Living as Missionary Disciples | November 15, 2022

Living as Missionary Disciples Newsletter

A practical newsletter with ideas, resources, special announcements, articles and more to help good parishes become a vibrant family of parishes.

November 15, 2022

Feast of Saint Albert the Great

Why become Catholic?

John Michael Talbot – recording artist and founder of the Franciscan Lay Community, Brothers and Sisters of Charity. A significant part of his conversion were the books given to him by those he respected: the Bible from his grandmother; the life of Francis of Assisi from a close friend; the writings of the early Church by a Franciscan mentor. He became Catholic is 1978. Share your spiritual books with others. (Taken from A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Hanley Duquin)

Missionary discipleship takes place within the context of evangelization and begins with an encounter with Christ.”

Living as Missionary Disciples (pg. 9)

Parish Idea: Tending the Seeds on the Road to Renewal (Practical Suggestions)

Promote the Bible.

  1. Establish Dec. 4 as Bible Sunday. Use this Sunday (or another Sunday) to encourage people to consider giving Bibles or Bible books as Christmas gifts. Display bibles and books that appeal to all ages. Have a typed sheet of stores, gift shops and websites where these products can be purchased. Don’t forget the American Bible Society and USCCB. Good translations are: New American Bible, New International Version, Good New.
  2. Starting now, challenge parishioners to read the bible The Bible in a Year.
  3. Begin to plan on offering Bible study or small groups based on scripture after the first of the year.
  4. Test your knowledge of the Infancy Narratives based on the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. One side of this sheet is taken from Luke’s Infancy Narratives (1-2:39). The other side is from Matthew’s Infancy Narratives (Chapter 1-2) Find ways to share this quiz with different groups. Refer to the scriptures to find the answers. (Careful! Some answers are tricky. Read the scriptures well. For example: Where did the 3 kings find Jesus? (Mt. 2:11) Where did Joseph come from? (Mt. 2:24).

Offer hope during the Holidays: Grief wears many faces. We grieve the death of a loved one, a pet, a loss of job, divorce, separation from children or grandchildren, a miscarriage, moving to an unfamiliar area, diminishment of health, and the list goes on. While we may think some losses are less painful than others they are dependent on the person experiencing the grief. As holidays approach emotional pain intensifies. We may wish we could go to sleep on Nov. 1 and wake up on January 1st. These feelings are all normal. Here are some positive things that you can do to prepare ourselves for the holiday. Share the richness of the Family of Parishes (FoP): For each Sunday of Advent ask some parishioners from one of the parishes (or 2 if your family is more than 4 parishes) to reflect on one of the themes of Advent: hope, peace, love and joy. For example – On the first Sunday of Advent, 10 people from parish A will finish this sentence: “A time I experienced hope was . . .” On the second Sunday, 10 people from parish B will finish this sentence: “ A time I experienced peace was . . .” Encourage them to be as personal as possible.

Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Everyday Evangelizing during the Holiday Season

  • Attend Mass on Thanksgiving Day
  • Pray with an advent wreath
  • Buy a gift for a needy family
  • Spend extra time in prayer
  • Display a nativity set
  • Spend some time serving others as a family (soup kitchen, food give-away, visit Nursing Home)
  • Send religious Christmas cards with religious stamps
  • Christmas letter – Refrain from writing how good your life has been, rather talk about how good God has been to you.

Do You Hear What I Hear? Program

In October we did a training session for 13 parishes to sponsor this Christmas event in their FoP. The following parishes have scheduled this event. Feel free to attend.

  • Family 6: St. George, West Falls. Sun. Dec. 4 at 2:00 pm.
  • Family 16: Ss. Peter and Paul, Williamsville. Tues. Nov. 29 at 6:30 pm.
  • Family 17: St. Stephen, Grand Island. Sat. Dec. 10 at 7:00 pm.
  • Family 31: Blessed Trinity, Buffalo, Sun. Dec. 4 at 2:00 pm.

Closing Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord, we thank you for the goodness of our people and for the spirit of justice that fills this nation. We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of the cities. We thank you for our work and our rest, for one another, and for our homes. Accept our thanksgiving on this day. We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (USCCB)

Closing Thanksgiving Wish

May your stuffing be tasty. May your turkey be plump. May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs! (author unknown)

Living as Missionary Disciples | December 6, 2022

Why become Catholic?
Malcolm Buggeridge was born on March 24, 1903, and raised with no religion. He was an author, editor and media personality. In 1967 he conducted a television interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was instrumental in his decision to convert to Catholicism in 1982. She showed him the power of love and how it can have an effect on the entire world. She encouraged him to become like a child in God’s hand. Show others the power of love. (Taken from A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Hanley Duquin)

How to Celebrate Advent and Christmas as a Catholic

I’ll be Home for Christmas!
In a few weeks a number of inactive and unchurched people will walk through the doors of your Church. The regular attendees are often less than excited as they grumble about the lack of parking spaces, someone taking their “seat”, the noise and confusion.

Prepare your congregation now! Recommit all of the parishioners to be “Missionary Disciples”. Sprinkle them with holy water and remind them that “By virtue of Baptism we become ‘missionary disciples,’ called to bring the Gospel to the world (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120). May Christmas be a point of encounter for all of us.

Some tips:
Be civil in the parking lot both coming and going.
Extend a warm welcome when seeing others.
Sit in the middle of the pew, encouraging others to join you.
Be sensitive to anyone who may not know what books to use, when to sit, stand, etc.
Introduce yourself after Mass.
Invite people to come back.
Welcome the latecomers and the babies crying.

Away in a Manger, No Crib for a Bed.
Over 89.3 million people have “no crib for their bed”. They have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. As we approach the new year, let us recommit ourselves to the two feet of social justice charitable acts and social change.

We Three Kings
In Matthew 2:22 we read: “On coming to the house, they (the 3 Kings) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” As people enter our houses this year may they too find Christ. On the feast of epiphany (the three kings), which is Friday, Jan. 6 take time to bless your house for 2023.

Other ideas:

Christmas Cards – Send religious Christmas cards with religious stamps.
Christmas letter – Don’t just fill it with news on how special your life has been this past year but remind everyone how special they are in the eyes of God. “For God so loved the world that he sent his Son.”
Decorations: Place lights in your windows as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world. Let people see your Christianity from the street.
Crèche: Give your nativity scene a place of honor in the home and gather around it to pray. Prayer for the blessing of the Crèche.
Learn about St. Nicholas (feast day Dec. 6)
Nicholas is an Advent saint. His job is to remind people of God’s generosity. God doesn’t just pass around toys or video games or aftershave. God gives the ultimate gift. God gave Jesus. Reflect on this dialogue between God and Santa (St. Nick).
Dec. 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this date we celebrate the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Ann. We know that 9 months from this date (Sept. 8 will be the birth of Mary). Attend Mass on this Holy Day of Obligation and pray for all women who are pregnant or hope to be.
Dec. 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary, under this title is the patroness of the Americas. Pray for justice for all of God’s children, especially those of Hispanic descent.
Feast of the Holy Family (Dec. 30)
Create a photo Christmas tree. Gather pictures from photo albums: children, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc. Mount pictures on various colors of heavy paper, punch hold, attach ribbon and tie around Christmas tree branch.
Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 8)
Celebrate your baptism. The Christmas season ends on this day.

Upcoming Event:

Inclusive Christmas Mass, Wednesday, December 28, 7:00 PM, St. Bernadette Parish, Orchard Park. They welcome families with special needs. The Mass will be interpreted in American Sign Language and will offer a shorter, less crowded worship setting allowing for freedom of movement as needed. The lighting will be dimmer, the music soothing and low-gluten hosts will be available. Questions may be directed to Sharon Urbaniak at 716-648-1720 ext. 3 or sharonu@saintbopny.org

Question: 

If your parish ever did Alpha, please contact Sr. Louise Alff at lalff2@buffalodiocese.org. Thank you.

Prayer for Christmas

Come, Lord our God, and surround our feast day table as we delight in this joyous season of Christmas. Gift us in this meal with the taste of happiness as we savor this coming together of family and friends. As sparkling stars and singing angels rejoiced at the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem, so may we take great joy in this our Christmas dinner celebration. May You, our God, bless it and us in Your holy name. — Edward Hays

Christmas Chuckle, Reflections, Wishes
I stopped believing in Santa Clause when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. (Shirley Temple)
Christmas is a time when you get homesick, even when you’re home. (Carol Nelson)
The person who does not have Christmas in the heart will never find it under the tree. (Roy L. Smith)
May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One who offers you peace. May you bring this peace into our world. (Joyce Rupp)

Living as Missionary Disciples | October 25, 2022

“Helping Good Parishes become Vibrant Communities.”

Oct. 25, 2022

Quote from Living as Missionary Disciples

Let us continue to create communities where those who have been renewed can find continued nourishment and strength in their journey of faith. (pg. 8)

Why become Catholic? 

Norma McCorey (aka Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade). Norma’s mother tried to abort her when she was pregnant. Norma grew up in a stormy household and was raped by a male relative. Norma had a number of pregnancies and always gave the children up for adoption since she could not get a legal abortion. One major factor in her conversion was the unconditional love of a 7 year old girl (Emily) who invited Norma to go to Church with her. “Emily’s unconditional love eventually broke down Norma’s barriers.” She was baptized Catholic in Texas in 1998. Scripture says: And a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6) (Taken from A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Hanley Duquin)

Stepping Stones on the Road to Renewal: 

Ideas to assist you in becoming a Family of Parishes (FoP)

  • Exchange choirs; 
  • on the feast day of one parish, the other parishes host the reception; 
  • give a short history of the parishes in the bulletin; 
  • when a person dies in one parish, announce it in all of the parishes; 
  • invite anyone interested to a zoom call and break into groups sharing the question “Share what you love best about your parish?”  

Outdoor Nativity Set. Every Christmas we hear people bemoan the fact that Christ is being removed from Christmas. Why not ask every household to place a Nativity Set desplayed on  their front lawn. They range in price from $30 to well over a $100. As a FoP, encourage parishioners to accept the challenge – how many front lawns will display our belief at Christmas? Click here to view Nativity Sets.

Create a Wailing Wall in each parish. This idea is inspired by the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem (properly called the Western Wall of the Old Temple.) For generations people have put pieces of paper with prayers and petitions rolled up and inserted in the broken mortar between the bricks of the wall. The parish Wailing Wall serves the same purpose. (1) have cork board or space for people to tape needs, prayers and petitions so that all who pause before it may see, be moved and pray, or (2) a person might take a petition off the wall, keep it for a week and pray for the unknown writer whose heart is broken. Then you might initial it and put it back again so that the person who put it there originally may know that he or she is not alone; that someone gave comfort, sympathy, and concern. (3) Mention the wall aloud at the Universal Prayers. (4) Once a year (or more often) have Compassion Sunday as a way of clearing it off. At each Mass on the weekend have ritual where people gather a portion of the petitions and bring them forward in quiet process to be placed in a container and burned. As a FoPs you could remember the intentions on each other’s boards when the community prays. (Taken from The Total Parish Manual)

Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics 

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Everyday Evangelizing through Social Justice   

  • Share your time, talent or money.
  • Identify your own prejudices.
  • Be guided by Scripture.
  • “See” the world through the lens of faith.
  • Learn all aspects of a social issue.
  • Publicly express your opinion.
  • Speak and act on your conviction.
  • Learn and address the values of our government.
  • Vote with an informed conscience.

Two events to strengthen your Family of Parishes: Living the Mission God Gave Us! Tuesday, Nov. 8, 1:00 – 2:30. St. Leo the Great Parish. This workshop will present pastors and pastoral leaders with concrete ways to think about their parishes in terms of mission. It will focus on the practical realities of transitioning into a FoPs and propose a plan to assure that our vision as parish continues to center on the mission that God gave us. Presentation by Fr. Frank DeSianoClick here for more information and registering.  

 Lent 2023 – Offer the Life in the Eucharist Retreat. One of the core areas in the Road to Renewal is to offer opportunities to revitalize our personal and communal appreciation of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Life in the Eucharist is a 5 session retreat experience to empower Catholics to deepen their personal and communal relationship with Jesus Christ. It has 5 specific themes that explores the Eucharistic mystery. The 5 themes are:  Nourishment, Reconciliation, Transformation, Abiding

Presence and Mission. This Fall we will be offering a training session in 2 different locations that will enable parishes to put on the Life in the Eucharist retreat within their FoPs. Click here for more information

Closing Prayer:

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.

Living as Missionary Disciples | October 11, 2022

Quote from Living as Missionary Disciples

One way to ensure that our parishes are true communities of evangelization, is for the whole parish to undertake a process of discernment to evaluate current pastoral ministry and outreach programs. (pg. 4)

Why become Catholic? 

John Wayne (actor). 1907-1979. John was baptized on his deathbed. During his life he was deeply influenced by his deep friendship with fellow actor, John Ford who was a devote Catholic. Never underestimate your influence on your friends.   (A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Duquin)

Stepping Stones on the Road to Renewal. 

The only person who enjoys change is a baby with a wet diaper! Yet, all of us are asked to embrace change as we embark on a journey that is uncertain and uncharted. Let’s take it slowly, allowing the Spirit to lead us. Here are some ideas to assist you in becoming a Family of Parishes.   

All Saints Day:  Know the Saints in your Family of Parishes (FoPs). 
Each church in the FoPs has a certain name. Research the saint behind the name and put the information in each other’s bulletin. Consider visiting each other’s church and pointing out all of the saints that are part of the worship space. Why do these particular saints adorn your church? Was it a Franciscan Parish? Started by the Polish community? Jesuit saints? Ex. St. Martin de Porres has a beautiful stained glass window with symbols on the life of St. Martin. This is a great way to appreciate the beauty and history of each other’s spiritual home. 

Advent: Taizé prayer. 

We often heard the Catholic adage was “The family that prays together, stays together.” What better way to bring the FoPs together than to prayer together. Consider doing Taizé prayer in your FoPs during Advent. It is easy to organize. One participant said: “To say Taizé prayer is spiritual doesn’t begin to describe the service. It’s peace, it’s comfort, it’s home. You really belong.” Taizé prayer is like a sacred pause. 

Taizé is a form of prayer started in a small village named Taizé in France. It was created as an ecumenical experience but any parish can do it. Here is a simple outline but you can adapt to your own FoPs. People enter the church in silence. A greeter offers them a candle and a guide to the service. For the next hour, they will join together in a Taizé prayer service that includes Taizé songs, silence, and Scripture. The songs are simple and repetitive. This can be followed by a psalm and an Alleluia. All the candles are lighted and there is a reading from Scripture based on the liturgical season. People come forward to place their candles in clay pots around the altar. There is a period of silence. During this time, the lighted candles and several icons or an empty manger provide a visual focus. The group then prays a Kyrie for peace and reconciliation. The leader offers general intercessions to which the community responds in song, and the service closes with a sign of peace. As a FoPs you could move it around every week to a different parish. (An example of Taizé music is the song: “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Click here to learn more about Taizé prayer https://www.Taizé.fr/en_article337.html    and Taizé music

(Idea taken from Great Ideas from Great Parishes)

 Lent 2023 – Offer the Life in the Eucharist Retreat. One of the core areas in the Road to Renewal is to offer opportunities to revitalize our personal and communal appreciation of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. 

Life in the Eucharist is a 5 session retreat experience to empower Catholics to deepen their personal and communal relationship with Jesus Christ. It has 5 specific themes that explores the Eucharistic mystery. The 5 themes are:  Nourishment, Reconciliation, Transformation, Abiding Presence and Mission.  Through the Eucharist, Jesus invites us to a deep experience of all of these aspects. 

This Fall we will be offering a training session in 2 different locations that will enable parishes to put on the Life in the Eucharist retreat within their FoPs. Click here for more information

Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics 

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Everyday Evangelizing in all Situations (for bulletin and social media) 

  • Wear a cross or other symbol of your faith.
  • Be sensitive to people around you.
  • Ask people to pray for your intentions.
  • Gently start a discussion with “I believe” or “Jesus says”.
  • Absorb violence rather than spreading it.
  • Invite to church those who are not part of a faith community.
  • Make the sign of the cross at restaurants. 
  • Treat everyone with dignity.
  • Post a religious message on social media.
  • Welcome the stranger in the neighborhood.
  • Leave religious materials in unexpected places. 

Coming Soon – don’t miss this event – mark your calendar: Living the Mission God Gave Us! Tuesday, Nov. 8, 1:00 – 2:30. St. Leo the Great Parish. This workshop will present pastors and pastoral leaders with concrete ways to think about their parishes in terms of mission. It will focus on the practical realities of transitioning into a FoPs and propose a plan to assure that our vision as parish continues to center on the mission that God gave us. Presentation by Fr. Frank DeSianoClick here for more information and registering.  

Last thought . . . Church sign. 

 Tweet others as you want to be tweeted. 

Living as Missionary Disciples (September 12, 2022)

How much do you know about religion?

And how do you compare with the average American? Here’s your chance to find out.

Take this short, 15-question quiz, created by Pew Research and see how you do in comparison with 10,971 randomly sampled adults who were asked these and other questions designed to measure the public’s knowledge about a wide range of religious subjects.

When you finish the quiz, you will be able to compare your knowledge of religion against that of the participants in the nationally representative survey as well as with people of various religious traditions, people who attend worship services frequently or less often, men and women, and college graduates as well as those who did not attend college. Click here for link to quiz.

 

Quote from Living as Missionary Disciples

Jesus gives us a model for becoming missionary disciples. “Come and see”, “Follow me”, “Remain in me”, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” That is summed up in these 4 words: encounter, accompany, community and send. (pg. 9)

Parish Ideas

MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY (Ushers and Greeters)

  • Center ministry on scripture: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Heb. 13:2)
  • Wear name-tags
  • Arrive early
  • Don’t neglect your post
  • Extend a warm welcome
  • Make eye-contact
  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask the person their first name and use it in responding
  • Invite them to sign a guest book
  • Introduce guest to some parishioners
  • Stand at the walkways of the church
  • Hold the church doors open
  • Have umbrellas handy for sudden storms and walk people to or from their cars
  • Have reserved parking for “first-time” guests
  • At the end of mass return to post and thank people for attending
  • If your task is to find volunteers to bring up the gifts invite people who are sitting alone

Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

  • Everyday Evangelizing in the Parish
  • Introduce yourself to those you don’t know.
  • Periodically change pews to meet others.
  • Sit in the middle of the pews – it’s an invitation to invite others to sit with you.
  • Be gracious in the parking lot.
  • Explain the Mass and the rituals to those who are not familiar with the Catholic faith.
  • Send a card to a child making first communion or someone being confirmed.
  • If a baptism is at Mass – go up to the family after Mass, introduce yourself and congratulate the family.
  • Support parish leaders.
  • Get involved, if only on a small scale.
  • Invite someone to attend a parish function with you.
  • At parish gatherings: Look around to those who are standing or sitting alone and invite them to join you.

Christmas is only 3 months away.

Last chance to sign up for:  Do You Hear What I Hear?   

You will be trained, and given all of the materials to implement this 90 minute fun filled, educational, high-spirited gathering in your parish or in your family of parishes. We will use the sounds and symbols of Christmas in a simple and creative way to invite people to experience the full meaning of some of our cherished Christmas carols.

The training will be: Saturday, October 1, Blessed Trinity – St. Charles Hall. 9 – 11 AM. (Blessed Trinity is located at 317 Leroy Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214). 

Cost: $10 per person or $30 for the “family of parishes” To register: contact Sr. Louise at lalff2@buffalodiocese.org or call 716-847-5585. 

Last thought…

Dear God, let me be as good as my dog thinks I am.