What We Can Learn

“Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

These words, from our Gospel this Sunday, are a powerful reminder of who we are as the Beloved Children of the Loving Creator. It’s fitting, too, that this weekend, our faith formation ministries will be highlighted at Mass and in the Gathering Space. Sharing our faith, revealing to others their identity as His children, is formative to the minister, as well as those to whom we minister.

Many of you have heard at least some of my story and know that in my late teens and through my 20’s, I distanced myself from, not only the Church, but from my faith. I pushed aside all that I had been taught growing up, despite a faith-filled family, and a wonderful parish religious education program.

When I finally allowed myself to answer Christ’s invitation to return, I came to Mass here at St. Peter’s, and after Mass I shook Fr. Kevin Clinton’s hand and told him that I had a great deal of things that I needed to work on. This became the first of many warm and welcoming experiences, in both this parish and the Church.

Fr. Kevin immediately got me connected with all the faith formation ministries my family and I would need. I started meeting with our former deacon to prepare for my own confirmation. As much as I enjoyed those, and I did learn a lot, it was the connections made through my 9-year old daughter, Courtney’s, formation where my faith truly bloomed.

After hearing that Courtney was yet unbaptized, Fr. Kevin put me in touch with Kathy Raible. I was fortunate that the youth formation programs here were then (as they are now) rich and dynamic in ways that met our slightly unusual needs. Not only was it possible for Courtney to join her peers for fourth grade religious ed classes but  began a mixed homeschool and one-on-one sessions to fill in the gaps I had left for so long. But even this isn’t what drew me closest to Christ.

One of the best things in my life of faith was the invitation to volunteer as a catechist. I resisted. Not because I didn’t want to help; I did. The free tuition was an attractive incentive, but still not enough. I didn’t feel confident in my own ability to share this developing relationship with Christ in any valuable way. After a lot of assurance, and the promise of lesson plans and support, I said “yes.”

During that first year, my time in a classroom taught me more than I ever would have imagined. I experienced real joy when one of the children lit up with understanding of some nugget in a lesson. I learned, in a most forgiving and trusting setting, how to pray out loud and to lead prayer. The teacher versions of the textbooks revealed insight in simple, easy to understand ways that allowed me to be open to His wisdom in ways that I would continue to seek when I went on to study theology at St. Kate’s a few years later. I accepted that invitation, my personal faith grew and deepened right along with the fifth graders that I taught.

As if that weren’t enough on its own, becoming an active participant in ministry at St. Peter’s blessed my life with friends with whom I shared faith. My life was already rich with friends, but none who also loved Christ. These friends in faith would become tremendously dear to me, and a priceless part of my children’s lives. They have become the godparents, confirmation sponsors, and loving cheerleaders for my kids. They are those rare and precious people I can count on to lift me up when life becomes a struggle, to pray for me, particularly when I find it most difficult to pray for myself. Through Christ who strengthens us, these sisters and brothers in faith are the ones I depend upon to have the courage and love to call me out when I stray from Him.

Your faith, too, deserves this kind of opportunity. Your faith, also, can make a real and significant difference in the lives of our children and those adults seeking more in their relationship with Christ. If you have hesitated because you feel unqualified or uncertain, I invite you to open yourself to the possibilities. It just may be the best thing you ever did for your life in Christ.

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

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