Post- pandemic, we to need to focus on rebuilding our parish but with many of the lessons from the last 2 years paramount in our thinking. We cannot go on or back the same way as we have come. Our Parish will need to evolve to take account of both the technological and societal changes that are now commonplace features of life.
Our parishes are planning to move from simply maintaining themselves and the status quo to becoming a missionary community of disciples of Jesus Christ. Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus gave us the commission, ‘Go make disciples of all nations’, and today Pope Francis calls on us to become ‘Missionary disciples’. But how do we become missionary disciples? If we are to be missionary disciples, we must be people of collaboration. This does not mean that we attend endless meetings, join committees, or fill every moment of our schedule. Collaboration means a willingness to begin to work with others and recognise the unique and valuable role each person has. It must happen with all those in our parish. It requires openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as well as humility and flexibility. How can we learn from others in our parish community? How might God use our diverse gifts and talents to strengthen His kingdom on earth? What does being a ‘Disciple’ mean for us?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to use the tools of this time in order to present the Gospel to our world in a way that is innovative and relevant. A major tool today that can be used to spread the Gospel message is technology, especially the internet and social media. We can share digital content that is valuable, such as Scripture, the Catechism, reflections and church services and events in order to become better informed about our faith. Technology can also create a new type of community, enabling us to connect with others and share information in a way that is cost-effective and not limited to always being in the same room. How can use technology to spread the Gospel and improve the reach of our parish?
We do not exist in isolation and one of the huge lessons of the pandemic has been this. There is greater fluidity between parish communities now with many of us tuning into or attending worship in different parts of the world. As a parish we do not exist in isolation. As Christians our work of evangelisation will not work if we do it alone. Our community, especially our parish, strengthens us and equips us to go outside our church walls. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist give us the grace of Christ Himself. In order to be effective as missionary disciples, we are called to have a vibrant sacramental life strengthened by our communities. Our Parish community will strengthen us for our mission of discipleship. How do we ensure that we are prepared to be ‘missionary disciples’?
Prayer is crucial not only to a life of missionary discipleship, but to the Christian life overall. Prayer is the foundation for our relationship with God, inviting us to get to know ourselves more deeply. Prayer can, and should be, both personal and communal. God speaks in the silence of our hearts, as well as through others. We need to carve out time to talk with God. Do we read Scripture, pray the Rosary, sing hymns, or reflect? By having an active prayer life, we will be better equipped to become fruitful missionary disciples. The call to missionary discipleship is both daunting and exciting, and we can live it out at any time. As Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey’.
‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you’.
Matthew 28: 19-20