We had our first taste of snow in Washington, DC, so that means we are officially in the holiday season. We pray for blessings and patience with all the activities that happen in our parishes.
This month we continue reflecting on the idea of a “Missionary Parish” by offering ways in which parishioners can think about the Holy Spirit working in their lives. We are also happy to introduce the first of several short, thought-provoking articles on the theme of welcome from Jane Angha. This is something all our parishes need to think about, particularly in a time when people easily opt out of parish participation.
The shootings in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue have shaken our nation once again. All of us who oversee “houses of worship” need to attend to the implications of violence and hatred in society. I’m happy to present a statement by the Board of the Washington Theological Coalition which thoughtfully looks at the current situation in our nation with reference to violence in our churches, synagogues, and mosques.
Please check out our new offering, Catholic Discipleship, Spiritual Exercises and Reflections which is a very useful tool to help Catholics think about the implication of their faith from the perspective of encounter, relationship, and discipleship. It can be used by parishes for small groups, individual reflection, and Adult Faith Formation sessions. All the resources, along with a video introduction, can be viewed here. In addition, we are forming a prayer association around inactive Catholics called Partners in Mercy, Partners in Mission.
May God bless all our ministries in this season of great holidays and Feasts.
Frank DeSiano, CSP
The Spirit of Catholic Discipleship
By Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
President, Paulist Evangelization Ministries
One lady was talking to a priest about changes since the Second Vatican Council. The priest asked her what stood out most in her observation. She replied, “It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is doing a lot more than the Holy Ghost used to do!”
Yet for many Catholics, the Holy Spirit is “ghostly” in the sense of being very “mysterious.” We can imagine God to some extent and, to a much greater degree, Jesus: we have centuries of art that give us images of a skinny-faced, large-eyed man with long hair and an alluring face. But the Holy Spirit still eludes our imaginations.
This will be true as long as we try to think out our faith in terms of things: the images of a dove or fire are about as close to things that our ideas of the Holy Spirit allow. But if we think in terms of energy, of force, of action, then it might be much easier for us to come to ideas about the Spirit. We can see the car, but we can feel the car in motion. We can touch a football, but we can experience an expert quarterback throwing a football for a forty-yard catch. We can try to look at the sun, but we can easily identify the multiple effects of the sun’s rays on our earth—from dawns to growing fields to summer’s hot days.
Maybe, then, we need to look at the action of the Spirit in our lives to begin to see who the Holy Spirit is.
Many remember the story of Pentecost in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, how timid apostles hiding in fear were filled with the Spirit in such a way that they undertook the mission of Jesus; we next see them traveling widely, forming churches, and preaching the Word of God, even to the point of dying for their faith. They went from being people intimidated by fear to being proud preachers of Jesus’ life and salvation. What was the difference? The Holy Spirit!
Becoming a Welcoming Parish
By Jane Angha of www.ministryblueprints.com
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat. People who give you their food, give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez
In an article from The Washington Post, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin researched young church goers for a book they are writing; “Growing Young.” They wanted to find out what young people were looking for in a parish and overwhelmingly they said “authenticity and connection.” These words were found frequently in their interviews: welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring. It shouldn’t be a surprise to ministry leaders in parishes – we assume we are all those things. However, our attendance at weekend worship tells a different story. So how do we make those words become reality in our parishes? It starts with hospitality. Hospitality becomes a lens for us rather than an afterthought or a committee.
Here are a few things you can do to work toward becoming one of those incredible welcoming parishes:
- Send out a survey to all parishioners and ask how your parish is doing in regard to warmth, welcoming, inclusivity, generosity, and authenticity. This could be done in every ministry area too.
- Gather that intel and take a good look at it. Noting where you are doing well and where some work is needed.
- Make a plan of action on how can each ministry area and the parish in general become a warm and welcoming place for everyone. (Hint: it’s not starting a committee!)
- Assign tasks to everyone!!
New from Paulist Evangelization Ministries
Catholic Discipleship: Spiritual Exercises and Reflections features twelve units focusing on the fundamental dimensions of what it means to be a disciple in today’s world. Each unit features a Spiritual Exercise which includes Scripture and questions for reflection and discussion.
Catholic Discipleship is a new resource for parishes and individuals who want to explore their identity as missionary disciples and can be used by individuals looking to deepen their own connection to Christ, or by parishes looking for small group faith formation or a parish wide-renewal.
This new book published by Paulist Evangelization Ministries concludes with a “checklist” for Catholic Missionary Disciples. To celebrate the release of this new resource, we are sharing the checklist with our newsletter subscribers. Click here to see the checklist so that you can explore the way you reveal your missionary discipleship.
Order Here in English
Statement on Anti-Religious Violence in Houses of Prayer
November 13, 2018 | Washington Theological Consortium Board of Trustees
The murder of eleven faithful congregants and the wounding of seven others at the Tree of Life Synagogue at the hands of an antisemitic killer signal a growing moral and spiritual crisis for all communities of faith. Along with other horrific shootings in or near houses of worship—such as the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting at the First Baptist Church (2017), the Charleston, South Carolina shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (2015), and the killing of an imam and congregant outside a mosque in Ozone Park, New York (2016)—the shooting in Pittsburgh reflects continuing anti-religious, ethnic, and racist hate crimes that must be countered with public outcries, acts of interfaith solidarity, and ongoing education.
Because the Tree of Life shooting is the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in the history of our country, and because antisemitism has a distinct place in the history of Christian anti-Judaism and violence against Jews and other faiths, the communities of the Washington Theological Consortium protest this egregious act and express our moral solidarity with the larger Jewish community. We also express our deepest lament for the victims, their families, the congregation, and the wider Jewish community and the public of Pittsburgh, where one of our partner seminaries resides.
Introducing Partners In Mercy, Partners in Mission
You are invited to become part of the missionary work of the Paulist Fathers to build up the Church and transform lives by reaching out to those who have drifted away from the practice of their faith.
Partners in Mercy, Partners in Mission is a prayerful, active way to join forces with one of the oldest Catholic religious orders in the USA to reach people you care about—family members, friends, and co-workers—who are not active in our Catholic faith community.
We Catholics often feel frustrated as we watch people, especially younger generations, disengage from their Catholic faith–or any faith. Our hearts ache to bring these people to the sacraments, but we don’t know how.
Now there’s a way you can help: Join Partners in Mercy, Partners in Mission. Become a Partner today.
Thank you for all you do to bring faith to others, and thank you for considering this invitation to join Partners in Mercy, Partners in Mission.
Watch our Introductory Video Here!
Religious Formation and Discipleship
Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 2:00-3:00 PM EST
Presented by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
We know something is wrong with the way we do much religious education. But how can we begin to think about religious formation differently? Let’s start taking discipleship seriously… and see what can happen.
This webinar begins to apply the notions of discipleship to the principles of religious education, suggesting new approaches to forming children in the faith. This webinar begins an important conversation for our church today. For DRE’s, catechists, and all leaders in faith formation.Register Here
Creating a Culture of Encounter
From Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Are we hiding the essential part of our faith? Isn’t it time we look like the message we proclaim? Faith and its growth all revolve around encounter.
This webinar will explore the importance of the experience of encounter at the heart of Catholic life, and what this means for renewing essential dynamics in our parishes. This webinar will open our pastoral imaginations using ideas of encounter. For pastors and parish staffs, parish leaders and volunteers, diocesan staff, evangelization teams, and RCIA teams.
Catholic Pixar designer draws inspiration from God’s creation
By J-P Mauro, © Copyright 2018 Aleteia SAS
A Catholic visual set designer from Pixar Animation Studios spoke with CNA about his work, crediting his inspiration to all of God’s creation. Philip Metschan is an environmental artist for the digitally animated summer blockbuster, Incredibles 2, responsible most notably the Parr family’s new “superhero” home.
Metschan said his favorite part of digitally designing environments is that he gets to draw inspiration from the real world and add his own experience, “to produce a world that’s never existed — fantastic things that no one has ever seen before.”
“I am definitely someone who likes to be out in nature and out in the world and experiencing it, because I think there are strong narratives that are created just from the existence of these places,” he said, adding that, for him, it is not possible to separate creation from the Creator.
“In a sense, I feel like whenever I’m using [real-world environments] as inspiration, I’m using [God] as inspiration,” he explained.
Continue Reading at Aleteia