From Bishop David Rice
Last week, I gathered with colleagues at St. Paul’s, Modesto, for Northern Deanery Clericus (definition of Clericus: clergyperson, priest, cleric, clerk). Typically, clericus gatherings occur every other month in each Deanery (we have three Deaneries: Northern, Central and Southern [Deanery is a regional designation within the Diocese). These gatherings are designed to foster collegiality, share news and information regarding our places of service and responsibility, and to learn from one another. I think it is extremely important that Laity know when these gatherings occur and to hold your Clergyperson and his/her colleagues in prayer. In addition, I think it is equally important that your Clergyperson report/reflect something about the gathering to the local community.
At our gathering in Modesto, we enjoyed significant and robust conversation regarding the ways we can encourage and enhance relationships between parishes/mission particularly those in the same Deanery. We discussed the manner in which we can move beyond our “inherited silos” and intentionally develop deeper relationships and working together in a more concerted way. We talked about how the “Hub Concept” (a concept suggesting that each Deanery directs attention to a central point [parish/mission] for shared resources and intentional collaboration) can be shifted from concept to a working reality. I found the conversation exceedingly productive.
In the end, the Clergy of the Northern Deanery made covenant (a sacred agreement) with me and one another to do the following. When there is information regarding an upcoming event or any information which warrants sharing within the Deanery, Clergy will share it. This information will be shared two weeks in advance. The impetus and rationale for this initiative is really quite simple. We want to encourage talking about and celebrating the upcoming events in our respective Faith Community. And it is important that we share that information with others particularly those in close proximity. In the sharing of information several things will occur. Those with whom we share this information will be inclined to participate in the occasion which is good for all. Those to whom the information is shared may want to duplicate the event in their own community (pinching ideas is strongly encouraged, remember, this is not a competition). And most important of all, remembering who we are, the sharing of this information in an intentional manner will prompt our sisters and brothers in other parishes/missions to hold us in prayer before, during and after these events.
This was the covenant made by the Northern Deanery Clergy. I hope the Clergy in the Central and Southern Deaneries will follow their colleagues in the north. For the Laity reading this Friday Reflection (I hope that includes a high percentage throughout SJ) please encourage your Clergyperson to keep this covenant. Covenant-keeping is far more likely when supported by those who share community.
And most importantly, let us consider the ways we can share our common work, mission and life with one another.