Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
With this letter, I thought it would be good put in writing the main content of the homily I gave a few weeks ago, explaining how I see three sources giving the parish some momentum right now. The three sources are: the diocesan strategic plan, the discipleship maker index results, Amazing Parish inspiration to delve more deeply into our identification with Divine Mercy.
I wrote about the diocesan strategic plan when it was first published months ago. In this last couple of weeks, the diocese produced a video describing the plan, with the person in charge of each pillar speaking about that pillar. You can find that video linked on our Facebook page and on our parish website. It’s quite short and easy to watch. The six pillars are: supporting the health of parishes and clergy, invigorating evangelization and formation, enhancing lay leadership, strengthening Catholic education, growing Catholic charitable outreach and advocacy, developing financial resources. All of the pillars pertain to us in one way or another. The first has a lot to do with parish organization. The second and third have a lot to do with our understanding of the Faith and our living it together. The Catholic education pillar of course has a lot to do with our school. Each parish has been asked to engage the diocesan strategic plan at its own level.
The second source for direction is the discipleship maker index. Parish participation in the survey was very good, and therefore provides a statistically useful set of data. We are just beginning to process the data, but already, with the basic overview we were given as a pastoral team, it became clear that we can do a lot more teaching in the area of the call to personal holiness, the idea of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the readiness to help others go deeper in their faith. These three areas from the discipleship index certainly overlap with the second and third goals of the diocesan strategic plan: invigorating evangelization and formation, and enhancing lay leadership.
The third source for direction is the conviction that now is a good time to delve more fully into identification with Divine Mercy, as promulgated by St. Faustina and Pope Saint John Paul II. During our Amazing Parish conference last month, and a prayer time during the last day, I was inspired to consider the fact that I have not done much guiding in light of the name the parish was given – Divine Mercy. One simple reason for not giving much emphasis to this devotion is the fact that I never have been very familiar with it. I did not grow up with it. We didn’t talk about it in seminary. Another reason for not emphasizing it is that some things I read and heard when I arrived gave me caution about putting much emphasis on it. As we prayed at the Amazing Pairs conference, I was struck with the spiritual potential for us as a parish at this moment. I believe hearing some of the testimonies of other pastors at the conference, pastors who spoke about what makes their parish unique, also prompted me to consider our name – Divine Mercy.
Emphasis on Divine Mercy certainly overlaps well with various pillars in the strategic plan, and our desire for greater holiness and following Jesus Christ as disciples. That’s why I can say that I see these three sources overlapping and supporting each other to give us some direction.
So, there’s a quick recap of the content of that vision homily from a couple weeks ago. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,