Evangelising Parish

We celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturday with our children who will, next Sunday (5th June) on the feast of Corpus Christi, be receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. This year it has to be during an extra Mass in the afternoon. Preparing our children this year has been different because of the pandemic. We adapted and improvised. Father John and the catechists had regular Zoom meetings with the parents to support them as they prepared their children. The children met together for the first time in the church last week.

As we all know, sharing faith with others is more than imparting knowledge. Those of my generation remember having to learn questions and answers from the red covered catechism at school sometimes known as The Penny Catechism. We might know the questions and answers off by heart but that doesn’t mean we are good Catholics. What every parent wants for their child is a living faith. They want their children to have a relationship of love with God who is love. It is painful for them when their children are no longer a part of the Catholic Church and doesn’t see the need either to marry in church themselves or bring their children for baptism.

In Matthew’s Gospel today the last words of Jesus are

“Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”

This command of Jesus is made up of several parts. First, “Go and make disciples,” and then “baptise”’ and then “teach”. The first stage is to make disciples. Pope Francis has coined a phrase that we now hear everywhere: “missionary disciples”. A disciple is one who follows and lives the teaching of Jesus. A disciple comes to know Jesus and the Father’s love and care of us.

So as a parent we enable our child to come to know Jesus by the way we live as a family and by being part of the family of the church. Being a follower of Jesus is not a private individual thing; it happens within our family and our parish.

Again here is an invitation from Pope Francis.

“I invite all of you to follow Jesus, wherever you are, to spend time everyday renewing your personal relationship with him, letting him touch your hearts.”

The command of Jesus “to go” is important today. As Catholics it is not enough to go to Mass and say our prayers and live the life of the beatitudes. In various ways we need to share Christ with others. This is not something that many people want to hear because it makes them uncomfortable and uneasy. I think this is because they don’t know how to do this. Here are more words that might make us uneasy because we don’t know how to carry them out.

The Gospel impels us to share its good news, not so much with friends and wealthy neighbours, but with all the poor, the sick, and the  marginalised.” (Pope Francis)

Our Archbishop, John Wilson, wants us to be an “Evangelising Diocese”. This means that all we put our energy into as a Diocese should help us share the gospel with all. It follows from this that St Thomas of Canterbury needs to be an “evangelising parish.” This is the question we need to ask ourselves:

“Is what we do as a  parish, what we put our energy into, what we spend our money on, helping us to share the Gospel with others?”

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest