better several months later
A)     A full Church
B)      Better music
C)      Seeing people they didn’t know because they went to an earlier Mass

Addressing this issue of having about twice as many masses as we need in our Archdiocese would both

1)      alleviate the extraordinary and sometimes unsustainable burdens on our current priests

2)      Help provide more presence to our young people thus helping increase the number of priestly vocations, helping with priest numbers in the future

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parish Video

This is a video we put together for one of my parishes.  Please keep our campaign in your prayers!