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Collaborative Lent

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Think Lent, think mission; the words go hand in hand. Many collaboratives are continuing, or, in some cases, reviving, the practice of offering a parish mission.

Susan
Abbott

There are currently 73 parishes in collaboratives under the archdiocesan pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. What does Lent look like in a collaborative?

Think Lent, think mission; the words go hand in hand. Many collaboratives are continuing, or, in some cases, reviving, the practice of offering a parish mission. In Lynnfield, a Phase I collaborative, long-time staff cannot recall the last mission at either St. Maria Goretti or Our Lady of the Assumption Parishes. It has been a while. This year they are planning a three-day mission using the theme "The Way," referring to the name given to early Church followers of Jesus who were known as "belonging to the Way." The mission will begin Sunday afternoon, March 1, at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLA), with reflection and discussion on "The Eucharist -- the Way of the Lord." On Monday, the mission begins at 10 a.m. at OLA with the film "The Way" followed by lunch, discussion, adoration in the afternoon, and praise and worship in the evening, at St. Maria Goretti (SMG). Tuesday, the final day, begins at 1 p.m., at SMG, with a visual meditation, "Jesus the Christ," and in the evening, a one-woman play: "The Heart of the Cross." More information about locations and times is available at www.Lynnfieldcatholic.com.

St. Michael Parish, North Andover, a Phase II collaborative, encourages parishioners to "renew your baptismal covenant with God and live your Baptismal Promise" and, "make this the best Lent ever." The theme of their mission is "Planting Seeds for the New Evangelization," and it is also March 1, 2, and 3. In addition to attending the mission, parishioners are encouraged to read Matthew Kelly's book "Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic." In the bulletin each week a parishioner will offer a reflection on a chapter of the book in the column "view from the pew." Saturday evening, March 28, the St. Patrick Family Players of Watertown will present Christ's Passion seen through the eyes of Peter in "Resurrection: A life-changing cantata." Soup and Stations will be their weekly Friday night offering with a different parish group hosting each week, and a different charity benefitting from donations collected that week. More information is available at saint-michael.org.

All Phase I collaboratives recently sent the drafts of their local pastoral plans to Cardinal Sean. The Salem plan is all about evangelization and discipleship, and this will be the focus of their Lenten mission, March 16, 17, and 18. Parishioners and collaborative staff are challenged to live out the Salem collaborative local plan as disciples of Jesus Christ engaged in the work of evangelization. The planning team hopes and prays that the Mission will build up a zeal for evangelization in faithful parishioners. Paulist Father Robert Rivers, author of "From Maintenance to Mission," will preach each night, reminding parishioners that the Church cannot continue to operate in maintenance mode. The mission is an all-out effort. The collaborative pastoral council is helping to spread the word and each member has been encouraged to personally invite at least three people. The music director is forming a small choir, and parishioners are being recruited to greet, lector and handle hospitality. More information is available at salemcatholiccommunity.org (The draft of their local pastoral plan is also available on their web page).

So, it looks like the concept of a Lenten mission is alive and well. The plans from these collaboratives exemplify the definition of mission: "a course of sermons and services given to convert the unchurched or quicken Christian faith" (Merriam-Webster). Webster's use of the word "quicken" is fitting in our context: "to make alive: revive: to cause to be enlivened: stimulate." Through homilies, prayer, music, drama, and study, six parishes and three collaborative hope to do just that -- enliven and revive faith.

Whether in a collaborative or not, Lenten missions can deepen the commitment that Jesus asks each of us to make, namely to follow him as a disciple. From discipleship flows the blessed work of evangelization -- bringing in the lost and those who have drifted away, and helping people grow closer to him.

SUSAN ABBOTT IS COORDINATOR OF PARISH OUTREACH FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.

Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.

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