Cast Your Nets On The Right Side!
As we begin a new Fiscal Year, April 2021 to March 2022, perhaps it is good to look back at what has happened to us last year in John de Britto Center. The pandemic has challenged and stretched us too on how to - organize the Liturgy given the protocols and restrictions, maintain the sense of community of the members without the usual activities or big celebrations, sustain the faith without easy access or reception of the Sacraments, continue the NEW EVANGELIZATION—of seeking the lost, those who have gone astray or become lukewarm in the faith, and continue to introduce Christ and the GOOD NEWS to those who do not know or have never heard of him.
Throw your nets out on the right side of the boat, and you will catch some.” Remember this famous Gospel narrative in John 21:1-8? It is one of the most poignant Resurrection scenes. The disciples continued to be in a Holy Week mood—depressed, nostalgic for the past, directionless even after Jesus has Risen. During Easter Season 2020, were we not like Peter and the disciples in our Ministries and Groups? During the first months we continued to “cast our nets” on the left side because that was what we were used to. Then, as the pandemic continued to challenge us, with reluctance and murmurs, others with abandon, we took risks to try new ways. What if we “throw our nets out on the right side of the boat? Will we catch something?”
The pandemic reduced drastically the number of those who could attend Sunday Mass, so we began a second Mass. The 12:00 noon Mass was livestreamed, making it accessible to many who could not go to church for one reason or other. The 4:30 p.m. Mass was led by the Youth Group, who were only too happy to have a time slot more convenient for them and take the responsibilities of organizing the Mass, including the singing.
The Altar Servers could not serve, but after some brief formation, several became confident lectors in the Family Mass. The English Choir, reduced to two members, had to go through audition and rigorous practice, but their voices filled the church as if there were many singing. The leaders of the Angels Group and the catechists of the English Sunday School created videos for children that were creative and fun! The monthly English Bulletin, which is for information, formation and evangelization, was published on the website, making it more accessible to more people everywhere. Those who already went back to their countries or have relocated became connected again to “St. Ignatius,” where they said they had their “conversion” and had good memories of the community’s support.
The Faith Formation and Faith Sharing Groups switched to Zoom to continue their sharing and discussions concerning the Sunday Readings, the challenges of the faith, discipleship and Church issues. Technology has now become a wonderful and powerful tool! The leader of the Praise and Worship switched to e-mails to animate the members and encourage solidarity with those in need of prayers. The yearly Advent and Christmas Retreats were placed on YouTube and stirred the hearts of many as if they were delivered face-to-face.
The traditional Christmas Party could not be held, to the disappointment of many, but in place of it, donations were collected and sent as gifts to members in need “to make their Christmas brighter.” There were no overflowing crowds during the Christmas Season Masses, no passing of the collection box, but the amount collected for Sri Lanka and the Philippines was overwhelming, given these hard times!
There was no New Year’s Party, but in our first Zoom meeting of 2021, participants shared that they had received many special blessings the past year—Good Health, Resilience, Mass, Mission, Marriage, Family, Emmanuel, Hope, etc.!
Pope Francis said, “We cannot remain stuck in nostalgia for the past or simply keep repeating the same old things. We need patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Homily, Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, February 2, 2021).
Last year, and even now, there are people who walk without strength and without hope to the English Center. Perhaps what is needed right now is not to have a lot of frenzied activities but “to be balm, warmth, kind presence, impulse of hope, comfort along the way, encouragement, provoking questions, and to be expert in “communion for one another” (F.I. GC XVIII).
s we begin the new fiscal year, savoring the joy and power of Christ’s Resurrection, let us, therefore, help one another recognize or point out to others, like the beloved disciple John to his fellow disciples, “It is the Lord!” The Risen Christ continues to accompany us and promised that he will be with us until the end of time!
by Sr. Flor Florece, F.I. (イエズス孝女会)