Bulletins and Fr. John’s Weekly Column
This Month’s Bulletins
A Word From Father John
This past Sunday marked my two month mark serving as your pastor. In some ways, the time has flown by with all the busyness of unpacking, getting oriented and somewhat organized, moving through Thanksgiving, Advent and the Christmas season, and meeting and getting familiar with many new names and faces. In other ways, it feels like I have been with you for a longer period of time. Perhaps that is a function of the warm welcome and kindness that I have received from our wonderful parish community.
It is becoming clearer to me that the future of our parish will require us to build on what we have as we develop and grow in renewed and new ways. How do we honor our past and the unique traditions and characteristics of our three worship sites as we look for ways to adapt to changing realities and as we seek to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to mature in our faith and welcome others to join or rejoin us? This challenge and opportunity is not unique to our parish, but common to much of our diocese and the larger church. A whole cottage industry of authors and programs are targeted to do just that. Some are familiar to me and perhaps you, from Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic, to Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran’s Rebuilt, to Fr. James Mallon’s Divine Renovation. Those come to mind others are out there.
A common thread that runs through these is engagement. How much do I allow my faith to shape my life? How committed am I to the practice of my faith? Following the example of Jesus’ first disciples in our Gospel readings this Sunday and last, when Jesus draws near and calls us, are we ready to abandon what we are doing and follow after him? Another way to think about it is the involvement of various animals in a classic American breakfast of eggs and bacon. In this case, the chicken is involved in contributing an egg, but the pig is truly committed and engaged. What’s your level of commitment and engagement to your faith and the expression of it in the community of the church?
I suspect that most of us are not consistently at the level displayed by those first disciples, nor are we ready to commit and engage ourselves to the level of sacrifice of the pig in laying down our very lives. Yet, we would do well to pause and ask ourselves what it would take to get us there. After all, we are marked and repeatedly mark ourselves with sign of the cross as we proclaim to be followers of the Crucified Christ. So, what is your next step to grow in your level of commitment and engagement in the faith of Jesus Christ?
I am inviting you into this exercise for two immediate purposes. First, we need to take a look at our existing ministries and existing ministerial needs. Are enough people committed and engaged in them to allow them to function effectively and grow dynamically? We each need to ask ourselves: “What talents do I have?” and “How is God calling me to engage those in the ministry of our parish?” I have from various sources that a number of our ministries could benefit from an injection of new blood. I am inviting our staff, Parish Pastoral Council members, existing volunteers and parishioners to take a serious look at our existing ministries and ministerial needs, some of which may require new or renewed ministries. My hope is to identify, prioritize and plan accordingly to address those needs by matching up those with the required talent and time with the ministerial need. By doing so, we as a parish will grow in commitment and engagement.
Second, in less than a month, we will have an opportunity to grow in our faith through our observance of Lenten. If we take some time now to examine the practice of our faith, then we will discover the areas of our lives where we can employ and direct our prayer, fasting and almsgiving to greatest and enduring effect. On Easter Sunday, we will renew our baptismal promises. How are we going to use the opportunity of the forty days of Lent to take the next step in our spiritual journey so that renewal is the flowering of a new or renewed commitment and engagement in our faith?
I still have much to learn about you and our parish. I am hoping that this process will allow me to do so, and at the same time, move each of us and our parish in a positive direction to fulfilling the mission and ministry to which our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us.