Dear Fellow Parishioners:
For those of you who do not know me, I chair the Commission for Evangelization and Adult Catechesis at St. Magdalen's. I am also the wife of Deacon Stephen, and we have three wonderful children, Stephanie, Kevin and Kristen. My previous letter for the bulletin was written just before the arrival of Superstorm Sandy and never made it to the printer! I hope you have all recovered from that storm and pray that you weather all the "storms" that life brings your way.
I am writing to let you know about the efforts of the Commission to provide opportunities for members of our parish to grow in our faith and love of Jesus Christ - especially during this Year of Faith. The Commission is a group of twelve dedicated parishioners who meet monthly to discuss, plan and implement programs such as the bible studies, the Year of the Priest series, guest speakers such as Dr. Edward Sri, parish pilgrimages and Fr. Robert Barron's CATHOLICISM. So far this year we have hosted over a hundred participants in the Acts of the Apostles and Quick Journey Through the Bible programs, and we sent a large contingent from St. Magdalen's to the Diocesan Center in November to hear Dr. Ralph Martin speak about the "New Evangelization." The New Evangelization is a call to all Catholics to renew our enthusiasm and zeal for our faith. (Dr. Martin is the Director of the Graduate Theology Program in Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, where Fr. Tim is currently studying.)
Commission members are on hand in the narthex at Christmas and Easter giving away books and CDs explaining our Catholic beliefs. We hope that these materials will answer questions and inspire a renewal in faith for those who receive them. Speaking of renewal, the season of Lent will begin within the next three weeks, and this year the parish is offering Fr. Robert Barron's Conversion program, a series of six sessions each focusing on a conversion story from the Bible. Sessions are planned for Tuesday mornings, beginning February 5 and Thursday evenings beginning February 7th . Please check the bulletin or the parish website for further details. What an inspiring way to prepare for Easter!
I have learned a little about evangelization over the past few years. There's a great deal more to learn. Some do not believe that Catholics should "evangelize." While we usually do not go knocking on doors, we do represent our faith to all who know we are Catholic, and that includes our family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. What do we do or say when someone questions or criticizes our Catholic faith? Do we keep silent because we do not know how to respond? If we learn more about our faith, we may have better responses. I'll end this letter with a quote from the Magnificat's Year of Faith Companion.
The set up is that a journalist by the name of Mr. Pisani was seated at a dinner party next to a woman who chose to criticize the Catholic Church all evening. Mr. Pisani finally was forced to reply, saying: "The novelist, Walker Percy, converted to Catholicism . . . and when asked why, he would always respond, 'What else is there?'" Mr. Pisani added, "I believe in the True Presence; I believe that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ and I don't want to live without it." He concluded, "Pray to be shown the truth, because if Christ is truly present in the Eucharist - and I believe he is - receiving him is about the most important thing you can do in life. Anything I say won't convince you, but if you pray with an open heart, you'll get the answer you need."
Let us pray with open hearts this year to be shown the truth and to live it out in our daily lives.
God bless you all,