Parish “Facing new Crossroad”
Rev. Fr. Imad Twal – Fuheis
“A Church on the Move” by Joe Parrocki lists 52 ways to get mission and mercy in motion for building better relationships within the Church in our times. The contemporary parish seeks hope for a changing world. The parish itself is changing; the parish of yesteryear is history. No more will a pastor, as the one of my childhood, guide a parish for twenty or thirty years.
As the world and the Church change, our parishes embark on an uncertain journey. People need hope and assurance that life is richer than the superficial values and practices witnessed in much of secular society.
Parishes, now, ought to have a workable vision that provides new directions. Leaders in ministry recognize the parish as a community of people who are called to be the Lord disciples. The 1983 Code of Canon Law describes the parish as “… a certain community of Christ’s faithful, stably established within a particular Church…” (Canon 515 §1).
I believe that Church leaders, especially those working in parishes, should take courageous steps in parish management, and who are convinced that the model of today’s parish is radically different from the past. Primarily, and most importantly, it is necessary to “think outside the box”, to creatively invent new ways of leading the parish.
I offer some initiatives towards analyzing a parish and improving ways of management:
- Team work: work together with lay people, not as an isolated island, Identify key changes in parish life during the past year
- Go “smell your sheep…” (Pope Francis)
- Understand the parish as a community of broken people…
- Identify social conditions that impact the parish’s identity, needs, mission, and ministry.
- Annual evaluation of the parish management system
- Annual parish celebrations
- Focus on people’s needs
- Hospitality: Create community, social, and family ambiance in the parish
- Offer in-depth catechesis and spiritual/religious formation
As parishes embrace the message of the Kingdom of God and bring it to influence a changing culture, they face new and creative challenges. Internal challenges invite parish ministers to be heralds and signs of the message of the Gospel and the Church to an undefined and uncertain future, where people of different ages, backgrounds, and nations become one in their mutual concern for survival, justice, compassion, and peace. External challenges invite the parish community to simplify the message, look at priorities, and commit to reaching out to the poor, the broken and the marginalized in our society.
Now, the more crucial and essential point of newly emerging parish life is to BELIEVE IN OUR YOUTH. A Church without young people is a Church without a future. They are the dynamic life of a vibrant Church through their gifts and talents.
Parrocki, in “From Self-Sufficiency to Amazing Grace,” underscores the importance of the parish as “a Church on the Move.” Jesus Christ is God’s divine intervention. For a parish to be effective, everything it does and carries out must flow from this principle: we need to move from the illusion of self-sufficiency to recognition and acceptance of God’s intervention, and the amazing grace we encounter through Jesus Christ.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery