Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter--September 22, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Over the course of his pontificate, Pope Francis has in varied ways called on the faithful to be a Church that takes seriously the lived experience of all human beings. Early on he gave us the image of the Church as a field hospital, exhorting us to listen to and bind the wounds of those who are hurt, in any manner of speaking. The Holy Father has spoken often of the idea of authentic encounter, setting aside our certainties, our agendas, whatever might hinder us from truly and deeply receiving another. And Francis has frequently called us to be a listening Church. In his April 2019 apostolic exhortation on youth, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive), he again calls for a listening Church: “Let us ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill.” (No. 35, excerpt)

I have been reading our Be Seen books, believing that God continues to call the Church into existence, an existence that is relevant to youth, to you and to me, to those who are not reading this because they think that the Church rejects them or has nothing to offer them or has hurt them in some way. The Holy Spirit moves in and among all the Baptized. The Holy Spirit speaks truth to all the Baptized. The Holy Spirit reveals her will to all the Baptized. And trusting the good will of the Baptized of St. Ignatius Parish, we have been listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying in and through us, as those promptings have been recorded by parishioners in our Be Seen books.

I’d like to share with you some of what has been written, in no particular order:

Desires regarding Ministries

• welcome the homeless into our space, similar to the Gubbio Project

• have a core group of pray-ers who pray and do acts of penance for the Church

• offer ways for parishioners to connect for mentoring

• work with “at risk” youth of San Francisco, a la Homeboy Industries

Desires regarding Fellowship

• host meetings of youth and elderly so they can learn from one another

• have more Scripture study

• offer small groups for women and other affinity groups to share at a deeper level

• be a church that is both high-tech and relational

• host more 12-Step meetings

Desires regarding Issues in the Church

• host discussions and forums about women and married men as priests: “Would it be possible to begin the discussion and gather the ‘findings’/’opinions’ and present them to the appropriate authorities/channels? Can we join with other parishes who have a similar interest to undertake this discussion and collate the findings?"

• welcome the LGBTQ community, so that they are “not seen as less holy, but fully included;” “I would like to participate in the Sacrament of Marriage with my same-sex partner, especially at the altar at St. Ignatius.”

• deal with clergy sex abuse crisis transparently and clearly

• find a way to embrace our youth and their needs

Desires regarding Worship, Prayer, and Sacraments

• offer more times for confessions

• have Eucharistic Adoration for 24 hours

• offer a meditation group that meets regularly

• teach meditation practice

• gather as a whole parish (have just one Mass) on occasion

• offer more guided meditations based on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

• teach Lectio Divina

• bring people out of their seats and around altar

• invite choirs from other churches, and have ours go out to other churches and mosques

• offer a Spanish language Mass

• have a youth choir and/or a children's choir

• allow women to break open the Word

• offer Liturgy of the Hours

Desires – Miscellaneous

• give greater attention to Laudato Si’; be more green: stop using bottled water and bring our own mugs to meetings

• have an explanation of the history of the Sacred Heart at the side altar

• teach about other religions

• have compassion for all women who face abortion; call men to accept their responsibility.

If you’re like me, you like much of what you read, and some of it challenges you. For example, a number of people requested more frequent Eucharistic adoration. This ancient form of prayer has never been as fruitful for me as other forms of prayer, but perhaps the Holy Spirit is inviting me to experiment once more!

Our Be Seen books will be available for one more week, as will the box atop to Communion rail at the St. Joseph Altar and the online portal. If you have some thoughts/desires, either those that have been rumbling around in your heart for a while or new ones that have emerged as a result of reading the ones above, please take time to submit them. For us to hear as fully as possible what the Holy Spirit is saying to our community, we must hear how she is speaking in all our hearts.

Finally, I hope you’re planning on joining us in two weeks for our celebration of the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of St. Ignatius Parish. Details are elsewhere in the bulletin and online, where you can also register. I hope you’ll join us for an evening of great fun!

On another note, I would like to invite you to attend our annual presentation on the direction of our parish for the year ahead and our stewardship of our parish resources. We will present an overview of the past year’s accomplishments, our plans for the near future, and an overview overview of income and expenses. Our goal is to engage you and inform you about our plans and to give you an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and suggestions. The presentation will be on Sunday, September 29, after the 9:30 am Mass. Please join us.

God bless you and all you carry in your heart.

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg