Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Mar
  • 27

Parish missions call people to action

Posted By March 27, 2015 | 6:03 pm | Lead Story #2
Deacon Stephen Lundrigan preaches at St. Paul Cathedral mission.
PHOTO BY TANYA CONNOR Deacon Stephen Lundrigan preaches at St. Paul Cathedral mission.

By Tanya Connor

Papal challenges – and plans to respond.
A Polish priest employing the four Rs.
Seminarians preaching at their professor’s church.
Laity, a religious sister and priests wrapped together in a “package deal” with a meal.
These are among creative ways local parishes found to offer missions this Lent.
“I believe every parish should have a parish mission,” said Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Worcester. “I think it provides a good shot in the arm for the parish, a spiritual wake-up call.”
Years ago, when he was associate pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Westborough, Father Leo Barry, the pastor, once had a two-week mission, he said. The first week the visiting priest visited sick parishioners; the second he preached. Now Msgr. Sullivan plans Christ the King’s missions.
“I always bring someone from the outside in,” he said. “I spend money to do it. It’s good to have a different face, a different voice.”
This year Sulpician Father Robert F. Leavitt, professor at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, preached the March 1-3 mission.
The theme was the new evangelization, based on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”
“Out of the mission we hope to develop new plans for evangelization and bringing people back,” Msgr. Sullivan said. He said the parish council is to meet about this after Easter.

Polish and English

St. Andrew Bobola Parish in Dudley also brought in a priest from the outside – sort of. But mission preacher Father Gregory Zielinski is no stranger to the pastor, Father Krzysztof Korcz.
“I was his altar server in the parish where he worked in Poland before his coming to the United States,” Father Zielinski said; he’s known Father Korcz for 16 years.
Father Zielinski said he’s been living at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northborough since January 2014 while doing research at Boston College Law School for his doctoral degree from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
“This is my first American parish mission,” Father Zielinski said, adding that he’s preached missions in Poland and Rome. “What I learn here in the United States – people are looking for opportunities to grow up in relationship with Jesus, with people. I enjoy this parish mission … This parish is becoming more active.”
The mission, which started last Sunday and ended Wednesday, had daily themes. “Return Day” was to encourage people to return to Jesus and the Church, Father Korcz said. “Renew Day” was to teach them ways to grow in relationship to God and others. “Rejoice Day” was to help them cherish the faith and express joy at being disciples and saints. “Reconciliation Day” included a penance service after the bilingual Mass. The other days there were separate Masses in Polish and English.            “When I preach, I preach to myself,” Father Zielinski said of how he too needs missions. “So this is a good opportunity to convert myself.”

Preach before teacher

Deacon Stephen E. Lundrigan worried about preaching to someone else at St. Paul Cathedral’s mission – no one said whether the bishop was coming, he said.
“I had to make sure it was suitable” for bishop and parishioners, the Worcester Diocesan seminarian said of his homily, which he tried out on a professor and secretary at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, where he’s studying.
Bishop McManus was not at the mission, but Deacon Lundrigan’s professor was.
Msgr. Robert K. Johnson, St. Paul’s rector, who’s teaching homiletics at the seminary, said he had three of his students – all transitional deacons preparing for priesthood – preach about Lenten Gospels.
Deacon Ryan Sliwa, of the Springfield Diocese, preached at a penance service March 10. Deacon Andrea Filipucci, of the Neocatechumenal Way, who is to serve in the Boston Archdiocese, preached at evening prayer and Benediction March 11.
Deacon Lundrigan, homilist for Mass March 12, said this was his first time preaching at a mission. He added a “zombie walk” for the children present, and got a couple smiles, he said. He likened Lazarus wrapped in burial clothes, and a soul bound by sin, to a zombie. People must allow others to pull such wrappings off them, and must help unbind others by leading them to Jesus in the Church, he said.
Dana Goetz, a prospective St. Paul’s parishioner, said the mission gave the deacons a chance to speak and listeners a chance to hear them. She and parishioner Elizabeth Vaughan, 15, both said it was their first mission.
“With the adoration it was absolutely beautiful,” said Elizabeth. “The Mass is also very important.”
“The people were very, very receptive and really liked the diversity and the various points of view the different speakers brought,” Msgr. Johnson said.

Different perspectives

The same seemed to be true at the March 8-11 mission at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Leominster.
“It was interesting to have four different speakers,” commented Edith Carey.
“They all had a different perspective on the theme,” added Marcy Collier. The theme, “Listen, with the ear of your heart,” was taken from the Rule of St. Benedict, said Father Dennis J. O’Brien, pastor.
This year’s speakers were: Dr. John Zawacki, co-chair of the Diocesan Parish Renewal And Evangelization Team; Sister Nancy Sheridan, a Sister of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and an international speaker; Nicki Verploegen, a motivational instructor for caregivers and pastoral agents worldwide, and Father Richard F. Reidy, Diocesan vicar general/moderator of the curia.
The mission was part of a “package deal” of Lenten programs; it was sandwiched amidst the weekly faith formation series about the Mass, Father O’Brien said. Msgr. James A. Mongelluzzo gave that series March 4, 18 and 25. A Worcester Diocesan priest teaching at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Msgr. Mongelluzzo, helps with Masses at Our Lady of the Lake, where he was once pastor.
“We tried to devote Wednesday nights to spiritual, social and educational experiences,” Father O’Brien said. They had Mass and soup and bread before Msgr. Mongelluzzo’s talks and before the mission Wednesday, he said. He connected this with new parish ministries of serving meals to the homeless at a shelter and a hotel.