Remarks from Archbishop Miller’s homily at the conclusion of his parish visit to St. Matthew’s Jan. 21.
Father Tran, as Dean of the West Fraser Valley, graciously volunteered St. Matthew’s to be included in this year’s parish visitation. For me, this experience of meeting so many people who are engaged in the life of your parish family, including your wonderful school, has been encouraging.
I had the opportunity of visiting with nearly every parish group, listening to their contributions to the parish, picking up tips that I can share with other parishes, and offering my own observations.
Long known as a dynamic community, it seems to me that you are becoming ever more so in your commitment to Jesus and to the mission of evangelization which you have received from him.
It has been inspiring to receive your hospitality and to witness first-hand what your parish family, under the wise and zealous guidance of your pastor, is accomplishing for the good Lord: a harvest of spiritual gifts and of good works that are building up the Body of Christ.
I encourage you to 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 engaged as those who have found a home here for many years.
Above all, I urge you to keep up sharing with others the good news. 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 its being not only a community of disciples but also of missionaries who go out to others with the 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, quoting Pope John Paul II, ‘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.”