Over the past few months we’ve spoken a lot about the revitalization of our church in the Diocese of Saint John. What exactly do we mean by that? What would a revitalized church look like?
Revitalizing means bringing new life. In the case of our diocese, it means building communities that are filled with life. It means parishes that are more than service stations with a Mass on Sunday and little else. It means parishes where we welcome our senior and mature members. But it also means communities filled with active younger members, children, and young adults, all contributing their energy, time and talents.
The Disciple Maker Survey included a number of questions that asked us to think beyond our present reality. Several of those questions gave us a pretty clear idea of what revitalized communities might look like. For instance, we were asked how effectively our parish assisted us in our spiritual growth. As well, we were asked about how ready we are to share our faith with others. Both of these questions indicate what we’re hoping for: parishes and communities that are full of life and ready to share this new life in the broader community.
If you completed the survey, you might recall that you were asked to respond with a number, indicating how much you agreed or disagreed with several statements: “My parish helps me to grow spiritually as a Catholic.” “My parish helps me to grow spiritually…Forming me as a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
These questions reveal that a revitalized parish and diocesan church would be able to nurture the broad spiritual needs of the community. They would be constantly growing in their spiritual life and promoting the growth of spirituality in each one of the members. A parish that is a community of disciples of Jesus.
It’s one thing to see our Catholic faith as simply going to Mass on Sunday. It’s something else again to see our Catholic faith as living and learning and working together as disciples of Jesus Christ. Sharing the Good News. Being witnesses of the Gospel to others.
A revitalized parish and diocese will be willing and able to offer liturgies where we share the gifts and energies of the whole community. It will provide opportunities for growing the faith of adults, young people and children. A revitalized parish will reach beyond the walls of the church and share its energies and resources in outreach. A revitalized church is the face of Jesus in our world.