At the end of Mass the priest says, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” I never gave this much thought other than attending Sunday Mass. But, devoting one hour a week to my relationship with God seemed ridiculous. Imagine a marriage where you spent one hour a week with your spouse. I needed more, but what?
It began when my pastor asked me if I was interested in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I responded with a resounding yes, much to his surprise. It was not because I had always wanted to go there but I love to travel and because of family responsibilities had found it impossible to do for quite awhile. One day as I was sitting in a fishing boat with several other pilgrims rocking gently on the Sea of Galilee, I thought about St. Andrew’s call to discipleship. Was he looking for something more? It might just be life-changing for me, as is was for him!
Not only did I go to the Holy Land but shortly after I attended a Christ Renews His Parish Weekend for which I had made numerous excuses for not attending over the years. I was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and volunteered to be the Coordinator when there was an opening. I also began attending weekday Masses on Saturday morning and Monday Evening since I worked full-time. The more I became involved, the more I wanted to do. My mood changed; I was more fulfilled, made good friends and had a much stronger relationship with my God. Although, if it wasn’t for people inviting me to participate, I doubt I would have volunteered.
While I had attended Catholic schools, I had forgotten much, so when I retired decided to increase my knowledge about my faith and my church. I enrolled in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum of Ohio. As part of my graduation requirements I need to manage a parish project where I had identified a need. This project has brought me directly to you, as you read this blog. It is designed for parishioners to write of their experiences in ministry and how God has blessed them as a result. I hope you enjoy getting to know people in the parish and the kinds of ministries they are involved in within our parish. I pray that you will find a ministry that suits your talents, schedule and interests and perhaps you will hear Jesus, through a parishioner, inviting you.
Dear Lord, lead those who are looking for more of a relationship with you to answer your appeal to them to ‘reach out into deeper waters’ just as you did for Andrew.
Cathy O’Toole has been a parishioner at St. Andrew, the Apostle Church for over 20 years. She is currently Chairperson of the Worship Commission, RCIA Instructor, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, volunteers at Hope Emergency Project in Brown County and has made 4 pilgrimages to the Holy Land.