Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, March 23

I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who fill out and turn in a pledge card this weekend. I personally appreciate your concern for and your commitment to our parish. St. Austin’s parish community is not perfect, but it is still something truly special. It has been around for over a century, and I hope it will be around for at least several more. Meanwhile, this community of faith has been entrusted to us to grow and develop. We have a charge and a mission, to help spread the GOOD NEWS of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. We do that first and foremost by embodying the Good
News, by living it out in our relationships with each other. Then we embody this Good News in how we welcome those who come to us, how we reach out to others in our area to invite them to share with us the joy and healing we have found in the Gospel, and how we respond positively to those we are able to help with assistance, direction, or just a listening ear. Your concrete action to support our parish by your prayers and by your financial pledge are vital to this work. THANK YOU!

I also want to say a word about the Paulist Pre-Assembly gathering that took place last week in Las Vegas. While some of you may have been on Spring Break, the Paulists gathered to look to our future, and specifically to generate concerns and issues for the Paulist General Assembly to take up in May. The General Assembly happens every four years. It is a legislative body that passes resolutions, setting the course and tone for the next four years for the Paulist Community.

At the Pre-Assembly about 65 Paulists gathered, along with all of our seminarians and novices. About an equal number of “collaborators in mission” (i.e., people who work with us in our foundations) and lay Paulist Associates were there as well, so we were about 50% clergy and 50% laity. Deacon Billy Atkins represented the collaborators of St. Austin.

As a community the Paulists are facing some very tough challenges: shrinking numbers of Paulists, limited and insufficient finances, Bishops who want to have more say in campus ministry (one of our traditional ministries), a lack of interest in organized religion by the young, and the aging of the Paulist membership. Nonetheless, there was a positive and hopeful sense to the discussions, with a lot of reliance on the guidance and support of the Holy Spirit. The Paulists as a community will be smaller. That is just the facts. We hope and pray however that we will still be faithful to the call to spread the Gospel and serve the Church. God will have to provide the rest.

Please keep the Paulist Fathers, and our wonderful St. Austin Catholic Parish, in your prayers.

God bless!

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