Fr. David Ousley writes on the role of the laity and expresses his thanks

(From the Philadelphia Ordinariate Post)

Since the days of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church has been emphasizing the new evangelization, recognizing the essential imperative of spreading the Christian faith, and seeking to do a better job of it. …

Evangelization is principally the work of the laity, with the support of the clergy, especially in the preparatory formation of Catholics. So the mission of the Ordinariate is timely. While we share the mission of bringing people to Christ, we have a particular mission to those who are seeking the full communion of the Catholic Church. We are uniquely placed to help such folk, having been there ourselves.

Father David Ousley

Father David Ousley

One element of the mission is welcoming visitors when they find their way to St Michael’s or Newman. Those who are greeting before Mass not only provide the leaflets and hymnals, but communicate a sense of welcome as well. Likewise all the faithful can be sure to greet visitors even before going downstairs. And at St Michael’s coffee or Newman’s supper, if you see someone you don’t know alone, please go and speak with them – even if you are shy and this is hard for you. God will provide the grace. There may be theological questions which need to be referred to me, but the basic job of welcoming visitors is a lay responsibility. I know many of you take this seriously: if there are others, I’d encourage you to make it part of your routine and not assume that others will do it so you do not have to. It can be intimidating to come to a new church, especially if the liturgy is different. We need to be sure to ease this as much as possible. …

The beginning of the year is also a natural time to remember those who make our lives a little better. Most of what happens in the congregations is done by lay men and women – for which I am enormously grateful.

I’m thinking of those who give of their time and energy to serve as lectors or altar servers, to sing in the choir (at Newman), provide for coffee hour or supper. (I have to say that the suppers at Newman are truly impressive! If the word gets out, church growth should not be an issue.)

Others help set up for Mass and put things away afterward, which I find very helpful in our current situation of using other parishes’ buildings. Even though we leave some things at Holy Cross and Our Lady of the Assumption, we are still largely “church in a box.”

Mark Shiffman (St Michael the Archangel) and John Heidengren (Newman) keep the accounts in order and oversee the counting of the collections: not glamorous, but necessary.

As mentioned above, the greeters in both congregations perform an essential service.

Less visibly but no less essentially, Pat Lincoln launders all the small altar linens for both congregations. Bill Gatens is a tremendous blessing to us in our worship.

Eileen Dantas and her sister (SMA) and Pam Hitchcock (Newman) have designed new signs for Holy Cross, St Therese and OLA. Mention must also be made in this context of Joanna Fallini, who took the initiative to post a sign on her front yard advertising the Newman Christmas Eve Mass.

They are not laymen, but Fr Grogan at Holy Cross and Fr Carbonaro at OLA have been so generous to us, sharing their splendid worship spaces with us in our need. They have also been wonderfully gracious in not treating us as the beggars we are but as companions on the way.

Of course, there are always needs, and since our numbers are small, we all need to pitch in as we are able. It is inspiring the way our people do – in both communities. I’d like to mention one need. The flower arrangers at Holy Cross (which include Beth) have responsibility for keeping the bathroom clean, and it would be great for us to help out with this. They normally do it on Saturday morning. Anyone able to help with this humble but necessary task once in a while? Even once a year would be a help.

Likewise, if you see something that needs doing, offer to help out!

Thanks goes to the intrepid souls who braved the snow to come and sing hymns (and the Halleluiah Chorus) at the rectory on Epiphany. Also to those who provided the feast, which Beth organized, and to Bill Gatens and Kevin Chun. Eight or ten different parishes were represented, both Anglican and Catholic. We had fun!

Fr. David Ousley

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