AN ACTIVE AND VIBRANT CHURCH

 

AN ACTIVE AND VIBRANT CHURCH 

Becoming an Active and Vibrant Church Depends on the Personal Effort and Participation of its Members

A priest was sent to a certain parish. On arrival he met an almost empty Church. He was told that people had stopped going to Church. “The Church was dead, they said, “no one wants to go to a dead Church”. So the priest said, “Then lets bury the Church.” He sent words to all the town that since everyone says the Church was dead, there was going to be a funeral Mass to bury the Church. Everyone was invited to pay their last respect and help them bury the Church. This was strange as never had it been heard that a Church was buried. So everywhere people talked about the funeral expressing a desire to witness the burial of a Church. A day was fixed, a special coffin made, pall bearers were picked, readings selected and musicians organized to play. When the day arrived, hundreds of people gathered, both those who had never been to Church and those who used to but stopped going, and the funeral mass proceeded as planned. Just before mass there was a viewing moment when the coffin was opened and people invited to see the Church in the coffin. Each person who looked into the coffin and saw the dead Church returned to his or her seat in reflective silence. When the viewing was over, there was dead silence as everyone was touched by what they saw. During the homily the priest asked, “Did you all get the chance to see the dead Church?” They all replied yes. Then he asked, “And what did you see when you looked into the coffin?” Each person pointed to himself saying, “I saw myself.” The priest had mirrors put on the inner walls of the coffin. The priest asked, “Then who is the dead Church?” “Myself,” was the response. They each realized that they were the Church, and whether they were alive, lively, boring or dead, was totally up to them. From then on the Church building was always full of people who participated actively, volunteered to get things done, ready to spread the good news of God’s love to everyone, and stopped waiting for the priest or just few people to do thing. 

Dearly friends, this story is to remind us that we are the Church, each of us, alive and active, and for the six years I have served here, I have witnessed us grow stronger through the years. We are part of a holy building that is not built by human hands, that has the Apostles for its foundation and Christ its cornerstone. Generation after generation of Christians have added bricks to this building, the Church. Its walls bear the names of Saints, Martyrs, and all Christians who worked hard to continue the Church’s expansion. 

Like our fathers in faith, we each strive to add a brick to this spiritual edifice, building on a foundation that was laid by others. In the five communities that make this Parish you will find five beautiful Church buildings erected by Catholics before us. They all participated, volunteering their time, putting to use the gifts they have received and even using their treasures to serve God and the community. Through our own participation we continue this rich culture of service in faith. As a Parish we have all worked hard to improve on our strengths, address our weaknesses and have advanced from initially individual parishes to One diverse Parish. God has granted us this growth, but we are also motivated by the understanding that our collective growth as a Church depends on our personal efforts and active participation. Now that we are one parish made of many parts, the next step is how we can strengthen our bond, identify and develop areas of potential growths, live up to our evangelical name by consistently finding was to re-evangelize the evangelized and, gently but assuredly, extend invitations again to those who left, have stopped coming, or have never received the invitation. We are thankful for our rich network of volunteers, staff and supporters and, as the harvest is plentiful, we continue to call for more volunteers (both Marys and Marthas) to enable us effectively continue to serve all parishioners. 

I feel blessed that I am called to be the servant leader of this amazing community of believers. I would need you all to teach me how I could serve you well. So I will always listen to you. If you find something we could do together to make our parish better, please do not hesitate to share and let me know how we can help to make it happen. Soon I will ask us to brainstorm and raise important ideas and suggestions on what our short-term and longterm goals should be going forward. Please think on this and let us continue to pray for our Parish, “If the Lord does not build the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Pray for me too that I may be a servant leader according to God’s heart, the kind that would make you proud.

Fr. Bernard Dan

 
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