Welcomed Home in the Church

11-06-2016Encountering ChristJayne Gilbert

I grew up in Fanwood, NJ. My mother was into New-Age spiritualties while my father never practiced any faith. There was a Presbyterian Church down the street from my house and although my parents would not attend, I would go every week. Even at the beginning of my journey I was seeking Jesus and a Christian family. I majored in biology at Fairleigh Dickinson University and was married in the Presbyterian Church shortly there-after. My husband was transferred to California for work where we had four children. While in California, I was involved with the Presbyterian Church and was ordained a Deacon. We then were transferred to Virginia where I went through the pain of a divorce. At this time of crisis, I went to a Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia for support and guidance but they had no time for me. Then I began my search for a Church home. I found an Assemblies of God Church which welcomed me. There I immersed myself in Bible Studies and a home group.

I had to find employment to support my 4 children. Without having any experience, God opened the door for me providing a position with Bristol Myers as a pharmaceutical representative. It was through this job that I discovered Christian radio. I would schedule my appointments around Bible studies on the radio. Then I moved to another town and joined a non-denominational Church where I led a Bible study for woman who were spiritually alone. After several years there, I was led back to another Assemblies of God Church. Through all of this, I still felt that something was missing. It was then that a friend invited me to a Catholic Mass where I discovered what I had been searching for. It was Jesus in the Eucharist. Then I began the process of RCIA. I was happy in Virginia and had no intention of coming back to New Jersey. Yet one evening, in the middle of the night, I was woken up by the Holy Spirit saying, "It is time to go back to your roots" and I had peace in my spirit. Although I was unsure of where or how, I knew God would guide and provide for me. The Holy Spirit led me to Hunterdon County where I registered at the closest Catholic Church, St. Magdalen's.

As a former Protestant who had gone from church community to church community, I knew the importance of feeling welcomed. Now in Raritan Twp., I was hopeful to feel part of the church community but I felt very isolated. I would come to Mass every Sunday but no one would talk to me or approach me. Eventually I became involved in the Bible studies where I met so many wonderful Catholics. I shared my passion for providing a warm, welcoming environment with many at St. Magdalen's Church. After several years we were able to develop the Greeters ministry. Many of the people I see walking through the doors of the Church are carrying heavy burdens like I was. Everyone needs encouragement and to be reminded that they are part of God's family and the Church. This is the primary role of the Greeters ministry. We are always in need of Greeters and I invite you to consider becoming part of this outreach.