We, the people of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church of Anoka, are a sacramental community united in Jesus Christ, rooted in the gospel, and distinguished by a spirit of welcome and belonging. We worship joyfully, serve gladly, and are stewards of God’s gifts; and we nurture spiritual growth through faith formation and education. We support one another, reach out to all, spread the gospel, and practice our faith in our daily lives.
We. Like the Creed which begins, “We believe,” our Mission Statement begins, “We, the people.” This is a collective statement of purpose and belief, not a personal position.
St. Stephen. St. Stephen is the first or protomartyr (Acts 7:54-60) and the patron saint of our parish. A patron saint serves as a community’s spiritual protector and intercessor before God. Stephen’s name gives our community a public Christian identity, and his life serves as a spiritual inspiration for us. St. Stephen mirrored Jesus. Jesus was filled with grace and power, and so was Stephen; Jesus worked great signs and wonders, and so did Stephen; Jesus was interrogated by the Sanhedrin, and so was Stephen; Jesus forgave his persecutors, and so did Stephen; Jesus was crucified, Stephen was stoned. If our patron saint could pattern his life on Jesus, so can we.
Catholic. Our parish community is Roman Catholic. Our roots can be traced directly and without interruption to Jesus and his apostles. We are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, and part of the universal or worldwide Church, and accept its teachings and traditions. Regionally, we belong to the Archdiocese and accept the teaching authority of our Archbishop.
Church. We are a congregation or assembly of baptized believers, disciples and followers of Jesus, Christians, People of God, members of the Body of Christ, people who hold the same religious convictions and worship together.
Anoka. There are two St. Stephen’s parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, ours and one in south Minneapolis. “Anoka” designates our particular parish.
A sacramental community. A sacrament is the presence of God and a vehicle of God’s grace. As a group of believers, we are so faith-filled and loving, generous and kind, joyful and vibrant, that outsiders cannot help but see and experience the presence of God in us as a group.
United in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Teacher and our Savior, and our common faith in him is the reason we have come together as a community. Our shared belief in Jesus is the thread that unifies us.
Rooted in the Gospel. The Good News of Jesus’ teaching is our ultimate authority and guide.
A spirit of welcome. Hospitality is the trademark of a Christian community. We set aside selfish preoccupation and think of others before ourselves. We make the first move with visitors. Our kind words and deeds set people at ease and helps them feel included. This does not mean that all beliefs and behaviors are welcome. Our invitation is extended to those who seek Christ, but not to those who deny him, perpetrate evil, or damage the fabric of the community.
A spirit of belonging. Not only do we pay attention to outsiders, we pay careful attention to each other. We enjoy fellowship. We are concerned about one another. We pray for each other. We assist those in need. We offer encouragement and support. We worship together.
Joyful worship. Worship is at the heart of what we do. We praise and honor God in our liturgical prayer, particularly the Mass, and are nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Our participation in the sacramental life of the Church is full, conscious, and active, and easily observable through our attentiveness, singing, and responses.
Glad service. Our prayer to God translates into service of neighbor. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve (Mt 20:28), and we do likewise. Our service begins with our families, and extends to fellow believers as well as to non-believers, and is offered to those near and far. Service is privilege, not a burden, and God loves a cheerful giver! (2 Cor 9:7).
Stewards of God’s gifts. We are a stewardship parish. We realize that everything that we have is a gift from God, and that God deserves a return on all that we have received. Consequently, we gladly share our time, talent, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God on earth, advance the mission of our parish, and care for the needs of others.
We nurture spiritual growth. Each day Jesus invites us to intensify our commitment to him, so we cultivate and deepen our faith by interior transformation, conversion, reconciliation, strengthened prayer, and continued learning.
Faith formation. In order that we might better understand our Catholic faith and pass this treasured gift from one generation to the next, we offer learning opportunities to young and old, especially through religious education and sacramental programs, as well as through spiritual guidance, publications, our Web site, enrichment seminars, Bible study, and retreats.
Education. Education refers to our school, one of the most important elements of our parish endeavor. A Catholic school pursues knowledge, but it is distinctive because of its Christian climate and the way students and teachers approach academic subjects through the lens of faith.
We support one another. Love begins at home, and our mutual support is expressed in companionship, kindness, listening, encouragement, tasks completed, and in many other ways.
We reach out to all. Our love extends beyond ourselves to others, especially the sick and the needy, the lonely and the outcast, starting in our locality and reaching beyond. We embrace social justice, gladly give alms, and see the face of Christ particularly in the poor.
We spread the gospel. We carry Jesus and his gospel to the world. We witness our faith primarily by our good deeds, but also with our words, and gently invite others to be his disciples.
Faith practice in daily life. The true measure of our faith is how we carry it beyond the worship experience and the church building into our homes and schools, the workplace, and wherever we go. Our belief in Jesus permeates every aspect of our lives.