By Fr. John Jasica
WE WILL CHANGE & THIS IS A GOOD THING
Everyone fears change, yet this is the one constant in our lives and the Church. All of us constantly grow, adapt and adjust. This occurs at work, school, home and yes in our faith. If we grow then we will change, if we refuse to change we will remain the same and eventually fade. Change is healthy, encouraging and powerful.
We all resist change because we can get accustomed to things and there is comfort in it. Yet if we do not continue to develop, grow and shift, we become stagnant and lifeless. I really think the pandemic has forced us to change. This change in many ways has been very difficult and frustrating but in other ways it has allowed us to realize what really is important in our lives. It has forced us to think and act differently.
FINAL GENERAL PRINCIPLES
In this final article reflecting on our 6 Guiding Principles, we look at the challenge of change and transition relying on the wisdom, guidance and support of the faithful in both parishes.
(5) We will approach the changes/challenges as opportunities as we co-create a new reality.
There is no doubt that there will be changes and challenges in the process. But if we seek to reverence and cherish each parish (Guiding Principle #3) and always act for the common good, which God is calling us to (Guiding Principle #4) we will see the challenges, struggles and detours in the road as opportunities to look at things differently and find better ways to be a “family of parishes” for the sake of all. To do this requires hard work, open dialogue and trust. All of which I have seen in the work of both parish staffs and that of the Transition Team which met on November 12, 2020 for their first meeting.
Change offers us an opportunity to grow and when we change, we can create new opportunities that we would never have thought of before.
I have seen this in the midst of the pandemic. While we have been forced to do almost all of our outreach online, we have discovered new and better ways to serve the faithful. Without the pandemic we would not have offered live phone-streaming of celebrations, shared our online pilgrimages to Poland, Italy and the Holy Land and we would not have developed our online TED retreats.
We have also come to realize that our online baptismal prep program and our online RCIA—Emmaus Road journey for those seeking to become Catholic has engaged and encouraged better and deeper sharing of faith, life experience and hopes for the future. The online programming has also made it convenient for parents of young children and those with complicated schedules to engage in the parish. All this “forced change” has disrupted our rhythm for good things to happen. Blessings amidst the terrible realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(6) We will seek input from parish leadership and the faithful in our process.
All of this can only happen if we work together. During the next weeks and months, the parish teams along with the Transition Team will be seeking your input, advice, suggestions, questions and concerns. We will build our “family of parishes” together in a way that works for both communities and eventually lead us to being one family in faith. This entire process will take time. We do not know when we will be activated as a family, but we know the work will go far in the future as we get to know one another, share our gifts and continue to serve the faithful and all those who are in need.
This process takes time and we will do it first and foremost in prayer seeking God’s grace and love. It is a great opportunity for a new era for both St. John the Divine and St. George—that will help transform the west end of London for many years to come.
Here are some things that I see for the future of our new family of parishes that will definitely be a sign of hope and grace for all, especially those who are in need.
(1) PARISH STAFF—As we come together as one family I have already seen the great way both staffs are working together and supporting one another. This is a wonderful sign of unity, community and the common good. They are all working so hard to where God wants us to be and how best to serve the faithful of both parishes.
(2) PARISH TIES—The links between both parishes are a true blessing. Over the years both communities have shared ministries like RCIA and were named cluster partners over 20 years ago. Parishioners have migrated back and forth over the years and so there are strong parish ties between the two communities.
(3) OUTREACH MINISTRY—Both parishes have strong outreach ministry which reflects the generosity of both communities. The hearts of parishioners from both St. John the Divine and St. George always reach out to those in need through the St. Vincent de Paul and so much more. Generosity strengthens bonds!
(4) ACTIVE MINISTRIES—Both parishes have very active ministries, programs and events to inspire the faithful. This is crucial to generate momentum and inspire the faithful to serve God by loving and serving one another.