A Creative Minority of Catholic Conviction

Dear friends in Christ,

 I’m sure that Fr. Hagan’s four-part article has been a much appreciated break from my writing. Although his cultural analysis makes for heavy reading, I am grateful for his thoughtful consideration of an absolutely critical set of questions facing our Church. They are questions which are not going away, but which are only sure to become more pronounced in the coming years. It is not, however, a hopeless diagnosis. Against this daunting backdrop, we are called to become a creative minority of Catholic conviction and a missional parish in the heart of this city. Much could be said to understand exactly what is intended in those two phrases, but bear with me. The path to being mobilized for mission is being ‘led by God’ out of what is familiar and into the Lord’s promise just as Abraham was. Abraham is the perennial model of faith in every generation, as we hear in our Second Reading from Hebrews chapter 11:

 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.”

 It is always disconcerting to step out in faith; but it is only in stepping out that faith is really active. In faith we stand firm with Abraham, and all our ancestors of faith and in hope we look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises for us and for generations yet to come, all the while striving to live in charity toward God and one another. As we emerge from summer and the ministry year gets underway, there will be numerous opportunities of prayer, liturgy, devotion, learning, service and community that all lend themselves in the direction of being equipped according to the Lord’s plan for our parish. Stay tuned for occasions that we hope will serve the spiritual growth of parishioners of all ages. My prayer is that in this coming year we will all be willing to try something new, to respond to the invitations that will come, to be willing to meet new people, discover new ways to pray and learn new things about the splendor of Catholicism. We are all called to venture out together. Bear with us; Pray with and for us—our priests, parish staff and parish leaders; Get involved!

 Fr. Hagan’s series of articles which are available online in the bulletin archive are a sort of ‘case statement’ for why I believe that the Oratory of St. Philip Neri is suited for precisely this time in the history of our neighborhood. This is much bigger than a group of priests living and working together. It seeks rather to be a collaborative effort between priests and faithful in the Lord’s work of to renew this neighborhood. I know it may seem ethereal and unclear just what the Oratory means for you, but I believe that the ongoing unfolding of the Oratory vision and charism in Northeast Minneapolis promises to be a gamechanger as we take seriously the patronage of St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome and Bl. John Henry Newman, the Second Founder of the Oratory who will be canonized on October 13. The method of the Oratory is to gather an intentional group of Catholic Christians that can prayerfully and creatively serve the upbuilding of Northeast Catholicism. In this way, the churches of Northeast can become an ever more vital force for the good of this city in which we sojourn.

 In conjunction with the Archdiocesan Synod Process which begins this fall, I am excited to announce that we are also launching a strategic planning initiative at the parish level which will help us discern and clarify the role we are called to play within this neighborhood and region. I ask you to pray fervently for these efforts locally and across this Archdiocese.

 The Lord has blessed us with so many opportunities; He has allowed many challenges to befall us throughout our history as distinct parishes and following the merger; He will continue to sustain us by His grace. One of the goals will be to communicate clearly with you, our parishioners, how the Oratory vision impacts you and invites us into a beautiful newness for our parish and families as we all come to understand the meaning of the Oratory charism. Mary, Star of the New Evangelization and Mother of the Church, pray for us! St. Philip Neri, pray for us! Bl. John Henry Newman, pray for us!

A couple of practical notes:


+ We recently gathered for a cook out with Tuesday Toilers and parish staff to celebrate Stasiu Janosz’ retirement as our Holy Cross maintenance man. He served Holy Cross for over 26 years. We were blessed to be joined by several members of his family and share humorous stories and memories. While he will continue to be around as a parishioner, we will ‘send him off’ with a blessing at the 7:30 am Mass on Sunday, August 25th. One of his very special claims to fame is that Stasiu was confirmed in Poland by Bishop Karol Wojtyła, some years before he entered the world’s stage as Pope John Paul II. Since JPII is a saint, that makes Stasiu a sort of living relic!


+ Don’t forget that this coming Thursday we celebrate one of the great feasts of summer, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Marya Holy Day of Obligation. We have a very generous offering of Mass times to make it as convenient as possible for you to attend. Plan ahead, noting the Masses listed on p. 6. Also, don’t forget the Ice Cream Social at St. Hedwig on Wednesday, rain or shine which is a great time to ‘keep the feast’!


+ Finally, on Sunday evening, August 18 Archbishop Hebda will preside at the 6:30 pm Holy Cross Mass. Within the Mass, I will make an act of fidelity and profession of faith and be installed formerly as Pastor. A reception will follow. I am humbled and grateful for this gesture of the Archbishop’s confidence in my leadership here. Please, pray for me!

Your grateful pastor and dedicated servant,

Fr. Howe