There are two kinds of Catholic parishes in the US these days. Maintenance parishes and mission parishes. Maintenance parishes are primarily concerned with maintaining the status quo, keeping current parishioners happy and involved, and believing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Parishes driven by a culture of mission, on the other hand, seek to help all people, parishioners and non-parishioners, encounter and fall in love with Jesus so that their lives only make sense when fully committed to Christ. Mission parishes seek to grow disciples who understand their call to make Christ known in the world and transform the culture. Maintenance parishes are shrinking and dying Mission parishes are growing and thriving. Cathedral is a mission-focused parish.
During the past nine months our staff and clergy have combined to offer a dozen short- and long-term adult faith formation courses open to all in the Springfield area. Equipping disciples with an understanding of the faith is essential to living that faith in a world that is frequently hostile to Christianity. But we have also focused on providing opportunities for the un-churched or disengaged to find encouragement and hope. Over 100 guests and team members have renewed their relationship with Jesus through our parish Alpha courses. We are reviving a pro-life ministry that will keep our parish focused on caring for our most vulnerable, and we are seeking to understand how trauma keeps people from realizing their full potential so that we can be part of a healing process.
This is a very exciting time for the Church and for the Cathedral community. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in our parish and in the lives of parishioners and guests. Christianity is no longer a spectator sport; indeed, it was never meant to be. Here are three things you can do to be part of the mission focus at the Cathedral.
Smile and make room in the pew.
Next weekend is Easter. There may be many people in the pews who don’t often attend Mass. Instead of secretly resenting them for taking “your” pew or making it difficult to find a parking place, extend to them the love and mercy God has for you and all His children by sitting in the middle of the pew so you are ready to welcome and smile at those who will share it with you.
Attend Alpha and/or invite a friend to attend.
The next Alpha course is starting on June 10. Postcards are available to help you extend an invitation. Alpha can help you connect in a more intimate way with Christ and with the Christian community. And Alpha is an essential tool for a mission-focused parish. But it is only successful if parishioners become an invitational engine.
Pray for help in discovering your own mission.
Your task as a missionary disciple is to proclaim and witness Jesus Christ, and he has given you unique gifts to carry out that mission. If you have not yet discovered how God has equipped you, ask the Holy Spirit for enlightenment, understanding and wisdom.
Cathedral will continue to offer ways for individuals to meet Jesus and experience conversion. We are committed to growing disciples and are interested in your ideas for how we can better facilitate that. Please join us in asking for the Holy Spirit to inspire us that we may discern and follow God’s glorious plan for our parish.
Vicki Compton is the Coordinator for Faith Formation and Mission at the Cathedral. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.