Friday, February 13, 2015

Part Five: Connections with the Universal Church

Full House at St. John Paul II Catholic Mission
Parish life between two communities is wonderful.  Yet, I am finding it more and more challenging keeping up with this blog.  Currently between the two churches and the four Masses almost 300 people are present every weekend.  Also, we have close to 100 people at both churches for faith formation on Wednesday night (BTC) and Sunday Night (JPII).  This has keep me happily busy.

One of our faith formation classes
So finally, the five part series I started in the fall of 2014 to celebrate our third anniversary of being in Union and Grainger County concludes with this blog.  The fifth Missionary category of Glenmary is "Universalism."  It is related to the Catholic concept that the local parish is a cell of the local church which is the diocese which in turn is a part of the Universal Church under the Pope known as the Roman Catholic Church.  One the cool things about being a Catholic is that we are connected to every Catholic Church in the world.

  This concept is often hard for people in our missions to grasp when the majority of our neighboring Christian churches are Baptist and Pentecostal where every church is independent.  For the most part, they determine their own believes and hire and fire their pastors.  Each one is autonomous from one and another.  At best they might form an association. 

In this way, we try to make connections by having parishioners participate in diocesan event and pilgrimages.  When Fr. Aaron was here, folks traveled to Gethsemane, KY and visited the Trappist Monks and to Hansen, Al to experience Mother Angelica's community and other religious interests. Both parishes attended last year's Eucharistic Congress in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Diocese of Knoxville.
The trip to the Eucharistic Congress

St. John Paul II has begun a chapter of the Catholic Council of Women.  Our Youth Groups have participated in Search and other diocesan and deanery events.  Currently both churches are sending representatives to the Hispanic council for the Diocese of Knoxville.

For two faith communities started in November 2011, we are slowly, but steadily making the connections to the universal church.  Yet, I hope in the future to increase these opportunities.
Watch what blooms this spring

Now a note to my faithful readers:  I will be posting one more small blog soon.  I feel the Catholic Missionary Beginnings stage is over.  There still is a great deal more of missionary activity in these two counties and among these two faith communities.  Yet, we are beyond what I feel is defined by the word "beginnings". I am searching for a new title and fresh way to express what this next stage of development in the missionary journey here in Union and Grainger County might be.  Please check back in soon and discover with me the new direction.

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