Sharing what we believe
Some people say, “Keep the faith.”
Some will reply, “No, share it!”
Faith is shared by word and by example.
Whether through formal programs or impromptu encounters, Catholics share their faith in myriad ways.
“The Office of Pastoral Ministries of the Diocese of Burlington seeks to equip and inspire parishes and individuals to share what we believe,” explained Deacon Phil Lawson, executive director of that office. This is done through retreats, workshops, evenings of reflections, the annual Totus Tuus summer program, Steubenville Youth Conferences, the Diocesan Leader of Prayer Program and the Diocesan Lay Formation Program.
All of parish catechetical leaders are currently participating in a 2-year certification program through the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University Steubenville, Ohio. “This certification program is fully sponsored by the Diocese at no cost to our parish catechetical leaders or their parishes as we seek to provide them the tools to better share the Gospel message,” he said.
One of the participants in the Lay Formation Program, Katharin Brink of the Essex Catholic Community, said her faith sharing is both personal and public.
She lets members of her family know how important God is to her life and to theirs — praying for them at family meals, mentioning to acquaintances that she attends daily Mass as a way of reminding them that “praying every day should not be an extraordinary event” and regularly sending articles to her adult children that have a faith focus or guidance on parenting, education and world views from Catholic writers or clergy.
More publicly, she shares her faith through liturgical service in the parish, gathering parishioners to work together planning Advent and Lenten seasons and serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Mass and for the homebound.
“Sharing your faith is so important because you never know when someone is going to be touched by the Holy Spirit and your words can help them come to know God,” she said.
Another participant in the Lay Formation Program, Elizabeth Stuart of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Bethel, shares her faith in numerous ways. As parish secretary, she shares via the weekly bulletin, social media and the parish website. She also posts or reposts content to the parish Facebook page, usually sourced from Catholic online resources. She is facilitating a Bible Study of the Gospel of St. Matthew using materials from Ascension Press and requested that a “spiritual exercise” be incorporated into each of the council meetings.
“If we don’t [share the faith], if I don’t start actively sharing the Catholic faith both inside the Church and outside of it, the world will provide the definition of who we are and what we stand for,” she said. “And the world never gets it right because it cannot comprehend the love of God that motivates us.
Father Curtis Miller, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish based in Barton, uses his words to spread the faith as he preaches and as he teaches a religion class at St. Paul School there. But he is aware spreading the faith requires more than words.
“I try to live out my faith in the way I live,” he said. “As St. Francis said, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.’
He spends time tending to the needs of parishioners and those who come to the rectory seeking assistance. “Many people come to our parish in need of financial assistance, so I try to show them Christ’s love through that service,” he said. “Sometimes I can pray with them or tell them that we are able to help because the faith of the parishioners here inspires them to be generous to people in need.”
When Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne ordained Father Miller a transitional deacon, he said in his homily “that people should be able to recognize me as a deacon, even outside of Mass, by my acts of charity and service,” he recalled. He always tries to follow that advice.
“If we don’t share our faith, the Church will not grow,” Father Miller said. “Also, the fact that we have the faith is a gift that God has given to each of us, not for ourselves alone, but in order to share. Jesus’ parable of the coins (the talents) reminds us that we must share and increase the gifts that God has given to us, and the gift of faith is one of the greatest gifts we can share. When we don’t share our faith with others, they miss out on the joys of Catholicism and the graces that God pours out through the Church for our salvation, especially through the sacraments.”
—Originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.