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A new Pentecost

May 13, 2018
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. As I write this column in anticipation of Pentecost Sunday, I have been reflecting on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who has been bringing forth such abundant fruit in the life of this local church. We have been blessed in so many ways!

On this great feast, which concludes the Easter Season, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and those disciples who had gathered in prayer after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

When the Father pours out the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples, he pours his life and love into their hearts. He also hands on the mission of Jesus to us, who by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit become his hands, his feet, his eyes and his heart to extend the offer of God’s mercy to all.

The Holy Spirit is the source of divine life and the spiritual energy that drives all the missionary activity of the Church. It is the Holy Spirit that enables the Church’s ministries and apostolates to bear abundant fruit. “Go make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them all that I have commanded you and know that I am with you always until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

While the day of Pentecost launched the evangelization of the nations, Saint John Paul II directed our attention insistently toward the need for a new Pentecost in our time. What we need today is a new Pentecost for a new evangelization. We need a new missionary fervor that will stir into flame the barely-glowing embers of faith that have grown cold in so many hearts. For many years this has been my daily prayer as a priest and bishop. 

I see evidence of this new Pentecost on various fronts. It is evident in the renewed interest in vocations and in our eight new seminarians who will begin priestly formation in the fall. I see evidence in the multiplication of discipleship groups around the archdiocese. The clearest demonstration of this work of the Holy Spirit was evident in the extraordinary beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother, which we celebrated this past fall.

Those who were present will never forget that day. The witness of Blessed Stanley will continue to be a stimulus of faith and a source of powerful intercession for us and for the whole Church.

We also have embarked upon an historic archdiocesan capital campaign called “One Church, Many Disciples” that will help us grow together in an experience of communion and mission as we prepare for a hope-filled future. Already, the response to the campaign has been tremendous.

Many of these initiatives are the fruit of efforts that began years ago. Five years ago, we articulated a vision that was expressed in a pastoral letter called “Go Make Disciples.” It presented a five-year plan focusing our efforts around three ministry priorities: new evangelization, faith formation, and Hispanic ministry. We are now in the process of discerning where the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church as we face the next few years.

Just as the disciples gathered in prayer as they awaited the first Pentecost, I am calling all of us to join in prayer for a new Pentecost for the Church in this archdiocese. Please join me in praying for the guidance and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in developing our Strategic Pastoral Plan 2030. We need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, so we can hear what the Lord is saying to the Church today.

Please become a member of the intercessory prayer team that is committed to praying daily for the success of our pastoral planning effort. Come Holy Spirit!