Like so many wise men of the church, St. Leo I answered God’s call to serve Him faithfully. Born to an aristocratic family in Tuscany, in 400 A.D., he long exhibited a love for the Lord which brought him into the religious life. As a Deacon, Leo became known for his persuasive nature, on both secular and religious disputes, which impressed all who crossed his path.
When Pope Sixtus III died in 440, Leo, revered among his peers, was unanimously elected his successor. As Pope, St. Leo I made tremendous contributions to the preservation of the written faith through his writings (The “Tome”), his authority against heresies, and his position that Jesus Christ was united in one person, both divine and human, at the Council of Chalcedon. Many of his writings, sermons, and letters are still in translated existence today. In 452, Pope Leo also physically protected all Christians by peacefully convincing Atilla the Hun to cease his invasion of Rome.
The first pope to be given the title “the Great”, Pope Leo lived an incredible life in service to God and in the protection of the Catholic faith through his writings, his teachings, and his wisdom. He believed everything he did as Pope was in service to Jesus Christ as “Peter’s successor”. He died on November 10, 461 which is also his feast day. In 1754, St. Leo I was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV
When Father Matt asked me to write the story of my conversion in 400 words or less I thought, “It’s not possible. I have so much to say.” This is a condensed version of how I came to the Catholic faith. My husband Emad and I have 4 children ages 8, 6, 4, and almost 2. I was raised Methodist but joined the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday in April 2009.
When Emad and I started dating he invited me to go to Mass with him every Sunday and sometimes during the week. I started going with him out of politeness and more than a teensy bit of curiosity. There was something attractive about his excitement for his faith that I couldn’t deny, and I had to find out what it was. I started to attend RCIA classes to learn about what was happening during mass and what Catholics believe that differed from my upbringing, not intending to join the Church. After learning about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, I realized that I was longing for this Presence, and I needed to join the Church to receive this life-giving body and blood. By God’s grace, I understood that Jesus’ own words, “This is My body... This is My blood” were not meant to be symbolic. And I needed to partake of this most Blessed Sacrament!
There is much about the Catholic faith that I love; Eucharistic Adoration, the Universal nature of the Mass, apostolic succession, icons, and so many other things that are beautiful and meaningful to me.
The Eucharist was a powerful attraction to the Catholic faith for me. For the most part, my conversion has had little to do with doctrine or a system of ethics. My heart has been and continues to be converted by the love of Christ through the eyes of people around me. Emad was open and accepting of me, and let me experience his faith without pressure and without an agenda. He was always quoting Father Luigi Giussani, telling me, “The journey to the Truth is an experience” which I have found to be quite true. Emad’s extended family also welcomed me openly, warmly and without being bothered by the fact that I was not Catholic. They looked at me with the gaze of God’s love and my heart was moved and transformed.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus sums up the Ten Commandments: love God and love your neighbor. This seems so simple, but it takes a lifetime to learn how to love perfectly. It sounds daunting, but Jesus calls us to this perfection of love: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Don’t let the big idea of loving perfectly keep you from trying; instead of being afraid of failing, we can confidently ask God for the grace to learn how to love Him and others more.
A good place to start practicing this is by looking up the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The USCCB website has a great list with examples. The Corporal Works care for a person’s physical needs, while the Spiritual Works care for his or her emotional and spiritual needs. These acts, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, comforting the sorrowful, and praying for the living and the dead, are ways we can offer the gift of self-giving love to our neighbors. And in turn—when done for God’s glory, not for our own—this also fulfills Jesus’ first command to love God with all that we have. Jesus said, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).
This week, consider practicing one Corporal and one Spiritual work. For example, you could pick up a couple of extra cans of food at your next shopping trip and put them in the shopping cart in the gathering space for Dear Neighbor Ministries. Or you could take time to listen and console a friend who needs advice. Notice the people God places in your path throughout the day; you might be surprised at the many ways God is calling you to your
The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, of the United States Department of Education, announced that Magdalen Catholic School is a proud recipient of the 2018 National Blue Ribbon Award.
One of only 49 non-public schools nationally to be awarded the Blue Ribbon, the award is a prestigious and exciting honor to receive!
The Blue Ribbon has been bestowed for Excellence in Education. The National Blue Ribbon award is a direct reection of our Magdalen family’s strong teamwork as a school staff and faculty, cooperative partnerships with our school families, and abundance of parish support.
This process began over a year ago when we were asked to consider applying for the Blue Ribbon program. Mr. Will Durant, as part of his Master’s in Administration program, graciously agreed to complete the application for Magdalen. Submitted months ago, the long process of waiting for news began, and we were notified on August 1st of the award. We were unable to announce this honor before the Secretary of State, so we have been anxiously keeping a very exciting secret. It is with great gratitude that we thank Will Durant for his hours of work to complete the application, which we believe so accurately reflects the excellence in our school.
A public school can qualify for the award in different ways and hundreds of schools can become a recipient each year. It is actually quite dicult for a non-public school to qualify, as the total is limited to 50 and there is only one manner in which to qualify – excellence. Serving 517 students from 351 families, our Catholic school is dedicated to our mission, “Developing Catholic Students to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts”. We strongly believe that all our 517 students come to us each day with many gifts, many strengths. Our mission is to develop these gifts, whatever they may be, within the Catholic faith. The formation of the entire child, spiritually, academically, socially, emotionally, is key to our mission. We strive to live within our excellence in mission every day through daily Mass, a strong presence of our Pastoral staff, rigorous academics, a variety of programs to meet the interests and needs of students, abundant support staff, and a highly qualified faculty.
St. Anthony of Padua is referred to as the patron saint of lost things. You may be familiar with this tone: “St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found.” This attribution is derived from an incident where a novice carried off a valuable psalter Anthony was using. Anthony prayed very hard that the psalter would be found, and after seeing an alarming apparition of Anthony, the novice returned the psalter.
Anthony was born in Lisbon in 1195 to a family of nobility, yet very faithful. He was privileged to receive his early education at the cathedral school of Lisbon until the age of 17 when he transferred to the monastery in Coimbra. He was found to be gifted with an excellent memory for theology, sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers. Although barely considered to be literate by his peers, he had great success in converting many heretics and renewing the faith of many people through his preaching and teaching. For this reason, he is also known as the patron of lost souls—those who have fallen to mortal sin, have abandoned the Church and have grown apathetic to the practice of the faith.
Through an apparition, Anthony received insight into the Word of God through the Infant Jesus. Before going to bed one night, he was reading his Bible. Suddenly, the Infant Jesus appeared resting on the Bible and in Anthony’s arms.
The Infant Jesus stroked St. Anthony’s face. Here the word of God appeared to the man who had so well preached His word. For this reason, most images of St. Anthony depict him holding a Bible with the Infant Jesus in his arms. Anthony died on June 13, 1231 at the ripe age of 36. Thirty years after his burial, the vault was opened and his body had deteriorated to dust except for his tongue, which remained preserved. St. Bonaventure took the tongue in his hands and kissed it, exclaiming, "O Blessed tongue that always praised the Lord and made others bless Him, now it is evident what great merit thou hast before God."
One lens to view today’s Gospel about blind Bartimaeus (Mk 10: 46-52) is as a story of spiritual conversion. Bartimaeus represents people who are spiritually blind, unable to see God’s light. Isaiah spoke of what would happen when the Messiah would come. He said, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:2). Notice that Bartimaeus cries out to “Jesus, the son of David,” which is a Messianic title.
He persistently cries out, even when people rebuke him. Then Jesus calls back to him; the disciples tell Bartimaeus, “take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Without hesitation, he throws aside his cloak and goes directly to Jesus. Bartimaeus casts off his old life, represented by his cloak. When Jesus asks what Bartimaeus wants Him to do for him, he readily replies, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus tells him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Bartimaeus’ eyes are opened by faith: “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.”
Notice that Jesus tells him to go his way, but instead, he follows Jesus on the way, which is the Way of the Cross. Bartimaeus has undergone a physical and spiritual conversion. His sight is restored and he is united with Jesus on His way to Jerusalem where he will be hailed: “Hosanna!…Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” (Mk 11: 9-10). Bartimaeus fulfills what Isaiah prophesied about how the Messiah would guide and restore His people: “I will lead the blind on a way they do not know; by paths they do not know I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight” (Is 42:16).
Lord Jesus, I too want to see! Please fill me with an energetic faith that leaps at your call. Help me follow You on Your Way
Paragraph 4 of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad describes a vision of our unity with the saints who have gone before us. Pope Francis highlights a very important truth that I don’t think many of us fully embrace, namely, the communion that we share with the saints.
The Pope states that “the saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us.” It is through baptism that this bond of love is established. This truth is brought home to me every time that I celebrate a baptism. Immediately before the actual baptism of a child the priest and faithful pray a litany for the intercession of the saints. The rubric (explanation) in the Rite of Baptism states, “The celebrant next invites all present to invoke the saints.”
Pope Francis concludes the paragraph with consoling words from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, “Surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God . . . I do not have to carry alone what, in truth, I could never carry alone. All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me.”
As we draw closer to the Solemnity of all Saints on November 1st, we might consider rediscovering or discovering for this first time the close union of these powerful intercessors who have gone before us.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Fr. John Fr. Jirak
On a recent Pilgrimage to Ireland, the site of the 2018 World Meeting of Families Congress, I once again recognized the importance of understanding how we are created to be fully alive as humans. While in Dublin, I was determined to complete the Pilgrim walk, a tour of seven local Catholic Churches despite the locals telling me to take the bus.
To my surprise, several unanticipated aspects about the city of Dublin limited my ability to navigate the city, including an apparent lack of directional signs. I was unfamiliar with where the bus stop was, or the route to look for, or the time it would take to get to the first church. I set off with multitudes of maps, thinking I surely could figure out what I was doing. What should have been a 45-minute walk ended up taking 2 hours. I got lost before finally reaching my first church on the Pilgrim Walk, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This was going to be a bit more of an adventure than I anticipated. I needed help.
Luckily, the people of Ireland are very helpful and friendly and willing to help, especially a lost Pilgrim. This time, a blessed angel, an older woman saw my distress and offered to tell me exactly which stop to get off to reach my destination.
I could not help noticing the correlation of my little adventure and one of the presentations at the Congress, www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/Programme/Congress/Thursday-Programme
This year, the focus was on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love. Dr. Lynette and Bosco McShane, Síolta, Ireland presented on The Dignity and Beauty of Sexual Love: Finding New Language for Ancient Truths. Their analogy of the right bus certainly caught my ear.
She noted that the Church is like the bus station. Many young people have no idea where the bus station is, or how it operates (i.e. the teachings of the Church), or about God’s vision. Many young people have never bothered with the bus. The majority are going the wrong direction and are lost. Dr. McShane says it so well! www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/Programme/Congress/Live-Streaming
Since listening to this talk, I have contemplated how this analogy applies to married couples and those preparing for marriage. Many have heard of the Church, St. Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and St. Pope John Paull II’s Theology of the Body, but they fail to realize how this is a path to holiness and happiness by allowing them to live fully who they were created to be.
Is 53:10-11/Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22 /Heb 4:14-16/Mk 10:35-45
When we think of baptism, we usually think of new life, like a newborn baby dressed in a white gown. Or we think about the Holy Saturday Vigil when adult converts are baptized into their new lives with Christ. All this is true, yet there’s another aspect to the sacrament of baptism. In baptism, we’re united to Jesus in His death as well as in His resurrection. St. Paul reminds the Romans of this: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” He goes on to explain that through baptism we are united with Jesus in His death and “we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (6:3-5).
In today’s Gospel, James and John wanted to share Jesus’ glory. But this glory looked very different than what they had imagined. Jesus’ glory is His passion, death, and resurrection. His triumph is the Cross. He asked them, “can you…be baptized into the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mk. 10:38). They answered that they could, and truly they were. St. James was the first apostle martyred, suffering and dying for the sake of Jesus (Acts 12: 1-3). St. John was not martyred in the esh, but he was the only apostle to suffer with Jesus at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19: 25-27).
We who are baptized are one with Christ in His death and eternal life. We’ve been submerged in the holy water. There we buried original sin, our personal sins, and our old selves. We arise resurrected with Christ, dead to sin and triumphantly alive in Him.
Jesus, please give me the courage to die to myself in order to allow You to live in me.
Excerpt from “Five Things You Should Know About Humanae Vitae (1968-2018)”
Marriage and the family express generations of love! Husband and wife, parents and children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins make a family. And families can share their love with neighbors and the wider society. God has given married couples the unique responsibility to show His divine love in the world... That is because marriage is a vocation unlike any other—it truly represents God’s call to holiness in service of love and life! Given the special nature of marriage, questions about marital sexual intimacy and when to attempt to have children, or not, take on special meaning. The Church can help married couples understand God’s gifts.
ONE—Humanae Vitae is a positive and helpful papal encyclical. Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) is the papal encyclical (letter) written by St. Pope Paul VI in 1968. It provides beautiful and clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and life. It is fairly short, and it is available free online.
TWO—Humanae Vitae teaches about God’s gifts of married love and life. God designed man and woman to love like Him. This means that we can make a gift of ourselves to another person. We have the capacity to be generous, merciful, self-sacrificing, and faithful. We can form friendships—small communions of persons. In marriage, God gives husband and wife the unique friendship to become a “one-flesh union” (Gen 1:24) with the sacred responsibility to welcome new life into the world (procreation). The marital union is the best place to receive the gift of children—to love and nurture them, and to build the family… Humanae Vitae teaches that married love is to be fully human (body and soul), as well as fruitful, involving the gift of fertility.
THREE—Humanae Vitae recognizes that the regulation of births in marriage is a practical and serious responsibility. Humanae Vitae shines a light on the question of planning births in a family. The Church teaches that it is reasonable for husband and wife to space and even limit births in their marriage for just reasons (no. 10)… At the same time, husband and wife should cooperate with God’s plan for their marriage by respecting His designs. They should not separate the union of the marital act from its pro-creative nature. They “must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and its acts” (no. 10).
FOUR—Humanae Vitae teaches that contraception and direct sterilization are wrong. Use of contraception or sterilization for the use of birth control rejects God’s gifts of love and life. That is because contraception and sterilization do harm to the nature of married love and the gift of life—they separate the unitive and pro-creative nature of the marital act (no. 14). Saying this another way, “husband and wife express” their vowed love “not only with words but with the language of their bodies… the mutual gift of fertility is an integral part of the bonding power of marital intercourse.” To reject one’s fertility by using contraception or being sterilized for contraceptive purposes is to reject God’s gifts to husband and wife (no. 12).
FIVE—Humanae Vitae teaches that husband and wife can regulate births in marriage according to God’s designs through methods of Natural Family Planning.
At the Church of the Magdalen, natural attrition of staff who have moved on to other pursuits has allowed for the restructuring of the parish office to focus on creating, serving and sustaining a mission-driven culture within the parish.
Accordingly, after the departure of several former staff members, I worked with an ad hoc Pastor’s Leadership Team and the Pastoral Council to create several new positions that will include the work of previous staff positions while committing to the primary work of the New Evangelization at the Church of the Magdalen. These positions include: Parish Life Coordinator, Stewardship Coordinator, and Parish Missionary.
Parish Life Coordinator: Dave Saunders
Dave has been fulfilling the position of Parish Life Coordinator for about four months now. Dave will serve a vision of Parish Life that is permeated by the New Evangelization. His highest priority will be directed toward promoting and supporting a culture, “a renewal of structures,” for discipleship that transforms the stewardship way of life into a “next-level” way of living the Christian faith. Dave works at the macro level in creating parish-wide opportunities to encounter the Lord such as ChristLife and the Parish Book Program, which will be unveiled at Christmas. He will also be working with our ministries and school to assist in implementing the New Evangelization.
Parish Missionary: Jordan McLaughlin
One of the most striking revelations from our parish survey in 2016 was the need for parishioner formation in evangelization. Around 65 percent of parishioners felt that they were encouraged to be evangelizers while 17 percent of the parish felt equipped to do so. These numbers are common among Catholic parishes. Yes, evangelize, but how do we do it? As part of our efforts to better serve the New Evangelization at the ground level, we have contracted with FOCUS for a parish missionary. FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students. FOCUS has been very successful in bringing the New Evangelization to college campuses. Their relationship model of discipleship based upon the method of “Win-Build-Send” is a practical way to engage people in discipleship and to be missionary disciples, i.e., disciples that make disciples. FOCUS just began an initiative called Parish Outreach. Parish Outreach brings the “Win-Build-Send” method into parishes. Parish Outreach missionaries are currently in six parishes in the U.S. Jordan joined the parish as a parishioner and staff in August.
Stewardship Coordinator: Cindy Silverstein
I have mentioned “next-level” stewardship on numerous occasions during my time as pastor. “Next level” stewardship is about living the stewardship way of life with passion vs. out of mere duty. It reflects the rich young man in Mark 10 who wasn’t satisfied in merely fulfilling the commandments. He responded to Jesus that there must be more than just following the commandments: “What more must I do to gain eternal life?” When people are on fire for their faith it changes the way that they see stewardship. Stewardship becomes much more about what one “must” do vs. what one has to do, which, sadly, quickly devolves into what’s the least I can do “to gain eternal life.”
Instead, “next-level” stewardship involves discernment and accompaniment. It is a much more personalistic approach to living the stewardship way of life. Pope Francis says that the New Evangelization is relational and happens one person at a time. The new part-time position of Stewardship Coordinator will involve meeting individually with new families to introduce them into the New Evangelization and “next-level” stewardship. Cindy Silverstein, a parishioner of the Church of the Magdalen, has been serving in the position of part-time Stewardship Coordinator for several months now. She is excited to serve all of our ministries through a deliberate and strategic method of further implementing the four pillars of stewardship; hospitality, prayer, formation, and service.
Pastoral Associate: Sister Connie
Of course, the Matriarch of our parish, Sister Connie, remains the Matriarch. Sister Connie, Pastoral Associate of the Church of the Magdalen, has been serving our parish faithfully for twenty-one years now. I have been so inspired by her personal commitment to the people of the Magdalen. She seems to know everyone, and she is greatly beloved. As we move deeper into a parish organized around the New Evangelization, I see Sister Connie as the leaven of our parish leadership and community. I have never met a parish minister that so knows the “smell of the sheep” as Sister Connie. I have learned a great deal from Sister.
Parochial Vicars: Fr. Matt and Fr. Chris
With the superabundance of ordinations to the priesthood, the Church of the Magdalen is now blessed with three priests in ministry. Fr. Matt and Fr. Chris have exceeded expectations in their priestly service during their first four months. I need to tell them to slow down as they are making me look bad : ).
From the time I began at the Church of the Magdalen, I felt strongly that a Magdalen with a New Evangelization vision will require three priests to serve the spiritual needs of the faithful. The “smell of the sheep” method to priestly ministry demands that the priests be with and among the people as servant leaders. Accordingly, we are striving to have some priestly presence and service to all of our ministries. We have begun this initiative by forming a structure where each priest is responsible in serving certain ministries as formal or informal chaplains and moderators. We are in the first phase of this large initiative as we have nearly 100 ministries.
Fr. Chris, Fr. Matt and I work very closely together. Every Thursday we pray a Holy Hour together at 4:00 pm in the Adoration chapel for the needs of the parishioners. We also fast a day each week for parishioner spiritual growth. Each Thursday evening, we have a priest night to build priestly brotherhood through a meal and some form of recreation. Fr. Chris likes to choose movies as the recreation.
Principals: Kristin Schmitz and Jennifer Patterson
I include Kristin Schmitz and Jennifer Patterson, our school principals, as part of our parish staff leadership team. Our principals are outstanding! Under their leadership Magdalen Catholic School has received the Diocesan Banner Award four times. Moreover, Magdalen School has been named a 2018 Blue Ribbon School. This prestigious recognition is due to great school leadership, teachers, staff, students and parents.
As integral members of our parish in-house leadership team, Kristin and Jennifer participate in staff meetings along with retreats as part of a deliberate effort to incorporate the vision of the parish into every part of parish life, especially our school, since the majority of our stewardship resources are dedicated to the life of the school. I like to think of the relationship between the parish and school like the relationship of the branch to the vine (John 15). The vine supplies the branch the entirety of its life.
My experience of parish life is that most Catholic schools and parishes function as silos. These silos see each other but the relationship is mostly tangential. Ironically, our parish church and school are in separate zip codes. The parish zip code is 67206 and the school zip code is 67226. I found this very humorous as most Catholic schools and parishes operate more as neighbors with adjacent zip codes than as branches receiving their life continuously from the vines.
In order to cultivate a true vine and branches relationship, we have been very deliberate and strategic in cultivating relationships between the school staff and parish staff. Kristin and Jennifer have been instrumental in this work. Some of these deliberate efforts include weekly lectio divina (scripture study) with the teachers and led by the priests; priest Fridays, each Friday all three priests dedicate the day to school ministry by teaching in the classrooms, eating lunch with the kids and going out to recess—my favorite school activity. The entire staff, parish, and school, including the teachers, are participating in regular evangelization formation through an initiative called Forming Intentional Disciples. It has been such a blessing for me to serve and run with the teachers on the way of faith. My repeated maxim to the teachers is that we must become reservoirs and not channels in passing on the faith. St. Bernard writes, “If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.” Reservoir disciples must first be spiritually filled and after they are filled their spillover feeds other souls. St. Bernard continues, “We have many channels in the Church today, but very few reservoirs.”
Steward of Finance: Monica Chessmore
Treasure is clearly a very important part of parish life. It is also necessary that we be good stewards of the parish’s treasure. After the departure of our former Business Manager, I created the position of Steward of Finance. This position is a part-time position that will assume the accounting and financial stewarding of our parish’s treasure. The Steward of Finance will work closely with me as Pastor and with our Finance Council to ensure transparency, the best accounting practices and a personal care of the use of the parish’s treasure. Monica Chessmore, a parishioner who previously assisted part-time at the front desk began her new position as Steward of Finance several months ago.
Receptionist and Executive Assistant: Amanda Gillespie
One of the most overlooked positions in a parish is that of the receptionist. I once heard of a parish that renamed the position of receptionist to Director of First Impressions. The position of hospitality is so very important. In fact, Bishop Gerber, the Patriarch of the Stewardship Way of Life in our Diocese placed hospitality before prayer in the order of the four pillars of stewardship. He would say that “there won’t be any prayer if no one is in the church.”
Hospitality is about building a culture of encounter. It is about fostering interpersonal relationships. The relationship between a parish and a family often begins at the front desk of the parish office or on the phone with a family. This initial encounter, along with sequential encounters between parishioners and the parish office, establishes a tone of whether we are truly a parish family or a parish business. The parish as business is a maintenance model of stewardship. The parish as family is a “next-level” model of living the stewardship way of life. It has been a blessing to see Amanda work with our parishioners, building relationships that open the door for greater spiritual growth and fulfillment within our parish family.
It is an honor to be the administration team at Magdalen Catholic School! This school year will be Mrs. Schmitz’s 11th at Magdalen, and Mrs. Patterson is beginning her 6th year. Both of us have taught at Magdalen, prior to becoming administrators here. Between the two of us, we represent a total of 39 years of experience, ranging from both public and Catholic school experience at a variety of grade levels and positions. Serving 517 students from 351 families, our Catholic school is dedicated to our mission, “Developing Catholic Students to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts”. We strongly believe that our 517 students come to us each day with many gifts, many strengths. Our mission is to develop these gifts, whatever they may be, within the Catholic faith. The formation of the entire child, spiritually, academically, socially, and emotionally is key to our mission. We strive to live within our mission every day through daily Mass, a strong presence of our Pastoral staff, rigorous academics, a variety of programs to meet the interests and needs of students, abundant support staff, and a highly qualified faculty. A recent recipient of the Diocesan Banner School award and the National Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education, Magdalen has been recognized for Excellence in Education.
By living out our mission with our students and staff/faculty, we hope to create intentional disciples who will evangelize to our parish, our Diocese, and our greater Wichita community
My 21 years as Pastoral Associate here at The Church of the Magdalen have been filled with countless blessings. In these 21 years, Magdalen has experienced much growth, as well as much change, and in particular, the transition of 3 pastors in 3 years. As each pastor has built on the gifts of the previous pastor, Fr. Jirak is now leading our parish into the New Evangelization. This is such a blessing for our parish today... by growing in our personal relationship with God and with one another. It is a blessing for me to serve with our faith-filled parish staff, as we each strive to become “Missionary Disciples”. I truly enjoy this parish ministry and find all of it enriching and very satisfying. It is not “work” or a “job” to me. I am especially energized in being present to, and for, the Magdalen parishioners, by helping wherever needed. Perhaps, being present and available is where my gifts are best used. Being present with the parish family as we gather for weekday and Sunday Masses, and other events and celebrations are life-giving to me. I am truly excited as we, as a parish, open ourselves to being led by the Holy Spirit and becoming on fire with God’s love as disciple-makers. Let us continue to pray for one another.
It amazes me every day how God has a plan for all of us. I cannot say that I intended to be working in a church office, but, through God’s will, I have now been working in the front office for almost two years. I not only get the opportunity to share my love of God with coworkers and parishioners but now I also have the opportunity to attend daily Mass and go to adoration to worship Him. How incredible is that! I get to help create an environment of hospitality that welcomes everyone to our parish from all walks of life. What a joy to meet them where they are and to assist them in their pilgrimage of discipleship. Sometimes this looks like helping arrange rooms for one of our amazing ministries to further the journeys of our parishioners, and at others times it is simply hugging someone who is waiting for an appointment to discuss the funeral of a loved one. Every day is completely different in its own remarkable way because of all the wonderful people God brings to our church.
I've now been a priest for almost five months (hard to believe), and I’ve been blessed in many unimaginable ways in that time. Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an experience that transcends any other experience in my life! (especially on behalf of such faithful people as yourselves.) It has truly been a joy to find my place here at Church of the Magdalen, where we are focused on not only forming disciples of Jesus Christ but disciples who are empowered to go make other disciples in the world, not in a weird way but organically.
I am serving as chaplain for multiple ministries within the parish that are seeking this purpose: The Adoration Chapel, where we have the opportunity to spend an hour and ‘fill our tanks’, so to speak, in Christ’s presence; our Parish School of Religion (PSR), catechizing our next generation of Christian disciples who attend non-Catholic schools; the ChristLife program, which has been the fertile ground to discover Christ in a personal way for over 160 people this fall; High School Youth Group, through which our youth will be able to experience the joy and love Christ seeks to give them even here and now and pass that on in their friendships; along with the bulletin, altar servers, and various prayer groups. I look forward to accompanying all of you in this pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland, through living as faithful stewards of our gifts.
There is a beauty in the plan of Fr. Jirak for the Church of the Magdalen. His pastoral plan now encompasses all of us being missionary disciples. A missionary disciple is a follower of Christ that gives of themselves, from their own love that they have received from God, so that the other may prosper and follow God themselves. If this sounds a lot like our own diocesan definition of stewardship, that is because it is.
I have seen what this shift in focus can look like first hand. In the seminary, our formators challenged us to do the same – to have a well-spring of love, founded upon our relationship with Christ, that shares the love that we have received with others. In working with the parish staff, I have also learned that it is more important to have a focus on “what is in the heart” compared to what is simply “in the head,” and noticing that it is our relationship with Christ that gives us our meaning in life. I have been given a unique sense of humor and many other gifts that I do not deserve from God. In my time here at the Church of the Magdalen, I hope to share with all of you just how quirky God has made me, and also show you how beautifully and wonderfully you are made. Why? So that we may all use the gifts that God has given us, that we may give Him all the glory, and that we may be witnesses of our faith for others. This is my role as a follower of Christ and my identity as His priest.
I pray that the works of God may not go unnoticed by us in the future, that in giving of myself to all of you through our time together we may grow as a family – a family always centered on Christ, knowing and living our faith because we believe that we are the beloved children of God.
I’ve been a Magdalen parishioner for fourteen years. My sons attended Magdalen Catholic School and graduated from Kapaun Mt. Carmel. I am forever grateful to Magdalen for the quality education they received. As the Steward of Finance, I am responsible for all accounting and financial aspects of the Church. Some of my duties include making deposits, paying bills, preparing and analyzing financial statements, and creating an annual budget. I work closely with Fr. Jirak and the Finance Council to ensure that we are prudently managing your gifts of treasure.
Each day I praise God for dropping this wonderful job in my lap! I never would have imagined myself where I am, but He did. As God would have it, my finance degree and consulting experience proved to be a great fit for this job. I love that God has a plan for each of us and even though we may not see it, it is the perfect plan.
I’m so blessed to work with the church staff. Each one of them inspires me to be a better person. Not only are we a team, but we are a family that works, prays, eats, and laughs together. Fr. Jirak’s ardor for creating a mission-driven parish is contagious and 2019 will be filled with numerous positive changes. I’m excited to share in this spiritual-awakening ride with the amazing people and families at Magdalen.
“Everyone, regardless of circumstances, has something to give to others and is in need of receiving from others for the glory of God and the salvation of the human family” - Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus of Wichita.
What wonderful words to hear! We all want to feel welcome and to return that feeling to those around us. As the Stewardship Coordinator, I hope to warmly welcome all who come into our parish and help each of you discern what you have to give to others through participating in our various ministries here at the Church of the Magdalen. It is also my hope to help you grow spiritually through personal prayer and worship so that you can be filled with the love of Jesus and know the peace that comes with a personal relationship with Him. We are all called to be his disciples, each and every one of us. Through your giving of yourself, you also receive the abundant graces of God.
As a new parishioner to Church of the Magdalen four years ago, I wasn’t familiar with the “Stewardship way of life”. There was an open spot for our daughter at the school and we were blessed to be able to have her enrolled in such a great school. Little did we know that it would be an opportunity for us to fully participate as stewards in our parish community. We were quickly immersed in parish and school activities and loved becoming a part of the Magdalen family. Through the giving of ourselves we, in turn, have received God’s graces in so many ways. The friendships and relationships that we have made, as well as the love that has grown within our own family, has been the work of the Holy Spirit. It is in truly giving that we receive. That’s not just a line, it is real. It is my prayer that each one of you can feel welcome here at the Church of the Magdalen and know that no matter where you are in your life, that you are always a part of this family.
Hello, I’m Jordan McLaughlin and I am honored to be a parish missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) at Magdalen. Jesus has commissioned each of us to “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We are ALL called to make disciples, but how? I plan to serve the parish by answering that burning question, “How do we make disciples?” Firstly, we have to say “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to be His beloved. I hope to accompany you as you make the center of your life and truly embrace your identity as his disciple. Once we have embraced our discipleship with Christ, then we can receive tools that will allow us to go out and make disciples of our families, friends, and parish. I hope to pass on the tools I have received as a FOCUS missionary so we can all grow in our confidence and ability to evangelize.
Dave, can I really have a personal relationship with Jesus? Really? Absolutely! Everyone can. The most wonderful news is we are all made by God to do so. Jesus delights in us. He literally died, excruciatingly so, to give us His lasting mercy, healing, love, peace and so much more. Possibly more important is that, not only is a personal relationship with Jesus the most exciting and rewarding thing in this life, it is critical to where we spend eternity. With that in mind my role as Parish Life Coordinator is to help evangelize and create opportunities of encountering our Lord, by putting systems in place that help us each move through the stages (thresholds) of the spiritual life so that we each become “net dropping", “fully alive” disciples... and then we ultimately all become disciple makers. A Men : ). This will bring our parish to “next-level” stewardship, i.e. not giving to a need but instead living an unquenchable need to give. +++
After 30 years in public education, I have learned that there is one academic skill that every student must have to be successful at school... Reading! Now, in the spiritual life there is one practice everyone must do... even Jesus did this. All the saints found this practice mandatory to advance in the spiritual life... Prayer! Prayer is the one practice. Why? Prayer is our time in relationship, communicating with the God of the universe. The same God who made us. If I don’t spend time with my wife, children, etc. then I don’t have a relationship with them. It’s that simple. If I don’t spend time in prayer with Jesus daily, I am almost certain to either have no relationship with God or one that is dangerously limited or declining. So, one of the ongoing focuses of my role will be helping each person, no matter where they are, to grow in the spiritual life, which will very frequently be a personal question, “how is your prayer life?”
I am beyond thrilled to be at this hungry, wonderful parish with you. Thanks for welcoming me so genuinely and please let me know what I can do to help you (cell 316-655-0378). And, remember; God’s promises, healing, and peace are always with you. The question is, am I in a relationship with Him so I can receive and experience these supernatural graces?
To cultivate a family of stewards for Christ through personal prayer, public worship, Catholic education, ministry to one another, and the community at large.
12626 E. 21st St. N, Wichita, KS 67206 | 316-634-2315 | firstname.lastname@example.org