Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Getting the Word Out about Saint Joe’s

This weekend is the annual “Leprechaun Days” celebration. As a part of it, I’ll be walking in the parade along with other people from our parish and our staff.

Bridget Samson who is a familiar face to many as our Director of Parish Life, has been working for quite some time getting ready for the parade. We’ll have a little float, be wearing shirts, and have some other giveaway items to hand out to people as we walk through Rosemount to get the word out about our parish and our school.

While the parade is an annual event, ideally we as part of the Saint Joseph’s family are getting the word out year around about the great things that are going on at our parish and our school. With so many people moving into the area, sometimes people may not know all the many things that go on here. (And indeed this is a big reason we are installing an eventual sign, paid entirely through donations from those who have offered to support it). It’s surprising how many people you run into in the community that aren’t aware that we are so much more than a place where people come for Mass. Many aren’t even aware we have a school let alone a preschool, and many others have no idea about our many ministries and activities. That’s where you and I have to come in.

Usually around Easter, I get something put on my door from a Protestant church inviting me to worship at their congregation. (As I am typically busy that day, I have yet to take up that offer). Obviously they aren’t aware of where the Catholic priest lives, but their intent is good: get out there in the community and communicate about our church. My hope is that we can look for ways to do the same thing. And there are many ways that can happen.

First is simply inviting people to come to Mass with us. Many of us know people who may have been away from the faith for a while, or who are looking for a parish home. Perhaps they are considering changing parishes too for whatever reason. Let them know about Saint Joseph’s and invite them to one of our weekend liturgies. It really is a joy to celebrate Mass here because liturgy, thanks to the hard work of Bill Bradley our worship director and selfless volunteers who join him in music ministry, is incredibly vibrant. A lot of planning and care goes into it and it’s at the center of what we do as Catholic Christians. Coming to Mass gives people also a chance to meet others, and experience the warm and welcoming environment that is our parish. I’m always struck by how people are greeted as they come in, and how many do the “Minnesota goodbye” after Mass and greet and visit one another. Our parish is really like a family, not a “Mass factory” and its so great to see people so interconnected.

Second, get a sense for what is going on in our parish. Each week there are so many things going on. Some of these are in the narthex; others are coming up during the week. There are so many ministries, organizations, commissions and committees and each one can meet a need someone has or serve as a way for someone to share their talents. When we are aware of these we can suggest to others both inside and outside of the parish ways they can be more involved. In sales a person lets a customer know about the benefits and features of a product, but they also know the client – and odds are no matter what walk of a life a person is in, there is something our parish can do to help them.

Third, don’t forget we’ve got a great school. Right now in summer, people are still considering final options for the fall. Our school has room, and has so many great things going on. From a dedicated staff to an outstanding curriculum, our students learn academics and even more importantly how to excel at living out their faith. Invite people to call our school for a tour or to get more information as they look at education options for their family.

Fourth, get involved. There are so many ways you can be involved at Saint Joe’s, from our commissions to our scores of ministries. When a person gets more involved in their parish, they are able to connect with others, learn more about their parish, and invite others to do the same.

Lastly, always remind people they are welcome in God’s House. Pope Francis has used the image of the Church as a field hospital in the world, and so many people in the world are hurting. Others are lonely, or just kind of adrift not knowing where to go. We all know people who have been away from the faith for a while. Look for opportunities to remind them that at our parish there is no judgment, just welcome, and that they always have a seat at the table. Weddings and funeral Masses are added opportunities for this too as often people are together as a family for the first time in a while, and there is a higher number of people present who may not have been to Mass in some time.

I think in years past some parishes just assumed people would find them as they moved into the area. We can’t just assume people will show up, we truly have to be fishers of people. That’s a commission we all have, so let’s get the word out about our great parish. A parade float is a great means of communication, but Jesus calls us to cast our nets every day of the year. Thank you for working so hard to support your parish, and let’s strive daily to add not just to our parish but to our universal Church as we help bring people to the faith, and into a relationship with the God who is love by helping them learn how to respond to that love and live out their faith.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Paul