Hungry to Bring People to Jesus

"Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?"
And the king will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me."
Mt 25:37,40

“We needed to do better. Taking care of adults. Paving the way for our children. We had to feed people spiritually…” says Fr. Tom Connery.

And that they did… in more ways than they imagined.

A Next Generation Parish

Fr. Tom and his parish are part of Catholic Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Parish initiative. This initiative is a four-year journey that affects every element of parish life, catapulting parishes and people into the next generation of our Church.

St. Theresa Parish realized through this journey – particularly through the data gathering and analysis phase – that their parishioners’ deep hunger to grow spiritually was not being met.

They united a team, formed a vision, and set goals to better nourish parishioners. Fr. Tom says, “Without CLI it would be an uphill battle, perhaps just a vision on paper.”

Feeding the Hungry

Here is what St. Theresa’s Parish accomplished through Next Generation Parish:

  • Created a new Spanish Mass that attracts 130 attendees
  • Doubled participation in RCIA and faith formation
  • Reached close to 60 Hispanic participants in Religious Education and Sacramental Prep
  • Established a new adoration chapel – 70 people attended the first session
  • Greatly increased volunteers of all demographics who had never been involved before!
  • Inspired a soup kitchen ministry, open 365 days a year and offering 200+ meals a day.

Amazing! And it doesn’t end there.

“Soup-er” Evangelization

Fr. Tom realized the soup kitchen was a path to evangelize. They put up Catholic posters, shared materials and conversations about our faith, and began praying together there.

Recently, Fr. Tom was thrilled to baptize two of the soup kitchen attendees through RCIA. Fr. Tom has already seen these women inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

Fr. Tom’s Personal Message for You and Me

Fr. Tom asks us: “Is the Catholic faith important to you? Do you want to hand it on to your loved ones? If so, we can’t keep doing what we are doing. We can be great. We just need to learn to grow. We need direction. Next Generation Parish gave us the vehicle to push our parish. It gave PERMISSION to make changes. It gives me life.”

Answer Christ’s Call to Feed the Hungry

Christ calls us to feed the hungry. I truly believe he meant that we must feed them both spiritually and physically.

Of the future, Fr. Tom says, “We can be zealous and that makes it fun. I’m far from satisfied.”

p.s. BONUS TIP from Fr. Tom: “There is always an opportunity to evangelize. Next time you leave a restaurant, ask your waiters and waitresses if there is anything in their life they would like you to pray for. You never know how much they may need those prayers.”

by Chad Peddicord

March 04, 2021

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