May 19, 2017

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Gayle Shrank

Discovering God’s perfect and unending love

Gayle ShrankEach of us has been given the beautiful gift of life. We are personally fashioned by God himself, and then set free. Our time in this world is a journey, and our life gives us an opportunity to discover God’s perfect and unending love. Our love is not yet perfected, so we search and discover together what God’s love teaches, and how we are each called to live it out.

My ministry began in 2009 as pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish in Navilleton, and I have been discovering this love from God in many varied ways.

Having heart-to-heart conversations and listening to people share stories about their life’s journey is one of my joys, and the work I do through the Church offers these opportunities. Our Catholic faith and the beautiful traditions that have been given to us, from Jesus himself, offer so many possibilities, and I am blessed to take part in these practices of faith.

One uplifting example is my involvement with our St. Vincent de Paul Tri-Parish Conference, a social justice outreach mission that includes our parish, St. Mary of the Knobs Parish in Floyd County, and St. John the Baptist Parish in Starlight. We make home visits and sit with people, listening to their stories of sufferings and hardships. This summons my heart to care, to pray and to somehow become more Christ-like.

As I spend time with these people whose needs are many, I am thankful for our loving Father, whose perfect and unending love provides for their needs beyond measure, even when our meager assistance can only go so far. Through the Holy Spirit, I have confidence our shared stories and joined prayers can lift their hearts and offer courage, so their lives can be raised up in God’s hope.

Other opportunities for sharing come through my participation in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Over the years, I have met individuals from different walks of life and varied faith traditions. Paying special attention to their desires for discovering the fullness of God’s truth and plan for themselves, I have also grown in gratitude and have become more devoted to my own journey of faith.

Spending time with these people, talking and learning about the saints, our Church and her history from the past 2000-plus years, I become aware how these very people I am teaching and helping are in fact teaching and helping me. They are reflections of myself—who I am, and who I am called to be. I am a sinner, but through Christ I am redeemed.

While helping others discover and cultivate God’s perfect and unending love in their lives, I am also growing in my knowledge of Christ and in my relationship with God. Sharing with others and joining our hearts with Christ’s, we can see more clearly how we are One Body of Christ. With unified hearts, we can do great things.

God is waiting for each of us, and Christ has restored us, so by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we embrace this great faith we have been given. Devoted with one accord, let us go out and tell the Good News to those we encounter each day, through our words, and most importantly through our actions … until that great day when we return to God.

(Gayle Schrank serves as pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish in Navilleton and is a member of the archdiocesan RCIA Committee—a collaborative group within the Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization.)

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