We are about one year into All Things New, the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ strategic pastoral planning initiative. In a couple of months, listening sessions will be held with all parishes to begin the discussion on future parish models. Regardless of what the future holds, there are still things that we need to do in the present moment until a reallocation of resources begins. We can’t get caught up in looking too far into the future that it paralyzes us from carrying on the mission and ministry of our Church right now. Here are some things that we should continue doing throughout the All Things New process.
We still need to pray both individually and collectively. Privately, we need to reflect upon our need for Jesus and call upon the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words and actions in our daily interactions. As a community, we need to continue vibrant celebrations of Holy Mass and the sacraments.
We still need to participate in ministry. We are called to discern our charisms, our gifts from the Holy Spirit, and use them to help continue to build God’s kingdom on earth. We are called to minister to those who are in need spiritually, physically and economically. We are called to minister to those parishioners who are helping those in need. We are still called to “go and make disciples.”
We still need to be generous with our money. We are still called to financially support our local parishes, our larger Church of St. Louis and our greater Church worldwide. Generosity doesn’t take a break just because we don’t know where we’ll be celebrating Mass a year from now.
All Things New is about our own personal transformation, our individual change of heart, and not just about where my new parish will be. All Things New is our opportunity to move out of our comfortable surroundings and commit to a new relationship with the Holy Trinity and each other. The initiative is an opportunity to dream about what is possible, to discover new ministry opportunities and not just adhere to the status quo.
Some people are skeptical that the archdiocese already has the new parish realignment figured out. But, I can tell you that is not the case. The archdiocesan leadership team is set on “implementing a vision for evangelization that empowers and expects every baptized Catholic to spread the Gospel message and ensures a Catholic presence in every square mile of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.” The upcoming listening sessions are a tremendous opportunity for each of us to provide input. But, it will require each of us to open our hearts and minds and set aside our pride and ego.
To prepare for the listening sessions of All Things New, ask yourself these questions: What do I truly believe in? Am I willing to change for Jesus? How is God calling me to respond at this moment?
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.