Tuesday, July 26th, is the Feast of saints Anne and Joachim, parents of the Blessed Mother and Jesus’ grandparents.
It is a wonderful day to remember our own parents and grandparents in addition to remembering these members of Jesus’ family.
Please join us on the feast at the 7:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 5:30 PM Masses.
I have been helping people enter the Catholic Church for 15 years at St. Francis of Assisi and from time-to-time people ask me, “Why do people convert?”
It’s a good question and it’s not so easy to answer. People’s journeys to coming to know Jesus and deciding to become a disciple are as diverse and unique as people are themselves.
But in my experience, there are some common denominators that cut across the varied ways people come to Christ and to the Church. Some people are moved by a book they read, or a movie they watch, or YouTube videos they see, and they start to know about Jesus through those media. Other people grow up around and among Catholics and they have a familiarity with the Church even if they are not members. Some people are not baptized but they have parents or grandparents who are faithful members of the Church, and sometimes they feel like becoming Catholic is a homecoming to a family tradition. Other people fall in love with someone who is Catholic, and they are introduced to the Church by their significant other. Some people are simply seekers by nature, who are looking for meaning in life. The journey starts in all different kinds of ways.
The of points of entry can be wildly diverse but at some point, these journeys find common elements:
All seekers (which the Church calls “inquirers” because they start to ask questions about Jesus and the Church) at some point come in contact with disciples who impress them or even inspire them. People become attached to someone who is already Catholic: a significant other, a friend, a relative, a colleague – and they are attracted to something about that person that they like. Converts often point to sense of joy, or an inner of peace, or wisdom, or compassion, as qualities that they like, and they see in Catholics they know.
In other words, people lead people to Christ. The journey may start with a book, or a curiosity, or a speech or whatever, but people who actual convert always speak of a “someone” who then brings them to Christ.
This personal witness is a primary and crucial part of the spiritual journey into the Church.
The second part of the journey is just as important: the prospective convert encounters a community of disciples who embody Jesus’ message. By the time a potential convert meets the flesh and blood people of the Church they usually already know at least a little bit about Jesus’ message of love, compassion, inclusion, welcome, healing, and mercy. If they experience these qualities being lived in the community, the journey usually continues. If they meet a community that is lukewarm in living Jesus’ message – or worse – a community that embodies judgment, bigotry, injustice or – God forbid – even hatred, then their journey usually stalls. The witness of the local community is crucial to new people coming to know Jesus. We must be what we are called to be: Christ’s very body in the world.
All of this is to say, people convert because they experience the love of God flowing through the people who are already anointed with God’s Spirit. In my experience when people encounter Jesus himself, authentically embodied in His’ disciples, they fall in love with God, and they realize the truth that God loves them – and all of us – first and always.
The Church calls the journey of conversation the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” (RCIA) and I have had the privilege of directing this ministry at St. Francis for 15 years. I do not do this ministry alone. I work with a team of committed volunteers who, I believe, are called and gifted for this ministry. But I am acutely aware that the RCIA ministry team, which works very hard all year, does not introduce our inquires to Christ by ourselves. It takes the whole Church, living, breathing, with flesh and blood and gathering in the local community – to bring someone to Christ. Our ministry team can do nothing, unless everyone in the pews at St. Francis is doing their job to live as faithful disciples of Jesus. The ministry of evangelization ministry belongs to all of us.
So why do people convert?
Fundamentally, people convert because we are doing our best to be Christ’s disciples – individually and as a parish community – and people come to know, through us, that God loves them.
Yet, people still need to be invited. People come closer to the Church because a member of the church takes the risk and invites someone they know, who they believe may be interested in exploring further, to come and take a look. If we find love and life in Christ, we have to be willing to invite others to share the abundant life we have been invited into. The invitation should always be gentle, and without any coercion, but we should be ready to invite because sometimes people are waiting for an invitation. If they are interested, that’s great. If they are not… that’s fine too. At the end of the day, the call comes from God and God has his eye on all of us. We don’t have to worry about where anyone’s journey goes. We just need to embody the love of God whether people stay or go.
“The harvest is plenty” says the Lord, “but the laborers are few.” Well folks… if you are reading this… you are one of the laborers. Let’s rejoice in the abundance of the harvest and do our part.
Director of Evangelization
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
So here is an invitation from me:
Are you interested in exploring Catholicism for yourself?
Do you know someone who might be interested in finding out more about our faith?
Were you baptized in another Christian church and are thinking about joining the Catholic Church?
Are you Catholic but never received Confirmation or First Communion?
Our RCIA will begin on Tuesday, September 12, 2022 but I’d be happy to talk to you about questions at any time.
Our RCIA meets every Tuesday from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM beginning September 13th. These classes are designed for people who may or may not be sure that they want to join the Catholic church. We present a comprehensive overview of Catholic faith and traditions designed for adults. Anyone inquiring into the Catholic faith may attend these sessions with no obligations.
The RCIA is free for anyone exploring Catholicism.
If you would like to find out more about our Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, please contact me:
Director of Evangelization
Today, July 14,is the Feast of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American canonized to sainthood. She is the patron saint to Indigenous Americans and ecology.
She lived by the motto “Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God, that I may do it?”
Like her, let us live our lives with a God focus and concern for others.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM
This Sunday, July 17th, is Sundae Sunday again!
We invite you to stop by the Clare Room in St. Francis House next door to the church after the 5:00 PM Mass on Sunday to enjoy a delicious cold treat before heading out!
We are very grateful to those who sponsored this months’ Sundae Sunday.
Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park
(posted on the website of the Archdiocese of Chicago, July 4, 2022)
I have been watching the news in horror as at least 6 are dead and many more were wounded after a gunman opened fire as families attended an Independence Day parade in Highland Park. What should have been a peaceful celebration of our nation’s founding ended in unspeakable tragedy.
Please join me in praying for the victims and their loved ones, who never imagined a July 4 celebration could become a killing ground. Pray too for the safety of first responders as they pursue the person responsible for this tragedy. They bravely rushed into the danger to treat victims and to protect others from harm.
The parade reportedly had a heavy presence of police and fire vehicles, yet this shooter was able to wound at least two dozen people before he stopped, or was stopped, and fled. Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85. Weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society.
It is barely July, and this year the United States is already experiencing more than one mass shooting a day. Chicago Police reported at least 55 shot and 7 killed since Friday, and the holiday weekend is not yet over. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for U.S. children.
Whatever one makes of the right to bear arms, there is plenty of room for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment so as to enact serious, broadly popular gun-safety measures. The Senate finally passed a significant, yet modest, gun-safety bill last month. But clearly more must be done.
The right to bear arms does not eclipse the right to life, or the right of all Americans to go about their lives free of the fear that they might be shredded by bullets at any moment. Gun violence is a life issue. We must continue to pray that all our officials, elected and unelected alike, will redouble their commitment to keeping safe the people they have sworn to serve.
Pope Francis wrote to the people of Chicagoland in 2016: “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, humanity ‘must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.’ I urge all people, especially young men and women, to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results.”
May the Lord of mercy embrace in love those who have died, bring healing to the wounded, comfort to their loved ones, and courage to all of us, so that we may respond to this tragedy united as God’s children to build a path to safety and peace.
(Photo: CNS/Cheney Orr, Reuters)
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