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August 3, 2014

Summer greetings! Yes, I am back from my writing hiatus. I hope everyone enjoyed the July series “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked” from Our Sunday Visitor. We all are confronted with some of these questions on a regular basis and need to be able to respond.

While you can always refer people to a Church leader, my experience has been that most people will never bring their questions/concerns to one of our Church professionals; therefore, each of us needs to find a way to respond to some of these tough questions on our own. If you are not sure how to respond, then you are charged with doing some research to find an answer or some direction for the inquirer’s question. I implore you not to merely avoid some of these tough questions because you feel inadequately prepared or merely want to maintain peace within a given relationship. Remember, by our baptism each of us is called to evangelize the faith. If you need help, then reach out and get the help you need. There are so many wonderful resources for Catholics of all educational backgrounds. For example, here at St. Edward’s our Faith Formation program is “par excellence”— I encourage you to check out the many Faith Formation opportunities available to all St. Edward’s parishioners in the coming program year. Everyone needs to find a way to evangelize the faith to the people God has placed in their life.

A BIG THANK YOU to our parish leaders for the wonderful All-Parish meeting on July 24th. Both Finance Council and Parish Council leaders took time to update everyone on the current state of the parish. A special thanks to our fellow parishioner Dick Schirber for his great job serving as the meeting facilitator. The two goals were: 1) present the current parish finances and the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget; and, 2) seek parishioner input on program and ministry priorities. The meeting was not about: 1) Archdiocese issues (including annual assessments); 2) specific individuals; 3) making final decisions on ministries and programs; and, 4) detailed financial analysis. The evening focused on the sustainability of the Church of St. Edward; in particular, we looked at our 2015 financial forecast and its impact on ministries and programming. Everyone — thank you to the ~150 people who gathered — had the opportunity to listen, learn, and share their thoughts in both large and small groups. All input — even the “parking lot” items that did not fit the purpose of the gathering — was recorded and will be sent to the various parish leadership groups and staff.

What is next? Our parish leaders and staff have been given many good ideas to guide our evaluation process during the coming program year.

While these groups will continue their good work, know that there is a need for people to step forward to serve on the various commissions and committees. I invite everyone to consider how they would like to get involved. Remember, our parish programs and ministries can only be maintained if parishioners offer their support of time, talent and treasure. Therefore, consider contacting one of our present parish leaders and/or staff members to discuss how you might participate. Or, simply show up at the next Leadership Night meeting on August 19th. All our parish commissions and our Parish Council gather on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (excluding June, July and December). I encourage everyone to share their gifts within our parish community. Together we will build the kingdom!

Summer blessings, Fr. Brian

September 29, 2013

This past week I returned from my annual retreat — thanks for all the prayers of support! — filled with the peace and joy which a week of prayer and reflection amidst the mountains of Washington can bring.

Autumn sunrise in mountainsUnfortunately, the very day I returned is when the latest scandal involving our Archdiocese hit the news (for a thorough explanation of this matter I invite you to go to Minnesota Public Radio’s website). In a matter of minutes I went from the pinnacle of happiness to the depth of despair. Yes, it is saddening and maddening to all of us that an apparent mishandling of another clergy abuse case has occurred. As the truth comes to light, and we all know the truth always does find a way to come out, let us prepare ourselves for another round of tough questions:

1. How can I trust the leadership of the Catholic Church?
2. How can I continue to be a member of such a Church?

Yes, we all will face some tough questions; and, in the midst of this difficult time we all are called to continue to be people of hope. We are to recognize all the good work that we continue to do as a Church, and not to allow such a challenging moment to dampen our faith. I remind everyone that the Church has existed some 2,000 years filled with scandals, tribulations, betrayals, and every difficulty you can imagine; and, despite all this “ugliness” we have continued to grow and to do the Lord’s work. May God bless us as we strive to recover from another devastating blow to our sacred institution/holy family.  I encourage everyone to ask the tough questions, to demand accountability, and to keep the faith.

In the midst of all this difficulty, we find ourselves as a parish facing a big moment this weekend.

stedsPARstructurediagramOur “trial period” surrounding the Parish Assessment and Renewal (PAR) program is ending. Last January we embraced this new “shared leadership” model of church; and now, we must decide if and how we are going to move forward. These past nine months have been a time of trying out this new organizational approach. A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who have stepped forward to participate in the new commissions and leadership night gatherings — know that there still is a need for more participants and leaders — for I believe we have done an admirable job to checking out the PAR model. Now we move forward and take this generic model and make it work here at St. Edwards. I hope you will join me and all your fellow parishioners in this venture. Together we can build the Church.

Finally, we welcome PAR representatives Fr. Tom Sweetser and Dr. Carol Holden back into our midst. We appreciate how they have guided us through this thirteen month long parish enrichment program. Their commitment to the Church, especially in helping us modernize how we are to be Church, is to be commended. Thank you Fr. Sweetser and Dr. Holden! Please take a moment to share your appreciation and hope with these two Church leaders.

Autumn blessings, Fr. Brian