Inviting Disciples to be Leaders

Celeste Mueller, D.Min. – Interim Parish Life Coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul parish in South St. Louis

“When we first saw the second draft models as part of All Things New, we began to envision how we could be a Catholic community that truly made All Things New. We are a Vincentian parish, and the Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians, already had its own Apostolic Planning process underway. The Vincentians believe strongly in the importance of collaboration between their priests, brothers and the laity, and All Things New presented an excellent opportunity to model collaborative leadership and draw more parishioners into leadership of our mission.

The mission given to us by St. Vincent DePaul is to ‘follow Christ evangelizing the poor.’ We have a variety of outreach ministries to persons in poverty and we were delighted to learn that St. Pius V parish, with whom we were partnered in the ATN model, also exercise a variety of ministries to those who are marginalized in our society. We began to imagine all the service we could provide as partners with St. Pius, and we started thinking of St. Pius and St. Vincent as one community—even if we remain two parishes—bringing a vibrant Catholic presence to so many more people in need in South St. Louis.

We began to learn about each other, praying and socializing together. One Sunday both communities worshipped at St. Pius and another Sunday we all celebrated at St. Vincent. St Vincent parishioners volunteered and were customers at the St. Pius ‘Fabulous Fish Fry’ during Lent, and volunteers from St. Pius served at St. Vincent’s Meals program and Lunch Window.

All Things New has created an impetus for us to reenergize core ministries at St. Vincent. Lay members are leading Commissions to listen deeply to our community in the areas of Liturgy, Faith Formation, Justice and Service and Community Life. The efforts have excited the imagination our parishioners who are convinced that revitalized ministries, lay leadership, collaboration in service with St. Pius, and a leadership team with a partnership between our new lay Parish Life Coordinator and new Pastor at the helm will attract more people to our community—Catholics who drifted away during COVID, inquirers and others who will become interested in our faith and our hope.

Recently representatives of both parishes met together as a united leadership team to consider how best to navigate the many dimensions of the transitions that will take place after Pentecost. For us, All Things New has not been about buildings, or fretting over being open or closed. It is about how we live into our call as disciples leading our share of the mission of the church. It is about being attentive to the voice of the Spirit, speaking in our times and in our midst. It is about cooperating with God’s vision for Christ’s invitation to become the Beloved Community.”

All Things New in an initiative that will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel and will identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies.

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