The Pastor's Column

Fr. Maina

Renewing Our Church

The Renew My Church 2018 Summit took place on Monday and Tuesday of this week at Stephens Center in Rosemont. Over two thousand volunteer leaders and selected employees (business managers, principals, Directors of Catechesis and other Pastoral Staff) representing parishes of the archdiocese gathered for this event. Jodi Reuter, our principal, Sister Nadiya, our Coordinator of Religious Education, Deacon Ray Gavin, Janice Seipp, Bill Attea, and three members of the Parish Council; Barbara Sunko, Russ Perrine, and Sabine De L’Herbe represented St. Catherine Labouré. Theo McManigal, the Mundelein intern seminarian, also joined us.

The two-day Summit centered on “Divine Renovation,” a term created by Fr. James Mallon, pastor of St. Benedict parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Fr. Mallon and his Divine Renovation team presented vital topics focused on two themes: “We are called” and "We are sent.”

“We are called” argued the case for hope. Fr. Mallon invited us to reflect deeply on how we do church. He asked, "Are we a mission-driven church or a maintenance- driven church?" The mission-driven church, first of all, looks outward not inward. The story of the forgiving father, presented in Luke’s Gospel (15:11-32) presented the father as outward-focused in his mission of welcoming back his prodigal son. Secondly, a mission-driven church contemplates the Holy Spirit and seeks ways for each of its members to have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit--a Pentecost experience. Fr. Mallon challenged us to re-evaluate how we receive the sacraments. Do we experience the Holy Spirit? For example, in confirmation are we mostly driven by the process of completing the ritual of initiation or are we really seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to govern the life of the confirmandis? A missionary church must evoke the Holy Spirit at all times.

On the other hand, the maintenance church focuses on itself. Borrowing the words of Pope Francis, Fr. Mallon spoke of the “self-referential church.” He went on to say that such a church “lives in itself, of itself, and for itself and it becomes a house of pain.” According to Fr. Mallon, “the Christendom model of the parish is dying” and “any parish engrossed in the method rather than the mission will die.” The presenters included four witnesses who shared the experience of Divine Renovation in their parishes, one in the Joliet diocese and one in Dallas, Texas. Presenters agreed that while change is absolutely necessary, it comes with challenges. We have to accept the change and embrace it as if running a marathon—participating in intense training and taking that training one step at a time.

The summit was one of many training sessions for the Renew My Church marathon. Soon we at St. Catherine’s will engage in Renew My Church and I ask that you embrace this initiative which seeks to help all parishes reshape how we “do church.” Please watch for a timeline that the archdiocesan Renew My Church office will issue for when St. Catherine will engage the initiative together with Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St, Norbert/Our Lady of the Brook. I am grateful to the people of St. Catherine’s who attended this summit and have agreed to be the leadership team for Renew My Church at St. Catherine’s. I will share more about the summit in future articles.

A second important topic pertaining to changes coming for St. Catherine Labouré parish relates to my time here. Fr. John Kartje, the rector of Mundelein Seminary, asked me to join the faculty of Mundelein in formation work. I answered yes to this call in the spirit of being called and sent by the Holy Spirit. I decided in the context of prayer and consultation. Therefore, beginning July 2019, I will move on to Mundelein seminary, relinquishing my duties as the pastor of St. Catherine Labouré. This means that St. Catherine’s enters into pastor replacement process and the priest placement board will be working with us to prepare St. Catherine’s for our next leader who will help the parish, especially through the Renew My Church process. I have expressed my wish to remain at the parish to provide both sacramental and ministerial help on weekends or as needed while at the seminary.

Meanwhile, we have work to accomplish between now and July. First, we have to replace the gym roof and siding which continue to leak. We have prepared all the necessary paperwork and the work will probably begin next week. Also, the church bathrooms require renovation and expansion. I hope that by April of next year we will have the necessary funds and plans to initiate this project. I ask for your financial help to ensure successful completion of this project. So now is not the time to say goodbye, but a time to roll up our sleeves and accomplish some vital tasks for the life of the parish.

May God bless you and your family.

Fr. Maina
With you a Christian, for you a priest


A Stewardship Prayer

Loving God, I come to you in thanksgiving, knowing that all I am and all I have are gifts from you. In faith and love, help me to do your will. I am listening, Lord God—speak your words into the depth of my soul that I may hear you clearly. I offer to you this day all facets of my life, whether at home, at work, at school or at church—to be patient, to be merciful, to be generous, to be holy. Give me the wisdom and insight to understand your will for me and the fervor to carry out my good intentions. I offer my gifts of time, talent, and treasure to you as a true act of faith, and to reflect my love for you and my neighbor. Help me to reach out to others as you, my God have reached out to me. Amen.