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April 2, 2017

Day of renewal ‘a great gift’ for parish staffs

“What gifts right now is the Lord calling you to use?” guest speaker Matt Faley asks. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)

“What gifts right now is the Lord calling you to use?” guest speaker Matt Faley asks. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)

By Caroline B. Mooney

ZIONSVILLE — The 2017 Diocesan Day of Renewal for Parish Staffs drew 39 people from throughout the diocese — including directors of faith formation, business managers, youth and music ministers — to St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish.

“We get to claim a lot of great things when we work in ministry,” guest speaker Matt Faley said. “God loves us so much that he keeps us here. We get to see people come out from the darkness into the light. We get to work in this ever-evolving ministry to see how God lives in all of us. But the most beautiful identity we carry is that we are loved by God ...”

He is director of young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The March 14 event also included the celebration of Mass and other opportunities for prayer. It was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Catechesis.

In the thousands of things people feel they must get done, Faley said, prayer sometimes doesn’t get proper emphasis.

“How do we connect to the thirst of Jesus and how do we pray?” he said.

“Prayer is nothing more than becoming a longing for God.  This is our life prayer, when we take what we are to Jesus.  What’s beautiful in our lives as human beings and Christians is that we have deep longings and desires that lead us.

“Often these desires can be put out in the wrong direction,” he said. “Anxiousness goes out to an idol – our phones, the little addictions that we carry with us. Or does it go upward to the Lord? When we have a restlessness, does it go outward or upward to the Lord?”

Everyone needs a deep and daily connection to Jesus and that can be done through prayer.

“I used to think I had to be someone different in prayer,” Faley said. “But the beautiful reality of prayer is that we go there to find ourselves — our deepest identity. God speaks to you how you are. The music you like, the way you dress, the little nuances of your personality, how you give and receive love – all these things are a part of the identity that God gave you.”

Before helping others, we need to ask Jesus, “Where are you sending me?”

“What are the deepest desires of your heart right now in your life?” Faley said. “Boldly ask the Lord, ‘What is the language of my heart?’ How does he speak to you and only you? What gifts right now is the Lord calling you to use in your ministry?”

Elisabeth Groot, director of adult faith formation, St. Elizabeth Seton Church, Carmel, said the day was a wonderful time to get away from the office to be refreshed and renewed.

“Matt Faley invited us to remember what called us to serve in the Church in the first place,” she said. “When we are snowed under with administrative tasks we may lose sight of this! We may forget the initial enthusiasm that we had when we first started working in the church. We may even get confused and forget that our deepest identity is not the roles we fulfill but rather that we are children of God! This day of reflection gave us time to reconnect with friends, coworkers and God. To spend time in prayer.  To read from the Scriptures and let God speak to us there. To recognize Jesus thirsts for us and is always calling us back to himself!”

Sister Carole Kimes, O.P., director of pastoral care at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, has been in ministry for 35 years.

“I reflected on what a gift it was for us to take be able to take a day, to set it aside and to refocus and be reenergized,” she said. “It helped me to remember the call from God to be of service and to carry out the Gospel values in our daily lives. 

“I don’t know other institutions that allow this to happen, so I’m very grateful for the parishes and diocese for offering these opportunities for us,” Sister Carole said. “The day was a great gift.”

Barb Leap, Director of Music & Liturgy at Our Lady of Grace Parish, Noblesville, said she is still a work in progress even after 27 years in ministry.

“You forget things along the way, and this day is a nice reminder of things we’ve set aside for things we think are more pressing,” she said. “Matt did a nice job reminding us to set aside time for an encounter with God, knowing in our hearts to make that connection as a reminder that we are works in progress. The day regrounded me.”

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