Jesus Christ is Risen today! Alleluia!
Welcome to our celebration of the highest of our Christian holy days, Easter! Today and throughout the next six weeks of the Easter season, we will celebrate the central truth of our Catholic Christian faith:
that love is stronger than hate,
that peace is stronger than violence,
that goodness is stronger than evil
that life is stronger than death
Don’t we all need to be reminded of that truth of our faith? In the world and culture in which we live it often times seems like hatred is more powerful than love, that violence is more powerful than peace, that evil is more powerful than goodness and that death is more powerful than life. We believe that by his life, death and resurrection Jesus Christ overcame the powers of death and darkness and made the strong statement that life and love always, always win. All the more because of the culture and society in which we live today, it is good for us to recall but more importantly celebrate this important truth.
This year in our own archdiocese there is another reason why the true meaning of this holy day is timely. For the past four years, our archdiocese of Hartford has been engaged in the first of a two-part process of renewal incorporating broad consultation and professional planning.
Part One is the “restructuring” of our archdiocese, that is, the process of creating a structure for our Church and its ministry and mission that we can sustain. The old structure was based upon former demographics (where people lived) and former
resources (personnel, particularly priests, parishes and financial support). This former structure has been the norm since the close of World War II. The final “pastoral plan” will be announced in June and implemented in the following months. There will be no change in the structure of Sacred Heart Parish or its pastoral leadership in this plan. This process should have taken place 30+ years ago, but it is happening now so there is an even greater urgency to it.
Part Two will be the process of making our renewed archdiocesan and parish structure vibrant, vital and responsive to the call of the Gospel and the needs of the communities we serve. Some might see this as a “diminishment” of the Church, but I disagree specifically because of what we celebrate at Easter. For some good reasons ( deeper insights about Church life, ministry and teaching that arose out of Vatican II and its implementation over the last fifty years) and some not-so-good reasons (fewer people taking part in the sacramental and pastoral life of the Church, fewer priests) we need to make significant change. We humans do not do change easily or well so there may be some challenges for us in this process. However we believe that we can be a better, more vibrant, more Gospel-centered Church through making this two-part change now. The work of the Church is God’s work and God wants it to be successful. God’s power is always stronger than the powers that work to undermine God’s work. We have to stay focused on God, as Jesus reveals God. At Easter, we celebrate and proclaim the truth that God in Jesus did conquer the powers of hate, violence, evil and death. Jesus sent God’s Holy Spirit to accompany, guide and work of God’s people, the Church. I strongly believe that this process of restructuring and renewal will lead us to be a better Church in the spirit of Jesus.