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Out with the old....in with the new.

posted Jan 4, 2014, 7:07 AM by Pastor SPX
So long 2013, hello 2014. For my first blog post of the new year I am looking back at the amazing year past and anxiously excited about 2014.  No one at St. Pius, least of all me, was prepared for the all ways God would move in 2013.
We were halfway through our parish's 50th anniversary year, celebrating so much of "what had been", but not sure where to go in the future.  Our pastoral leadership team (parish staff) decided early on that the anniversary events needed to include some future planning, (in fact, we had a committee named that!), but did not know how to go about it. In an answer to prayers, my staff heard two speakers at the Mid-Atlantic Congress for Catholic Leaders in Baltimore last March that gave us some direction.  Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, pastor and pastoral associate of Nativity Catholic Church in Timonium, Maryland, spoke about their fifteen year journey "rebuilding" their parish.
Their book, Rebuilt, had just been published. Their talk and book (which I read that weekend) excited me like little had in recent years. So much of what they experienced (consumer Catholics, uninvolved parishioners, lack of enthusiasm for worship or ministries) sounded familiar. By exploring what successful churches were doing (yes, Protestant churches), they re-energized their parish by emphasizing the weekend (irresistible worship) and challenging folks to discipleship through weekly small groups, ministry inside the parish, mission outside the parish, and personal holiness.  Their approach resulted in a parish that tripled in size.  But beyond being a mere numbers game, the approach is a return to what Church should be about: faithfulness to Christ's command to "go and make disciples".  Nativity created an approach to reach out to the de-churched of their area (folks they refer to as "Timonium Tim"). 
So could this work at St. Pius?  Our team was eager to find out. Since the conference we began meeting weekly to explore the possibilities and create a pastoral plan. This past Fall, after our anniversary year concluded, I presented the plan (which we are calling "Restore") over three weekends at all our Masses. We asked parishioners to commit to one part of our plan by filling out a "Count Me In" card and over 400 folks did. We have begun several new ministries and initiatives and more are coming (small groups staring in Lent, cafe in February, expanded children's ministries, and screens and projectors for worship). Just as I had no idea how 2013 would turn out, I am equally uncertain about 2014.  But I truly believe God is calling our parish and the Church to renewal; to reaching out beyond our doors to others. When the third largest denomination in the U.S. is non-practicing Catholics, clearly something has to change. Change is coming...has already happened. May God continue to renew us and individually and to help our parish as we "restore all things in Christ."