I mentioned previously how there are some good things going on in the Diocese to talk about when it comes to breaking down barriers. Not all of our parishes have left the inner city to flee to the suburbs. We have at least five parishes in particular that have made conscious commitments to redefine their mission and work with the local community.
A couple of these parishes have been doing this work for five to 10+ years. They have made an intentional commitment to engage the community that they were previously alienated from, through works of kindness and mercy. This is not just about doling out food. It is an active attempt to get to know the neighbors where the church is. When this happened, the neighborhood began to embrace the church and no longer saw the church as an island disconnected from the community. This did come with a price. A few members ended up leaving the parish because of this change in focus. But attitudes can be changed when we embrace the Gospel and love those that God brings into our midst, irrespective of the color of their skin.
You are also aware of the ministries of FOCUS Minnesota, Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland (St. Herman’s House). They have taken the work of some of our parishes to another level, where the Outreach they do is aimed to provide care for the total person.
I would encourage families to get involved with a local FOCUS chapter if it is near where you live. If you are not close to any such ministries, then be a force (with the blessing of your priest) in your local parish to break barriers. Find organic ways you can involve yourselves in ministry to various people of color that is consistent with what the Church teaches. Just be aware, as this becomes more of a priority in the outreach of a parish, you might encounter resistance. As we get to know people for who they really are and not who we think they are, salvific changes can happen
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
The unworthy Archbishop Paul