Dear Members of the Newman Community,

In my homilies over the past two weekends, I took a few moments to reflect on what things might have been like for the disciples as they said farewell to our Resurrected Lord and received his Great Commission to go forth into the world. Rather than starting up at the Carolina Blue sky, Jesus invited, encouraged, and even challenged his disciples to take their next faithful step in obedience to his missionary mandate: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In these verses, we are reminded about how the risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel always, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth.

We also are called and challenged to take up this same commission. Just as the disciples may have wondered, “What do we do now?” after the Ascension, so also do we ask the same question. We have spent nearly a year together now – coming to know one another, in prayer, worship, and ministry, all the while discovering even more what it means to be a disciple and friend of Jesus. On this Solemnity of Pentecost, when the Lord Jesus again gives his Holy Spirit to the Church – and to each of us – my invitation is for us, individually and collectively as a community, is for us to take up this very question: What is the next faithful step that God is calling our Newman Community to take?

Empowered by the Spirit as a community of disciples, we look to the future in which Jesus has entrusted us with the work of evangelization, ministry, service, and worship in his name. As Christians, we are called to “do what Jesus would do” in our community, at our University, and in Chapel Hill. Discerning our next faithful step will take our energy, our love, our good will, and our effort. Said another way, it is time for us to undertake a strategic planning process to discover God’s future for Newman. And as Pope Francis reminded us in his encyclical letter on the Joy of the Gospel, each of us must try a little harder to take the first step and become involved in this process.

Over the coming weeks, I will be assembling a team of community members to form our Vision Discernment Team. Representative of our entire community – parishioners, students, alumni, parents, and friends – this team will be charged with helping us journey through the visioning and planning process over the coming year.

On this great anniversary of the founding of the Church, I invite you to consider whether God might be calling you to serve on the team or to help in some other way with the strategic planning process. I invite you to volunteer your own name, and I encourage you to nominate others who you believe could contribute their time, talent, and ideas to help us discover a vision through the process of examining our community’s purpose in light of our identity, our internal needs, strengths, and resources, and our place within the Carolina and Chapel Hill community.

Should you feel called to serve, or should you discern the nomination of other community members to serve, please send names to me via email no later than June 15.  

In advance, many thanks for taking up this request. Discerning a vision and discovering God’s future for us is an exciting, enlivening, and empowering process. Together, let’s see how the Lord will renew us, help us bear even more fruit, and call us to rebuild the Church.

Fr. Justin