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As a youth I can remember my faith being a very important part of my life. I use to look forward to CCD class, I went to St. Brendan’s in Detroit, and we would attend CCD after school. I would walk there from school than walk home. I loved the classes, I loved my faith. It was simple back than, I was told what to believe and I did.
I would question things, it’s in my nature, but for the most part I listened and I learned. The sad part of this was a lot of my teachers were post Vatican II and they abused or misunderstood the documents and there intent, so I was taught a lot of “God is in the tree and grass, pray to the tree and grass” crap. I remember making a cotton ball creature. We painted them glued eyes on them and feet and a little message about Jesus loves you. I call this fluffing the faith, turning the truth of God in to little cute sayings and meaningless messages.
But all in all my faith life was important to me at a very young age. I was always interested in watching any program concerning my faith, I loved to talk to anyone about it. I remember my friends at the time always came to me to ask me questions about the Catholic Faith, it made me feel good to think that they asked me.
Attending Mass weekly with my parents and the rest of my family was just what we did. I never really thought about it, we just went, no questions asked. For me part of Mass was reciting the Mass along with the priest. I would pretend I was the priest and recite the mass along with him, I still do this today. I, like most young Catholic boys back than, wanted to be a priest. It looked exciting, everyone respected you and the best part you only worked two days a week, Saturday and Sunday, or so I thought, who knew a priest had other responsibilities.
As time went on and I grew up my faith remained an important part of my life, as we moved from Detroit to the Irish Hills to Clinton to Ann Arbor I remained a faithful Catholic, for the most part. I sinned and I faltered but the faith was still an important part of my life. The thought of the priesthood remained with me, and I eventually looked in to the possibility of entering the seminary. But the calling I was hearing from God was not the priesthood but a life as a layman in the faith, A life dedicated to educating people about the Catholic faith in my daily life and as a volunteer in the faith.
In 1990 I found my voice in the Church, I became a religious education teacher for St. John Neumann Parish in Canton Michigan. I served as a sixth grade teacher for 10 years and part of that time I was the lead teacher for 6th grade. I loved every moment of it! But sadly the time came for me to move on, and I went to St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish Westland Michigan. At St. Theo’s I was the middle school youth minister, I, along with the religious education director, Theresa, recreated the middle school youth education program and introduced the middle school youth group. I was at St. Theo’s for four years, it was hard work and a lot of up and downs. But in the end I loved every moment of it. Working with youth is a privilege that many do not experience. I was blessed to be able to do it for 14 years.
The new chapter of my life has started, I now attend Our Lady of Good Council Parish in Plymouth Michigan. The move from each parish, Neumann’s to Theodore to Our Lady each represent a new direction for me.
Neumann gave me the ability to learn my skill and my faith to a deeper level, and opened my eyes to the parish life the exist behind the scenes. I was able to teach and create and form relationships with other volunteers and youth that still exist today. They truly became a family to me. But the time came for me to move on, to learn new skills and lessons. God was calling me to a new adventure. St. Theo’s was that new adventure.
At St. Theo’s I learned life lessons that no other place could have offered me. I was allowed to create a program from the ground up, use my imagination and dive deeper in to my faith than I have ever before. But I also learned the lesson of parish politics and self serving servants. I was introduced to a very black and bleak side of parish life that few get to see or experience. I saw friends connive and scheme and felt the knife being pulled from my back. I learned to push on through the pain and focus on the important thing, the youth. And I learned when to let it all go. I left St. Theo’s with a heavy heart and a sadness of the soul I have never felt before.
Our Lady of Good Counsel is my new home, I have yet to volunteer my time, but the darkness of my soul is starting to resend for the first time in years. I am feeling the healing power of Christ working in me and I am starting to regain my love of the faith, my thirst for knowledge of the faith for the first time in a long time.
The power of negativity can only be overcome by the power of positivity. Only the light of the true faith can pierce the darkness of faith lead astray. I am once again feeling at home with in my own faith, and I am waiting to hear from God what new and exciting plans he has for me now.
As a youth my excitement for the faith seem natural and an unending experience, but St. Theo’s taught me that this is not so, like all things in life we are tested, and our faith is no different. I was tested, I have yet to find out my grade, but I hope I passed. I may not know if I passed or not but one thing I know for sure, I am now at home at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. I am being feed for the first time in years.
I feel the Holy Spirit working in me, I am just not sure what work he is doing yet. I know I am being prepared for something, just not sure what that something is yet.
Two weeks ago I attended reconciliation for the first time in years, and for the first time in years my soul is singing with joy that it can breath easy knowing that God’s grace of forgiveness was granted to me. I will attending this sacrament now with a new understanding and appreciation for the gift that it is. God called me to each parish I have attended in my life for a reason. From St. Brendan’s to Our Lady of Good Counsel, each provided me with something, a life lesson and a faith lesson, each has helped me grow in my own faith and to become the Catholic man I am today. I am far from perfect, I am a sinner to be contended with, but I am confidant that God has plans for me, and that if I allow him to enter in to my life fully I will become what God asks of me. I have far to go, of that I am sure, but I know I can do it.
My faith is still important to me, more so than when I was a child, but as I child I understood things more clearly, not because I was smarter, but because I was less corrupted. The adult world is one of complications and corruptions. Scandals rock the faith and the Church and the secular world calls us out of faith. As a youth I accepted the faith for what it was to me at the time, I did not allow the corruption or scandal of the world deter me, I was rock solid in my understanding of God, Me and the world. I think I understand what Jesus meant when he said:
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
The mind of a child is a gift, they have the ability to comprehend the un-comprehendible. At times I wish I had that gift in my life now.
|Catholic Churches of Detroit (MI) (Images of America)|
|Isaiah 53:5-6“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
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