Author: Anders Brown
This last Saturday about 40 members of our parish attended the St. Anne Parish Leadership Day held at the church. Each year around this time all the parish leadership councils – Pastoral, Liturgy, Finance, School, Social Justice and more – get together to share with each other their progress from last year and talk about upcoming programs and projects. We also spend some time reviewing the St. Anne Parish Five-Year Plan and reconfirming the stated mission of our parish:
“Brought to life by the Word of God and nourished by the Eucharist, we, the members of St. Anne Catholic Parish, are committed to live out the Gospel as listeners, learners and leaders. We accept Christ’s mission to transform the world, now and for future generations”
As a part of the School Commission I was invited to attend. And as luck would have it, I was actually free Saturday morning (with two kids in high school I am now unbridled by the Saturday AM CYO soccer games!) and was able to make it bright and early at 9 AM.
This is the third of these events I have attended. For me it is a great way to hear what everyone is working on, reconnect with my own School Commission team after a busy summer, and hear from our parish leadership about everything happening – not only in our own parish but also in the Archdiocese at-large.
It also is a good time for some calm reflection as well as always interesting discussion. Toward the end of the meeting as we prepared to set forth on the rest of our Saturday, Ron Ryan asked us to ponder the question about how we might gain more participation in all aspects of the church: Mass attendance, volunteer needs, youth participation and more. Even the school has a few more open spots. This is nothing new – like all churches (and any organization generally) we are always looking for ways to increase participation. Just normal course of business.
But for me it was really an interesting time for introspection. During the discussion, I asked out loud to my peers on School Commission and at my table a simple question: “For us to get others involved, we should ask why, frankly, are we involved?” I literally meant what I said: what was it in our head so that, on a sunny Saturday fall morning in Seattle, we chose to come to church for three hours over other things in our busy lives? In fact, why did we choose to be on School Commission at all? Even moreover, why did we volunteer for anything at the church?
When we challenged ourselves with this question, the consensus was that all of us spent our time being involved in St. Anne because we get a “return” on our efforts. No, this isn’t a “return” like a financial return on a stock or bond, but more so like an emotional and spiritual return. By being involved we build community and we build connections. We build support groups and we build friends for life. We build awareness of things in our neighborhood and city, and we build a network to care for us and our kids when we need it. And this “investment” provides us all an emotional and spiritual return we don’t think you can get anywhere else. This idea didn’t just stop at our table; it was the consensus of group generally: St. Anne is community and we are all here to help build it bigger and stronger.
Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation to end an interesting and information-filled morning. I encourage you all in your own way to revisit the St. Anne Parish Five-Year Plan and pick and choose a few ways to get involved this upcoming year. From my perspective, it is an investment that will always outweigh the new “Hot Stock of the Week”.