Fr. Matt and Christmas Every Sunday

A few weeks ago, I received a great gift.

At an event, I was seated at a table with a young Philadelphia priest ordained six years ago, Fr. Matt Biedrzycki. Fr. Matt currently serves as the Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

After the dinner, Fr. Matt came up to me to share how Catholic Leadership Institute played a role in his vocation. I was profoundly touched by how his participation in a CLI ministry became part of the foundation for his call to the priesthood. What a humbling gift for me to hear.

Fr. Matt shared:

“As a student at Temple University, my pastor, Fr. Thomas Higgins, invited me to participate in the Pastoral Council at Holy Innocents. At the time, I did not think much of the opportunity apart from that it would help Fr. Higgins. Father desired that we take part as a Council in the CLI Catholic Hero’s Journey in order to be better fitted for the role he had invited us to play. This was my first encounter with CLI. The opening retreat weekend had a profound impact on me, and the monthly sessions we took part in with Dan Cellucci would help to ground me as a young man for the profound time of conversion God had planned for me in my sophomore year.

CLI introduced me to the way in which our faith could inform everyday life and the way we are called to live out the Baptismal Call to Holiness in our own day and place. I would not have used these words then as I do now. The men and women who took part in it with me became dear friends and examples I would return to regularly.”

Today, that gift continues.

Fr. Matt’s journey has again come back to CLI. Most recently, Fr. Matt has been trained as a facilitator for our Parish Missionary Disciples (PMD).

PMD focuses on discipleship and evangelization training that equips and prepares faithful Catholics to pray with others, share the Good News, evangelize, and deepen engagement with the sacraments. This spirit is so critical for our Church to thrive for generations to come.

Of PMD, Fr. Matt reflects:

“As a priest, I recognize that my participation in the missionary identity of the Church will reflect my particular charism of Holy Orders. My participation in the PMD formation program offered me new ways I might actualize the call I have been given to make disciples myself by first sanctifying the members of the Church who will in turn sanctify the world.

Not only does CLI provide excellent formation for Priests to become better shepherds after the heart of Christ, but also with men and women equipped for mission. To have men and women among the laity whom the priest may call upon to go out and participate in that commission to make disciples is a gift. CLI helps to produce just such men and women rooted in Christ, and so able to bear fruit thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.”

PMD is a special program; Fr. Matt is a special priest.

All of our PMD graduates and all of the wonderful priests we serve – they are doing the hard, worthy, and beautiful work needed to make “Christmas Every Sunday” come to life.

That work is a gift that keeps on giving.

This Christmas, I thank you, I pray for you, and I challenge you to – like Fr. Matt – listen and respond to the call to share the love of Jesus with one another.

Double Your Gift; Founder Does Double Duty

CLICK HERE to Support CLI’s Ministry on Giving Tuesday

My parish, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in West Chester, PA, is a part of Catholic Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Parish endeavor. Recently, Sts. Peter and Paul hosted an information session to share what our parish has been doing as part of this endeavor.

I shared with our wonderful pastor, Msgr. Angelo Citino, that I would be attending just to listen and learn. I wanted to simply be an observer in the pews.

When I left that meeting, I knew I was wrong.

I could not just sit back and listen – I had to be a part of the diligent work I saw taking place. The caliber and excitement of the volunteers who were standing up and playing a role in Next Generation Parish were exceptional. Within them, I saw the leadership qualities that inspired me to found Catholic Leadership Institute. I was humbled.

Further humbling is the dedication of Msgr. Citino. He shares about his NGP experience and a unique view of the impact of your giving:

“I am very grateful for CLI’s Next Generation Parish. I am not far from retirement and when I went to the first information session about NGP, I thought, ‘Should I do this?’ Yes, I should. I must. A parish needs vibrancy; this is a way to create that. NGP is the best thing I can do to build something beautiful at this parish to hand over to my successor.

At our parish, we started with a core group of volunteers to lead the Envisioning Phase. They in turn have been inviting other laity to stand up and join them. The effort keeps growing: the laity are not just participating… they are taking ownership of ministry, involvement, and evangelization.

CLI is a wonderful cause. If you are a donor thinking about giving to support CLI’s ministry, I hope you think about your gift not just as a donation to the Church – but think of your giving as a way to evangelize people.

A gift to CLI is a way for you to play a role in the evangelization our Church needs right now. You are inspiring and aiding people to go out and bring Jesus to others. I say to all those in our parish – those involved ministry, teaching, prep, and more – you are building up this Kingdom of God. In the midst of everyday life, it is easy to lose sight of that. But we are building up the Kingdom. That’s what our jobs are. That’s what your giving does.”

One thing I have learned in this hard, humbling, and important work is this: for our Church, our parishes, and our faith to thrive, we have to invite others:

invite others to know Jesus

invite others into our parishes

invite others to Mass

invite others to share their witness

invite others to the loving arms of Christ

Today, I invite you to give at any level to make more Catholic Leadership Institute ministry possible.

I can say with great certainly and great humility that your work empowers amazing ministry… I know because I am a proud participant in that ministry!

As a Founder and as a worker in the vineyard, I invite you, and I thank you.

CLICK HERE TO Double Your Gift to CLI on Giving Tuesday

by Tim Flanagan

December 20, 2022

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