Hope in the Lord – Symbolic beginnings: A parish-rooted Pastoral Center on Poplar Level

Kurtz-heroI am always looking for deeply symbolic beginnings.  We Catholics, more than most, appreciate symbols.  Not just the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and other sacraments, which bring about what they symbolize, but also those tangible images and articles like holy medals and rosaries that allow all the senses to come together in an experience that touches the soul. 

This is why I was so thrilled with the dedication of the new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center last Saturday on the campus of Holy Family Parish.  What made the symbolism even richer was that this occurred on the same day that we gathered for the semi-annual meeting of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Louisville (PCAL), which is a consultative body formed by the parish council chairs of the parishes of the Archdiocese. 

Here is how this all comes together. As I have sought a good way to explain to the modern ear what the Archdiocese or local Church is, I have found myself saying that we are 110 parishes in 24 counties — stretching from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border — helping one another.  It was no accident that in inaugurating the parish discernment process this year, I titled the pastoral letter guiding the process, “Your Parish: The Body of Christ Alive in Our Midst.”  Your parish and every parish are central to the life and health of the Archdiocese.

The new Pastoral Center came about for many reasons:  centrality to all of Jefferson County, accessibility from the 24 counties of the archdiocese, a facility that is both visible and able to welcome groups, an opportunity for archdiocesan staff to collaborate more effectively with one another and the list goes on. However, central to the decision was the integration of the archdiocesan pastoral center with parish life.  What better way to do this than to locate this new building on the campus of an active parish — Holy Family Parish —  in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation.

The fact that we held this blessing in the midst of PCAL adds and enriches this symbolic beginning. I often call PCAL a true gold mine.  Twice a year parish council chairpersons of the parishes of the Archdiocese are invited to gather for a daylong meeting on a Saturday. It includes prayer and updates from Dr. Brian Reynolds, our Chancellor, and me. Equally or even more importantly, it provides me with the opportunity to hear from parish leaders on very specific questions on the front burner — we call them critical questions — which allows for deep consultation. These topics range from efforts to call forth vocations to the priesthood to ways to promote ministries from liturgy to social outreach and the pastoral care of others.  Even the direction of the parish discernment process itself was heavily influenced by past dialogues with PCAL.  About 50 to 60 parish leaders attend, and about 1/3 of the participants are new to the process. 

Our new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center is meant to be deeply rooted in parish life and specifically in the parish life of the 110 parishes from the 24 counties that comprise the Archdiocese of Louisville. To add to the symbolism, the water I used to bless the new facility actually comes from three prominent rivers of the territory that we share:  the Ohio, the Cumberland and the Green. Incidentally, the logo of the Archdiocese that you see on the front page of The Record reflects that same symbolism of water and our Kentucky rivers with the cross of Christ prominent above the flowing waters of baptism in which we become members of the Body of Christ.

Each year during the Catholic Services Appeal, we have the opportunity to raise up the beautiful relationship between your parish and the Archdiocese.  It is a relationship of service and mutuality — one in which together we seek to be true to who we are:  the Body of Christ alive in the midst of this world. My hope is that our new center will serve to make present this bond. As new pastors are prepared to serve your parish, as liturgical and catechetical ministers are supported, as the ministries of Catholic Charities touch the lives of those most in need – may we grow together as the Body of Christ.

Over 60 years ago, Archbishop Floersh moved the Chancery to College Street.  Now we have a new location and a new name to reflect our present needs.  However, one point remains constant:  the Chancery was located on the grounds of the then-active Saint Mary Magdalen Parish. With this move to the Holy Family Parish campus, we continue and make more visible this parish-rooted reality.

I hope you will come to visit the new Pastoral Center. As you enter the lobby, you will see the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe greeting you.  As you continue into the lobby, the Franciscan Cross of Jesus Crucified awaits.  Soon an image of Saint Joseph, our archdiocesan patron, also will adorn the lobby. May Jesus, our Savior, and His mother, Mary, guide our pastoral efforts and may Saint Joseph, our patron, be our protector.

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