Wednesday February 21st 2018

A WORD FROM YOUR PARISH PRIEST August 13th, 2017

I would like to begin my letter to you today with some Redemptorist news. Firstly, we are very happy to welcome Fr Scott back, after the recent death of his mother. I am sure that we will all continue to keep him and his family in our prayer during their time of grief.

On Wednesday, 16th September, Fr Sean Wales, Br Richard and myself have to attend a meeting of Redemptorists in Africa, which will be held in Nigeria. We will return on 27th September. In my absence, Fr Scott will be responsible for the parish, assisted by Fr Charles, and Br Gavin will be responsible for our Redemptorist community. I would also ask your prayers for Fr Duncan Blackie who has been ill in hospital in Kwa Zulu Natal, and is now slowly recovering.

A couple of weeks ago we held an important meeting of our Parish Pastoral Council. The main focus of the meeting, in line with the meeting I attended in London, was how best we can improve the pastoral life of our parish community. In particular, we wanted to look at ways in which we can move forward from simply maintaining our existing structures, to become a parish which is focussed on the mission of each of us to make disciples and to build the spirit of God amongst us.

I am well aware that we are already richly blessed here at Holy Redeemer, in the fact that so many people serve the parish in many different ways. But we cannot simply be satisfied with those who are already serving. A crucial factor of our personal discipleship is to recognise that we are all called, not simply to attend Mass on Sundays, but to bear witness to the love of God in our world. As St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, wrote: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ? These are questions that each of us need to pray about, and to act upon.

I would like to offer a few words on some of the areas where the Parish Pastoral Council felt that we could improve upon. A major topic of conversation was the quality of the music at our liturgies and the lack of participation in singing at most of our Masses. Given the fact that so many people attend Mass each Sunday, I really think that the level of participation in singing should be much greater than it currently is. There is a need for all choirs and bands to reflect on this, but even more importantly, for each of us to recognise that singing at Holy Mass is a very significant aspect of our worship of God.

Another area of improvement in our parish life would be to improve the quality of our welcoming people to Holy Redeemer, particularly visitors and non-Catholics. This is something we can learn from other Churches, which go out of their way to welcome visitors and newcomers. It is very important that anyone who attends our Church, for whatever reason, is made to feel at home among us.

We also focussed on some of our existing parish groups which are in need of new members. I am thinking in particular of groups like the St Vincent de Paul Society which does such good work for the needy, but is relying on only a very few members. I would also mention our Funeral Tea Ladies, who do such good work with people, serving family needs after our funeral services. The number of these ladies is becoming fewer, and they are not getting any younger. I am sure that they would be thrilled to welcome new members into their group. And indeed, there is nothing to stop some of our men from joining this group!

We also recognised to offer family support in a more structured way than presently exists. We all know that family life presents challenges at various points in life, and our parish should find some means to create a helpful structure to assist all families in times of personal or spiritual need.

So far, I have only mentioned some areas of concern, all of which are internal to our parish life. But it is also important that we look beyond ourselves, and ask what we are being called to do to make more manifest the love of God to all those in need around us. Amongst those in need around us would be the prisoners in Pollsmoor Prison, and the many hungry people living in the midst of us. This is precisely what Jesus asks of us if we to be His true disciples: to visit the sick, to visit those in prison and to feed the hungry.

These were just some of the topics that arose during our Pastoral Council Meeting. As a result, we have decided that the Pastoral Council will hold a morning of reflection on Saturday 9th September, in order to discuss these issues at greater length. I ask that you pray for God’s blessing on this meeting, that our parish may continue to grow deeper into the love of God through an active discipleship.

Fr Gerard, CSsR

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