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May 15, 2016

On this Pentecost Day, we’re taking a break from our reading of the Holy Father’s exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, or “On Love in the Family”. Today we want to acknowledge some efforts on the part of parish leadership - volunteers and staff - for the ongoing development and growth of our parish community.

On the morning of Saturday, May 14th, we held our third annual Leadership Conference.It is a time when, as Pastor, I have an opportunity to work with gathered leadership directly, sharing some of what has been accomplished and exploring together what is anticipated for the life of our parish community. During the morning, we began to look at the organizational culture of our parish community using the imagery of the iceberg. It presumes that when it comes to organizational growth and development there is a lot that happens above the surface in plain view, but there is far more that is going on beneath the surface. All of it is important to us, as we consider who we are as a community of faith, always seeking to grow in our discipleship of Jesus.

In this past year I have been praying a lot with two distinct but related scripture passages. The first is “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20). It is the passage known as the Great Commission, in which Jesus gives his followers their marching orders as it were. Some commentators have noted that this passage is the singular reason for the Church’s existence. And if this is why the Church exists, then how we exist, how we fulfill this commission of Jesus for us is also important, and it brings me to the second passage: “But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift… And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…[so that]  living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ… with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:7,11-16). (Abbreviated here, it’s worth reading the whole passage) The point being that how we fulfill the mission given us by Christ involves our becoming, our collectively growing into all that Jesus calls us to be as a community of believers and the Catholic Community here in Northridge.

Trying to summarize our commitment as a parish, we discovered it’s not always easy to put such things into words, but nonetheless we have tried, and so today, you’ll notice some new language on the front of our bulletin: “Embracing God’s People. Equipping Disciples. Accompanying Believers.” In the coming weeks we will explore what this language is trying to capture, and will invite everyone to consider what it means for them individually, but also for all of us as a community of believers.

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