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Seven Ways NOT to Invite People into Ministry (and a few hints on how to avoid them)

People come to church bearing gifts. They come to us, made in the image and likeness of God. That is gift enough. But wait … there’s more:they bring to us their gifts, their talents, their time, and treasure.They entrust to us those that they love most in this world, and ask only that we love them as well. We, for our part, ask them to serve in our parishes in a number of great ways.

Here then are seven not so great ways to invite people to ministry: Read more

Welcoming Those Who Grieve

When we think of “welcome” as a mission priority, what comes to mind? A user-friendly website? Parking attendants? A family-friendly Sunday experience?

Yes, yes, and YES! Read more

Leading Through Change

Our recently published Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan describes how we will be forming pastorates that “…will be centers of worship and prayer that promote lifelong conversion and reverence for the Catholic faith.” As parishes “come together,” as my colleague Daphne Daly wrote about a couple of weeks ago, and begin to work together to sustain a vibrant community that spreads the mission of the church, some changes will be inevitable. Read more

Got Kerygma?

That’s kerygma, not charisma.

Yes, a personality with a lot of charisma is a great gift when it comes to evangelization. But what we’re talking about here is even more powerful and essential to evangelization. Read more

How’s Your Elevator Speech Coming?

I spend a lot of time helping to form volunteers and ministers in parishes and schools. We have spent time in prayer and reflection, time learning about our rich faith, time redefining our priorities, and time learning how to do the ministry to which we have been called.  However, as I reflect on encountering these wonderful people and accompanying them on their journey with Christ, I fear I have been missing an important step: the proclamation of the kerygma. Read more

All Are Welcome

We are familiar with the hymn All Are Welcome which many of us sing regularly in our parishes. As followers of Christ, our mission is to proclaim the Gospel to ALL people and truly ensure that All Are Welcome. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly one in five Americans – over fifty-five million – has a disability. Thus, disability is in fact the norm for many Americans. Read more

Gap Years: Missing Young Adults Between Graduation and Marriage

A “gap year” between high school and college is supposed to be a time to “find oneself” and mark the important transition from young person to young adult. Unfortunately, as a Church, we have created our own “divide.” There is little to nothing present for young adults once they get past high school. This is the post-high school (even post Confirmation) gap that exists until marriage. It’s killing the Church. So, how did we get here? Read more

They Are Coming Home

In February 2011, after many years of working in the criminal justice system and still many more at an outreach center in Baltimore, I accepted the position of Director of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It was a position that I knew would eventually consume much of my time in the area of people returning home from prison: the returning citizens. Read more

Summer’s Gift: Why Appreciating God’s Creation is Time Well Spent

God beckons us out of doors in the summer. Without using words He speaks to us of the goodness and wonder of His of creation, teaming with life. At our house, lilies are in bloom, expectant hummingbirds hover patiently nearby for the daily refill of the feeder, and a fox cools himself deep in the shade of thick bamboo. Then the best part – family members drop by for an impromptu dip in the pool. Good for them to enjoy the water! I’ll sip a cold drink and watch serenely from a chair in the shade. I have a slight aversion to putting on a bathing suit. Then I recall an article on that topic which encourages me to come out of my shell and into a suit to join in the fun. Summer’s gift is time for reflection, recharging and renewal of spirits. And appreciating the goodness of all of God’s creation, including our bodies.

How can we educate parishioners, young and old alike, on the goodness of all of God’s creation, especially the human body?

Holy Leisure & Delighting in People

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton reflected on a moment of leisure:

I set off into the woods and soon found an outlet in a meadow; and a chestnut tree with rich moss underneath and a warm sun overhead. Here, then, was a sweet bed. The air still, a clear blue vault above – the numberless sounds of spring melody and joy filled the air – and my heart was made to be as innocent as a human heart could be, filled with an enthusiastic love to God and admiration of His works . . . God was my father, my all. I prayed, sang hymns, cried, laughed, and talked to myself about how far He could place me above my sorrow. Then I laid still to enjoy the heavenly peace that came over my soul; and I am sure, in the two hours so enjoyed, grew ten years in the spiritual life. . .”

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I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

How do we become an inviting church? It begins with hospitality. That is what the six hundred guests who visited St. Benedict parish in Halifax for the Divine Renovation conference witnessed.

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Let’s Make Marriage Preparation Relevant

Too often, as lay ecclesial ministers, priests, and deacons, we complain that engaged couples require a great deal of time and energy from the parish but, in the end, many couples simply use the Church for their wedding after which they are never to be seen at the parish again.  Conversely, engaged couples complain about all the “hoops” that they are required to jump through in order to get married in the Church.

Both perspectives hold some truth. Read more

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