St. Francis of Assisi Parish was founded over 100 years ago, as the 19th Century was coming to a close. A small group of Catholic families living in Ridgefield Park wanted to celebrate their faith and pass it on to their children here, rather than having to travel to parishes and neighboring communities. Over the subsequent years, they created a parochial life that was centered on the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the church. They had retreats, holy hours, and novenas. They formed their common beliefs. They built three churches and two schools and, along the way, created a vibrant and giving community.
More recently, reflecting Vatican II's vision of the Church as a community of God's people, St. Francis Parish has recruited and formed various lay leaders and ministers. They have developed liturgical, educational, and social ministries. They have created a Pastoral Council and a Finance Committee to assist in leading the parish. We have encouraged everyone and attracted many to take personal responsibility for the life of our parish.
Today as we begin the 21st Century and the 3rd Millennium, the same Spirit that motivated the Catholics of those generations is moving Christians everywhere to face new challenges. The bishops of the Council said that this new time will demand from Catholics a renewals of their faith, hope, and love. Pope John Paul II has characterized this renewal as "a transition from a faith based on habit...to a faith based on personal choice, a choice that is enlightened, convinced, and expressed in living witness".
We here at St. Francis of Assisi Parish are facing the same challenge. As expressed in our Parish Mission Statement, it is to respond to the "unifying work of the Holy Spirit as it unfolds in the Living Tradition of the Church". From the parish's returns of the Needs Assessment Questionnaire, the Pastoral Council and the Parish Staff have identified the central need of our community as the deepening of our appreciation of the Living Tradition.