Eventually, it had to happen. Lay Ecclesial Ministers, despite the validation and encouragement given by Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord--the USCCB's recent document on their work--have been edged out by the proverbial church mouse on the ecclesial wage scale this year.
"I am called by my baptism and fulfilled in this particular vocation," said Betty Grabell, a pastoral associate at St. John the Baptist Church in Middletown, Wisconsin. "I love my work. But I get tired of stretching every penny and still dealing with debt. Here's a joke for you--'what's the difference between a pastoral minister and a pizza?'" Pause. "A pizza can feed a family a four. Ha. ha."
The church mice, which read Catholic Social Teaching pamphlets in the back of the churches and have since unionized in the past year, are now getting 10 morsels of cheese an hour, plus overtime pay during Advent and Lent. This puts them ahead of the pastoral ministers by a whisker. Bats in the belfry are still flapping about dead last, however.
"We're clinging to the Church's preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, blind, ugly, flying creatures of the night," noted a bat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.