Where do you belong? It is important, for some sense of identity and orientation in life, to belong. It is one of those deep, existential kind of things. Belonging matters.
As Catholics we are very fortunate and blessed to belong. “...you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” (1 Peter 2:9) We are members of the Body of Christ, as St. Paul impresses upon us (e.g.: Romans 12:5). We are a part of the Church that connects us in a real and spiritual way to over a billion believers worldwide, as well as a very real connection to all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, i.e.: with the Church Triumphant (all the saints and angels in glory) and the Church Suffering (the members of the Church still undergoing cleansing and purification). One of the many privileges of our membership is the very real connection we have with Catholics and Christians all over the world, of every nation and language and race, as well as people who lived many centuries before us. It is really quite mind-boggling!
I have been fortunate to travel all around this great country and to a fair part of the rest of the world. Everywhere I go I usually find a Catholic Church, and when I enter I know I never go in as a stranger. I am always a part of the family, even if I have never been there before. I am not a guest, I belong. I am a member. The same is true for you: you never enter a Catholic church as a guest or visitor or stranger; you are family.
This membership expresses itself in a particular local “Church” (in our case, the Diocese of Austin) gathered around our Bishop (Joe Vásquez) and even more particularly in our specific local parish. That would, of course, be the BEST parish in the Diocese (but I may be biased), St. Austin!
With membership comes not only privileges but also responsibilities. One responsibility is to show up. We are less without you. You add something to our community that no one else can. If they could, God would not have created you. Only you can be the gift that you are to our parish. So we are always happy to have you here!
Another responsibility is to let us know you are here. You do that by registering. Next weekend at all the Masses you will be invited to re-affirm your membership in our parish. The process is very simple: sign the statement of Affirmation of Membership and turn it in. The forms will be in the pews. If any of your contact information has changed in the past year, please update it on the form. If you aren’t sure, then please give us your latest info. If we already have the information, then just sign and date the form. It is as simple as that.
Finally there is the responsibility to support our parish with your gifts of time, treasure and talent. We emphasize your gifts of treasure in the Spring, and we encourage and invite your gifts of time and talent all year long. You can always go online at www.staustin.org, click on the “Stewardship & Discipleship” button near the top right, and follow the links to give or volunteer. If you have questions about supporting the parish, you can always call Mrs. Ida Malina, our Director of Stewardship, at 512-477-9471 ext. 325.
Glad to have you as a member!