In the most recent edition of the Knights of Columbus magazine, Colombia, the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights, Archbishop Lori wrote the following inspiring words about the role of the parish. He writes this:
“In his Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”, Pope Francis speaks about the importance of parish life. He affirms St John Paul II’s description of a parish as “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters” (cf. Christifideles Laici, 26). He then goes on to say “This presumes that (the parish) really is in contact with the homes and lives of its people , and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few” (Evangelii Gaudium, 28).
Pope Francis insists that the parish is called to be the presence of the Church in a community, providing a place where people can hear God’s word, grow in discipleship, and extend themselves in love to the poor and needy – a place where they can pray, worship and celebrate.”
What are we going to be doing at St Philip’s and St Clare’s in the coming year to realize this vision for parish life? There are of course many initiatives already in place to help our parish communities “pray, worship and celebrate.” Added to this, we are going to be starting a
program called Hearts Afire. Deacon Mark spoke about this in his homily last weekend, calling it a “parish-based program for the New Evangelization and faith renewal.” The first part of the program is a personal and communal retreat , based on prayer and reflection around the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and using the book “33 Days to Morning Glory” written by Fr Michael Gaitley. The program has daily readings over 33 days, (hence the title), and, in addition, each week on a Wednesday evening, we will meet in St Philip’s to listen to a 20 minute talk by Fr Gaitley and discuss it. At the end of the 33 days, on November 21st (the feast of the Presentation of Mary), there will be the opportunity after Mass to consecrate ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, which of course, is always linked to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, so a consecration to one is also a consecration to the other. Can you imagine the spiritual impact on our parish communities of a united act of consecration to Jesus and Mary? What blessings that will bring down upon our parishes, our families, our neighbourhoods, our city!
This is just one of many new initiatives to come in our parishes in the year ahead, designed to help us become the best version of a parish community that we can be. Will you join me, deacon Mark and deacon Louis, in giving ourselves over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the increase of the Kingdom of God in our midst?