Now is the time of year we make next year’s plans. Already we have umpteen First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA dates in the diary. We’re creating programmes for formation of parents next year. We’re scheduling a “vision evening” for catechists to impart the vision for our parish’s catechesis for the year ahead.
Can I be really honest here? I hate scheduling dates. It is such a complicated process. First, you check the liturgical year. Next, you’ve got all the school holidays, half-terms, inset days. I find myself flicking between three different school websites. Then, you have to work out, like a crazily complex jigsaw, which programme will fit on which night, given available venues and catechist availability. Then you discover you’ve booked two parents’ sessions for two different programmes on the same night. A certain speaker you would like for one night can only make the following month when you’ve already booked someone else. Even when everything is finally set in stone, and you come closer to the different dates you set, people will drop out with a little bit of notice, even though you scheduled the date a decade ago.
There’s a difficult balance to strike. On the one hand, parents need all dates well in advance. On the other hand, I think that too much planning can stifle the real work that is going on here, the action of the Holy Spirit. Do we schedule multiple meetings for RCIA sponsors, or do we wait until it seems it would be fruitful for everyone to get together? How do we safeguard as much as possible the precious time of our volunteers?
Mundane and tedious questions, perhaps, but I think this is an important area to get right, if we really value those who serve in our parish. Through our natural gifts and human wisdom, the Holy Spirit can work by bestowing supernatural gifts and fruitfulness. Yet, while we use our human gifts to the best of our ability, we have to give space for the Holy Spirit to work. Perhaps our RCIA candidates will not be ready to become Catholic by next Lent, and we will have no one go through the liturgical rites. Who knows?! We cannot forecast too precisely how the Holy Spirit will work in our parish this year… Are we open to what he will do?