It’s central to our faith to worship together, so I was delighted to see so many people at Masses during the Christmas season! I like the feeling of solidarity with fellow believers.
And wasn’t our church building especially beautiful during the past few weeks? Many thanks to all those who decorated the church for the season: Mary and Bob Bejblik, Linda Sellars, Mary Leibl, and volunteers from our parish Faith Formation program, coordinated by Janelle Rohr and Dave Sonday. (It was quite the swift turnaround from the 4th Sunday of Advent to Christmas Eve, all in a few hours!)
Looking back at 2023
• Pope Francis continues to promote synodality, the church’s term for a process that emphasizes listening to everyone in our Roman Catholic church. It reflects the thinking of the Second Vatican Council, which called for increased engagement with and by the laity.
• Archbishop Hebda continues to ask all parishes to use synodal processes. That means asking questions, listening, and responding to local challenges. As an example, we began a series of West Side Community Conversations in 2023, listening to our neighbors.
• We’re a volunteer parish, led almost entirely by lay people. We’re fortunate at St. Matt’s to have many volunteers engaged in multiple ministries, councils and projects. Our new youth group is a great example of lay leadership in ministry. Children’s Liturgy of the Word is flourishing. Let us pray that even more volunteers come forward this year. (Maybe you’re one of them? Is the Spirit tugging at your heart in some way?)
• It’s far easier to see in hindsight what the Holy Spirit is doing among us. Still, I feel like there’s an emerging pattern, a pattern that emphasizes a form of church with extensive lay leadership. That’s an opportunity. It’s also a challenge.
Looking ahead to 2024
Our Parish Council has been thinking strategically for a few months, and that process will continue in 2024. I expect a lot of listening to be part of that effort, as we clarify what makes St. Matt’s the great parish it is.
Have a great week!