This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The gospel this week includes the final commission, when Jesus tells his apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Isn’t it wonderful that we once again have access to Holy water in the baptismal fountain in church? I have missed the ritual of stopping by the fountain and crossing myself when I enter the Church. In the past year I have seen some people still touching where the water should be and crossing themselves. This act has been ingrained in us from a young age. When we touch the Holy water and cross ourselves, repeating “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” we are remembering our Baptism and that we are all one in the Holy Spirit.
In our Baptism we are all called to be priest, prophet, and king. How can we live out this Baptismal calling?
Priest- engage actively in the Eucharist and Mass. Prepare for Mass by reading and reflecting on the scripture readings of the day before you come to Mass. This way you are better prepared to listen as the Word is proclaimed. Sing and pray aloud with the congregation to join in the communal offering of prayer and sacrifice. Our parish offers Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the 11am Sunday Mass so that even our youngest parishioners can learn to actively engage in the Mass and understand the Word.
Prophet- take advantage of opportunities to deepen your own understanding of the Faith and to share it with others. All parishioners have access to FORMED, a fantastic online platform of Catholic video and audio resources as well as e-books. With restrictions loosening up, there will be more opportunities for people of all ages to engage in faith formation in-person programs. In order to make these opportunities possible, we will need people who are willing to share their faith with others.
King- we all have a responsibility to serve one another. Take time to reflect on how you serve others. As we start to open up more, YOU are needed to help revitalize our parish. There will be many opportunities to serve and share your gifts. If you need help finding the right opportunity for you, contact the office to find out where you might be needed.
Here are some upcoming opportunities:
We are winding down the school year this month. This is our final month of our COVID Family Faith Formation program. It has been challenging to try to do everything not in person this year. As more people get the vaccine and infection rates decline, we hope to have more in-person programs as the year goes on. This will begin with some outdoor activities.
On Fridays at 10am, there are a group of parents and their children meeting at the Saunders Park upper playground (behind the hospital). This is a chance for the kids to get some fresh air and fun while the parents can have some fellowship. I also visit with parents at the park to hear their concerns and suggestions for families in the parish.
On Sundays at the 11am Mass, we have re-started Children’s Liturgy of the Word. This is a program that was only a few months old when it had to be shut down because of COVID. Children ages 3-6 are invited to hear the Mass readings with our adult volunteers, who read from a Lectionary written for children. This allows parents to remain in the pews and focus on the Word while their children are able to hear the Word read in a way that they can understand. There is no registration required, simply come to 11am Mass. At the beginning of Mass, Fr. Connolly calls the children and prayer leaders to the front of church to receive the Lectionary and a blessing and then they process out of church. We are taking advantage of the good weather and meeting in the garden just off of the Gathering Space. We provide carpet squares to sit on. The children pray and hear the same readings that the adults in Church hear, but it is done at a child’s level of understanding. The children return to the pews for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
This summer we are planning some family fun activities outside. Since we re-opened the church last summer, we have not been able to have the social interaction in the Gathering Space after mass that so many of us crave. These activities will be outdoors and allow us all to reconnect with our parish family and friends. Keep an eye on the bulletin and our Facebook feed for more information about these fun opportunities.
Happy Mother’s Day- to all the women of the parish!
You do not have to be a biological mother to deserve honor today. All women are all called to be spiritual mothers to the younger generation- whether we have a family relation or not. We are called to nurture, guide, mentor, and pray for our young people. There are many ways you can do this - encouraging young people to attend Mass, giving them a friendly wave when you see them in the pews, discussing matters of faith over the dinner table, teaching them to pray in good times and in bad, serving in a ministry at the parish that serves young people (such as Family Formation, Sacramental Preparation, Middle School Ministry, High School Ministry, Confirmation Preparation, or College Outreach) and always remembering young people and those that work with them in your own prayers.
This Mother’s Day I give thanks for all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, and spiritual mothers who help with the faith formation of the children in their lives. I am especially grateful that they have stepped up in this very challenging year.
As we inch our way back to “normal” please know that you are still needed. On May 13th at 7pm we will be having a Family Formation Team meeting. If the weather is nice we will meet outside behind Manning Hall, and if it is not nice we will meet in Manning Hall. All parents and any parish teens and adults interested in taking an active role in sharing the faith with the young people in our parish are invited to discuss plans for the summer and next school year. If you are not called to take an active role, please make sure to remember the young people in our parish and those working with them in your prayers. I will be remembering all the spiritual mothers in my prayers.
Spring is always an exciting time- with rebirth, renewal, and plans for the future. This year especially- we are on the cusp of a springtime after a long pandemic winter. We aren’t completely done with winter. There are still some challenges remaining, but summertime is finally within view. More people are getting the vaccine and I am seeing more people return to Mass. We have re-introduced Children’s Liturgy of the Word to the 11am Mass. It is so wonderful to see our youngest parishioners receive their blessing and process out to the Mary Garden to hear the Word proclaimed to them!
With the weather getting nicer, having outdoor Team meetings are possible. Weather permitting, there will be a Family Formation Team Meeting on Thursday May 13th. We will not be returning to a traditional classroom religious education program next year. I am hoping that it will not be 100% home-based like it has been this year. I invite all parents to this meeting to learn about the program we are looking at for next year. We will also discuss plans for this summer.
I also invite any adults or teens in the parish who are interested in volunteering as catechists or helpers to join us at the Family Formation Team meeting. By coming to the meeting, you are not committing to be a volunteer. This is an opportunity to learn more about plans for next year so that you can discern whether being part of the Family Formation Team is the best use of your talents and time.
The Family Formation Team meeting will be May 13th at 7pm in the parking lot behind Manning Hall (rain date will be May 20th at 7pm). We will have folding chairs available, but you may want to bring a camp chair for more comfortable seating.
On April 18, 2021 we celebrated our 2021 First Communion Class. Due to the pandemic, we did not do this at a community Mass, as is the tradition in our parish. In preparing for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion this year, we utilized a curriculum called Signs of Grace. Some of the videos used for this curriculum are available on FORMED. Part of the Signs of Grace program also involves parents watching the Forgiven (for Reconciliation) and the Presence (for First Communion) series of videos, also available on FORMED.
What makes this curriculum so exciting is that it refreshes the parents’ understanding of the Sacraments and supports them as the primary catechists for their children. The children have a student guide book and an activity book. The parents can utilize the online platform to go over lessons with their child. Parents also watch the related FORMED adult study videos for each of the Sacraments their child is preparing for.
Since we were not able to gather indoors this year for more than 30 minutes, we could not have parent meetings to go deeper into the study videos. Next year, if we are able to have indoor meetings, we will have Forgiven (in the Fall semester) and Presence (in the Spring Semester) study meetings for the parents as well as any adult in the parish interested in learning more about the Sacraments.
Do you have a heart for the Sacraments and an interest in sharing that with others? Would you like to find creative ways to help our young people celebrate their Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion? I would like to form a Sacraments Team to help with small group discussions at the parent/adult meetings and to help make these milestones special for the children of our parish. If either of these things interest you (working with parents/adults or working with the children), email me to let me know you want to be part of the Sacraments Team. firstname.lastname@example.org
I love seeing the Magnolia trees and daffodils in bloom this month. We are finally coming out of a long cold winter. Now that we are in the last couple months of the school year, it is time to start preparing for summer!
I had been hoping to bring back a Totus Tuus Team this summer for our youth in grades K-12. However, out of an abundance of caution for the Totus Tuus team members and for participating parishes and their communities, the Diocese has decided to not have the Totus Tuus program this year. I appreciate the careful consideration that the Diocese put in making such a difficult decision. While we currently have a low positivity rate in our community, other parts of our Diocese are higher. Add to that the unknown of what those rates will be this summer and the chance that a traveling Totus Tuus Team could potentially carry the virus from parish to parish and the risk is too high this summer. Hopefully we will be able to offer Totus Tuus again in 2022.
So what can we do? What have we all been missing this past year? Many of you have told me you miss spending time with your parish family. We reopened for Masses in the middle of last summer with restrictions. Some parishioners have stayed away from church out of caution, some out of frustration with the changes, some have been here all along but haven’t been able to enjoy the opportunity to socialize in the time before and after Mass. We have all missed the connections of the “pre-COVID” time.
Last year at this time the church buildings were closed to the public. This year we are open for Mass and outdoor gatherings. This summer I would like to plan some fun family-friendly outdoor activities before and/or after Saturday evening Mass to help reconnect our parish family. Would you like to be a part of this Summer Ministry? Email me at email@example.com to get on the list for notifications for a planning meeting.
CLOW- what is it? CLOW stands for Children’s Liturgy of the Word. The target age group is children from 3-6 years old. Children begin Mass with the parents in the pews and are invited to follow prayer leaders out of church to hear the Liturgy of the Word spoken at their level of understanding before returning to the pews in time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This allows parents time to focus on listening to the Word and gives the children an opportunity to hear the Word spoken at a level of their understanding. We restarted CLOW at St. Alphonsus in December 2019 but have not met since the start of the pandemic. There is a CLOW webpage as part of our parish website that lists some resources for you to use at home for this age group: https://stalphonsusfaithformation.weebly.com/clowpre-k.html.
Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to meet together in person in the library as we had in the past. We are planning to restart CLOW again at 11am Masses (this is a change from the past when it was at 8am). As we are still under some restrictions, we will have the children meeting outside in the small enclosed garden off of the Gathering Space. We will use picnic blankets and mats to sit on outside, and everyone sitting spaced apart. With the children meeting outside, CLOW will only occur on weekends with decent weather.
In addition to restarting CLOW at the 11am Mass, there are some parents who are planning to meet at the upper playground at Saunders Park (behind the hospital) at 10am on Fridays. This is a time for the kids to have some fun in the fresh air and the parents to share in fellowship. These playdates are weather dependent.
CLOW is led by volunteers. If you would like to be part of the CLOW Team or would like to receive text updates about CLOW and the Friday playdates, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the CLOW Remind group.
HE IS RISEN! We are beginning a joyful new season in the Liturgical Year. We are also entering a more hopeful time as our COVID numbers go down and vaccination numbers go up. More than any other year, it feels like a time for renewal. At Easter Vigil each year, we get to witness renewal when someone going through the RCIA process receives the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
What does it mean to be Baptized into the Catholic Church? Paragraph 1267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: ‘Therefore...we are members of one another.” We all have rights and responsibilities within the Church. At Baptism we are not simply getting our Catholic Church membership cards stamped. As members of the Body of Christ we are called to serve one another. Each of us must discern how we are called to serve and how to use the gifts God has given us.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been using this space to feature different ministry opportunities available to anyone in the parish. Family Faith Formation was featured first, then Youth Ministry. This week we will look at RCIA.
RCIA stands for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults and it is shorthand for the process a person goes through to become fully initiated into the Catholic Church when they did not receive the Sacraments of Initiation in the “usual” manner (Infant Baptism, 2d grade Eucharist, 10th grade Confirmation). The process can vary depending on the person who is going through it. We need a team of parishioners who are interested in accompanying people as they learn about the Catholic faith. Members of the RCIA team will support each other as well as RCIA candidates to grow in their own faith and Catholic knowledge. We will set up some meetings this summer to discuss what we want the RCIA process to look like at our parish. If you are interested in becoming a part of the RCIA team (or the Family Faith Formation Team or the Youth Ministry Team), contact me at email@example.com.
Last week I wrote about the Family Faith Formation Program and Team. This week I will be spotlighting the Youth Ministry. For the past couple years we have been trying to integrate Youth Ministry and faith formation for our high schoolers. One of the goals has been to foster more relationships and connections between the teens themselves and between them and our parish. We want to encourage the teens to be able to support each other in living out their Catholic faith and to recognize that they are an important part of our parish and the larger universal Church.
This has become even more challenging during the pandemic this past year. Since the end of September we have been meeting with teens for outdoor meetings, short indoor meetings, and on Zoom. We are extremely fortunate that our parish has been blessed with a very dedicated group of volunteers active in our Youth Ministry program. We have been meeting regularly this past year to discuss new strategies and adaptations during the pandemic. New members are always welcome to the YM Team. Ideally I would like to see Youth Ministry expand to serve Middle School students as well, but we will need more volunteers to accomplish this.
If you enjoy spending time with young people and would like to help build a program to encourage them to create a Catholic faith community for themselves here at our parish, join us for a YM Team meeting. We meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 7pm. If the weather allows we meet outside behind church and if the weather is bad we meet on Zoom. To receive notifications of our meetings, contact Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to the members of our Youth Ministry Team: Tom Bainbridge, Kelly Burgmeier, Father Paul Connolly, Erin Gavin, Brandon Harrison, and Laura Westfall.
March 21st marks the one year anniversary of public Masses being canceled in our Diocese and our first parish online Mass (we didn’t know how to livestream at that point so it was a posted recording). Just as our set-up for livestreaming the Mass has come a long way from a phone balanced on a music stand, we have all been learning new skills and ways to adapt to the new rules for living in a pandemic. Something that has become abundantly clear in the last year is our innate desire for connection to other people. We miss gathering together in person, sitting together, eating together, shaking hands, and hugging each other. We continue to cautiously find ways to inch our way back to “normal.”
Have you been feeling disconnected from the parish community? Maybe you weren’t very involved before March 2020 but this past year has you yearning for more. Maybe you were involved but have had all your “normal” connections ripped away this year and are trying to find a way back to that community feeling. A great way to get re-connected is to join a ministry or team at the parish. You have gifts that are needed. When you share those gifts with the parish you will meet or get reacquainted with other parishioners. As we start to emerge from our frigid winter into spring, we will soon be able to gather together outside. I am inviting you to consider joining one of our Faith Formation Teams. I will be spotlighting different Faith Formation Teams each week in the bulletin, starting with the Family Faith Formation Team.
This year has been an experiment in a family and home based faith formation program. There have been positives (like the sacramental prep program used for First Reconciliation) and negatives (like using Dropbox to share materials). If you have opinions about faith formation at our parish, I encourage you to join the Family Faith Formation Team (FFF Team) to help shape what it will look like going forward. We will start having some FFF Team meetings later this Spring when the weather allows for outdoor meetings.
Anyone with an interest in improving the lives of families in our parish is welcome to join the FFF Team- teens and adults. Let me know if you want to be notified of our meetings this spring and summer. We will be brainstorming ideas for a summer program and exploring options for a family-based program next school year. Email me at email@example.com.
In the March 14th bulletin I started contributing to the weekly bulletin in a section called "Kelley's Korner." Here is what was published in the March 14th bulletin:
I’ve been given this corner of the bulletin to keep the parish updated on Faith Formation. You can also find faith formation information and resources by clicking on the Faith Formation tab of the parish website. Below is a summary of what is happening now and what we hope to see in the near future:
One of the challenges that I faced last year was trying to get enough volunteers to serve as catechists in the classroom. We had to combine grades in most cases and my husband even helped out by teaching two classes. Some people I called said they were overburdened with other commitments and felt they could not give their best effort- as a result they declined to participate. Some said they were not up to the task of being a catechist- they felt they did not know enough to teach the faith and lacked confidence in themselves. Fortunately there were some very wonderful people who agreed to work with the children of our parish and they did a fantastic job. However- studies have shown that the best way to pass on the faith, the best way to ensure that our young people carry the faith into adulthood- is to involve the parents.
For years the classroom has been where faith formation has happened. The classroom model has made it seem like passing on the faith is something best left to the “professional”- whether that is a professional teacher trained to teach religion, or a volunteer with the best of intentions. Parents have often been left out of the process, or only had minimal encouragement to be a part of it. This is something that must change. Even if there was no pandemic, we would be introducing a Family Faith Formation program this year. Why? Children who grow up in homes where parents discuss faith regularly are more likely to have active faith lives when they become adults. Children learn to make faith a vital part of their life by seeing their parents’ examples.
“The greatest challenge in this situation is for couples, mothers and fathers, active participants in catechesis, to overcome the mentality of delegation that is so common, according to which the faith is set aside for specialists in religious education….’The Church is called to cooperate with parents through suitable pastoral initiatives, assisting them in the fulfillment of their educational mission’ to become above all the first catechists of their own children.” - Directory of Catechesis, 2020.
My hope this year is that we as a parish can provide the materials and support for parents to take on the primary role of passing on the faith to their own children. It is not the parent alone, but the parent with the support of the parish that will rise to the challenge. Our parish family- all of us, must do our part to pass on the faith. I join you all in this adventure not only as part of the parish staff, but also as a member of the parish and as a parent.
The letter posted below (along with registration forms) will be going out to all families registered in the parish with children aged 18 and younger. If you do not receive this letter by August 7th and you have children under the age of 18, please let us know so we can make corrections in our computer database and get you the appropriate forms. I will also post the forms HERE (in English and Spanish). This letter contains a lot of information about how we are adapting faith formation and youth ministry to our current situation- please read it all. The forms are also very important so that we have accurate information about your family and how to communicate with you- so please fill these out completely and legibly.
Friday afternoon we learned that we will be re-opening for public Masses again next week. What we have all longed for will finally soon be here. This break from the norm for the last 91 days (since our last Mass and the schools shut down) has given me a lot to ponder. About what is essential in my life and what is not. I have had the privilege of continuing to attend Mass as part of the tech team live-streaming the Masses each day. So while my soul has been nourished by the body of Christ, I have dearly missed the community when we celebrate the Eucharist together. I look forward to seeing everyone who is ready to come back and I will continue to try to deliver online resources for those who are not ready to come back.
As we transition from being closed to trying to hold public worship in a pandemic, we will need everyone to take a role in making sure we do this safely and still making people feel welcome. We will all need to be flexible and accept that there are some changes that will be taking place until this pandemic is over. Everyone can help. What can you do?
For those of you who are ready to come back, I look forward to seeing you next week. For those of you who are not yet ready- we love you and pray that this pandemic ends soon so we can be together again.
Several months ago I had planned to have a birthday party for the Church on Pentecost Sunday. The goal was to have an intergenerational event to encourage people to celebrate and learn more about their faith while joining together in community. The plan, like so many others, has gone out the window and I have spent the past 2+ months trying to encourage faith formation and interaction online. Looking forward, we will likely continue with online faith formation for awhile. Anyone who is interested in helping the parish create a path forward for faith formation in the time of COVID, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get a link to a Zoom meeting we are having June 3 at 6:30pm.
This has been an unbelievable few months. Sometimes it can be too much. This morning I started my day at my desk as I often do, going to YouTube to find some instrumental music to listen to while I pray. Before I could select some instrumental music, YouTube suggested a video to me- Fr. Rob Galea and Jon Carlo singing a cover of Matt Maher’s song “Lord, I Need You/Senor Te Necesito.” It was exactly what I needed today after listening to too many reports about the virus along with stories of outbreaks of violence in cities around the country. I’ve heard this song before and by various performers, but today it hit home. Here is a link in case you need this song today too: https://youtu.be/sqZrOLSUhE0.
One thing that has been hard on may people is not being able to be physically present in church. Last week the parish opened for private prayer. There are some safety protocols in place for the protection of Father Connolly, the staff, and other parishioners. There is a limit of 10 people in church at a time so we ask that you call first to check on availability. You can also call in advance and reserve a time. We ask that you be symptom free (no fevers, headaches, coughs, loss of taste/smell, difficulty breathing, body aches, etc.) for at least 72 hours (3 full days) before coming into church. You should also wear a mask before entering the building (if you do not have one, we can provide you with a disposable one). You will be asked to sign in at the Manning Hall office doors. When you sign in you will be given a piece of paper; you will write down your name and take that paper to your seat in church. You will leave that paper where you sat when you leave so that we know where to sanitize. All books have been removed from the pews (you can bring your own printed resources if you wish). The Eucharistic Chapel has been closed due to the small space and the lack of air circulation. Please do not sit near a seat that already has a piece of paper or where another person is already sitting. We also ask that you leave by the Manning Hall doors so that we can keep track of the number of people in the building. All books have been removed from the pews (you can bring your own printed resources if you wish). The Eucharistic Chapel has been closed due to the small space and the lack of air circulation.
We do not yet know when public Masses will resume. When they do it will not be like we have usually had Mass in the past. Safety protocols for Mass are being developed as I write this. When it is time to return to Mass, the parish will need an army of volunteers to help guide people through the new protocols. We will need more ushers and eucharistic ministers. We also need people willing to get trained to live stream Mass. We will need two people to livestream a weekend Mass. We would like to have multiple tech teams so that the same team is not responsible for all Masses.
My family has a small chalkboard in our kitchen. When the kids had their first day off school because of the virus we wrote “Day 1 of Social Distancing.” Today the board reads “Day 64 of Social Distancing.” It is hard to believe how quickly and drastically the world changed for us all. In our house, we have celebrated 5 birthdays, Easter, and Mother’s Day in quarantine. We will probably still be social distancing for Father’s Day. Usually, when the weather turns warm in the Spring we clean up our screened porch from the winter dust and invite extended family and friends over for a cookout- not this year.
At church, I am only in my office part-time as I have been trying to observe the recommendations to stay home if possible. I miss people stopping in my office to say “Hi” on their way to daily Mass or after they attend a meeting in the library. I was sad to stop all in person faith formation so abruptly and to have people preparing to receive the Sacraments put them on hold indefinitely.
The biggest change was stopping public Mass. We started out recording weekend Masses on iPhones and uploading them to Facebook. At first, that was the best we could do. Father wanted a live stream by Easter- which we managed to get up and going on Holy Thursday. We keep working on improving the video quality- adding a camera, computer, microphone, and live-streaming direct to YouTube. We have now live-streamed 26 Masses so far.
A few weeks ago we added a Zoom Virtual Gathering Space to encourage fellowship as we have after Saturday Mass in the Gathering Space. Send me an email to request the Zoom link. We meet at 6:30 (or as close as we can get to 6:30 depending on the end of 5:30 Mass). If we have a group we try to play games. It is a great chance to check in with Father Paul and with fellow parishioners.
The rest of my schedule is filled with Zoom meetings, webinars, and online conferences. I’m also trying to find ways to reach out to the parish and encourage everyone to continue with their faith formation. So I organize some resources to share each Monday on the Faith Formation This Week Page and I try to bring attention to the page with my Monday Facebook Live.
A small group of us have started an Evening Study Group and hopefully, we will have some more folks join us as we move on to a new topic (go to the parish Facebook page poll to help select the topic).
As the governor begins allowing different public spaces to open up, the Diocese is taking a more conservative approach to opening up. I appreciate this slower and safer approach. We are taking things one step at a time. The challenge is in the indefinite timeline. Another challenge is not having the chance to have face to face conversations about what is and is not working. If you have suggestions or feedback about faith formation- please send me an email. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. I’m looking forward to coming together to celebrate Mass.
One of the many challenges of our current situation is that planning for the next 6-12 months is all tentative. We can’t know for certain when we will be able to have large gatherings again. This uncertainty is affecting plans for faith formation programs at our parish. I am sad to say that Totus Tuus has been canceled for this summer. Hopefully, we will be able to invite the Totus Tuus team back in 2021. But that leaves the question- what will faith formation look like this summer?
Some of the things to consider are that we will either still be completely shut down to any gatherings, partially shut-down (allowing for small group gatherings), or fully open.
If we are fully open to large group gatherings, we could utilize a VBS program that we had bought for last year, but ended up not using because we chose to do Tutus Tuus instead. In the past, these VBS programs were months in the making. If we were to utilize a VBS program we would have to scale it down in consideration of the fact that we still cannot gather to make preparations. We could consider other programs or create a program of our own. No matter what, if we are open to large group gatherings and plan to have a program- we will need volunteers.
If we are open to limited small group gatherings, we could try to utilize the VBS program and adapt it to multiple small group meetings. We could have different grade levels meet at different times and/or days to maintain the group size limits. We could also create or find another program alternative that would work with small groups meeting at different times. These options would also require volunteers.
If we opt for an at-home program. This could either be online or off-line (with take-home packets) or a combination. I do worry that our kids are getting tired of this type of option as it mirrors what they have been doing for school for the past couple of months.
The final option is to not have any structured faith formation program this summer. I would continue to have suggestions available on the Faith Formation This Week webpage and share ideas through Facebook. Your family would be encouraged to develop your prayer life at home while enjoying an unstructured summer without any mandatory requirements.
This week I will be sending out a survey about Summer 2020. Please fill out the google form survey to help us make a decision about what to do this summer. Your feedback will help us make an informed decision about summer faith formation.
I spent Monday gathering resources for the Faith Formation This Week webpage. When I was done I decided to go for a walk. I popped in my ear buds and listened to music from Porter’s Gate gate as I hit the path that connects East Lake Park to the High School. I had a lot on my mind and was hoping that the fresh air would help clear my mind. It was a nearly perfect weather for me- I love when the temperature allows me to wear jeans and a light jacket comfortably.
I looked around and saw trees still bare from winter. I reflected on all the plans I had had for the next 6 months. As I climbed up the hill to the old pioneer cemetery I was feeling overwhelmed with all the questions that I could not answer - When will public worship return? What will summer faith formation look like? Will we be able to meet in the Fall? I have to make plans for alternate possible futures. I was overwhelmed.
I got to the part of the path just before you walk along Grand Avenue, which is where I turn to walk back the way I had come (I was enjoying the isolation of the path and didn’t want to walk along the road). When I turned to go back, I took notice of the field. Not too long ago there was a controlled burn. It was when I turned to go back that I noticed there was new growth already in the burned field. As I walked I noticed that the trees were not winter-bare but rather there were small buds where leaves would soon burst.
I had been mourning the losses of what we had been missing with time stuck in our homes- all the plans kids had for concerts, games, band trips, birthday celebrations, Confirmation, family vacations. I’ve also been mourning what will not be in the future. I had PLANS- cue God’s laughter!
As I started taking more notice of the new Spring life, my mindset also changed. This was a time to stop and savor. This is a time to enjoy and to welcome. I am appreciating all this extra unhurried time with my family at home. In the past we have been fairly consistent with having family meals most nights of the week- but they were often rushed meals because someone had a meeting/work/game/practice/etc. This past month we have eaten together and have had time to talk and to relax and to laugh.
On my walk back home, the more new life I noticed around me, transforming the burned fields and the winter-bare trees, the more I realized what an exciting time this can be. It is one thing to stop and take stock of your own life- this may or may not result in a change. Effecting change in your life can be difficult when you are the only one deciding you need a change. This shut-down is forcing everyone to stop and reevaluate their priorities. We are all being forced to really look at what is necessary in our lives and what we can live without. If everyone is altering how they live their lives, maybe there is hope for all of us affecting a permanent change.
Sometimes in the busy-ness of the before-the-pandemic-time we felt like there were so many parts of our lives beyond our control. We were allowing ourselves to be swept along with the current of the crowd around us. We let fear of missing out rule many of our choices of how we spent our time. God gave us all free will. We have the freedom to choose what we think and what we do. We choose who we serve.
This week, I encourage you to take the opportunity to savor this time. Reflect and pray about the changes that have come and will come in your life because of this pandemic. Welcome the Holy Spirit to guide your steps as you go forward in these uncertain times. Ask God to give you the grace of wisdom to discern what is truly valuable in your life and the strength to honor those values as we slowly emerge from our pandemic cocoons.
HAPPY EASTER! HE IS RISEN!
This is an amazing and challenging time to be alive! It is exciting- and maybe a little scary. I saw a cartoon today and didn’t think to save it to share, so I will describe it: Satan and God are sitting at a table. Satan says something like “I have sent a sickness that closed all the churches in the world.” God calmly responds “I’ve opened up churches in every house.”
The thing is, even before this virus, our homes have always been the “Domestic Church.” What exactly is the “Domestic Church?” In Lumen Gentium #11 Pope Paul VI said “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.” In this time when we cannot bring our children to Mass, how are we being preachers of the faith at home?
Being a “preacher of the faith” doesn’t have to be actual “preaching” in the usual sense. It is in the ways that you bring God into the everyday. Find ways to be of service to each other in your house- and to others outside. Have your child make cards or write letters to elderly friends and family that may be even more isolated than usual during this social isolation. Make regular phone/video calls to distant family with your child. Be an example of a caring neighbor and friend. Give a prayer of thanksgiving before meals. Count your blessings together in your night prayers before bed. Is your child getting anxious because of the virus and the upheaval of our lives? Teach them to turn to God in prayer- that they can trust their worries in the Father’s hands. Since we aren’t all rushing off for school in the morning- there is time for a morning offering. Put up a prayer by the sink to say while they wash their hands (instead of saying the ABCs or singing “Happy Birthday”). Download an “Alleluia” coloring page to send to church- and talk about how we didn’t sing alleluia all through lent but now we do in Easter time. Don’t hide your faith- discuss it openly at home. It is ok that you do not know everything- and it is ok to tell your child you don’t know the answers to all their questions or even that you have questions yourself. There are ways to find answers- reach out to us at the parish.
Being a “preacher of the faith” can be formal- like creating a dedicated prayer space or reading the Bible together and discussing it. But it is also a million different ways you show your child that they are loved. When they hear “God the Father”- your parental love is how they will imagine God’s love for them. In this challenging time, show them patience and kindness. Show them that no matter what they are loved.
Welcome to the new Faith Formation web pages! On these pages you will find descriptions of the various faith formation programs and the opportunities to join a team to make these program a reality.
Originally I was going to offer multiple public meetings this Spring to present the new Faith Formation plan, answer questions, and encourage everyone to find a team to join. Sadly, public meetings are temporarily on hold. I am super excited about the new plan just cannot wait to share it you all. So here we are!
Before I summarize the plan, please keep in mind that every one of these ministries will require a team of volunteers. There is room for everyone to help in an area that interests them.
In a nutshell, here is the New Faith Formation Plan for all ages:
You can explore these Faith Formation pages to get into more details for each program. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions or to join a faith formation team! Registration forms for faith formation programs will be available soon.