By Celine Klosterman
PELLA — With its first parish mission in nearly a decade, St. Mary Parish is hoping to revitalize adults’ faith.
“I’m hoping people will come closer to Christ, that it will strengthen their Lenten journey and help build a sense of community,” Deacon Don Efinger said of “Renew Your Spirit,” a five-night mission that begins Sunday. Father Tony Judge, a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and a Chicago resident, will speak on topics including the Bible, the crucifix and the Eucharist on separate evenings from Feb. 28 to March 4. Members of other parishes and denominations are welcome.
The mission resulted from the efforts of parishioners who felt St. Mary’s adults needed more opportunities for spiritual growth, Deacon Efinger said. About 18 months ago, they formed an Adult Enrichment Committee that has since helped start Bible studies, retreats and sharing groups.
For St. Mary’s upcoming mission, the committee reached out to Fr. Judge’s Redemptorist order, as the parish had for its previous mission nine or 10 years ago, Deacon Efinger said. Redemptorist priests “always bring a real energy into a parish. They have very, very good speakers and are able to communicate the teachings of the church in a powerful way.”
Fr. Judge will celebrate Masses in Pella Feb. 27-28, lead prayer services during the mission and offer a communal penance service March 2. He will reflect on the Bible on Sunday, the crucifix on Monday, the significance of ashes on Tuesday, the Eucharist on Wednesday, and the altar on Thursday. Each session is slated for 6:30-7:45 p.m.; refreshments will be served afterward. For elementary-age students, Liturgy of the Word will be offered nightly. Child care will be available for younger children.
Mission organizers build community even before the week begins, Deacon Efinger said. In addition to core coordinators, various parishioners will help lead Liturgy of the Word throughout the week, provide transportation, assist with music, help with each night’s service and serve refreshments. In all, about 100 people are helping, he said. “It’s a good experience for all of them, too.”
Participants will receive a bookmark inscribed with a verse from Psalm 51: “Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Deacon Efinger hopes the mission’s “energy” will lead to more spiritual-growth opportunities for adults throughout the year.
Adults need such offerings because “there’s a generation or two that just don’t know much about the church,” said Father Dennis Hoffman, St. Mary’s pastor. “I know the younger kids are coming in with faith-filled expectations, but we’ve lost the parents.” If a parish can give adults more information, they can better educate their children, he said.
During the mission, child care will be available. To arrange transportation, call Todd Wieser at (641) 628-8539. For more information about the mission, call Deacon Efinger at (641) 780-6186.