New Year’s Day is a good time to look back at where we have been and see ahead, hopefully, to a better future. This is not only true in our personal lives, but also as a parish. On the first week of January 2018, we take a brief look at the state of the parish.
“The five-year pastoral plan that we developed with the Advisory Board is based on the five purposes of what a church is supposed to do,” said Father Roger. “People come to church to connect with others, deepen their prayer life and relationship with God, heal from life’s wounds in a safe space, grow in faith, and reach out to others.”
These purposes are often sequential. Community involvement leads to a deeper connection with God, which allows people to seek healing and strength from the Church, which in turn creates a hunger to grow in faith and then, finally, a desire to go out into the world as a disciple. At Saint Brendan, we talk about these five stages of spiritual growth as “connect,” “pray,” “heal,” “grow,” and “love.”
Last year with its One Body theme, Saint Brendan focused on the first of these stages. The hope was to increase a sense of connection and belonging among parishioners. “We beefed up our Sunday hospitality,” said Parish Manager, Lisa Rosenlund. “Greeters were assigned to Sunday Masses, a welcome station was created in the vestibule, a weekly electronic newsletter was initiated, a new website was developed, and several large scale events were hosted to bring people together, including our first annual Saint Brendan festival in May.”
Focusing on the second stage of spiritual growth, the theme for the parish this year is Pray Together. Stay Together. “Our pastoral plan for the year consists of four programs,” Father Roger said. “But what I’m most proud of are the small groups that Sister Angela created, so that parishioners can talk about important issues, pray, and just do life together in a relaxed, informal, and safe environment. We have over a hundred people coming regularly to our small groups.”
The parish also brings in guest speakers once a month to talk about various aspects of prayer. Father Joe Spieler spoke on contemplative prayer, and Father Roger discussed gratitude as a form of prayer. Internationally-known author and artist, David Clayton, offered advice on how to create a space for prayer at home. In the coming months, the church will provide talks on praying with icons and orthodox spirituality, praying with the gospels and the saints, and using music to enhance prayer. The highest form of prayer, the Mass, will be explained during the six weeks of Lent.
Third, the parish hosted a powerful concert dedicated to Our Lady on the 100th anniversary of her appearance in Fatima and will have a highly-acclaimed Catholic speaker available at our Saint Brendan Festival in May. Finally, the bulletin each week contains an article about a different form or style of prayer.
“We truly are praying together and staying together,” Father Roger said. “I am excited about what the new year holds for our parish.”
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