Thomas Cronin
Thomas Cronin
Meeting and collaborating with parish leaders and parishioners brings me great joy. It is such a blessing to be out in the vineyard of our Diocese discussing our faith, our Church and the struggles and successes of our parishes. These conversations unite us in our love for God and in the commonalities, both good and bad, that we all share.

A concept discussed during recent parish visits revolved around developing and nurturing a “courageous culture” at our parishes. This idea will challenge all of us to get out of our comfort zones and if implemented, even just a little bit, can have a major impact at a parish.

It starts with first impressions. A warm, inviting and friendly parish is essential to having people feel part of the parish family whether they just stepped foot inside our church for the first time or have been long-time active parishioners. Do we graciously and lovingly welcome everyone into our Church family or only those we know or those that look like us? It’s easy to be preferential, but to live the Gospel is to love our neighbor like ourselves. A very dear friend and deacon in our Diocese always told his congregation, “we don’t check your ID at the door; come worship with us.” Our mission is to share God’s unconditional love with everyone we encounter.

During my travels, I ask parishes to assess their parish experience. Courage is needed to make an objective assessment rather than viewing our parish culture through rose-colored glasses. After the assessment, we must ask if we have the courage to implement change in an effort to best fulfill our mission. Change is viewed as unpopular by most, but it is necessary especially in these times. In my opinion, many people have become indifferent to religion and as modern-day disciples, we must not be afraid to share our love for Christ. I pray that more people come to personally know Christ and realize how much His presence matters to their overall well-being.

Courageous cultures energize people and foster innovation. If your parish culture is tired or complacent then bold action must be taken. I realize that the concept of developing a courageous culture is easier said than done. It will take much prayer, grace and coordination with each other and the Holy Spirit to make it happen. I believe a starting point is the ability to identify opportunities where we can make a difference. Every single interaction matters and offers us the chance to be the face of Christ to someone in need.

A courageous culture will help ignite the faith of our active parishioners, which in turn will be contagious to those on the periphery. When we lead with faith, hope and love we become more courageous in everything that we do.

Please contact me with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at Thomas.Cronin@rcda.org or by visiting https://www.rcda.org/evangelization. Follow me on Instagram: tom_rcda