Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Roman Catholic Church
Guiding theological question: How does the stuff we do “inside” translate into engagement with the world outside?
Guiding Scripture passage: The story from Acts about the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, whose experience of being welcomed into the community of the church caused him immediately to run off to share his newfound identify and joy with the people who never came near the temple.
Signs of change:
- There is definitely a greater awareness of one’s vocational calls and one’s situational calls among leadership in the parish.
- There is an excitement among staff to envision the integration of family’s and youth vocational and situational calls in curriculum and activities.
Year 2 Activities
The parish will have its first Liturgical Ministers Retreat in over 5 years, focusing on the call of the liturgical minister’s service to the People of God as one that rises out of their call as a baptized follower of Christ. Exploration will lead to reflection on their personal vocational role in the community and the greater world. This will then lead to an engagement in a comprehensive exploration of racial justice in the parish in relationship with our affiliated organizations, rising out of the assembly to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord with our lives.”
Year 1 Learnings
A successful moment so far was the goal setting we asked the Pax Christi staff to participate in. Every staff member was asked to incorporate the language of call and vocation into something (activity or event) they already do within their content area. They were tasked with taking their idea and writing a corresponding goal to share how they were hoping to accomplish it. Mackenzie worked with each staff member to edit and/or revise their goal statements and subsequent objectives and activities.
Each person entered this endeavor differently. Some were excited, others were hesitant or unsure, and a few were merely indifferent. Though starting in different spaces and places, every staff member rose to the occasion, and worked toward growth. It is a continuing, and in many ways a forever process, but the openness that is visible within each member of the Pax Christi staff team is inspiring.
There are many reasons this feels like a success. It invited the staff into the conversation with great immediacy, it prompted them to be reflective of their individual and communal calls within Pax and helped build the foundation we are hoping to strengthen. Meeting each staff member where they’re at with their own comfortability and understanding of call and vocation was a powerful tool to not only help them be successful, but for them to experience how they can encounter and walk with parishioners in conversation surrounding call.
Resources Developed by Pax
- The worship council and Pastor Michael Byron each created a video to promote the liturgical minister retreat and introduce the parish to the callings of liturgical ministers.
- Homily: To Follow Our Call – Pastor Michael Byron preaches on calling in relation to the parable of the unjust judge.
- Pax Christi Magazine: Listening to God’s Call – the November 2019 issue of the parish magazine includes reflections on the CCI annual meeting and the callings of the parish deacons.
- Pax Christi Magazine: A Calling to Leadership – the March 2020 issue of the parish magazine frames the invitation to be part of the parish leadership team as a calling.
Recommended Prayer & Study Resources
- Strengths Explorer – This resource is being used by our Middle School Youth Formation Minister. He decided to use this tool to support his goal to “establish self-awareness for Middle School aged youth to explore and discuss calling and leadership within and outside the Pax Christi faith community.” Like its parent book, StrenthsFinder, it aims to provide each person taking the assessment with information about themselves that will help them navigate the complicated process of self discovery.
- The Stories We Live: Finding God’s Calling All Around Us by Kathleen Cahalan – This book has become a powerful tool to help people feeling unsure or unknowledgeable about the topic of call and vocation. Many of our staff members used it as an entry point to their goal setting. It’s relatable, inviting and accessible, which is precisely what you want in a resource that is intended to support all people from all types of circumstances and all levels of understanding or awareness of call.
Share one story that illustrates your congregation living out your mission.
Pax Christi’s first offertory collection, presented in June of 1981, was given entirely to justice concerns, signifying that a cornerstone of the parish would be a mission toward justice efforts, particularly around the metro area. Since the parish’s founding, 4.5 million dollars have been shared with organizations after a thorough application and vetting process conducted by a Justice Grants Board made up of lay leaders of the parish.
Currently, our financial efforts support causes focused on ending homelessness and providing educational support to schools with a particular outreach to immigrant and poor communities. One key element of our outreach focus over the last 13 years is the importance of building relationships with the recipient organizations. This makes it possible for our mission of support to be lived out not only financially, but through one-with-one interactions. These interactions include tutoring, serving meals, conversations, etc. with those whom we wish to learn form and experience a mutual exchange.
From its founding, the core values of justice, lay leadership, and hospitality were and continue to remain central to our faith community. The parish has always been mission-driven, looking externally to grow in our discipleship. We haven’t done this perfectly, but we continue to be focused on staying true to our founding charismatic values while leaving room to expand in this time and space.
We know deeply what our identity is as a church founded after the Second Vatican Council, and we strive to live that faithfully. Some find this grounding hopeful and a place of refuge, while others find it political, and therefore frustrating. The sign on the corner of Homeward Hills Road and Pioneer Trail (real roads with figurative meanings) says “All are Welcome.” We strive to live this authentically, which means that our umbrella of thought, theology, and ideology is wide, embracing, and open.