One of my favorite Bible passages on evangelization says: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” [Matthew 28:18-20].
That pretty much sums it up. But how can I evangelize if I’m not confident in my understanding of the faith? St. Luke responds by saying, “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” [Luke 9:11]. Well, I asked, and God presented me the opportunity to become a member of the FaithLife team three years ago. It has challenged me to grow, learn, expand and solidify my understanding of the Catholic faith. And now, I’m inviting you to attend the 2014 FaithLife series and grow in your faith!
What is FaithLife: Stewardship Forum on Faith? “The purpose of the FaithLife series is to educate Catholics on their faith, to understand why we do the things we do. When Catholics are educated in their faith they become better stewards of their faith through being better equipped to answer questions, evangelize and explain the faith to others.” [The Diocese of Calgary].
The FaithLife series began in September 2011 and is entering its fourth season. It was the brainchild of four diocesan priests and the stewardship coordinator of the Diocese of Calgary. These five passionate individuals looked to open up and dissect topics within our Catholic faith to help us explore and learn more about being Catholic. For the past three years, the FaithLife Team has been travelling throughout the Diocese to bring understanding to anyone who is open to attending, listening and participating. The format is nothing like going to mass even though these sessions have taken place at parish churches in all four quadrants of the city, and also in Lethbridge. The FaithLife panel presents topics on our faith and then encourages those in attendance to ask questions, discuss, and spend time in fellowship learning more about our Catholic faith.
FaithLife 2014 brings a new panel of priests – one retired, one established, and one rookie! Fr. Eric Nelson, Fr. David Meadows and Fr. Cristino Bouvette will deliver the talks to encourage and inspire us to reflect and be challenged to gain a deeper and more solid awareness of what it means to be Catholic. I must confess, there have been some “ah ha” moments for me while listening to the speakers and the discussions that haven taken place during a FaithLife evenings.
All previous sessions are available on YouTube. Visit the link at www.calgarydiocese. ca/stewardship/faithlife.html or Google “FaithLife Calgary.” You can catch up before you join us at the next session—Vacationing with Christ—being held on Friday, June 13 at St. Luke’s Church. See information below and Diocesan Dates on page 20 for more details.
Every day in Calgary, families are living in shelters, at church Inns, or staying on friends’ couches. This situation continues to grow worse each year, as less and less housing is available. Currently, rental vacancies are down to less than one percent. On May 6, 2014 all shelters were full and no more church spaces were available. Nineteen families (33 children, 58 people in total) had nowhere to go. Fortunately, through the hard work and dedication of individuals at Brenda’s House and Alberta Works, 18 of these families were placed in hotel rooms overnight. Only one family was unable to access support through Alberta Works. These stats were pulled directly from family shelter daily reports.
This was due in part to the lack of church Inns available on May 6, a problem that happens all too often, especially during the summer months. As Catholics, we are called to action. We are called to rise up and do something to assist these families in their time of need. Our responsibility is emphasized many times in Bible passages, including “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did it for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” [Matthew 25:40].
For more than a decade, the greater Christian community, including numerous Catholic churches in Calgary, have been meeting the needs of the homeless through hosting Inns in their churches once or twice a month. An “Inn” hosts homeless families at the church, provides food, shelter and fellowship.
Over the summer months, the Diocesan Housing Committee will be working with churches throughout Calgary to host additional Inns to meet the needs of these families and ensure that no child has to sleep on the street or be apprehended by Child Welfare.
We are asking each of you to pray for these families. Please pray that spaces become available for every family in Calgary who is without affordable housing. We ask you to consider volunteering at an Inn over the summer, even if your church does not currently host one. We have made the volunteering process easier by having implemented a central phone line for information of where Inns are being held throughout the city. Please contact us by calling, (403) 536-5682.
For more information on how you can get involved with helping with this family homelessness crisis, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in becoming involved with the Diocesan Housing Committee, or want to know more about what the Diocese is doing, please contact email@example.com.
Written by Drew Brown, Co-Chair of RC Diocese Housing Committee and President of St. Jude’s Health Management Institute
You probably think family time is all year round… and you are right! That’s the way it should be. However, you will most likely agree with me that there are times, such as Christmas and during the summer school holidays, when family life adjusts to a different schedule. We spend more time together and that means we need to plan activities that are meaningful to every member of the family. During the summer we tend to plan outdoor activities. What a great opportunity to remind ourselves, and our children, how wonderful God’s creation is!
Let’s explore outdoor activities for the family that give us an opportunity to appreciate His creation, and to teach us how to care for the environment:
Sit around a campfire: Go on a hiking trip and find a place where you can light a fire. While sitting around this fire, say a prayer of thanksgiving and then roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick. Ask how everybody feels about gathering around the fire. What does fire do when it occurs in nature? What happens sometime after a fire has occurred? What does fire symbolize in our faith? Recall stories in the Bible where fire played a significant role.
Fly a kite: Because not every summer day is hot and sunny, one indoor family activity could include making a kite. Instructions on how to construct a kite can be found on the Internet by typing in “how to make a kite.” Then on a breezy day find an outdoor space that is wide open and let the kite rise up into the air. This activity is fun for children and adults. It is an art to find the right breeze that will keep the kite flying in the air. Let other family members fly the kite so that they can feel the strength of the wind keeping the kite in the air. Talk about how it feels, and how we can feel the wind, but we not see it. Note that we can see the wind’s action. Explain that although we cannot see God, we can feel his presence and see His action in our life. How is God’s presence and action revealed to us? Enjoy the feeling of a successful flight!
Be early to rise: This activity might take some preparation and maybe some convincing, so you might try to find an alarm clock in the house for each family member. Set the alarm on each clock to ring one half hour before sunrise. When the clock rings in the morning everybody must rise and be ready to go. Have a thermos of coffee or tea ready for mom and dad, and hot chocolate or juice for the children. Go outdoors onto the patio or to an open space close by to watch the sun rise. Talk about how special a sunrise is… how the sun comes up every morning, and know that even when we don’t see it, the sun is always there. So is God! He is always there and all we have to do is let him be part of our lives.
Encounter with God and the universe late at night: On a clear night choose a place away from city lights (backyard, a grassy space in a field or park, etc.) and put some blankets on the ground to lie on and quietly watch the moon and the stars for five minutes. Then ask if anyone would like to comment on what they see and how they feel. After every one has spoken, and if it has not yet been mentioned, begin a conversation about how God created the universe and all that is in it. Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Save it for a rainy day: There will be rainy days, and this is a good thing. We need rain as much as we need the sunshine. On a rainy day you might want to gather the family and talk about the importance of rain. Ask family members to name one or more good outcomes that rain brings about. After it stops raining invite the children to go outside and take a few deep breaths. Ask them if the air smells and feels different. If you have a backyard or garden ask the children to take a pail and shovel to dig in the dirt. They will probably find a few worms. Invite them to talk about what they have experienced. Ask questions like: “What is the purpose of rain?” and “What are the worms doing in the soil?” and “Did you see any snails?” and “What else did you notice outside?” Talk about God’s plan for the environment. Conclude with a prayer of praise to the wonderful world God created.