In some ways, the past year might seem to have been a time for churches like St. Pius to focus on survival. Instead, we have chosen to make changes intended to help us follow the Lord’s command to go out and make disciples. We have expressed this intention in our mission statement ( Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples. ) and a new vision statement, seen below.
To be a parish with a heart for those Jesus refers to as “the lost” — those who have not yet encountered the Father’s love. In worship, ministry, and daily life, we seek to welcome outsiders and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Keeping this vision in mind let’s look at…
What we are doing why we are doing it
Longer Messages and Message Series (AKA homilies)
Many Catholics grow up believing that the best homily is the shortest homily. Some of you may still believe that. But the truth is that growing in faith demands more than being present and receiving the Eucharist (important though that is). If that was all that was required our children and grandchildren would still be joining us at mass each week.
Longer messages and message series give us room to show how our Catholic faith speaks directly to individuals, families, and their lives — whether or not those lives include a conscious belief in the Lord.
And so, beginning last Easter (2020), we moved to multi-week series of messages which explore a particular theme. In addition, individual messages have become longer — often 20 minutes or so. And each week also includes a practical challenge – or homework — intended to help you bring the message out of the Church and into your life.
Praise and Worship Music
This is a very recent change. Beginning on Easter Sunday our 11:00 am Mass now features praise and worship music. This musical style originated in the Protestant tradition and speaks more directly to and of personal faith than much of our traditional liturgical music — valuable though such music remains. (When we return to our Church, our 9:00 am and Saturday 5:00 pm masses will still feature that traditional style.)
As a style, praise and worship music also has the advantage of speaking in the language (personal experience) of our culture. As Pope Paul the sixth famously said of evangelization, our friends and neighbours listen more readily to witnesses than to teachers.
Ministries of Hospitality (In-person and online)
Beginning back in 2020 with our “Rise and Shine” project, parishioners have stepped forward in great numbers to help provide a friendly welcome to both first-time and regular attendees. While COVID has added some jobs to this ministry that we didn’t envision — it’s fair to say that a welcoming greeting and smile are now part of people’s expectations for their weekend visit to St. Pius.
And this is NOT limited to in-person visitors. A number of parishioners have also stepped forward to serve as “Online hosts” on our website and on Facebook, greeting guests, answering questions, and sharing information intended to allow folks to connect further with our community. Over the course of the year, we have welcomed a number of folks whose connection to our parish is mostly in the past and helped them to reconnect with their community. Our Livestream is one of the most important components of our outreach to the wider community.
Our Parish Website
I should also offer a word about this site. I dare say that it is one of if not THE best parish sites in our diocese, and perhaps the best church website in our own community of Brantford as well. If you haven’t yet checked it out please do so.
There is much more to come, but I hope this note has given you a deeper insight into the direction we are moving why we are moving in that direction, and I encourage you to step forward with your thoughts and/or support.