Seven Essential Elements of a Catholic Parish
Community is essential. As Catholics we are a communal people. We do not go to God alone but with one another. This calls for the use of every member’s gifts on behalf of the community. We are called together in mutual support, activity, and growth. Community is the human dynamic through which the mission of the Church is embodied and embraced.The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the Gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the Earth.
Every aspect of parish life contributes to the unfolding of the Kingdom of God through witnessing the gospel values. The local faith community is to be an evangelizing parish, where everything that is done has as its goal the manifestation of the love of God. “We don’t welcome people because they are Catholic – We welcome people because we are Catholic.”
As baptized Christians, the gifts of the laity are essential to the viability of a parish. It is through collaborative work with the pastor and staff that parishioners enhance the faith community.Our references to leadership will be based on the scriptural reference of “servant leaders”. All members who volunteer within the parish are, in a unique sense, leaders of the parish. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same spirit”. This kind of spirit encourages all members of a parish to use their gifts in service to one another for the fulfillment of the parish mission.There are many opportunities for Leadership within parish life.
Service (Charity and Justice)
Service is the way that a parish addresses the works of charity and justice that Christ has called the Church to respond to as a people of faith. Jesus demonstrated through- out His life the degree to which we are to be of service to others in need while being mindful of the challenge to change the social conditions that create those needs. This call is based on Scripture, for example Micah 6:8, This is what Yahweh asks of you, only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with God”; and our rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching — “a central and essential element of our faith.” This call is for reaching out both internally (parish community) and externally (greater community).
Stewardship (Time, Talent and Treasure)
Stewardship is a way of life in which we acknowledge that all that we have comes from God and that we have a responsibility to return a portion of our time, talent and treasure to Him in gratitude and in proportion to blessings received. As Scripture tells us, “Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” – I Peter 4:9-10.
Word (Faith Formation)
Word is the Faith Formation of all members. The parish will ensure that the religious education / catholic school education / young adult education and life long faith formation fosters a sense of vocation and an eagerness to live out our basic baptismal commitment.
Worship (Prayer life of parish)
Christian worship is God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and our response to God. All parish life is grounded in prayer which gives direction, purpose and energy. Together it remembers, celebrates, and is nourished by the sacred moments of prayer, both with the parish family and in times of solitude. Our prayer motivates, guides, and strengthens us for our actions of charity and justice.
How do WE contribute to the life of our parishes?