February 23, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
Archbishop Bernard Hebda calls us forth to fulfill our Baptismal calling, which is to share the love and truth of Jesus in the world! The letter, which has the length of a short book (58 pages), shares the vision of our shepherd and leader. I really appreciate that he desires to do that in very real and practical ways which further the kingdom of God in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and beyond. You can find the letter at archspm.org/synod It is a great goal to read this during Lent. Spend less time scrolling social media, or reading the news, and read the Good News found in Archbishop’s letter.
As the title indicates, there is an external focus which is of the utmost importance in our diocese. We need to be willing to engage the world by being witnesses. We cannot just sit back and say come to us, we must go to them. We do need a strong sense of community and support as the disciples did. However, we cannot be content with just staying in our comfort zone with like-minded people. We are to gather around the Lord and receive His love, life, and truth. He shares with us His Holy Spirit that empowers and ignites us to live with purpose in the world. We are sent forth as His witnesses to share the love and truth of Jesus!
We will reflect on different sections of the letter over the next six weeks. This week we look at the Introduction and Section I. In the introduction, Archbishop Hebda acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit already present in our Archdiocese. They are the following:
- strong, vibrant parishes with rich liturgical traditions, inspiring social outreach, and Eucharistic devotion;
- talented and devoted clergy;
- long history of generous and insightful lay involvement at every level of Archdiocesan life;
- two strong seminaries, including programs for ongoing clergy formation, deacons, and lay leaders;
- plentiful vocations to the various forms of consecrated life, the permanent diaconate, and the priesthood;
- network of excellent Catholic schools with growth at every level;
- transformational ministries and apostolates that have arisen here and continue to call our Archdiocese home;
- abundant ministries that demonstrate our commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, the sanctity of life, and the dignity of the human person
It is important to acknowledge that we are building on this strong foundation. I am incredibly grateful to the 12 pastors who have served before me at SJB, as well as the generous parishioners and dedicated staff, that have helped our parish become what it is today. Following the gratitude in the introduction, he reflects upon the Synod path that our diocese has taken, which is walking together. Our parish participated in the synod process with robust participation and collaboration in discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit with Archbishop Hebda during this process. We paused our adult formation last fall and hosted small group discussions about a variety of topics related to our beautiful Catholic Faith.
The three priorities that rose to the top in the diocesan-wide process were:
- Forming parishes that are in the service of evangelization.
- Forming missionary disciples who know Jesus’s love and respond to his call.
- Forming youth and young adults in and for a Church that is always young.
I attended the synod with our two parish representatives last June and we prayed and collaborated during the three-day Synod Assembly. It was a beautiful opportunity and inspiring to me as I listened to people share about their own faith and desires for our Archdiocese. Following the assembly, the Archdiocese collected the notes and correlated them. Archbishop Hebda prayed through the information along with Bishop Williams and other Archdiocesan leaders. Then he released this Pastoral Letter on the Feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2022.
Next week, I will focus on Section II of the document, “Walking Together.”
As the Father loves me, so I also love you,
Father Paul Shovelain