Save the date! – Thursday evening, November 2nd – for the parish-wide discernment that I’ve mentioned in recent Sunday homilies. I would like every parishioner to be engaged, so please scroll down to read all about it.  But there are other matters pressing upon us to be acknowledged first.

I want to say a big THANK YOU on behalf of the entire parish to all those who made our anniversary party last Thursday such a great celebration. Many committee members labored for months on the planning and then the execution of the event.  Your efforts became a blessing for all of us.  As the table fellowship of Jesus demonstrates, gathering people for food and celebration is at the heart of forming a community of faith. Let me thank not only those who worked on October 12, but all those who made the many previous anniversary events possible, including our liturgy and block party in June, and the gathering of historical materials for our book (which you can still get HERE if you don’t have a copy!).

The conflict in Israel-Palestine is weighing on all of our minds and hearts. What can I do but echo the calls for intense prayer and fasting that have come from religious leaders across the globe that the senseless violence might end and lives be spared.  I do have one inspiring story to share from the Catholic community there.  To appreciate it, you must understand that the Catholics (and other Christians) there are mostly Arab Palestinians, and as such often feel neglected or oppressed by the Israeli state. How remarkable then, that Cardinal Pizzaballa, the head of the Catholic church in that region, has offered himself to be taken as a hostage in exchange for the Jewish hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza – ready to give his life to redeem those on “the other side.” Truly heroic faith and love in action that transcends our human divisions and enmities.

Near the beginning of this calendar year, I invited a broadly representative number of parishioners to form an ad hoc working group. Why? It is essential for us as a community of disciples of Jesus that we be engaged in service of those in need. Now that the “Warming Center” of former days is no longer a direct ministry of our parish due to the tremendous growth of the Pope Francis Center, we must ask ourselves about our parish commitment to service. I asked the ad hoc working group to make a proposal before the end of his year for a service project that could become a collective ministry of our parish. All parishioners were invited to give their input, and the group researched many non-profits and churches in the city. Eventually they broke into three sub-committees, each pursuing a different area of service. Their three proposals are now ready.

On Sunday, October 29, I will speak about the discernment process at mass. On the following Thursday evening, November 2, we’ll have a zoom meeting for everyone in the parish for a presentation of the three proposals. Then everyone at the meeting (or who watches the recording online) will have one week to complete an online survey that will allow you to express your opinion about the proposals. Subsequently another panel of representative parishioners will review the survey results – that is, all of your opinions – and make a final recommendation to me.

I want to emphasize two points about all this:

  • PLEASE RESERVE THE EVENING OF NOVEMBER 2 to participate in the parish-wide zoom. Just as Pope Francis has assembled the current Synod in Rome so that the universal Church can find its way forward through the gathering of people from all over the world, so too do we need ALL PARISHIONERS to be involved in order to make the best discernment of our future direction as a parish.
  • I AM INVITING YOU INTO A PROCESS OF PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. This is not something to be decided by majority vote nor by partisan debate. Rather we will be listening to one another, to all the voices in the parish, and thereby discovering how each one of us is moved, led, or drawn in prayer.  Only as we listen prayerfully to how the Holy Spirit is moving in our hearts will we find a sure path forward for our community.