Advent podcast encourages Catholics to make space for God - Catholic Courier

Advent podcast encourages Catholics to make space for God

A trio of local lay ministers launched the second series of their weekly podcast just before Advent.

In the ensuing episodes, they discussed such diverse topics as:

  • Joseph’s quiet, steadfast faith and his role in the Holy Family;
  • the stress that accompanies the seasonal chores of sending cards, baking cookies, shopping for gifts and, for many parents, hosting nightly visits from an Elf on the Shelf; and
  • that time one of the lay ministers found a small Lego robot — R2-D2, to be precise — reclining in the manger of her family’s Nativity scene, apparently holding the space for baby Jesus.

The women behind “Not Your Typical Church Ladies: Faith Conversations for Your Real Life” strive to help fellow Catholics to more fully engage in the Advent season and focus on their faith even in the midst of the busyness that precedes Christmas.

“The most important thing is that we prepare our hearts, make space in our hearts for Jesus, so we’re hoping that this series of reflections can help you to do just that, just to find some space in your life,” explained Anne Gallagher, director of formation and youth ministry at Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford.

‘Church ladies’ talk about making time for God in midst of busy Advent season

Gallagher created the podcast with Vicky Wejko, Transfiguration’s associate director of formation, and Karen Luke, pastoral associate of faith formation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mendon. They released the first season of their podcast in Lent 2022, although at that time they didn’t yet have a title for their series. They plan to produce another season for Lent 2023.

Although Gallagher, Wejko and Luke are lay ministers at the clustered parishes, in their own lives, they still struggle to balance the spiritual and secular aspects of the holiday season.

“Sometimes our friends call us church ladies, but the truth is that the three of us are muddling our way through our busy lives with work and families, and it’s just as hard for us as it is for all of you to take the time to be with God, to take the time to read Scripture, especially during the holiday season when it’s so easy to get distracted by the to-do list and all of the cookies and the gifts and everything else that we’re preparing for Christmas,” Gallagher explained.

The readings for the first weekend of Advent remind the faithful to be prepared for Jesus’ second coming. Preparation is a common theme in the weeks leading up to Christmas in the secular world as well, but the focus is different, Gallagher said.

“I think the constant temptation is to prepare for the wrong things or to get caught up with the wrong preparations and miss out on how are we preparing our hearts so that Jesus can be born in our hearts,” she said.

Podcast is a tool to reach Catholics where they are

In each episode, the “church ladies” reflect on the readings for one of the weeks of Advent and how those readings relate to their own lives. In the season’s final episode, they talk about Christmas. The episodes are released both as videos on YouTube and as audio files on Spotify. At least one listener has told Luke that while she doesn’t have time to sit down and watch the videos, she looks forward to listening to the podcasts during her commute to work.

The first episode of the Advent and Christmas season of “Not Your Typical Church Ladies” was released Nov. 20, a week before Advent began, in order to give listeners several days to reflect upon the readings before encountering them at Mass. This can be especially helpful for parents or anyone else facing distractions during Mass, Luke said.

“They might engage more in the Mass if they watch it beforehand. I’ve heard this before. If I miss a word because my kid is crying, I haven’t missed the whole entire thing. I don’t feel disconnected,” she said.

Luke and her colleagues hope people will use the podcasts as a tool to help them take ownership of their faith.

“You only get them in church for an hour every week, if we’re lucky, so we want to try to find ways to engage them and make them think about their faith outside at some time in their normal life,” Wejko said.

The podcast provides a way to reach even more people than the most well-attended of parish events, Gallagher added. And although scheduling conflicts might sometimes prevent families from attending in-person programs, the podcasts are there waiting for them whenever they have a free moment.

“We’re trying to bring the faith into the places where people are in their everyday life,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher also hopes the chats she and her colleagues have during each episode will inspire listeners to engage in conversations about faith in their own lives.

Tags: Monroe County East
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