By: Fr. John Jasica
One of my favourite all-time Christian bands is called REND COLLECTIVE. They are from a small town in Northern Ireland and travel across the globe leading praise and worship with their amazing songs that are really wonderful prayers! I had a chance to see them in concert twice—once in Plymouth, Michigan and again in Windsor.
One of the songs on their latest album is reminding me of God’s grace while we move forward in our Chatham Catholic Family of Parishes. The song is called HALLELUJAH ANYWAY. We are seeking to “Ignite the Mission” within our community so that we can most powerfully be a light of Christ in our world. This will be done differently than in the past and requires courage, faith, trust and sacrifice. The first verse of the song reminds me that no matter how difficult or challenging things may become, I am determined to praise the Lord and trust in Him.
I’ll find a way to praise You
From the bottom of my broken heart
‘Cause I think I’d rather strike a match
than curse the dark
Yeah, I’ll find a way to thank You
Though the bitterness is real and hard
‘Cause I’d rather take a chance on hope
than fall apart
I don’t think I’m ready to surrender
to the dark, no.
Last weekend we published Bishop Fabbro’s letter to the people of Chatham, offering us direction as we move forward. I also wrote Part I of my reflections on what this means for us. This article is Part II and next weekend will be Part III. Many were hoping that we could start moving forward—now this is becoming a reality. Come Holy Spirit!!
(5) ACTION PLAN (continued from Part I)
The Family Pastoral Council, Finance Committee and Pastoral Team have been working on an ACTION PLAN that will be shared with the faithful in early 2024. This plan takes into account our new pastoral plan, our “Ignite the Mission” discernment, Bishop Fabbro’s pastoral letter and the Feedback Forms Summary Report—June 2023 that compiled all the feedback received during the 2023 Easter season from the faithful of Chatham.
This action plan will help all of us actually begin the journey forward together, following the grace of the Holy Spirit, to become the community that Christ needs us to be in our world today. It includes opportunities to pray, listen and discern through “sharing sessions” in addition to offering a flexible timeline as we move forward. The document also offers some clear direction in response to Bishop Fabbro’s guidance for our family of parishes. More to come in the new year. Please continue to pray as we move forward in our time of transformation.
(6) MAINTENANCE vs. MISSION
One of the important distinctions I want to express and highlight is the fact that we are not looking to maintain or protect what we have always done and what we are all comfortable with. When we approach our family of parishes from the perspective of mission—the decisions we make are based on the ability to change, adapt and embrace new ways to evangelize, share, serve and witness to the Gospel—for the sake of those who are not part of our community and those in greatest need.
This is a very exciting time to ignite the mission within our family of parishes and it is also a very difficult time as we adapt everything we do and where we do it to maximize our efforts for the sake of sharing the Good News. This involves thinking outside the box and sacrificing what we are used to (including our personal preferences and expectations) so that we can grow the faith for future generations. This will cause some great challenges and difficulties for parishioners—but I know that this is where Jesus is calling us so we can help transform the world. We need to deepen our understanding that we are instruments at the service of Christ. May we be courageous in trusting the Lord.
The chorus of Rend Collective’s song HALLELUJAH ANYWAY inspires me to trust no matter what—that I should be persistent in faith and endure in the mission. The Lord is always with us and together we will continue to proclaim the joy of the Gospel.
Even if my daylight never dawns
Even if my breakthrough never comes
Even if I’ll fight to bring You praise
Even if my dreams fall to the ground
Even if I’m lost, I know I am found
Even if my heart will somehow say
Even if we face hardships, challenges, struggles and sacrifices as we move forward, we will continue to pray, seek God’s grace and support one another knowing that the Lord leads us beyond to become a community of light, hope, peace and love.