The Word Among Us

June 2015 Issue

A Listening Church

A Letter from the Publisher

By: Joe Difato

A Listening Church: A Letter from the Publisher by Joe Difato

Week after week, both at Sunday Mass and on the weekdays, I have the privilege of hearing my pastor, Fr. Guy Noonan, preach the good news—and he has a knack for being long-winded!

Over the past two years, however,I have seen a shift in his preaching. He is still long-winded, but now it’s also as if he has become a press secretary for Pope Francis!

Of course I am kidding about the press secretary part. But I’m not kidding about the emphasis that Fr. Guy now places on the goals and hopes of our present pope. Every time the pope is in the news, we hear about it at Mass. We hear about it when he embraces a child with disabilities or makes a telephone call to someone who wrote him a letter. We hear about him bringing divided world leaders together and about his desire for us to be a poor Church serving the poor. We even hear about his Twitter account and the way he evangelizes through tweets!

A Humble, Listening Heart. I once heard a story about a married couple that goes like this: In their first year together, the husband spoke, while the wife listened. In their second year, the wife spoke, while the husband listened. In the third year, they both spoke, and neither listened.

This story illustrates one of Fr. Guy’s hot buttons. If he were to visit your parish, one of the first things he would talk about is how critical it is to listen to one another. That’s another reason why Fr. Guy is so impressed with Pope Francis. Take the Synod on the Family. As pope, Francis could have told the bishops to do what he wanted and to keep quiet about their disagreements. Yet he has repeatedly told them to “speak boldly and freely” and to “listen humbly.” He is not afraid of “making a mess,” or of having everyone else see that mess.

We are facing serious challenges in the Church today: declining Mass attendance, debates about same-sex marriage and divorce, and the role of women in the Church. Whenever divisive issues like these come up, Fr. Guy encourages us to follow Pope Francis’ example by encountering people as spiritual traveling companions, not as opponents whom we must correct. Whenever we disagree with someone, we should “accept and esteem them as companions, without interior resistance.”

For these reasons and more, I have asked Fr. Guy to write the main articles in this month’s issue. I have asked him to share his insights about Pope Francis and to tell us how his parish is taking up the pope’s call to go into the world, to listen, and to show the compassion of Christ. May we all follow our Holy Father’s example and become more like Jesus to everyone we meet.

Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]