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From “Walking the Parish” to “Cultivating the Neighborhood”

By Fr. Justin Clemente. June 21, 2022.

Many of you know that I’ve been “walking the parish” since late last year, taking time, as able, to meet and pray with folks, telling them all about New Creation and the goodness of our Savior. I have some interesting and surprising stories already! 

One of the more poignant stories comes from my time with a guy I’ll call Tom. Tom is home bound for the moment, suffering from multiple ailments. When I came to his door, and he realized I was a pastor, he immediately burst out in tears. He was so glad to see me. Although a professing Christian, he was struggling to trust God in the midst of great sickness. I had the privilege of reassuring him that I was there so he would know that God is good and cares for him greatly. Just last week I followed up with him to give him a Father’s Day devotional book, and to let him know that I had been thinking of him. In turn, he told me that he had joined us for worship online!

Recently, Fr. Clancy encouraged me to think of “walking the parish” as more than a one-time deal. This might sound odd, but he encouraged me to farm the neighborhood. I prefer to call it “cultivating” the neighborhood, which sounds a bit more organic and less saleman-ish.  The point is this: when local outreach like this is strategic and sustained, genuine friendships, evangelism, and discipleship opportunities can quickly emerge. The need is already there.

I look forward to seeing what the Lord does as I simply make myself available as a sign of Christ’s presence in our community – already present, available, willing.

– Fr. Justin