Three years ago at the conclusion of our centennial celebrations we hosted a gala that was attended by five hundred parishioners and friends. Several of the attendees personally told me that they appreciated the opportunity to gather with their fellow parishioners in a non-church setting. They suggested that we should consider holding such events in the future so that we can cultivate a sense of community.
Our Stewardship Committee as well as our Parish Pastoral Council has asked the parish to have hospitality after Sunday Masses in order to bring our members together. As a result of that suggestion, over the last year or so we have been offerings donuts and coffee on one Sunday of the month. I am grateful to the Hospitality Committee of the Servants of St Francis for continuing to host this. Many parishioners – young and old alike – stop by not only to have some treats but also to visit with others. Once again our sense of community is being nourished.
Another initiative that nurtures our sense of community is our annual parish picnic. We had our first one in 2011 which happened at noon. Learning from our experience, we moved it to Saturday evening and ever since it has been a grand success. Participation has grown and adults and children have come together to celebrate our oneness as St Paul of the Cross Parish.
As you are probably aware, our faith is all about community. God calls us not merely as individuals but as members of His community. When He chooses men and women to do His work, they are always chosen for the sake of the community. Abraham is called to become the father of many nations. Moses is summoned from the Burning Bush to free the slaves from the grip of the Pharaoh so that they can become the Chosen People through the covenant made on Mount Sinai. Jesus gathers the Twelve who eventually become the nucleus of the Church. Through the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the Church is born under the loving gaze of Mary and begins to grow. All of us are challenged by the Master to go forth and preach the gospel that the family of God may embrace many more peoples.
Contrary to certain twisted notions of the after-life, our understanding of heaven undeniably includes community. The heavenly bliss will not be enjoyed in solitude. Unlike our experience on earth, we will be able to love another without effort and we will have perfect communion with both loved ones and strangers. Our enjoyment of God’s beauty and love will take place within the context of our fellowship with the rest of humanity. Total communion with God along with perfect communion with our brothers and sisters is the goal of our earthly existence.
We are a huge parish and it is easy to feel lost. Although participating in the Sunday Mass demonstrates our belonging in the community and nurtures it, we need to cultivate our community sense outside the church. We need to come together to get to know each other a little more. We need to spend time as a parish family. In order to strengthen our sense of community the parish is launching a special initiative and I would like to request your participation.
In the name of the entire parish I would like to invite you to Mardi Gras 2015 which will celebrate:
Join your fellow parishioners for an evening of food, fun and music as we kick off our capital campaign. Learn about the projects that will ensure the vibrancy of our community for the next fifty years. Become ambassadors to your fellow parishioners so that we can make “Fulfilling our Centennial Promise” a grand success!
I hope you will invite your friends and family to join us at our Parish Life Center on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. It is going to be a memorable night.
May the God of hope bless our initiative and bring it to fulfillment!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...