Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s hard to believe, but as of June 29th it will be exactly one year since my arrival here at Notre Dame. Time flies when you’re having fun! If I may begin with a word of gratitude above all, as I have said so many times, it has been an incredible blessing to get to know you all and to receive such a warm welcome. I’ve enjoyed coming to learn so much from all of you as I have grown into this new role. Thanks to my venerable predecessors in particular, it has been easy for me to watch and learn, seeking only to build on all of the good that already happens here.
Looking ahead though, we do have some very difficult decisions to make. No one would argue that we find ourselves in a time where the Church is shrinking for many reasons, both internal and external. And in the face of this, perhaps owing to the fact that I’m a young priest, my inclination is to look well into the future to make sure our parish is doing all that it can to remain a strong presence and serve the community for many years to come. So doing that, finding fairly dark prospects, what seems clearest is that we have to pretty radically reevaluate all that we do. Those things that have worked, we have to ask if they are still working. Those things that no longer work, we have to be creative and open to new ideas. There’s the famous expression: what got us here, won’t get us there. As in any organic body or institution, the ability to change and adapt is a sign of vibrancy and life.
There are several areas where I hope to carry out this evaluation with all of you. The first is of course spiritual. Are we all growing in a deep and intimate relationship with Christ? Through the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, through increased prayer and adoration, through a deeper knowledge of the faith and commitment to it, we’re all called to become disciples ready to spread the Good News we have received. It’s our primary responsibility, so in the coming year I, along with the pastoral staff, am excited to continue to expand opportunities for this spiritual growth.
I also hope we continue to grow as a community. As a Church, we are not individual consumers who come here for our graces and blessings and go home. We are meant to grow together, as we are all on a journey where we need the support and help of others. Whether it be the Multicultural Night or the upcoming Fall Festival, social activities are a great opportunity to foster this growth and bring more people gradually closer to the faith, without the intimidation of a spiritual event. Please do not hesitate to propose any ideas for community events, big or small – if you think it would be fun, I’m sure many others would as well.
Finally, and this is the most difficult, we have to think long and hard about how to be good stewards of our resources. Our different committees have been discussing many possibilities, and I appreciate all the feedback individual parishioners have shared with me, offering lots of great suggestions. As has been mentioned, the most important change would be the renovation of the convent. This would be only the beginning though, as we have a large campus and many buildings are showing their age at 60 years young. The conversation has arisen, therefore, and this is something I have been most dreading, of some sort of fundraiser in our future. It is early to say for sure, but in a spirit of openness I feel obliged to share, and would certainly be open to hear any thoughts. Above all, I continue to ask that we be united in prayer for each other and for the parish. While difficult times are ahead, it is exciting to think that we can be among the saints who strike out boldly and build something beautiful for God!
Yours in Christ,