Called to be saints: Greetings to the church of God in Muirhouse

Josephine Smith, a lay pastoral worker, reflects on how one urban parish have put synodality, catechesis and mission at the top of their agenda for building an organic Christian community.

‘Greetings to the church of God in Muirhouse, to those who have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be saints’ (1 Cor. 1.2).

Yes, you read that correctly – not Corinth, but Muirhouse – a suburb in the south-east of Motherwell, Scotland, where past generations of families earned a living in the physically demanding work associated with the Lanarkshire iron and steel industries. Like the early Christian communities addressed by St Paul, the people of this parish are invited to put the gift of being consecrated in Jesus and also the call to be saints at the centre of their lives together. The parishioners of St Brendan’s in Muirhouse work hard to be worthy of this profound apostolic greeting and baptismal and conciliar call (Lumen gentium (LG) 39–42).

The core, collective and frequently expressed mission statement of this worshipping community in Muirhouse includes ‘a desire to build authentic and creative Christian community for all, bringing the young families in the houses behind Arnold Clark into the St Brendan’s experience of belonging together in Jesus Christ Our Lord’.1 The reader may be forgiven for thinking that the restrictive arrangements imposed by a worldwide pandemic would have arrested their endeavour to do this. In Muirhouse (like the rest of the world), everyone’s daily life since Spring 2020 has been characterised by uncertainty and the experience and language of closure, suspension and postponement. In parish life, however, such restrictive language, although representing physical limitations, does not impair the pastoral vision or missionary drive here in St Brendan’s.

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