I am blessed. As I look back on my journey of faith in Christ, I can clearly see his action in my life as I strive to live out our faith on a daily basis. His abundant grace has led me through good times and bad, drawing me deeper into the mystery of our Catholic faith as a disciple, as a husband, as a father, and through my work in parishes, Catholic schools, and dioceses for the past 27 years.
My background, as far as Catholics go, is not unique. I am a cradle Catholic who, along with my brother and sister, was privileged to be raised by two parents who are disciples of Jesus Christ. They understood their responsibility to lead our "domestic church" and did their best to give good examples to their children. That responsibility is now mine, with my wife, as we strive to do the same for our eight children. The family is the most important place that we can "live our faith together" and should be a priority in the work of evangelization.
This is our family.
My parents raised my siblings and myself to see our parish as an extension of our family. Everything in our lives revolved around our parish. Our family home was located right on the edge of the parish parking lot, so not even the worst of New England snowstorms kept the Lavigne family from attending Mass! Four of us have worked for the parish at one point or another. And many of the most important moments of our lives occurred there. It was through this community that I encountered disciples who loved Jesus Christ and his Church -- disciples who walked with me on my journey of faith through good and bad times. Disciples who gave name to the gifts that God had given me and gave me opportunities to put those gifts to use for the mission of the Church.
This is our parish.
These opportunities were the foundation that carried me forward to serving my home parish and eventually becoming involved in diocesan life, where I was able to see more of the universal Church. Through the diocese, I had access to further formation, community, and encounters with others who helped me as I discerned God's call for my life. By participating in diocesan activities, I learned that the Church was bigger and more layered than my little corner of the Catholic world, thus opening me up to the fuller mystery within the Body of Christ. This diversity of those who are disciples of Jesus Christ within the Church is a gift and having the opportunity to participate in the life of the diocese gave me the opportunity to learn and experience that good.
This is our diocese.
These days, I am blessed to work with a team of disciples in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship whose mission is to serve the parishes of the archdiocese in support of their efforts to evangelize and grow disciples. The people who make up this team are some of the most gifted and dedicated Catholics I have ever been blessed to serve with in the Church. They love Jesus Christ and are committed to his mission of evangelization. We "live our faith together" by supporting the diocese, parishes, and families on a daily basis.
We support the diocese through: the annual Witness to Life pilgrimage; Discipleship Week, our annual youth leadership program; The Institute for the New Evangelization (TINE), which provides formation certificates for lay disciples; Walking with Mary, held the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday, which includes Adoration, Confession, and, this year, a Eucharistic procession (as we begin the Year of the Eucharist); and liturgical moments like the annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion and by offering trainings for lectors and extraordinary ministers.
We support parishes through the work of our Faith Formation and Missionary Discipleship teams. They facilitate our Forming Disciples in Mission and Forming Leaders for Mission workshops; lead collaboratives in creating pastoral plans for mission; support faith-formation leaders through regional gatherings and formation opportunities; work with all ethnic communities (Mass is said in 22 languages throughout the archdiocese); translation of all materials, letters, programs related to the above and more in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.
We support families through the work of our Family Life and Ecclesial Movements team. They do so through leading the "Transformed in Love" marriage preparation weekends (approximately 2,400 couples attend Transformed in Love in the archdiocese each year); through the creation of fertility awareness materials, formation, and support; through the administration of Boston Catholic Athletics (CYO Basketball); and through offering training and advocacy for those who with disabilities.
This is just a sampling of the work our team does in support of the archdiocese, parishes, and families. Of course, all of this work belongs to God. It is only through his grace, it is only through his loving us into existence, that we have the opportunity to be a part of his work. It is only through our baptism that we can participate in Jesus' mission to "go and make disciples of all nations."
So, let's first support each other through prayer. This is the foundation of all we do. Secondly, consider putting that prayer into action by donating to the Catholic Appeal. The fruits of the appeal directly support our team and other similar teams who strive to "live our faith together."
This is our family. This is our parish. This is our diocese. This is our Church.
MICHAEL M. LAVIGNE IS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP, DIRECTOR OF LIFELONG FAITH FORMATION AND PARISH SUPPORT AND PRESIDENT OF THE INSTITUTE FOR THE NEW EVANGELIZATION OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.
- MICHAEL LAVIGNE IS THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S ASSISTANT CABINET SECRETARY FOR EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP.