What it Means to Me to be a Lector – Grace Francomb

I always was a big ham.

Grace Francomb

From about age three I was dancing on amphitheater stages at the park and shouting “crucify him!” with as much gusto as I could muster during Good Friday services. I thrived in dramatic moments and in front of crowds. I also felt deeply connected to my faith and longed to get involved at church. To my chagrin, my parents wanted to leave altar serving to boys discerning the priesthood. “You’ll find your place to serve,” they told me. “You just have to be patient.”

In middle school I found that place when my dad and I started lectoring together. It was such a joy. As a literary enthusiast, I savored the words and tried out inflections for effect. And my dramatic flair was tickled as I told epic stories in front of the congregation. Around this time I began to read The Word Among Us reflections on the daily Mass readings with breakfast, and throughout high school, I learned how to truly dig into the rich characterization, poetry, and symbolism present in scripture. Most importantly, I learned that God had something personal to say to me when he spoke through his Word. It was uncanny how often the Mass readings were relevant to something that had happened that day. I began to discover motifs and allegories not only on the pages of the missal but in my own life.

I always prayed that my experience with the relevance of scripture would overflow into the listeners when I lectored. What a gift, to be the one who spoke the words of love that God was whispering to someone feeling unlovable, to be the mouthpiece of God’s challenge for a sleeping soul, to bring a thrill of joy to someone who felt trapped in sorrow.

“But isn’t all this pretty attention-seeking?” nags the voice in my head. Possibly. But in the proper context, the lector should be somewhat invisible. Just like a great actor “becomes” a completely different person when the character they inhabit takes over, so too should lectors fade into the background of the message and the One they speak for. Certainly, each actor and lector will approach a character or text in a unique way that points to their specific God-given sensibilities and experiences, but the goal is to let those aspects of personality serve the larger picture of what they are trying to portray. Contrary to the self-centered diva, lectoring can be a lesson in the art of self-forgetfulness, self-gift, even death to self.

On the opposite end of the naysayer spectrum lives a little voice that whispers, “How could you stand up in front of people and make a fool of yourself when you might mess up?” The answer, however, is the same as before: serve the message. God can make great things come out of real mess-ups. Just look at what good came out of the Crucifixion. So now, reader, I ask you to consider how God is calling you to enter more deeply into the message of salvation. That may start with five minutes a day looking over the Mass readings and ask God how this applies to your life. It may be something more radical, like volunteering to be a lector at St. Andrew. Just know that Jesus is always calling us deeper, and we have been given a great gift to bear the story of salvation. Take a risk – maybe you are called to be the mouthpiece of God as a lector.

What it Means for Me to be a Lector – Mike Francomb

Since I was a young boy, the call to serve the Church has been strong, and that has included many different roles over the years. When we moved to St. Andrew over 20 years ago, it took me some years to get back into actively serving during the Mass, and since I started being a lector over 10 years ago, what I’ve understood about this ministry has evolved.

In considering the tenants of stewardship as time, talent and treasure, it first provided a way to use my talents of having a loud voice and a love of the written word. Additionally, I was blessed to share the ministry with my daughter and provide us an opportunity to serve the parish together. As a parent, sharing a ministry with my child has been very meaningful.

Through the last few years though, being a lector has come to mean much more. The act of preparing to read on Sundays led me to get back into scripture on a more regular basis. Getting back into scripture led me to gain a deeper understanding of God’s message of love for us. Then when my wife became ill, it became the pillar I leaned on to give me strength every morning. Those days and nights were certainly dark, but the morning was always filled with light. Now, if my day doesn’t start by reading the bible, I’m a little lost that day. God’s word comes alive to me every day.

As a lector on Sundays, bringing God’s word alive is what I am blessed to share in through the liturgy of the Word. These are not simply words written on a piece of paper. These are the divinely inspired Words given to us by a God who loves us.

Thank you, God, and thank you my fellow parishioners for allowing me and inviting me to participate in such a divine mystery.

May It Be Done To Me According to Your Word. Lk 1:38

I met Carol at a Christ Renews Weekend 8 years ago. We had a lot in common; we were both were introverted, wondered why we had signed up for a CRHP Weekend and both knew no one present that weekend. For some unknown reason, we both committed to go on for six months. Each week, as we left our meeting, we would say to each other – “We are not going back.”  And, each week we found ourselves planted in the same seats on Thursday evenings. Carol referred to God as the ‘Hound of Heaven.’  Indeed, he hounded us!

Along the way, I got to know Carol’s husband, Charlie. They were nearly inseparable. Carol and I became dear friends. After CRHP, Carol became involved in several ministries and Charlie followed. They both went to Bible Study which they loved. Carol became an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a Lector and a Lay Spiritual Director of Christ Renews.

Charlie had coped with major health issues throughout his life and suddenly was faced with another. As a Marine, he was ready for the fight.  Charlie was diagnosed with cancer, as was Carol within a few weeks of each other. They had different types of cancer and therefore, different doctors and chemo regimens, different treatments at different hospitals. Their lives revolved around fighting cancer.

Involvement in ministries became increasingly difficult. So, both of them being very practical, investigated the Rosary Makers knowing that if they were homebound they could make rosaries to help the missions. When I would visit them they would be sitting in their living room making knotted rosaries. Carol died on Ash Wednesday a year and a half ago and Charlie was lost without her. He stopped making rosaries.

In April, I asked him if he would make knotted rosaries for the pilgrims going to the Holy Land since they were also receiving a book,  Mary, Undoer of Knots. He said he would try. Several weeks later he delivered 40 knotted rosaries. Some were in process so he completed them and others he had just made. The pilgrims were very thankful for their rosaries which will always remind them of their time spent in the Holy Land. Charlie died about 3 weeks after we returned from our pilgrimage. After his funeral, I took the remaining rosaries to Bible Study for his friends. They also cherished those rosaries and now both the pilgrims and the Bible Study group pray for Charlie and Carol as they recite their rosary.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us as we deal with the inconceivable knots in our lives. Be always at our side to help us through these difficulties and let us never feel, despite our situation, that we are useless or unable to serCarol and Charlieve others.

If you are interested in becoming a Rosary Maker contact Jane Kneipp at ckneipp@fuse.net

Written by Cathy O’Toole in memory of her dear friends Carol and Charlie Drummond! May they rest in peace together forever.

I Sought the Lord and He Answered Me

It wasn’t too long ago that my faith wasn’t a top priority. In 2013 my outlook changed due to a life challenge and by attending a Christ Renews His Parish weekend. My eyes were opened on that weekend and the months and years after. I sometimes wonder what took me so long.

My longest journey within the journey was my visit to the Holy Land. My wife and I recently went on pilgrimage with a group of St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioners lead by Father Rob Waller, Pastor Emeritus at St. Andrew. What I thought this experience would be and what it turned into was awe-inspiring. I walked where Jesus walked. Every time I say that and or write it goose bumps appear! Most of my pilgrimage was a feeling of complete joy at the locations and with the people we met.

We started in Jordan traveled through Galilee, Palestine and ended up Jerusalem. Every location had a significant impact on my faith journey. It is impossible to pick one place or event that affected me the most.  I touched the place where He was born, walked where He taught and finally stood at the place where He was resurrected.

One particular day, a group of us walked from the Sea of Galilee up to the Mount of Beatitudes. Along the way Father would lead us in prayer and taught us as we walked. I remember thinking this is what happened on the day of the Sermon on the Mount. When we reached the top, I fully expected to turn and see a multitude of His followers behind me.

I Sought the Lord and He Answered Me, Delivered Me From All My Fears. Ps 34:5

That part of the trip led me to my decision to begin the Lay Pastoral Ministry program at the Athenaeum of Ohio. A year ago I met with Dr. Susan McGurgan, the director of the program and was accepted as a student, but I never started. My pilgrimage was my time to reflect on this and decide if this was the path I was to take.  On the top of the Mount of Beatitudes, at the hostel we stayed, I heard a familiar voice. When I turned, it was Susan with another group of pilgrims. I start my classes this fall. I’m not sure where this next journey will lead me, but I am open to His will and know my path is leading toward Him.

“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” Pope Benedict XVI.

I pray that you have an encounter or meet someone who will inspire you and lead you to a new horizon on your life’s pilgrimage.

Tom Hodson is a Lector, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, member of St. Vincent de Paul, on the RCIA team, and Stewardship Committee at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Tom also chairs the St. Andrew/St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Continuation Committee for Christ Renews His Parish. He and his wife Debbie have been parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for 8 years.



The Women’s Christ Renews weekend is coming up on Aug. 6-7, 2016. To register contact Patty Norris, Director of Religious Education at St Elizabeth Ann Seton; phone (513)575-0119 or email pknorris@cinci.rr.com.



It is More Blessed to Give Than Receive

While enjoying an ice cream with Sister Lucia Castellini one evening after Monday night Mass at St. Andrew Church, Ray and I received an invitation to volunteer at Hope Emergency Program. Sister Lucia, a parishioner of St. Andrew, and a Brown County Ursuline Sister is the Director of the Hope Emergency Project.  Ray and I were recently retired and we couldn’t say no to her invitation to help on Wednesdays.  We didn’t realize how serving others could be so rewarding.

We started volunteering in January of 2014. We love the ministry of helping the needy of Brown, Clinton, Highland and Adams Counties. The Hope Emergency Project serves hundreds of families, helping approximately 1,000 people every month.  Some families need services for a short time in order to recover from a loss of a job or personal disaster while some need more long-term assistance to make their income stretch to cover their necessities. Everyone who comes for food, clothing and household items must qualify and then receive services at no charge.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20: 35

Hope does have a few paid employees but couldn’t serve so many households if they didn’t have volunteers. On Tuesdays and Thursdays food deliveries and donations are accepted, catalogued and set up for clients who come on Wednesdays for distribution. Ray and I do a variety of things at Hope. Each week we pick up bread from Panera for distribution at Hope, we help clients make decisions on produce, frozen meats, bread, canned goods, and toiletries and even help clients to their cars with their groceries.  We have also delivered the items collected from St. Andrew parishioners for our Year of Mercy Project to Hope Emergency. We have gotten to know the people and look forward to seeing them weekly, they are always so thankful for the food and appreciative of our work.

If you are interested in helping people and are looking for a volunteer opportunity, please consider Hope Emergency. We are very thankful to be involved in serving others. It has enriched our lives, humbled us and each week brings us closer to God.

We thank you Lord for all the gifts you have bestowed on us. Open our hearts to share our gifts and talents with those less fortunate.

Sharon and Ray Lamping have been members of St. Andrew Church since 2003. Ray serves at weekday Masses and is a Lector.  Both Sharon and Ray are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with other St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioners. Both are retired and enjoying traveling and babysitting their grandchildren.  Lampings

I Make All Things New !

My RCIA experience began 15 years ago with an invitation, unexpected and unsettling. I was asked to sponsor a young woman going through the process, and my heart sank as I wondered how I could walk with her on her faith journey when my own seemed at a standstill. My husband had been gone for about 5 years and my youngest child was away at college. I was feeling alone and disconnected, not knowing who I was, if not a wife and mother.

In the end, I agreed, and something amazing happened. While walking with another, I found my own relationship with Jesus growing.  By the end of that year, watching the joy-filled faces of the catechumens and candidates receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, I had a new sense of purpose and belonging.

I am still part of the RCIA team, and continue to be inspired and taught by those seekers who want what we have, and so often take for granted. I have learned so much about Church teaching, developed a love of Sacred Scripture, and have received a hundred times more that I could ever give in return. Looking back, I can easily see that God was at work in my life, using my brokenness in ministry to another, and to remind me that my identity as a child of God is not dependent on my state of life.

So…consider this your invitation, unexpected and unsettling as it may seem.  Consider joining RCIA, or find another ministry at St. Andrew that may be calling to you. Something amazing will happen! “Behold, I make all things new”.  Rev 21:5

Dear Lord, with unexpected grace, You have made me new. Thank You for the gift and blessing of ministry and service for Your glory. Amen.

Monica Clark has been a member of St. Andrew parish since 1973, and considers it her home. She has been on the RCIA team for about 15 years, and also serves as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, as well as a Lector. She has 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and retired in 2015 from Anderson Hills Pediatrics.Monica