Solemnity of Mary Jan 1, 2017: The Journey of Gospel Joy – Reflections from Fr Phil Part 12

A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel

pope-francis-tPart 12: Happy Renewed Year

“[The parish] is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a center of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.”

Do you have your New Year’s resolutions lined up yet? (Does it count if I do “go to the gym” twice a week but don’t actually exercise while I’m there…?)

In the final part of paragraph 28 of The Joy of the Gospel above, in which Pope Francis speaks about the mission of parishes, he provides something even better than a private resolution: A call to renew a common mission as a community.

I love his description of a parish as a “community of communities.” That’s especially true here at St. Raphael. We’re multicultural and multi-generational, which can’t be said of every church. We’ve got our “more mature” (and of course more wise!) community, including some original founders from 50 years ago… we have the community of young families… of teenagers… of younger kids. And of course we have many different ethnic and cultural communities: Just check out the latest video on the “St. Raphael Church Raleigh” You Tube channel that shows Bangladeshi members of our community singing Bengali Christmas carols in front of the creche that our Hispanic ministry put together!

And once again the pope reminds us that as one parish community, we have a mission to come in and go back out. We take the time to “come to drink,” and then God sends us to go reach out to others.

But is our parish as good as it can be in terms of being mission-oriented? Pope Francis reminds us there’s much improvement yet to be made in parishes. He reminds us to “review and renew.” To evaluate how well we’re doing at really going out to “make disciples of all nations, baptize and teach.” And then to return again to this unchanging, fundamental mission for which Jesus founded his Church…and to make it once again vibrant, relevant, meaningful – in a word, renewed – in our time and place.

Not a bad goal to set out toward together in 2017!

Happy New Year,
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.