October 5, 2012
I am pleased to announce the setting up of a new committee of pastoral council, to deal with religious education. It will be chaired by Michele O’Neill, and its members are Patricia Donnelly, Jo-Ann MacNeil, and Linda Longmire, with others to be added. Religious education is a crucial dimension of our parish life, and it is wonderful that we now have a committee to help us develop it in a more systematic way. There is the religious education that centres around preparation of youngsters for the sacraments, especially baptism, confirmation, penance, and eucharist. We already do this very well, but need to do it in a more integrated way. There also is the religious education of adults in the faith: workshops, opportunities to learn about prayer, parish missions, and a RCIA programme for adults journeying towards baptism or wanting to renew their faith. This committee will help us implement the new evangelization programme instituted by the archdiocese. If you are interested in lending a hand in the work of this committee, please contact Michele O’Neill.
Another committee of pastoral council will be set up, to deal with parish outreach. Many people are ready for an invitation to explore becoming a member of a church community. Why not join ours? This is especially true of people who live within our parish boundaries, but it applies to others as well currently without an active parish connection and for whom our style of prayer, liturgy, hospitality, and service would be congenial. Each one of you is asked to do what you can to foster our growth. Be on the alert for persons who are likely to be interested. If you get a suitable opening in a conversation, repeat the words of Jesus: come and see. But then we also need a committee to help us work together, for publicity, more organized contacts, special parish events. If you are interested in serving on our outreach committee, please let a member of the pastoral council or myself know. Likewise if you can think of a person or persons who would bring skills and energy to this task, give us their names.
May 13, 2012
Two points that I would like to reflect on with you.
First of all, we had two baptisms this morning and a wedding yesterday. Often those who receive the sacraments here are enrolled in our parish, whether they live within the stated boundaries of the parish or not – parish boundaries within large urban agglomeration are becoming less and less significant in the choices that individuals and families make. Others are not parishioners, but they have a connection with St. Patrick’s because of family tradition, or else they find this to be a warm and familial community. It is important that non-parishioners be recognized by those of us who are parishioners and heartily welcomed. In the ideal order it might be seen as good if they practiced their faith in the parish closest to their home, but better than they practice at St. Patrick’s than not practice at all. Building up our community is essential if we are to survive, and hospitality should be one of our hallmarks.
Secondly, as I survey some of our more pressing needs, three things come to mind. First, among the ministries that need more urgent attention, let us remember the needs of our sacristy. You might not feel ready to take on the full responsibility, but there are many areas in which help would be welcome. Second, we do have a stated parish territory (which I understand is bounded by North, Barrington, Cogswell, and Robie) and many people are unchurched in that territory. We will need an outreach committee to make ourselves better known to them as a place of gathering and worship and to invite them. Third, in the the light of the new evangelization project of the Archdiocese, we will need a religious education committee to develop educational and spiritual activities that will serve the parish well, such as – these are suggestions to be considered seriously – retreats, missions, work-shops and a RCIA programme. We need to discover our needs and find ways of meeting them.
Coutinue to be blessed with the joy of Easter!
April 22, 2012
Yesterday (Saturday April 21) close to 50 people attended the ministries work-shop. It was a very pleasant and profitable time together for all. Those present learned more, together with their colleagues, about the ministries they already exercise in the parish, and they learned about other ministries as well. A number signed up for new ministries. The event came to a close with a simple but most satisfying lunch. The great gift which the Lord had in store for us during our time together was bonding: people from different sectors of the parish got to know each other and to appreciate each other’s commitments. Great gratitude is owed to Michele O’Neill, Sr. Cecilia MacNeill, and Rose Hubley for organizing this event, and for the many others who worked behind the scenes.
Those who attended mostly came from the core of 50 or so parishioners already committed to the work of the parish and without whom the parish would not be able to keep going. There were very few new people in attendance. So our effort to bring in new people into the ministries and activities of the parish will continue. Lives are complex today, and the families of our parish are pulled in many directions with many commitments and activities, especially when there are children growing up. Some of our ministries call upon regular time to be spent during the week. Others focus on services to be rendered during our Sunday gatherings for Eucharist. A vibrant parish community needs to be a high priority in our lives. A time and a place where we can come together and counteract the fragmentation we all experience. Our relation with God and with one another as members of Christ’s body energized by the Spirit is more crucial than ever in this time of new evangelization.
We will provide opportunities to continue the good work begun with our ministries work-shop. Please keep your ears open as we continue to lay before you the needs of our parish and the forms of services to which many are already committed. At the back of the Church there is a table where you may sign up for a ministry of your choice. We will welcome you and make sure you are oriented. Also keep your hearts open to the ways in which the Lord might be inviting you to serve.
Jean-Marc Laporte, S.J.