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“We Were Born For This!” Making Things Happen

Last week I introduced an archdiocesan-wide initiative from the Archdiocese of Detroit. This initiative was called “Unleash the Gospel.” It was the fruit of their 2016 Synod on the New Evangelization. Many good ideas came from this initiative. Acts XXIX was the programmatic tool Detroit used to implement these ideas. It is being directed by Father John Riccardo. He has a lot of good ideas that are relevant to us at St. Monica. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to feature some of his thoughts.

There are three types of people, organization, teams, parishes, etc..

  1. Those who make things happen
  2. Those who watch things happen
  3. Those who wonder, “What-in-the-world-just happened?”

This was echoed by a recent conversation that Archbishop Nelson Perez. During the “Yellow Phase” the Archbishop had a Zoom conference with priests in Chester County. We asked him for his assessment of what was happening in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over the past 6 months. He said:

It’s the ‘Rule of Thirds.’ 1/3 of the parishes had ‘fire in the belly.” The live-streamed or recorded Mass. They held conferences. They worked remotely. They used Zoom for prayer or catechetical sessions or devotions. They called their people. 1/3 of the parishes … well, they at least lit a match. 1/3 of the parishes closed the blinds, shut the door and put out a sign, ‘Gone Fishing.’ I wonder, and am worried, about these parishes. They haven’t done anything. What are they going to be like once we open up again?

Even though I like fishing, I’m not hanging out a sign. St. Monica will be in the first category.

A few years ago, I pulled a group of parishioners together to pray, to listen to the Holy Spirit and try to discern two questions:

  1. “What does Jesus Christ want the parish of St. Monica to look like in five years?”
  2. If we closed tomorrow – besides parishioners – would anybody miss us

We prayed and discussed those two questions for almost 16 months. We looked around the country to see what vibrant parishes were doing. Twice, the parish utilized the Disciple Maker Index questionnaire. The DMI showed how we measured up against those vibrant parishes and parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

In the end, we thought we heard Jesus saying, “I want to encounter my people: “In My Word – In The Liturgy – In Serving Others.” (Sound familiar?). We oriented the activity of the parish around those three pillars.

We are in a new situation new (Duh!). Effective, long-term planning in today’s environment is challenging. Still, I recently pulled another “discernment group” together. I included new parishioners (See list below). I have asked them to help me discern anew what Jesus Christ wants that parish of St. Monica to look like now and shortly. I have been seeking wisdom from two other groups as well, the Parish Staff and a Leadership Team.

This is part of a parish conversation we are now having with the Holy Spirit and amongst ourselves. Next week I will begin telling you what these St. Monica groups have been doing over the past several months. I will present some of the ideas that Father Riccardo and Acts XXIX are proposing.

People in Discernment Group: Aagee and Leo Lane, Dr. Angela and Dr. Gregory Lawton, Brian Walheim, Dr. Chris Coughlin, Bridget Tomasicchio, Chris Moran, Maureen Mulhall, Denis and Jessica Connell, Gerald and Trish O’Brien, Kerri and Matt Manion, Kristin Sizelove, Michelle Manning, Tom and Martha McGurk, Jim and Megan Fox, Annie and Michael Kicak, James and Hilary Wilson, Andy and Kimberly Conrad, Meg and Bill Sayer.

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