The Future



Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


Here at Saint Mary’s, we’re getting ready for a bright future together.  Under the patronage of our Blessed Mother, with Christ as our guiding light, the Holy Spirit as our constant companion, and the open arms of our Heavenly Father ahead of us, it’s “ready, set, go”!

With what is likely the most clearly defined history of any parish in the diocese, we know exactly where we’ve been.   But, still filled with the zeal of our founding members, we could never be satisfied with just living in the past, or with wandering aimlessly through the present.  Instead, we must now discern where we need to go, and how we intend to get there.  And we’ll do this together, as a parish.

Our Lord feeds us His truths in the Bible, and His grace in the Sacraments.  Indeed, we are very well fed, thanks to His generosity.  This generosity forms us into a generous community, eager to invite the hungry souls of Oak Ridge to feast upon Our Lord’s truths and sacraments.  And when those hungering for what He has to offer show up at the doors of our parish home, we want to welcome them eagerly, without judgment or gossip, just desire to create a place for them here in our church, our school and our hearts.

So, let us discern how we’re going to invite, and how we’re going to welcome, thus securing a bright future for our parish.  I have a plan for this discernment.  First, we will enter into a period of prayer, during which time I’ll ask every member of the parish, young and old, sinner and saint, to pray for guidance.  Then, we will conduct open discussions on how best to invite our hungry neighbors to feast upon the Lord’s riches here at Saint Mary’s.  Finally, the Parish Pastoral Council will examine the fruits of these discussions in order to create a practical course of action for us.

But that’s just phase one.  It’s not enough to invite; we must also welcome, with all our hearts and with all our resources.   From the moment our hungry visitors arrive, to the moment they depart, we must be sure to offer them the fullest measure of hospitality.  This is Saint Mary’s, where we settle for nothing less than the best for them.  Therefore, phase two will begin with its own period of prayer, followed by open discussions on creating a welcoming environment, one that is accessible, personable, cheerful and attentive.  Then, the Council will guide us to a course of action.

My brothers and sisters, Christ has, over the decades, made us a well-fed community of faith.  Let us now look to the future as we discern together how to be the most inviting and welcoming parish that we can possibly become.  There’s room at the table for everyone.  No contentions, no rivalries, no foot-dragging, no excuses; just hope for the future and zeal for souls.  “Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb”: we will call, they will come, and we will grow.  Invite+welcome=GROW!


In Christ,


Father Shelton


Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2015