Gathering to Witness

July 20, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to be willing to grow as we overcome sin and grow in understanding of God’s plan of salvation. In seminary, we had reviews each year which allowed us to receive feedback so that we could grow into a better version of ourselves. Here at SJB, we have a willingness to grow as a core value as it is a key component for our effectiveness in evangelization. We need to understand how God is calling us to witness to Him and share His Truth with the world.  

This past May, we conducted an online survey and received 902 responses. I want to share some updates and decisions we have made regarding the feedback we received. Fr. Joseph and I went through the feedback regarding the homilies. While the feedback was very positive overall, we can improve the quality of our homilies. Fr. Joseph and I are working to avoid unnecessary repetition that causes people to lose interest. We are also making an extra effort to have some deeper points while at the same time keeping them practical. We also try to keep our weekend homilies 7-10 minutes and on occasion, we will preach a little longer. 

Lee Treml, Director of Worship, and Jessica Balzarini, Director of Parish Life, met to discuss the feedback regarding music and the liturgy. The strengths they noted are that people love the variety of music offered, people appreciate the high quality of music and music is essential to their worship experience. Areas of growth include adjusting the volume of the organ, the need to do teaching on the Mass, a strong desire for more uplifting music within the Mass, and increase congregation participation.  In light of those growth areas, we have begun to include musical notation to aid the singing of the Sunday night Ignite group music. We will also have the Ignite group play at both Masses (8:30 am and 10:30 am) on Sunday morning once a month beginning in August. We are going to try this for a few months and adjust as necessary. We also plan to advertise the music groups at Mass, so people know what to expect. We also intend to include English translations anytime Latin is used within the Mass.   

Melissa Berg, Coordinator of Hospitality, met with Teri Shea, Office Manager, to discuss the feedback on hospitality. People appreciate the opportunity to have hospitality after Mass as it gives parishioners the occasion to build relationships. Regarding the food selection, we are still working on the details but we hope to begin some changes in September. We are hoping to add a gluten-free option as well as healthier options. With those options come added expenses and so we are considering putting out a suggested donation amount as well to help cover the costs. Considering the changes in food, that will directly affect the need for help from more volunteers. It would include, set up, serving, and clean up. We will need a minimum of 4 volunteers for each Mass with the hot option breakfast and a minimum of 2 for each Mass with just the healthier options. Please contact Micki Hall at the parish office if you are interested. 

There was feedback about addressing the dirty ceiling as well as improving the sound system, both of which are part of the current Planning Study we are conducting with the Steier Group, and we intend to share those results in the middle of August. I am grateful to the Administrative Services Commission, made up of 9 parishioners who have expertise in building and facilities management, for their guidance and recommendations. They did much of the preparations that went into this month’s planning study. I am grateful as well to the Worship Commission, made up of 9 parishioners who advise parish leadership on our liturgical celebrations. The Worship Commission helped with much of the preparations that went into the survey we did in May.   I am grateful for our many parishioners using their gifts and for their attentiveness to the Holy Spirit as we further the kingdom of God in New Brighton and beyond.    

We, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and School, are willing to grow to let the light of Christ shine more brightly. As we gather and reflect on the thoughtful feedback from our parishioners, we witness that God is doing amazing things here. People are experiencing hope and healing. People are given insights on how God is with them and guiding them. Together may we “Gather to Witness” the growth in Christ’s kingdom!

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