Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 17, 2003
Young adults urged to be authentic like Jesus
Words and actions must go together, priest tells first young adult mission
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Catholics must be authentic if they want to be successful in making Christ present in the world, Father Mike Mireau told a group of young adults attending a recent mission.
"Our job, the mission of the Church, is to make Christ present in the world," the priest said. "But in order to do that, of course, we must be authentic and we have to do it just as Jesus himself was authentic. We have to act in such a way that people would look at us and say, 'Oh, that is what it means to be a Catholic.'"
Mireau, associate pastor at St. Theresa Parish, was the third and last speaker at a March 6-8 mission for young adults. Being Catholic 24/7 was the theme of the mission, aimed at providing young adults with an opportunity to come together and to learn more about living their faith.
More than 250 people attended the weekend event, including 80 who gathered at St. Alphonsus Church March 8 to hear Mireau speak on the mission of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Thomas Collins gave the event's opening lecture at St. Anthony's Church March 6. The archbishop spoke on Lent and its meaning for Catholics to an audience of over 100 young adults.
The second lecture fell to Carol Seed, a member of the archdiocesan catechetical team. She spoke on the Beatitudes to about 80 people at Mary Help of Christians (Chinese) Church March 7.
Mireau, who was ordained a year ago, said Catholics must be as authentic as Jesus was to be successful in their mission. He noted Jesus' message caught the world's attention because it was "completely consistent" with the way he lived.
"Jesus told us to forgive our enemies and he backed it up by forgiving his enemies," Mireau said. "Jesus told us to show mercy to the poor, the weak and the rejected and he backed it up by living with the poor, by touching the untouchables, by loving the unlovable.
"Jesus' life was so harmonious with his message that his life became his message and that authenticity is what got people's attention."
Only an authenticity like that of Jesus will get the Church's job done, Mireau told his audience. "That's what will make the world holy. That's what will sanctify the world."
As the priest put it, a lack of authenticity in living out the message will simply turn people off. "I can't count the number of times that people said to me, 'The Church says it is a community of faith and love but when I go there I don't feel welcome at all,'" he said.
Others observe the congregation's mood and wonder whether they belong there. "If we are supposed to be happy about Jesus," they ask, "why is everyone at Church is so bored and depressed?"
Mireau said it is not fair to expect the priests, the parishes or the Church as a whole to be perfect but that doesn't change the fact that there are people who are hurting because of the mistakes that have been made.
Authentic Catholics, according to Mireau, preach what they believe in and
practise what they teach. "That means we are not afraid to stand up for what's right," he said. "We express our love for God and for neighbour by reaching out to them, by loving everyone, by seeing Christ in everyone, even our enemies."
"Jesus told us to forgive our enemies and he backed it up by forgiving his enemies."
- Fr. Mike Mireau
Love, the priest insisted, should be Catholics' identifying mark. "So we see our authenticity as Catholics is dependent on our putting our money where our mouth is, on putting our faith into action and on allowing our actions to point back to our faith."
Earlier in his talk, the priest urged his young audience to read the Bible "because the Bible is part of the Church" and "is central to what we are as Catholics."
"The Bible is our soul," he said. "It's the story of people like us to whom God has revealed himself." He summarized the whole Bible with one sentence: "God is love."
Heather Jamieson, the mission organizer, liked what she heard and hopes Mireau's message will go deep into people's consciences. "He is right, being Catholic is not something we keep to ourselves but something we live day by day," she said. "As authentic Catholics we just can't sit there and complain; we have to go out and be Christ in the world."
Renata Malczewski, 23, said Mireau reinforced what's she has always believed in, that her mission as a Catholic is to make Christ present to the world.
"He is definitely right," she said. "We have to practice what we preach. We have to go out and help the sick and the poor. People will know who we are by our love and our actions."