Dynamic Catholics can change the world Print
Thursday, Sep. 10, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Ever since the early days of our country, Catholics have been making a tremendous impact on our society.

We do so much in our communities: feeding the hungry, giving clothing to those in need, educating children and adults, caring for the sick in hospitals and care facilities, and visiting people in prison. The list is endless.

But did you know that most of these things are being done by only about seven percent of Catholics in our country? That’s what Matthew Kelly asserts in his book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.

Last Christmas, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison gave its parishioners — including me — a copy of this book. It took me awhile, but I recently started reading the book, and it has really opened my eyes.

The 80/20 principle

Kelly talks about a concept known as the Pareto Principle. This says that roughly 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. In business this is often referred to as the 80/20 principle. This is the idea that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers.

Matthew Kelly was curious about how this principle would apply to the Church, so he studied parishes from coast to coast, examining two areas in particular: volunteerism and financial contributions. Kelly found that about 6.4 percent of registered parishioners contributed 80 percent of the volunteer hours in a parish and that 6.8 percent of registered parishioners donated 80 percent of financial contributions.

He was amazed! Roughly seven percent of Catholic parishioners are doing almost everything in their faith community and paying for it, too. This shouldn’t be a surprise to most people in a parish. Isn’t it true that a few people do most of the work in your parish?

Kelly then decided to study what makes this small group of Catholics so engaged and how we can learn from them. His thinking was this: what would happen if we could engage more parishioners and transform them into these “dynamic Catholics”? He said it would be a game changer.

Kelly suggested that if parishes engaged just one percent more parishioners in the next year, it would result in more volunteer hours and an increase in revenue. “This is the one percent that could change the world,” he said.

Signs of a dynamic Catholic

He writes about four defining attributes and behaviors that are signs of a dynamic Catholic. They are actually very simple things that everyone can do, starting with small steps. You have to read Kelly’s book for more details (which I highly suggest), but these are the four signs of a dynamic Catholic:

Prayer. Dynamic Catholics have a daily commitment to prayer. It can be praying in a comfortable chair at home, while taking a walk, or going to daily Mass.

• Study. Dynamic Catholics are continuous learners. On average, they spend 14 minutes each day learning more about their faith. They read books, listen to Catholic CDs, watch DVDs about faith, and tune in to Catholic radio and television programs. They go on retreats.

• Generosity. Dynamic Catholics are generous, giving of their time, talent, and treasure.

• Evangelization. Dynamic Catholics invite others to grow spiritually by sharing the love of God with them.

While we can improve our own lives and become dynamic Catholics ourselves, Kelly also urges committed Catholics to invite and encourage others. Invitation remains one of the most effective tools for spreading our faith, he says.

As we prepare for the visit of Pope Francis to our country, this might be a good opportunity to share our faith. We may be reluctant or shy, but remember that Pope Francis has encouraged us to share the light of faith with others. It’s never too late to start!