A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel
Part 16: Developing and Deepening The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. It is the task of exegetes and theologians to help “the judgment of the Church to mature”.* The other sciences also help to accomplish this, each in its own way. With reference to the social sciences, for example, John Paul II said that the Church values their research, which helps her “to derive concrete indications helpful for her magisterial mission”.** … At the same time, today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness. “The deposit of the faith is one thing… the way it is expressed is another…”**** Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.
** John Paul II, Socialium Scientiarum (1 January 1994)
*** John XXIII, Address for the Opening of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962)
In parts of paragraphs 40 and 41 above, Pope Francis begins a section he calls “A mission embodied within human limits.” He begins with a remarkable statement: The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. Notice that he concludes the discussion of deepening our understanding of the word and of truth with an affirmation that there are indeed unchanging truths, and that we should keep evaluating the way we express those truths. He quotes Vatican II and two recent pope-saints, John XXIII and John Paul II, who also talked about this growing and maturing as missionary disciples, and how good insights even from sources outside the Church can help us in this.
The pope indicates that this journey of learning and growth has its parallels in the Church universal and in the individual missionary disciple, and we’ve read how he also sees each parish as being on this journey of growth and learning as well. Please see my message below for one idea I’ve learned about that we’re going to try at St. Raphael. Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II… pray for us and all our parishes!
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.
Leadership Team at St. Raphael
In The Joy of the Gospel, we’ve heard Pope Francis invite us to try new methods of seeking to live out the mission of the church. I’ve been enriched greatly as a pastor by taking him up on that invitation and looking into some best practices for parishes. One of the things many pastors have found helpful is a leadership team of people in key positions with ability to communicate across various parts of a parish, who have a broad range and balance of strengths. At big parishes this team usually consists of staff members who in turn work closely with the parishioners on the pastoral council to help a pastor make good decisions, communicate, and implement. I’ve invited the staff members who report directly to me to help us try this model: John Mihalyo (SRCS Principal), Molly DeAngelo (SRPS Director), Hector Velazco (Hispanic Ministry Director), Mickey McGoldrick (Parish Administrator), Leo Moreda (Lifelong Faith Formation Director), and Jeff Rice (Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Music). Working with these leaders as a team, and having regular contact with the Pastoral Council, I believe will help us to better communicate across the many aspects of our big parish, better plan for the future, and begin to see how we can move forward with what Pope Francis is calling us to envision!
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.