Our Gospel this weekend is taken from the very first lines of the Gospel of Luke and we hear that it ’s with the power of the Spirit that Jesus enters into the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth. As Fr Paul and I begin our time with you in your hometown we ask that this same Holy Spirit might accompany us in our time with you. As an article I was reading recently reminded me – no program of renewal in the Church, no pastoral plan, no parish initiative has ever been effective without it having been ‘born’ of the Holy Spirit. I have already met with a representative group of parishioners who are preparing to take initiatives this year to ensure that each of the communities which make up our parish has a focus on mission. They asked me for my vision for this parish. I told them, and I would like to share with you, an initial set of four guiding principles which I am confident will keep our parish ‘ever new’.
Firstly, that we do Sundays well. If we celebrate the Holy Eucharist with care and reverence then surely we will have hearts open to the grace of God.
Secondly, that we have a sense of shared leadership. Whilst I take my responsibilities as the parish priest seriously, I hope that each person in our parish will have an understanding that they too are responsible for the spread of the Gospel here in North Canterbury.
Thirdly, that each one of us accept the call to be maturing spiritually. Unless we are personally growing in the spiritual life it ’s hard to see how our faith is a life -giving part of who we are.
And finally, that our parish might have an outward mission focus. That St Peter Chanel parish reflect its patronal title and not only be a place of spiritual refuge for its members, but also an environment from which the Gospel is shared with those who do not know Jesus or his Church.
Jesus claims to have been anointed with the Holy Spirit in our Gospel this weekend. Each one of us was similarly anointed at our baptism. Let ’s trust in the presence of the Holy Spirit as we begin our time together.