Bringing community to your parish- An interview with Fr Michael Leclerc

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Tell us about your parish

St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish is located in the city of Montreal, next to Concordia University and is one of a small number of English-speaking parishes in a primarily French-speaking city. It is mid-size for their diocese with an average of 500 people attending mass over the weekend.

What do you love about your parish?

I love the mix of parishioners- young, young at heart and so many who are saying ‘Yes!’ to our renewed vision for our parish. It is exciting that there is a core group of parishioners who are already disciples and there are so many more who are excited by the many changes and our new direction.

What is your parish’s vision statement?

We are a welcoming and joyful spiritual home where people encounter Jesus, choose to follow him and become fully alive. We are missionary disciples helping all people to know, love, and serve Christ and His Kingdom.

When did you first come across Divine Renovation? And what excited you about it?

I had heard of the book but I hadn’t yet read it, when I was approached by Auxiliary Bishop Tom Dowd to do an internship at Saint Benedict Parish. As soon as I accepted it, I devoured the book and was so excited to see what was possible for a parish.

How has Divine Renovation impacted your parish? Do you have a story that highlights this impact?

Divine Renovation has called us to be a parish where people can really belong. This was lived out when we started having welcomers at our doors at mass. At the Corpus Christi feast, two of our welcomers welcomed a young family with great warmth, excitement and so upheld the parish’s values. This couple and their daughter were ‘church shopping’ as they just moved into the area and were trying to find the best church for them. They felt so loved by the welcome they received, that they kept returning and forged a friendship with the welcomers. When their second daughter was born, the two welcomers were asked to be the child’s godparents.

What role has evangelization played in your divine renovation?

Evangelization has been key in two ways- ensuring quality experiences and creating an invitational culture. We strive to have a positive Alpha and weekend mass experience so then parishioners want to invite others. We have also been intentional about creating an invitational culture through always seeking opportunities to talk about it and model it.  

How has your parish’s experience of the power of the Holy Spirit changed?

We never used to speak about the Holy Spirit- He used to be seen as a benign force. Yet, now we believe that the Holy Spirit is an active force and an agent of transformation. We allow room for the Holy Spirit to work and the Holy Spirit takes up all the room that you give it!

Tell me about your Senior Leadership Team- how has it been impacted by Divine Renovation?

My Senior Leadership Team has reinvigorated my priesthood. I have a group of people who I love and trust who are fully committed to success. I am now never alone in making decisions and we work through issues together to get the best solution. Also, they always push me to be better and to stay focused so we will never stray into maintenance mode with them around!

What is your dream for your parish?

That everyone has deep and lasting friendships that they have made in the parish and can’t wait to worship with them at mass.