Farewell, But Not Goodbye!
Greetings, St John the Evangelist parish!
I want to start by thanking Fr. Chas and the whole parish for bringing myself and my family here to serve as missionaries in the parish!
Five years ago, my wife Crystal and I started the adventure of being parish missionaries here in Jackson! After much prayer, discussion, and discernment, we’re now starting a larger adventure of beginning a marriage ministry! Before I get into that, I’d like to offer a brief retrospective and some lessons to leave you with.
In the past five years, I’ve sat and studied Genesis (twice!), Exodus, Ruth, Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, and Revelation with a pretty wide variety of men. I’ve been walking in discipleship with eight men for the past year, going through formation for the work of the lay apostolate. I’ve met with men of all different kinds and stages in life. The fruit of one of those friendships has been the founding of the Chesterton Academy of St. George, whose goal is to produce joyful saints in the world. I’ve also had two more children (and our sixth is due in June!), and buried one child from miscarriage while we’ve been here.
But the most important thing that I’ve done is to be a witness to lives being transformed. I’ve seen men accept more and more of the teachings of the Church, men learn how to love their wives and children better, men learn how to become more hospitable, men become more open to life; I’ve seen men develop their lives on a foundation of prayer and the sacraments, confront lies about themselves and God and discover greater freedom in truth, and desire that their friends and family come to a greater understanding of the truths of the faith. It’s been a great blessing!
My biggest lessons: pray 20 minutes a day. Read the Bible and discuss it with people who don’t think like you do—most people want to have their thoughts heard. Invite people to your home before inviting them to Mass. If you see someone you don’t know at Mass, try to get to know them. Care about neighbors. If you want to know something about someone, just ask them. Your heart will expand, which may hurt, but it will make possible greater joy.
But now my chapter as your parish missionary is ending, and a new chapter is beginning! On February 1st, I begin my full-time work with my wife to support marriages. Our goal is pretty simple: we just want to awaken an authentic Catholic culture through holy matrimony. That’s it! Check it all out at www.ouroutpost.org!
How will we do it? We’ll be offering online content: a dating course, marriage prep materials, and an online community for married couples for ongoing formation. We’ll also be offering in-person content: workshops, retreats, and talks, and we’ll be trying those out here and in the surrounding area. We’ve been podcasting for four years now (“A Word from Our Outpost” can be found on any podcast application, including Spotify), which we’ll be continuing. And I’m working on several books that I’m hoping to publish in the not-too-distant future!
We’re excited to take this next step, and delighted to be staying in Jackson, where we’ve made such wonderful friendships, while we go!
EDITOR’S NOTE: As we mentioned in last week’s bulletin, THANK YOU, JOSEPH and CRYSTAL! What a blessing he, his wife Crystal, and their family have been and will continue to be in our St. John Parish Community! From small group Bible studies to their example of authentic friendship and accompaniment, they have very much inspired the direction of our parish over these last few years, helping us grow as missionary disciples. While we aren’t saying “good-bye” as his tenure as “FOCUS missionary” here at St. John ends, we are saying “thank you” and “best wishes” as he and Crystal continue to move hearts toward deeper conversion and relationship with our Lord!