One of the more important themes that I have been writing about lately is the mission of the parish. In times past, most parishes were supported by the bulk of the people in any city, and even in rural areas, there were often many chapels and small mission churches. In our time, that has changed for a number of reasons, but whether it is a small or large parish, new or old, some important things always apply.
All members of a parish are expected to worship regularly, participate in the growth of the community, work on ongoing personal/faith development, and give generously according to one’s means. These precepts continue to be true, and especially so in our own day. In fact, I believe that following them is more important now than it was in days gone by. If everybody takes discipleship seriously and works corporately toward our success, we will succeed.But what does success look like in our time?
Soon, I will be sending the Grand Annual letter to all of you who are registered parishioners. In it, I outline what it is that we did last year, take the time to celebrate our successes, and then lay out a vision for moving into a new year with new goals and objectives for the parish. A hint: The vision will always be about how we are doing at the task of making disciples, people who are good representatives of Jesus wherever they are. So many people decry what is happening in our world and Church, and right now it does feel pretty bad. The solution is to seed the whole world with the love of God, shown to us by Jesus Christ and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We are the people God has chosen to accomplish this task. But how?
We begin with a universal call to holiness and the challenge to learn about our faith. If we are to be the people whom God uses to proclaim his kingdom, like the apostles, we must receive and share the Holy Spirit. It is demanding to be a disciple, because we are often called to present an alternative view in the world, to bring love where there is none and where there is hate, and to be people who consistently welcome the stranger and the outcast. These are not easy tasks, and take the humility to change from the inside out, and then recognize that we are not perfect. We have to throw off the goal of perfection (except in the desire to be perfect in compassion as God is) because it is the enemy of the good and causes us to be judgmental of others and ourselves. Instead, let us be about making every moment we are concentrating on our faith or our parish an opportunity to improve our prayer and relationship to God through Jesus, strengthen our knowledge of the faith and our desire to live it more concretely, and increase our desire to model it, wherever we are. That is our mission and we are on the journey to know it, live it, and make it known.
Peace, Father Murray
Building news: In meeting with the architects about the entrance and accessibility for the lower church at IC, the difficult news is that we are exploring making a new entrance attached to the school side back entrance. This appears to be the only possible entrance way. As a result, we are going to take our time with this project. The school leases are slowly coming along and the people who are taking them over are still in the “due diligence” period, i.e., looking at the challenges for their project within the Salem’s restrictions and codes. More as the time for signing gets closer.