16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

BELONGING TO A PARISH RATHER THAN A CHURCH

By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

Rabbi Abraham Heschel once said, “Words create worlds”.  Indeed, words matter and they shape how we act and what we believe.

Over the past few weeks, I have been handing out a number of business cards, and some people have noticed that I used the word Parish rather than Church to identify St. Basil’s.  The distinction is an important reminder for me to be more focused on the needs of the parish (the people that occupy the building) rather than the church (the building itself) – though admittedly there are building issues to address.

(It is also important to understand the distinction between a church and the Church – local building vs. mystical body of Christ)

A similar analogy can be made between house and home.  This is not to say that I want to get caught up in semantics; rather to emphasize a particular focus, responsibility, and sense of belonging

Pope John XXIII once remarked that, “We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”

The question is how we cultivate such a garden of life at St. Basil’s?  For me, it begins with learning people’s names (which I am trying very hard to do) and then learning their stories, because once we begin to share our stories with each other, we start to feel we belong.

And isn’t this the point?  Belonging?  Though some would say the point is about what we believe, my experience has taught me that most of the time belonging leads to believing.  While there are exceptions, but most of us are Catholic because our families were Catholic.  Only later, did we claim for ourselves a belief that we inherited early in life.

Granted, if you are reading this, then you already understand the importance of belonging and probably contribute to St. Basil’s Parish.  Over the next few weeks, I hope to provide you with some new tools to better introduce others to our community, such as welcome packets for new parishioners and business cards that advertise websites, location and Mass/Confession times.

Of course, there are some that want to be anonymous here, which is a particular strength of St. Basil’s, but for those that call this place a home and parish, then let our words create a new world.

If Heschel is correct, then my hope is that we start to identify ourselves as belonging to St. Basil’s Catholic Parish, as a place where stories are shared, names are known, and belonging leads to belief.