I want to share with you a great blessing that has come to St. Mary Magdalen Parish here in Altamonte Springs, FL.
Surely, other parishes have experienced this blessing as we have—or perhaps in different ways.
It’s the blessing of faith confirmed. In our more than a half-century as a parish, we have indeed experienced God’s love and care, as well as strong conviction in God’s actions in the Sacraments and in the proclamation of his holy Word.
It is also a blessing of faith renewed, deepened energized.
In the past year, our pastoral team and staff have launched a seasonal preaching/catechetical series designed to help the entire parish experience a deeper, more personal and more challenging encounter with the Gospel of the Lord.
We used the RCIA model of “breaking open” the Word of God. We sat together, read the Gospels for the specific liturgical season, broke up into groups, were assigned one Gospel, and thought deeply of what God wanted our parish to understand from each particular Sunday in that particular season.
From this discernment came a number of insights from each Sunday. These reflection points were listed. Then selectively, these insights were to be used in homilies, catechesis and spiritual formation. Cards, listing the season’s reflection points, were printed and mailed to everyone in the parish. Slides were created for use in church. The aim was to get everyone in the parish on the “same page.”
It has been a tremendous help. We have a parish of more than three thousand families and ten thousand souls. We have three priests, seven for deacons, a Catholic school, vibrant religious education and RCIA ministries, a commitment to spiritual formation of all parishioners, and hundreds of lay people up to their ears in outreach to the poor, sick, bereaved, homeless and otherwise marginalized.
We are now gearing up Lent.
Thanks be to our God.