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Appleton, WI

July 17/18: Day by Day with Father Bill – Weekend Edition

As I sit down to write this weekend edition of In Joy and Sorrow, on Monday afternoon (7/12), I am hoping that the Communication Task Force (CTF), with help from Emily Jenks, who is our Minister for Neighborhood Outreach and Parish Vitality and who represents the Senior Leadership Team on the CTF, were able to put the finishing touches on A Pastoral Response to our Parish Synod: Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us? God willing, you will have the document in your inbox or hands very soon.

My hope was to channel the energy and dedication that filled the community room on the Eve of Pentecost, Saturday, May 22, as about 60 of your parish family members participated in the Synod. We had table conversations around the topics of Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Worship, and Mission, which were vital in helping us lean into our Mission/Vision Statement. I was in the room and I was at one of those seven tables.

The Pastoral Response is my take on what we are about as Saint Mary Parish. It is a teaching document, which means that it includes a development of the spirited conversations that were a part of our Synod. In a sense it introduces new insights, while keeping in the spirit of what the Lord wants us to do as a Parish Family. This letter is meant to be a springboard as we put together task forces to help us go deeper into living out our hopes and dreams around fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship, and mission. This letter serves as a reflection that needs to permeate at the ground level everything we are and do as a parish family. Its spirit has to be owned by every member of our parish family. You and I are invited to find ways in our own lives and in our witness to build up relationships among our parish family (fellowship), to grow as a disciple of Jesus who sits at his feet and absorbs his message (discipleship), to take better care of one another (ministry), to be more aware in every moment of every day that the Lord yearns for our prayers of gladness and thanksgiving (worship), and to reach out of ourselves into our community and beyond with the hope and healing that are the Good News of our Risen Lord (mission).

We are committed to touching our children, teens, and their families with a greater sense of connection to the Lord and to his Church. Beacon Ministries is about sharing the light of the Lord’s love with all of our families, regardless of whether they attend public or Catholic schools. Beacon Ministries is so much more that filling heads with facts about the Catholic Faith. We want to touch hearts and empower hands to reach out to others with tenderness and closeness. This focus on hearts, hands, and heads will be a good compass for our entire parish family as we grow in holiness. Please continue to pray for Ms. Tracy Turba, who is our new Minister to Young Disciples. If she reaches out to you for support and help, please consider saying “Yes!” to our Beacon Ministries’ holy endeavor.

Those who attended the Synod appreciated so much the presence of Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity of Manitowoc, who was our facilitator and who journeyed with us before, during, and after the Synod. Sister felt very powerfully the work of the Holy Spirit as she accompanied us.

I am so happy to announce that Sister Marie Kolbe has been called to Rome to serve in the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops. She will be working very closely with the Secretary, Cardinal Mario Grech, who heads up this office, and with Sister Nathalie Becquart, who is one of two Under-Secretaries of the Office. Sister Nathalie is one of only a few women who have been trusted by Pope Francis with incredible decision-making roles in our Church. Sister Marie Kolbe will be working to prepare for a world-wide Synod which is titled, “Participating in a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”, and will be held in the Fall of 2023. This model of being church together, priestly people and bishops accompanying, learning, and listening to one another, is at the center of Pope Francis’ vision of a Church that is more alive!

Sister Marie Kolbe is overwhelmed with a sense that the Holy Spirit brought her to our Parish Family where she experienced just a bit of what it means to be a synodal Church. As the Pastor of this faith community, from the very beginning of my servant leadership here, I have tried to introduce us to the teaching and example of Pope Francis. I believe that it is his vision that will make our Universal Church, our National Church, our Diocesan Church, and our Parish Church better. There is great energy in being immersed in the Holy Father’s model of being a community of faith. It is a model that emphasizes at all levels, beginning here at the grassroots, what it means to be a church likened to a field hospital which is marked by closeness, care, and tenderness, especially to those who are struggling to feel welcomed and loved.

Let us keep Sister Marie Kolbe in our prayers as she prepares for her new ministry close to church leaders in Rome who truly understand the direction in which our church needs to head. We are so proud of her and the confidence Pope Francis, Cardinal Grech, and Sister Becquart have placed in her.

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