I often wondered how Christ the Redeemer Parish got its name and finally received the answer on the feast day of St. John Paul II last month. Father Craig Scott, who was the assistant pastor to Monsignor Peter Mallon, who began building our church, says the inspiration for the name was the title of Pope John Paul’s first encyclical letter, The Redeemer of Man.
As luck would have it, our founding pastor, Father Tim McCarthy, joined us at Mass today for our parish feast day and confirmed what Father Scott had told me.
So last night I took a look at Redemptor Hominis, a document, which I hadn’t read since I was in the seminary. I found enough to preach a hundred homilies on our parish feast day.
In a nutshell, St. John Paul teaches that the Church’s job is to point humanity towards the mystery of God. In other words, the Church—which is to say, our parish—exists to help people understand Redemption, the gift of healing and hope in Christ Jesus.
So you might say that our parish is all about our Redeemer. But St. John Paul says something more: “at the same time man's deepest sphere is involved—we mean the sphere of human hearts, consciences and events.”
The sphere of humanity—and of human events.
Motivated by our faith in the Redeemer, our parish responds to human hearts. We celebrate the joys and sorrows of births, deaths, and marriages within our community. We help to form the consciences of our parishioners, young and old, through our schools, faith formation programs, spiritual direction and the sacrament of penance.
Beyond our boundaries parishioners meet the needs of the poor on the downtown east side and elsewhere.
But beyond all that, as disciples of the Redeemer of all humanity, we are connected to the sphere of world events—of tsunamis, famines, and earthquakes—and have provided generous support to those affected.
Today, there is one event in the world that overshadows even the worst of natural disasters: the terrorism and war that is tearing people from their homes and creating a tsunami of exiles. This above all demands a redeeming response from God’s people.
Here you can see something of what we have done as a parish community.
And we are about to do it again. What our parish was able to do for the Shaboo family, who joined us at Mass this morning, we are about to repeat for three refugee families, one with very special needs.
I had hoped to be able to announce on the feast of Christ the King all the details about the families we are going to sponsor, but some last-minute glitches came up last week. The plan will take another week or two.
But for now I can say that the necessary funds and volunteers are now available for us to do this all over again, but in a more daring way.
There's no doubt in my mind that our parish community has heard and is living the words of our Redeemer and King: whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do it to me.