We are excited to share with you the information and resources for Holy Family’s Rebuilt Book Club, which begins on Monday 21st 2019 and concludes on Tuesday 26th February 2019.
Around 350 people from our parish have chosen to come together, and taking inspiration from Rebuilt – A Story of a Catholic Parish in Timonium, Maryland – we will discuss, reflect and take action for our own parish renewal here at Holy Family. If you are unable to join us in person, but would like to follow along, please see the instructions at the bottom of this page on how to access and use the resources.
By maintaining a strong focus on the mission Jesus gave us to love God, love others and make disciples, we can grow deeper in our faith, strengthen our community, and be the disciples we are all called to be.
No matter who you are, or where you are in life and in faith – you can be a part of the amazing journey to grow our parish, reach out to those beyond our congregation, and make church matter. Our aim is for every person who attends our book club, or follows us online, to find practical, relevant and powerful ways to joyfully live their faith, and to feel empowered to do so in these very busy and complicated times.
Fr. László Nagy – Pastor
If you do not have a copy of "Rebuilt", you can order it from Amazon in paperback, on Kindle, or as an audiobook, by clicking on the link below:
To Follow The Book Club Online Only:
• Download the “online participant guides” below (a new one will be added each week) and follow the instructions.
• When you’re ready – watch the video (at the bottom of this page – a new one will be added each week), then continue working through the online participant guide).
• Send us your thoughts, questions and feedback!
“In Person” Book Club Resources:
Use these only if you are attending the book club at Holy Family, but need to access the resources.
What is the Rebuilt Book Club all about?
- Week 1: Do We Know Our Why?
- Week 2: Do We Put Our Faith and Trust In God?
- Week 3: Can We Change Our Church Culture?
Do We Know Our Why?
You may wonder why Holy Family is doing this “Book Club”.
There is increasing awareness within the wider church about the disconnect of people from the church. Even here at Holy Family we see this. We hear from people who are concerned for the church, who are concerned for their family members and friends who no longer participate in their faith, or even rely on their faith in their life. We also hear from people who are struggling themselves with feeling connected with the church and their faith. You may have heard Fr. László or Fr. Matthew ask us the question, “Why do you come to church?”. Well, why?
While the Book Club study of “Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Church” is about engaging more parishioners in the process of looking at our church and how to create a stronger and even more vibrant community, it really is more about helping us all individually and collectively find our way in our mission.
In his message on the new Rebuilt page on our website, Fr. László speaks of this very deep purpose:
“By maintaining a strong focus on the mission Jesus gave us to love God, love others and make disciples, we can grow deeper in our faith, strengthen our community, and be the disciples we are all called to be. No matter who you are, or where you are in life and in faith – you can be a part of the amazing journey to grow our parish, reach out to those beyond our congregation, and make church matter. Our aim is for every person who attends our book club, or follows us online, to find practical, relevant and powerful ways to joyfully live their faith, and to feel empowered to do so in these very busy and complicated times.”
In the first week of our Book Club, about 300 people came together in the 4 different sessions to watch a video of Fr. Michael (one of the authors of “Rebuilt”), participate in small group discussions and consider their own “call to action” for faith. It is important to realize that our mission is biblical, and each of the videos from Fr. Michael is also biblical – they are his homilies to his parish based on the Gospel and connecting the Word of God to the life and times of his people. In the first video, he speaks about the temptation of Jesus by the devil (Luke 4: 1-12). Each time, Jesus responds with scripture and resists the temptation. Fr. Michael talks about this being the temptation to short cuts, about avoiding the hard work. The temptation to Jesus was to forget about the cross, but he couldn't forget about the cross because that is why he came, it is his "why"! What is our why?
Are we being distracted from our true purpose by things which are out of alignment or even in direct contradiction to our mission? Are we seeking the safe, comfortable satisfaction that comes from maintaining the status quo? Are we being tempted to spend our time on things which seem easier or more rewarding than what we should really be doing as followers of Christ?
In the first book club sessions, the thoughts of our participants were very clear: many share concerns about family members and friends who are no longer active in their faith; many are seeking to grow closer to God themselves; so many want to discern how they can help support bringing others back into relationship with God and their faith.
You also heard in Fr. László’s homily on Sunday that our church exists in a consumer culture that is contrary to our mission, and which has particularly pushed away our young people. Trying to respond to these concerns is what makes church matter, when it means enough personally to each person that they engage in conversation about it and then take action because they do see it as their mission. They know that church is not just a building we go to, but “church” is the body of Jesus on earth, and we ARE the many parts of that body called to continue His work for the sake of those we love and a whole and healthy world. Please join us in our mission!
Mary Kay Boase
Director of New Evangelization
Do We Put Our Faith and Trust In God?
Do you remember the story of Abraham?
In Genesis 15, as he and his wife are aging, he despairs that he has no heir. God has taken Abraham out of his own country, promised him and his people a new land, and he has promised him a son. Time and again, Abraham and Sarah face struggles, challenges, and doubts about what God has asked them to do. Then the bible passage tells us that the Lord takes Abraham outside to count the stars in the sky and says that his descendants will outnumber the stars! What we do not realize until later in the story is that when he does this, it is actually during the day, and so Abraham cannot see the stars… The point is that though he cannot see them, Abraham knows they are there, and that he cannot count them all. And so, he is reminded that his trust and faith in God needs to be like this, even though he cannot see God or His plans for him, and he has been waiting a long time, his relationship with God tells him to trust in Him.
Is there something in your life that you have been waiting for? Something that you have been praying for and have not yet felt any response? In our world, in this society, in this time, we are all very used to finding instant solutions to any problems and finding ways to make difficult situations go away. Think of that pain in your back – go to the chiropractor. Think of that new couch you want but can’t really afford – put it on credit. Think of the person you can’t face but really want to tell them something – text or email. We find a way to ease our discomfort, to keep things comfortable and easy in our life. And at times, we put the expectation of this type of quick “consumer exchange” on our prayers to God. We ask, and expect Him to provide, now.
During the second week of our Rebuilt Book Club sessions, the participants were invited to reflect on the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how they not only needed to have faith and trust in God, but they also needed to fulfill their calling and take action to do all they could to follow His plan. We realize that sometimes we have to wait for God’s response to our need, and that in the waiting there is also some purpose. It might be for us to continue our growth, or preparation for the next step, it might be that there is another path that God will show us which is actually better for us. Abraham and Sarah’s story is a whole journey of faith, from having a little faith, to growing and trusting in faith. And having faith means acknowledging that we do have issues or problems in our lives, and reaching out for God’s help, and then acting in faith as if God’s word is true. Showing that we do believe He is with us, loves us, and He has a purpose for us and will guide us in our life.
Living in faith, and truly growing in faith can be a challenge. We may wish and pray that people in our lives would come back to the church, or reconnect with their faith, and not realize that we can play a part in that. Thinking about actually doing something can really push us out of our comfort zone. According to the mission that Jesus left his church, we are his missionaries, and it is through our example of joyfully living our faith, that we will encourage and invite others. When we consider these people, we love who are not engaged in their faith or church, we can identify many. People at the book club shared that we could be reaching out to our families, our friends, neighbours, and co-workers. They also felt that there are groups who we should be giving special attention to support them in faith: parents of children in our Catholic schools, young adults, young families, people who are separated or divorced, employees in our Catholic schools, people who have fallen away from the church and those who may even come to church sometimes, but who are indifferent.
When we consider how we might possibly be able to have any part in inviting someone else to come to church, or to engage in their faith, it may make us very uncomfortable. It may seem that we do not have the right words, or knowledge, or even the right heart to be extending that invitation. But if we are strong in our own faith, and feel its power and joy in our lives, and if we have faith and trust in God, then we can step forward to welcome others and speak from our own experience of how God has worked in our lives. Please consider the words of our Mission Prayer and keep it in your prayers as you consider what your role in God’s mission for the church might be.
Mary Kay Boase
Director of New Evangelization
Can We Change Our Church Culture?
The mission Jesus gave the apostles was to “go and make disciples” at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. If we believe the Bible, if we believe the teaching of Jesus, then this message is for everyone. Being a disciple of Christ means that we not only live our lives according to His teaching, but also in a way that shows others what it means to be a Christian.
Do we have a culture of discipleship here at Holy Family? On the one hand we would have to say no, not yet, but on the other hand, we are moving in that direction, and it is possibly a continuous, never-ending journey. So when we speak about changing our culture, it is motivated by our deep conviction and belief that we are called to align our life in faith both personally and as a community with the mission Jesus gave us. To fully commit to this, sometimes it requires hard choices and challenging responses from us.
Do we hold onto what we feel we are fairly entitled to? Or do we hear this mission and consider it as a personal call to embrace our responsibility to be part of God’s work here on earth – now at this time, at Holy Family in Whitby? Essentially, this is a question of whether we are a bystander or a member of the life of faith in the church.
In the third segment of our Rebuilt book club, the video of Fr. Michael White’s homily (easily available on our website to watch) focused on this very question. He related the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The crowd listening is made up of two groups of people, the Pharisees who would consider themselves the righteous, religious members, and the gentiles who have come to hear what this Jesus is teaching about, perhaps considered the bystanders. We all know the story, but perhaps not in the way that Fr. Michael tells it, explaining the context and the perspectives of these two audiences. It makes a difference, a very significant difference.
The religious think not only that the behaviour of the prodigal son is scandalous, but also that Jesus telling this story is scandalous, and that the father should not have welcomed the son back. The gentiles…relate and feel like they ARE the prodigal son. And so the response of the father to be welcoming, loving and to actually celebrate the return of the son warms their hearts so that they want more of what this man is teaching. But this parable Jesus tells goes even further in the call to action of the “righteous, religious” people. This comes out in the indignation of the older son who has been a faithful and true son to his father. He questions why his father welcomes his brother back, but he challenges why he would go so far as to have an elaborate celebration of his return. Understanding the desire of the father, and of our Father in heaven, of just wanting all of his children to come home can help us understand the mission. But even more, it helps us understand the final piece of this parable, that it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help welcome, invite and bring others back to God.
There are many reasons that people are not engaged in faith, or not coming to church, we all know someone and their explanations. And they very likely do not consider themselves “lost” but have very clear and defined arguments for not participating. The people attending our book club sessions discussed many of these: giving up the time to come to church; the schedules of weekend family, children and sports activities; not feeling the church has any relevance or anything to offer them in their lives; past negative experiences with a church community or even specific people; disputes with the structure and teaching of the church; the hypocrisy of scandals in the church; a feeling of personal “spirituality” that they feel doesn’t require them to come to celebrate Mass. There are many more.
Through the small table discussions, our participants also generated many ideas and insights into specific ways we can focus our efforts to engage particularly young families, the youth and children. And all of the suggestions were founded on a personal relationship and understanding of these people and what would genuinely encourage them to come to church. And in sharing their reflections of people they know personally who are “away from the church”, it inspired a personal awareness and call to action about what each person can do to be part of the mission of Jesus to make disciples. The remarkable thing we are learning is that in taking this responsibility and reaching out to others in faith, we become disciples. This is not easy work, it is hard, and it is not just about a change of culture in the church, it is about life changes for each of us. And that is the challenge. Can we support each other in becoming disciples, followers of Christ, who not only welcome the person we know and love who has wandered away, but like Jesus, can we embrace and love the person we don’t even know…yet?
Mary Kay Boase
Director of New Evangelization