Many times, we hear ministers speaking about stewardship and church activities from the altar during services, or we read about them in the weekly bulletin or church newsletter. Unfortunately, many of us make excuses for not getting involved; and each time we do, we are the real losers!
I first began attending Christ the King parish in September 2006 and joined one month later. The first thing I did was to join the women’s Altar & Rosary Society, where I met so many wonderful new friends while helping with several events. Then, I attended a Saturday workshop on the book, titled “What Does God Want Me to Do”, where I also met several new people who reintroduced themselves at other events. It was at this workshop that our pastor told me of a problem with the parish web site. After fixing the problem, he called and “mentioned” he would like the web site redesigned. I quickly figured out that our pastor was very good at getting people to “volunteer” for parish needs.
During reconciliation, he sold me on the Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreat. There I made more new friends, had a lot of fun, and grew even more in my faith. Afterward, I agreed to participate in the CRHP formation team for the next CRHP weekend. I formed what I hope are several lasting friendships; and, while doing the formation, I joined the Women of Grace workshop and the Prayer Chain.
So, let’s recap a bit. I helped some people and the parish, I put in a lot of hours, I gained some new information, I grew my faith, and I made a lot of new friends. You might be thinking, “So what? What does this have to do with me?”
The Big Pay-Off
For me and for the small effort I put forth, all of the above would have been more than enough payment (if you believe such is required). There truly is, however, a hidden pay-off to getting involved with your church.
At the end of August 2007, my 90-year-old mother was rushed to the emergency room and had surgery that evening to remove her colon. Her survival outlook wasn’t good from the onset. The entire ordeal was excruciating for me, having to make all the medical decisions on my own. The frustration and responsibility was overwhelming; but I made it through with help from a lot of “new” friends. I had called and put Mom on the parish prayer chain the morning after her surgery and notified my sisters in Christ from CRHP and Women of Grace of the situation, asking for prayers for Mom and myself.
Halfway through that day, one of the women I met during the Women of Grace workshop suddenly appeared in the waiting room and gave me a much needed and very welcomed hug! I couldn’t believe she had taken the time to stop in to give me support and to see how my Mom (whom she didn’t know) was doing. How wonderful to get that much needed Christian support. I’ll never forget her act of kindness to me.
When I returned home that evening for a much-needed four-hours sleep, I checked from habit my phone and email for messages. My Prayer Chain group leader had left a heartfelt message for my mother’s recovery, as well as for strength and courage for me. Additionally, my email boasted of many emails from my sisters in Christ, wishing my mother and me the best and saying they were keeping us in their prayers. I almost cried at the support I was receiving from people I didn’t know a year earlier.
The evening after my mother took a turn for the worse, a team member from my CHRP formation group joined me that evening. She patiently listened to my frustrations. She deserves sainthood for that evening, I’m afraid to admit.
My mother passed a little more than 24 hours later. Our pastor said a Mass for her — a non-Catholic; she was remembered in all the Masses during the following weekend; and it took me more than a month to write thank you notes to all those parishioners who sent sympathy cards.
So, the real pay-off to getting involved in your church and its activities isn’t necessarily the immediate giving and receiving. It’s knowing that so many people are there, when you need them most — people who won’t know YOU, if you don’t get involved. So, if you are someone making excuses for not getting involved, please rethink your decision. There’s so much you can do for others, but there’s so much more that God, your church, and its members will give you in return some day — when you least expect it but need it most!
by Patricia Hawke
Copyright 2008, Patricia Hawke