I have a dream. This week I met with our new Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), as well as our new Liturgy Committee, as we began a new Team Chartering Process. A team charter is a document that states a team or project’s mission, scope of operation, objectives, consequences, and time frame. We were supposed to have the new Parish Finance Council meeting as well, but it was rescheduled to next week due to the weather.
Remember back during our Parish Christmas Concert (live on December 9), how I played the 1979 song from Abba, “I Have A Dream”? You can review it here. I also invite you to look back to September 2021, and see where we are coming from. How are we doing? I always appreciate your feedback.
As I mentioned last Sunday, it is a privilege to be your pastor, your parish priest. It is a joy to see you growing, serving and sharing your gifts! “The Lord has done great things for us.”
And I continue to have a dream. Here’s what I shared with our Councils and upcoming committee meetings, and with you all as well.
Ten Years Out
I dream of a St. Finnan’s Parish that everybody in the neighbourhood talks about, and not because we are closing churches, or thinking about renaming ourselves. A place that everyone, regardless of their faith, knows is a Christian church; a beacon of hope and light to the community. Where people from North Glengarry, and all of Glengarry can encounter Christ together and in one another. I dream of a parish where people feel safe enough to share their struggles with one another, and loved enough to discern in what way God is calling them to use their gifts.
I want a Sunday Mass where people are proud to invite their friends. I imagine a day when parishioners have family or friends visiting from out of town and happily say “we can visit the Oratory later on, but let’s go to Mass at St. Finnan’s Parish.”
I dream of Sunday mornings where people have the same sense of anticipation and excitement approaching the church as they do going to dinner with friends or to a concert. I want the parking lot full each and every weekend. I want to offer seniors the option of a special monthly Mass. I hope of one day seeing couples coming up the street holding hands as they approach the front doors of the church, of them being greeted by familiar faces and spending a few moments looking out for friends before finding a seat, and where ushers are needed to find families a place to sit together.
I wish for a liturgy where the readers make the Word of God come alive, where the homilies are inspiring and engaging, where the music is uplifting and transcendent. I imagine a liturgy which will engage parishioners in all their senses and enable people to participate without burying their noses in the missalettes. I hope for a Sunday Mass that has joyful people worshipping God, coming to the Eucharist with true thanksgiving in their heart. Where the Crucifix that dominates the sanctuary dominates people’s hearts and lives, where people know its saving power and the sacrificial love it embodies inspires all to lives of loving service.
I dream of a parish where we will need to build new offices to house our parish staff. Of a time where the pastor and stewards have to think about how to manage growth rather than how to pay for upkeep. Where the Faith Hub is now St. Finnan’s Parish, which includes Maison Shalom House! I want it to be a drop-in center for teens and a place where students can come and seek the answers to questions they do not yet know how to even formulate: what is life all about, why am I here, and how am I being called to transform the world. And I hope that St. Finnan’s Parish produces men and women who generously respond to God’s call to serve the people of God in consecrated life and ordained ministry.
I envision a parish where entire families are brought into authentic encounters with Jesus so that no future parents and grandparents have to lament their children walking away from their faith. Where the relevance of faith and how it impacts their families and relationships is obvious to everyone. Where we equip and empower men and women to boldly and unabashedly talk about Jesus’ transformation of their lives among their colleagues, their friends and their families.
Ultimately, however, I dream of a parish that is healthy and lively and growing not because we have vibrant liturgies or wonderful preaching or interesting youth programs or social justice initiatives, but rather these are the outcomes of a community that is healthy and growing because people are being brought to Christ, and thus are joyfully coming to celebrate his saving power.
What is your vision for your parish? What is your vision for your ministry? This year will be a year of discernment for all of us as we move forward as parishioners of St. Finnan’s Parish. My vision and mission continues to be to preach the Gospel, and to make disciples of all nation, in Glengarry. Have a great week.