This past week, the friars took the opportunity to have a short retreat at the Franciscan Center. It was a time for the four of us to come together and talk about our fraternal and ministerial life here at Sacred Heart. It was a time to reflect and to get away, even though it was only a few miles up the road. Monday morning, we celebrated the Eucharist with the
Allegany Franciscan Sisters. It is always great when we can get together with other Franciscan groups.
We started off the ministerial part of the day with this prayer.
Loving Father, help us to celebrate and serve the people of many races, languages, and ways of life You have gathered to Yourself to form Sacred Heart Parish.
May we be signs of your welcome as we greet people as they gather.
May we encourage them to pray always as contemplative friars in ministry.
May we bless their generosity by being generous ourselves.
May we love them through loyal service, a faith that is fearless, compassion, and mercy.
May we share their joys and their hopes, their griefs and their anguish, their laughter and their tears.
Together as friar servants to the People of God, recognizing that we are all united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, may we journey towards Your kingdom each in our own way, proclaiming Christ’s message of salvation, using words only if we must.
In one of our discussions on the retreat, the friars and I focused on Pope Francis’ Instructional on “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.” In this document, dated to just under two years ago, in July 2020, the pope highlights a struggle many parishes face when making determinations for the level of services or sacraments that can be provided to potential or current parishioners. His premise is largely fueled by the impasse of needing to respect parish boundaries vs. destination parishes, and how the number of registered parishioners vs. unregistered can impact a parish. After a few minutes of healthy discourse, one friar said, “Are they baptized? If so, we are called to serve them!” We all readily agreed to that summary. In our discussion, we were pointing out the many hurdles people are required to jump over, and how we can make it easier for people to live out their faith within our own parish. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was brought up, with His Arms and Heart being open to all people. It is a wonderful and fitting image for our parish.
We had many productive conversations over the two days we spent at the Franciscan Center, and I feel we accomplished a lot of reorganization and planning. We had the opportunity to talk about our fraternal life together, our prayers, our shared time, and our commitment to each other as brothers. We also had the time to talk about our lives with Sacred Heart. We discussed our parish’s various ministries and with the addition of Fr. Steve to our group, we made new assignments on which friars will be involved with each particular ministry, and how best to help them. I and all the friars are always willing to help out with any of the ministries whenever needed. We also discussed how we can best serve the parishioners here at Sacred Heart. We will bring the conclusions from those conversations to the staff for their input in the coming days.
The days weren’t all work. After all, this was meant to be a retreat. We did get to have a meal at a few different restaurants, and ended the evenings with a card game. Fr. Steve gave us the instructions as we played. I remembered back to a time when both Fr. Steve and I were both working together in Raleigh, N.C., and he ran the card games there as
well. What I remember most, however, is that I didn’t win either time. I wonder then about the common denominator. The most important things about the retreat are that the friars
enjoyed their time together, and we all feel recharged.
Peace and all good,