Parish is Where We Come to Know the Church

Fr. Jurcak Distributing the CupMore often than not, individual attitudes toward the enormous reality of the Catholic Church are determined and molded in the context of the parish.

Welcome!  My name is Father Larry Jurcak. I am a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and this is my first blog post.  I read a number of blogs each week, but being the blogger is new for me.  In the coming months you’ll get to know more about me as I reflect on the various facets of parish life that enable all of us to grow in holiness – a term defined by Pope Emeritus Benedict as “having a friendship with Jesus.”   I hope that this blog will help us to be holier persons.  It is meant to serve as a catalyst to stir up ideas about how to live our Catholic life with integrity and offer encouragement to being faithful in making a difference in the world in which we live and work.

Tim Unsworth, in a book written twenty years ago, indicated that when the Irish writer James Joyce was asked to describe the Catholic Church, he answered: “Here comes everybody!”  I believe parish is best defined by that phrase.  It is a place where saints and sinners gather for prayer, faith formation, fellowship and an experience of community.  It is the place where the holiness of the parishioner strengthens that of the pastor – and the holiness of the pastor strengthens that of the parishioners.  It is a joint response to the universal call of all the baptized to be holy people. 

Think about your experience of parish.  It is the place where we are baptized and reconciled.  The parish is the place where we regularly gather for prayer and Eucharist – the food for living lives of holiness, faith and integrity.  It’s the place where committed love is blessed in marriage and where we bring our beloved dead and commend them to God in Christian burial.  The parish is the place where most Catholic people have direct and continual contact with the Church’s ministers and its ministries.  It is where talents and gifts are called forth from the community in service to others, as well as the mission of the parish and the wider Church.  The parish is the place where our Catholic faith is handed on, and where our faith lives are developed by education, formation, and witness.

Because the parish is the primary context for most Catholics’ experience of the Church, this experience often shapes a person’s identification with, or alienation from, the Catholic Church as their lives unfold.  It is where every day Catholic life converges.

Question – How does the definition “here comes everybody” connect with your understanding of parish life?

September 10th, 2013 |