When asked his secret to his prolific hitting career, the famous "Wee Willie" Keeler, who played for the then-National League Baltimore Orioles, responded, "Keep your eye clear, and hit 'em where they ain't."
Anyone who follows baseball at any level can tell you that this advice is as valid today as it was over one hundred years ago. "Hitting it where they ain't" is the key to the success of many a hitter since Wee Willie, from Ty Cobb, to Ted Williams, to Pete Rose, to Ichiro Suzuki. That's how you get on base.
However, in work for the Church, hitting it where they ain't is the last thing we want to do. Rather, we want to go where they are. This means that we cannot simply wait around for kids to show up at our programs, folks to fill up our pews or candidates to knock down the Vocations Director's door. An attitude like that would get Wee Willie Keeler on base, but it will not help to build up the Church - not at all.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes how we operate. We talk about the great gift that we have in the Gospel and in the sacraments, and then we complain when our Masses are half-empty. We look for more new priests, but we don't encourage those in our families and parishes to pursue that call that is so evident in their lives. Rather, we "hit it where they ain't," and business continues as usual.
Well, not here. We are committed to getting out there and hitting them where they are. Here in the Archdiocese, we have been blessed with many partners - priests and laity alike - who are also committed to the goal of helping our people discover and follow God's call in their lives. The art of inviting young men and women to consider a vocation in the Church is being rediscovered in a real way. More and more parishes are looking to Eucharistic Adoration as a valuable blessing for their people. And our youth are being ever-more drawn toward the meaningful questions like "What has God made me to be?"
And then there's the Internet. Websites are essential to any organization, and the Church is no different in this regard. But social media are growing by leaps and bounds each day. With Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we have the ability to, quite literally, hit 'em where they are" - right on their laptops, iPads and phones. That's the new frontier of ministry. We should not be afraid of it but embrace it - always in an appropriate way - with an attitude of "this is where Christ is; it is where He wants to be."
So, ministers and discerners alike, get connected; because we will be hitting 'em where you are!