Father Augustino Torres, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, gives the keynote address.
Father Augustino Torres, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, gives the keynote address.
Some 200 individuals serving in parish leadership roles around the Diocese heard words of encouragement from their Bishop during a day-long convocation Sept. 8.

During Mass celebrated in St. David the King Church, Princeton Junction, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., noted the day’s commemoration of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and drew an analogy between the Blessed Mother’s “yes” to becoming the mother of God and the “yeses” parish leaders give to following “where God leads us in our ministries.”

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called to his purpose,” said Bishop O’Connell, drawing from the First Reading. “At the start of any parish-based ministry of service in faith, we need to believe that. We need to surrender our will to that conviction of faith throughout our ministries in our parishes,” he said.

The convocation, which had as its theme, “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19) was sponsored by the diocesan Department of Catechesis and open to all parish leaders. Highlights included an update about the Eucharistic Revival and how it is progressing in the Diocese from Father Martin O’Reilly, who is co-chairing the event for the Diocese; sharing ideas on ways personal devotion to the Eucharist could be renewed; breakout sessions where participants learned how to promote and implement the revival in their parishes, and the keynote address by Father Agustino Miguel Torres, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Sharing some of his own leadership experiences during his 40 years of priesthood, Bishop O’Connell noted the main lesson he learned is “no one can lead effectively by himself or herself.

“A leader needs others to succeed and get the job done. And my job, your job, our job in the parishes of the Diocese is to build the Kingdom of God. We need to work together in faith, each sharing his or her talents and gifts generously, selflessly, humbly in the parish tasks before us … Whatever the parish task, whatever the parish ministry, whatever the parish service, whatever role of leadership you are called to exercise, you cannot accomplish much – alone,” the Bishop said.

In his presentation, Father Torres emphasized the importance of developing a personal relationship with Christ as being key to carrying out ministry more effectively.

To do so “means we have to put our house in order,” said Father Torres, director of evangelization for his religious community and president and founder of Corazon Puro and Latinos por la Vida, apostolates.

“Jesus wants to be the light to our world, and that can only happen if that is what people desire, and that desire has to come from within,” Father Torres said.  “It needs to begin with the fire that is burning in your heart, and if that fire dims or it needs to be revived then that is when ‘our house’ needs to be tended to and the issues that are weighing a person down need to be addressed.”

Father Torres commended the Diocese for hosting the gathering for parish leaders saying that it’s “always a gift” when people get together to share ideas and encourage one another.

“This is a special time in our Church,” he said, referring to the Eucharistic Revival. “And the love of God can set us afire again.”

Trinitarian Father Stan DeBoe, pastor of Incarnation-St. James Parish, Ewing, affirmed by all he heard during the convocation, came away with a few ideas on what could be done to make his parish a more welcoming community “in new and different ways.”

Jane Palandro, who is active in numerous ministries in St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor, was pleased to hear more about the Eucharistic Revival from Father O’Reilly, especially since Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was recently reintroduced in the parish.

“The number of people who attend has increased,” she said. “A lot of people don’t’ realize how special it can be, spending time with Jesus.”