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Holy Family Cathedral » Rector » Rector’s Message: January 2015

Rector’s Message: January 2015

by V. Rev. Jovita Okonkwo

 

Fr Jovita Okonkwo OFFICIAL

HAPPY NEW YEAR OF GRACE!

Happy New Year to all members of Holy Family Cathedral Parish and School! As we begin this New Year, I invite all our parishioners, both those living in Tulsa and outside town and even outside the state of Oklahoma to join me in thanking God for the gift of a new year. To live out the Church’s year of grace is an invitation to understand that we exist in God’s time and should devote our temporality to God. Through her liturgy the Church makes present the saving events of the Lord, his passion, death and resurrection.

 

THE LITURGICAL YEAR AND LIFE OF THE BELIEVER

The Church’s New Year (B) started on November 30, 2014. The liturgical year appears to upend, for us, the temporal year which begins on the first of January every year. Significantly, the Church does not celebrate the beginning of the temporal year. The first day of the temporal year, January 1, is celebrated as the octave of Christmas and the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Yet, the liturgical year is calculated and dated using the Gregorian calendar on which the temporal year is based. Hence, we see a fusion of both temporal and liturgical year in the life of the believer. The liturgical year is primarily a way in which a believing catholic can sacralize the year, the month, the week, and the day. A perfect example of this is found in the Liturgy of the Hours celebrated by the Church and recited during the course of the day. It provides, according to Cardinal Tabera, an opportunity to keep the command of the Lord to pray without ceasing and dedicate every hour of the day to the creator and redeemer of time. It goes without saying that, “hour by hour, fresh lips are making his wondrous doings heard on high” (J. Ellerton).

 

MY STEWARDSHIP

While we have entered a new temporal year (2015), my thoughts are still drawn to the beginning of the liturgical year on November 30, 2014. It was the day I began my stewardship as the spiritual guide for Holy Family Cathedral Parish and School. I have spent the entire busy month of December transitioning into this new role. I did not envision how much change it would bring to my life. I remain grateful to God for the gift of the priesthood and the privilege to serve in this capacity as rector of the cathedral.

 

VISION AND MISSION

I stated in the last newsletter my vision for Holy Family Cathedral Parish and School. The rector of the cathedral is a servant under the bishop who is the pastor of the cathedral. My desire is that, under the leadership of Bishop Slattery, we may grow to be more intentional about our Catholic faith. I will briefly state what I mean by Intentional Catholicism.

You may be shocked by the statistics from research studies which show that:

  • Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing
  • 10 percent of all adults in America are ex-Catholics
  • Only 60 percent of people who identify themselves as Catholic believe in a personal God, and
  • Only 5 percent of Catholics report that they have a personal relationship with God

 

A few years ago, I asked two members of one of the Church’s councils in a friendly conversation to describe to me their relationship with God. It sounded to them like a challenging question in trigonometry. One of them honestly told me that he had never for once thought about that question and would not consider himself as one who has any relationship with God that he knew of. What prompted my questioning was the report of Sherry Weddell who posed a similar question and learned that many of the people who attend Mass weekly have the same spiritual reality. They do not have a conscious relationship with God. Their parish involvement is devoid of spiritual motivation. They do not have a prayer life. They have only a Second Grade understanding of Catholic doctrines. Their lives are not guided by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many have not read a single spiritual book for the entirety of their adult life. Their only contact with spiritual materials is at Mass and, even with that, they do not understand how Mass is a sacrifice. They receive communion weekly but do not discern the presence of the Lord in Holy Communion (I Cor 10:16). The list can go on and on.

 

ARE YOU INTENTIONALLY CATHOLIC?

Now, I turn to you, my fellow parishioners, and ask: Is this your spiritual reality? Are you able to articulate in a few words your relationship with Christ? I am not asking the familiar Christian fundamentalists’ question “whether you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.” My question is rather: “Is your practice of the faith a conscious act? Intentional Catholics are those whose practice of the faith stem from a conscious personal relationship with God and a desire to become ever closer to him in order to reap the full benefits of the Church’s doctrinal teachings and sacramental life. Are you one?

 

PASTORAL INITIATIVE

Pastoral service is a gift from Christ who is the Good Shepherd and who calls us to lay down our lives for the sake of his people (I John 3:16). This is a courageous task that priests undertake. I ask you to join me in a five- pronged pastoral approach to reach intentionality which includes liturgical and spiritual renewal, education/ catechesis, communication, program and stewardship. I have invited the five deacons of our parish to discuss this approach and with their help we can start creating the awareness. I know that several parishioners are already on this path, yet we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

May Mother Mary school us in the knowledge and love of her son as we seek ongoing renewal of our Christian commitment!

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