Bishop Lessard use to rail against Catholic parishes that were too congregational. I used to agree with him, but in fact, my deepest instincts says that it is the best way to go.
We criticize Protestant Congregationalism but isn’t that unecumenical? Yes, in a word.
The only thing that is probably bad about congregationalism is competition, that is competing for
members by stealing from others or trying to convince people to join your congregation because your congregation offers a better product. This kind of congregationalism is consumerism and should be condemned.
But when congregationalism means that a parish is trying to do its very best to know, love and serve Jesus Christ but its various ministries, the focus shifts from the politics of the larger Church, which at our current time is on steroids and way too much attention payed to it rather than where most Catholics are actually touched, in their parishes!
While I have sympathy for recovering many of our lost traditions in the Church, what I don’t want to recover parishioners being treated like children but rather is helping Catholic laity find ownership in their parish/congregation and a sense of responsibility to make the parish the best it can be. First, with proper worship that is reverent, vertical and gives glory to God. The horizontal comes afterward with community building events and the various ministries of the Church, to the sick, home bound, poor and the education, religious or secular of both children and adults.
The laity must be equipped to do ministry first in their domestic Church, their own family and in the larger Church and not just for their own family, their own congregation but outreach beyond their boarders.
The expansion of liturgical ministries should be no threat as these are symbolic of the nature of the Church in everyday life.
While we might enjoy or be distressed by the diocese or the Vatican, most Catholics are untouched by what happens there. They are fed or starved in their local parish. Let’s feed not starve and lets focus on serving Christ and not bickering about Church politics or other events we have no control to change.