On Saturday, October 8th, St. Robert Parish will host an all-day retreat. It begins with Mass at 8:30AM followed by a light snack, and proceeds until 4:15PM. The CCW will provide lunch. It is an excellent opportunity for active members of our parish families (St. Robert and Good Shepherd) and school and parish staffs and volunteers to come together to reflect and grow so we can better accomplish the great mission we all share by virtue of our baptism and communal life.
In his 2012 pastoral letter, Bishop Boyea laid out a pastoral plan for all the parishes of our diocese. In the next two years, the people of the Diocese of Lansing (that is all of us!) will focus on inviting back the lost sheep—all those who have lapsed in their practice of the faith. Let me provide some data. From 2003-2013, Genesee County has experienced a -26% change in Mass attendance, which is far more than the -6% population change in the same period. This problem is made worse by our local demographics, which favor seniors more than young families. In the next twenty-plus years, losing our seniors may leave us with insufficient membership to sustain our local mission and ministry.
The largest growing religious group in America is the “nones,” those with no religious affiliation. Pew Research reports that just 27 percent of Millennials (born between 1982- 2004) say they attend religious services weekly. This is one example of why the retreat we are offering is critical for our mission as disciples of Christ. Will one session be enough? I doubt it, but it should give us a good step in the right direction. In so many ways, our parishes are welcoming and hospitable places, and yet there is much room for improvement. If we all get better at welcoming others in the name of Christ, sharing our faith, and inviting others to grow spiritually, we will touch the community in unprecedented ways. Please join me in embracing this mission more fully. –Fr. Gordon Reigle
Entertaining Angels is a unique, one-day hospitality training retreat aimed at helping us open the door to Jesus Christ. We will learn to create a culture of radical hospitality. The decision to stay or join our parish may be made in as little as the first three minutes a visitor spends on our campus…including time in the parking lot! It is vital that everyone experience our church and school as a warm, welcoming environment.
What is the training for? This retreat provides preparation for receiving others in the name of Jesus Christ. We will come away with a greater sense of confidence about sharing Christ with whomever we meet at our parish and school. We will be empowered with ‘what to say,’ even during brief interactions.
How will the day proceed? The retreat consists of four sessions and a break for lunch. At the end of the day, participants receive a commissioning and blessing, plus materials to take home.
The four topics covered are:
1. Called To Holiness: The day begins with a look at our unique call to live a life pleasing to the Lord. We will focus on our gifts of brokenness, perspective and surrender, considering how each one provides an opportunity for Christ to work through us. We will also look at the roots of hospitality in Scripture and Tradition, and discover how hospitality can be a beautiful and powerful fruit of our holiness.
2. Called To Share: We will focus on understanding and spreading the Gospel message, discussing the gifts of evangelism, Gospel sharing and prayer. Authentic hospitality is a reflection of Christ’s love shining through us. We will focus on ways to pray, and take time to practice praying for others.
3. Called To Serve: Christ came to earth to serve rather than be served. Here, we will learn to imitate Christ’s service by focusing on the gifts of joy, service and peace. Special attention will be given to resolving conflict, dealing hospitably with difficult people, and offering and accepting forgiveness.
4. Called To Build His Kingdom On Earth: The final segment is where we put all the pieces into practice. Participants will develop and practice skills for sharing the Gospel with those they meet. Using the gifts of connecting, comforting and mercy, we will practice interactions for use in person or on the phone. Please, mark your calendar and join us for an uplifting and inspiring day!