Pope Francis has reminded us that parishes should be like field hospitals. The parish community should be a place where people can go and seek to heal their wounds, seek acceptance when many in society have placed them in the margins and a place that does not judge, rather listens to their personal stories. People all have their personal stories of encounters with the Catholic Church and other Christian communities. Some will be powerful and positive encounters while others may experience rejection or non acceptance. When one reflects on the life of Jesus, they find that he often spends time with those who are considered outside the norm, those who are not included in community life.
St. Patrick has strived for many years to be that place that welcomes, encounters and journeys with those who do not fit into a parish or social structure. We often ask ourselves, does this parish community welcome the stranger, the immigrant, gay or lesbian, foreigners, those currently not following Catholic laws, those who have been away from church for years or those whose lifestyle may not always be welcomed or included.
I know there are a good number of people whose lives have changed or been enriched by being included at St. Patrick and we are grateful for that. Yet we are not the perfect place. There are other Christian communities and parishes who have had to welcome those who did not feel welcomed or accepted by this parish. We give thanks to God for those communities.
I invite all parishioners to never lose sight of the mission of Discipleship, go after the lost, and as Pope Francis reminds us, be a field hospital for everyone.
Peace in Christ,