In light of reopening from COVID, pandemic restrictions easing and parishioners returning to Mass, parishes around the Diocese of Rochester have been planning and scheduling more in-person events.
Most recently at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wayne County, a parish mission concluded May 24, which had been presented at all three of the parish’s worship sites — St. Mary Magdalene in Wolcott, St. John the Evangelist in Clyde and St. Michael in Newark, noted Deacon Gregory Kiley.
The five-week mission involved Deacon Kiley, Father Felicjan Sierotowicz, Father Michael Merritt and Carlo Stebbings giving reflections on St. Joseph. A total of 12 talks were given on various aspects of St. Joseph’s life, including his role as foster father of Jesus, his response to God’s call and his obedience in listening.
According to Deacon Kiley it was a Feb. 24 letter Bishop Salvatore R. Matano sent out that was the driving force for the parish to host a parish retreat in addition to hosting the series.
“Parishes must now begin programs of catechesis and evangelization to welcome back our people through parish communications, parish bulletins, newsletters, telephone calls and being present to the sick and dying,” the bishop wrote in his letter.
“The bishop doesn’t often say must, but he said we must begin programs of evangelization,” Deacon Kiley said.
During one of his reflections on St. Joseph, Deacon Kiley noted that St. Joseph listened to the Lord even while he was asleep, readily obeyed the word spoken to him and always put his own needs last. Additionally, the deacon presented parishioners with the formula for JOY — Jesus, others and you.
The purpose of the series, he said, was not only to encourage the celebration of the year of St. Joseph in-person but also for parishioners to bring out those features in their day-to-day lives during the pandemic.
“I told the people that they could go to Joseph when … they were struggling to follow the will of God and when they had trouble listening to the Lord’s will,” Deacon Kiley said, adding that each talk had been attended by about a dozen people.
For parishioners in Brockport looking to return to in-person events, Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish has a Praying the Rosary group, which meets on the first and third Monday of each month. Since May was the month of Mary, each meeting that month focused on discussing various aspects of the Blessed Mother.
In March, David Prete, the faith-formation leader for grades 7-12 at Our Lady of The Valley Parish in Hornell, resumed the Faith on Tap series that had been suspended during the pandemic.
Prete said the young-adult discussion group focuses on topics often selected by parishioners or that he selects based on current events and issues that might not otherwise be discussed in a church setting. Each month, the group gathers at a local restaurant to engage in thoughtful and respectful conversation over a shared meal.
“It’s like a night out for them,” said Prete, noting that most of the participants have children, “It’s a night they can look forward to and enjoy themselves.”
Stacey Lincoln, a younger adult who returned to the Catholic Church just a few years ago, said the group has helped her to not feel out of place within the church. Lincoln said Faith on Tap has provided her and her husband, Zack, with the opportunity to find people in the church to whom they could relate.
“We love the fellowship, the laughs, discussing important topics and issues, and having that group support as we continue on our walk with Christ,” she said.