Why I Love My Parish
The parish is the presence of the Church in any given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.” (Pope Francis)
Every parish in the Catholic Church has its own unique identity, charism, and flavor. There are no two parishes that are exactly the same. A Catholic calls a parish his or her home because it is a good “fit” for the individual. It is a place where the spiritual needs of the person are met, and those belonging to the parish are a true family offering love and support, and helping to build up one another as members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
I am blessed and thankful beyond all measure to have found my spiritual home. Often Catholics shop around to find a parish at some point in their life, but my local parish has always been “it”for me. I have at one time or another visited other parishes for various celebrations, occasions, or events, but there is a special kind of indescribable feeling that envelopes your soul only when you are at your parish. There is no other place on earth like it.
I know that I am welcome, and there is such a vibe as soon as one walks through the church doors into the vestibule. We are an extremely family-oriented parish consisting of both the young and the old, married and singles, and although there are dwindling numbers of teenagers and young adults as is the case in most parishes these days, I have always been accepted and appreciated by the elder members of our parish family, especially our 9 AM Daily Mass goers, “the niners”. Every morning when I am able to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at my parish I look forward to praying the Rosary with them, and partaking in the sacred banquet of the Lord together. The highlight of my day is the 9 AM Daily Mass.
We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world. (G.K. Chesterton)
As a single, millennial Catholic woman who has the desire to be a part of a parish that is faithful to the Magisterium, and strives towards helping its members journey heavenward to experience the Eternal God in the beatific vision, I can honestly attest to the fact that I belong to such a parish. We have reverent Liturgy, where I find myself not wanting the Mass to end. I truly know that I am experiencing heaven on earth, and a taste of the Kingdom to come. It is a Transfiguration moment where I long to be able to remain like Peter, James, and John, on the top of Mount Tabor with our Lord, but know that I must depart from the miraculous and venture back down the mountain, and into the crowd.
Our dedicated and faithful priests are an incredible gift to us. It is apparent how much the priests of our parish love Jesus Christ and have a deep relationship with our Eucharistic Lord. They inspire me to long for an even more intimate connection, and to become more and more united to Him as a bride of Christ, as a member of the Church. He is enough.
The homilies are powerful and leave me with reflective and pondering thoughts for the rest of the day, and even the week. Our priests do not simply stand behind the lectern with their heads facing downward and occasional glances towards us; they look with an expressive and sincere gaze out into the pews. They speak from their hearts with words that are real and genuine, and I know that they are reaching out to my very soul in a meaningful way.
In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1380)
It is very often that the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is reflected upon during a homily. Anyone who is an active parishioner of our parish is definitely not a part of the nearly 70% of Catholics who do not believe that Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist. The action of the Holy Spirit and the graces being poured forth are clearly seen in our parish priests.
As our spiritual fathers, our parish priests know what we need, and they are there for us during both the good and bad days. They are present for the happy and joyful moments in our lives to celebrate together, but they are also there during the challenging and difficult times to share our sorrow and grief. I know from personal experience the authentic love offered by our spiritual fathers.
When I had entered the convent they rejoiced alongside me as I prepared to give my fiat to my Beloved Bridegroom, and when God’s Will led me to not be able to become a religious sister they shared in my suffering, pain, and devastation. It is often that men and women when they leave the priesthood or religious life do not receive the support necessary to be able to assimilate back into the world, but I did because of my parish family, especially because of our parish priests.
My parish is a place of belonging, and the members would truly do anything for one another and for our priests. That is the kind of parish that St. Joseph - St. Thomas, St. John Neumann is for us. It is not simply a church, it is our home. It is my home. I love our parish in a special way, and I know that my Pastor is a true shepherd of my soul, and the parish priests wholeheartedly care for me, and for all of us.
Words cannot even begin to describe the beautiful and wonderful difference that being an active member of St. Joseph - St. Thomas, St. John Neumann Parish has made in my life. I have garnered the zeal and courage to continue on the path towards holiness. It is no easy feat to be a practicing Catholic these days, especially as a young adult, but together alongside my parish family with our Pastor leading the way, I have remained on the journey together with them, that which God-willing will lead me to heaven.
Judge the Catholic Church not by those who barely live by its spirit, but by the example of those who live closest to it. (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen)