It has now become an annual event: the celebration of our feast day, Good Shepherd. This important moment in our parish calendar is the only time when we come together as one parish community to celebrate our identity and mission. It is without doubt a great experience. Every time the comments underpin the experience that it is so good for us to do this exercise. We know that with Holy Mass four times on a weekend it is difficult for parishioners to have that experience of unity and solidarity. It is a deeply spiritual moment when we express our identity based on Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd. As we look back, we realise just how important it is for us to centre ourselves on Jesus Christ. Church is possible because Jesus Christ calls us to worship, proclaim and care in his name and in the way he did it. We are most grateful, looking back on the year behind us, for the graces of the Holy Spirit, which formed and guided us. Equally, we know where and how we have failed, which makes us humble and repentant in the presence of our Good Shepherd.
Our parish pastoral plan is Love in Action. We see this plan in its clearest application in the life of Jesus Christ. To be a shepherd is to know our people; it is to understand them with their wishes and needs; it is to encourage initiatives and support their implementation; it is to create time and space for our children and young people; it is to care for the needy and home-bound of our parish. It is as Jesus Christ says, “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” The pastoral plan is to enable opportunities for parishioners to express themselves and grow to become activists of Love in Action.
It is most pleasing to observe how inspiring the pastoral plan has been and continues to grow on the minds of our parishioners. Frequently someone can be heard saying, “It’s all for Love in Action.” And that is how it should be: a frame of mind, an attitude and an approach to everything that we do, which should be at Church, and flow into daily lives. It is especially uplifting to see how the Parish Pastoral Council has been moving into action to implement the pastoral plan. It is a long and slow process, which requires a lot of planning and even more meetings in our already busy schedule.
The task is huge, but very exciting. Once we put all the pieces into place, the life of the parish will be a witness to the work of the Holy Spirit. That means, one initiative will generate more initiatives. For example, we have just seen how beautifully our church was decorated by parishioners for Easter and Mother’s Day. This was truly a gesture of love, generosity and commitment to the parish. It is our dream that young families become involved with their children and demonstrate their creativity within the parish community. We could do much more with the children, but we need the input of the parents who can help us to know how to work with them and their children. For example, a children’s choir with musicians would be something most beneficial to the community. All we need is someone to take an interest and have a passion. The rest the Parish Council will see to.
We must be on our way to become a welcoming, caring family-like community, with all its ups and downs, its good sides and misunderstandings. Important is, that we remain focused on our vision to be and do Love in Action. Then we will remain humble and grateful, and never succumb to arrogance or false pride. As St Paul would say, “We are what we are, by the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15: 10).
The parish feast day is the time to say thank you to the countless women and men, all volunteers, who make this parish a blossoming and promising community. They are the persons who love and sacrifice their Church.
With our feast day, Good Shepherd, we celebrate who we are: the flock of Jesus Christ, under whose protection, care and guidance we pray to go forward. The times ahead are challenging as we are nearing the end of the term of office of our Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Council. But we are confident because we have such a Good Shepherd on our side.