As we continue to move closer to the season of Lent, I thought it would be good to have a look at the dynamism of our parish. I am sure there are more dynamic ones in the USA and not to mention the world, but judging from my past experience in various parishes, I believe we have something very special going on in our parish right now. Obviously, the credit for this doesn’t belong to me, but to Fr. William and the many talented, wonderful lay people on the staff and volunteers running programs and giving great witness to the faith. The responsibility to keep it all going does fall to me.
Right now we have a pre-school co-op with nearly 20 youngsters meeting here, and along with their normal developmental learning, they are learning the basics of the faith. We have a homeschool co-op which has about 15 children from Kindergarten to 5th grade that meets 3 times a week to take classes together. The young folks are nearly always at the Wednesday morning Mass in their uniforms. We have adult groups meeting for prayer and to study, vibrant chapters/councils of the CCW and Knights of Columbus, and we have other adults meeting in Evangelical Catholic small groups with their own leaders and many more who want to take part. We have a great Religious Education program with over 220 students involved from CGS (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd [pre-school ages]) through high school. The Confirmation and high school students are participating in DTS (Dead Theologians Society) which is a prayer and exploration program of the Catholic faith, where they have adoration and the opportunity for confession. For the first time in some years, we have 3 candidates for full reception into the Church in our RCIA program, and we have had eight new members/families join our parish in the last two weeks. As many of you know from the bulletin and our open meetings last weekend, we are also in the process of trying to re-open the school as our feasibility study is finished and we have our goals from the Bishop to meet. This year we also began the Emmaus Days which have been very well attended and very enjoyable. All of this requires a lot from our staff, and most of the weight of these activities falls on 3 staff members and a few part-time volunteers. We have reached a point that if we want to continue to grow as we are then we need to invest in expansion. I have had various conversations over the last few months with staff members, and in the last couple of weeks I have been consulting with the Finance and Pastoral Councils to reach a decision to hire a new part-time employee: Mr. Stephen Zepp. He has been volunteering here already since September 2017, and is doing a great job. He is a wonderful young man with a college degree in Philosophy (one of the requirements for the priesthood) and some formal training in Theology. Please welcome him as he begins to take on more responsibility in the work with the youth: organizing their activities, especially the great summer opportunities that we have; working with the Confirmation program, and DTS. This will give Laurie Sabbarese and Doug Ulaszek more time to work on the fantastic adult activities that are taking shape so nicely—like the Emmaus Days, Bible studies, and forming Evangelical Catholic small group leaders. We also began a “branding” process for the parish a few months ago that is now reaching its final stages.
Everything in this world costs something. All of our growth also has a price. During this Lenten Season, please pray to the Lord about your tithing. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit would build all this dynamism and growth without at the same time motivating all of us to share in it, if only through our increased generosity and prayer. May God Bless All of You!