Today, as I was trying to register one of my daughters for the fall soccer league at our territorial parish, I noticed the parish’s mission statement on the front of the bulletin. You know, the proverbial touchy-feely and oh-so-inviting slogan that has become the inevitable calling card of the modern parish.
The great thing about these statements is not that they give parish councils something to do for a few months. No, that is a side benefit. What is really great about them is that although they are hammered out individually in each parish, they end up looking essentially the same. For example:
We, the parishioners of St. Mission Statement, a body of diverse individuals, come together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to promote the mission of Jesus Christ. This is accomplished by encouraging and supporting the development of the sacramental life of each member in the community through liturgical, educational, social and service activities. We strive to create an environment that fosters communication; an environment that helps us realize we are each a unique child of God. The stewardship of our time, our talents, and our treasures expresses the continuous accountability to God and the shared responsibility to each other, to the community and to the world.
Here is one more example, just for flavor:
We, the members of St. Mission Statement Parish, strive to live out our faith as Christians in the Roman Catholic Church. We see ourselves as a caring community, drawing from the strength and tradition of those who have gone before us, the wisdom of our senior members and the energy of our younger members.
We believe that our faith is our common bond; that all of us are made in the image and likeness of God; and, as such, possess a dignity and potential that is to be respected. We are called to be signs of God’s love to each other and to all we meet. We believe our strength and nourishment come from the Church’s ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Having experienced God’s grace, we commit ourselves to announcing to others God’s love for them. We will face the future by reaching out and serving the needy, by fostering spiritual growth in our families, by educating our children in Christian values, by welcoming visitors and strangers into our community, and by joyfully facing the challenges of our neighborhood. We value openness rather than negative criticism and reconciliation rather than materialism, selfishness and prejudice. We want to become a parish family with a care and concern that is characteristic of family members.
OK, there are other variations, to be sure. But essentially, mission statements tend to be a sign of what is euphemistically known as a “progressive” parish. Why? I don’t know, but I can only give witness to the observations of long years in the Church. I mean, didn’t our Lord give us a mission statement 2,000 years ago?
Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Mt. 28: 19-20.
These days I belong to a parish without a mission statement, but which seeks to carry out the command given by Christ in those lines from St. Matthew’s Gospel. That ought to be good enough for any Catholic parish.
However, I have heard from some critics of this blog that I am stuck in the past in matters of the faith. I want to respect those prophetic voices. Therefore, in order to improve this blog, I propose the following mission statement for your review. I welcome your feedback, after which I will finalize it for posterity.
We, the blogger and readers of Saint Louis Catholic, come together under the wistful hope that wasting time better spent caring for our families or engaging in productive employment can be used in the service of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
We endeavor, under the guidance of our Blessed Mother and other blogs we like, to promote the truths of the faith, to expose the ridiculousness and danger of heresies and those who espouse them, to keep a sense of humor at all times, and to occasionally pat each other on the back.
We reserve the right to talk about subjects that normal people shun, and to wonder why they do so.
We believe the Church has authority given her by Christ Himself, and we highly resolve not to look a gift horse in the mouth. We are grateful, in other words, for all we have been given.
We are truly inclusive group, in that we want everyone to be Catholic–really Catholic– and to experience the abiding peace and joy that comes with the Catholic faith.
We seek to be a sort of advance newsletter scattered behind enemy lines. No loitering.
P.S. Don’t mess with our Archbishop.