We recently started a cooperation with „Die Tagespost” (“the Daily post” – a German Catholic Newspaper that has become a beacon of quality journalism in the German speaking world). Here a translation of an interview they did, where some of the principles of what we do come to the fore. I thought it could be of interest.
Father George, what is behind the John Paul II center?
The JP2 Center is a young church community – young because it hasn’t been around that long, but also because most of the people who are here are relatively young. I’m the oldest. (Laughs) We want to disciple the unchurched and help other church communities to do the same. This means that we try to integrate programs like the Alpha Courses, „Adventure & Faith“ and „Hope Ministries“ into a discipleship process instead of just offering separate programs that have nothing to do with each other.
If there’s nothing after Alpha, then why do Alpha in the first place? You have to keep people the opportunity to grow, to take next steps! We also try to build everything around the masses on the weekends and to live four core values: first, openness. We want to become fertile ground for people who want to change the world and bring others to Jesus. Secondly, empowerment: we entrust young people with responsibilities in different areas, give them the opportunity to try things out and also to make mistakes. Third, zeal: we want to be on fire for Jesus and do everything for love of Him. Fourth, service: it’s not about what I get, but what I can contribute.
So taking leave from the a consumer mentality?
That’s exactly how I would say it. I’ve noticed that I myself used to promote consumer culture rather than a discipleship culture. It was a the lay people on the one side and me as a priest on the other. The priest offering spiritual products for passive consumers. Back then people would say: „Let’s help the Fathers with their projects“. There was no ownership for the common mission. Now I see that was totally wrong. It’s about building something together for the people of this city and showing the face of the Lord to as many people as possible. Of course, we have different roles, but the lay faithful have as much responsibility for the Church’s mission as the priests. If I have a consumer culture, even the best mission strategies are of little use.
Your mission also includes supporting other parish