by Fr. Ron Will, C.PP.S., Pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joseph, Missouri
During the Installation Ceremony of our Province Leadership Team in June, Fr. Joe Nassal challenged us “Be thirsty for a new future…Each of us committed to ‘servant leadership…’Let’s be bold, imaginative together.” When we stop leading out of imagination then we are leading out of memory. Then we are not creating, but just re-living the past.
I recently celebrated my 40th Anniversary as a priest within the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. I have had many positive experiences over the years. I want to go on serving as a priest so that I can help more and more St. Francis Xavier parishioners have personal encounters with God and become intentional disciples of Christ.
There is a difference between membership in a country club and membership in the Church. With membership in a country club I pay an annual fee and I expect to receive services throughout the year, like use of the golf course, swimming pool, locker room facilities, restaurant, meeting rooms, etc.
With membership in the Church I expect to give service to others (like Christ served others). I want to love other members of the Church. I want to wash feet like Christ did. I want to become an intentional disciple of Christ, someone who doesn’t just go through the motions of being a Catholic and of going to Mass; but rather someone who seeks personal encounters with God through prayer and service, one who comfortably talks about those experiences with others, and who invites others into the encounter themselves.
As I facilitate the process of these encounters, the Kingdom of God will become more and more obvious as people notice it unfolding in their midst. I want to go on serving as a priest so that I can preach and preside at Mass, Vespers, and other prayer experiences in such a way that people can experience God. I want to do more than teach people about Jesus Christ, more than teach facts and stories about what he did. I want to personally introduce people to Jesus Christ, someone they know as a friend and daily companion.
I want to go on serving as a priest in the Precious Blood Community in order to clarify the Kansas City Province’s Mission Statement. I want to help focus our energy and resources in order to make a positive difference in the world. If we need to leave a particular parish or town, how will the people be different? Will they know that the C.PP.S. was there?
How can we Members encourage and energize one another? I think many of us live in silos, attentive to our own ministry and doing a good job, but pretty much unaware of what other Members are doing in their silos. It seems to me that if we broke down our silos we would be stronger and more effective in our ministries. We would receive and give energy to one another. Instead of being two glasses of exquisite wine sitting next to each other we would blend our contents and create an aroma and taste that would attract and entice other people.
I want to go on serving as a priest in order to inspire more and more people to discover and live their God-given gifts. It’s another way of bringing to life St. Gaspar’s vision of a 1000 tongues. I want to go on serving as a Precious Blood priest in order to engage Companions in this whole process of encountering God, becoming intentional disciples of Christ, and discovering their God-given gifts for the sake of the Church and of our world.
I want to go on serving so that I can facilitate many groups of “Discovering Christ” over the next few years. The process will open doors to personal encounters and intentional disciples.
I want to go on serving in order to lead and facilitate vibrant liturgies, life-long Christian formation opportunities, and social outreach opportunities which serve Christ who often comes in disguise. There are so many possibilities that it is overwhelming. I hardly know where to begin. I can begin like the boy walking along the seashore and saving starfish by throwing them back into the sea – one at a time. By teaming up with others in the process we can save more than one at a time. We can save many at a time.
I want to go on serving in order to present more Marriage Encounter Weekends which help couples re-discover their love and excitement for each other when they were engaged and ratified when they were married. I want to help them discover that they are a Sacrament and everything that that means. Many of them are living their marriage in first gear and presuming that that is the best they can achieve. I want to help them discover that not only is there a third gear, but there is overdrive for their married relationship. There’s always so much more potential for their relationship, for their influence on the Church and on the world.
I want to go on serving in order to facilitate Koinonia Weekends and Follow-Up Reunions. It is a resource under-used. It is like having lighter fluid in the cabinet, but not using it and just blowing on the charcoal briquetts hoping they will take off. Life is so much harder and slower when we don’t use the resources available. Jesus gave us gifts to be used, not to be stored in the cabinet. It is like having a rack full of spices in the cabinet but not using any of them when cooking. The food is okay but dull and flat. Jesus has a bigger dream for the Church and so do I. I want to bring out the potential that God put in us when he created us.
Life is a continuing adventure that I look forward to exploring. Anybody want to come with me?