Thank you for the warm reception and goodwill that you, the people of St. Mary’s Church, have extended to me since my arrival, however unexpected it was: for me as well as for you! Fr. McCartney left our parish in great shape, both pastorally and financially, and the best tribute to his tenure at St. Mary’s is to begin a new era, confident in the grace of the Holy Spirit.
To wit, many parishioners have expressed their views concerning the state of our beloved Church, both local and universal, as well as exciting ideas about what we might accomplish in the future. Indeed, I have many personal convictions I would like to share with you, but since I’m the newcomer, it seems better to listen to your concerns first, and only then to implement any changes gradually.
I am therefore scheduling two town hall-style meetings before our parish goes into vacation mode. They will be held on two consecutive Tuesday evenings, June 11 and 18, at 7 PM at Msgr. Ryan Hall on Round Hill Road. Refreshments will be served.
The first meeting (June 11) will focus on people’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the state of the Church at large, and of St. Mary’s in particular. Given the delicate nature of individual experiences in the Church, I would respectfully ask that those who attend be over the age of 21, and that attendees agree to engage in loving dialogue, in the best tradition of St. Mary’s. This means that we restrict our comments to our experiences, not to criticism of individuals.Beyond this, there is no “agenda” for the first meeting. Tell us what you think. With apologies to Mayor Ed Koch:”How are we doing?” What are the strengths of our Church at present? Any weaknesses or failings? In the case of the latter, I trust that our loving congregation will be sensitive to those who have been alienated from the Church, and that we will be accepting and edifying in our dialogue so as to be, in the words of St. Francis,”an instrument of God’s peace.”
The second meeting (June 18) will focus on ideas for the future of St. Mary’s. I have already heard dozens of creative ideas about different directions we might explore regarding sacred worship, sacramental preparation, religious education, and outreach to the poor, the elderly, and young people. Many of these ideas are “high concept/low tech,” by which I mean they are a simple solutions requiring little to no financial investment, and yet have a big effect. Other suggestions about the infrastructure and efficient use of our facilities may demand an investment of resources for the future. Prudence also demands that certain projects take priority over others, given the time and attention they require.
My first concern will always be the spiritual welfare of the good people at St. Mary’s. You deserve a beautiful, carefully-prepared celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, a mature presentation of the Catholic Faith, and a welcoming, hospitable environment for people of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Let us pray to Christ the Good Shepherd to lead us into the future…and have fun along the way!