St John's Q&A

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Building community

Washington has a basketball team of priests and seminarians! “DC ‘Hood” is playing a game against parishioners from St. Martin's in Gaithersburg on Friday, Sept 22, at 7 pm in the gym at Gaithersburg High School (314 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, MD 20877). Please support vocations, and come root for us men in black!
Someone approached me recently after a Sunday Mass, commenting on the ad I had placed in the bulletin for our Bible study. He was complimentary about it because he felt that it fostered community-building. Bible study is one of the programs we have recently begun that help build community within our parish. Thanks be to God, we are off to a good start in each of them.

On September 10, the new 6 pm Sunday night Mass began, and it was well received. It is open to all parishioners, but is especially geared toward youth. Many of our junior high and senior high teens were there, many with their families. Thanks be to God, we have assembled an excellent music ministry which is introducing a new type of musical worship to many in the (fairly large) congregation. While it has taken a little prodding, there has actually been some singing (and clapping, at appropriate times, of course)!

For the past two weeks, our high school teens have been invited to come to our new youth group after the 6 pm Mass on Sundays. We had our Kickoff party on the 10th which many of our fun, enthusiastic teens attended. This past Sunday, we played "Fear Factor" where the teens were asked to overcome their fears in different ways. Among the challenges were pulling out pennies from buckets filled with worms, and moving "cuisine items" (sardines, anchovies, octopus, cows eyes, fish heads) from one dish to another with their mouths (ewww!). The response has been very positive so far, and everyone has enjoyed themselves.

Bible study and RCIA have been two other sources of building community here. Many adults have come out for Bible study the past two Mondays to discuss the readings from Sunday Mass. It is really a gift for this young priest to hear the insights that parishioners have about Sacred Scripture. Also, we have a large group (of mostly non-Catholic Christians) which has begun our RCIA program. They are some of my favorite people because they have a fire for Christ. For different reasons, they have felt the call to go deeper in their relationship with Him; hopefully, it will be to experience the fullness of His love in the Catholic Church.

Clearly, it is the Spirit of Christ at work whenever communities are formed in His name. I truly believe that that is what is going on here through us. The Spirit employs us as workers in Christ's vineyard, and entrusts much labor to us. We are all called to work for Christ as He builds His Kingdom in our community. All of these programs and so many others here truly are experiences of the Kingdom of God.

"Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there" (Mt 18:20).


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