Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
October 9, 2018
For most of us, we were raised in the community of a parish. The parish is the lifeblood of a diocese or archdiocese. When I talk with many Catholics in our archdiocese and other dioceses, they readily reference the influence of their parish on their faith life. Some of these influences include the homilies delivered by their pastors or associates, the parish men’s and women’s organizations that provide support for charitable purposes or social gatherings, and the youth groups that gather the young together. If a parish is fortunate, they also have a school that gives further identity to the community.
My home archdiocese was Chicago, and it was a well-known fact that many individuals would position themselves in the city by indicating what parish they were from. The strange thing was that even non-Catholics used this indicator. I had the opportunity to test this theory when I was introduced to the vice president of Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. He was a wonderful Jewish man who told me he was from the south side of Chicago. I asked him what part of the south side, and he quickly responded with St. Mary Magdalene Parish. I asked if he was Catholic, and he said, “No, but bishop, you know that all Chicagoans answer that question by indicating the parish in their area.”
Parishes have had an important influence in the development of our spirituality. They have provided the gathering for worship of God, the education in our religion, and the social gathering to practice our faith with other Catholics for the sake of the common good.
I am excited that the Amazing Parish conference will take place here within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. If parishes are the lifeblood of the Catholic community, it is also true that some parishes have become anemic. This is an opportunity to energize the parish base with the infusion of creative ideas. We have complained for a long time about the dwindling attendance at Mass, the lack of knowledge about the faith, and the need to evangelize the community. Amazing Parish will reinforce the importance of parish life. It will challenge us to rethink our parishes today.
Every person who I have talked to that has attended an Amazing Parish conference was on fire to share the vision he/she received through their participation. Many of these people were already great witnesses of the faith. The presenters will reinforce the importance of parishes, the challenges facing parishes, as well as the need to step out of our comfort zones to take Christ into our communities. For some, it will renew their excitement about being part of a parish. For others, it will ignite their spirit and vision. For most, it will energize them to see the importance of the parish – renewing their commitment to their brothers and sisters in the name of Christ.
All of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are signed up to attend Amazing Parish, as well as parishes throughout Wisconsin and across the country. As Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am.” (Mt. 18:20)
I will be leading a group at Amazing Parish from the Pastoral Center. I ask you to offer a prayer for the success of the conference, that we follow the Holy Spirit in guiding our deliberations. The conference will take place at the Wisconsin Center, Oct. 17-19.
May the Amazing Parish conference help us to fulfill the Lord’s mandate to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 9, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.