Last week, Catholic Leadership CEO, Dan Cellucci, attended the NAPA Institute Conference in Napa, CA. The NAPA Institute is a unique opportunity for Catholic leaders to join together for faith, fellowship, and community and to discuss the current issues facing the Catholic Church today. One special part of the conference is daily Mass offered in a cave. Pictured (above) is the actual cave where Mass takes place. This picture was taken when I attended the NAPA Conference in 2016.
As a sponsor for the event, Catholic Leadership Institute had the opportunity for a short presentation to the guests to share Catholic Leadership Institute’s mission, vision, and hope. Below is what Dan shared....
"My name is Dan Cellucci and I am blessed to serve as the CEO of Catholic Leadership Institute.
With my five minutes I’d like to talk to you about caves. Yes, that right, caves – specifically two types of caves.
You are familiar with the first type of cave. Caves that are beautiful. Caves that provide shelter and safety. Caves can be a place for rest, for contemplation, for focus. The caves of St. Benedict. Caves, even if a little snug while kneeling, that provide a place to gather. We have been blessed to share a beautiful cave, both figuratively, and literally over the past few days.
But recent news reminds us of a second type of cave. Caves that are full of great darkness, that are mazes of confusion, caves that are ripe for infection and disease, absent of nourishment, places that are easy to enter, but almost impossible to leave.
To you Catholic leaders, I’m here to tell you that the majority of our parishes are in caves…and not the first kind. Most parishes don’t know that they are in danger, some are beginning to realize they might be lost, and increasingly, many are actively watching the water rise, they are running out of oxygen, they are praying to stay alive.
Since 1991, Catholic Leadership Institute has been blessed to serve bishops, priests, and lay leaders with world class, Christ-centered, leadership training and formation. We have just completed 5 years of research involving over 100,000 Catholic parishioners. I have been blessed to see the church in every part of this country and friends, our parishes, our pastors need rescue teams.
Archbishop Chaput began our time by acknowledging the Crisis in leadership. As Archbishop says, this is not a crisis on the shoulders of just our bishops and priests. It is a crisis on all of our shoulders.
1 in 5 children who are baptized will never see their First Holy Communion, 2 in 5 will never see Confirmation, and by age 21, 85% are gone. If we just play out offertory trends and the generational shift upon us from Boomers to GenX, the US Church stands to lose $5B a year in the next 10-15 years.
With trend lines like this, one might be tempted to consider the rescue impossible. And while it is daunting, my friends, I have seen it. I have been a part of it.
Juxtaposed to the frightening statistics I just shared, I have also observed parishes that are doubling their number of converts year over year. Parishes that are bucking every one of those trend lines I mentioned. Parishes that are singlehandedly cultivating the vocations to the priesthood and religious life in their diocese. If you too, believe that the rescue is possible, then I pose to you the same question I ask to the bishops and priests I get to work with. What’s it worth to us?
Like the miraculous rescue in Thailand that captivated our focus and prayers last week, this parish rescue will not be easy. It strikes me that our mission bears many similarities with the rescue of those boys. The rescuers needed significant planning and yet time was of the essence. Many of the boys needed to be taught how to swim and even those that could had to be escorted, one at a time, with someone guiding them up front and someone pushing them from behind. Along the way they were given oxygen. Their nerves were calmed while at the same time constant forward motion was essential. And while there was much well-deserved praise lavished upon the rescue team, for both the rescuers it was actually the rope, the literal life line, that those men grasped and that showed them the way out.
I come today with an invitation of hope. Catholic Leadership Institute is embarking on an ambitious initiative to provide a lifeline to our parishes. We are defining a roadmap to what a Catholic parish needs to be in the Next Generation and are walking alongside bishops and priests to bring our people out of the darkness. We are going in front and supporting from behind. We are going one by one and ensuring that at the heart of our rescue effort is our rope, our lifeline, the truth, our Lord and Savior that guides this effort.
I am blessed to be joined here in Napa with fellow attendees who have already agreed to join the rescue effort. Please pray for us and should you feel called to bring the lifeline of our Lord to our Catholic parishes and help pull them toward the Next Generation, please feel free to dialogue with any of us during our remaining time here or beyond.