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FATHER JAY MATTHEWS
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.”
Saint Theresa of Calcutta

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·      The Great Commission is a wonderful lens for appreciating the ministry of Father Jay.

 In what ways do you see your current ministry as a contemporary continuation of the Great Commission?

 When you imagine the challenges of the early apostles, disciples and followers of Christ preaching the Good News how might it inform the way you see your role as preacher in your community?

 ·       After 25 years of serving a small community Father Jay felt called to bring the Gospel alive for a large, diverse community at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California. Put yourself in his shoes…

 Think about a time when you had to use your platform as a preacher to build community.

 What was the situation?

 How did you use your homilies as a bridge to the challenges of building community?

 Are there ways you might integrate these learnings into your current preaching?

 ·       Father Jay observes, “We have four languages that are very prominent here in the cathedral. Tagalog, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English. So, I have to make sure that the message is going to be clear, the message is going to be spoken well, and pray that the message is impacting the life.”

 What challenges did you face in effectively reaching a diverse community?

 How did you navigate these challenges?

 ·       Father Jay shared the critical role of working with community organizations to tackle issues of social justice. He emphasized the importance of discerning creative ways of collaborating with people and agencies. By partnering with his parish community, a police sergeant, and the Oakland Police they closed 90 crack houses in 18 months.

 ACTION TO TAKE: Renew your commitment to build community partnerships.

 What partnerships have you established? Take a moment and list these partnerships. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is weak and 5 is very strong how would you rate the strength and effectiveness of these partnerships?

 Identify at least one new partnership that your community discerns it needs to cultivate.

 Select a collage of key scriptural stories and moments that illustrate the possibilities of how your community believes this partnership will contribute to bringing healing and hope to others.

 Plan a homily to introduce this partnership. Be sure to anchor it in stories that will animate the partnership in real, tactical, relevant, and authentic ways. Be sure to include a call to action for your listeners.

 ·       Father Mike inquiries how Father Jay encourages people in the idea of witnessing. Father Jay sums up his approach, “So, you have to be authentic with your faith, and you have got to be willing to share that in what you say and what you do each and every day.”

 Father Jay went on to explain that asking people to share their faith stories with one another is a central way to make everyone part of the ongoing Great Commission.

 How are you currently promoting people in your faith community as witnesses?

 ACTIONS TO TAKE:

 1.     Identify two or more upcoming opportunities to ask someone in your faith community to share their faith stories. One venue where this is likely already happening is in RCIA meetings. How might you expand that into other times?

2.     Develop simple guidelines for people sharing their faith stories.

3.     Consider other ways you might share these stories. For example, could there be a section on your website with these stories?

4.     Hold half day parish retreats to curate stories. Find ways to capture these stories at these events and then share them using a variety of communication vehicles.

 ·       Father Jay in his homily beautifully illustrates the Great Commission with by sharing stories about his special friendship with deceased Bishop Richard Garcia of the Monterey, Diocese:  

 “We were charged with promoting an awareness among our classmates of the missionary activity of the church and then to come up with ways to resource the missionary activity through the propagation of the faith. So, Rich and I were able to do that because of the awareness that we had of the scriptures and of our church traditions at that time.”

 This raises some good questions…

 When and how do you incorporate your personal stories of formation into your homilies?

 What might be some good rules of thumb? 

PRAYER

Gracious Father, Precious Lord, and Tireless Spirit of God please show us how to be missionary people. Please heighten our awareness of the richness of your grace operating in our lives. Grant us constant opportunities to be participate in your Great Commission. Help us to be willing to share the richness of your Living Law of Love with everyone we come into contact with. And where we are unable to serve as a witness in person or in deed, cultivate our hearts as temples of your prayer. Be pleased to send us forth to build your kingdom through actions and prayers that give glory to your Name. AMEN