'Shopping' provides spiritual food - Catholic Courier

‘Shopping’ provides spiritual food

Parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church in Macedon have recently begun to appreciate the joys of shopping before Mass on Sunday mornings. They aren’t driving to grocery stores to do their shopping, however; they’re arriving at the parish in the hopes of picking up some spiritual food before Mass.

In late September St. Patrick’s launched a new adult faith-formation initiative called Sharing His Ongoing Promise, or S.H.O.P. The program begins at 9 a.m. each week with a continental breakfast, followed at 9:30 by the “weekly special,” which is a presentation by a local Catholic. The presentation lasts until 10, when participants are able to ask questions of the speaker during a 10-minute “customer-service” time. After their questions have been answered, participants “check out” and head to Mass at 10:30.

The program is the work of the parish’s Evangelization Committee, which began planning S.H.O.P. in early summer as a way of reaching out to the parish’s adults. The program is geared toward “adults who might want to get a little extra faith formation and hear the stories of other practicing adults and how they integrate their faith into their home and work lives,” said Father Rob Bourcy, pastor.

Religious-education classes for children are held every other week before the 10:30 a.m. Mass, and the parish was looking for a way to encourage parents to stick around instead of dropping off their kids and leaving, Father Bourcy added. The parish found that nine times out of 10 parents went grocery shopping after dropping off their kids, said Evangelization Committee member Betty Schultz. Thus, the shopping theme was born, she added.

The committee chose 14 people — ranging from St. Patrick’s parishioners to well-known Rochester-area Catholics — and asked them to speak to the parish. They were asked to base their presentation on their own experiences of integrating their religious beliefs with their daily lives, Father Bourcy said. From that starting point, they could take the presentation in any direction they chose, he added.

When Mark Hare, a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle columnist and parishioner of Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, spoke on Oct. 24, he talked about his involvement with the cathedral’s renovations and with pastoral-planning efforts. When Doug Emblidge, a news anchor with Channel 13 in Rochester, spoke on Oct. 17, his presentation touched on the topics of balance and media appropriateness, Father Bourcy said.

“We wanted people who were active in their faith. We wanted to get some eye-catching names,” Schultz explained. The committee hoped that once parishioners heard the stories of some prominent Catholics, they “would realize they’re just like you and me,” she said.

Parishioners have responded well to the program, with between 55 and 70 adults “shopping” at the parish each week, Father Bourcy said.

“Everyone that has come has loved it,” Schultz agreed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on S.H.O.P., contact St. Patrick’s Parish at 315/986-5671.

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