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On Belonging

Cheridan Sanders

September 7, 2014
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Cheridan Sanders interviews a young parishioner at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago, IL.
Why don’t more people attend mass regularly? It’s something I ponder whenever I find myself surrounded by empty pews. Interestingly, the answer came to me when S+L camerman Dave LeRoss, producer Sebastian Gomes, and I were in Chicago filming at the Franciscans of the Eucharist Mission of Our Lady of the Angels*. There I spoke with a young parishioner who dropped by to hang out while we were filming. We got to talking and he was so engaging that I decided to interview him. Kenny said he loved hanging out with the Sisters and participating in various parish activities. His genuine enthusiasm for parish life intrigued me, and it prompted me to ask why. He replied that “they [Kenny and the Sisters] both enjoyed “keeping a low profile” and then very matter-of-fact added: “... I belong here."
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Sr. Alicia chats with Kenny in the garden outside rectory of The Mission of Our Lady to the Angels
I chuckle at the thought of the Sisters "keeping a low profile", but the last part about belonging has made a deep impression on me. How many of us can say the same? Do we have this deep sense of assurance and confidence that we belong to our parish community? Hopefully this is the case. But I suspect for many, perhaps the majority of those who do not attend mass regularly, the truth is that they don't they feel that they belong. Kenny’s confident reply is something I hope will be the true for all Catholics one day. Given the transience of life these days, I think more and more people are searching for genuine long-lasting human relationships. The task then, in the New Evangelization is to take bold steps to foster community life. And in episode nine: The Economy we feature an amazing parish in Hoboken, New Jersey that did just that. Together, priests and laity share how they got re-focused on creating a genuine encounter with Christ, and how that in turn blossomed into a vibrant community of believers.
*we feature The Mission of Lady of the Angels in episode 12: The Environment