Paragraphs 170 through 177 give us an examination of “the parish, community of communities.” We’ll take this in modest-sized gulps, starting with the Latin American bishops’ regard for the parish as a community of missionary disciples:
170. Among the ecclesial communities in which missionary disciples of Jesus live and are formed, the parishes are paramount. They are the living cells of the Church, and the privileged place in which most of the faithful have a concrete experience of Christ and ecclesial communion. They are called to be homes and schools of communion.
A challenge for us in North America: how do we express our large, often impersonal and too-large communities as a home? School: this is easy, but it may not be the best image if we focus our association on large prep schools that tout sports and practical achievement as a gauge for community.
From the preparatory document …
One of the great yearnings expressed in the churches of Latin America and the Caribbean during preparation of the Fifth General Conference, is that of a valiant action to renew parishes so that they may be truly
places of Christian initiation, of education in and celebration of the faith, open to the full range of charisms, services, and ministries, organized in a communal and responsible way, capable of utilizing existing movements of the apostolate, attentive to the cultural diversity of the people, open to pastoral projects which go beyond the individual parish, and alert to the world in which they live.(# 41)
171. All members of the parish community are responsible for the evangelization of the men and women in each setting.
This is important. Not clergy. Not staff. Not the in-crowd or those who feel at ease asking after people who no longer are active in the faith or who have never been. It is the task of anyone who takes their baptism seriously. Seriously.
The Holy Spirit, who acts in Jesus Christ, is also sent to all as members of the community, because his action is not limited to the scope of the individual, but is ever opening communities to the missionary task, as happened at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1-13).
The good news about the Good News: we don’t have to go at it alone. That is why we are organized into parishes.
For a deeper look, remember to check the English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.