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Be_My_WitnessGiven the challenges of the day, wouldn’t it be great if there were a turn-key process to help infuse new life into your parish? Or, how about a practical program for making Pope Francis’ call for a pastoral and missionary conversion of the Church come to life?
 
Inspired by The Joy of the Gospel, RENEW International has prepared just such a resource. Its core planning process for pastors and parish leaders includes video learning modules and guides on the following themes:
 

  • Sunday Matters: To the extent that people are still connected to the Church, then Sunday is clearly the best day to connect with them. Wouldn’t it be nice to help parish leaders as they look for ways to reinvigorate outreach opportunities on Sunday?
  • Welcome Matters: Let’s face it, we all know what “unwelcome” looks and feels like–and no one likes it. Since the world already delivering more than enough incivility and indifference, how about if our parishes were known for flipping the script?
  • Belonging Matters: Many commentators have noted that the old model for parish life was “Behave-Believe-Belong”; that is, if we acted like Christians, it would strengthen our faith and would result in us understanding to whom we belonged (both personally and communally). Today, the post-modern approach is “Belong-Believe-Behave”: that is, most people seek first a sense of belonging, and then their commitment to the Christian faith and way of life flow out from this experience. Given that Christians specialize in the communal life, isn’t it time we find new ways to share this experience in a world that is so un-grounded and up-rooted?
  • Witness Matters: Nothing is more powerful than personal testimony about how the Lord has been active and present in the real details of a person’s life; God is no abstraction, and the Resurrection is no mere symbol. Wouldn’t it be nice if we grew more comfortable about sharing our experience of his presence and the “irresistible force” of the resurrection (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel,,256).
  • Mission Matters: For those of us who might be a bit “churchy” and/or fairly comfortable with our faith life, it is time to “go forth” from our comfort zones. After all, the Church exists not to provide contentment to those who happen to show up, but to nudge the core out the door. Wouldn’t it be great if the world was once again drawn to the light of the Gospel by the mighty works of mercy wrought by her members?

 
Even if your parish is already excelling in many ways, isn’t it safe to say that every parish community has room to grow in one or more of these mission-critical domains? The following link provides more information for parishes interested in engaging leadership in such essential questions; in addition, a second phase of the Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos program helps mobilize the parish as a whole through small faith-sharing experiences: http://bemywitness.org/.
 
In the first century, St. Paul wrote, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20): The post-modern corollary to this might be, where darkness and doubt increased, inspired resources overflowed all the more. The time has arrived for us to embrace resources which will be able to equip us for the journey out of the dark valley into the light of the emerging Kingdom.
 
David Spasia is the Director of Lay Formation and Be My Witness Coordinator for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois

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