St. Joseph's, Avenue Hoche, Paris
Le Grand Depart.
It is usual at this time of the year to start off the Paris report with the caption "La Grande Rentree". More about that in a moment. While the big return is, in fact, happening, our more immediate attention is on "Le Grand Depart" last week of Thomas as he left for Boston. The farewell was on Sunday, 22nd. August - and it was big. Thomas celebrated the 12 noon mass and gave a moving homily, copies of which were requested from numerous people. An abbreviated version of the homily is appended at end of this input and is printed with Tom's permission. The mass was mobbed. Unfortunately, some of the "doors" in the hall would not work properly and the lovely reception was proving to be just far too crushed for the many people who wanted to say goodbye.
At the end of the mass there were brief words of appreciation from Bruno Lechaptois (Pastoral Council Chairperson), a written appreciation from Fr. Anthony (on holidays) and some excellent, well-chosen remarks from Michael. It was then the big moment for Gloria Gargenara to present Tom with a special gift from the parish. Hardly a dry eye to be seen! Tom set off on Friday, 27th. We wish him well on his Sabbatical and thank him for his generosity while here. He did not spare himself. Meantime - at time of writing - we are Pastorless!
La Grande Rentree.
It is interesting to observe how Paris - not just the parish - empties each year during August and the big return of people occurs at the end of the month. During August, the city is like a ghost town in contrast to the rest of the year and this year is no exception. The summer mass schedule has now ended and next Sunday we're back to "normal" times. But even at this point, the numbers have suddenly increased and multiplied.
It is a time of welcoming new arrivals and helping them adjust to a strange environment. This really does enable them to create a home from home. So we witness again a massive enrolment for CCD classes in the next two weeks, On Sunday 19th. September there will be a parish picnic and information day. This takes place in the garden and is another attempt to make people aware of their parish and what's going on.
And what is going on?
Let me quote a paragraph from the parish brochure. Apart from the obvious ministries to be found in every parish today, some kind of explanation of a parish vision and mentality is offered in it.
The question is posed: " How can we make sure that St. Joseph's grows and develops as a vibrant Christian community? Our parish confronted this question - and others - during a novel experiment in March 2004. Meeting over two weekends, the Future Search Forum brought together 68 parishioners from different cultures, interests and ages to ask where we wanted St. Joseph's to go. Some Common Futures were discovered and suggest the question as to where people can find themselves in them. Some Common Futures will change the life of this parish. Others will change the lives of its parishioners. All of them will contribute to a better future for this special Christian community comprising over 43 nationalities in Paris. Seven Common Futures were listed.
Space management - to ensure we have enough space for a growing parish
, especially CCD classes.
Council Retreat and Planning Day
Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton Sheen