What is your experience of “journeying together” at St. Ignatius? *Direct quotations are highlighted in blue.
St. Ignatius is an intentional or “destination” parish. Jesuit alumni and professional people of all ages are attracted to it from all around the region. The congregation is very committed to social and racial justice, to the City of Baltimore, and to the education of urban children.
The educational level of the community is reflected in the music program, on the website, in the weekly electronic magazine, and in the quality of livestreaming and other media.
The preaching is both encouraging and challenging—and makes explicit connections between the gospel message and the social, political, and religious context in which we are living.
Ignatian Spirituality and the formation of disciples are emphasized. Opportunities for direct service are constantly offered. Guiding principles of the parish are:
- We believe we are called to discover, respect, protect and enhance whatever is humane and graced in every person, and in every culture.
- We encourage people to reflect on their experiences and to discern God’s presence in their lives.
- We believe in a Church eager to encounter God at work beyond its boundaries, that teaches through humble service and courageous witness.
- We commit ourselves to model within the parish and advocate beyond it for a Church of disciples purified from clericalism, ambition, and greed; who embrace and empower the gifts of women in leadership, governance, and sacramental ministry; and who welcome, walk with, and celebrate the gifts of the LGBTQ community.
- Our community is engaged in the city but not embedded in the community.
- Most of our young people go to private schools in the suburbs where their friends are. It is challenging to gather them for anything but religious instruction.
- The educational and professional level of the community can seem intimidating or exclusionary.
- While we are and intend to be a welcoming community, newcomers from more diverse demographics can find it daunting to feel
- Older parishioners and young adults can feel overlooked.
- It is difficult to navigate the spectrum between “meeting people’s needs” and the formation of disciples. People need to experience being seen, recognized, and taken into account in order to move from members to companions and co-workers.
- It is difficult to discern the difference between perception and reality. We need to constantly monitor the effectiveness of our communications. Ignorance about what is actually going on leads to negative perceptions. Positive perceptions can be based more on personal impressions than much knowledge.
What is your experience of “journeying together” as part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore?
- A large percentage of our people feel little connection to the archdiocese or have formed general perceptions from very negative to very positive based on little direct knowledge.
- Some appreciate the impact of the gospel witness provided by Catholic schools, Catholic Charities, Catholic Health Care, the network of Catholic parishes in the city, and the Archbishop himself.
- They feel a bond of communion broader than the parish and appreciate the concerted effort to overcome the legacy of racism in the city and in the Church.
- Archbishop Lori is doing a masterful job helming the Archdiocese through very turbulent waters that include: an increasingly polarized and sometimes fanatical flock, a tarnished and shamed clergy, a dwindling base of loyal parishioners…I am inspired by the steady and earnest way Archbishop Lori is trying to keep us all rowing together.
- The polarizing clericalism and rigidity of some clergy, particularly younger ones who stay in the church, guard the doors, and focus on individual sexual morality rather than the joy of the gospel and the invitation to walk together toward wholeness and generativity.
- Slow progress in making women equal and equally respected partners in ministry.
- A focus on personal morality and individual devotion rather than the social teachings of the Church and systemic sin and injustice.
- Need for unequivocal support of marginalized persons (e.g., LGBT).
- Parish communities in maintenance and survival mode just going through the motions.
- Pastors who didn’t bother with promoting the Synod.
- Perceptions that racism is not fully acknowledged, misconduct of all kinds is swept under the rug, and that change is reluctantly pursued only when pressure is exerted from forces outside of the Church.
- A disconnect between suburban and urban churches.
- The experience of the closing of parishes and schools overshadows awareness of improved witness and service.
- The institutional church is out of touch with reality and focused on self- preservation.
What is your experience of “journeying together” as part of the Universal Church spread throughout the world?
- Overwhelming love for Pope Francis. His message of love is compelling.
- The beauty and diversity of Universal Church throughout time.
- The unity of the Faith.
- Gratitude for the blessings of a transmitted and life-giving faith, liturgy, and sacraments.
- Inspired by past and present charity toward the poor, rejected, sick and oppressed.
- The witness of the Saints canonized or not.
- “Synodality” is inspiring. We can talk about hot button topics, like abortion, reproductive rights, LGBT issues, racism, immigration, and gender inequality; be supportive of other people’s lives; and still practice the Catholic faith. The Catholic religion has many people within these groups and if we can make people feel more welcomed and loved by Catholics (truly loved) then we would have a stronger Church.
- The potential to significantly impact social justice globally.
- The witness of believers throughout the world who speak up courageously for the least among us.
- A hierarchy experienced as sanctimonious and irrelevant.
- Clergy sexual abuse, the efforts to cover it up, and the closed clerical culture of sexual secrecy and repression that fosters its perpetuation.
- We want fundamental change.
- Priests should be allowed to marry.
- Women should be priests. How much longer can this be ignored?
- Gay unions should be recognized as sacred.
- The battle to undo the Second Vatican Council has led to unholy, well-funded political alliances and overshadowed living the gospel.
- A politicized USCCB seen as the Republican Party at prayer, marked by political maneuvering, bickering, and open criticism of the Pope.
- A fixation with abortion that overshadows other issues of social justice and cynically undercuts areas of Catholic social teaching belittled as “leftist” or “Marxist.”
- Attitudes that view modernity and secularity as threats to a romanticized and dead “Christendom” rather than opportunities for solidarity in a pluralistic culture.
- Polarizing, culture-war bishops. A fixation on abortion that overshadows other issues of social justice and cynically undercuts areas of Catholic social teaching belittled as “leftist” or “Marxist.”
- A moral theology based on the false narrative that the world was created perfect, and that this perfection is obvious and normative. A priori categories that dismiss out of hand the lived experience of the faithful as disordered and intrinsically evil. Any who object are in error, psychologically damaged, and in need of conversion.
- The complementarity between the sexes raised to a metaphysical justification to exclude women from governance and ordination.
- White supremacy and its tie to Christianity in the conquest of indigenous peoples, the slave trade, the subordination of women is a poison of which we need to continually address.
- I feel there is a white-gun-wielding Jesus that opposes a black-immigrant Jesus. The leadership of the US church focuses largely on this white-baby-saving-Jesus and does not focus on the message of Christ—which is to love thy neighbor—to advocate and fight for social justice and change. They are still a patriarchy with little room for women.
- We must disabuse the bishops of the idea that the primary mission of the church is to compel obedience rather than to love. The priority now is to repent for the sins it has committed or abetted over the centuries, especially its alliances with the rich and powerful in opposition to the poor and marginalized. This is the first step to re-building trust and becoming a beacon of love, truth, justice, and hope in the world.
- In a world so dominated by media—social and otherwise—the Church needs to do a better job of telling its story. The scandals and internal strife grab headlines while the tremendous good done by many is ignored. A defensive Church focused on circling the wagons will attract few.
- I am surprised and disappointed when fellow Catholics seemingly ignore central tenants of faith, like love for neighbor, humility, welcoming of the migrant, and dignity of all. Focus on only abortion and limiting the rights of gay people is reductionistic and misses the point.
Get Involved with other ministries
If your self-reflection leads you to feel you are being called to antiracist action, please consider exploring the following formal and informal opportunities to do so within St. Ignatius Antiracism-related St. Ignatius Committees.