Rabbi, where do you stay?
Come and see, he answered.
Jesus invites us to dwell with Him. Are we willing to go beyond minimal, “just hope to be saved” Catholicism? Aiming at the lowest bar misses the heart of our religion. Yes, we want to be saved. But there is more, there is intimacy with your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. God longs to be one with us, not out of His need, but out of love for us. He who made us also desires what is best for us, which is a union of love.
This means responding to Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see”. This is the experience we’ve tried to offer here at St. Stephen the Martyr in several ways. There are prayer and spirituality opportunities like Adoration and Sacred Story. There are learning opportunities like our growing Bible Study on Tuesdays and our new Pre-School for children. There are Outreach opportunities like our new St. Vincent de Paul Chapter and the Social and Human Concerns Commission.
Once we grow in friendship with Jesus we realize that this is something we want to share with everyone. An increase of Sacraments shows a growing appreciation for that friendship. The growth of our evangelization programs shows the desire to share it with others. A new apologetics study group has begun recently and hopes to blossom. Gradually, we’re coming to realize that the “Church exists in order to evangelize”. (Bl. Paul VI)
Thankfully, we have had great support through prayer, resources, and time. Our StrengthFinder Engagement score from Gallup was measured at 39% this past spring, an increase from 2012 (33%), and well over the national Catholic average of 15%. Gallup teaches that at 37% in an organization it feels like 100% to visitors. Can we increase this engagement in the parish? I have no doubt. God wants this parish to be fully alive.
One of our responsibilities is to prepare souls for the physical death of their bodies. During this past year we’ve had 43 funerals, including our beloved Vicar, Fr. Brian Snyder. His passing reveals all the more the call to universal holiness, for the laity to take up their gifts and charisms for the building up of the Church as a household of faith.
Thank you for your participation in the work of Christ to save and sanctify our world. If there is anything that I can do to improve your experience here at St. Stephen the Martyr, please contact me or one of our Pastoral Team. You are in my daily prayers.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Ed White