NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In the Footsteps of Mary & the Saints Presentation: St. Anthony of Padua Church, 3/11/2018

We held yet another event at St. Anthony of Padua Church for the parents and children of our religious education classes, and my ministry was asked to participate by presenting about Mary, the Saints, and bringing relics for the parishioners to see.  I've done these events before and it's always a big personal challenge to get 100+ youngsters engaged and their parents interested, too... and I was running empty on creative ideas.  Feeling uneasy, I again turned to the Holy Spirit for much-needed inspiration... and what He came up with, this time around, exceeded our expectations!

With just about a week left before the scheduled presentation, I was talking to a friend about my lack of a concrete program when during the course of our conversation the plan for this presentation quickly evolved; literally in just under 5 minutes!  It was one of those occasions when the other person mentions something and I respond back... then the other person says something else and I respond again... and before you know it things escalated and a light bulb suddenly went on in my head; I knew exactly what I needed to do.  I tell you - it's the Holy Spirit doing His thing and it's amazing!

So today we started off the family event with a short talk and accompanying slideshow about our Saints, emphasizing their roles as heroes in our Catholic Faith.  I then spoke about Our Lady as the Queen of All Saints due to her unique role in salvation history as the Mother of Jesus Christ; how she continually leads us to God, via what's written about her in Scripture, and even through her approved apparitions. And lastly, how she has inspired many individuals throughout history to eventually become Saints, too.

For examples I highlighted the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, which produced St. Juan Diego; the miracle of Lourdes in France from where St. Bernadette Soubirous began her journey to sanctity; the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima which inspired Sts. Francisco & Jacinta Marto; and finally I spoke about Bl. Solanus Casey who was guided by Mary's voice to join the Franciscan Capuchins in Detroit, Michigan, USA. I stressed that all these individuals are now considered saintly souls not because of their supernatural graces, but rather, they are honored by the Church because each of them put into practice the message Our Lady gave them... and, as such, we can become Saints, too, by doing the same thing.

The four tables, which were decorated to represent Countries/Shrines.  On each table, relics of
St. Bernadette (Lourdes, France); Our Lady's veil (Guadalupe, Mexico); Sts. Francisco & Jacinta Marto
(Fatima, Portugal); and Bl. Solanus Casey (Detroit, MI, USA) were displayed for
parishioners to view and venerate.

After the talk finished, we gave the families a small challenge - to go on pilgrimage to all the holy shrines/persons I spoke about... in our parish hall.  Earlier, our team of catechists had set up and decorated tables in the hall to represent the four countries/shrines the parishioners would visit in order to complete specific "missions".  To make the activity more engaging for the children, we provided them with their own "Pilgrim Passports" on which the missions were indicated for each country/shrine (e.g. the Portugal Table = Visit to the Fatima Shrine and Sts. Francisco & Jacinta clothing relics; Mission: Offer a prayer for world peace).  As a child fulfilled a mission, a "tour guide" (catechist at the table) would stamp the child's passport and, once all four stamps were acquired, the child could then take his/her passport to the Pilgrim Center Table to receive a souvenir Activity Booklet and a goodie bag filled with candies and various sacramentals (e.g. Miraculous Medals and holy cards). The kids went crazy and couldn't wait to get started.

At the end of it all the event was a success on so many levels - the children were so enthusiastic as they traveled from one table to another to collect their stamps and it was highly satisfying to see many of them praying very earnestly in front of the displayed relics... and, as for their parents, most were involved, as well; several took the time to express to me how they enjoyed the talk, while also learning something new along with the youngsters.  Faith-seeds were planted in these families today.

Parishioners making their mini-pilgrimages to various shrines and relics in our
parish hall to gain stamps in their Pilgrim Passports.

As with all special events we manage to pull off at this parish - presentations, processions, monthly rosaries - I give thanks and credit to God for all it.  In particular, the Holy Spirit deserves extra attention for providing the inspiration for this morning's event; it wouldn't have turned out the way it did without His creative guidance.  May He continue to grace us... and may our Kailua parish continue to thrive!

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