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Parish Family

Aug 12

Written by:
8/12/2018 12:00 AM  RssIcon

We so often talk about a parish being a family; and I continue to be impressed and humbled by the way these two wonderful parish communities truly display a familial spirit on a day by day basis. In fact, it is something that I hear regularly from visiting priests: ‘These parishes truly do care for each other!’ It is a true blessing to help shepherd this familial approach and to constantly strive to enlighten and strengthen the bonds of love that exists both in each parish itself; as well as between the two parish communities and the larger Church community as well.

Perhaps I am thinking about this familial approach this weekend in particular because I am unfortunately away, but due to family obligations. I am in Chicago celebrating the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary of my God Parents (who also happen to be my Aunt and Uncle (my mother’s oldest brother.)

As I was preparing to head to Chicago to celebrate with them, I kept thinking about how we learn about who God the Father is; we learn how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ; and we understand what it means to have obligations to the parish; all from the families of origin in which we grew and first developed.

We understand the generous love of the Father because we have seen (hopefully!) the generous love of our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles displayed to us during our formative years. We learn what it means to be a brother or sister in Christ because we have living relationships with brothers, sisters, cousins and friends. The parish community becomes an extension of our family of origin, hopefully, as we see that give and take, the cares and concerns shared across generations and family bonds. God loves us so much, that He programmed the very nature and building blocks of society to help us understand Who He is and how He calls us to be in a living relationship with Himself.

Luckily, I was very blessed with a good family. On my mother’s side of the family, I knew my grandparents well; in fact, one of my first acts as a priest was to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary! My mother is one of six children in her family and I have over 20 first cousins via all of these families; and we would often vacation together when we were all young. My grandmother is still chugging along at nearly 97 years old and, in addition to the 23 grandchildren, she has nearly 60 great grandchildren and even a great-great grandchild, with another on the way! When we all get together, which is unfortunately all too rare, it is quite the gathering!

On my father’s side, the tree is much, much smaller, however. I knew two of my great grandmothers, one of whom was alive until I was in college! But dad only had two sisters and I only have two cousins on his side, who lived in Houston, Texas; so we did not see them as much; and dad always had a bit of strained relationship with his sisters, despite having a strong and working relationship with his parents.

I feel like this gives me both sides of the family dynamic to understand and appreciate. And it is certainly a recognition that no family is perfect; but we still learn how to grow in our relationship with God via these relationships. And when these relationships are flawed, as they all are in some way, we bring those flaws and weaknesses to God for His healing and grace and forgiveness.

May the God of all families bless and anoint your family as He also continues to strengthen our parish families as well!

In Jesus, the Son,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
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