There were almost forty replies to the questionnaire that was distributed in November; this number may sound small but is more than some larger parishes got. And the replies were thoughtful and thorough, around a hundred pages in all. The summary of responses was shared with our cluster parishes.
SUMMARY OF PARISHIONERS’ REPONSES TO NOVEMBER 2013 SURVEY:
1. PARISH ADMINISTRATION
Many people asked for greater financial transparency in the running of the parish, as well as the formulation of a lay finance committee to advise the parish on the best use of resources. Some suggested that all the weekly collections should be published in the bulletin. While some expressed hope that the reunion of Corpus Christi and Columbia Cath0lic Ministry would be a blessing to the parish, others worried that it would be problematic. Some hoped that another priest could be assigned to the Church. Some expressed hope/concern that the laity be more involved with the direction of the parish.
Many responses expressed a desire for regular financial statements, either monthly or annually, to indicate both revenue and how the funds were spent. One respondent noted that when the parish had a lay finance committee, the regular reports to the parish from this group were seen to lead to an increase in giving. Another writer suggested open Parish Council meetings.
Other respondents cited parish staffing as a part of stewardship of Corpus Christi. Many addressed in one way or another the perceived challenges for parish clergy who bear a heavy workload, and the need to bring in an additional priest or to lighten the load in other ways, such as hiring an accountant or physical plant manager. Several respondents noted the variety of skilled people among Corpus Christi’s parishioners and suggested that these people be enlisted to contribute their talents to administration of the parish.
Respondents interpreted “outreach” both as an action taken to join with other parishes, neighboring institutions and the needy, and also as a matter of Corpus Christi’s potential to draw in more participants and parishioners through a richer and more welcoming parish life.
Other suggestions in this area were to sponsor joint programs with Columbia or other neighborhood institutions, possibly a concert program with the Manhattan School of Music, invited lecturers from Union Theological Seminary, instituting an annual oecture series, and interfaith activities such as Catholic/Muslim outreach.
A vast majority of responses hoped for a greater outreach to the poor and needy in the community, and there were many suggestions about how to enhance this work. The wish was frequently expressed for more opportunities to volunteer, such as providing for the neighborhood homeless and poor through soup kitchens, more frequent collections for food pantries, or other forms of service.
Finally, certain respondents turned the question of “outreach” around, in considering how the parish might provide enhanced community for its own members and through this vibrant life attract others on the periphery. A mandate to “rebuild Catholic culture” in our parish through activities such as family events, movie nights, live entertainment, and organized events such as walking tours. Other respondents also touched on this theme in expressing the wish that the parish as a whole would project an open and positive attitude, to grow in influence in the neighborhood by listening to others, sharing our faith with them, and “preaching the scriptures that inspire hope.” The role of the School in parish life was mentioned, with a call to enhance and highlight its role “as a site for rigorous education with Catholic faith formation.”
Many people expressed hope that Corpus Christi could have greater cooperation and dialogue with all of the other religious and educational institutions in the area, as it has been in the past. From Bible studies and lectures, to concerts and seminars, many people want to engage the world and share the faith with others, especially other people of faith.
Specifically, many responses called for Bible study sessions, lecture programs concerning current affairs in Church, culture and educational topics. Many responses favored continuing Lenten Vespers with outside speakers giving the homilies, using it as an opportunity to bring diversity and local resources to the Corpus Christi pulpit, at the same time enriching parishioners and the Morningside Heights community. Many responses encouraged parish involvement with neighboring institutions, such as Union Theological, Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia Univertsity.
4. SACRAMENTAL LIFE
There was overwhelming support for Corpus Christi’s long-standing liturgical tradition, exemplified particularly in its music and preaching. For many respondents, a sense of community has been generated by liturgical excellence in which “the Eucharist becomes real” in our assembly of believers.
A number of concerns and suggestions were also submitted, especially related to the priority and continuation of the traditional reverence and commitment to liturgy by the new priests in the parish. This includes a suggestion that “our clergy think more about the needs of the parish in balance with campus ministry duties and a concern that Corpus Christi seems an appendage of Columbia University.”
In this context, there were numerous requests for more and better-prepared Scripture-based preaching and more respectful pacing or slowing down of liturgies.
Other suggestions included attention to music at the Saturday 5:00 P.M. and Sunday 8:30 A.M. Masses, as well as increased attention to the Sacrament of Penance. Several respondents pointed to a need for greater collaboration between the English- and Spanish-speaking communities.
CORPUS CHRISTI TOWN HALL MEETING, April 27, 2014
Cortpus Christi will not be closed or consolidated with another parish. We will collaborate with neighboring parishes as part of Cluster 18, Upper West Side, Manhattan:
Holy Trinity 213 Wedst 82nd Street, NY, NY 10024
St. Gregory the Great 144 West 90th Street, NY, NY 10024
Holy Name of Jesus 207 West 96th Street, NY, NY 10025
Ascension 221 West 107th Street, NY, NY 10025
Notre Dame 405 West 114th Street, NY, NY 10025
Corpus Christi 529 West 121st Street, NY, NY 10027
Final details will be announced in September.