Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grim is a recent graduate of St. Gregory’s University where she obtained degrees in philosophy and biology with the aim of doing work in bioethics. While at St. Gregory’s she worked with the Buckley Team to coordinate and facilitate retreats for Catholic high school students, especially students preparing for Confirmation. Elizabeth became interested in in this work after her own Confirmation in 2011 when she began to recognize the importance of living out in her own life the apostolic nature and mission of the Church. Her love of Jesus and passion for teaching about Catholicism lead Elizabeth to continue work on the Buckley Team for all four years in college and to continue this work as a Youth Minister at Our Lady of Victory and Saint Catherine of Siena parishes. Elizabeth has also worked closely with St. Gregory’s pro-life team and Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary. Additionally, she enjoyed playing piano at student Masses and singing for St. Gregory’s choir. Her favorite hobbies are playing piano, reading Church documents and other works, and eating watermelon. Welcome, Lizzie!
One of the primary ways that God takes care of us is by sending angels to deliver his message or to do his work. Most often, these angels do NOT look like angels from medieval paintings, with flowing wings and haloes. Most often they look exactly like ordinary human beings, at least at first. Abraham was visited by three men in his tent (Gen. 18) and Jacob wrestled with a man until the break of day (Gen. 32). None of the angels were recognized, in the beginning, as angels. When I was on my last flight home from Ethiopia to Chicago, I became ill with fever and nausea and diarrhea. The couple sitting next to me, from La Crosse, Wisconsin, gave me their blankets and kept good company with me. (I was still chilled covered with 3 blankets!) When we landed, Bridget and Reggie stayed with me the whole time, helping me with my baggage and getting me through customs. They walked with me to an airport clinic where two more of God’s angels took wonderful care of me. We all had a great laugh when we realized that a Catholic priest was being cared for by a Jewish doctor, a Muslim nurse, and a couple from Wisconsin who were evangelical Christians! It was quite the ecumenical affair. But it was through these people that God showed me great care and love. I am extremely grateful for the blessings of angels in my midst. There are surely angels in your life as well. - - - Fr. Jim
Our young people, those from middle-school to high-school age, are not only the future of the Church, they are the “now” of the Church! They can be potential evangelizers of us “old folks”. Their energy and enthusiasm, when directed by the Holy Spirit, can enrich the lives of our parish in ways that we have not yet even imagined. So let’s try to imagine it now. Imagine that every Sunday evening our young people gather together to break open the Word of God. Then they play volleyball and laugh and talk in the courtyard (Purcell) or under the pecan trees (Pauls Valley). Imagine that on Saturday mornings, once a quarter, they would do a service project and then have a picnic lunch to talk about the things they did and how Catholic social teaching helps them to understand it from the light of faith. Imagine a youth Mass in which ALL of the ministries were performed by the youth, including a reflection after the Gospel reading. Imagine skits and liturgical plays that help the Gospel story come alive with real people talking and role-playing. Imagine our young people coming back from retreats, twice a year, all aglow with the Holy Spirit, so on fire with faith that they struggle to “come down from the mountain top”. Imagine having a young person on our parish staff with whom they can talk and share their fears and intimate concerns. This is what it might mean for us to develop a youth ministry in our parish. Are we ready to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit? - - - Fr. Jim
Once a week, and sometimes more often, a very diverse group of families and individuals are thrown together in one place. They may cook a meal, serve on a committee, plan a garage sale or a bake sale, select a contractor, teach and lead the children of other families, decide how to spend a common pool of money, and, oh yes, pray to the one God that they all believe in. There is no screening or selection process. Anyone can come and be part of it. There is no training in conflict resolution. Some speak Spanish and some speak English, all of them with different tones of inflection and accents. Welcome to our parish! It is no wonder that sometimes we (including the pastor) say things that are unintentionally taken the wrong way, or that hurt someone’s feelings. It is no wonder that sometimes there are misunderstandings. We are like two college roommates who are thrown together randomly in a dorm room and expected to live together in perfect harmony. It is no wonder that St. Paul had to write these words to a Catholic parish, much like ours, many years ago: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” (Col. 3:12-13) Our parish is a workshop of God’s love. When we hurt each other, we make feeble but sincere attempts to “forgive and forget”. We practice how to say “I’m sorry.” We practice reconciliation, because reconciliation is where God is found. And it does take a lot of practice! This workshop of people . . . frail and sensitive and well-meaning and diverse . . . is nothing less than the Body of Christ. - - - Fr. Jim
Globally, most people are living longer and healthier lives. The average life expectancy (worldwide) has grown from 47 years in 1955 to 69 years in 2010. However, these gains in the present have often come at the cost of jeopardizing the health of future generations. The ocean is becoming acidic, forests are being cut down, air temperature is increasing, fisheries are being depleted, and fresh water is becoming scarce. Our actions are driving species to extinction at a rate that is 100 times faster than ever observed in the geologic record. Soon the world will have only one remaining species - humans - if we survive. The earth has a magnificent capacity to renew itself naturally, but only within limits. Our ever-increasing population of peoples is stressing our earthly home to beyond its capacity to renew itself. This is the occasion and reason for the Pope's recent encyclical on the environment. We are responsible not only to each other, but also to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This Fall semester, starting in September, I will be leading a lunch-time discussion group at St. Thomas More parish (Norman) on the Pope's encyclical - "what does it say?" and "how can we best respond?" Please join us if you can. Send me an email and I will put you on our list. Our common home is like a "sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us" (Laudato Si', #1). May we understand how to better care for our common home, the Earth. - - - Fr. Jim
Fr. James Chamberlain
Pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church