Have you ever reflected on our Parish Mission Statement? Yes, we have one. It is not that long and is conveniently printed on the front of the bulletin each week. You should read it.
Looking at it recently, I was surprised that it says nothing about proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, or in other words, evangelizing. The Paulists have served this parish since its founding in 1908, and the Paulists like to talk a lot about evangelization, that is why I was surprised. The Parish Mission Statement does state that “… we strive…to manifest God’s transforming love in the world….”, which is pretty close to proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. I guess.
As a Catholic parish, and especially as a Paulist parish, I would argue that we have a special obligation and responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to our area. We should be preaching, by example as well as by word, the Good News for God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
So how are we doing? This is not easy to measure. We cannot read people’s hearts. But we do have some indications. People still come here to church. Every year we welcome in a few new members through the RCIA. Each year more children are Baptized, make their First Communion, and are Confirmed. Our St. Vincent de Paul and Thursday Outreach program reach out to many in need. And all of that is very good.
But there are a LOT of people we still don’t touch. Perhaps we don’t very convincingly proclaim Good News. A lot of people, due to the news media and the culture wars, associate religion with bad news, with a lot of rules and “thou shall not” statements. Although I think we generally present a fairly friendly, welcoming and accepting community, it takes a while to experience that.
I get the impression that some people don’t feel any need for what we are selling. They are fairly content with their life, with their understanding of themselves and their place in the world, and don’t see, or more importantly feel, the need for the Gospel. They don’t see any need for religion in their life and do fine without it. They are basically good people and their lives are so full of stuff already that there isn’t time and energy to add church to the list. Maybe our biggest obstacle to evangelization is busyness.I encourage you to use every opportunity you have to do what our parish mission statement says: “to manifest God’s transforming love in the world”.