My brother Greg was in town last week and we had a nice visit – I went camping with him for a week in the wilderness, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. After spending a busy summer with families and youth from our parish involved in travel, the festival, special events and finally a week long Claretian meeting, it was nice to take a break for six days and return to an area up north that demands “boundaries.” Cell phones do not work, and there is no way anyone could reach us inside the Boundary Waters wilderness – once a person is in the woods, there is only the quiet of the woods, a few eagles to see, and an occasional beaver that swims by. This time, however, God sent five days of rain to force us to spend more time in the tent than we normally would and rest and read a book …although I fished in the rain anyway. The time away is a rich experience. I also know few of our parents can afford that kind of time, much less anyone needing to make a living these days, so I was grateful to be able to reflect and rest a bit. Sometimes, when there are boundaries on the regular business of life, you can reflect back on life and perhaps see things more clearly. (The Boundary Waters is also the place I bring our parish youth mentors and youth so they know some boundaries in their own lives.)
During the week, I thought about how fortunate is our parish to have so many great leaders and ministers – people who care about others, and genuinely reach out to care for them. It occurred to me there is no way anymore a pastor, much less any priest or religious missionary could serve so many people in need – our lay leadership is growing as a strong backbone to the parish of the future. More than ever, our lay leadership programs must be reaffirmed and continue to develop.
As our Parish Council meets over the next couple of months and our parish prepares for the Annual Parish Banquet on October 22nd and the Pastoral Assembly on November 4th, we will be reflecting on our parish leadership efforts. The reflections will include dialogue with parish leaders, and an evaluation of sorts so the future of our lay leadership continues to evolve and mature.
Thank you for your commitment to our church. I wish you could have been with me in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to experience what I felt. But if you can imagine such a place where you can rest and reflect, maybe you can take a moment to do just that! Your reflections and insights are an important part of the mission to care for others. May the Spirit of the wilderness be with you!
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF