It was a great pleasure to read and review the latest book from Joe Paprocki, A Church on the Move, 52 Ways to Get Mission and Mercy in Motion. Today we have a short Q&A with him, one that I hope you will enjoy.
Joe, if you are unfamiliar , is the “catechist’s catechist.” An expert in catechesis and ministry, Joe is also one of the most down to earth, humble people you will ever meet. His passion for the Church is steady and clear, he is a great evangelist in that way. Joe offers insights to us via his blog, The Catechist’s Journey, as well as through books and articles authored by him. Learn more about Joe and his work at this page. Not a catechist? Not a problem! Joe offers spiritual wisdom that all of us can use. Aside from his careers as a prolific author, an in-demand speaker, and a catechist, he is also the National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. And with that – let us go to our Q&A!
1. Why do you think that so many parishes (all with good intentions) have gotten caught up in running in “business mode?”
I think it is the way most of us have been taught and, while it can at times be efficient, parish ministry is not about efficiency but effectiveness. We can learn much from the business world but at the same time, we have to recognize that most of the Gospel calls us to an alternate way of thinking and living that does not fit in a business mode.
2. What is your greatest fear or worry about the state of the church today?
I fear that so many have thrown in the towel. We have dug ourselves a deep hole and it is going to take a long time to climb out of it however I am thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit will lead us out.
3. What gives you the most joy or optimism about the state of the church today?
I am so inspired by people in young adult and youth ministry! They are so energized and enthusiastic and they bring an idealism that we must not snuff out. They are the new life that we are desperately searching for and we must be doing all we can to support them and solidify their positions as leaders in the Church.
4. What might be one way that we as church could find our way out of “fighting the wrong battles?”
We have to have perspective and hope. If we are driven by fear and despair, we will find ourselves fighting battles that tear us down rather than build us up. We need to look at the long range effect of things and decide whether winning a battle is worth it if we are losing the war.
5. You’ve written numerous books, how do you keep coming up with new ideas?
I am actively involved in parish ministry and I meet and speak to pastoral ministers all over the country and so I continue to see real needs popping up all over. I’m in touch with the people in the pew and I approach things from their/our perspective while much of what the Church says and does is from a top-down perspective. My goal is to provide approaches and strategies for addressing real needs and concerns and for equipping pastoral ministers with practical and effective ways to proclaim the Gospel so that it can be received, embraced, and practiced in real life.
6. Who were your major influences growing up? Maybe you can name one or two personal ones, and one or two that went beyond your daily sphere?
I was blessed to have a young nun play a significant role in my life growing up – Sr. Georgine Smolinski. She was a Resurrection Sister and she embodied the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and inspired me and so many other young people – including the young lady who became my wife – to discover the excitement of the Gospel at a time when many young people were finding it to be boring or out of touch. As an adult, I had an amazing mentor, Fr. Jack Daley, with whom I taught religion at Quigley Seminary South high school for a decade. Jack taught be so much about how to proclaim the Gospel in a way that reached adolescents. Both Sr. Georgine and Fr. Jack sadly passed away much too early in life but their impact on me has been lasting.
7. Rock or jazz?
BOTH! I have very eclectic taste in music and listen to almost all genres although I’m not much into opera!
8. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate if it’s early enough in the day and it won’t keep me awake!
9. Coffee or tea?
I never developed a taste for coffee and again, the caffeine would keep me awake. I occasionally drink tea and I like to order iced tea at restaurants.
10. Walk on the beach or ski down the mountain?
Definitely a walk on the beach! I never learned to ski and will not venture forth at my age to conquer that skill.
11. Cubs or Sox?
I’m a southside Cubs fan which is a bit strange, however, growing up in the mid-60s, the Cubs had Santo, Banks, Jenkins, Williams – now, all hall-of-famers – while the White Sox had a very boring line up. Of course, I’ve paid the price by having a life time full of futility and heartache following the Cubs, but the Chicago Blackhawks have more than made up for that!
Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to answer both the serious questions and the fun questions. He is a great inspiration and I am grateful for his time – and for the tremendous body of work. What a generous way to live. I hope that you enjoyed “meeting” him here today. Now, go read his great new book to invigorate your faith and that of your parish.