Important Message From the Pastor
In September 2020 I wrote an essay that was published in the parish’s e-newsletter. In it I reflected on the need for a new paradigm of Church in a post-pandemic world. It was my goal to focus our attention on the extraordinary challenges of our times that the Church must address if it is to remain relevant.
More than harboring a lethal disease, the pandemic exposed, in stark relief, wounds that require healing – the wounds of indifference, intolerance, and abject injustice. I believe we are at a defining moment of what it means to be Church as well as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. To return to the routine of the past would mean that we failed to learn from our tortured experiences of the pandemic. We will have abdicated our responsibility to minister to those in need whose lives came into sharper focus during the course of the pandemic, to care for our common home that is being ravaged by misuse and waste, and to love one another without the discriminatory filters that have separated us for far too long.
It is with confidence that we, as a parish, can look forward to the future in a post-pandemic world. The 31 words of our Mission Statement are the very foundation upon which our new paradigm will be built. They read:
The love of Christ impels us to welcome all,
to worship joyfully and pray fervently,
to walk together with those in need,
and to reverence God in the wonder of Creation.
Our Mission Statement is both a mirror and a compass. It describes who we are and who we aspire to be. To help us envision a new paradigm of Church that is grounded in our Mission Statement, I appointed a planning committee in March 2021 and charged them with charting a path that would animate the words of our Mission Statement – in a sense, to provide a blueprint that captured the spirit of who we are and guide us in a post-pandemic reality. The parishioners who did not hesitate to accept my invitation and who generously committed themselves to the task were: Kathy Murnion (co-chair), Eric Van Nostrand (co-chair), Ivan Briggiler, Rosario Conde-Johanek, Holly Curp, Adele Gallo, Father Mark Hallinan, S.J., Patti Hogan, Brian Pinter, Jean Santopatre, Jacques Torchon, and Scott Warren.
More than an exercise in strategic planning, the committee engaged in a discernment process and opened themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit so their minds and hearts might be open to one another’s hopes and dreams for the parish’s future and how those aspirations could be achieved.
In the course of their deliberations the planning committee recognized the need for input from parishioners. Working with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the committee designed a survey instrument that was distributed in the early Fall, both electronically and in hard copy. CARA collated, evaluated, and summarized the 790 survey forms that were submitted and, in November 2021, delivered its report to the planning committee. A copy of the report may be viewed electronically at ignatius.nyc/surveyresults. A two-page statistical summary of the report is included with this letter.
Finally, in December 2021, the planning committee delivered to me a vision statement that I am now sharing with you. It is a statement that reflects a labor of love – love for the Church, love for our parish, love for our natural environment, and love for the people we are called to serve as disciples of Jesus Christ. This vision of what our future could look like brings our mission statement to life, wraps it in flesh, provides a rhythm for its heartbeat, and calls us to follow a path to a new paradigm of Church.
I am extremely grateful to the members of the planning committee for what they accomplished. The vision statement before us is essentially an invitation to liberate ourselves from the comfort of simply conforming to habits of the past and to open our minds and hearts to new ways of being Church. This vision challenges us to embrace the future by responding to the crucial, compelling, and complex circumstances of today’s world.
If the vision drafted by the planning committee is to be realized, we, communally and individually, need to take ownership of it. Only then will we be ready to proceed to the next phase of formulating action plans for each aspect articulated in the statement. These action plans will be the building blocks of a new paradigm of Church.
Your reflections and comments on the vision statement are of great importance as we proceed to the next phase of the planning process. An ideal scenario would be to convene a “town hall meeting” so we could listen to one another’s comments about the parish and its direction as envisioned by the planning committee. Given the present constraints for holding such a meeting, there will be several alternative opportunities for you to participate in this process. They are as follows:
1. Participating in a 30-minute listening session after each Mass on the weekend of March 19-20, facilitated by a member of the planning committee.
2. Participating in a virtual town hall on March 30 that will have break-out groups, facilitated by members of the planning committee. Registration to participate will be required.
3. If you are a member of a parish ministry, the chair of your ministry will facilitate a listening session for your ministry group.
4. Sending to me your written comments.
The purpose of these sessions, consistent with the synodal process encouraged by Pope Francis, is to listen respectfully to one another without engaging in a discussion of the comments being made. The facilitator will offer a brief introduction and acknowledge those who wish to speak.
As we plan together for the future of the parish, I ask that you read the vision statement, reflect on it in your prayer, and participate in one of the listening sessions so that your voice may be heard.
May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us through this planning process so that all that we do now and in the future may redound to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Sincerely in the Lord,