Pastoral Message – July 17, 2022
Ever since the other priests and I started working here at Saints Simon & Jude, we have heard about a collective desire for the parish to become more youthful. To grow young so to speak. Therefore, for the past couple of years I’ve been thinking about this and trying to figure out how to achieve such a goal.
To begin to reach this goal I hired a faith formation staff to help, because when Frs. Mike, Thanh Tai and I first arrived there was no faith formation staff. We have made a commitment to formation ministry. Andrew Watson and Chentel Tabbada are actively growing the ministry of Jr. High, and High School students as well as college students and young adults. Rhea Moreno is taking up the work that was started by Erin Watson, ministering to elementary students and our youngest kids, and their families. At the same time, Mark Purcell is working with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which welcomes anyone seeking Sacraments between the ages of seven and heaven. (Yes, since seven year olds are adults in the estimation of the Church. Seven is the official age of reason after all.) Moreover, we have the continuing formation ministry that is our parish school. The school is a ministry of the parish at large. So, we’re investing in the formation of kids, youth, individuals and families. Formation ministry is one of the ways by which the parish will grow young while attending to folks of all ages.
Another way to reach this goal is by how we worship. Seventy-five percent of the folks that participate in our parish do so because of worship. That is Masses, both Sunday and weekday, and other sacramental occasions – like weddings, funerals, and baptisms. The attitudes surrounding our communal prayer and the style of worship can be either an attraction or a deterrent. That is why we have some choices in worship styles. The presiders change up each weekend. The preaching includes deacons. In addition, with Andre Rossignol and Anna Crumley, we’ll see a greater range in musical styles and genres – from traditional to contemporary with maybe a little Gregorian chant and some gospel-inspired hip-hop thrown into the mix. While music and the presiders’ style might change, the simple, humble, reverence due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will always be sacrosanct. The commemoration of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection celebrated well is attractive to all seekers of each and every age.
For the past couple of months and for the next six weeks or so, we’ve been having social events after weekend liturgies. We’ve got our Holy Smokes ministry cooking and feeding and entertaining us. We’ve got other parish ministries involved in these events. We’re working together to create an atmosphere of grace and hospitality. The results have been great. Fellowship has been happening with kids running around the field having fun and folks have been fed. Honestly, it’s better than any Midwest family reunion I’ve ever been to. There is a sense of belonging that is attractive for those who know about it or are seeking it out.
Now, I didn’t just write the above message to “toot my own horn.” No, I’m writing to say things are falling into place for our parish to emerge from a shutdown pandemic and work together to fulfill the aforementioned collective desire. But this can’t only be up to “Father” or a specific ministry. This has to be a focus for our community. It has to be your focused ministry!!! By this bulletin message, I’m sending you out as missionaries – just as Jesus said in parables, “go out into the highways and byways” and bring them in. You know plenty of folks both young and more mature. You do not have to be a Kardashian to be an influencer. So pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the zeal and the opportunity to invite someone – family, friend, neighbor or stranger – to our parish! If such invitations happen often enough with humble sincerity – family, friends, neighbors and strangers will respond. That’s how the parish will grow young, and everyone who takes up this missionary endeavor will grow young of heart, mind and spirit. Because those who take up the mission of Christ are renewed in faith, hope and love every day.
Let’s keep up the good work, in Christ our Lord!