Dear Parish Family,
If I was presiding at the Mass you celebrated last Sunday, you heard me speak about applying the lesson from the second reading (James 5:1-6) about being “doers of the word and not hearers only” by taking part in the new Pope Francis Initiative I announced. As a number of people were excited about the initiative, but also had questions, I will be preaching about it this Sunday as well, as it continues to apply to the second reading.
In essence, the Pope Francis Initiative is the way that we are capitalizing on his immense popularity, particularly among non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics. In an Agnus Reid poll of lapsed American Catholics, 26% said that Pope Francis has made more likely to revisit their relationship with the Church and consider returning.
With our city’s deep Catholic heritage that began right here, we all know that Jackson is filled with lapsed Catholics. You probably have relatives and friends here in Jackson that grew up Catholic, but no longer practice as an adult. There will be a media frenzy once Pope Francis arrives on September 22. This means that this figure who has made a quarter of non-practicing Catholics rethink their relationship with the Church will be on their minds. But what’s missing? An invitation.
We want to change that. So, we will be receiving a grant to do a direct mail campaign that invites every household within our parish boundaries to “come home…your spiritual home of St. John Parish, the mother church of Jackson.” Specifically, we will invite them to two events: 1) the Blessing of Animals on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 4, the feast day of the popular saint, Francis of Assisi, and 2) the Alpha course that begins on Wednesday evening, Oct. 7.
But what else is missing? Your involvement! We need one-hundred (100!) parishioners to step forward and become a personal parish contact to someone who has expressed interest through the above events. We hope for 100 to express interest, so we need 100 to be a representative of the parish to them. You don’t have to be well-versed in the knowledge of your Catholic faith, but simply be that personal contact of the parish who is willing to welcome them with a personal phone call and to meet or accompany them to a Sunday Mass so that they feel comfortable and at-home at St. John. As Cheers reminds us, we all “want to go where everybody knows your name.”
We want to break the stereotype that local Catholic churches can often receive as not being the most welcoming community around. For that to happen, however, we need for you to reach out to just one person we send your way. Christ’s message to his followers, you and me, was clear: “Go and make disciples!” (Mt 28:19). Please join me in making that happen here in Jackson, as we capitalize on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit. Be one of the the One-Hundred, and fill out the accompanying slip of paper opposite this bulletin article, “I want to be a part of the Pope Francis Initiative!” or simply email me with the same information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Christ,