Today we have this message from Thom Pancella, our parish Facebook administrator:
If you were around a few years ago when, “We come together to worship God, serve our neighbors, and make disciples” became our parish mission statement, you may recall that those seemingly simple phrases took quite a while to craft.
Fr. Carl suggested to the Parish Council at that time that SJB needed a mission statement that reflected who we had become, especially in light of the loss of both schools, and the repurposing of parish building space. How did we see ourselves? What would guide our path forward?
The Council moved prayerfully and thoughtfully through a series of important words and phrases. We looked around the country at how other church communities expressed their sense of mission. We tried our hand at some of the paragraph-based statements, but ultimately found those oddly limiting.
What lies at the core of who we are at SJB? And, how are we carrying out that mission in our present situation?
We Come Together
We are a community – individuals each with his or her own personal relationship with Almighty God who understand that strength of prayer and the power of love is amplified by what we do together. While our building serves as a gathering spot, we know that is not our only means of coming together. Today, we come together – united in our purpose to continue as a community of faith while protecting one another by physical separation. We are still together.
To Worship God
How easy that is when we are gathered in a common space lifting our voices in prayer and in song! But, how can we be any less aware of our need to worship Him in these uncertain times? The gift of technology has provided us numerous opportunities to unite in worship. The imposition of solitude and quiet is itself a gift. We have this opportunity to reflect on all of the wonderful things God has provided. And, we worship Him!
To Serve our Neighbors
I think many of us on the Council saw this as the line of continuity between the SJB of the past and the SJB of the future, although none of us would have predicted the current global situation! Our St. Vincent de Paul Society links us to the very roots of our call to service. It was there at the beginning of our parish; it continues today. As our buildings started taking in new tenants, we became a part of a new call to service. As our parish family ages, we continue to serve. As our neighborhood changes, we see the face of Jesus in our new brothers and sisters. And, today, we are part of reaching out to our neighbors in prayer and service. Jesus gave us the example. He also told us to do as He did.
To Make Disciples
We have always been called to be the voice and hands of Jesus to the world around us, and to “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News!” Now, perhaps more than ever before, we can encourage our family, friends and neighbors to recognize who they are as children of God. Share your faith journey, especially in times of trouble. Walk (figuratively at this point) with them; listen to them; pray with/for them. Invite them. See Jesus in each and every one of them.
I am grateful to Fr. Mitch for his pastoral leadership during these times. Among other things, he has taken the Blessed Sacrament out of the building and literally brought Jesus to the parish neighborhood. As we have walked, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary, I have seen Christ become present in the people we pass. Some have paused; some have offered thanks; some have even wept.
It is, in my opinion, a living manifestation of our mission statement. It is finding the rich meaning in those simple phrases.
Reminder: Our processions with the Blessed Sacrament continue this Friday at 6 PM and Sunday at 9 AM. Palm Sunday Mass will again be streamed at 11 AM, with recorded versions available both on Facebook and at sjbstl.org.