WHAT HAVE WE SEEN?
During this latest message series we have all been invited in different ways to look beyond the obvious and the surface level realities of things. We have been called to pause, observe and see the deeper understanding of what God has to offer us. What have we seen? What have we discovered? How have we grown as faithful and loving disciples?
SEEING WITH FAITH
Let’s not be limited to seeing what is there with our eyes, but we have been challenged to see during this most unprecedented time, what can only be seen with our faith and our hearts. This is the true and only real way to live our lives fully — to see the world with God’s grace.
(1) OUR GRADUATES
Our education system has gone through massive changes during this pandemic. Schools were closed and classes went online. I am so thankful for the administrations, school staffs and the students themselves who adapted so quickly to our “new normal”. It definitely hasn’t been easy but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
This past week, Fr. Pedro and I celebrated an online Graduation Mass for our three elementary schools. The end of June has always been a special time at the parish to celebrate the achievements of our grade 8s. Usually we have three large celebrations but this year we had one simple one. Everyone tuned in online and we were able to connect with them. Even though we could not be with them physically, we have been praying for them and wanted to celebrate their journey from St. George, St. Theresa and St. Nicholas Catholic Schools.
We reminded them that they are great gifts of faith and love in this world and God has empowered them to make this place so much better. Even though they were not in front of us, we were with them in spirit asking God to bless them. Two days later, I received a “thank you” e-mail from one of the graduates. It was a great gift and a sign of appreciation. Let us keep all our graduates — those from elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities in our prayers and support them however we can. Even from a distance!!
(2) VOLUNTEER SUPPORT
This past Friday, the “Open Doors” Committee hosted a number of parish volunteers who will be helping with the re-opening of Masses for the faithful that will begin (July 4/5). We went through the training and then celebrated Mass together.
During the homily time I simply asked the volunteers how they felt coming back to the parish and being able to be at Mass. They all expressed their gratitude at being “home” and that they missed the gift of community and Jesus in the Eucharist.
I have to admit, that it was wonderful to say “The Lord be with you.” and have more than one person say “And with your Spirit.” It was wonderful to have people gathered around the altar as a community and see the hunger for faith, connection and Communion. It was a powerful moment of grace!!
(3) FAITH & TECHNOLOGY
One of the most powerful tools for our parish during this pandemic has been and continues to be the use of technology. Without our live-streaming, phone-streaming and social media, we would have been lost and totally disconnected.
These tools continue to be a means for us to share who we are what we do across the globe 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Our parish boundaries are no longer geographically limited to Byron, Riverbend and Lambeth—but the whole world. We have had many people from other parishes in London, Ontario, the United States, England, Kenya and so many other places that have made St. George Parish home. They have found a place that feeds, supports and strengthens them.
It may be hard to totally comprehend the power of these tools at our finger tips. The pandemic has really pushed us to engage and develop our online ministry more and more.
Not only do we live-stream and phone-stream Masses and other liturgical celebrations—but we have developed faith discussion nights like “COME FROM AWAY”, RCIA and baptismal preparation and our high school youth ministry. We have gone to Poland online in addition to offering a TED Retreat (with 150 participants from all over the place).
I have heard from many who have told me that they are praying more, learning more and connecting more because of our online ministry. This is somewhat of an untapped reality that unfortunately some in the Catholic Church are resisting. This is the new place of evangelization and we must be present sharing the Good News and drawing more people to Christ. We as a parish will continue to develop online content, resources and opportunities to connect sharing the gift of our parish and faith to all those who are seeking to become better disciples of Jesus.
WHAT MORE DO YOU SEE?
As we re-open the worship space for the faithful and as restrictions are loosened during the pandemic—we must ask ourselves—what more have we seen? Have we been able to discover what is really most important in our lives? Have we found different and powerful ways to pray? Do we desire community and the sacraments? What are the things that have been total distractions in my life? What do I need to change?