6/15/11

Priest says all are welcome in his church

Venite Ad Me Omnes: photo by Patricia Drury

Believe it or not, the title of this post was also the headline for an article on the front page of the Metro section in Monday's Boston Globe.

Priest says all are welcome in his church

That's news? That gets a headline? Well, it does these days in Boston because...

Because...

Well, it's not easy to complete that last sentence. This is only a blog post and hardly a space sufficient to resolve complex pastoral concerns.  And I'm not going to join in tossing out one-liners from scripture or the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Code of Canon Law to make a point on one side or the other of this issue. Don't get me wrong. The bible, the Catechism and the Code are primary resources for everyone in parish ministry but proof-texting from any or even all of them seldom yields a definitive or even a substantive contribution to informed dialogue.

A number of people on all sides in the fray here (the people and pastor of St. Cecilia parish, the Archdiocese, the critics) have something of value to contribute to the discussion. Unfortunately, the heat of the debate (fueled by the anonymity of some and the conviction of many that there's really nothing to be discussed) leaves little room for coming to any mutual understanding let alone a resolution of the issues.

What's needed in every parish is more than a simple, "Y'all come!" What's needed is a genuinely warm welcome into the mystery and ministries of Catholic life. What's needed is a heaping helping of wisdom for discerning what's true, good, right and just.  And what's needed is witness to the Word that calls to holiness everyone who comes through the parish doors.

St. Cecilia Parish in Boston, already home to many people, has announced that it welcomes all people. No news in that: most parishes do and every parish ought to welcome all people.  Is the mission of the Church anything less than this?

Writing this post brought to mind a statue of the Sacred Heart  (photo above) at the center of the campus at Notre Dame .  I passed that statue hundreds of times and read its inscription, Christ's own words, VENITE AD ME OMNES: Come to me, all of you!  It is the Lord calling each of us and all of us to turn our hearts to his heart - and to his Word, his truth, his Cross, his service and his mercy.  VENITE AD ME OMNES!

(If the previous paragraph is a violation of my one-liner rule - mea culpa!)

I ask you to pray for Fr. John Unni.  He has a unique parish with pastoral opportunities most pastors will never encounter.  Pray that he will continue to welcome all with the warmth, wisdom and gospel witness that mark his ministry.

And pray, too, for Cardinal Sean O'Malley and for all those who have voiced their support or their criticism of St. Cecilia Parish.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, 
   and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
   for I am meek and humble of heart; 
   and you will find rest for your selves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
       (Mt 11:28-30)
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