Just a Thought…
THANK YOU! I have to admit: I was a bit overwhelmed by so many of the responses I received (all extremely positive and supportive) for what I mentioned last weekend regarding the proposed Old St. Pat’s adventure into the life of North Lawndale. For those who may not have been with us last Sunday, let me explain.
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost, or what we have dubbed: the Feast of the Mission. Pentecost speaks of this reality that the Spirit breathes life into us when we are Gathered and in turn we are then Sent into the world to help transform it. Thus, after a few years of conversation and discernment, we have determined that the Old St. Pat’s statement of Mission is quite clear, and likewise very simple: Gathered and Sent. From now on, you will see those words quite often and I hope that sentiment captures the reality of the great church we are trying to create.
So what about North Lawndale? I mentioned last week in my post communion remarks that the Speaker Series during this past Lent, March 2011, captured the soul and imagination of many of us. We were profoundly blessed by Mike Pfleger, Avis Clendenen, Eboo Patel, and Fr. Greg Boyle. The speakers were amazingly powerful and no one wanted to leave their “talks” as just another nice speech. They challenged us, each in their own way, to some action. In particular, Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has worked with gangs and former gang members for most of his time in ministry, is a great inspiration and I am grateful that a packed church of 800 or so were able to hear him. One of Fr. Boyle’s impassioned pleas was centered around the idea of kinship. “It’s about the mutuality of kinship…. bridging any kind of distance that may separate us.”
One of my hopes is that Old St. Pat’s is not only known as a church that does “events” well, but most importantly I hope we are widely known as a church of “movement.” Our movement is one that should be about the mutuality of kinship; building relationships; transforming the world. North Lawndale is one of the most challenged areas in the city of Chicago and it is just about a mile away from Old St. Pat’s. Our hope is to build a relationship with the community of North Lawndale and to see what kind of movement we can create through partnerships, business development, and impactful contributions in the areas of education, health care, and overall spirit. That is the initial vision right now. Through conversations with community leaders and with your own insights into this “movement,” I am sure many things will change. Again, this is not about a one-time “service project” or simply partnering with some “agency.” We see this as the beginning of an ongoing relationship with a community. Stay tuned as more develops.
In the Spirit of being Gathered and Sent, have a Happy Father’s Day!
Fr. Tom Hurley