As we begin to look toward and plan for the year that lies ahead, I want to thank you once more for your generosity to the ministries of St. Ignatius Parish in the year just ended. Despite the unprecedented circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to maintain most of our programing (even expanding some!) and create brand new ways of ministering to our faith community. I am deeply grateful for your critical role in this work.
At a recent Zoom meeting in June, I asked the staff to share their thoughts on which programs and ministries were among the successes of the year.Their responses filled my heart with gratitude for the dedication and hard work of our entire community and for the ways in which we have deepened the sense of community while physically apart. Below is a selection of what they highlighted:
· Neighbor2Neighbor: Parishioners caring for parishioners. A vibrant ministry already, its importance became even more clear when we began to shelter in place. More than 110 volunteers help those in need of rides to the doctor, delivery of groceries or prescriptions, and much more.
· Delegations to the Border: Members of our parish joined those of other parishes and other faith communities in the summer and fall to spend a week at Annunciation House in El Paso providing hospitality to migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
· Home4Dinner: For four months, we had one Sunday Mass, followed by a meal together in Fromm Hall. Between 650 and 800 gathered for worship those Sundays, and 325 to 450 broke bread together. We were discovering a new way of being together – and were then faced with the pandemic.
· Livestreaming Sunday Mass: When shelter in place came, we didn’t miss a beat, livestreaming from the start, thanks to many factors, including our partnership with USF. The effectiveness surprised most of us, and the sense of community in the virtual world is stunning – offering critical data for our serious reflection. And it’s exciting that our faith community is no longer bound by geography – including our virtual parishioners, we now hail from across the U.S. and around the world!
· The Lima Center: We continue to partner with St. Dominic Parish to provide a Catholic Charities social worker referral for those who come to our office door in need, especially our sisters and brothers experiencing homelessness.
· 25th Anniversary as a Parish: In early October, we gathered for Mass and then a gala dinner to celebrate all that God has done in the 25 years since St. Ignatius was re-erected as a parish.
· Laudato si’ Circles: St. Ignatius parishioners and others committed to Pope Francis’s call for care of our planet have formed a vibrant ministry of self-education and advocacy on this topic. They continue to meet twice a month!
· St. Ignatius in the Neighborhood: We revived a dormant ministry this year, with much success; with one parishioner hosting area neighbors in their home, this remains a great way for us to continue to build community through fellowship.
· Our Beautiful Church: Advent, with a new and glorious wreath, and Christmas, with a new creativity brought about by greater ecological concern, were once again spectacular. Owing to the pandemic, Easter’s new liturgical environment design was postponed until 2021.
· Parish Response to Racial Injustice: This is ongoing, but the proliferation of conversations on this issue in after-Mass hospitality, young adult Magis Meals, Commissions meetings and other areas of our parish life are both an invitation and a mandate to continue to address it.
· Model of Lay Leadership: The Commissions continue to grow in sharing the responsibility for the running of our parish. This year saw more engagement with the budget process, and the Administration Commission ran a very successful Annual Giving phonathon.
· And much more!
I am very proud of and excited by all that our fellow parishioners have accomplished. I hope that you are, too, because without your support, we simply could not have done it. I am deeply and sincerely grateful.
Of course, in the world of COVID-19, we have a great deal of work to do, figuring out how to “do parish life” when so much will be virtual for the coming year. I think the invitation by the Holy Spirit is to be innovative, and we have begun to have those conversations. I look forward to your partnership in that great adventure in the year to come.
May God bless you this summer, keeping you safe and giving you abundant opportunity for joy.