This is our call and our blessing:
to proclaim and teach the good news;
to worship in joy and gratitude;
to welcome the stranger and the outcast;
to serve the needs of the people, body and spirit;
to labor for social justice, so that all may have what they need.
Why is this our mission statement?
When a team of parishioners was tasked with re-writing the mission statement around our 150th anniversary, some research was done to discover what the Catechism says a parish’s mission is, what other Church documents say, what we know from scripture, and what we know of ourselves as a community. Those purposes and values were boiled down and refined into the mission statement we have today. Our parish mission statement focuses on five simple—but important—points.
Part 1: To Proclaim and Teach
“This is our call and our blessing: To proclaim and teach the good news.”
The mission of any parish is an extension of the mission of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear: “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.” (Mt 28:19-20)
We also have other guidance beyond the Scriptures. When speaking of our mission, Church teaching makes it clear that the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, spread, proclaim, teach and educate. It’s a part of our Christian DNA.
How do we communicate all of that succinctly? We proclaim. We teach. And we are called and blessed to do so!
Part 2: To Worship
“This is our call and our blessing… To worship in joy and gratitude.”
“You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy. Scripture is filled with exhortations to give thanks and praise in prayer. A parish is defined in part as a place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.
The Church teaches us that the Liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed, although it does not exhaust our activity. From our first days since the Resurrection, we have gathered “in communion of the breaking of bread and in prayers… praising God.” We know these words of Jesus well: “Do this in memory of me.” At times, we may even refer to participating in Mass as our “obligation” because of the importance it deserves in our lives.
At every Mass, we invoke the joy of the Resurrection and give thanks and praise for all God’s marvelous deeds. The very word Eucharist comes to us from a word indicating thanksgiving.
How do we communicate all of that succinctly? We worship in joy and gratitude. We are called and blessed to do so!
Part 3: To Welcome
“This is our call and our blessing… To welcome the stranger and the outcast.”
The Gospel calls us to solidarity with those who are suffering, vulnerable, and in need. Jesus consistently sought out the sick, the poor and the marginalized – those most hungry for the good news. St. Teresa of Avila gave us the prayer that reminds us that “Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours…” As members of the Church, we are each part of the mystical Body of Christ acting in the world.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” we hear in the Gospel of Matthew. St. Mary’s has established a reputation for being a welcoming parish. Sure, not every parishioner is equally welcoming, but we’re working on it as part of our Christian mission. How do we welcome visitors? Those with mental handicaps? New parishioners? Those who do not speak English? Those living in their cars? Do we act as if all are welcome? Hmm. We’ve made some progress, but we still have a lot of work to do! As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst.
Another Catholic parish in our area makes this very bold statement:
“No matter what your present status in the Catholic Church; No matter what your current family, personal, or marital situation; No matter what your past or present religious affiliation; No matter what your personal history, age, background, race or color; No matter what your self-image or esteem; You are invited, welcomed, accepted, loved, and respected. All are welcome.”
God is with us as we struggle to live up to those values as a parish that practices Christian hospitality.
How do we communicate all of that succinctly? We welcome the stranger and the outcast. We are called and blessed to do so!
Part 4: To Serve
“This is our call and our blessing… To serve the needs of the people, body and spirit.”
Perhaps you remember the Works of Mercy. (There are seven “corporal” and seven “spiritual” works of mercy.) They are:
+ Feed the hungry
+ Clothe the naked
+ Give drink to the thirsty
+ Visit the imprisoned
+ Shelter the homeless
+ Care for the sick
+ Bury the dead
+ Counsel the doubtful
+ Instruct the ignorant
+ Correct sinners
+ Comfort the sorrowful
+ Forgive all injuries
+ Bear wrongs with patience
+ Pray for the living and the dead
So, how important are these Works of Mercy in our lives as Christians? The Scriptures give them great emphasis through the words of the prophets, the apostles, and of Jesus himself. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches his disciples: “Whatever you did for one of these least of these who are members of my family, you did for me.” (see Matthew 25:31-46) In a manner of speaking, this is the ‘homework’ Jesus gave all of his disciples as we eagerly await Christ’s return in glory!
How do we communicate all of that succinctly? We serve the needs of the people, body and spirit. We are called and blessed to do so!
Part 5: To Labor for Justice
“This is our call and our blessing… To labor for social justice.”
There are seven main themes in Catholic Social Teaching. They are:
- Care for God’s creation
- The life and dignity of the human person
- An option for the poor and vulnerable
- The dignity of work and the rights of workers
- Solidarity with all people
- Human rights and responsibilities
- A call to family, community and participation
This is an essential part of our Catholic Christian faith.
Our Catechism says that “Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” Perhaps that definition is not quite clear enough. Think of it this way: Justice is about making sure that everyone has what they need. Safety, security, food, clean water, a place to live, meaningful employment, access to health care, and fair treatment under the law are some examples of what justice involves.
Seeking justice brings one to respect the rights of others, creates harmony among people, and promotes equity and the common good. As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” But how? Well, consider the Works of Mercy. Consider the Prayer of St. Francis, “Make me an instrument of your peace…”. These are some of the maps that guide us. Actively pursuing justice is not just a good idea. It’s an essential part of being a disciple of Jesus.
How do we communicate all of that succinctly? We labor for social justice. We are called and blessed to do so!
“This is our call and our blessing…”
Why does the mission statement of St. Mary’s begin with these words?
We all know the experience of someone calling our name. Our scriptures repeatedly remind us that God calls us to do his will, to follow the way of Jesus. In song we announce and proclaim that “we are called”. Each and every person has a vocation, some role to which we are called. Those individual vocations are a part of our calling as disciples of Christ. We are called, to love God and one another through works of mercy and being instruments of the peace of Christ.
We acknowledge our call, and recognize that it is also our blessing, to serve God and serve in the Reign of God. Our calling is our blessing because Christ saves us and frees us despite our imperfections and failings. Being his disciples means we do as he taught us, anointed as priests, prophets and members of God’s royal family.
And how can we express our thanks and gladness? By proclaiming and teaching the good news; by worshiping in joy and gratitude; welcoming the stranger and the outcast; by serving the needs of people, body and spirit; by laboring for social justice, so that all may have what they need. Our baptism asks no less of us!
God of compassion and grace,
you have shepherded your people through the years
and provided us with abundant blessings to share and enjoy.
We give thanks to you, for your love is everlasting.
Help us to use the blessings you have given to us
in service to your kingdom.
May your peace, which is beyond all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds in your knowledge and love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Images by Gertrud Mueller Nelson, © Liturgical Press.
Declaración de Nuestra Misión
Este es nuestro llamado y nuestra bendición:
proclamar y enseñar la Buena Nueva;
alabar con gozo y gratitud;
dar la bienvenida a los desconocidos y los desterrados;
servir a las necesidades del pueblo, en cuerpo y en espíritu;
trabajar por la justicia social, y así todos tendrán lo que necesiten.
Dios de compasión y gracia,
tú has pastoreado a tu pueblo a través de los años
y nos has proporcionado bendiciones abundantes
para compartir y gozar.
Te damos gracias, por tu amor que perdura para siempre.
Ayúdanos a usar las bendiciones que nos has dado
en servicio de tu reino.
Que tu paz, la cual está fuera de nuestra comprensión,
mantenga nuestras mentes y corazones
en tu conocimiento y tu amor.
Por Jesucristo, nuestro Señor.