This is an excerpt of Archbishop Miller’s homily during a visit to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish Oct. 7.
Dear brother priests – Father John, Father George, Father Junji, Father Jan – and dear parishioners and friends in Christ:
As many of you know, this past Thursday evening I began a formal visit of your parish and it concludes this morning. For me, the experience of meeting so many people who are engaged in the life of your parish family, including the teachers and students of your outstanding school, gives concrete witness that your community is flourishing under the guidance of the Salesian priests who are your good shepherds.
Indeed, the family spirit of Don Bosco, with his emphasis on the importance of working with youth and the poor, gives your parish a special “feel,” unlike any of the other 78 parishes in the Archdiocese.
During the past few days I have had the pleasure of praying with the community: with the school children on Friday at their school Mass; yesterday morning at a Mass where several hundred received the sacrament of anointing of the sick; and last night at Mass with the Hispanic community which has had its home here at OLGC for a generation.
Most of the time, however, I spent visiting with nearly every parish group, and there are so many of them. There are hundreds of parishioners of all ages engaged in one ministry or another. They are too many for me to list here.
There are countless spiritual gifts and good works present among you, and for this we should give the Lord thanks for such abundance.
Dear parishioners: continue to build on your successes, inviting an increasing number of your brothers and sisters to share in your many ministries, especially those who are of the younger generation and not yet as fully involved in parish life as those who have found a home here for many years. Welcoming new members to your organizations and planning on succession – who will take my place? – are necessary for a community to flourish as the 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 field hospital of the parish those who may have strayed from the practice of the faith or do not yet know God’s love and mercy.
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 its role as a community of disciples who live the Gospel and a community of missionaries who go out to others to share this Good News. Here’s what he wrote:
“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 centre of constant missionary outreach.”