Parish Family Faith Formation is a program designed to form all members of the parish family, enabling us to deepen our faith as intentional disciples of Jesus called to love and serve Him and His Church. This program will both replace our current model of Religious Education as well as provide us with the means of responding to the call of Disciples in Mission.
In today’s Gospel, we continue to hear Jesus speak in parables (Mt. 13:44-52). We have already heard Jesus use parables as a means to speak to the crowds, the disciples, and each of us in Matthew’s Gospel, but in the 13th chapter of the Gospel, Matthew lays out eight parables to highlight the division that is plentiful between those who follow Jesus and those who refuse to listen and understand. Matthew’s series of parables is a gift to us who have begun the process of two parishes joined under one mission of evangelization. Although change brings questions and even division, the Lord promises us growth: “the kingdom will produce an abundant harvest and a great catch.”
Commenting on the Church’s evangelizing efforts, Pope Benedict XVI warned Catholics to be on guard for “the temptation of impatience,” that is the temptation to insist on “immediately finding great success” and “large numbers.” Bishop Hennessey often says that we will not be judged on our successes, but on our faithfulness. This is precisely what our call to the New Evangelization means. We are called to become intentional disciples.
The theme of a hidden treasure in today’s Gospel, reveals to us that there is something here that is of such high value that we would desire “out of joy” to go sell everything and acquire that treasure. Even though the treasure is not completely understood, it is a buy all/acquire all purchase. This once-in-a-lifetime acquisition completely changes everything. It is not a lottery of money, rather a sacrifice that obtains the treasure: faithfulness in Jesus.
Fr. Charlie Higgins, Fr. Joe Rossi and Fr Sean Connor, the pastors and administrators of Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Albert, Sacred Heart and Saint Thomas More, Immaculate Conception and Saint Jerome have been working with the Office of New Evangelization for the past few months on a pilot program for the New Evangelization model of forming intentional disciples. Since Fr. Rossi has resigned, we will begin to meet with Fr. John Currie, the new pastor of the collaborative of St. Jerome and Immaculate Conception, so as to bring him up to date on the pilot program.
Intentional Disciples desire a comprehensive faith formation. It is at our individual Baptism that we accepted the responsibility of being formed in the practice of the faith. As a parish, in this local Catholic community, we are called to the responsibility of being formed in the deepening of our beliefs, our traditions, our doctrine – our Catholic Faith.
Whether we are among the youngest or oldest of the community, whether we are: single; married; divorced; separated; widowed; a parent; grandparent; aunt; uncle; brother; sister; son; daughter; or clergy person – we all play a unique and vital role in the life of our Parish Family. Through prayer and a particular call from our Archbishop, Cardinal Seán, we believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding us and calling us to deepen and strengthen our Faith Formation, leading us to the Eucharist, most especially at the Sunday Mass.
In the fall, each parish collaborative will begin our call to Discipleship with a period of retreat, mission and renewal. During September, in preparation for our Discipleship in Mission evangelization, we will have in each parish collaborative a two-day retreat. This will draw us to the Lord in the Presence of the Eucharist for a holy hour and guided retreat and reflection. This will be followed by an eight-week mission-like catechesis, where we share the Sacred Scripture, prayer together, reflect on the grace of the Sacraments and our relationship with the Lord and the gift of Discipleship.
The eight-week mission program is led by lay leaders who are trained in giving missions and sharing their faith in small group settings. The mission will end the week before Advent. This will be the foundation for us to start a newly formed pilot program with the Office of New Evangelization. Our parish area collaborative will be using the program Family Faith Formation for Parishes and adapting this intentional discipleship program for the particular communities that we live in.
Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our endeavors, as we desire to become intentional disciples.
Please Note - The current First Communion and Discipleship Formation (Confirmation preparation) – will continue their current formation to receive the Sacraments next spring.
In His grace, Fr. Sean
We are pleased and thankful that you have logged on to our St. Thomas More Parish website. We have made every effort to make this site inclusive, useful, helpful and supportive to your connection to and participation in the life of your parish.