The church throughout all Belmont, Watertown, and Waltham was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”
--Acts 9:31, from the first reading for this Sunday
One large part of understanding God’s vision for our community is looking at why we exist as a community at all. Like all the other collaboratives formed by Disciples in Mission, the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston, our collaborative’s purpose is to help our two parishes become better at two things: 1) reaching those who have become disconnected from the Church, and 2) helping those who are already connected to grow as intentional disciples. From the local level to the global level under the leadership of Pope Francis, our Church has been growing in recognition that we must take seriously Christ’s call to seek the lost and to make disciples.
There are so many pieces to figuring out what this means on the local level--how will our partnership actually help St. Joseph and St. Luke to respond to Christ’s call more effectively? From worship to sacraments to service to communications, there are so many ways that working together can help our two parishes reach more people and help more people grow, and we have a long way to go in figuring out all the details. One thing that became clear early this year was that the working name for our partnership, “Saints Joseph and Luke Collaborative,” would not help us to reach people who had become disconnected from the Church, who knew of the existence of either St. Joseph Parish or St. Luke Parish but were convinced that Catholic churches had nothing to offer them.
In considering this, we were particularly struck by these words from Pope Francis in his September 2013 interview in America magazine: “Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”
Yes, using a new name and logo takes some getting used to, but as Pope Francis says, journeying down any new road takes audacity and courage. We will have many new roads to travel together as we try to bring about God’s vision of growth for our community, but we are confident that God will be with us.
Take your next step: Spend a few minutes reflecting on Pope Francis’s call for “audacity and courage.” As a member of the New Roads Catholic Community, what step might you take to reach someone who has become disconnected from the Church, to help someone grow as a disciple, or to grow as a disciple yourself? Ask God to give you the gifts of audacity and courage to take this step.