The Scriptural Foundation of Families of Parishes
When we consider the shift to Families of Parishes, we can look at Scripture and find guidance as we navigate the change.
Our archdiocese has been blessed over the past few years to have Unleash the Gospel as a roadmap for our journey to becoming joyful missionary disciples, but we mustn’t forget our original roadmap: the Word of God. The Pastoral Letter tells us, “The more grounded we are in Scripture, the more we are able to understand God’s marvelous plan and to see the events in our lives with the eyes of faith” (UTG Marker 3.2).
We find in the Bible the truth of God’s love and mercy, and his plan to care for us and send us on mission. So, when we consider the shift to Families of Parishes, we can look at Scripture and find guidance as we navigate the change.
The communal nature of the Church
Families of Parishes will enable us to establish and nurture new relationships as just that: a family. Just as each individual brings his or her own strengths and to the whole family, so will each parish in a family bring unique perspectives and ideas, laying the groundwork for more collaborative and collective worship and evangelization. Meditate on these verses about the Church’s communal nature:
“God relates to his people not as isolated individuals but as a people, a family, united with one another in deep bonds of love.” (Eph 4:1-6)
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Cor 12:12).
The call to be sent on mission
Our mission is clear: spread the word and love of Jesus to all. Families of Parishes invite individuals to relationship with others in the community to help people encounter Jesus, provide more growth opportunities, and more fully support the effort of bearing witness to the life-changing power of the Gospel. The Families of Parishes structure will help to cultivate the rich soil in this verse about mission:
“Those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
Unity amongst parishes within the context of families will bring about a greater presence of the Holy Spirit, who will sanctify and protect us from all evil. The devil sews division, opposition, discouragement, and division among the faithful, but he cannot win because Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, Families of Parishes will win the fight against evil through unity, prayer, and sacramental life. Reflect on this verse about spiritual opposition:
“Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:12)
Families of Parishes will enable communities to work together in life and in mission, with boldly apostolic faith in our Lord. We know that there can be no bystanders in our effort to unleash the Gospel! Families will help us encourage one another to work together apostolically in life and mission. Consider this boldly apostolic verse:
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)