Building the Church is not about bricks

Dear Editor, Fr Martin Henry (Notebook, IC 30/10/14) makes the point that the Church is more than buildings, that it is the Body of Christ, “God’s real presence in and among human beings”. In Ireland over the past two centuries, we have a proud tradition in building many beautiful churches. The faithful responded generously and creatively to every appeal.

We are in new times now and the question has to be asked about how we understand the challenge to build the Church. Do we, as the faithful ‘in the pews’, give a realistic contribution to the Church? Do our Church leaders have the imagination to see that building the Church is not primarily about bricks, but about what is needed in the 21st Century to build “God’s real presence in and among human beings”?

The young people of today are tomorrow’s Church, but how seriously do we take the need to provide and resource professionally trained and paid Catholic youth workers to work with the youth in our parishes, our college and university chaplaincies?

In this view from the pew, we wonder if the Church should not be doing more for young people, but are we willing to make a realistic contribution to fund that work?

When our leaders look at the many demands on Church funds, do they allocate funds on the basis of a model of ‘building the Church’ which worked well in the 19th and 20th Centuries, but is no longer relevant to the situation of the Church today?

We need to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today; otherwise our many fine churches will be empty and we will have failed the vision of the generations who, despite their poverty, built those churches. We will also have failed the current and future generations who will not know God’s presence in their lives.

Yours etc.,

Frank Reynolds,

Coleraine, Co. Derry.