In response to the need to grow our parish and to fulfill our portion of Christ mission, we have begun a process with ISPD (Institute of School and Parish Development out of New Orleans), to develop a collaborative strategic plan that sees our school as the principal outreach of our parish. We see the school as a great way to welcome families and individuals, and to introduce them to Jesus Christ with a “come and see” moment (see John 1:39).
We have called this initiative Growing as a Family, inspired in Pope Francis. As he tells us in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium,
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented… [with] a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself. As John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: “All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion” (Evangelii Gaudium, 27).
St. Mary of the Angels encourages you to dream with us and with Pope Francis. St. Josemaría would say, “dream and your dreams will fall short,” which is certainly true for those who dream while giving their lives to follow Christ.
In a homily during his pastoral visit to Our Lady Star of Evangelization Parish of Rome (10 December 2006), Pope Benedict XVI reminded us:
The parish is a beacon that radiates the light of the faith and thus responds to the deepest and truest desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families.
This is what St. Mary of the Angels is striving to become. So, as we go through the process of studying the good things we are doing, and what we could do better, we must let the missionary impulse that comes from Christ to transform everything we do, to make St. Mary of the Angels into a parish…
capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity… “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters” … in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few… [but] an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship, and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities [a family of families], a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a center of constant missionary outreach (Evangelii Gaudium, 28).
To help us make this dream into a reality, we are asking for your prayer with the feedback and support we need to move the parish forward. It will enable us serve the Church, Christ’s Body, helping her to grow, inspiring others to make the total gift of themselves in marriage, family, and other forms of dedication to God. As Pope Francis concludes:
Many places are experiencing a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. This is often due to a lack of contagious apostolic fervor in communities which results in a cooling of enthusiasm and attractiveness. Wherever there is life, fervor and a desire to bring Christ to others, genuine vocations will arise. Even in parishes where priests are not particularly committed or joyful, the fraternal life and fervor of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to the preaching of the Gospel. This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration (Evangelii Gaudium, 107).
So let’s dream…
Fr. John Waiss