Mission Statement of the Cathedral Parish, St. Augustine, Florida
We are Christ’s eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet – sent out to do justice, especially for the poor and oppressed, to minister to the needs of the community, to be faithful stewards of God’s creation – awakening faith among the hopeless, and promoting life even within the culture of death.
“Christ’s eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet”: This intentionally echoes “the Body of Christ” imagined in the Apostle Paul’s thought: Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 10:16; 12:12; Eph 3:6
“Sent out”: Recognizing the Church is “missionary by her nature” (Ad Gentes 2), and responding to John Paul II’s call for her to continually renew her missionary commitment (Redemptoris Missio 2), the phrase “sent out” implies the meaning of the “Mass” [from missa, “dismissal/sending,”] – going out into the world, as Christ commissioned his disciples first to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19; see also Luke 14:23). It also takes up Pope Francis’ dream of a “missionary option” – the Church “permanently in a state of mission” (Evangelii Gaudium 25, 27).
“To do” – “to minister” – “to be”:” At the heart of the statement are three full infinitive verbs fleshing out actions of a faithful community “making disciples” (See “awakening faith among the hopeless…” below).
“Justice, especially for the poor and oppressed”: This strives to convey the presence of the kingdom of God in the midst of our intentional ministering presence among the poor, as this is articulated by Jesus most clearly in Luke’s gospel: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19; see also Evangelii Gaudium 181, 210, 211, 212). "You have been told, O mortal one, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justice and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:6-8).
“The needs of the community”: The community of faith, always wary of the danger of becoming “self-enclosed” (Evangelii Gaudium 87), is called to go out and get dirty: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (Evangelii Gaudium 49).
“Faithful stewards of God’s creation”: This intentionally echoes our vocation as stewards of God’s creation: “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Gen 2:15). “As one called to till and look after the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15), man has a specific responsibility towards the environment in which he lives, towards the creation which God has put at the service of his personal dignity, of his life, not only for the present but also for future generations” (Evangelium Vitae 42). The committee was in agreement that the present “signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3) calls for the inclusion of a clear articulation of our vocation as stewards of God’s creation – our “common home” (See “Promoting life” and “Even within the culture…” below; Evangelii Gaudium 215, 216; Laudato Si).
“Awakening faith among the hopeless”: An articulation of Christ’s call “to make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20). This aims at embodying the spirit of the New Evangelization by intentional outreach to the hopeless – “those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him,” as well as the renewal of the faith of those “in Christ Jesus” (Romans 5:4-5; 8:20, 24-25; 1 Peter 3:15; New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith: Instrumentum Laboris 37, 41, 43-44, 50, 120; Evangelii Gaudium 14, 15).
“Promoting life”: “Promoting life”: Jesus said that he came so that his sheep “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The committee sought here to follow both Pope St. John Paul II’s and Pope Francis’ lead in affirming the connections between human life and the life of the non-human creation “groaning in agony” (Romans 8:22) and “awaiting with eager expectation the revealing of the children of God” (Romans 8:19; Peace with God the Creator, 7; Evangelium Vitae 42; Evangelii Gaudium 213, 214, 215). Thus, “Life” is broadly defined so that it acknowledges the complex, integral connections between all “life” and “life issues” such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, water, environmental degradation, climate change, the earth and the animals, the unborn and the elderly.
“Even within the culture of death”: The committee sought to affirm that although Jesus’ death and resurrection discloses God’s ultimate victory over the cosmic powers of sin and death (Romans 5:12-17; 1 Corinthians 15:54, 56), we are nevertheless, still faced with these powers, most notably in the lingering presence of “systemic” or “structural sin” described by Pope St. John Paul II as the “culture of death” (Evangelium Vitae 12, 24). The Parishioners of the Cathedral Parish, and indeed all Christians are called to bear witness, in word and deed, to the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst (Luke 17:21) – building a “culture of life.”