The Story Continues

Wow – what a response we received to sharing the stories of two young Catholics, Alex and Katherine, last week (click here if you missed it)!

Given how much their story resonated with all so many of you, I felt called to share the stories of their fellow Next Generation Parish (NGP) leaders who are hard at work alongside them…

Friends, meet Frank, Meghan, and Tom. Each is working alongside Alex and Katherine to further the vision of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church through the Next Generation Parish endeavor.

At the heart of St. Margaret Mary’s plan is the following Scripture: “The community of believers were of one mind and one heart.” —Acts 4: 32.

These resolute leaders are certainly of one mind, one heart, and one vision. And not only that… they are inspiring other members of their parish to share their own minds, hearts, and love for the Lord with others.

That’s part of the beauty of Catholic Leadership Institute’s ministry: there is always another story to be told. Thank you for being a part of our story and for building the story for generations of Catholics to come.

Meet More Members of the Next Generation Parish Crew!

Last week we shared with you the stories of two individuals who are dedicated to moving forward the Next Generation Parish priority plan for St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park, FL, by caring for, inspiring, and motivating young Catholics.

This parish community has a wonderful pastor in Fr. Richard Walsh, a strong plan created with guidance by Catholic Leadership Institute, leadership who is equipped with data and insights from the Disciple Maker Index, and dedicated lay leaders who are inspired by the desire to make this plan a reality.

St. Margaret Mary Parish’s plan is focused on three key priority areas:

  1. Spiritual Growth
  2. Engagement
  3. Formation of Youth and Young Adults

Last week, we had the privilege of introducing you to Alex and Katherine, who are focused on Priority #3. Today, we are thrilled for you to meet Meghan, Frank, and Tom, who are dedicated, driven, and determined to grow the priorities of Spiritual Growth and Engagement at St. Margaret Mary.

Priority #1: Spiritual Growth

Within this priority, the parish has goals around deepening discipleship, increasing devotion to our Lord, and furthering faith formation.

Meet Frank: Growing with the Gospel

Frank Vander Loo has been a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary for nearly 30 years. As a member of the Spiritual Growth Priority Team, he works to ensure “the whole experience of faith that our community has.” This experience has at its center the Holy Eucharist. “Our intent from a spiritual growth perspective is to try to incorporate a clear and consistent message to the whole community about our discipleship,” Frank told CLI. “And so, as a result, liturgy people and parish members and staff members meet together to use the Gospels and the liturgical source as our starting point as a message to the people about what discipleship is. The purpose of this is so there are not just scattered messages each Sunday with a different preacher having a different particular theme, but being able to incorporate a consistent message of a focused Gospel.” NGP has helped in developing and implementing this “consistent message of a focused Gospel” and building up the church in united spiritual growth. Frank added, “This is very much about seeing how does community grow? What is our relationship with each other? I think our ministries reflect that.”

Priority #2: Engagement

Through the Next Generation Parish initiative, a need was quickly recognized to extend outreach to people not just within the parish, but beyond. One of their specific goals was to organize service projects focused on poverty within the local community.

Meet Meghan: Wearing Many Hats; Uniting Many Ministries

Meghan Collins, a member of the parish for almost 20 years, has worn many hats in the various ministries at St. Margaret Mary, from the Haiti Ministry to Children’s Faith Formation to Peace and Justice Ministry. It was a natural fit for Meghan to become a part of the NGP Engagement Priority Team. As part of the parish’s value of stewardship, they expressed a focus on building community outreach through the collaboration of ministries on various service and educational projects. Meghan shared with us that one of the main goals under engagement in implementing the NGP plan is “collaboration and getting people to work together across ministries more effectively.” She said she was surprised with how effectively the Church was able to achieve this goal throughout COVID. “One of the benefits of this plan has been that in our ministry, we’ve had greater intentionality about seeking out the involvement of other ministries and collaborating together.” This teamwork and empowerment of leaders to work towards a common goal is a byproduct of the vision, goal planning, and data-driven decision making that results from the intensive plan formation within Next Generation Parish.

Meet Tom: Retired Professional/Active Parishioner

After his retirement, Tom Gawronski, a parishioner of 25 years, took on one of St. Margaret Mary’s newer initiatives that was derived from the NGP experience: The Lazarus Ministry. According to Tom, activating this community outreach and service arm of the church was one of the high hopes and big outcomes of the Next Generation Parish plan. He told CLI about a recent event where tubs of cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items were delivered to families living in the hotels on Lee Road. The donations came primarily through the parishioners. “We distributed almost 200 totes,” Tom said of the parish’s involvement. “So that’s 200 families who participated through donations. And then we had another 25 or so people on Friday helping us pack and distribute them. It is a good opportunity for engagement.” The purpose of the Lazarus Ministry is “to ease the lives of the folks in that situation” and to address their needs and the underlying causes of poverty. Tom added, “A big part of our success is working with other community’s a link from our parish to the community as a means to reach the folks in the hotels that we’re trying to reach.” The parish is hopeful that this outreach draws people to their parish and to our Lord.

We at Catholic Leadership Institute look forward to sharing with you more stories of transformation, inspiring results, and instances of great faith. Most importantly, we look forward to the stories that are being written as you read this thanks to your prayers and philanthropy!

by Chad Peddicord

January 20, 2022

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