This past week the staff leadership team hosted another Amazing Parish follow-up meeting in the Paulding Ed Center. Once again, teams from Hicksville-Edgerton, Defiance and Lima were there. We watched a talk about music in the Mass by a couple of the Amazing Parish priest speakers. Most importantly, they spoke about the need for the lyrics of our songs to be focused on God, rather than simply talking about ourselves. Fr. James Mallon said that his first experience of Mass at his new parish included some eight songs during the liturgy, and not even one of them addressed God. I think all of us on the leadership team for Divine Mercy were all the more appreciative of the work our musicians have put in to provide songs that really lead our souls into deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
Also at the meeting we reviewed some of our goals, such as trying to have regular staff leadership team meetings with prayer. Honestly, that is sometimes difficult to do, because I drive a fair amount to Toledo for some of my obligations with the Diocese. Then I also do a fair amount of driving to Fort Wayne for hospital visits. And I’m very happy to do all of that. Those are good things to do. So we’re determined to be creative, finding ways to make the meetings happen, but at the same time, we’re not going to beat ourselves up about missing one for a good reason. We were reminded, however, how necessary it is to coat everything we do with prayer. I ask all of you to be praying regularly for our parish to be all that God wants it to be.
Then we talked about homilies and hospitality. I explained to the leadership team some of the ways that I prepare for homilies. We also answered some concrete questions about how successful it seems we are at showing hospitality to newcomers, but even to our weekly Mass-goers. It can actually be pretty significant for people coming to Mass to feel warmly welcomed as they arrive. And there could be practical needs that have to be met for them even get into the building. How do we do that overall as a parish?
The diocese is providing a training session to help Amazing Parish participants consider hospitality at each of their parishes. We hope to get some of our lead ushers to attend the session. I think it would be great to have some of our high school youth attend as well. I think they would be awesome at helping us to make sure parishioners feel welcomed at Mass each weekend. God can use all this “human stuff” pretty powerfully. At my last parish, we started a high school youth group, and the youth took over handing out the hymnals that were shelved in the back of the church, so people didn’t have to search for them as they came into Mass.
I would love to have as many parishioners as possible stay abreast of some of the same experience we had in Atlanta at the Amazing Parish conference – Especially our pastoral council, finance council and anybody else in leadership in any way in the parish. For this purpose, the Amazing Parish website has begun to post edited modules of the talks. If you go to www.amazingparish.org, you will find a link at the top called “AP Online”. Click on that link, and there are the talks. Thus far, they have posted an overall introduction to the idea of the “amazing parish”. And then there are two talks on teamwork. Please listen to those. I think you will be inspired.
On a final note, I want to try something that I think will help some of us get ready for Sunday Mass. I’m going to try on Wednesday mornings after the 8 AM Mass at Paulding to lead a discussion on the gospel for the upcoming Sunday. We are calling the effort “The Gospel with Father”. I want to say up front that this is experimental. It will have to be something people get life out of, and it will have to be something I can sustain, given my sometimes crazy schedule. But, since I begin my Sunday homily prep already on the prior Monday, I should already have all I need to lead such a discussion about the Sunday Gospel. We’ll have doughnuts and coffee to sweeten up the conversation!
Many thanks to Paul Reinhart, who fashioned a beautiful pedestal for the new Our Lady of Guadalupe statue at Paulding! Also to Leo Beagle, who took on the tedious task of painting white backgrounds on all of the numbers for our song board at Payne, so that they could be more visible!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,