Dear Friends in Christ:
Last week was probably the busiest week here at the parish since March 2020. It was wonderful! On campus we had bible studies for adults, Youth Formation, Bazaar Meeting, Bridge Club, That Man Is You, RCIA, The State of the Parish presentation, Boy Scouts, Youth Ministry, Social Services, Choir Rehearsals, masses, funerals, weddings, confessions and much, much, more! The signs of life here at St. John Vianney are becoming more numerous every day. In truth however, even in the darkest days of the pandemic when all public activities were forbidden, the parish was still alive. Mass was being prayed three times a day privately, the church building was still open for private prayer, the parish staff and so many others became ZOOM experts and the faith continued to be alive in the hearts and homes of our parishioners. It has been a long, and at times, difficult journey and we are not done yet. There is much work left to be done. In fact, the work of the gospel never really ends. As a people of faith, we are not done until we reach our destiny of eternal glory with God in heaven!
Last Saturday, we had more than 100 parish leaders gather for the State of the Parish presentation. In normal circumstances this is a day that I, as pastor, give a report to the leaders of the various groups and ministries of the activity of the last year and lay out the plans for the coming year. Given the extraordinary times, we made a change this year. I invited John Poitevent of Parish Catalyst to come and give a day-long presentation and workshop to the parish leaders. John helped our leaders to refocus on our mission as a parish and gave practical advice on how we can continue to move forward in fulfilling our mission. I am most thankful to all who gave up their Saturday in service to our parish.
In the days ahead, you will see many more activities. Each of these activities flows forth from who we are as a parish community. Agere sequitur esse – action follows being! All of the activities in the parish and of the parish are expressions of who we are as children of God, disciples of Jesus and as members of the mystical body of Christ, the church. We do the things we do not just to do stuff, but because of who we are. Our activities flow from our being. We worship, learn, serve, and love. When we look at our activities here in the parish and at home, school, and work, we see a connectedness. We are not one kind of person at church and another person away from church. Who we are and what we do at church informs, forms and affirms who we are and what we are called to be. The sacraments that we receive strengthen us in living out who we are. The sanctifying grace of the sacraments aids us in this life and helps us grow in holiness. The grace of the sacraments helps us to become saints!
All the activities of the parish, from daily Mass to the Annual Bazaar, help us individually and communally. Yet, they do us little good if we do not take advantage of them, if we separate ourselves from the community. One of the great challenges we face in today’s world and especially in these “COVID times” is connecting and re-connecting with others. Technology has been wonderful, but the internet and cell phones are not the same thing as in person communication. A ZOOM meeting is not the same as gathering together in the same room. A virtual choir or cyber choir pales next to the real thing! Watching the Food Network is not the same thing as eating. For us to (borrowing a political phrase) ‘build back better’, we cannot just talk or leave it to someone else. We have to act, each of us. We not only participate ourselves and together with those who are here, but we also personally invite others to join us. When we come together, we more fully experience Living Faith, Changing Lives and Making a Difference!
In pace Christi,