A Message from Monsignor Jay…
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Literature on successful parishes identifies a number of criteria for a parish’s success and vitality. Number one is vibrant liturgies in which everyone participates and comes prepared to fulfill his or her role within the liturgy. Number two is inspirational homilies that challenge and encourage everyone to live as a disciple of Jesus. Number three is excellent participative music. Number four is a strong social outreach ministry that reflects the church’s teaching on social justice and brings joy and hope to the lives of those who are served and those who serve. Number five is a dynamic faith formation program that teaches the truth of our faith, witnesses to the risen Christ, and empowers adults and children to live as Disciples of Jesus. Number six is a strong commitment to hospitality and welcome to all who come to the parish. Number seven is community growth, being a parish where people want to be. Number eight is adequate, comfortable, and well-maintained facilities where liturgies, educational, and social events and programs can be held. Number nine is ownership of and commitment to the parish’s ministries that reflect parishioners care about the mission and purpose of the parish. Number ten is strong stewardship support of parish life and ministry. There are others but this enough food for thought for now.
When we use these criteria to think about Our Lady of the Fields, we could say that we do pretty well with some of the criteria and we need some improvement on others. I invite you to reflect on our parish using these criteria. How successful do you think we are? What are you willing to do to improve areas where you think we need improvement? I am sure we all have ideas for strengthening our parish but are we willing to put those ideas into action and center them within the mission of the church? Successful parishes require every member to put some blood, sweat, and skin in the game. When we sit on the sidelines and watch, we contribute to the diminishment of our parish life and ministry. When we step forward and work with others in fulfilling the church’s mission of witnessing to the Risen Christ and proclaiming the gospel through the witness of our lives, we experience the joy and the hope of a thriving parish. When we stop waiting for someone to do things the way we want them done and step forth to work with one another to discover the best ways to accomplish the mission Christ has given us, we will experience the vitality of Paul as he “proclaimed the good news . . . and made a considerable number of disciples.” (Acts 14:21)
There is one dimension of success that I have not mentioned. I believe all of the above criteria serve this dimension: successful parishes change lives in the name of Jesus. Jesus proclaims this at the beginning of his ministry when he unrolls the scroll in Nazareth’s temple and reads: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners” (Lk 4:18), significant change to all. How has Our Lady of the Fields changed your life? How successful are we?
May God’s Peace be Yours,