The grouping team from St. John Berchmans, St. Hedwig, St. Aloysius, and St. Mary of the Angels presented our feedback report to the Renew My Church Commission. Now it is in the hands of the Cardinal and his teams. As we await our decision, let’s continue praying and ask the Holy Spirit to guide each one of us in our personal discernment, as Pope Francis says:
The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” Abraham received the call to set out for a new land. Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” and led the people towards the Promised Land. God tells Jeremiah: “To all whom I send you, you shall go.” In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth.” Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium, 20).
God calls each Christian to evangelize, but not always to cultivate the same soil. Paul and Barnabas parted ways in Antioch, as Barnabas took John-Mark to Cyprus and Paul went to the communities in Asia Minor with Silas (cf. Acts 15:35-40).
When the decision for our grouping is presented to us in May, each one will have to respond. Some may feel called to the West Town grouping, while others may feel called to reach out to the Bucktown-Wicker Park-East Logan Square area, looking for ways to invite the unchurched to discover fellowship and the deeper meaning of their life (such as through Alpha). We also need to explore ways to reach the “peripheries” with the light of the Gospel, assisting the elderly, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged youth in the area. As the Pope challenges us:
God’s word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: “As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” The way we treat others has a transcendent dimension… [as] God has shown us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…” What these [Gospel] passages make clear is the absolute priority of “going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters”… as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift. For this reason, “the service of charity is also a constituent element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being.” By her very nature the Church is missionary… (Evangelii Gaudium, 179).
Some may discern that God is calling them to evangelize those with common national roots or language, whereas current faith-commuters may hear God calling them to evangelize closer to home. Still others may discern that God is calling them to evangelize in their workplace, drawing their co-workers to Christ through their example as they work to cultivate God’s creation for the advancement of all.
The key is for each of us to pray and prepare ourselves for the mission to which our God and our Church calls us. It will be challenging, but the challenge will bring us great joy, the joy of the Gospel, Evangelii Gaudium! We will share the same joy that the seventy disciples experienced:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven… Nevertheless do not rejoice in this… but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).
May our discernment bring us the same joy and glory!
Fr. John R. Waiss