Saturday, January 31, 2015

January's Convocation Notes: February 1, 2015


If you recall in last week’s newsletter, Fr. David presented his opening presentation at the first convocation session.  He stated, “To be Catholic is to be in love with Jesus Christ and to commit ourselves to a relationship with Him, a relationship involving the whole person. Forming Intentional Disciples tells us that there are 3 concurrent journeys that the disciple (or Catholic) takes:

“The personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ resulting in intentional             discipleship”

The “ecclesial journey into the Church through the reception of the Sacraments of             initiation.”

The “journey of active practice (as evidenced by receiving the sacraments, attending             Mass, and participating in the life and mission of the Christian community”.



Over 40 people attended the first session.  Gathering and working in small groups, participants kept the three journeys in mind as they analyzed the survey results.  Groups were asked to review the survey responses, divide them into three categories: 1.) Positives of the Parishes; 2.) Challenges; and 3.) Needs – then the groups were asked to list what they believed to be the most important responses in each category.  Here are their findings:

Positives of Parish

1.     Parish is friendly, warm & welcoming

2.     Parish fosters individuals & their desire to deepen relationship with Jesus Christ

3.     Fr. David and Parish Staff

4.     Use of technology as an outreach tool

5.     Opportunities for Personal Faith formation

6.     Homilies inspire and connect scripture to everyday life

7.     Improved music ministry provides inspiring prayer & worship and meets most people’s spiritual needs

8.     Parish is aware and responds to the needs of ill, homebound and poor

9.     Variety of ministries that serve others

10.   Fr. David’s blessing of children

Challenges

1.     Use of wing house property

2.     Making Church/Mass relevant to

a.      Families

b.     Young Adults

3.     Increase Mass attendance

4.     Cursillo/Other Adult Retreats

5.     Determining what makes people drift away

6.     Finding ways to evangelize ALL people

7.     Communicate welcome from Fr. David at Mass

8.     Getting more people involved in parish life to meet the challenges and needs

9.     Increasing number of volunteers to assist with ministries/activities

10.   Focus on the mission of the church and educating what SJE is really about

11.   Increase awareness and conversations on world challenges

12.   Establish a men’s group/guild

13.   Post-confirmation activities/opportunities for teens

14.   Electing a parish council

15.   Obtaining a Deacon

16.   Improve communication

17.   Identifying the needs of each group

18.   Fundraising and balancing budgets

19.    “Hooking” children at young age (service, altar server, passer, singer, donut helper)

20.   Collaboration among ministries where “young and old” work together

21.   More family events

22.   Church community involved in sponsored activities/sports

23.   Informing about importance of working on a relationship with Christ and church

Needs

1.     Personally invite parishioners to join/volunteer for various activities

2.     Discovering/uncovering talents and gifts of parishioners

3.     Deepen knowledge of faith across all ages

4.     Increase parish involvement/activity in the wider community

5.     Establish youth and family ministry

6.     Group for younger children outside of faith formation classes

7.     Deacon

8.     Include an evening weekday Mass

9.     Increase youth involvement at Mass i.e. Lifeteen Mass

10.   A “welcome wagon” for new parishioners

11.   Scripture sharing/bible study sessions for adults4

12.   Classes/workshops on the Mass and its meaning

13.   Better communication using various methods

14.   Discover and address needs of young families

15.   Discover and address needs of young adults

16.   Provide service and mission opportunities

17.   Establish groups for

a.      Youth

b.     Men

c.      Women

d.     Young Adults

18.   Create social events that are age-group specific

Have we missed anything? If so, please be sure to share with us!

Our next session will be held on Saturday, February 28. If you can make this session (even if you did not attend the first) we would welcome your feedback and input.  During Session Two we will break down the aforementioned needs and challenges and we will brainstorm ideas, programs and strategies to address them.  ALL ARE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGED to attend whether you are 14 or 114 years old!   

To RSVP, please contact the parish office by email office@sjeparish.com or phone 508-563-5887 so that lunch can be ordered.  You can also visit the parish center during “Coffee and Donuts” after each Sunday Mass to sign up!

Preach the Gospel Always: February 1, 2015

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deborah Boucher

In this week’s reading (Deuteronomy 18: 15-20) we hear Moses tell the people God will send them a prophet.  As Christians we recognize Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God, in this passage.  While we have never actually seen Jesus face to face we have seen God in others.

Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words; is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who lived a simple life reforming his religious order, and by doing so, brought people closer to God.  Who have the prophets been in your personal life?  Who preached the Gospel to you daily by their actions?  Was it your father, who woke early to pray before going off to his job?  Was it your mother, who made sure your lessons were done for school and religion class?  Was it a grandparent, who prayed the rosary, and who taught you to love prayer?  Was it a teacher or perhaps a coach who helped you realize your potential, by recognizing the gifts you possess?   Was it a brother or sister who spent time with you and helped you grow closer to God?  We all have people in our lives that have lead us, and continue to lead us to God, we only need to look to recognize them.  They are all around us, some here with us, while others are in heaven praying for us.

How many times have you read something by or about Pope Francis, or seen photos of him reaching out to the people around him?   Hasn’t that touched your heart, and helped you better understand our loving God?   We can follow these wonderful examples and become a person who by our actions and words leads others to God. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What does Jesus look like to you? January 25, 2015


What does Jesus look like to you?John Brennan
Hollywood has a fascination with our Lord and Savior, (for very different reasons, that much we have in common!) and every few years they release what I’m sure they believe is the most accurate depiction of Jesus.  But Jesus was born of Jewish descent in the Middle East, and no I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure He didn’t have dazzling white skin and just the hint (or sometimes a heavy dose!) of a British accent.  So why does Hollywood need to turn the Bible on its ear?  In the book of Genesis, we’re told we were made in the image and likeness of God, so why does Hollywood need to make Jesus in the image and likeness of Pierce Brosnan, a white man with a British accent?   Box office, that’s why.   Would you go to see a movie with an actor looking like the image that National Geographic Magazine spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years researching?
But would we know Jesus if we met him today?   Would we welcome him, or would we judge him?  Put yourself back in His time:  would you be a disciple (very few were) or would you stand amid his persecutors, yelling “Crucify him!”  I ask myself that same question every year, and I pray that I would have been a disciple, but I’m just not sure.  The popular notion at that time was that Jesus was a false prophet, which is why the Jews wanted Pilate to execute Him.  Where would you stand?   Where do you stand now?  Do you seek the face of God in everyone you meet?   Whether rich or poor, straight or gay, successful or down-trodden, or a member of another religion, or atheist?  In his Gospel (15: 9), our Patron Saint John writes the words of our Lord: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  There is no asterisk * next to Jesus’ words.  No exceptions or conditions like “as long as they are Catholic!”  “One another”, inclusive, it means everyone, even Seahawks fans!   
This Lent try seeing Jesus in everyone, including the person across the aisle at church, the angry DMV clerk, the drug addict, the proud and boastful neighbor that seems to live their life to “one up” you, your spouse, your children, everywhere you look.  Seek Jesus, and you will find Him; or should I say, He will find you!
Back to the movies, I’d pay my hard earned money to see the talented Naveen Andrews play Jesus.  It’s just my opinion, but I think this is closer to what Jesus looked like back in His day, and Naveen possesses the sensitivity in his acting to pull it off.  Hollywood better hurry up though!  Naveen just turned 45!

In the end, Jesus looks just like that person you see in the mirror; and the kid at school that is suffering the (temporary) ravages of acne; and the co-worker who has turned to anger to deal with the death of a loved one.  It is our job to seek him, in all our fellow humans.  Open your mind, your eyes and your heart, and you will find him in everyone!

Share with us what Jesus looks like to you. What acts kindness, forgiveness, or compassion have you seen?

Listening to the Call: January 18, 2015


Listening to the Call
Sr. Jane O'Shaughnessy
Our readings today speak to our desire for deeper listening to the inner callings of our heart. I say “our desire” because I believe each one of us has this desire that originates in God’s desire for us. This is, in other terms, our vocation – a personal call from God to live out our lives in a meaningful way.
Samuel was living a consecrated life in the temple, under the care and guidance of Eli. After the third time Samuel woke Eli, thinking that Eli had called him, Eli realized that it was God who was calling. And as a wise spiritual guide, he instructed Samuel to go back and listen. He guided his young charge to be prepared for God’s next call, to be able to go into deeper conversation directly with God.
The story of Samuel’s call and response is a wonderful precursor to our Gospel reading. John the Baptist is pointing his own followers to recognize the Messiah who was passing by. When they began to follow Jesus, Jesus asked, “What are you looking for?” Isn’t this the most important question we might consider in our lives? Andrew and his companion asked where he was staying, and Jesus issued the invitation, “Come and see.” This first encounter with Jesus in John’s Gospel depicts a scene that invites all readers to come and spend time with him, the Messiah, the Christ. We are invited to “come and see”, get to know Jesus in a personal way and form a strong connection with the inner voice of the Christ who speaks to our hearts.
Pope Francis has set 2015 to be the Year of Consecrated Life and during this year he has challenged religious to “Wake up the world!” He said, “But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. … Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”
We are not all called to religious life, but we are all called to “Wake up!” God speaks to each of us in the most intimate way, we need to listen closely. We each have a unique vocation and I believe we will feel more meaningful fulfillment when we find our true desire being lived out in accord with God’s true desire for us.

Share with us how you will "Wake Up the World!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6, 2015

Jn 4:7-10
Mk 6:34-44

Jesus' actions in the Gospel today remind us that while it is good to take care of our physical needs, we cannot ignore our spiritual needs.  He doesn't pity the crowd because of their lack of food. His pity is that they don't know what God offers them. They don't know of His love and how they can come to know God, not just know about Him.

It is also very probably that those in the crowd were fulfilling what was required of them by their religious leaders. But Faith in God is deeper than that.  Sure, there are doctrines and a need for doctrine and there are rules.  Doctrines teach, rules are meant to help us practically keep focused on God.  The problem arises when the rules become the doctrine.  That occurs when human beings have put themselves ahead of God.

Do you want to know God? Then, St. John tells us, simply love. To love another is different from tolerating another.  Love desires: it desires the object of love, it desires the good of the one loved.  To tolerate is to simply ignore the other or aspects of the other.  Tolerance requires no effort, while love requires great effort.

We all know that a loving, meaningful relationship requires great work and sacrifice.  We are called to love all those in the image and likeness of God with that same work and effort.  Imagine how different our world would be if we all treated each in such a way!  This is not some utopian, "all we are saying..." type attitude.  It is demanded of the Christian, the follower of Christ.

Such an approach to life is difficult and it does require great effort.  But that is why we have the sacraments, the family of faith, prayer and the example of the saints to inspire us.  All of these open our hearts and minds to the graces and support the Lord offers, to help us to undergo the transformation and conversion of heart that is required to be one of his followers.