Glory to Jesus Christ,
Brothers in Christ,
Since the messages from byzantine.us have been sent to all of us, and therefore beyond just the Presbyteral Council of our Eparchy and speaking from my experience and as a member of the Consultors, Presbyteral Council and Syncellus for Missions as well as my lifelong experience and family heritage experience in our Eparchy, I am submitting to all of you what I believe can be helpful suggestions for Bishop Milan and all involved.
I have included the Eparchial accountant and lawyer on this email because in the Church, financial support is a direct function of how well the Mission of the church is being carried out. Difficulties in this area will be reflected in loss of membership and financial support.
1. I truly believe that what will go a long way to inspire support and co-operation from our clergy and Faithful is if a clear, positive, creative, hopeful, exciting message of Mission, Vision and Strategic planning were delivered to the entire Eparchy from Bishop Milan or from some other designated person or committee. I have attached a sample of what I envision such presentation may sound like. I pray that I am not being presumptuous in this regard. I am must trying to be helpful. I firmly believe that if such a message was delivered the laity will not feel compelled to have ‘byzantine.us’ responses.
2. As indicated in my attached sample presentation, I would recommend that committees be formed in each region of our Eparchy to study and submit data to the Presbyteral Council, to the accountants and to Bishop Milan.
3. An Eparchial Pastoral Council be formed with the main task of reviewing the data from the regions, together with the input from the Bishop, accountants and lawyers.
4. The issue of the Cathedral property is probably the weightiest issue in our Strategic planning discernment. Over the years there has been about 6 or 7 creative options proposed for this property. I recommend that task teams be composed for each option and these teams do thorough study and presentation as to the feasibility of their respective options. These studies will then be used to determine the best way to resolve the Cathedral property issue.
5. After all the data is reviewed, all of the Councils, together with the accountants, the lawyers and with the bishop making the final decision, a creative, exciting, visionary evangelical Strategic plan is presented to the clergy and Faithful of our Eparchy. This plan must be comprehensive and integrated: From finances, to buildings, to ministries but all considered in light of a clear sense of the MISSION of our Church.
6. While we all understand the financial urgency of the Eparchy, my recommendation is that the front profile of communications from the Eparchy to its clergy and Faithful is not what we do not have, the negative, blame, chastizement, anxiety, no money, no vocations, etc. While some of this may be true and indeed urgent, to make it the front profile of the message from the Eparchy is only discouraging people and let’s face it, Fathers, we all know how easily people will walk away from the Church….and take their check books with them.
A positive front profile, something to the effect of, “Yes we have financial challenges but we are on top of this and we are going to create an exciting future together!” will result in support for Bishop Milan both fraternally, spiritually, and financially. This, I guarantee.
Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, has faithfully, selflessly, courageously and obediently accepted a position in a culture that was not his own, to lead an Eparchy that is in the most crucial and comprehensive transition since its very conception. This task set before Bishop Milan is nothing short of super-human. I have offered my thoughts here as my way of assisting Bishop Milan and our Eparchy. I invite all of us brother priests, to help Bishop Milan “take care of family business” (as I like to call it) by offering the input of our experience and insight so that as an eparchial family we can chart an exciting evangelical future for our Eparchy.
Note that the letter from the Canon lawyer repeatedly used the term “collaborative.” I believe this is the THE key to this whole thing. It is certainly a word that Americans understand and one that the Church has stressed in recent decades.
For whatever all of this is worth,
Fr. Thomas J. Loya
Glory to Jesus Christ,