The Importance of the Small Parish Network
Catholic social teaching is built on the cornerstone of: "the principle of subsidiarity". This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity -- should be. Subsidiarity conflicts with the modern passion for centralization and bureaucracy. This, however, is a principle of our faith ... this is what we, as Catholic, necessarily believe. This social teaching is best exemplified and practiced at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in our Small Parish network.
How best can two priests - soon to be one (as envisioned in the diocesan pastoral planning process) - possibly be able to care for the spiritual and corporal needs of the parish? The priest can become the CEO of the parish. We could hire more full time staff. We could bring others up from Sioux Falls. We could bring others from New York or California. These solutions, however, only estrange members of the parish from each other. (Bureaucracies are efficient in solving particular problems; however, bureaucracies, by nature, hate messy things. People, by nature, are messy. This is why bureaucracies don't like people.) As a result, members may be left isolated and alone at critical times.
On the other hand, the principle of subsidiarity calls on the local community to take care of difficulties and celebrate successes on the local level. Such is the case of the Small Parish Network we have in Pierre. Instead of relying on an impersonal bureaucrat - neighbor can rely on neighbor. Once the small parish is unable to care for a matter, then the parish as a whole is called in to assist, then the local Pierre / Ft. Pierre community, etc., etc. until the matter can be returned to the small parish level. (And, when you think about - in the short term it MAY SEEM inefficient, long term the dignity and care of our family and neighbor is best and most efficiently served because of our personal knowledge of the circumstances and needs.)
So, get involved in your small parish network. A real way to practice our faith! It is in this network the individual Christian literally lives and breathes - love (and care) for your neighbor as you love (care) for yourself.