As holidays go, New Year’s feels quite relaxed around Nativity. Our staff takes a well-deserved rest following the rush to Christmas, and most families are enjoying down time before school and work pick up again. The church is not closed of course (we offer the regular Mass schedule), but our celebrations are more subdued. During the quiet time around our office, I am reflecting on the potential that lies ahead in 2024. Here are my New Year’s wishes for Nativity and beyond!
- That individual lives and parish communities would be impacted by Rebuilt Faith. This fall, Tom and I launched our latest book as a 40-day faith journey. Our hope is that individuals with a background in the Catholic tradition will experience the reawakening and renewal in their faith and go from being disconnected, skeptical, and even bored, to fully engaged in their personal devotion and their local parish. The STEPS of discipleship are a distinctive part of our parish and the route we encourage people to take in growing as a follower and friend of Jesus Christ. Serving, tithing, engaging in a small group, practicing prayer and sacraments, and sharing our faith are simple, tested steps everyone can take. We pray that Rebuilt Faith can be a missing link for people and parishes everywhere.
- That our Small Group Program will grow by 1,000 new members. With the dawn of 2024, our aspiration is to witness a great expansion within our Small Group Program – an increase of 1,000 new members! This vision of ours serves as our commitment to fostering a community dedicated to deepening our faith and sharing everyone’s unique spiritual journeys. As we embark on this journey, we are excited to empower individuals to explore and strengthen their relationship with our Lord. Each new member represents a unique and special story, a new perspective, and a shared commitment for collective spiritual growth. With the Lord, Jesus as our foundation, and prayer as our backbone, we anticipate a year filled with transformative testimonies, and a community that is bound together by a shared pursuit of faith, love, and eagerness to do the will of God.
- That we are fully staffed with a healthy culture. This past spring and summer we experienced a number of departures from our team. Most all of the departures were for very good reasons, but the multiplication of them and their largely unexpected timing was painful. There has been an upside. In our transitional moment we discovered an opportunity to reflect on our staff culture and become more intentional with what we are building. One of our initiatives is to take up the “one another statements” from the Apostle Paul in his epistles — to support one another, encourage one another, accept one another, forgive one another, and above all, to love one another. We want to have relationships strong enough to have healthy conflict. As new members join our staff, we are onboarding and creating culture with each interaction. Opportunity abounds to make this a place we love to work and serve.
- That our Missions Program produces even greater impact. On a weekend just before Christmas, our new Missions Director Amy Rogers joyfully announced a big moment for a local project: The Poppleton Rec Center in Baltimore is slated to open this summer. Since 2019, we have looked forward to the Rec Center reopening so it can be a pillar of Southwest Baltimore once again. The neighborhood raised up this project as a place kids can safely study, play, learn, exercise, and experience healthy community. We hope for similar Spirit-led success with our mission partners in Baltimore City, Maryland, Guatemala, Nigeria, Kenya, and perhaps new places in the year to come. One of our great joys and ambitions is to be a positive force for sustainable development in our areas of influence.
- That we discern what exactly we want to do with our “next gen” wing and determine an initial plan. As we stand at the threshold of a new time in our lives, we will begin the journey to transform our beloved “next gen” wing, which holds roughly 50 years of memories. Our vision is to evolve and breathe new life into these familiar walls that has had countless gatherings, celebrations, and many moments of spiritual reflection. The time has now come for a physical change that embraces the needs of our community that continues to evolve. We’re discerning the plan moving forward, while carefully considering how to enhance functionality, accessibility, and aesthetic appeal. This goal of ours is not just a change to an old building into something new. Rather this change aims to foster an even more welcoming and accommodating space for all who enter! As we begin this journey, we can only pray that we discern exactly what we want to do so that the “next gen” wing remains a beacon of spiritual development for all.
- That revival becomes reality. The Church in the United States and the Western World is ripe for awakening and growth. Recently I quoted a statistic that 82% of people said they would consider going to church if someone they knew offered a personal invitation. There are thousands of people in our local community who are not attending church but are spiritually curious. All it might take is a conversation, a book, a podcast recommendation, a personal invitation, or some other simple approach to bring these curious individuals into connection with the Living Lord. We are praying for those within our parish boundaries–and for those within yours–to spread the word and bring people back to church and back to their faith in the coming year.
Here’s to all God has in store for 2024. Happy New Year!