I recently asked a mentor in ministry to recommend a retreat emcee. Rather than replying with the qualifications of her most accomplished colleagues or students, she named two people who could lead the retreat “without getting in the way.” As I recall who broadened and deepened my understanding of the Catholic faith, they are either people without social and educational distinctions, or people committed to the hard, ongoing work of putting their qualifications and education at the service of their baptismal call to live the Gospel. They are people like John the Baptist, free to actively point others not toward themselves but toward Christ. John the Baptist’s preparation for ministry in the desert is particular to his circumstances. Still, his presence to others without getting in the way and service that intentionally invites Christ into his efforts is a model for ministry.
With the uncertainty and pain of the coronavirus pandemic compounded by the injustice, suffering, and division rampant in the world today, the need for compassionate outreach and pastoral creativity is ever more apparent. Entering into an intentional process of pastoral creativity begins with a commitment to engage in movements of prayer, reflection, and attending to others that can open your heart to the ways God works within and through you.
Very little about 2020 is “business as usual.” If your parish is planning to begin the academic year with in-person gatherings, you need to develop clear guidelines for your ministries and, because nothing this year is predictable, have contingency plans ready.
I have a confession to make: I attended the same parish for three years during graduate school and never learned a single fellow parishioner’s name. I loved going to Mass there, but I never attended a parish function or lingered after a service to talk to fellow worshipers.
Editorial Note: This month, we want to hold up women working in the Church whose dedication to ministry and service of God and neighbor is nothing short of inspiring. We hope you'll be inspired by their stories too.