These past three weeks we have been looking at Discipleship through the lens of Service, Gifts and Spirit. The first week we prayerfully considered ways we could serve God and others through ministries at the parish and by getting involved in our local community. Last week we discerned how we are using our financial resources to support the Mission of St. Josaphat Parish.
This week I want to talk to you about Spirit, which focuses on our prayer life as a parish and as individual disciples. As you can imagine, helping people to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ is what excites me most as a priest. The challenge for me, as your Pastor, is that I am new to the parish community and am still learning how the Spirit has been working in this community over the years and how each of you still feels the need to grow in your faith.
That's why I am asking each of you to take some time and fill out a brief survey online that will help me understand how I can serve you better. You can find the survey by typing this link into your web browser:
Let me be clear, my sole mission as your Pastor is to serve you better. I am not looking to make changes to make things easier for myself or to make all of you conform to my way of praying, serving, etc. My only desire is to help you grow in intimacy with Jesus Christ; and for you to have a genuine relationship with him that will strengthen you and lift you up throughout the course of your life.
The first area that I naturally look to for that is the celebration of the Eucharist. For me, Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is my everything! Encountering the Lord in that most intimate and personal way is where I draw my strength to face life's challenges and it is where I go to be filled with grace to try to live a life of charity, seeking holiness. My whole life flows to and from the Altar of the Lord and the grace that comes from the Sacrament of our Lord's Body and Blood.
The Second Vatican Council referred to the Eucharist as the "source and summit of our faith" (Lumen Gentium #11). "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch" (Presbyterorum Ordinis #5).
Consequently, one of the areas of the faith life of the parish that has drawn my immediate attention, and my concern, is our celebration of the Eucharist. I am disheartened by our low Sunday Mass attendance. Our parish claims to have 1,500 registered families. And yet, our October count indicates that fewer than 500 people are attending Mass on any given Sunday. Where are our brothers and sisters??? Where are our friends and neighbors who used to sit beside us at Mass?
It's easy to shake your head and bemoan that "this generation" just doesn't care. However, I don't believe that is the case. My experience as Vocation Director has taught me that this generation is as interested in God as any other that has gone before it. What's missing has been the Church's willingness to go out to byways and the highways and invite them in! Our culture has changed, people are busier than ever. Consequently, I believe we must change too and make the Mass and the Sacraments more accessible to accommodate the busy pace of people's lives.
To that end, if our Mass times and Confession times and the ways in which we offer religious instruction and faith formation are no longer convenient for our parishioners, then I need to adapt and serve you better. It is my job to conform myself to your schedules, it's not your job to conform yourselves to mine. Like St. Paul, "I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible...I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings" (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
So please, take the time to fill out our survey and help me to serve you better as your Pastor. The survey is very brief and will only take a few minutes of your time. You are also more than welcome to send me additional comments and suggestions at