In Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), he writes that the Church's deepest nature is expressed in its responsibility to proclaim the word of God (kerygma), celebrate the Sacraments (leitourgia), and exercise the ministry of charity (diakonia), lived out in the context of community (koinonia) (§ 20, 25). These aspects of the Church, also known as Word, Worship, Service, and Community, offer a framework for assessing the ministries and vibrancy of a parish. What does each of these aspects include?
Kerygma (Word) “Go, therefore,and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28: 19 - 20)
Parishes that live the gospel message of kerygma, Word, fulfill the mandate of Christ to proclaim the Good News and form disciples of all ages. Vibrant parishes offer opportunities for members of all ages to grow in their own faith formation, assist all the baptized in hearing and responding to God’s call in their lives, and reach out to those who feel marginalized, disaffected, or who have not yet heard the healing message of Christ. Ideally, a spirit of welcome and hospitality is a part of every encounter with the community and its members.
Leitourgia (Worship) “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.’” (Luke 22: 19 - 20)
An engaging celebration of the Sacraments and effective formation for all who contribute to the sacramental life of the parish is necessary for a strong leitourgia, Worship, aspect. Vibrant parishes have liturgical celebrations that invite participation by all members, each in their own way. Those preparing to receive the Sacraments are well instructed and connected to other people within the community to help on the journey of faith. Leaders who are a part of ministries of the parish are recognized, prepared, and commissioned for their roles.
Oiakonia (Service) “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25: 35 – 36)
Parishes that live the gospel message of diakonia, Service, embody the model of Christ by actively providing for the needs of others, including those who dwell in their boundaries, and developing community relationships that are life giving and transformative. Vibrant parishes should collaborate with other Catholics, Christians, people of faith, and people of good will to reach out to those in need, in order that they know they are loved by God. They do so in a way that invites others to participate and take on leadership roles within the community.
“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” (Philippians 2:1 – 2)
Parishes that live the gospel call to koinonia, Community, show that followers of Christ come together in faith, love, and encouragement. Vibrant communities have members who know and support one another, unified even though diverse. They identify the giftedness of the members for the good of the mission of the Church. They communicate effectively with those who are present often or occasionally, and constantly seek to connect their message to people in new ways.
In order to ensure that the Catholic mission of Word, Worship, Community and Service continues in a vibrant way throughout the parishes in the East Deanery, we are asking that parishioners complete an online survey. The survey is 60 questions long, and will be used to help Pastors, Staff and Councils identify priorities, areas for improvement, and areas where parishes can work together to increase ministry opportunities or training. The survey will be open until December 4th, reports will be compiled by the Diocesan Office of Pastoral Resources and Planning, and sent to each Pastor to distribute. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey!
God bless you, Father Bill