Next month, on October 11th, the Catholic Church will celebrate a historic moment in the history of our Church–the 50th anniversary of the opening of Second Vatican Council. For some outside the Church, and indeed some inside the Church, this is some distant event of history not unlike some United Nations meeting of the 1960’s. Many believe this was nothing particularly special in the life of the Church or the world as a whole. I would beg to disagree!
I believe it was one of the greatest moments in our Church history and I would be so bold as to suggest that it was one of the greatest moments in our world history. This was the largest meeting with an agenda ever in history with over 2,200 bishops and cardinals actively engaged, as well as over 2,000 in support staff. In the subsequent sessions lasting over a period of four years, the bishops addressed many topics ranging from the Catholic Liturgy to understanding itself as Church, but also on Social Communication, Ecumenism and Religious Liberty, and the Church in the Modern World; 16 documents in all. These documents were, and are, truly prophetic. The bishops were so far ahead of their time in so many ways. They could have gone much further and some bishops wanted to go further. But 50 years later, we have yet to fully explore the depths of this gold mine.
Why do I bring this up? It happens that Holy Spirit Parish will be celebrating our 50th anniversary as a parish in 2013. We have decided to celebrate both events together for this year. Starting in November 2012 we will celebrate the 50 years of our parish every month with a different event of some sort. You will see the calendar of events on the side of the front page. Some of these events are community building, some social outreach, some are social justice, some are prayer-based and some are just for fun. We will announce more information about these well in advance so you can plan your calendars, but I hope the schedule on the opposite column will help you hold some dates on your calendar.
We kick of this year of celebration in the school gym with a family dinner and concert with John Angotti to celebrate our community. We also introduce a new “blue bag” to mark our celebration. These new bags will celebrate our 50th anniversary and are bigger and stronger than the older ones. They will be $2/each or six for $10. Starting this weekend they will be available to all as a reminder of our parish’s history and gift to the greater community.
We will continue to work on our prayer lives and our worship space. We hope to finish the refurbishment of the Church. More plans on this will be also forth coming. We encourage you to develop new forms of prayer and will help you to learn some new practices. One particular ancient form of prayer is pilgrimage. We will be taking a 50th Anniversary Pilgrimage to the Holy Land the summer of 2013. Details will be also be forthcoming. Fr. Joe and I will personally lead this pilgrimage. We will prepare the community for a spiritual renewal of heart and soul. I took this pilgrimage while I was a seminarian and my faith has never been the same since. I hope you will consider traveling with us on this unique and powerful spiritual journey.
After many years of Holy Spirit Parish going to Nicaragua on mission, I am delighted to say that I will lead this mission trip in 2013. This is very exciting for me as it has been my vision for many years but the only available times to travel were always in conflict with my already-scheduled trips. This year we coordinated our schedules and I am going! Maybe this is the year you can come with fellow parishioners and together serve others in solidarity with the poor.
We will continue to announce more events to celebrate our parish and to celebrate the Church of Vatican II Council. As many of you heard in Fr. Joe’s and my sessions on the Council, there is so much more to learn from our Church history. I believe some of the themes of that Council apply today; maybe even more so to people who work in the world of today—men and women like you of the Holy Spirit Parish.
This will be an exciting and joy-filled year as we celebrate who we are and who we hope to be in the future of the world. I would like to reflect on just one of the many themes from that council: “Church as the People of God.”
We believe that our Church is more than an institution or religion. We believe that our Church is not for the people or against the people, it is the people, the people of God. As a result, we believe that we have a responsibility to humanity to live in the world and be a witness to Christ and his message of love. As such, I believe we have something significant to offer the world. We have wisdom from ages past, from men and women who have strived to live the gospel, from people who are striving to live it now. Some of our wisdom comes from our successes and some of it comes from our failures, but we have some wisdom to offer the world grasping for answers:
This Catholic Church, the People of God, believes that it is led by the Lord's Spirit, Who fills the earth. Motivated by this faith, we labor to decipher authentic signs of God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this People has a part along with other people of our age. For faith throws a new light on everything, manifests God's design for our total vocation, and thus directs the mind to solutions which are fully human. [GS11]
Most of all we strive to be relevant to our world by the way we live in our communities. Holy Spirit Parish has made a difference in our greater community for over 50 years and continues to make a huge difference today. Come and join us in celebrating those 50 years and be part of the next 50 years. I invite you to join us on this journey of faith!