Celebrating and Living the Eucharist

“To strengthen Holy Cross Parish as a true Eucharistic community” is the vision statement that opens our parish’s three-year pastoral plan. The pastoral priorities of the plan concerning the spiritual growth of the parish and outreach to active and inactive parishioners are ultimately meant to help us grow as a Eucharistic community of worship and service.

As I mentioned in last month’s post, our faith formation program began the year with Fr. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., director of campus ministry at Stonehill College, addressing the three meetings of our opening session for parents and children. He spoke of the meaning and significance of the Mass in our lives as Catholic Christians.

Fr Stephen Wilbricht, CSC

A couple of weeks ago, Fr. Steve Wilbricht, C.S.C., a professor of liturgy in Stonehill’s Religious Studies Department, offered a presentation for the parish on “Being a Eucharistic Community.” Last spring, Fr. Steve had led the pastoral team in an overnight retreat on this theme, and in September he had also led the pastoral council in an evening reflection on this topic.

At the parish presentation Fr. Steve emphasized the importance, the centrality, of Sunday Mass as the “source and summit” of our lives as Catholic Christians. Fr. Steve facilitated a spirited discussion among the parishioners in attendance about the role of the Eucharist in our lives and the challenges in helping people to appreciate its importance. He sent us forth with the reminder that all we do in our daily lives must be an extension of the Eucharist we celebrate every Sunday.
These presentations by Fr. Hugh and Fr. Steve are part of our parish’s effort to prepare our parishioners as fully as possible for the new Mass translations beginning in Advent. Since late September until the beginning of Advent, Fr. Larry and I are focusing our homilies on the various parts of the Mass, from the Introductory Rites, through Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, to the Concluding Rites. In addition, a parishioner gives a three-minute reflection at the end of Mass on the implications of the subject of the homily in the lives of everyday Catholics. My pastor’s columns in the bulletin focus on the actual prayer changes in the part of the Mass preached on that particular Sunday, and we also include in each bulletin a handout developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Mass.

Fr Jim Fenstermaker, CSC

We see the introduction of the new Mass translations as a wonderful opportunity to catechize our parishioners on the meaning and importance of the Sunday Eucharist in their lives and the life of Holy Cross Parish. Our hope is that, by the beginning of Advent, we will be a parish that is more fully celebrating and living the Eucharist.

Fr. Jim Fenstermaker, C.S.C., is Pastor of Holy Cross Parish in South Easton, Mass. He is a monthly contributor to the Spes Unica Blog, reflecting on the work of Holy Cross in parish ministry. Learn more about the work of Holy Cross priests and brothers in parochial ministry as we seek to bring hope to the Church and world.

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