Once again a Blessed and Holy Christmas to all of you. This week the parish staff and I are going to share a little about what we see the Lord doing here at Most Holy Trinity and what we’re excited about for this coming year. I will kick off the reflection.
This year, I have to admit has been a very hard year. With all the scandals regarding the bishops and priesthood, it’s been very discouraging at times. I try to keep my focus on the Lord and what He has called me to do, but I admit that there are days when I have felt depressed and concerned about the future of our church. But at the same time, there are a few things that given me hope and hope for this coming year and the future.
One of those things is our children. Just recently I was attending our school spelling bee. One of the little guys wanted to sit beside me and he began to talk to me. All of a sudden he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and said “I love you.” I’m always amazed and blessed how our children give me hope and make me feel loved. Just recently as well, I participated in a Holy Spirit encounter with some of our religious education classes in the church. So many of the young people who came up asked for such simple things: “I want to know God’s love,” “I want a better relationship with my parents…” etc. And the Lord poured out in a powerful way His love for them. This always reminds me that God is raising up a new generation and equipping them for the Kingdom.
The other thing that gives me hope is something a little more hidden from public view. I am very blessed as a priest to be able to hear confessions and help people in counseling. I have to say that I have been so encouraged by the people coming and trying to work through their struggles and difficulties. I am so struck by their humility and desire to grow in God’s grace, to seek change for their lives. This is something nobody sees, but is essential to our ministry here at MHT. It’s why we exist, to help people experience the love and mercy of God. -Fr. Dennis
Looking back at the 2019 ministry year, what really sticks out to me is how the parish community worked together at various events. I spend a lot of my time working with adults at the parish, but this last year our prayer ministry expanded into other areas, not just adults. The adults in our parish had the opportunity to pray with middle school students both at MHT and in religious ed. Adults and young adults helped out at various high school events. Having high school students and young adults help out with our Holy Spirit Encounter nights have been awesome. It’s been really amazing to see different relationships form at these events between various ages. It really feels like we are all working together, to bring God’s love and peace to those we are praying with, no matter what age. This sense of unity, and community has been something that really sticks out to me. Working alongside parishioners of all ages has been fruitful and something I look forward to doing more in the next year. (Andrea)
One of the most meaningful events that I’ve been a part of in the past year has been the Middle School Encounters. Time in Adoration has been an important way for me to grow in my relationship with the Lord, and knowing that we are able to provide similar opportunities for younger kids is really exciting! Beyond that though, we have also been offering prayer ministry at these events and it just makes me wonder what that would have meant for me as a kid. There’s probably a good chance that I wouldn’t have taken the step to go to a prayer team back then! It’s exciting to know that our kids today have that opportunity to bring the things weighing on their hearts to the Lord and our prayer teams.So often we think that we are alone in our struggles and have to keep them to ourselves. It took me a long time to realize that there is strength in weakness and being vulnerable can bring peace and healing in our lives. It’s clear to me that these kids are much more aware of God in their life than I was at their age and that’s really exciting to see and be a part of! (Adam)
It’s been an absolutely wild year, but I’ve really enjoyed what 2019 has brought into our parish overall. I think a huge part of it though that stands out is the way that the Holy Spirit has brought unity and healing to so many areas of Most Holy Trinity. In the last three years working here, I have been able to be a part of almost every area of our ministries. This has included helping in the adoration hours Kayla does for her choir kids, our Holy Spirit Encounters, the Adult Retreats, our confirmation process, and of course in the youth ministry. In all of those places, I have felt so much hope and joy because of children/teenagers/adults being able to receive the GOODNESS of the Lord whether it’s in his healing, his voice, or in the revelation of his truth. There are so many stories of big or small life changes that our Father provides. One that comes to mind was one little girl that I prayed with during our Middle School Encounter. When I was praying over her, the Lord shared a word affirming her worth and she broke down crying (a good cry I swear!). It was such a pure thing. She just needed to hear her heavenly Father’s voice and he whispered truth to her. I feel as though I get to see meaningful moments like that all the time, and I think that even more so in the next year we will have even more opportunities of receiving God’s fullness in our parish. (Corey)
In the three years that I’ve been here, one of the most exciting areas of growth in the parish that I’ve witnessed has been the sense of community. As the music director, I’ve of course noticed it within the choirs that I direct; we have a lot of fun with each other at rehearsals and genuinely enjoy being together. And this sense of community isn’t something closed or exclusive. Whenever somebody joins, it’s genuinely exciting to have them there and see the group’s dynamics expand. It’s just fun to see what each new person offers! Beyond music ministry, the retreats and Holy Spirit Encounters have offered this unique opportunity to experience relationships with people you might not have otherwise. It’s amazing to see the growing base of people who are excited to be a part of things. This sense of community is something that as a staff, we want every parishioner to be a part of. The experience of relationship has shifted really radically in the past few decades as technology develops and families become busier, and something we’ve heard repeatedly through various events is how alone and isolated people feel. I think it’s clear from the amazing turnouts at the Fire Recovery Fundraiser at the Depot and Fowler’s Christmas tree lighting that people in the Fowler area are eager for that sense of belonging. I’m really excited about the ways that our parish not only strives to bring individuals into relationship with Christ, but into communion with each other. It’s an invitation for every single person who calls Most Holy Trinity his or her parish home. (Kayla)
There’s a lot to be excited about from this past year. There’s a real openness to what the Holy Spirit is doing in the parish and the diocese and a willingness to try new things. Perhaps the thing I’ve been most excited to see this past year are the Kerygma Encounter retreats. As a participant, the Kerygma Encounter truly changed my own faith and relationship with God, so I was thrilled to be trained to lead them and bring them to MHT. These seven hour retreats bring people to a personal and powerful encounter with the Lord, I haven’t seen anything else that does so much in just half a day. We’re already seeing the fruits from these retreats here at MHT. People have walked away truly changed. We are also incorporating these retreats into sacramental preparation like First Communion and Confirmation. The times when people approach the Church to prepare for sacraments are opportunities for us to show them the love of God in a powerful way, both for their own sake and so that they can share the faith with their family, and the Kerygma Encounter is the best thing I know to offer them. It’s exciting to think about the fruit the Lord will bring to our parish over the next few years when more and more adults and students are having regular encounters with the Living God. (Paul)