This 5th Week of Easter we hear from the pastoral letter of St. Peter speaking to the early Christians and to all of us about our identity in Christ. Together with Him, we are the living stones that make up this spiritual home that we call the Church.
As we move towards our 175th anniversary as a parish, I think of the generations who have built up St. Mary’s into what it is today. What began with a few hundred immigrant families, grew and expanded such that they needed to build what is now our chapel. A few hundred families later and the school was built at the turn of the century to give our children an education and the Sisters of St. Francis were invited to teach. A few hundred families later, the number of ministries and organizations continue to grow and so a parish center wing was added on and then again, another addition was put on to foster the good work they are about. A few hundred families later, we built a new church to accommodate our bigger parish family. These buildings are but a reflection of how we have responded over the years to the many needs of God’s people and how we, the living stones of Swormville and beyond, have contributed our unique part in the legacy of St. Mary’s and the discipleship happening here in our community. It’s amazing what can happen when we take ownership of our spiritual home and build our lives upon the foundation that is Jesus Christ.
As we look back, we see that the Church built of the living stones of God’s people has always responded and has grown and has adapted to the pressing needs of its own time. So too in our day, we are following in the footsteps of those who have gone before us as we embark on the Road to Renewal so as to meet the challenges of the present and set ourselves up for fruitful ministry going forward.
Much of this process will be driven through the work of the Renewal Pillar Committees of our Family of Parishes comprised of the living stones from St. Mary’s as well as Nativity, Our Lady of Peace, and St. Teresa’s. The Pillars will be responsible for, amidst other things:
- -Liturgy: Creating a coordinated Mass and liturgical ministry schedule, alongside the celebration of reconciliations, weddings, funerals, sacraments of initiation with an eye to parishioner needs and priest availability.
- -Spiritual Life: Coordinate and promote devotions, retreats, and spiritual experiences between parishes
- -Formation: work collaboratively to ensure that faith formation opportunities are comprehensive between all age groups and locations; this includes youth ministry and sacramental preparation
- -Inreach/Outreach: this pillar looks at the organizations, ministries, and committees of the parishes with an intentional eye to their role in evangelization and furthering the mission of the Church
- -Stewardship: fosters ownership of our parishes - how do we build up the church through our time, talent, and treasure, realizing that what we do indeed makes a difference, and that it takes all of us
- -Administration: looks to share resources and personnel between the parishes to promote collaboration and implement parish action plans and goals; includes communication strategies among the parishes.
If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in committing to helping with the work of one of these Pillar Groups, please reach out to me. Likewise, if you have questions, pass them along so that we can begin addressing concerns and get needed answers. I hope to keep including information as it becomes available. Our next step is to pray for the Holy Spirit to send our family of parishes a good pastor.