We hear that at the end of Mass, “Go forth, the Mass has ended”. Mass had ended but our call to be evangelizers is renewed. We are hearing much about evangelization today. But this word can mean many things to many people. Is it that we are called to convert everyone to Catholicism? If so, maybe we should be exhorted to “Go Convert”! Is it to preach the Gospel? Well, no one likes to hear preaching! Perhaps St. Francis de Sales, whose feast we celebrated on January 24, said it best, “Live Jesus”!
I believe we are called to “Live Jesus”! It is through loving, giving, helping and sharing in the ups and downs of others’ lives that we are evangelizing. It is through our actions that reflect the love we have found in Jesus and that unconditional love we feel from our Lord that enables others to see the possibilities of this love in their own lives.
We need to discuss what evangelization means. Many think it is solely about converting others to the “Catholic” way of thinking. That can happen and is wondrous if it does. I want to propose that our lives are testament to the love of Jesus, to the love we have for our faith. Those who are searching may join us. But there are many who believe in a loving God, the “golden rule” of loving your neighbors as you love yourself. We are one family regardless of what we believe. We cannot “pigeonhole” God or have God taking sides to make us right. What is right is the way we live each and every day!
Pope Francis has written an apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel). Let us take the time to read this and then have a real discussion on evangelization. The reopening of St. Joachim depends on this. Our souls depend on this.
Lastly, the Pope has recently said that all Christians must find a way to achieve unity and you can further read his thoughts here.
Today we received the acknowledgement from the Apostolic Nunciature that our “recourse for St. Joachim’s Parish in Philadelphia has been forwarded through the diplomatic pouch to the Congreation for Clergy”. You really have to love the intrigue of this!
What we don’t appreciate, quite frankly, is that your voice and my voice were not involved in the Parish Pastoral Process. I appreciate that the hierarchy was involved, that our Pastors along with three representatives were involved but, and we must make it clear in the case of St. Joachim, “interested parishioners” did not receive information about this process along with the rest of the parishioners. We truly believed in this process and it turns out our faith was truly misguided.
What makes an “interested parishioner”? Was this term used because you didn’t want to tell all of us what was going on – which took us 30 days to find out that our Pastors and representatives believed that St. Joachim parishioners and Mater Dolorosa parishioners had irreconciliable differences and would not, could not find a better solution than shuttering two viable Churces? Did anyone question that 4 people may not have been fully representative of 200-300 others in the parish? Hand picking representatives doesn’t lead to a diversity of thought but commonality of beliefs. This is the same idea that my husband and I couldn’t work as caring members of the Transition Team because of our concerns about how this process was handled and the subsequent decisions made. (For the record, we still received information and shared it with our parishioners. It’s not hard. Try it.) Who was really listening? Was this process just “lip service”? Did this give you another out to blame us for your flawed process? Did you have to be selected to be an “interested parishioner”? Each of us received a letter telling us our Churches were closing. Each of us received a letter welcoming us to the “new” old Holy Innocents. Why did each of us not receive a letter informing us of the status of this process and it’s progress. It appears that to do that would have been troublesome and opened up debate. Real debate that all “interested parishioners” could have participated in. Imagine having a discussion on the future vitality of the faith in Frankford BEFORE closing two viable Churches? Well, surely we qualify as “interested parishioners” now!
We would hope and pray that as this process moves forward these same mistakes and judgements are not repeated. We will be watching closely and offering other parishes the benefits of our woeful experience with this process to safeguard their Church from those more interested in their “process” than “parishioners”.