By Fr. John Jasica
A NEW PASTORAL ROAD OF DISCIPLESHIP & SERVICE
Merry Christmas everyone!! Now that we are celebrating the Word made flesh—the love of God given freely to us through the birth of Christ our Saviour, we are now embarking on a new pastoral road so that we as the Chatham Catholic Family of Parishes may grow as faithful and loving disciples who reach out to all. We are making a shift from maintenance to mission seeking to embrace the vigour, energy and grace of the Holy Spirit like that of the Apostles, having the courage to share Christ’s love and mercy in a world today that has drifted from the Lord. Today, we are called to once again introduce Jesus to the world.
WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MEAN FOR US?
Over the fall, I preached two message series (homily series) called THE GAME PLAN PART ONE and THE GAME PLAN PART TWO (which can be found at www.revjj.ca) looking at how we will practically transform our faith community to be relevant and meaningful in Chatham and beyond.
This will happen by transforming our ministries, programs and outreach to develop Six Qualities of a Faithful Disciple (Prayer & Sacraments, Invest, Share & Invite, Serve, Formation, Small Groups) that we are all called to be. All of this will take time.
The renewal and transformation of our ministries will take time and over the next four years we will integrate them based on four major themes:
- WELCOME & FAMILY (build community)
- PRAYER & CONVERSION (encounter Christ)
- GIFTS & CALL (discern how God is calling us)
- WITNESS & SERVICE (put our faith into action)
These four overarching themes will give us the time to focus building our relationship with one another forming one family with our five parishes, building our relationship with Christ, understanding the gifts God has given us and how they are to be shared, and finally, called into action to transform the world.
THE YEAR OF “WELCOME & FAMILY”
On the Christmas weekend we officially embark on our year of building community with new banners that are hanging in each church as a reminder that we are all called to be generous, loving and welcoming as we are really one family—all brothers and sisters. During this year we will develop, implement and highlight all those ministries, programs and outreach that helps build a sense of community so that we can truly get to know one another. This is especially crucial after the pandemic and if we are going to work together like the Apostle to share the Good News.
(1) LITURGICAL RENEWAL
The celebration of Mass is one of the most powerful ways we connect and encounter others on a regular basis. Over the next year we will be introducing ways to make the “weekend experience” very meaningful for those who come to worship. This includes welcoming Mass Hosts and an Info Centre at each church. We will continue to have great music, meaningful homilies and with the help of technology—offer the music text and responses for those who are new or unfamiliar with the Mass.
(2) COMMUNITY EVENTS
We are going to re-establish and introduce new opportunities to bring people together to socialize and grow in faith. This is already happening with our monthly Faith Film Series, the weekly Good Place Café, Parish Breakfasts, Concert Series, Summer Family Festival, TED online/in-person retreats, Faithcation Retreat, Superbowl Party and so much more!! All of these events will allow us to get to know one another which will then allow us to care for each other better!
(3) FAMILY & YOUTH MINISTRY
Volunteers and pastoral team members are visiting our Catholic schools regularly while also redeveloping sacramental preparation and offering new family ministry opportunities to build a sense of community. We now have monthly Family Movie Nights, Family Halloween Event, St. Nicholas Afternoon, New Year’s at Noon, Advent Family Night & Hayride, Sunday Friends Online video series, Summer Family Festival and so much more! We want to create a home for our young families where they feel safe, loved and inspired by Christ’s everlasting presence.
With Christmas grace we can build & grow together!!