Recently I shared with the parish an astounding statistic regarding St. Margaret of Scotland: in the last fiscal year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017) 77 infants and children were baptized! The last time we came close to that number for baptisms was 1967 – fifty years ago, when the parish was twice the size it is today. We rejoice that so many families are choosing the Catholic faith for their children. This fact also indicates the repopulation trend happening in the neighborhoods that make up St. Margaret. With this good news, however, comes the challenge of meeting the pastoral needs of our growing parish. How is our faith community to keep pace in helping families stay close to the household of God? What should we be focusing on?
As Catholics, I think we’re becoming more comfortable with the word ‘evangelization.’ It’s not just about converting non-believers. More often now in the Catholic Church, evangelization is about keeping the sheep inside the fold and making their relationship to the Church fulfilling. We must attend to the root causes of people falling away from the community or being overlooked. Every person who expresses a desire to be counted as a member of the Church should experience a response that not only celebrates their decision but also invites that person to go more deeply into the life of the parish.
This means that people who register as parishioners, couples who are newly married, parents who have had their child baptized will hear from us the next step they can take in their journey of faith. What does that look like? A new member gets an in-home visit from a parishioner who can welcome them. Newlyweds get an invitation from another married couple to join them at Sunday Mass and perhaps develop more social interaction. A family with a newborn gets a chance to learn with other young families ways to practice their Catholic faith at home. The personal encounter is the most effective way to make the face of Jesus Christ known.
Still, none of this happens unless some does it. I think we have the intention to evangelize, but is St. Margaret ready to invest their time and talent to be evangelizers? The Parish Council has made evangelization a priority. They will keep this goal in front of us, and you will periodically hear of opportunities for you to step up and get involved. Will you respond when called to help?
All the rising numbers related to St. Margaret of Scotland’s baptisms, school enrollment and new registrations are great. The more impressive sight, however, is seeing the people behind these numbers worshipping together at the Sunday Eucharist and bringing the gospel back to their families, their work, their daily lives. Let’s evangelize these numbers.