Excerpts from Archbishop Miller's homily at the conclusion of his parish visit to Holy Trinity Parish Jan. 25-28.
As many of you know, this past Thursday evening I began a formal visit of your parish – the third such visit in the Archdiocese of a program which will take at least five years to complete. Father Augustine, as Dean of the North Shore, graciously volunteered Holy Trinity to be included among the first parishes of those visited.
For me, this experience of meeting so many people who are engaged in the life of your parish family, including your wonderful school – a concrete witness to the flourishing of your community – has been extraordinarily encouraging. I had the pleasure of visiting with nearly every parish group, and I see many of you here this morning at this Mass. We listened to one another; I heard of their contributions to building up the parish, often over many years of dedicated service; I picked up tips on parish life that I can share with other parishes; and I offered my own observations on certain questions that came up in discussion.
And I am enormously grateful to the wonderful hospitality offered, to all those who organized the visit – always a challenging chore to get so many people together – and to those of you who took the time to come together. I thank you most sincerely. (I also had the good fortune to have a piece of the best apple pie I have eaten in years!)
Long known as a dynamic community, from all that I can gather, the Holy Trinity parish family is becoming ever more so in its commitment to Jesus and helping parishioners draw closer to him. It was impressive to hear how, in so many instances, the archdiocesan goals and priorities are helping you plan your various activities.
Here I would like to especially commend your dedication to the prayer of adoration which you carry out continuously in your chapel. It is all but certain that the graces that are so evident here are due in no small measure to this commitment of yours.
It has also been inspiring to witness first-hand what your parish family, under the wise and zealous guidance of your pastor, is accomplishing for the good Lord and his Church. So many spiritual gifts and good works are present among you. I certainly urge everyone to become engaged in building up the Body of Christ through involvement in one or more of the parish activities and organizations. Continue to build on your successes, inviting ever more parishioners to share in your many ministries, especially those who are younger and not yet as fully integrated and involved as those who have found a home here for many years. Welcoming new members to our organizations and planning on succession are necessary for a community to flourish as the good Lord wishes.
Lastly, I would like to share with you an observation from Pope Francis when he describes his expectations of what a parish should be concentrating on today. As you know, he speaks often of the Church as a field hospital where we treat the wounded. Parishioners are first-responders who must go out into the field to pick up and bring to the hospital those who are in need – in need of the healing that only the Lord can give, such as we heard in this morning’s Gospel.
Allow me to cite from Pope Francis’s exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, where he describes the 21st-century parish in a way which stresses the importance of this family being both a community of disciples who live the Gospel and a community of missionaries who go out to others with this Good News. Here’s what he wrote:
While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if it [the parish] proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters.” This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed cluster made up of a chosen few. The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach.
Continue to live the teaching of Jesus in this beautiful parish of Holy
Trinity. By God’s grace, you have received the gift of the Gospel, “the real
thing” and not a counterfeit. Be grateful for that gift and pray that living
the Gospel will always be a mark of your parish family.