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Fr. Rick Walsh, CSP
February 23, 2023

I’m coming up on my 9th month of ministry here at the PaulistCenter since returning from my New York City adventure.
I am so grateful for the opportunity given to me by Paulist President, Fr. Rene Constanza to be with you again.
And as I have been growing or gestating spiritually these past eight months, I thought I’d like to share what are three hopes I have for our Paulist Center Community in the months and years that lie ahead. These three hopes pertain to the mission of the Paulists that focus on ecumenism, reconciliation and evangelization. I’d like to begin by sharing with you a meaningful self-description of the Paulists that was heard years ago: “A Paulist is a priest who serves His God by serving those outside the Church.” This description has long been applicable to our local Paulist foundation here on Park Street. While the Catholic Church has changed and adjusted itself over the many years since the Second Vatican Council, the Paulist Center has evolved as well and both, I’m sure, will continue to do so with an open-minded, open-hearted stance toward the Holy Spirit.

As a Paulist foundation we are called to seek out those who have never really known Christ and His teachings.
Primarily we need to pay attention to ourselves and our spiritual enrichment. We need to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Christ, with the larger Body of Christ – the Church, and with one another.  If we are not attentive to our individual and shared life of prayer, we will not be able to bring others to Christ.  We can recover and extract those gems of our Catholic faith and share them with all those we meet as we go about our daily lives. As Fr. Isaac Hecker once wrote of the Paulists: “Our power will be in presenting the same old truths, in new forms, fresh new tone and air and spirit.”

And so one hope I have is for us to maintain unity with the institutional Church while displaying and offering a unique approach to Catholicism that might be attractive to the many “Nones” and/or otherwise disinterested or apathetic persons living in the greater Boston area.

As a Paulist faith community, we are called to seek common ground with those who identify as Christian but who perch themselves on a different branch of our large family tree. Similarly, we engage with those of other religious traditions.

So another hope is that we will find more opportunities to labor in the vineyard together, to pray together and to offer classes on Church history, ecumenism and other faith traditions.

In our workplaces, shopping, and neighborhoods, we encounter and offer a listening ear and compassionate heart to those who have “retired” from their Catholic faith and who could benefit from a well-deserved and sincere apology.

Hope number three then is that we will invite people to the Paulist Center where folks can experience healing and reconciliation with the Church as it is expressed by our community.

When I think of each of these mission directives, I can’t help but have an image of a bridge. Ours is a bridge-building and bridge-maintaining and bridge-repairing ministry. And with this vocation as Paulist Center Catholics, we will have to accept the fact that there will be tension as bridges inherently use tension to stay standing over deep canyons and sometimes turbulent waters.
I will share more in the weeks and months to come.
Fr. Rick