By Fr. John Jasica
THE 1980s SITCOM
Do you remember the show FAMILY TIES that premiered on NBC in September 1982? Of course you do!! I think everyone’s favourite character was Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox). The sitcom lasted 7 seasons winning a number of awards throughout the years.
This very funny show was something I watched often and of course was able to see over again through syndication. It was very entertaining and filled with laughs but it also showed the Keaton family journeying through the ups and downs of life together. A family that faced challenges, celebrated achievements and worked together supporting one another. In all of it, they stood together as one.
FAMILY OF PARISHES
Back in May 2020, Bishop Fabbro decided that St. John the Divine and St. George parishes would become a “family of parishes” supporting one another in the mission of proclaiming the gospel. (All parishes in the diocese will be in a family by the July of 2022.) At this point, we are not sure when we will be activated, but we are already beginning the journey by getting to know one another, sharing our gifts and talents, and starting to work together as one on a number of projects.
Within this family we are still individual parishes. As I have said from the very beginning—some things will change and some will stay the same. All donations made to St. John the Divine, stay with St. John the Divine and donations made to St. George, will stay at St. George. This will not change. Yet, some of the ministries and programs and the way we do things may change so that they are better, reach more people and help us share the Good News. You can stay up to date with everything that is going on with the transition via a special website at www.buildingfamily.ca
Both parish teams have been meeting each Thursday afternoon via MS TEAMS to get to know one another, share ideas and work together on ministries and programs for everyone in our family of parishes. It truly has been a wonderful and powerful experience. All of us are really enjoying working together and we even have some laughs along the way. All of us see what a blessing it is to come together and form our family.
We have established 6 guiding principles that will help us work together and form the best “family of parishes” possible. I want to share these with you over this three part message series and Shield Feature articles. Let’s look at the first two:
(1) We trust that the Holy Spirit will work through all of us to build a vibrant family of parishes that transcends even the greatest vision that we hold at this time.
We begin this journey in prayer asking that the Spirit guide us. We are not just coming together because Bishop Fabbro has asked us to, but we feel called to be better, stronger and a brighter light of hope in this world together. Trusting in the Holy Spirit and becoming a family that loves, supports and empowers one another to form disciples and reach out to all is the ultimate goal.
As the staffs begin to work together, we see many opportunities to share the gifts of each parish for the benefit of all and we are already joining forces on projects including Confirmation preparation and RCIA, a common Advent online retreat journey and a joint online Christmas concert with members of our choirs. Working together has given all the staffs a boost in energy, faith and joy seeing the graces and blessings of both communities working as one family.
(2) We commit ourselves to the development of a transition process keeping in mind the requirements and needs of all the faithful of each parish, the Pastoral Plan and the guidelines offered by the Diocese of London.
Again, first and foremost, whatever we do to become a family of parishes needs to help, strengthen, support, guide and empower all the faithful to be active messengers of the Good News. We are coming together as a family so that we can enrich one another and create new opportunities to live our faith in a way that we could never do apart. How do we move ahead?
We have formed a TRANSITION TEAM made up of 4 parishioners from each parish in addition to pastoral team members that will lead the process. Their job is to consult and seek input from the faithful and parish staff forming recommendations on how we should look on the first day of activation as a family. The team will be guided by the diocesan Pastoral Plan and specific protocols from diocesan leadership for forming families of parishes. All of this will take time including lots of conversations and opportunities for feedback, input and questions. We will build this family together guided by the Holy Spirit to be a strong and vibrant sign of hope and faith in our world.
MORE TO COME…
Being open to the graces ahead will help both parishes grow together realizing we have formed FAMILY TIES to help us on the journey of faith!