Revitalized Parishes: Coming Together as One
T’was the week before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a… (Whoops, wrong season, wrong story). Or perhaps it’s a story of another surprising visit. It was, indeed the week before Christmas in our house.
My older brother arrived back from university, on a stormy, snowy night. But he did not come alone. He came with 6 other students from the US. They were supposed to catch a bus in Saint John and head to Bangor, then to homes south of this. Arriving in Saint John, the bus was cancelled due to the snow.
So they arrived at our house, where some of the Christmas cooking was eaten early and before long all were allotted a spot on a spare bed, couch or floor space somewhere. Our family was doubled that night, from 6 to 12. Our parents had given us an example of what we usually describe as “hospitality”.
A key to understanding what happens at Eucharist lies in how we live “hospitality”, both when we gather on a Sunday and after we have shared at the Table of the Lord. Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr in an online Daily Meditation expressed this deep and fundamental truth of Catholic Faith. He put it this way: “Many Christians say they believe in the Presence (i.e. Jesus Real Presence) in the Eucharist, but they don’t get that it is everywhere – which is the whole point! They don’t seem to know how to recognize the Presence of God when they leave the church, when they meet people who are a different religion or race or sexual orientation or nationality.”
In Eucharist, as we gather, we celebrate together the constant and continuing presence of Jesus among us, at all times. Our diocesan church is undergoing a reform and realignment. It is calling our current parishes to be brought together in clusters. On September 1, these clusters of communities will become new single parishes.
Change is often challenging. The challenge here is that our current parish communities are being called to recognize the presence of Jesus among us in a new parish reality. As a single new parish, we face the challenge of merging together and seeing ourselves not as separate, but as one parish in all its aspects. In doing so, we become a true Eucharistic community. As such a community, we celebrate the presence of Jesus among us, and reflect this presence to our world.
Something to think about – What name will we choose for
our new parish community?