Parish Spiritual Renewal
Parishes are families of faith where we grow spiritually – both personally and as a community; where we experience a profound and personal encounter with Jesus Christ through His Church; where we can fulfill our desire for mission and service; where we need to feel welcome, loved and a deep sense of belonging.
Our parish formation programs and activities were created for a different age, not built to respond creatively to the needs of current generations. It is a time for parish renewal and transformation. Based on what has worked in transformed parishes throughout the world, we know that the following five strategies will help our parishes meet the challenge of our “new missionary age”:
Our Masses and liturgies (also known as the Mysteries) can be very mysterious, indeed, to anyone without any prior experience of the Catholic faith. For many people, the liturgy is not the best starting point (the key here is starting point) for an introduction to the faith, which is why our parishes must develop and offer clear entry ways that lead people who are unfamiliar with our faith to an initial encounter with Jesus Christ.
Further, social events, athletic clubs, and more can be helpful community entry points for people to see just how much fun and welcoming a parish is; but kerygmatic entry points are intentional in their introduction into the life of faith within the community. It’s a big difference with a big and beautiful result.
You may be familiar with RCIA/OCIA, which is great for people who want to specifically explore Catholicism and may be headed toward full communion within the Church. But as the name itself suggests (Christian Initiation), an additional on-ramp into a first encounter with God and His Church can be very helpful. Tools like Alpha offer a new kerygmatic entry point into a life of faith for those exploring and seeking answers to fundamental questions about the meaning of life, the presence of God in the world, the role of the Church … all with a sense of belonging and an initial encounter with God and the joy of our community.
How do we make it all happen?
The work of parish renewal is carried out by missionary disciples who are on fire with the Holy Spirit, collaborating with the pastor in inviting others to a life of faith, in building the parish community and in serving others in need. Parish renewal depends on parishioners taking up the call to co-responsibility alongside the pastor and staff.
Every parishioner who is willing to listen to others, who is open about their faith story, who intentionally invites others to grow in their faith, who prays for and with others, and who is welcoming to all helps to foster a Culture of Evangelization, which is essential to renewal. We evangelize by being authentic followers of Jesus who are willing to share our lived experience of how Jesus transformed our life because we want to help someone know of God’s love and have their own encounter with Jesus.
This will take time. This will take energy. This will take you answering the call (consider this your sign) to be a part of the renewal of the Church today.