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Mission 2020

Reflections on Mission 2020


Reflections on Mission 2020

Lucas Jeffrey, Communications Facilitator

After being on the horizon for months, Mission 2020 has arrived, made its mark on our lives, and passed quicker than I realized it would.

I think I speak for most of us when I say that I didn't quite anticipate the impact the Mission would have on me. I remember that, on the first night of the Mission, we were asked if we, the parish, knew what the Mission was about. We'd been advertising the Mission as "Tell Your Story" for quite a long time, and even had a promotional statement describing what that phrase meant. But the majority of parishioners said they didn't know what the Mission was about.

I don't think that means people weren't paying attention. I think it means the concepts discussed durnig this Mission - discovering your own story, realizing Christ's presence in your life, and figuring out how exactly to tell you story once you've found it - were mysteries to us. How fortunate we were, then, to have the brilliant Debbie and Peter Herbeck to walk us through telling your story, and what exactly that means.

On the night of March 1, 2020, speaking to a rapt congregation of parishioners from St. Jane Frances and St. Ephrem, Debbie told us her story. She was raised Jewish. She doubted her faith. She prayed for the first time after the tragic passing of her brother. She didn't realize there was anything outside of that tradition - that there could be anything outside that tradition - until she reached college. Even then, after meeting a devout Catholic friend who said Jesus was her "boyfriend," after having to borrow that friend's Bible for a class assignment and being utterly confused by what she found, after being faced with knowing Jesus, Debbie was terrified of knowing more. Her journey, her story of finding and walking with Christ, meant turbulence, meant tragedy, meant having faith in herself and in Jesus to bring her to God. You can listen to Debbie's talk here.

On the night of March 2, 2020, Peter took up the torch at St. Ephrem and discussed his own story - how he found Christ through much of that same turbulence, through a struggling family, through declining health, and through a single person's impact on an entire group of people. A single, small-town prayer group enabled Christ and the Holy Spirit to pass through Peter's family and transform them. Peter's story, and his journey to find Christ, illustrated a dependence on God and faith that He has the best in mind for all of us. God uses us to spread His word in the smallest ways. You can listen to Peter's talk here.

On the night of March 3, 2020, preceded by a beautiful musical reflection done by Janina Jacobs and the St. Jane Frances de Chantal Choir, Fr. Tony and Fr. Craig presided over our closing Mission Mass. To cap off our experience, Fr. Tony used the homily that night to share his own story. He told us about his own experience growing up with infantile paralysis, and how such a small thing to him ended up affecting his entire life. He shared a time he had to trust in God; when he was nearly denied ordination due to his condition - because of a now-outdated Church Canon law - he had to delve deeper into his faith than ever before. Through Fr. Tony's story, we learned about the plan that God has for all of us; despite the twists and turns, troubles and offenses, and just plain awful experiences, God will see us through to the other side. He will always deliver us to where we need to be in our lives. You can listen to Fr. Tony's homily here.

The Mission has given us an incredible amount of things to think about. In the light of these stories, we now must look inward and see how God has walked with us through our lives. What has He done to help us? To show His presence? To signify that he always has the best in mind for us, even in the worst of times?

Once you have formulated your story - your 30-second elevator pitch, as Peter called it - we welcome you to share your story with us. Our next phase, Growing in 2020: Tell Your Story, is forthcoming! More information on it below.

I wish to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who attended Mission 2020. I hope you were as thrilled by it as I was. If you have any thoughts or questions, I can be reached at LJeffrey@sjfparish.org.

Thoughts on the Mission 2020 Experience

Laurie Hall, Pastoral Associate and Worship Coordinator

The Mission 2020 experience brought wonderful testimonials from Debbie and Peter Herbeck about their walk with Christ. We learned how God was present in Debbie’s life, leading her conversion from her Jewish roots to Catholicism. Through her story, we found that God works through tragedy, cultural challenges, small signs, and great connections with other people. We saw clearly how her story would inspire and evangelize, just like our stories can do.

Peter also shared his story - one of a Catholic family struggling with alcoholism and the journey to true freedom in the love and light of Christ. Peter shared a moment of grace that transformed his entire family, bringing them back to God and an understanding of how important it is to have dependence on God, not ourselves. His story reinforced how God works through His people.

On Tuesday, Fr. Tony shared his story, inspiring us to bring to God what we have and to know that all of it is of God and reflects His love and mercy.

All three stories provide us a clear view of how God works in each life through different circumstances, bringing the people of God to help us see God’s glorious light. Now it is time for us to reflect on our Mission 2020 experience. It may be that we don’t take the time to really think about our story; we must identify how God has worked in our lives and how a relationship with Jesus provides the ability to persevere in a world that is both joyful and hopeful and scary and hopeless. Now is a good time to explore how Jesus rejoices with us in the good times, encourages us, and strengthens us in darkness.

Once you have a clear view of Christ’s presence in your life, focus on how to tell your story and bring others to know Christ and His Good News. Peter gave us some things to think about in creating our story, suggesting that it be told in 30 seconds - the length of a quick conversation. He talked about how important it is to mine our histories, to recall our lives before our relationship with and dependence on God, and how we changed after that relationship was formed. Finally, he asked us to formulate a response to “Why am I Catholic?”

We want to hear your story!

We’re asking you, the parishioners of St. Jane Frances, to spend Lent reflecting on and formulating your 30-second story. On April 26th from 10:00am to 11:30am, and April 30th, from 10:00am—Noon, we will be recording your stories for use in our next phase of Tell Your Story—Growing in 2020: Tell Your Story! If you are willing to share your story, please contact Laurie Hall at LHall@sjfparish.org or call the Parish Office at 586-977-8080. We can’t wait to hear your stories!