Numbers inform us, but stories inspire us!
During our latest town hall meetings we discussed the reality of no priestly vocations in the past 5 years. This Sunday we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We are invited to reflect on the meaning of God’s call and to pray for vocations. Christ, the Good Shepherd, continues to lead his people through His Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and calls many to follow Him in this way. Priestly, diaconal, and religious vocations should be a constant concern in the hearts of God’s people.
Back in 2021, I shared in the Annual Report about my dream for our parishes going forward, about new goals and new resolutions. Our Pastoral and Finance Councils continue this conversation every time we gather together. The Pastoral Council met on April 26, while the Finance Council will meet on May 10. We are working towards growing our parish family. I look forward in sharing more good news stories with all of you.
And our goal, purpose is to make disciples of Jesus. If making disciples is the mission of the Church, shouldn’t we know whether we are “making” them or not?
I always enjoyed hockey stats – what’s the percentage of the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup this year? 0%. That’s too easy, I know. But how, and why, do we measure stats at a parish level? There is a hesitation in measurement in parish life, and ministry! Because every number is a person. Jesus counted the numbers, aka the parable of the lost sheep: 99 vs. 1. But we have to care for, and go after the one that is lost, while continuing to minister to the flock. We are concerned about everyone in the group. Indeed, metrics show the importance in monitoring the attendance, while at the same time indicating a fruitfulness in our ministry.
This past Easter Vigil we accepted into the Church three catechumens. Bradley, Edgar, and Erin are now Catholic, our brothers and sister in faith. It was a beautiful celebration. On Tuesday night I also met with our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation) team who worked all winter in journeying with them. We also are preparing for the next phase of the RCIA ministry. There are currently 7 people now knocking on the door of the Church looking to come in! God is good, and He is working for us, and with us. Our parish family is growing.
The mission of parish renewal is, at its core, not the conversion of structures and such – but, ultimately, the conversion of hearts. Programs do not renew the parish, but people will. Let us continue to pray for parish renewal this year, for prayer is the real engine! Parish renewal is a process of both spiritual and structural renewal with the goals of making disciples, building communities, and inspiring witnesses. Have a great week. Peace.
ps. current stats on our parish family regarding parish renewal, structural changes, and possible church closures.
pss. next Parish Renewal Committee Council meeting to recap the difficult discussions from the past few months will occur on May 10, in a joint meeting with the Parish Finance Council meeting. Come Holy Spirit.