Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grateful for a Vibrant Parish

Happy Wednesday. My apologies for taking a few days away from blogging. Meant to write yesterday . . . did you ever have one of those days when one thing after another (planned and unplanned) just collided into one another? That was my yesterday. Hopefully yours was a bit less hectic.

Labor Day weekend was restful and relaxing for me. I did manage to take that bike ride along the Lake Michigan lakefront. Monday morning at 7:45, two of my carpool colleagues and I biked just under 25 miles as the sun began to break through early morning clouds. I was hoping to share a few photos, but there is some kind of internal error with the blogging service, so I guess that will have to wait.

One of the highlights of the weekend for me was Mass at my parish, St. James, on Sunday morning at 9:30. One of the women, whose name I don't even know, made it a point to come up to me at the sign of peace and tell me how much she missed me while I was away. She told me that she always prays for me. I was humbled and gladdened by her kindness. I told her that I miss St. James so much when I am on the road and that I tell everyone I can about our parish. Folks, I know that I am a blessed guy. St. James is a great place to be a Catholic. And I am so grateful for that gift.

 The parish is currently undergoing a commitment to stewardship campaign, which they have called "The Stewardship Express." This must have begun while I was away. After communion on Sunday, our pastor announced that after having heard about one car on the "stewardship express train," —the social care car— last week, this week we would be hearing about another car: the evangelization car. He then blew into one of those train whistles, garnering chuckles from the crowd. Our deacon then got to the ambo to talk about our parish's evangelization efforts and before beginning his talk, he donned an engineer's cap, again garnering laughter. Gimmicky? Absolutely, but pretty darn charming if you ask me. And if our commitment to stewardship were not at the center of our parish's mission, our doors surely would have closed years ago. In looking at some parish bulletins during the time I was away, I noticed a long letter from the pastor about the state of our church building. It seems engineers will be doing an intense study of the building, trying to determine if wood beams are actually holding the roof onto the rest of the structure. The Archdiocese of Chicago is taking care of the hefty costs of this study. Here's what our pastor had to say about the current state of affairs.

"Many have asked me why it is that the Archdiocese has been so generous to St. James. The reason is simple: they see that we are doing what we can to to be a vibrant church. They recognize our evangelization efforts that are leading to increased membership. They see your continued financial stewardship that allows Saint James to pay its ordinary bills. They observe that we were one of the parishes in the Archdiocese that met its pledge goal to the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. They hear over and over about the good work of our Social Care Program. All of these and more are the reasons the Cardinal and his team is so committed to Saint James. That is why I say that during this difficult time in our parish life we can't allow what we can't do to keep us from doing what we can do. Doing what we can do is promoting Saint James! Let's keep on doing it!"

Please pray for Saint James, and for all parishes struggling with these kinds of issues. 

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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