THE CHRIST IN US MINISTERING TO THE CHRIST IN THEM
Mission Commission Member
Through Scripture God calls us to serve others.
How can we show our love of Christ through service? One of the ways Our Lady of Grace (OLG) answers this call is through coordinated efforts in Ghana, Honduras and Northeast Minneapolis.
In this special edition bulletin you will read how our parish responds to our call to serve others with an open heart. With a servant’s heart. By serving others we validate our faith to others. When we have a mission greater than ourselves the Christ in us can minister to the Christ in them.
When you are selfless, you glorify God because you are acting out your faith. The importance of having a purpose beyond ourselves is significant.
OLG Pastor Fr. Kevin Finnegan explains, “As weencounter God, who is love, we begin to learn the subtle truth of when Saint Paul states, ‘The Love of Christ impels me’ to go forth. Living beyond one’s self is a basic, even fundamental, step in our human development. God made us with an orientation to another. This truth lived outexpresses the health of a person. Living beyond one’s self corporally expresses that an organization, society, school, parish is vibrant. That Our Lady of Grace engages inknowing, serving and loving people beyond Eden Avenue tells me that this parish is healthy.”
Our Sister Parish covenant offers us the opportunity to practice our Gospel calling to serve.
“It is very important for our parish to have relationships with other communities,” said Fr. Finnegan. “Because of OLG’s relationships with our worldwide sister parishes, we are able to expand are hearts and our capacity to love, and to give of ourselves.”
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Director of Community Life & Social Justice
Our Lady of Grace does a great job of being part of the Universal Church. It's one of the things I love most about our parish. We understand that God's Kingdom and our involvement need to be beyond the borders of our parish.
Next weekend we will be celebrating our sister parish relationships with Ghana, Honduras, and Northeast Minneapolis. These relationships enrich us as much as we enrich them, and each relationship has a special character that is based on building the Kingdom of God and honoring our sisters and brothers in faith. We meet in prayer with San Max via Skype every other month, which helps put faces and names to these friends. We've hosted visitors from St. Joseph's in Ghana, and we're looking forward to more visitors this September. John Paul II is closer geographically and we have teachers, tutors, fundraisers and prayers with the students and staff of this school.
As we learn more about each of these sister parishes, we grow in faith and understanding of one another and the challenges we face living our faith, raising our children and worshipping our God. We grow in love for people we haven't met as we share our love of God, and we build communities that transcend borders of Edina, Minneapolis, Ghana and Honduras. We remind one another that all of us are the beloved children of God, no matter where we live and work. We remember that God's love knows no boundaries or bounds.
Please stop in and learn more about our sister parish and school relationships next weekend. There will be treats and information about how you can get involved, and door prizes. Mostly, you'll learn about the love of God that we all share. Something to think about.
SAN MAXIMILIANO KOLBE, HONDURAS
Visitor to San Maximiliano Kolbe, Honduras
San Maximiliano Kolbe Catholic Parish – San Max – is in the city of Comayagüela across the Choluteca River from the capital city of Tegucigalpa in central Honduras. Honduras is a beautiful country with warm, generous, faithful citizens. However, Honduras is becoming an increasingly difficult country in which to live, struggling with poverty, gangs, violence, drug trafficking and corruption. Even in the midst of such difficulties, San Max is an active and dynamic Catholic parish living the Gospel message by joyfully serving the needy in their local impoverished neighborhoods. Since 1997, we have been journeying together with San Max in faith, friendship and service.
Our Sister Parish Covenant reads, “We are sister parishes united in love, brothers and sisters in the One Body of Christ. We desire to grow in solidarity and mutual knowledge through the communion of faith and personal and intercultural encounters. We desire to deepen our faith by sharing our experiences of God in order to increase our hope and joy in the mission that God entrusts to us.” The essence of this covenant echoes our relationship with Jesus Christ: relationship, communion, mission. Or, as Fr. Kevin put it, to “come, see, go, tell”.
As a sister parish, we are in relationship with San Max. When you participate in Skype calls, mission trips, personal visits and/or other events, you will experience a loving encounter with a real person. You will experience an intimacy in friendship that goes far beyond seeing someone as a project, instead getting to know each other as family. You will experience the beauty of different cultures. Primarily you will experience the Light of Christ in one another’s heart, and come to know each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
Our relationship with San Max brings us into communion with each other, where we worship together and pray for each other. You will experience a deeper appreciation of prayer and the Sacraments, especially the celebration of the Mass. Fr. Marc Paveglio commented about our last visit to San Max: “To be together and celebrating the Eucharist in the Mass was the best part of the trip for me. To be worshiping the Lord and deepening in love for each other, I just saw it happen. I saw it in the Mass. I saw it in the fellowship afterward.”
Through sharing our gifts with each other, our communion with San Max sends both parishes on mission to serve the needs of others. Many families in the San Max community are faced with the choice of putting food on the table or sending their children to school. Through their leadership in faith, San Max provides education scholarships to grade school, high school and university students. We partner with San Max in this important ministry. When you participate in the San Max Education Ministry through the OLG Advent Giving Tree and other means, you help give the gift of hope to a child and family. The San Max children respond with sincere gratitude and affection for the OLG community. Nine-year-old Linda Rodriguez, who is in the 4th grade, writes: “I want to tell you that this is a great help for me and especially for my daddy and mommy because what they do not spend on these things they spend on food or medicines. May God multiply the blessings you have given me and to other kids that go to school without uniforms or shoes. Some would go to school barefoot, but with your help now they don’t have to.”
During our last Skype call we prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy together. Gloria, a San Max parishioner, said it beautifully: “You don’t know me and I don’t know you. But the beauty of our faith in Jesus Christ is that we can encounter our love for each other through our prayer and service with each other.” Our relationship with San Max not only gives glory to God, but also serves as a witness to God’s love, through His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.
For more information about our relationship with San Max and our last visit to Honduras, please view our video above.
If you would like to learn more about our relationship with San Max, find a way to be involved, or help support the San Max Education Ministry, please contact Melissa Miller (952-929-3317 x109, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Phil Grisez (651-783-2618, email@example.com). We invite you to join us for our next Skype call or our next trip to San Max in Honduras.
Dios de Bendiga! (God Bless You!).
JPII PREPATORY SCHOOL, MINNEAPOLIS
Liaison, John Paul II Preparatory School
OLG leadership recognizes that charity in our own backyard is just as necessary as charity overseas.
Located in Northeast Minneapolis, Saint John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School (JPII) is our “local” sister school. JPII has a history of serving our local immigrant population. At one time predominantly Polish in attendance, now one will see the halls of JPII filled with Ecuadorian scholars. The families of JPII are devoted Catholics who wish for their children to receive a faith-filled education - one that cannot be found in local public schools. JPII families also are largely comprised of families operating off of an annual household income of $32,000 or less - making it a challenge to cover the full cost of a child’s tuition.
As a sister school and parish, OLG finds many ways to support JPII:
- Tutoring: the robust tutoring program is a true gift to JPII, giving young scholars the extra attention they need to overcome obstacles as English language learning students (the majority of which do not have English-speaking parents to help them with their homework).
- General volunteering: helping to bridge the gap between special initiatives and lack of available hands, OLG volunteers have been known to clean and resurrect the art room, stock the “Saint Store”, paint and restore rooms, as well as make tetherballs for the playground.
- Prayer: the prayer warriors at OLG move mountains for this school and the families it serves.
- Treasure: various groups at OLG School and Church have found ways to share resources so that JPII has new lunch tables, gently used bibles, healthful snacks and fully-funded field trips. Many parishioners have become regular donors to JPII, recognizing that we are all one Catholic family and that JPII is just as much our school as OLG.
Actions from our OLG community are breaking the cycles of poverty for families at JPII. OLG JPII donors are making sure that tuition remains affordable and that operating costs are covered so the doors can remain open. OLG School is partnering with JPII staff to make sure that they have similar resources to work with. OLG parish is making sure that opportunities are provided for us to extend a hand through social ministries. Together, we all bring one scholar through JPII at a time – to succeed, proceed to high school and then onward to college. We give them hope. We give them the ability to be the first in their family to graduate from college and break the cycle of poverty for their family.
Pope John Paul II said, “Be not afraid to be saints.” Says one JPII scholar when asked what he loves about JPII school: “I love learning about the saints. I love going to Mass every Wednesday - and getting to serve at Mass.”
Thank you OLG for being a part in making more saints for this world!
ST. JOSEPH'S PARISH, GHANA
Visitor to St. Joseph’s Parish, Ghana
A century ago there were few Catholics in Africa; today, the Catholic population is growing faster than the Catholic population of any other continent. In western Africa, Ghana has been an independent country for only about fifty years. Our Lady of Grace has supported a wonderful mission there for more than a dozen years. It consists of our sister parish relationship with St. Joseph Parish in Mamponteng-Ashanti. St. Joseph is a large vibrant Catholic parish with satellite primary schools in the surrounding area. Some OLG parishioners may remember the visiting priests from this region who lived at OLG while pursuing advanced degrees at St. Thomas University or the St. Paul Seminary. I personally got to know Fr. Sylvester and Fr. Dominic while they were here ministering to our parish.
In June 2015, I had the privilege of visiting our mission at St. Joseph’s with a group of OLG parishioners. We were warmly greeted and welcomed, and given a wonderful tour of the community and schools under the umbrella of St. Joseph Parish. Included in this tour was a visit to Our Lady of Grace High School, built primarily through the generosity of OLG parishioners in Edina. Education is one of the most pressing needs in Ghana, and our support of St. Joseph’s Parish and OLG High School is a great work in our mission to make Jesus Christ known and loved.
Seeing Ghana first-hand was a unique and eye opening experience. To see the joy of the people, their belief and trust in God, coupled with the natural desire to make their lives and community better was truly moving. They are so appreciative of the support that OLG provides, and the fact that we care about them and the continuance of our longstanding sister parish relationship. I have traveled all over the world, but my mission trip to Ghana stands out as an experience that enhanced my religion and opened my heart.
Visitor to St. Joseph’s Parish, Ghana
Once in a person’s life, or maybe twice if you are blessed, you are given the opportunity to be involved in something greater than yourself. Something that could only be guided by the hand of God. Many times over for my wife Christine and I, that has been the Ghana Mission, which has changed our lives.
From its very humble beginning at Most Holy Trinity in 2000 to its rebirth here at Our Lady of Grace in 2003, we have accomplished nothing short of a miracle. This Sister Parish Ministry has touched many lives, both here and in Ghana.
- Ginny Ogle was so inspired by her trip to Ghana that she started the “Students United for Africa” at her school and they raised money to travel to Ghana and build a school building.
- Jack Clancy was so touched by the people that he spent a year in South Africa using soccer to minister to people.
- Steven Jaffee went to Ghana with his dad and after high school spent 6 months on his own ministering and living with the people of Ghana.
These are the person-to-person encounters that changed hearts and minds. I can’t even begin to talk about things like Our Lady of Grace High School, our trips to the satellite parishes, the priests who stayed here. Lives are changing. Maybe yours will too.