Pastoral Letter: The Body of Christ, Our Community

Dear Sisters and Brothers – 

It seems each week we take another step forward, out of the world as we knew it for nearly 15 months. Here at St. Ignatius, every Sunday, we see familiar faces, some belonging to those we’ve longed to see and others belonging to those we didn’t know we missed until we saw them. And each weekend, new faces introduce themselves, having become part of our community during the year through the miracle of technology. Even as I continue to marvel at the creativity and hard work of the Holy Spirit across the pandemic, remarkably sustaining each and binding all throughout, I cannot express how deep is my joy in seeing you; my heart skips as I wander the aisles before Mass greeting the known and meeting the new. I look forward to the months ahead as more people return and our programming ramps up. 

Before we move into whatever God has in store for us, I want to acknowledge those who carried us at St. Ignatius, who ministered to us and cared for us, body and soul, through their generous service to our faith community throughout those many months of separation. While things were clearly different, many of our ministries continued with great effect, again, giving the Holy Spirit much to work with as God labored to care for and sustain us. 

The Catechism speaks of the Eucharist as “the source and summit” of Christian life. While most of us were unable to receive the sacramental Body of Christ throughout the pandemic, so many worked so hard to keep us connected to the Body of Christ, the community, with great success. Thank you to the Lectors, Musicians, and Cantors who recorded the readings, intercessions, hymns, and reflections, including the Children’s Liturgy of the Word and Good Friday; the Greeters who checked in those who attended the outdoor Mass; the Eucharistic Ministers after the 10:00 a.m. Mass; and, of course, the Tech Team behind the cameras that connected us all. 

Great thanks go to those who offered us Sunday Hospitality, Adult Faith Formation and Breaking Open the Word each week, giving us opportunities for fellowship, to deepen our faith, and to learn about and discuss topical issues in our world and our religion.  

In the early months of the pandemic, a posse of parishioners made two separate rounds of phone calls to check in on every parishioner for whom we had a phone number. Thank you to them, as well as to our Neighbor-to-Neighbor ministry, those who delivered groceries to homebound parishioners and drove others to their medical appointments. 

Our Shelter Meals and Brown Bag Sunday ministries adapted to the constraints of Covid-19 and faithfully gave us the opportunity to care for those experiencing food scarcity. Our Laudato Sí Circle has continued to invite and discuss and advocate and change hearts about the most universal justice issue of all – the environment and climate change. And the Antiracism Committee continues to meet, giving guidance to our other ministries on how we can become an antiracist parish. Thank you to all of you for helping us to live the Gospel throughout this time.

We just completed the Easter season, which was sprinkled with Sacraments throughout – the First Communions and Confirmations of our youth, as well as of adults in the RCIA program. I want to thank all of our catechists, those who accompany those on the journey and teach who Jesus is by the way they live their lives. 

Social distancing kept us from most social interaction, but the OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors) group met regularly throughout the months and even inaugurated a newsletter to keep people connected. And a creative, enthusiastic committee pulled off an evening of fun in March with Zoom Home4Dinner, with games, poetry, special mocktails and cocktails, and more that delighted 150-some participants for better than an hour. Kudos and thanks to all to all the organizers! 

I also want to acknowledge the generous women and men on our five Commissions who met once a month via Zoom to keep the various ministries and functions of the parish going, as well as the members of the Finance Committee and the Building Maintenance Committee. These are behind the scenes and, oh, so critical. Their wisdom and dedication have kept us going. I want to include here the Parish staff, whose own commitment and perseverance have undergirded the work of parishioners and are inspirational to me. I am grateful to all of you.

 Finally, thanks to all who have supported the ministries and mission of St. Ignatius Parish with your prayers and your donations. Creativity, good plans, and hard work are essential, but if they’re not supported spiritually and financially, not much can happen. I am deeply grateful for the faith and faithful support of all of you who have made this year possible. 

I invite you to join me and spend a few moments with what I have written, giving thanks to God for the many gifts given us through the gifts of so many. And pray for these people, for their intentions and that the seeds of their labors continue to bear fruit in our parish, for the deepening of our faith and for the binding of us together, that we might be ever more effectively the Body of Christ in our world. And, as always,
 

Oremus pro invicem.

 

Fr. Greg