September 1, 2019

As we prepare for our two parish gatherings for a conversation about our future, there are six clarity questions that leadership on our staff and our Pastoral Council have found beneficial. These questions have helped us, and we pray that they will help our whole parish, as we discern where the Lord is calling us.

Please remember that our two parish convocations for these conversations are on Monday, September 9, 5:30–9:00 pm, and Sunday, September 15, 12:30-4:00 pm. Both of these gatherings include a simple meal. I am asking all parishioners to join us for one of these conversations.

The clarity questions that will help guide our discussion are: 1) Why does St. Joseph Parish exist? 2) How do we behave? 3) What do we do? 4) How will we succeed? 5) What is the top priority for our parish right now? 6) What must we do? Let me address each one of these questions as a preview for what we want to do at our gatherings.

1) Why does St. Joseph Parish exist? Our mission as a parish is to nourish our relationship with God so we can go out and bring the Good News to others. This purpose is rooted in our history here at St. Joseph, and is supported by Pope Francis’ vision for parish life as described in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel.  It was this document that was the foundation for the strategic pastoral planning process we engaged in three years ago.

2) How do we behave? As a parish community, pastor, staff, consultative leadership and parishioners, to what are we going to give our time and energy? A culture is created by the behaviors we reward. So, we want to reward behavior among ourselves that is rooted in our core values. Leadership has identified three of these core values: The first is that we want to be “all in.” That is to say, we want to encourage a culture where we are fully committed to our faith in God and to this community of his church here in Vancouver. The opposite of being “all in,” and the behavior we do not want to reward, are those who are in only for a time, but really don’t follow through with their commitments.

The second core value is that we want to have authentic awareness of each other in truth. What does that mean? It means that we want to reward behavior that presumes the best of intentions of other people and resists the temptation to complain and gossip. This core value encourages us to go directly to people we may have a disagreement with instead of talking to others about them.

The third core value is that we want to create a community of long term welcome. We want to make sure that people who join our community know that we want them to be with us for the “long haul.” We value the presence of new and long-time parishioners and we want to create an environment that helps all of us to know that we are valued, not just for a particular time, or a particular contribution, but for who we are today, tomorrow and for years to come.

We think that by making these core values the focus of our time, we will strengthen our parish of St. Joseph. We have been and will continue to expand the use of these core values in the recruiting of staff and volunteers. We want these values to be at the heart of each person’s ministry.

3) The third clarifying question is what do we do? The answer to that question is already part of our life together as a parish community. We are called to Love God, Love Our Neighbor, and Make Disciples. Everything we do as a community of faith fits into one of these areas of our mission.

In next week’s column I will explore the last three questions: How we will measure success in our mission, what is our top priority for our parish right now, and what must we do to as next steps in this process of discernment.

Have a great week!

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni