SEWARD (SNR) - Author Matthew Kelly was invited to give a workshop to all diocesan priests Tuesday, Sept. 10 at St. Gregory the Great Seminary near Seward.
Kelly is the author of more then 12 books, most recently the best-selling "The Four Marks of a Dynamic Catholic," which uses social science to identify the qualities of active Catholics, and to help pastors develop those qualities in others.
He began his talk by asking pastors a question: "How could you have 100 times more impact in the next 20 years than you’ve had in the last?" His workshop suggested that statistics could help to answer the question.
Kelly’s statistics are sobering. In American parishes, he said, "6.4% of American Catholics contribute 80% of the volunteer hours; 6.8% of American Catholics contribute 80% of the finances. There is an 84% overlap between these groups." What’s more, said Kelly, "fewer than 7% of Catholics pray for 10 minutes daily, and fewer than 2% report using the sacrament of confession regularly."
While the numbers are discouraging, Kelly said, "they also provide the answers. We have a group of very committed Catholics. To fulfill the mission of the Church, we just need to expand that committed group."
Kelly encouraged pastors to reach out to Catholics who may be interested in deepening their faith. He encouraged them to help Catholics develop regular practices of prayer, to read "good Catholic books," to be generous with time and finances, and to engage in practices of evangelization.
"Imagine," Kelly said, "if each parish in (the Diocese of) Lincoln doubled the number of committed Catholics. Imagine that we could transform the world."
Evangelization, said Kelly, is key. "I am passionate about building a bridge to bring people into the life of the Church," he said.
The bridge, he said, is formed in authentic friendships and relationships: "we need to convince the people of our time to give the Catholic Church a second chance. And in order to do that, they need to see that it is working in someone else’s life."