71 Central St. Stoneham, MA 02180

Browsing Pastor's Notes

A “Think Out Loud” Moment

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

I am a “think out loud” kind of person. I often joke that I have to be careful about that around here because the parish staff is so efficient that if I ever said out loud during one of my pondering moods, “Maybe we should have a parish airplane,” I’d wake up the next morning and see a 787 parked in the church lot.

That being said, at the moment, I am in a “think out loud” moment, so what I write here is not a proposal, a plan, or the groundwork for anything more than that. It is just me sharing a bit of what has been on my mind and heart these days.

One of the very happy things about St. Patrick Parish is that there remains a strong sacramental faith here. Baptisms, Confirmations, Confessions, Masses, Funerals, Marriages, and Anointings are requested here with great regularity and great Faith. A parish with a strong sacramental life is a healthy parish. (The same could be said for our own individual spiritual lives. If we are devoted to the frequent and devout reception of the Sacraments, we are living a healthy spiritual life.)

As I think about our parish, one of the things that nags at me is this sense that while maintaining the robust sacramental life that is already present here, we need to do a few things more. Some of the things that I would include on this list are the following: 1. Help to offer things that can serve to form and deepen the discipleship of those who already attend Mass. 2. Find ways to reengage those who often have very limited interaction with the parish. They come for their child’s baptism or First Communion, but disappear until the next “big event.” 3. Find ways to engage those who never cross our doorstep.

As I think out loud, it occurs to me that the Gospel for this Sunday is what I am trying to say. Jesus told the apostles to go and make disciples. He told them to baptize and also to teach. An absolutely indispensable part of being a disciple of the Lord is the devout reception of the Sacraments. It is the most important thing that we do as a parish. It is why we try our best to make the Liturgies beautiful, dignified, and reverent.

At the same time, making disciples also involves more. It involves “going.” It involves trying to find ways to seek out those who do not come yet to Mass, to Confession or who have not even been baptized or confirmed. It involves “going” out to announce the Gospel. It also involves providing ways for each parishioner to deepen his friendship with the Lord, gradually becoming more of a disciple of the Lord. Being a Catholic is not a static reality. Being a Catholic means every day following the Lord and growing in our intentional discipleship.

As I share these thoughts with you, I do not know yet exactly what it will mean. I do know, however, that it can’t mean simply that the priests, deacons, and parish staff will have to do it all. It means that all of us are called to this great work. It means that all of us together are called to do the great work of going and making disciples.

I look forward to seeing what the Lord has planned for us.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes