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Greetings from California

January 10, 2014

Brian, Tom and I arrived in LA on Monday, around mid-day, after many, many hours of travel and delays. We rented a car and drove to Malibu, through a surprising lack of LA traffic. We were staying at the Serra Monastery, a beautiful facility, with stunning views of the Pacific. It was the location ABC used for a popular TV program a few years ago called “The Flying Nun.” The beauty of the setting notwithstanding, the accommodations were simple and spartan, being, after all, a monastery.

We were the guests of the Simon Foundation, who is launching a new organization called the Parish Catalyst, with the mission of giving fresh impetus to parish life and ministry. The purpose of the conference was to bring together 12 of the most dynamic and successful parishes from every part of the country to discuss shared problems and best practices. We also reflected, within our own teams, on our strategic planning for the next six months and agreed to meet again at that time to report on our progress and be accountable to the group. A highlight of the conference was spending Tuesday morning with Rick Warren. Rick is a brilliant teacher and a loving pastor and we were thrilled that he noted he has read both  Rebuilt and Tools and loved them.



Wednesday we wrapped things up by mid-day and said our goodbyes. Brian and I took Tom back to the airport so he could get back to his family and everything waiting to be done at the office. Meanwhile we found our way over to Pasadena, a charming old town north of LA. We are staying here in the parish preparing for a daylong presentation for an organization called the Parish Leadership Network, bringing together about 75-100 parish leaders from every part of this sprawling archdiocese. Along with our message preparation we have been taking in some of the sights, like the Rose Bowl, the LA Cathedral and a fierce contest between Arizona and the Bruins.



We will spend one day at St Monica’s parish, one of the largest and most successful Catholic parishes in the whole country, and another day at Pastor Rick’s  Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches of any kind, anywhere, because we are here to learn as well as teach.

On Wednesday we give two final conferences, one to the priests of the Diocese of Orange and , that evening, to the parish leadership of that diocese. Since we will finish up late that evening, we will make our way home on Thursday. I will be back in the office on Friday, and Brian will return to his usual schedule on Sunday.

Meanwhile, thanks to our wonderful staff and ministry leaders who do what you do week in and week out, keeping things moving forward at Nativity. Ultimately, it is you who make it possible for our church to be a teaching church with a truly national reach.


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  1. Gosh ! I sure do not believe and hope that’s not the case Chris. Have you ever been to a mass at Church of Nativity? The Holy Spirit is alive and well and at work there and in the Catholic Church as well as the world. Great changes are happening everywhere. Have you heard about Pope Francis and all he is accomplishing? I agree that change has to occur all over but I don’t see anyone halting progress at Nativity. It’s going to take time. The Church is our church and we need to support it and help it grow. Please pray for the church and the work if the Spirit throughout especially the work of Fr. White and the staff. I don’t think any parish can survive without a collection. Someone has to take care of the monetary needs. Who else but the people of the church? And we learned in one if the messages that money is not necessarily ours- it’s a gift from God – to use – so part of that money I believe needs to be offered for the work of the church. Giving is not mandatory. We need to pray to God for guidance. We also need to pray that the Holy Spirit can do His work in the world. Yes- there have been serious problems in the church but let’s pray for the church and it’s people. I see so many good things happening. I think if there was a concern about a church like Nativity the Archbishop would have intervened and you know what…?…he came to Nativity and lauded it. Let’s pray this movement continues. I’m so grateful to God for Church of the Nativity and I see good things ahead in the world especially with Pope Francis that I’m so encouraged and grateful! You go God!

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