“Rebuilding, revitalizing the parishes is a mission that is far more urgent than ever” – as the book “Rebuilt”, written by Michael White and Tom Corcoran has been narrated in the foreword by Kálmán Nyéki, Editor of the Hungarian Edition. Kornél Fábry, Secretary General of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress even refers to it as a manual and the best toolkit for everyone yearning to renew, awaken and grow their own parish community.
The co-authors of the mentioned best-selling book are exceptional personalities, whose activity has already generated massive changes in the social climate of their North-Baltimore (Maryland, USA) parish. To start with, they creatively reached out to the lost, the disconnected faithful, and thus the worn-out pastoral ministry has been brought back to life. Then they moved forward, and step by step started to rebuild the entire parish life.
Prayers, community, discipleship – were the three main elements of the new strategy that had been communicated by Michael White and his lay associate, Tom Corcoran towards the unchurched Catholics. Along with their parishioners they showed a way forward from the point “Nothing can be done” up to the “Yes, with God everything is possible” recognition.
The Church of the Nativity pastors realized that everyone, with special focus on the ones neglecting the Mass attendance, should be invited to meet Jesus Christ. Jesus’ Gospel: “Go and make disciples of all nations” has been recognised as the most important message of their mission. The applied fresh and effective approach to people is based on Jesus’ accepting,
initiative, encouraging and loving behaviour.
Father White and Tom are of the belief that music means a key part of reaching out to people. “Music is the water the experience sails on which” – as the co-authors nicely voiced their view, explaining what a crucial issue music had formerly been in the parish life. Currently, besides the traditional organ music services, the Maryland parishioners are leading musical worship as well, this way spreading the Glad Tidings and leading the worshippers towards God.
Another key factor of their success is hidden in the team work, since a church is not for the priests only, but for everyone, where each of the participants have a variety of roles. Both Father White and Tom are well aware of the best ways to awaken people, to move them out of the pews and involve them into the daily work, sometimes just by delegating over a seemingly simple part-time duty. The community members of the Timonium, Maryland parish are eager to help, may it be either decorating, cleaning up the church, or organising events.
Thanks to the pastoral ministry done by Father White and Tom for almost twenty years, by now their Baltimore parish meets a tripled volume of Mass attendants, not to mention the significantly increased number of volunteers.
They also managed to quadruple their budget and constructed a community centre from their own sources only. They are backed by an enthusiastic and dedicated team, being fully devoted and committed to invite and help people on their path of discipleship.
The “Rebuilt” co-authors’ were talking honestly, and with lots of humour about the path of their parish revitalization. The book gives a large number of hands-on advice, as well as a guidance to the new style Evangelization and effective communication. It is an extremely useful reading, and may give a helping hand not only for practicing priests, but for everyone looking for successful community building.
The 320 hundred pages book was published in February 2013 by Ave Maria Press, and has sold over 80 000 copies so far. It has received a wide recognition from Catholic Church Leaders as well, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, whom we can also greet as a guest speaker of the Budapest International Eucharistic Congress to be held in the fall of 2021. “If you love your parish, read this book” – the New York Archbishop wrote in its introduction.
Conveying God’s love, mercy and justice -being of utmost importance in a pastor’s mission- is getting harder and harder for the human of our days. Nevertheless, this American model has grown into a real success story. A revitalized, vibrant environment has been created around the Timonium parish. The “Rebuilt” authors brought in a fresh breeze and have made the church matter in a society that has greatly marginalised the Church, and where people are far more receptive to negative news than to the Glad Tidings.
The model by which they have managed to transform their community into a vibrant parish is an encouraging source for many Catholic pastors who are ready to implement the “Rebuilt” philosophy into their daily service, so as to turn the Sunday Mass into a community festival.
“People are looking for experiences in the church” – says Tom Corcoran. “Should they find the Sunday church attendance boring, or get a bad impression, how can we expect them to be interested in our offers? We have to do our best here in the church.”
Source: nativitypastor.tv, Magyar Kurir, youtube,