This weekend at all Masses we Paulists come to you inviting (i.e. asking) you to participate in the annual Paulist Appeal with your prayers and financial support, and so I would like to reflect on the Paulist presence here in Austin, Texas.
The Paulists have been here in Central Texas for some time. We came back in 1908, and so a goodly number of Paulists have passed through here. In conversations around the parish I still hear names like Jack Campbell, Peter Shea, Alan Oakes, Dave O’Brien, Bob Scott, Phil O’Hearn, Jack Collins, Jim Wiesner, Mike McGarry, Jim Brucz, Ed Pietrucha, P.J., Tom Foley and Steven Bell. For those of you who know most of these men, you can quickly see that it is a rather heterogeneous group of individuals. Indeed, what this group has in common (and I would add the current staff of Paulists to this grouping) is their individuality. That is as it should be.
I want to point out that in spite of their individuality, they all have a common mission; to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to North America. The Paulists are bound together by a similar vision. It is not just the fact that Paulists are individuals that gives us our identity, rather it is that we are individuals with a common mission.
Indeed, it is the play between individuality and solidarity in mission that “makes” the Paulists, and that makes us truly “catholic.” Paulists, for all our differences in temperament and style, do not approach our work, or mission, as individuals but as a community. We rely and depend on each other. We support and compete with each other. We need each other. We are individuals, AND we are community. And the interesting thing is that even though this generates some tensions between the desires and needs of individuals versus the community, when it works, it becomes a mutually supportive symbiosis that promotes individuality in community and a community of individuals. They really are not contradictory, but as in St. Paul’s image of the various parts of the body (which we heard in the second reading last week, 1 Cor 12: 12-30), the differences are necessary for the unity of the body.
We Paulists need each other. We also need the staffs we work with at our various foundations, and we need you, the members of St. Austin Parish and the other communities with which we work. We all have a common mission, to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of North America.
I hope that you will keep the Paulists in your prayers. I ask that you generously support us with your financial donations. I hope that you will strive to carry out our common mission in your workplace, your school, your neighborhood and home.