Deacon’s Diary

Deacon Steve Thomas will be adding information periodically in what we’re calling Deacon’s Diary! Check back for updates on upcoming Faith Formation opportunities at Sacred Heart. To contact Deacon Steve, email him at sthomas@sacredheartegf.net or call the Parish Office at 773-0877.

 

October 12, 2017

THANKS FOR SHARING!!!!!!!!!

I just wanted to echo Fr. Ilango’s gratitude regarding your response to our 1st annual Parish Fun Survey that we administered in September. We have learned much about our interests and desires, both personally and as a Parish, as a result of this “forced fun” exercise. With your help, we will pave some new and exciting paths regarding adult faith formation, and life and justice matters. This survey also helped us to identify and begin implementing many new opportunities for you to partner with our Parish in becoming better missionary disciples for the Kingdom of God. Here are the initial results of the survey! The number at the end of the categories is the number of people who indicated that they wanted to learn more about each of these areas.

-Be a part of a small faith sharing group -56

-Be involved in a Bible Study-91

-Come to RCIA and learn about my faith-24

-Learn how to pray-46

-Attend Parish retreats and workshops-77

-Become Catholic-13

-Have a spiritual mentor or director-33

-Find out my spiritual gifts-58

-Assist at Mass (Reader, Sacristan, Distributer, etc. )-77

-Hospitality-78

-Sing in the choir or at Mass-36

-Feed the poor-101

-Visit the Elderly, the Homebound, the Sick, the Sad and the Lonely-163

-Jail and Prison Ministry-15

-Become an intercessory prayer warrior-51

-Volunteer at the mission or food shelf-79

-Take part in a Mission trip or Sacred Pilgrimage-66

What a blessing you are to a world so in need of blessing!!!!!!!! Deacon Steve

 

August 22, 2017

We all know that Jesus invited 12 apostles to journey with him through his adult life. Of those 12 men, scripture seems to indicate that he developed a particularly close relationship with 4 of them, James, John, Peter, and Andrew. Intentional or not, Jesus had just instituted the first “small faith sharing group.” Like all of us, Jesus cultivated relationships with others based on personalities and common interests.

Adult faith formation in the past has taken a very institutional approach. Those in the Church who had the knowledge would share it with those who wanted to learn by putting on programs, classes, and retreats. All of these are wonderful opportunities and ones that we will continue to offer here at Sacred Heart, but taking our lead from Jesus, we realize that the most effective way to form others in their faith is thru “small faith sharing groups” growing and learning together.

Over the years, the Church has provided a structure in which parishioners could form these small faith sharing communities, some examples being, Arise and Renew study groups, book clubs, and Bible Study meetings, to name a few. Some of these groups were formed 20 years ago and are still active today.  I know that my own parents belonged to a Sacred Heart faith sharing group that lasted literally their entire lives. What a blessing!

We also know that if people simply share common interests, they tend to form natural relationships that last. Some of the activities that bind people together in small groups are Sports, Gardening, Cooking, Music, Pets, Movies, Books, Wine, and the Outdoors, just to name a few. Over the next few months we hope to identify some of the activities that you already enjoy with others, thru a fun Parish survey that we will be taking during one of the weekends of our Stewardship Month which will be held in September. With your help, we hope to help connect people who are interested in joining small groups for both faith and fun reasons. For example, if you have an interest in being part of a small faith sharing group that also likes wine tasting, then we will try to connect you with other wine lovers. You get the point! Faith sharing is not something we do only at Mass. It is what we do through every apect of our lives, including our hobbies. It can be a simple prayer before a round of golf with your foursome, a conversation with friends regarding elements of faith present in a movie just seen together, a discussion of the gardening principals in scripture while sharing gardening tips with each other. The opportunities for faith sharing are endless, but in order for faith to form, faith must be an intentional part of the groups gathering.

So this is a summons to all of us to step up our adult faith formation by either forming a small faith sharing group with other like minded folks, or by intentionally including holy conversations with those people who we already hang out with. Faith sharing is life giving to God’s people. Let all of us commit to breathing new life into our Parish by our joining or forming a “small faith sharing group” this year.  I for one would like to hang out with others who know who to do gourmet cooking…… Please contact me if you’re interested in feeding me and Jackie!!!!!!!!!  Stay blessed…..Deacon Steve

 

August 17, 2017

Greetings to all!!! I am so excited to journey with you in my new role as Adult Faith Formation Coordinator. In the next couple of weeks I will be introducing you to our team of “Faith Warriors” who have agreed to work together to make adult faith formation accessible to everyone in our parish.  We are looking forward to partnering with you this year to make us all better followers of Jesus Christ and His Church.

As part of our ongoing learning experience, I would like to invite you to participate in a monthly forum called “Stump the Clergy”. This will be your opportunity to pose any and all questions (especially tough ones) that you might have regarding your Catholic Faith. After we find the answers from our panel of clergy experts here at Sacred Heart, we will publish them in the bulletin and on our website. This can be a fun and meaningful way to grow in faith together. To send your questions simply e-mail me at sthomas@sacredheartegf.net.

I would also like to personally invite you to a couple of faith formation opportunities that will be ongoing throughout the year. The first is R.C.I.A. You might be wondering …what is it, and why would I be interested in it? It stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. This is the faith formation process that is used to prepare adults for joining the church by taking them through a beautiful and systematic journey of what it means to be Catholic. What you may not know is that it is also available to any adult, churched or un-churched, who simply desires to learn more about the Catholic faith. Talk to anyone who has been through this process at Sacred Heart and I’m sure you will get an endorsement to come join us in learning more about our faith through this great treasure that we call RCIA.  We meet every Tuesday at 6:30p.m. in the school library with classes beginning Tuesday, September 26th, 2017. Contact the Parish Office or Deacon Steve at 218-773-0877 to come join the journey.

The second opportunity is a year round Parish Prayer and Bible Study that I will be leading on Thursday evenings in the gathering space. This informal bible study will begin with reading and discussing the Gospel of John followed by some time for praying for our parish. You do not need to bring anything but your bible. I am going to call this sacred time, “Walking with God and One Another”. Since this will be an ongoing year round study, it is not essential that you make every Thursday session. God will provide an abundance of grace for whatever part of the journey that you are able to make. We will begin this Prayer and Bible Study on Thursday, September 28th, 2017. No need  to sign up, just show up!!!!!!!!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am inviting us all this fall, to get involved in a Small Group Faith Sharing Experience. We can accomplish this simply by intentionally including faith sharing moments with those people whom we already meet with regularly on a social basis, or perhaps by re-forming some of the small group from the past that we used to meet with in our Parish, such as ARISE and RENEW.  Faith is formed in our everyday living around friends, family, and yes, fun, perhaps even more than it is formed at Church.  This Liturgical year, at the beginning of Advent and Lent, we will each receive a gift from our Parish, a wonderful reflection guide called “Word Among Us.” This booklet highlights the readings for each of these seasons along with simple and beautiful reflections that could be used as discussion ideas within our small groups.  As our groups are formed or re-formed, please give me a call or e-mail me with any questions or needs that you might have.

Stay Blessed until next time,

Deacon Steve