By: Fr. John Jasica
DISCERNING TOGETHER REVEALS THE SPIRIT
As I write this article for the bulletin, we have now entered a time of major discernment as a family of parishes seeking to ignite the mission of the Gospel in a new way for a new time. We need to shift from maintenance to mission, from a Christendom mode to Apostolic mission. This is not a small step but a major overhaul so that the Gospel may be heard in the hearts of our world today. This is both a challenge and an opportunity that is before us.
The most important component of our discernment process are the sharing sessions taking place during the month of March. It is a real opportunity to pray, discuss and look forward with hope as the Church in a very challenging world. Together, sharing our perspective, our experiences and our faith, prayerfully—we then empower the Holy Spirit to guide us beyond our expectations, arriving where God wants us to be. This doesn’t mean it’s easy—but when we trust in the Lord and are willing to follow Him completely—we arrive at the right destination.
SHARING ON PURPOSE
These sharing sessions are essential for us to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through us. As much as these are moments to offer our opinions, thoughts, ideas and dreams, it is also crucial that we listen to one another and hear God’s voice in these conversations. This takes patience, attentiveness and an open heart. We need to share on purpose—with a distinct intent on moving forward and not trying to hold on to what we have and what we have known for the last many years. The sharing that has begun must continue as we journey into the future becoming faithful disciples who reach out to all. Our sharing sessions become a model for our own faith lives. Seeking to conform our lives to God’s plans and not our own.
Prayer is at the heart of everything. Our sharing sessions begin with prayer as a way to invite God’s loving presence into our midst as we discover where the Lord wants us to be and where He wants us to go. It really is an attempt to surrender ourselves to God’s grace and to place our personal agendas aside so that we can together, seriously realize the change necessary.
Prayer brings us peace, calm and reminds us that God is bigger than we are and our lives are most complete when they are in sync with the Good News. Our prayer of gratitude, openness and trust allows us to see things in a different perspective. It also allows us to dream bigger than what we could ever imagine. Prayer is essential for us to move forward becoming a vibrant and essential part of society today.
(2) REMINDER OF OUR SINGULAR MISSION
After praying, our sharing sessions are helping us realize that we are people on mission to share God’s love with the world. This is not something of an add-on to our lives and faith, but the heart of discipleship. If we are on mission, the strategies, tactics and approach will always adapt, change and be renewed so that people in the world can appreciate, encounter and be transformed by Christ who works through us.
(3) OUR CURRENT SITUATION IS UNSUSTAINABLE
When we look at our family of parishes today and the challenges we as a diocese are facing—we simply know that we cannot stay where we are and fulfill the mission Christ has given us to proclaim the Good News.
We do not have adequate staff, resources, outreach, programming and ministries to reach the people that need to encounter Christ. If what we are and what we have does not empower us to proclaim the Good News fully, then things must change. Our mission shapes the structure of our family of parishes. Trying to hold on to what we know is not in line with what we see in the scriptures of those called to be messengers for God. We need to trust that the Lord will lead us to something different—but bigger and better than we could ever imagine.
(4) A NEW PLAN FOR A NEW TIME
If we realize that we need to change, we need to work together to make that change happen. We have a pastoral plan that is centered around forming disciples who will have the courage and faith to reach out to the lost, alone, forgotten, afraid and poor—those who are seeking the Lord and not finding Him in our world. We have a plan that calls us to live our lives differently so that Jesus is in the driver seat, creating opportunities for us to tell our stories of faith to others. Putting our faith into action serving those who are in most need.
When we share from our hearts, with honesty and love, the Holy Spirit guides, strengthens and anoints us to be missionaries of mercy beyond our dreams!