August 20th Pastor's Message
Read this week's message from Father Don
I am sure you have been enjoying the sunny and warm summer weather. It seems more difficult to get things done during the summer so probably the Lord is encouraging all of us, me included, to slow down and relax.
With Labour Day only two weeks away, however, the parish staff is starting to look at plans for the fall. The BIG PLAN, of course, is to make more progress with Parish Renewal.
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For the last eight years, I have been working on the renewal of All Saints Parish, but with limited success. On the positive side, the parish community has become more friendly, Sunday mass is enjoyable, several adult formation programs are active, and a good number of new families have joined the parish. I am also pleased that the Young Family Formation department is working hard to increase the parish engagement of QAS and PREP families.
Where we have been less successful is in persuading parishioners to put Jesus at the centre of their lives and commit themselves to sharing in his work. This is the heart of parish renewal. A parish will only be changed when a significant percentage of its members are changed, moving from passive participation to active engagement with Jesus and the building of his Kingdom.
Perhaps I am to blame for not reminding you more often that All Saints exists to “form loving disciples of Jesus Christ who reach out to the world with the Good News.” Or perhaps the difficulty is that words are never enough to change people’s hearts, action is also required.
This much we know: the Catholic Church in Vancouver, and most of the Western world, is in decline. Fewer Catholics are attending mass, fewer parishioners volunteer, fewer young couples are getting married in the Church. All of this is happening at a time when the Church has benefitted from a wonderful series of popes and better faith formation resources than ever in its history. Needless to say, ours is also a time in which secular materialism is sweeping the world.
Commenting on the 19th C. Industrial Revolution, the poet William Wordsworth wrote “the world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” The same words can be accurately applied to our own post-modern age in which The World is doing everything it can to crush religious faith. It is an unhappy situation, but that is where we live and that is where God is calling us to act.
If we are serious about renewing the parish, we need to act and not just listen. We need to prioritize Jesus in our lives and adopt a lifestyle that allows us to draw strength from him. God put us in the world for a reason, namely, to deliberately and consistently seek to build up the Kingdom of God in union with Jesus the Saviour.
This fall, let us “set our hearts on things above” (Colossians 3.2) and strive for greater things here below.