This week’s Realign Resources for Mission Principle:
“A parish in the Diocese of Lansing makes and forms Missionary Disciples by having a vibrant community life.”
Realign Resources for Mission Principle 3.5
Director of Marriage & Family Life, Diocese of Lansing
August 12, 2021
Feast of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious
We had only been married three years when my father-in-law passed away suddenly. It was a tragedy for our family and one of the first big tests of our married life.
My father and mother-in-law lived south of Grand Rapids, about an hour and a half away, and so we were deeply affected when, to our surprise, people from our parish arrived not only for the wake but also attended the funeral and burial. Other members of the parish brought meals, bouquets of flowers, and gifts to aid us in the long process of grief.
These friends were mostly people we had only known for about six months since the parish had started Connect Groups – mid-size groups of 20-30 people who meet every other week to share a meal, give testimony, and pray together while becoming more intentional communities within the larger parish. Yet, in those six short months, we had made personal connections with these new friends that have now, years later, led to deep friendship.
Currently, our family has sold our home but, due to a national housing crisis, we have been unable to find another suitable house for our growing family. Again, families in the parish reached out unsolicited and are providing us places to stay while we search. Additionally, a group of about a dozen women from the parish threw Maureen a party just to show their affection and support for her during this difficult time.
Recently, one of the families in the parish experienced a miscarriage and fifty to sixty people showed up to the cemetery on a weekday to console the grieving family as they buried their tiniest member. We gathered around the family and prayed with them and then shared a meal to express our solidarity with them in their grief.
As we reflect on all this, we can’t help but be reminded of the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est: “the Church…has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need.” (n. 25) That’s a pretty radical claim of the responsibility we have to our fellow Catholics and yet, we’re blessed to be living examples of a parish family who takes that responsibility to heart. We have been shocked and overwhelmed by the love, care, and affection that has been showered upon us.
Image: Maureen and Rich Budd with three of their four children, left to right,
Eleanor, Benedict and John Paul.
When we share with our extended family the experiences we’ve had with our parish community, they can’t believe the blessing we’ve received to be so cared for. However, it isn’t only in moments of crisis that we have experienced such vibrant and intentional love and care. The parish has many young families which are having babies all the time, it seems. When one of these new ones are born, the other families band together to bring meals for the new parents and their siblings. This isn’t an “official” ministry of the parish mind you, but simply the Church caring for her members. In the past, after one of our children was born, we had meals provided every weekday for a month after the baby came home. We regularly come together to honor feast days of significant saints, celebrate baptisms, or simply enjoy a summer BBQ. We really have found a wholistic community that we can share our joy, grief, need, and blessings with.
In the third pillar of the Realigning Resources for Mission vision for parishes, one of the goals is that each parish would have a vibrant community life. Our prayer is for the success of this movement so that every person in the Diocese of Lansing can experience the kind of vibrant and life-giving family of families that our parish has been for us. Living in a parish community which is looking out for you and loves you, one that cries with you and worships with you is the very image of the Church as the first Christians built it in the Acts of the Apostles.
Imagine the folks that stand next to you on Sunday, kneel in worship of the same God, and who call that God Father before receiving His Son in Holy Communion becoming your dearest and closest family. The people you invite to your children’s birthday parties and the ones you’re relieved to see when greeting visitors at the funeral home after the death of a parent. Just think if these were the people you’d call first when an unforeseen crisis arises or some unexpected blessing comes to your life. This is the vision of what the parish is supposed to be and this is the vision of the Diocese of Lansing for Realigning Resources for Mission.
Yours in Christ,
Watch: Pete Burak is a member of the Diocese of Lansing’s Realign Resources for Mission Committee as well as the Director of i.d., the young adult outreach of Encounter Ministries. As well as being a popular Catholic speaker and writer, Pete is also a husband and father of four. His family are parishioners at Christ the King in Ann Arbor.
In this short video, Pete reflects upon the topic of this week’s Realign Resources for Mission Weekly Update: “A parish in the Diocese of Lansing makes and forms Missionary Disciples by having a vibrant community life.” (Realign Resources for Mission Principle 3.5). Enjoy!