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from fathers desk

My Dear Parish Family,

Happy Birthday! Today, Pentecost, is often considered the birthday of the Church. On birthdays, we celebrate the gift of life, we give thanks, and often we look ahead and ask ourselves what we want the next year to be about. Birthdays are a way to mark time but can also help us to identify God’s hand at work in our lives.

The hand of God, the Holy Spirit, is evident in the Apostles at Pentecost. The dramatic difference between the cowardly disciples huddled in the upper room and the courageous disciples proclaiming the Good News in every language amazes me. Filled with the Holy Spirit, these are different men! Hence the “birth” of the Church through the presence of the Spirit and the preaching of the apostles. For those of us who have already heard the Good News and belong to the Church, I feel that Pentecost is more about renewal, giving thanks, taking stock, and looking forward to what God seeks to accomplish in and through us.

We recall that the Church is not first a building or an institution but the Bride of Christ and the Body of Christ. When the Church was born on Pentecost there were no “churches,” as in buildings. The Church is first built of living stones (1 Pt 2:5); that is us! And so the vibrancy, vigor and fervor of the Church is built on our vibrancy, vigor and fervor. Bishop John Smith used to say, “Now is our time to be Church!” He meant that in this moment it is up to us to be the church we want to see and participate in. And I do believe that our parish is being led by the Spirit to a deep sense of renewal so that we can better embrace our mission to spread the Gospel in our little corner of the world.

A Stewardship Prayer that we pray as Finance Council depicts this reality very well:

My parish is composed of people like me. I help make it what it is. It will be friendly if I am. It will be holy, if I am. Its pews will be filled if I help fill them. It will do great work, if I work. It will be prayerful if I pray. It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver. It will bring others into worship, if I invite and bring them in. It will be a place of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, of compassion, charity, and mercy, if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these same things. Therefore, with the help of God, I now dedicate myself to the task of being all the things that I want my parish to be. Amen.

I would invite each person and each family to pray that prayer this week, daily if possible, with the question: how is God calling us to be more vibrant living stones? How does the LORD seek to build us up into a more beautiful spiritual building? So that our parish family can be that light on a hill, and that hospital for the sick, that Pope Francis continues to call us to be. It is an invitation to be more fully engaged in this beautiful faith we share. 2020  was a hard year. Here is to a beautiful and spirit-filled 2021! Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth! And start right here in Maple Shade. Yours in the Spirit,

Fr. Wilson