Giving Thanks for 50 years and Looking Forward!
A couple of years ago when we first began running Alpha courses in the parish, the leadership team began to affectionately differentiate between the more and less experienced parishioners as a way of effectively placing people into discussion groups. Those who had seen more sunsets than others gained the playful moniker, ‘Rusted on Catholics’. As we ran the courses, however, it became clear that many of the ‘Rusted on Catholics’ were anything but rusty; Indeed it became clear that they were full-of-life, love, and wisdom, as they generously shared their lives with, and learnt from, each other.
Sometimes we might feel a bit rusty around the edges; seized-up due to our age and the fact that we’ve been faithfully serving the church in different ways for more years that we can remember. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the thousands of people who have called Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish home over the past 50 years. Each of us stands here today, celebrating our Parish’s Golden Jubilee, both on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, and the dedication of our own lives of service.
It’s important to acknowledge at times like this that we have a long and complex history that can be defined in different ways. Sometimes by the ordained leadership we’ve experienced, by our experiences of community life – even communities which are no longer functioning. It is important to acknowledge that while our memories and experiences may be a source of pain, our mission remains the same: to make Jesus known and loved.
We gather together on this day to celebrate our Golden Jubilee in Word and Sacrament, but we also carry with us the memories, experiences, and even people who are not here but are an important part of the life of our parish. The thousands of faith-filled people who are no longer with us, but dwell in the next life, the many who have lost their way in the sometimes maize-like nature of life, and even those who choose not to join and celebrate, we carry in our hearts and seek to extend God’s unconditional love to them by the way we live our lives.
Today is a day of thanksgiving for 50 years of life, love and ministry in Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish, but we also look forward as together, we plan and discuss our future as disciples going out to make other disciples.
We take a break from our Dreaming Videos as part of our strategic planning process this week. We have four videos left to feature – Youth & Young Adults, Service & Outreach, Worship, and Evangelisation – videos which encourage us to dream about what different ministry areas could look like in our parish. Your presence and voice, both as we celebrate 50 years as a parish and as we look ahead to the future, is vitally important. We all appreciate that our worshiping congregation is aging, but it is each of our responsibility to ensure that we listen to the Spirit who calls us forth into new life, new life which necessarily includes new ways of life living and being a parish together.
I give thanks for each and every person in Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish. Every single person in our parish has gifts which are unique and which God has given us for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ. As we celebrate this day and move forward, let us be aware of the gifts we have been given and offer them generously in the service of the future of our parish community. May God bless each and every one of us abundantly both now and always.
Wishing you peace & blessings,
Fr Josh Whitehead