Thomas G. Cronin
Thomas G. Cronin

When I pray and reflect on the state of our Church, a recurring challenge emerges each time — we don’t embrace change and we lack courage.

Change is scary for many. We are creatures of habit and we work hard at maintaining the status quo. If you are a regular churchgoer, chances are very good that you sit in the same general area of the church, if not the same exact pew. We have our preferred Mass times and we like things the way they are. I would dare to say we are even comfortable.

In my opinion, we are in a crisis of comfort. We are not supposed to be comfortable. Being a Christian, when done with zeal, is demanding and takes much effort and flexibility. How do you think the original disciples felt? Their worlds turned upside down. The comfort of family, the comfort of their homes and lifestyles were left behind. I am confident they had an intensely deep sense of Christ’s love and probably not much more. But then again, isn’t that all we need!

My mind continually races about strategies on how to better evangelize, grow our Church, and bring God’s love to more people. This is easier said than done. Why? Because it takes change and courage to take action. This is where comfort is our curse.

When I facilitate parish strategic plan­ning sessions, I can tell very quickly if the parish has the fortitude to implement the strategies we are discussing. The love for comfort and the protection of our buildings is sometimes more apparent than sharing our love of Christ. I am unapologetic over the bluntness of that statement. It comes down to the concept of investing financial resources in what we value. Yes, we must keep our buildings safe and well maintained, but we are spending immensely more on bricks and mortar than on the needs of the living stones, the people in our respective communities.

Just think of the word “parish.” Parish is a geographical region and more importantly the people of that region. In many ways, our Church has become so inwardly focused that we can be our own worst enemy. Our mission is not to serve the registered parishioners, but the needs of all the people.

Since change and acting with courage are difficult for most, it is now more critical than ever that we embrace “courageous change.” I am confident that with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do it. We need to take the time to critically assess our parish operations, pray, strategize, pray some more, and leave our comfort zone so we may execute the plan. At the end of the day, our success will be determined by how well we fulfill the command to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Tom Cronin is the advisor to the Bishop for Evangelization in the Diocese of Albany.  Contact him with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at or by visiting Follow him on Instagram: tom_rcda