In Your Midst


Spring 2000

In This Issue:
When there is no vision,
the people perish.”

I remember the first time I came across these timeless words of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs. It was during my seminary years. To be honest, I found them rather daunting. What will it be like, I thought, to be in a position of leadership one day and to have people looking to me for a vision?

Now, after serving as a pastor for a good number of years, I find the challenge to provide a vision no less daunting, but over the years I have come to understand something that I didn’t understand very well back in my years of training. It is this: vision can be a shared thing, and in the church it must be a shared thing. This was surely one of the great insights of the bishops of the Second Vatican Council. As they reflected on the church and on the meaning of the Sacrament of Baptism they pointed out time and again that the Holy Spirit’s many gifts are given to all the baptized, not just to those specially singled out for leadership of office in the church.

My own experience over the years has certainly validated this key teaching of the Second Vatican Council — in more ways than I could ever enumerate. Here at St. James I have always been blessed with faith-filled, committed, and wise parishioners and staff members who have helped me articulate a vision and carry it out. Our multi-faceted social outreach programs would never exist were it not for this shared vision, and our beautifully renovated cathedral is living testimony to the keen insight of more people than I could ever count — people whose love for the liturgy and for our Catholic heritage prompted them to dream great dreams and to make those dreams come true. These are but two examples. I could easily multiply them.

There are many ways a pastor can draw on the wisdom and experience of his parishioners in articulating a vision or setting a direction for a parish. Some are formal, others informal. For many years now, our Parish Finance Council has met for a couple of hours each month in order to advise me on all matters having to do with parish finances and administration. They are an extremely committed and gifted group of people who love this parish and help keep it running smoothly, and in the black!

Last spring, I brought together another group of advisors, broadly representative of the parish at large, to help me reflect on where we are as a parish and where we ought to be going. We are calling ourselves the Pastoral Vision Committee, for lack of a better name, and I can tell you that this is a pretty exciting and energizing group of people!

The Pastoral Vision Committee has been meeting since last summer and I think it won’t be too long before they are ready to advise me on a comprehensive set of goals for our parish for the next five years. Working on these goals has been an exhilarating experience and a very encouraging one, too. What a joy it is to listen to these people and to hear their hopes and dreams for our parish. In the near future when I am able to bring the product of their work to you, I feel certain you will share their enthusiasm.

In the meantime, may I ask for the support of your prayers? It is so important that whatever we do is the Lord’s work and not just a pooling of our own ideas. For the real vision without which the people perish is not the pastor’s vision and not even the vision of a wonderful group of people, but a grace and a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Father Michael G. Ryan
Cathedral Pastor

ST. JAMES CATHEDRAL PASTORAL VISION COMMITTEE: Rob Taylor-Manning, chair; Mary Bourguignon, Larry Brouse, Brooke Brown, Ernie Burgess, John Dolan, Sr. Anne Herkenrath, Ann Jackson, George Keck, Glenn Lux, Sandi Macdonald, Lita McBride, Cheryl Nance, Jackie O’Ryan, John Pinette, Dr. James Savage, Patrick White, and Father Ryan.

ST. JAMES PARISH FINANCE COUNCIL: Celeste McDonell, chair; Larry Brouse, Sandi Goddard, Sr. Anne Herkenrath, Glenn Lux, Joseph Olchefske, Rick Oldenburg, Dave Perozek, Joe Petrotta, Lloyd Wilhems, and Father Ryan.

Back To In Your Midst Page