Fr. Daniel Gifford
Families of Faith
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
Merry Christmas! Let us continue to celebrate Christmas with every bit as much fervor as we did on December 25th! Part of the beauty of the Christmas season (which is still less than half over) is that it makes evangelization very easy. It begins with simply continuing to wish people a Merry Christmas wherever you go. Don’t trade it out for Happy New Year or give up early. When you do that, chances are pretty good that there will be some people who will ask why you are still celebrating Christmas. Then, just heed the words of Saint Peter: “Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you.” What a great time to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Yet, one of the biggest ways to share the Gospel is by the witness offered by building a home that is founded on Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family this weekend, let us especially remember to pray for all of our families in our parish. The family is not only the fundamental cell of society, but also one of the most powerful tools of evangelization, as parents witness to God’s love by their own married love and begin to raise a new generation of saints. Furthermore, as these families practice hospitality, reach out to their neighbors, and honor their elders, from whom they continue to gain wisdom, the Good News only continues to spread. Attending to the service of our families remains one of our highest priorities at Saint Louis Parish because Families of Faith truly help transform the world! I am very grateful for the leadership of Julia Mead (Director of Religious Education) in our Family Faith Formation (FFF) program. This program is rather like a best kept secret within the Church, which is a powerful tool of evangelization. The Church's vision of evangelization has always been founded upon the mission of the parents, as the primary educators in the faith, leaving the parish with the task of supporting the parents in their mission and supplementing the good work they have already begun, as they promised at the baptism of the children. The secret to FFF is that it places its focus on doing this more directly and effectively, including providing monthly lessons for the students, to supplement the work of the parents, as well as formation and mutual support for the parents. This fall, we added a new component into the mix by hosting our Jr. High Youth Ministry (for 7th-8th grades) during those nights. One of the blessings of the addition of a Youth Coordinator into the mix is that it will free me up to be more present to the various moving parts of those monthly sessions (whereas my focus needed to be devoted to the Jr. High most of this past semester). Another strikingly appropriate aspect of what we have begun this year is the continuity between the adult sessions of FFF and the High School Youth Ministry, both of which have been diving more deeply into the Mass, with the help of the Altaration program. Yet, youth ministry is just one of a number of other opportunities, which cohesively complement FFF, in order to serve the needs of all members of the family. Most especially, we are greatly blessed by the availability of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for ages 3-12, which is also thanks to Julia’s leadership. Also, Confirmation Prep helps to complete the bigger picture. Lastly, our adults also have opportunities for ongoing formation, through our various adult discipleship groups. What a joy it is to see our families having so many opportunities to grow in the faith, and so build their homes into a powerhouse for the sake of the Gospel!
EPIPHANY CELEBRATION: The Solemnity of the Epiphany (January 6-7) , the feast toward which the Twelve Days of Christmas are counting up, is NEXT SUNDAY. Along with our reception and open house, after all of the Masses, we will bless the facilities we have been blessed with, piece by piece. It will be a true open house, so you would be welcome to visit any of the spaces after any Mass, but in case you are interested in planning to be present for a specific blessing, the schedule will be as follows:
After 4:00 Mass, Saturday - Family Faith Formation classrooms, St. Charles Borromeo Catechetical Prep Room, and Gym (including teen Open Gym Social to welcome Caylee, our new Youth Coordinator)
After 7:30 Mass, Sunday - Harkrader Hall and Kitchen
After 9:00 Mass - Atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd environment)
After 10:30 Mass - St. Jerome Room and Parish Offices
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!