An Open Letter…

…to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish Community in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood and our partner in Renew My Church…Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC mission in the Village of Lemont…

Can we honestly say today that our Catholic and Lithuanian faith tradition are important to us? Without question we can say yes! This is very well evidenced by the the Christmas holiday that just passed and the celebration of the Epiphany and Baptism of Our Lord which we celebrate this week. The first priority was not the exchange of presents, but the reverence of the manager and the Birth of Jesus with Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds. We did this at our parish and mission. But there is a missing dynamic here as to how we did this…separately and not sharing the Christmas Plotkele with our brothers and sisters at the mission…we celebrated that most holiest of meal…Kūčios by ourselves. We have been in discussion ad finitum on the proper way to be a faith community according to the guidelines set forth in Renew My Church by Cardinal Cupich. This includes among other issues the proper management of our parish and mission in ministry, education and finances. For this we need only look at our neighboring parishes here on the Southwest side of Chicago…Saint Christina…Christ the King and Saint Barnabas. To start with, we are in need of permanent Deacons both at the parish and mission. We are in need of a full time music and choir director; religious education director; acolytes/lectors/Eucharistic Ministers. A full time business and development manager together with a youth minister. You ask, why can some neighboring parishes have this and we not…this is because we have not yet learned to share and support each other in Renew My Church. Our First Communion and Confirmation classes are separate … our parish and mission social events are separate…we do not share. We have a parish convent populated by two nuns that can be used for parish events and organization such as the Legion of Mary…Holy Name Society etc… A nun’s residence is a quarter a block away at the Saint Casimir Center; that includes a vacant chaplain’s residence. One of the nuns could easily become a religious education director at the parish coordinating with the mission. None of these issues are under discussion because of strict ethnic thinking that the parish is in decline…the mission is ours and we do not want any interference from Archdiocese of Chicago. A fear grounded in the idea that we have to conform to inclusion rather than exclusion…we must welcome all of our brothers and sisters as Christ did…this has to change or we will not survive. If you look at the average age of those that attend the liturgies…you will soon see that it is in the late 60’s. Only major solemnities are attended by the larger Lithuanian community. You may ask why…because we do reach out to the younger generations in offering a vibrant parish and mission with services that I have already described. If we do not soon look to these our brothers and sisters in faith…we shall find ourselves not a community that we could call our own.

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