Called Forth as we approach Holy Week

March 30, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
Holy Week is upon us! Please join us for our beautiful liturgies throughout the Triduum! You can find the schedule below. Please note a few differences. Easter Sunday Masses are at 7:30 am, 9:30 am, and 11:30 am (NOT the regular Sunday Mass schedule.)   

The Adoration Chapel closes at 10:00 pm on Wednesday. For Holy Thursday this year, we will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass in St. Joseph’s Hall as the Chapel is under construction. Also, after that Liturgy, we will be handing out guides for the seven church pilgrimage locations that you can travel to and pray at that evening. It involves visiting six other Catholic Churches (in addition to St. John’s) and praying certain prayers responding to the Lord’s command to stay awake and pray. Learn more about the tradition of the pilgrimage here.

On Good Friday, the Tenebrae service will look a little different this year as we will be reflecting on the Jewish custom of placing a stone on the tomb of Christ rather than the veneration of the cross. This is more in keeping with the spirit of that time as Christ is in the tomb and we are reflecting on his death. We look forward to celebrating with you all week long as we are Called Forth to journey with the Lord!

Pastoral Letter Conclusion and Implementation Plans
When I first read the Pastoral Letter, I was tempted to just go to the end to get the marching orders. However, it is important to read how we get there, as that provides greater insight into the motivation of what we are asked to do. Ultimately, Archbishop Hebda is calling us forth to be witnesses to the world and his vision laid out in the last section. It lays out the three priorities in some depth but also gives some flexibility into how they will take shape. In addition to this section, there is another document titled ‘Year 1 Implementation Plan’ which lays out roles and responsibilities.

In March, the staff of the church and school gathered to reflect on the document as well as present ideas on how we can move forward together. It was wonderful to hear the staff’s ideas about how we can prioritize small groups to further strengthen our parish as a whole. We already have 240 people in small groups, but we have 1400-1700 people join us for Mass on an average weekend. How do we help more people see the value of participating in a small group? How do we accommodate more small groups when our available space is running out? How do we make our spaces more small-group friendly? How do we ensure that the small group leaders have the support and tools they need to run a small group well? These are all important considerations which we will reflect on and plan for.

In addition to that exercise with staff, I will also be spending a day with the Synod Evangelization Team that has just completed the School of Discipleship. We are gathering on April 29 and planning small group ministry for the upcoming year. The team is made of up of 10 parishioners and 10 staff members who will plan and help us implement Archbishop Hebda’s vision.

Evangelization for me personally is very important. In my year as Parochial Administrator, we sought to evangelize with our theme of “Inviting In.” Throughout the next year of much division, we sought to evangelize through being “United in the Holy Spirit.” From there we were “Restored to Life” as we revived our vital ministries and brought back more in person ministry. Now we have been and are being Called Forth to take the next step on the journey of faith. Through it all, I know the Lord is guiding us to become more fully His witnesses. I invite you to read the letter and Year 1 Implementation Plan. Pictured below are a couple photos from the staff day. The banners were made during small group discussions and the staff groups used them when they presented on the letter.

As the Father loves me, so I also love you,
Father Paul Shovelain