Where Are We Going?
Over the past two weeks I have asked the question, where are we going? As you may have already known, or maybe you learned this, our response as Disciples to this question is HEAVEN! Hopefully all that we do as Disciples leads us on our pilgrimage of life closer to heaven. If we firmly believe that then we must realize that St. Mary’s is the ‘rest stop’ along the way where we ‘fill up’ our spiritual gas tank for the journey.
A parish is meant to be a place where people encounter Jesus Christ himself, in the celebration of the Sacraments, in the breaking open of the Word and through our encounters with one another in the outreach and love the community shares. You have a strong tradition here at St. Mary’s of being a community that lives their faith seriously and well. The question that arises now especially as Fr. Luke and I begin our time here is, where are we going?
I’d like to take some time to share with you some vision that I have for St. Mary’s.
1. St. Mary’s is a place to encounter Jesus Christ. As we move forward, all that we do must help people who come here to find Jesus at work. This begins with recognizing that all are welcome, no matter what, every person deserves an opportunity to encounter Jesus just as they are. We must be a parish that promotes that welcome, and actively invites others to experience the love Jesus offers.
2. St. Mary’s must be a place where we grow in our understanding of being a Disciple of Jesus. Our baptism makes us a Disciple, and it is through our learning when we come to St. Mary’s that we must grow in our understanding of what it means to be a Disciple, and how to live as a Disciple in today’s world. This may at times challenge all of us, but we must be a people that accompany one another, accepting each other wherever we are at in our lives, and gently encouraging us to be more faithful along the way.
3. St. Mary’s is a place to encounter Jesus’ divine love and mercy. All of us need to depend on the love and mercy that Jesus offers us. Our parish must be that place where Jesus’ love and mercy are unconditionally and freely given. Our entire approach as a parish must always be one that leads others to the great experience of divine love and mercy. This means we seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and are generous in bestowing forgiveness to one another. Only when we do this can we heal and move forward in the grace of God.
4. St. Mary’s stewardship needs to reflect the blessings God has abundantly bestowed upon all of us. It is no secret that the uncertainty and tension of the past several years have led to a lack of trust. This however needs to change, and I realize that will take time. It begins with transparency, honesty and prayer. We must embrace these to bring St. Mary’s into the future God has destined for us. When we trust God, great things happen. In transparency I also need to honestly tell you that our parish is struggling financially. The trials the parish has endured over that past several years have taken their toll financially, which unfortunately jeopardizes our future. All of us need to look at our stewardship, and ask ourselves if what we contribute in time, talents and treasure honestly reflect the blessings God has bestowed upon us.
These are the top things that I wanted to share with you as a parish. If we embrace Jesus with all of our hearts, St. Mary’s will thrive. We certainly have some struggles to overcome, but nothing is impossible with God. I am certain that your prayers and generosity will lead us into promising future.
Keep Smiling :_)