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Pope Francis greeted the crowd as he led the "Regina Coeli" from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22.
Pope Francis greeted the crowd as he led the "Regina Coeli" from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

Pray: The joy of a missionary Church

Words from Pope Francis’ exhortation “Joy of the Gospel” are a guide for the archdiocese’s All Things New strategic pastoral planning process

I dream of a “missionary option,” that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. (“Joy of the Gospel,” 27)

This passage from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” (“Joy of the Gospel”) is another one of the guiding texts in All Things New, the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ strategic pastoral planning initiative. Pope Francis wrote the document in 2013 as a reflection on the Church’s mission of evangelization in the modern world.

The Church “has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary,” Pope Francis wrote. “In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead.”

While the Holy Father touches on the obligations that Christians have to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political and legal orders, his words also apply to the mission of the local Church, as Catholics discern what parishes, ministries and institutions should look like to effectively share the faith in a way that is sustainable for generations to come.

All Things New will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel and identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies.

“The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with Himself,” Pope Francis wrote.

All renewal within the Church must have mission as its goal, he added. “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.”

The Holy Father invites everyone to be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in our communities. May his words be an inspiration as Catholics discern the future of a missionary Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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