By Bishop Gerald Barnes
We’ve heard about the so-called “silo mentality” in the business world – when different divisions or departments within an organization become hyper-focused on their day-to-day initiatives, to the exclusion of wider collaboration and pursuit of a shared vision.
If we’re being honest, our church world is susceptible to this, too. We’re almost set up for it, with so many different ministries, parishes and schools – all living unique realities that keep our plates full. A moment to stop and think about what’s going on at another level of our Church structure—be it the Diocese or the U.S. Conference of Bishops or even the Vatican—can get missed. There’s probably a reason the Catholic term “parochial” has made it into the popular lexicon as a way to describe something that is almost exclusively local.
On the other hand, the very name of our Church, “Catholic,” reminds us that we are actually a Universal community of brothers and sisters united in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. There are nearly two billion of us around the world, traveling the same road of faith and joining together in the building of God’s Kingdom. Jesus made this clear in Matthew’s Gospel with the Great Commission to his Apostles to go out and make disciples of all nations. Pope Francis continually reminds us that this is also our charge, to “go out” away from our comfort zone and share the Gospel with those who are suffering and in need, no matter where or who they are.
How does this challenge sound to you? Maybe a little tiring? A little uncertain? Let us be open to where God may be calling us because our faith becomes truly alive when we stretch ourselves and use the gifts He has given us to serve others.
If we remain in our local “silos” we miss so much that is available to us in the breadth and depth of our Church.
This year we are looking back and celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Diocese. This means perhaps learning about the regional history of the Church, beyond the rich history of our own parish. It is a blessed time for us to celebrate God’s many gifts to us these past four decades and to think about where we need to go in the future as a diocesan community.
The global reach our Church was felt last month when we received from the Holy Father a new Apostolic Exhortation Gaudette Et Exsultate (“Rejoice and Be Glad”). His message is at once Universal and Local. We are all part of the Universal Call to Holiness that was first outlined during the Second Vatican Council, he writes. Yet that holiness is unique to us and plays out in the daily details of our lives—how we treat our family, friends, co-workers and the poor. Where do we find God in our local neighborhood? Responding to His presence in the events of our day is answering the Universal Call to Holiness.
We are in the final weeks of the Easter Season, a time of rebirth and newness. From there we enter Pentecost, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s visiting of the disciples after Jesus’ ascension. You could argue that this was the moment the Church went global because the disciples “went out” on mission without fear or hesitation.
Let us follow their lead today, answering our unique call to Holiness in our daily lives while celebrating our place in the Universal Mission of the Roman Catholic Faith.
As we consider this call let us ask ourselves today—where will I begin?