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Theology and Lunch (or Coffee!)
Do you ever find yourself
pondering questions on God, Catholicism, life, spirituality, theology, morals, Jesus…?
We should talk.
Religion and spirituality are often a huge part of peoples’ lives that are not talked about nearly enough. If you have doubts, questions, thoughts, I would love to hear them. I have often found in my own spiritual journey that the most helpful people were the ones who would listen to my questions and offer guidance/insight. My hope is that I can try my best to offer similar guidance to some of you in the Old St. Pat’s community.
A little about who I am: my name is Erin and I am currently at Old St. Pat’s as a ministry intern. I am also going to graduate school and am in my second year of the Master of Divinity Program at the University of Chicago Divinity School. I am not a therapist, social worker, evangelist, or certified life guide, but I am open-minded, relaxed, and passionate about people/religion. I got this idea because I heard about a similar program working out well in a fellow Catholic community.
If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com to schedule a time to meet. I am available on Sundays and Mondays. We will meet at the Old St. Pat’s offices, Fr. Jack Wall Mission Center, 711 Monroe, Chicago, or we could even meet for a caffeine boost at the near-by Starbucks. We can meet for 45 minutes. Just bring yourself and your thoughts!
As history continues to be told about Old St. Patrick’s Church in these past 30 years, one of the major components that seem to be a common thread woven through the stories is about the very intentional Outreach this church has made to the young adult population. Thankfully, a marvelous mission with a creative spirit has fostered a place where young adult Catholics can feel at home and be part of a church that is actually relevant to their lives. In 2012, though the landscape of this church has changed and grown in such multi-faceted dimensions, we have thankfully become not only a place of young adults but “seasoned adults,” youth, and growing families.
Just for today, however, I would like to give thanks and praise to a segment of our young adult members who really “knocked one out of the park” last Friday with our first annual Broadway on Adams St! Through the great inspiration of Michael Neary, Mark & Aimee Scozzafave, and Megan Buckley, the young adults of Old St. Pat’s stepped forward, initiated, and produced one of the most enjoyable evenings you will find on a Friday night in January! If you find your way to the 5 p.m. Mass on Sunday at Old St. Pat’s, you will find a tremendously energetic and wildly talented group of young adults who primarily make up the choir for this particular Liturgy. Through their love for song and kinship, this marvelous group put together a cabaret of tunes from 24 different musicals including 42nd Street, Guys & Dolls, Wicked, and Rent to name just a few. I am so grateful to these talented performers and especially to Keara Coughlin on our staff who directs our Young Adult Outreach. Along with our RCIA (of which this year we have another great number of 39 young adults who are preparing for initiation into the church at Easter), Keara and her team of young adults continues to foster a great spirit of welcome and excitement for church through numerous service opportunities, faith sharing groups, socials, book club conversations, and events such as Broadway on Adams.
I am tremendously grateful for the presence of so many young adults who find their way to Old St. Pat’s. When it comes to church life, the practice of faith, and people in those years of their 20’s and 30’s, they can be pretty tough and a somewhat confusing time. While I am well pleased by the many dimensions of Old St. Pat’s, I hope and pray we continue to keep a strong focus on our young adult population. I am particularly excited and grateful to our young adult members who continue to increase and enhance our Liturgical ministries and especially our 5 p.m. Mass on Sundays. Like all of our Liturgies, my hope is to see them grow and flourish. My deep thanks to all of you who create life at Old St. Pat’s and especially our young adults in 2012.
Side note: many people have been asking me about a comedy thing that you may have seen advertized on WTTW. Many months ago, I was asked by a friend of mine (who himself is a young adult; and whose wedding I presided at last year) to participate in what is called The Chicago Stand Up Project, sponsored by WTTW and Zanies Comedy Club. Pat McGann, my friend, is one of the lead hosts at Zanies and he is the one who got me roped in to this thing! After a few meetings, I finally hit the stage back in November and tried my hand at stand-up comedy. The show will be televised on all the Fridays of February and my segment will be aired on Friday, February 24 at 8:30 p.m., Channel 11. It was quite an experience and great fun. But trust me, I am not quitting my day job to pursue a life in comedy! The Chicago Live advertisement you saw in the Chicago Tribune was strictly an interview with Rick Kogan to talk about the project. How do I get myself into these things?
Have a good week and keep laughing,
Fr. Tom Hurley
North Lawndale College Prep
First Meeting: Monday, November 21, 2011
Our North Lawndale Initiative took a huge stride forward last Sunday, November 6, 2011, as almost 300 Old St. Pat’s members and friends joined us at our first Old St. Patrick’s / North Lawndale Community Meeting. Exploring the ideas of kinship and mutual transformation, we considered how two communities only seventeen blocks away (yet, in some respects, worlds away) might enter into a new relationship.
In addition to brainstorming about some of the “big ideas” for building bridges between the communities, we all had a chance to listen to the inspiring story of North Lawndale College Prep, an innovative and highly successful two-campus charter school. Mr. John Horan, President of North Lawndale College Prep, literally rocked the room as he spoke to the challenges and the possibilities for North Lawndale and Old St. Pat’s.
As we continue to pursue the possibilities raised in the brainstorming conversation, we have, at the same time, an opportunity to begin building relationships with the community of North Lawndale through a project at North Lawndale College Prep.
North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP) is asking for our assistance with their Senior Project. As a graduation requirement, each NLCP senior must complete a Senior Project. The Senior Project is the academic hallmark of the NLCP experience. The Senior Project consists of a major research project and presentation before a panel of reviewers. In order to make this experience richer, NLCP is in need of “experts” to assist the seniors in the formation of their projects.
Senior Project Experts are asked to volunteer for the following:
1. Commit to an understanding of Senior Project’s ambitions. Detailed information is available
2. Commit to be the Senior Project Expert for at least one NLCP Senior;
3. Commit to three meetings with the senior, each for one-two hours.
- Meeting #1: Monday, November 21, 2011
- Meeting #2: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
- Meeting #3: One meeting during the week of March 27 – 30, or April 23 – May 7, 2012.
Encore’s Service Project
St. Martin de Porres House of Hope
by Shirley Widner
Eleven volunteers from Old St. Patrick’s Church Encore group set out on a gray, cold and windy Saturday morning on April 16, to spend some time together with the women and children of St. Martin de Porres House of Hope. The program was arranged by Marge Nykaza, director of the Harmony, Hope and Healing Choir, and Sister Therese O’Sullivan, co-founder of St. Martin’s, and Sandie Vaisnoras from Encore.
Upon arrival, the volunteers were greeted warmly by the staff and residents of St. Martin’s and directed to the second floor of the facility where the program began with a video of the history of the House of Hope, opening remarks by Sister Theresa and Marge Nykaza, and a very moving story from Sylvia, a resident of the Home.
The volunteers were then divided into two groups. One group spent time with the children and their mothers engaged in an art project making paper Easter baskets, coloring and decorating them and then filling them with grass and Easter candy. The children were pleased and excited about the baskets they had made and enjoyed the time spent together.
The other group spent time with the women of St. Martin’s, listening to their stories as they described the difficult journey they had traveled and their struggle to maintain a recovery mode. This journey often involves one step forward and two steps back. Encouraged by St. Martin’s staff, which run a very structured and disciplined environment, these brave women inspired everyone with their tenacity and their strong hope in and love of God.
After lunch, the program culminated with a music session in the parlor. Marge Nykaza led the women and children in song. She encouraged the women to share their stories and feelings in song. Many were moved to tears as they listened to their emotional expressions of how they had found God and how God continues to guide and strengthen them in their journey towards recovery. One of the things that was obvious to all was the strong bond that exists between the mothers and their children.
What started out as a cold, dreary, windy day was anything but that by the time the volunteers left. Everyone was filled with warmth and joy after having spent time with these courageous women and their children. One of the simple (but biggest) needs of the facility is to have cleaning supplies to keep this House of Hope a healthy and sanitary place. Purchase of these consumes a significant amount of dollars. Encore pledges to continue to work with St. Martin de Porres House of Hope to meet this need. In the spirit of solidarity and kinship, we look forward to developing even stronger relationships with the women and children at the House of Hope.
I have had the privilege of being associated with the RCIA program, and subsequently with the Easter Vigil for the last eleven years. I cannot recall a single one of those Vigil celebrations where I did not hear the following declaration uttered at least once:
The specific targets of the jealousy were invariably those members of the “RCIA Class” who had just been baptized. Specifically, the impetus for the more acute or serious jealousy was usually the person whose baptism most closely resembled a drenching, and who, in the immediate wake of the drench emitted a palpable sense of Wonder, Delight, Innocence, Surprise… Birth/New Life.
On the one hand, it seems to me that the jealousy is well founded because; honestly, who amongst us couldn’t go for a good old-fashioned Drenching — Drenching from which we emerge emitting a palpable sense of Wonder, Delight, Innocence, Surprise… Birth/New Life? On the other hand, the jealousy is not really necessary because the Proclamation of Easter is that we are All Invited to be Drenched! Wonder, Delight, Innocence, Surprise and Birth/New Life are available to each of us.. Now… Today… This Minute. We need only avail ourselves to the waters of Baptism—We have to allow ourselves to be Drenched!
If this prospect of being Drenched — of coming to know Wonder, Delight, Innocence, Surprise Birth/New Life again, as though for the first time sounds intriguing, we especially invite you to consider joining us for the upcoming Beloved Retreat. Click here for more information and to register.
Terry Nelson-Johnson is Director of Adult Faith Formation at Old St. Patrick’s Church.