• Fr. Daniel Gifford

A FAMILY OF FAMILIES OF DISCIPLES

Dear St. Louis Parishioners,

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my nickname for this season of the Church Year (the final months of Ordinary Time) is the Victory Tour. One of the first observations that inspired that idea for me was the great abundance of saints whose feast days show up in the Church calendar in the month before (October) and the month after (November) All Saints Day. It’s like a tour through a hall of fame, featuring men and women who show forth the Victory of Christ in bold and beautiful ways. Just this past week, we celebrated our guardian angels, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina, and St. Therese of Lisieux. Therese, whose full religious name is Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and who is commonly nicknamed “the little flower,” is one whose spirituality is especially fitting for this time of year, as a number of our Gospel readings feature Our Lord pointing us toward childlike faith. This Sunday, the blessing of the children (Mark 10:13-16) is coupled with the preceding verses (1-12), which focus on

Christ’s teaching on marriage. All of this makes it a perfect time to focus on Therese’s parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin (front cover). Louis and Zelie both had a great love for our Lord

and a desire to live totally for Him. After having both seriously discerned priesthood or religious life, they answered the Lord’s call to marriage. While the Lord did not call either of them to religious life, He did call them to be parents of a family full of nuns, one of whom went on to, not only be canonized as a saint, but also be declared a Doctor of the Church. Louis and Zelie are the patrons of one of our rooms, which is devoted to adult study, especially groups for some of our parents. One such group is the Adult Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which I will say a bit more about next week. As you may have heard or read, our new approach to Family Discipleship involves a variety of options for our parents, designed to help them to find something that is fitting to their own unique lives. Naturally, any new effort is going to involve a growth process, but already, it has been wonderful to see a number of parents coming together to find community, mutual support and encouragement, as they grow together as disciples. All of this is working toward the realization of a lofty, but beautiful dream that Saint Louis Parish would come to be more readily known as a family of families of disciples.

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!

SECOND SUNDAY STAY AND PLAY: As I mentioned earlier this summer, this fall brings with it a new tradition meant to bring together our family of families of disciples. It is a very simple concept, which many parishes employ regularly and I know we have engaged in at different times, but with a very slight twist. Once a month (Second Sunday), all are welcome and encouraged to stay after the 10:30 Mass and ‘play’ (literally or figuratively). For the adults, playing might mean simply having some time to visit over coffee and donuts. For the children, we hope that they will make use of our gym or playground in nicer weather. For that reason, these casual gatherings will be located in the gym (or perhaps even just outside, when weather permits). This is a very simple way to attempt to promote community, fraternity and hospitality. Next week (10/14) is the first Second Sunday since our Fall Kickoff, so I look forward to seeing many of you there.

MAKING DISCIPLES: The goal of these new efforts to build community and connect members of the broader parish family with each other is that we may support one another in growing together as disciples. For this reason, in helping some of the leaders of our various small groups prepare for the fall, I looked to an organization I have been privileged to work alongside in my priesthood, which is especially successful at training disciples to lead small groups designed to make more disciples. I am speaking of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), who sends young adult missionaries on to college campuses all around the country. As you may know, these young missionaries, some of whom have student loans to pay off and others have growing families to support, also have a need to raise both prayerful and financial support, through the formation of their support teams. If you are interested in joining the support team of a missionary, please contact me personally at stl.fr.gifford@gmail.com, and I’d be happy to connect you with one.