Last summer at this time we were in the midst of promoting the upcoming Diocesan Assembly: Made for Happiness. And even if you weren’t able to attend the assembly last fall, you have undoubtedly noticed the ripple effects of that day here in our parish and diocese. Much of that impact was inspired by the awesome speakers at the event but then has been further fueled by our reading of Matthew Kelly’s The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic (if you haven’t read Chapter 4 at this point, maybe this summer is an opportune time to catch up!)
Our follow-up to the assembly started with Sign #1: Prayer, and with it Bishop Boyea launched the year of prayer in which we’ve been praying together to become Missionary Disciples. Fr. Chas and Fr. Brian have since focused several homilies on the topic of prayer, at times even leading us through reflective prayer during the homily, modeling how to speak and listen to the Lord.
Sign #2: Study emphasized the need to learn more about Catholicism in order to grow more fully in the faith. We now have 338 registered users on formed.org (You can create an account for free at saintjohnjackson.formed.org)! With the wealth of resources here, from audio books to videos, our parishioners are learning more about the faith, immersing themselves into the beauty and truth of Catholicism!
We are currently focused on Sign #3 Generosity and, with it, our Generosity Challenge with its emphasis on sharing our time, talent, and treasure. As Fr. Chas reported just this past weekend, our offertory has increased through the past months strengthened by the 5-4-1 pledge cards and faithfulness to giving, and our DSA pledge total is the best it’s ever been! We are just shy of our goals for offertory and DSA, and we hope to still surpass both very soon here. It’s not too late to help…and every little bit is going to make the final difference! DSA envelopes are in the vestibules as are offertory pledge cards.
At this point, though, I’d like to focus on the generosity of time and talent. A week ago on June 28th, our parish celebrated our many dedicated volunteers at our annual stewardship dinner. The theme of our dinner was being Jesus’ helping helps, modeling Mother Teresa who said, “Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” Matthew Kelly points out in his book that at a typical parish about 7% of the parishioners do about 80% of the volunteer hours. St. John proves to be an exception in this regard. With well over 300 invitations sent (many to couples who both volunteer regularly), I think it’s safe to say that our St. John average is around 17% . What an awesome “stat” for our parish, and it’s no surprise! Our parish is so generous in giving our hands to service and our hearts to love.
Just a case in point…when I woke up on June 28th, the day of the stewardship dinner and also my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I was looking back, reflecting on that day in 1991 (28 years ago) here at St. John where we were married. Who was there to lead us through the wedding rehearsal? Skip and Linda Fairchild! And, now, years later, they are still volunteering, helping as a marriage prep couple and making doughnuts every first Sunday starting in September. The longevity of service for so many of our volunteers is astounding! And the way our St. John parishioners step up whenever there is a need is inspirational. Besides the numerous ministries with which one can become involved, several of our parishioners are sharing very specific talents as needs arise, from cooking and graphic design, to finance and professional expertise.
And looking forward, we will soon move into Sign #4: Evangelization in the fall. In the meantime, continue to “train” to become a missionary disciple (one who evangelizes others through example and word). That’s the beauty of Matthew Kelly’s 4 signs…the first three signs help us to do the 4th. Prayer, study, and generosity put God first, draw us closer in relationship with Him, and strengthen us to do His will. When our lives are on fire with these things, evangelization naturally flows next! Not that we can’t evangelize along the way as we grow in these first three signs, but what an awesome foundation they make to be even more effective in becoming missionary disciples! As our very own “Year of Prayer” says, “Teach us how to hear Jesus, to love Jesus, and to share the gift of salvation with everyone we meet!”
How has your faith journey progressed in this past year? Where do you see growth in the 4 signs…or desire deepening? We’re excited to move on to the 4th sign soon and encourage you to start reading Chapter 5 if you haven’t already!