Last Sunday after Mass a parishioner asked me, as an Irishman, what I thought of Queen Elizabeth and her dying. It is a great question with many layers. I responded by saying that after seventy years of being a leader she has certainly passed the test of time. She was a grace-filled woman who rose to every occasion of leadership challenge that was thrown her way and there was a lot thrown her way!. As a woman leader seventy years ago, she was the herald of dignity for women’s rights when there was little to none worldwide. She advocated consistently for the equality of women in leadership and called her own country to it time and time again. She held a deep faith in Jesus Christ as she led her country through massive changes in her society and she changed her life of privilege into a life of service to her people.
Besides all those amazing things about her personally, I was struck by how well she navigated the changes in culture and kept the institution of the monarchy relevant to her subjects throughout the world. Whereas most cultures had rejected the institution of monarchy as irrelevant and outdated, she managed to change the institution deftly and meet with challenges of the times. Institutions all over the world are losing relevance including the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.
We would do well as a Catholic Church to learn from her willingness to update our institutional ways and adjust to the signs of the times. Of course, the Catholic Church is more than a human institution but also a divine institution. There are many things we hold as eternal truths and cannot be adjusted to the times. But there are many elements of our Church that are outdated and sorely in need of reform. One of those is the role of women in the Church. In our modern era, it is high time that we give women equal access to leadership roles in the Church at every level of our institution.
I think the Global Synod has produced an opportunity for us as a Church to truly listen to the people from all over the world and make the necessary changes to our institution to stay relevant to our younger people. As Pope Francis said this week in Kazakhstan “Religion is not a problem, but part of the solution for a more harmonious life in society. We need religion, in order to respond to the thirst for world peace and the thirst for the infinite that dwells in the heart of each man and woman.” So yes, Queen Elizabeth was a great woman and great leader. We have much to learn from her and we have lots of room for reform in our institutional Church. We must change and respond to the times and stay relevant to all people for the sake of the whole world. In October and November, we will be holding listening sessions here at Saint Simon with our leadership councils followed by a survey for all Parishioners to hear what you have to say. The Synod listening sessions provide an opportunity for us to be present with one another, to listen and learn with each other, and to grow closer to the Lord and His Church.
This week, I am delighted to announce the hiring of new part-time staff to continue to expand our ministries. Clare D’Agostino joins us as Community Engagement Coordinator and will focus on building community through engagement of time, talent, and treasure. She will welcome those new to our parish and help people identify their gifts and enable and empower them to use them for the good of the community. Jurgen Krehnke joined us as Liturgy Technology Coordinator and will lead our Liturgy Tech team in serving our technology needs at the different liturgies in the areas of Audio and Visual (AV). There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at each Mass and event. Jurgen is working on streamlining and improving processes and training volunteers for our in-person and livestream services. It is wonderful to have them both join us and build on the great work we are doing here at Saint Simon Parish.
Finally, I would like to thank ALL those involved in the Parish BBQ last Saturday, many hands make light work and I so appreciate your help to make the event successful for our community. For those who attended, I think you’ll agree it was a wonderful evening of fellowship. I loved seeing everyone’s smiling faces and it was nice to cool off in the splash tank! I know I can’t thank everyone by name but I would like to acknowledge the coordinators – Angela Schauffler and Deanne Bligh, (Parish BBQ Co-Chairs), Carol Karer (Bar Coordinator), Jaime Chapin (Decor Coordinator), Tina Lipscomb (Student Council/Splash Tank Coordinator), Kalena Moreria (Youth Volunteer Coordinator for Turf Games), Mike Abbott (Photography), Jurgen Krehnke (Sound/Band Coordinator) and to John Angotti for performing and bringing out the talent in our Saint Simon community. If you are interested in becoming more involved in our Music Ministry or you are looking for other ways to help or becoming more involved in our community email here and we’ll direct you to the right person.