Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Projects and praise

The time has come to begin searching in earnest for our summer service projects for formation. I am still unsure exactly what my summer service will entail. Deacon Tim Elliott, who is our Director of Deacons and Deaconate Formation, has e-mailed us a list of suggested places that we might go to minister, but I thought the list for our deanery was a bit thin. The good news is that we don't have to follow that list, we are at liberty to find our own service project, but we have to verify that we've done the good works we set out to do by writing Deacon Tim a one-page summary of our work and the contact information of the person or people who can verify that we did what we have said we would do, and for the amount of time that we are pledged to do it. That is neither an unreasonable request, nor is it undoable once I do find something.

At this point, I still have no idea what my summer service project will be, but I am open to suggestions and I am going to operate under the assumption that if it is something radically different that I might need to clear it with Deacon Tim or with the bishop, even though I have been told in an e-mail that we do not necessarily have to clear our projects beforehand. I'd certainly feel more comfortable doing so in order to make certain that whatever I find (or come up with) meets the intentions that Deacon Tim and Bishop Stika have set out for a proper service requirement, not just a case of "I like this, so I think I will do it." Nicole suggested that it may be possible to find something to do at Daily Bread, which is an ecumenical ministry in Morristown that feeds hungry people-anyone who comes-every day. Many area churches serve there, including our own parish. My spiritual director has suggested that I might consider offering some classes of supplemental instruction at the parish over the summer on topics such as different forms of prayer, the liturgy, or the Eucharist after I expressed a concern to him about some of our RCIA neophytes being "left hanging" a bit (not on purpose, mind you, they just kept right on coming!). I couldn't help but notice that this year, unlike what I have often observed in previous years, we didn't see much of a drop-off in attendance after Easter. Most of our new Catholics stayed with us right up to the very end. To me, this indicated a spiritual hunger and interest, so I might like to try and address some of that (of course, were I to offer these informational sessions, they'd be open to all, not just former RCIA participants). Father Joseph would have to approve of that project, too...

I am also actively seeking to assist the parish in new ways. There are a couple of committee positions on the parish council at St. Pat's that I have a genuine interest in. One is spiritual life, and the other is parish life. Since prayer and spirituality are what I would call a strength of mine (albeit a developing strength), perhaps I can also be of service in this way. A ministry of prayer and the teaching and spreading of prayer to others is one that I would hope to have if I am-God willing-ordained.

Even though I am still perplexed about what my summer project might be, I have decided to take the advice of a commenter to this blog back in January when I first expressed honest concern and some apprehension about what my summer project might be. Everything about my formation up to this point I have entrusted to Jesus through Mary, and I have told the Lord that I trust in him to provide what I need, and he has so far done that through the wonderful and prayerful support of my brother Aspirants, in a unique way through Steve Helmbrecht and Don Griffith, who have been generous to provide me a ride to formation each month, and have therefore had to put up with me! The Lord sent them to answer my prayer that if this was the Lord's will, the Lord would provide a way. 

I am going to approach my summer project with the same spirit and with that prayer brought to us by St. Faustina: "Jesus I trust in you." It is our bishop's episcopal motto (Iesu Confido in Te) and it has become my personal prayer throughout my formation process...and so I trust in Jesus to show me the way in summer service the way he has shown me the way in everything else.

And I am going to praise God for his goodness to me in allowing me to be formed in this way. In that spirit, here is another of my favorite Taize hymns.

If you don't know the Latin, it roughly translates:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
All Nations, Alleluia!

Finally, pray for me. This coming weekend is our formation weekend, and on Saturday I am scheduled to meet with Deacon Tim, Deacon Jim Lawson, and <??????> to answer whatever questions they may have about where I am in my call, to submit my canonical impediments form, and to receive instructions on how to formally request candidacy from the bishop. Nicole will also have to join me in this request.


  1. I don't know if either of these ideas would be something that you would be interested in, but I do have two suggestions. Would you be interested in working on the parish website to make sure it has up-to-date information? How about setting up a Facebook page for the parish? I noticed that Immaculate Conception in Knoxville has a very attractive page and good content. Of course, as you say, the project would have to get an "go" from Fr. Joseph.

  2. I'd be more than happy to help update and maintain the parish website and to start a Facebook page for the parish. The website has not been updated very regularly, and at least the bulletins could be put up. Idon't want to "take those duties away" from the current webmaster, but I would be happy to do some of the things he may not have time to do. I don't know what web platform is being used for the current parish website, but I am open and willing to learn about it and how to make the platform function.

    As for a Facebook page, I am very willing to do that, and I would like to be able to begin recruiting members for it right away. I may also be interested to start a "closed" group community for St. Pat's on the site Faithlife.com, which is a platform of the software company Logos. Those of us who have been blessed to use the Logos Verbum scripture software to help us in our formation academic work already know that Logos has good products and that web-based platforms which they produce are very good.

  3. Hope you'll talk to Fr. Joseph and go for it. I think you will do a great job. My understanding is that we are sort of between webmasters right now and I would think that help would be appreciated. Glad you are open to it. Thanks for the info on Faithlife.com.

  4. One approach would be to ask your pastor what he would like you to do that would be most helpful to him. This would get you on his good side, letting him decide, instead of telling him what you would like to do. You might be surprised at the ideas he might come up with. If he hasn't already thought of something, then you could share your ideas about helping out with the parish website. If it is HIS idea, rather than your own, things will probably work out much better for you.

  5. Anon from today;
    Oh yes, I would agree completely with that-if it is something that requires Father Joseph's overt approval, I'd rather it be something that he thinks needs to be done in the first place, rather than something I just want to do of my own initiative.

    Since my initial comment here in the comment thread yesterday, I went to a meeting of our St. Pat's mens' CRHP group last night (something I now do on Thursday nights with regular frequency since the group was begun, and Deacon Jim Fage is usually also there). While there, I learned that the parish does indeed have a new webmaster who is excited to help, so I don't want to intrude on him or make him feel as though I am trying to "take over" his ministry-he may be far more skilled than I am! However, I don't mind asking if there is some way that I can be of assistance.

    One suggestion that was made to me on the way home last night (I shared my "project dilemma" with the men, and since most of them are also active in the parish, they can sometimes think of things that I would not have fathomed) was the fact that our small CRHP group is planning a retreat for the end of October for men of the parish who did not experience a retreat such as we had, one designed to help renew the spiritual life of the parish. The very early planning and preparation for that retreat has begun, and I already know that I will be a part of the retreat team in some way. I was reminded that the early stages of the process are already taking up about eight hours of time per month, and that will increase through the summer as we plan and organize the retreat and my place on the retreat team becomes clear. One of our brothers suggested that I would easily be putting in ten hours of service on the CRHP team each month over the summer. I don't know if that will turn out to be the case, but I am already putting in at least eight, that is true.

    I have to pray about it, and talk to my spiritual director, and perhaps talk to the CRHP spiritual director, and talk to Father Joseph!

  6. Your article on Examiner.com, telling of Pope Francis' suggestion that believers consider taking a daily inventory of how the Holy Spirit has worked through them, is such a blessing! I've never even heard of this kind of thinking before!

    I know you are looking for a summer ministry, but the articles you write on that site accomplish more than some men could accomplish in an entire summer, in that they provide inspiration and help to build up faith in people who are trying to follow the Lord.