Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pentecost in the Parish: Responding with Stewardship

The Holy Spirit didn't descend on our parish like tongues of flame, but His fire was sure burning here on Pentecost.  At the 9 a.m. Mass we celebrated the First Holy Communion of two youngsters who had followed our Rite of Christian Initiation of Children program, and I confirmed two of their parents by mandate of the Archbishop.

At 11, we celebrated Christian stewardship as a way of life that makes good use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was quick to agree with a parishioner who had reminded me that the secret to getting volunteers was to ask people personally--but I pointed out that, really, we've already been asked personally in Baptism and Confirmation.

After Mass we honoured the three parishioners--Tim Lack, Shaun Wylde, and Tim Lack--who have been stalwarts of our annual Project Advance fundraising campaign, presenting each of them with a volume of the St. John's Bible inscribed by Archbishop Miller.

Our celebration of Pentecost--and Stewardship Sunday--included a lively Stewardship Fair that showcased the many parish ministries and groups, ranging from our parish school to a colourful demonstration of Tai Chi! The gym was filled with displays, and representatives of each activity were on hand with explanations (and invitations!).

Each of the three Sunday Masses had a different homily, delivered without notes, so instead of posting one as usual, I thought I would share the text from Pope John Paul II quoted at the 11 Mass. I used the new saint's words, delivered right here in Vancouver during the papal visit of 1984,  as a reminder that stewardship is not only about activity; it is also about prayer and simple witness.

I hope that elderly and infirm parishioners recognize themselves in the forefront of stewardship in our parish, contributing their very precious gifts without concern for whatever physical limitations they face.

"The passing of the years brings its frailties. You may be forced to give up activities that you once enjoyed. Your limbs may not seem so pliable as they used to be. Your memory and your eyesight may refuse to give service. And so the world may cease to be familiar – the world of your family, the world around you, the world you once knew. Even the Church, which you have loved for so long, may seem strange to many of you as she goes forward in this period of renewal.

"Yet, despite changes and any weaknesses you may feel, you are of great value to all. Society needs you and so does the Church. You may not be able to do as much as before. But what counts above all is what you are. Old age is the crowning point of earthly life, a time to gather in the harvest you have sown. It is a time to give of yourselves to others as never before.

"Yes, you are needed, and never let anyone tell you are not. The Masses you have attended throughout your life, the devout Communions you have made, the prayers you have offered enable you to bestow rich gifts upon us. We need your experience and your insights. We need the faith which has sustained you and continues to be your light. We need your example of patient waiting and trust. 

"We need to see in you that mature love which is yours, that love which is the fruit of your lives lived in both joys and sorrow. And yes, we need your wisdom for you can offer assurance in times of uncertainty. You can be an incentive to live according to the higher values of the spirit. These values link us with people of all time and they never grow old."

 St.  John Paul  – Address to young, elderly and handicapped people.
Vancouver Stadium, 18 September, 1984

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