June 8, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
Looking Back and Forward, grounded on the Eucharist
As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of our Lord, we stand firmly rooted in the Eucharist. Through this tremendous gift, we are united to God and to one another. It helps us to love like Jesus himself. It gives us confidence as the Father established us as His children and nourishes us with the Eucharist to live in Communion with Him. It is from this place of confidence that we reflect back on the past year and look forward in hope!
This past year we were “Called Forth” to take the next step on the journey of faith. Those steps included many parents bringing their infants or children for Baptism. Those steps included many people being called home to Heaven. Even in the midst of the sorrow of the many funerals we celebrated this past year, we live in hope knowing that we are made for eternal life in Heaven. Many people were called forth through our programs as we saw a rise in attendance at many of our events from the All Saints Party to the Journey to the Inn to the Easter Egg Hunt. We were called by Archbishop Hebda to put together a Synod Evangelization Team and 20 staff and parishioners stepped up to form that team. We saw growth in our school and anticipate even more growth next year. Our family formation program was also the largest it has been in several years. Many, many people have taken the next step in the journey of faith and it is inspiring to see.
Looking forward, Archbishop Hebda is calling us to prioritize Small Group ministry. While we are fortunate to have a strong presence of small group ministry at SJB, we want to strengthen it for years to come. I believe small groups are a vital place of conversion and support. As we discern how to strengthen them and follow Archbishop’s vision, our new theme will have a small group component. His pastoral letter was titled “You will be my Witnesses!” In light of that theme and the focus of small groups, our theme for the program year of 2023-2024 will be “Gather to Witness.” We will look for way to support everyone who comes through our doors in sharing their faith. It is hard to talk about our faith nowadays as we do not want to offend people. However, we are called to share our faith with others and we will discuss and develop ways that we can do that to further Christ’s kingdom here in New Brighton and beyond.
Our themes theme have been the following: 2019-2020 “Inviting In”, 2020-2021 “United in the Holy Spirit”, 2021-2022 “Restored to Life”, 2022-2023 “Called Forth”.
These themes have given us a focus and a point of connection throughout the year. In the Weekend Experience Survey regarding homilies, I heard from people that they want depth and things to not be repeated. I appreciate the feedback and I do want to provide depth to help you grow deeper in your faith. I also want to respect your time and avoid unnecessary repetition. While the themes are not necessarily deep, my hope is that throughout the year, we develop and cultivate a depth around it in order to help you understand the Lord’s invitation personally for your life. With regards to the repetition and sharing the same theme throughout the year, fundamentals are key to success in whatever you do. Understanding the fundamentals of the faith and living them out will help co-naturalize our will with the Lord.
As the Father loves me so I also love you,
Father Paul Shovelain