As a parish, we realize that we face a number of significant challenges in meeting our stewardship obligations. We are small, and hence are limited in our resources, both personal and financial. We are situated in the Ville Neighborhood of North St. Louis City, surrounded by poverty, unemployment, discouragement, oppression, violence and crime. There are many children in our neighborhood with little supervision or focus, many of whom are not well-served by the public educational system. In all of this, one of our challenges is to do our part in confronting the unjust social, economic and educational disparity that exists in the St. Louis area.
As adult members of this Parish Community, we realize that we still have room to grow in our understanding and practice of our Catholic Faith. We have spiritual and educational resources available through the presence of Jesuits in the parish, which we have not yet fully tapped. Our challenge is to realize that we can still grow as adults, and to be willint to invest the time and energy needed for that growth.
St. Matthew's has a rich heritage of independence, with a variety of groups striving mightily on their own to meet their goals and to keep the parish alive. In our efforts to become finacially self-sustaining, we have hosted many fundraising events that have strained our limited human resources while failing to meet our financial goals. At this time in our history, our challenge is to move beyond independence to authentic interdependence, where we respect those who exercise ldeadership, both laity and clergy. This means that all members of the parish are challenged to take a true and profound ownership together of the parish and its needs and resources. It also demands of us an increased level of communication within the parish and its organizations as well as with the other churches and institutions in the neighborhood. It could well mean sacrificing some traditional events and activities so that we can have the energy to make our larger efforts more effective with greater parishioner participation. We also want to be open to greater cooperation in the neighborhood as we deal with the issues we share with other congregations in the neighborhood.
As we reflect on this reality in the fall of 2008, we see ourselves as called to glorify God and to grow as a community of faith both in word and in deed. We acknowledge that we are called to be a stewardship parish, serving God by the way we spend our time, our talent and our treasure.
The foremost call is to deepend our spirituality. Our principal focus is our Eucharist, where we gather to celebrate the central Mystery of our salvation. This celebration must be supported by personal prayer in the life of each parishioner, which in turn is enhanced through retreats, the Spiritual Exercises, Bible study and other similar endeavors. We renew our commitment to do what we need to do to grow in our understanding and practic of our Catholic faith and its traditions.
We understand that as the adult members of St. Matthew Parish, we are called to reach out to one another as parishioners and to those in our families and in our neighborhood in many ways. Our deepening spirituality, if it is authentic, will manifest itself in action, and will also be strengthened by the actions we take.
In all of this, we see ourselves called to renew our ownership of our faith, and of our faith community. Each of us individually and all of us together are called to fulfill Jesus' command to "Go, make disciples of all nations."
October 5, 2008