by Donna Wheat Wurech
I was a greeter at my church a few weeks ago. Arrayed in my mask in keeping with CDC guidelines, as well as six-feet social distancing, I was game-on! I love being a greeter, from my own experience of being greeted by a friendly face. It’s heart-warming to notice being noticed. At my church, which holds 1,200 people, we are at 50% -- following all the rules with an empty pew between pews and at least six-feet apart in the pews. I’m still trying to get used to the masks – especially when my breath fogs up my glasses.
I amused myself in between greeting people to take a look at our weekend bulletin. The title on the front of it was “Faith Over Fear”. I stopped in my tracks. “Faith Over Fear” is the caption on my black face mask. I think: “God, you are doing your best to get us, ME, to get that message, aren’t You?”
Of course He is. Our Gospel reading that weekend, was about the storm – the winds and the waves -- that increased in hostility to the boat that was carrying the disciples to the other side of the sea. Jesus was exhausted after feeding the 5,000+, but He couldn’t help but notice them struggling from His peaceful place on the mountain. I have a clear visual of this scene because of my trip to Israel and on my favorite place -- the Sea of Galilee. It still amazes me that that relatively small body of water could blow up such a storm – but it did that day. Jesus walked to them on water and the disciples thought He was a ghost. But, like He said time and again – through the angels who said at His birth “Do not be afraid” and to His Mother when Gabriel appeared to tell her she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and bear a son, “Do not be afraid” and to us today and every day: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
He is our same Lord and Savior today Who sees us -- right where we are and He knows our fears, concerns and anxieties. He speaks to us the same words of reassurance and hope that He spoke to His followers: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." May we rest in His promise that He is with us and will faithfully take us through the storms and to the other side
Thank you Donna, for sharing your beautiful reflection! Interested in joining the Greeter Ministry? Contact Alejandra Vizcaya at firstname.lastname@example.org
God’s call often comes in unexpected circumstances.
He often chooses to speak to us at what we would consider inconvenient times. When this happens, we have a choice. We can choose to ignore the call and tell ourselves we are too busy with our lives, our families, and our work. Or we can take the time to listen to His call and allow His overflowing love to seep into our lives. It can be a hard choice. Yet, all of us who have experienced Jesus’ salvific love know that it forever transforms our lives for the better.
Parishioners Megan and James Bailey have spent the last four years listening to the Lord and allowing Him to guide their lives. The husband and wife dynamic duo serve and manage ministries that bring abundant fellowship, love, and support to many within the St. Francis of Assisi community. We are so thankful for James and Megan Bailey. Their incredible journey is a testimony to the fruits which follow a courageous surrender to God.
James did not grow up in a religious household. His family was Baptist, but Jesus was never at the forefront of his life. As he got older, he gradually stopped going to church, allowing his life to become filled with other things, leaving no room for God.
“I would only pray when I wanted something,” James recounted. His prayer life was centered on himself, not on God.
James went on to join the Army and served in Iraq. When he returned home, he struggled to reacclimate to civilian life. He suffered from anxiety and found himself at a loss. He knew his life was missing something. He was not at peace.
James, his wife Megan, and their children, moved to Frisco. Suddenly, James found himself frequently driving past St. Francis. He began to fill a pull toward the church.
“I would always drive by and get the feeling that I needed to go over there,” James explained how he would yearn to go inside St. Francis.
This yearning began to grow. James continued to drive by St. Francis and could not stop thinking about the church. Though unfamiliar with Catholicism, James began to do research.
The Holy Spirit was clearly working in James’ life. One day, in May of 2016, James found the courage to enter the church. He attended a daily mass and though he did not know what was going on, he immediately felt at peace.
James had just made a choice that would forever change his and his family’s life. He had found what his life was lacking. The hole in his life began to fill with Christ.
James wasted no time in learning more about the Catholic Church. He contacted the previous RCIA (Rite of Christian of Adults) director, Melissa Silvestro, who wholeheartedly welcomed him into RCIA. James began to learn more and more about the Catholic Church.
“I began to understand that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus started, and He left it in the hands of St. Peter, and the rest of the Apostles. I understood that this is not just a church, but THE CHURCH,” James said.
Initially, James was very nervous and quiet during RCIA. He felt uncomfortable sharing his story with others. However, James was soon invited on an ACTS retreat. Though attending the retreat was completely out of his comfort zone, James decided to attend. He again demonstrated incredible surrender to the Holy Spirit, completely open to following wherever the Holy Spirit led him.
The ACTS retreat would prove to be an important turning point in his conversion. The retreat lit a passionate flame within James.
“I felt so much fire after the ACTS retreat and I just wanted to share it with everyone,” James said. This flame has not dimmed in all the years since the retreat. Christ gave James confidence and assurance in his faith.
Megan Bailey saw how passionate her husband was becoming about the Catholic Church and wanted to support him. In her childhood, Megan only attended church a handful of times and she knew nothing about Catholicism.
Yet, she took a leap of faith and joined her husband in RCIA for moral support. Though unsure, Megan demonstrated incredible trust in opening herself up for the possibility of faith. Megan attended an ACTS retreat as well and began to experience Jesus’ love. She continued with RCIA alongside James. Side by side, the husband and wife began their journey of faith.
The family spent nearly a year preparing to enter into the Church. At Easter in 2017, James, Megan, and their two daughters entered the Catholic Church. It was both a joyful and an emotional experience.
“I could not wait to receive the Eucharist and to be able to receive the Eucharist for the first time along with Megan, and our kids were extremely special and emotional time,” James explained the anticipation before the moment when he and his family finally became part of the Body of Christ.
The Bailey family was now at home. “We knew we were truly joining a new huge family at St. Francis,” Megan said.
Since entering the Church, James and Megan have become incredible leaders at St. Francis. The Baileys truly exemplify what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For the past two and a half years, James has been involved with prison ministry at Hutchins State Jail. He organizes communion services for the imprisoned and carries Jesus to those who need Him and do not get a chance to receive the Eucharist otherwise.
James also coordinates the Mobile Food Pantry with Catholic Charities Dallas. The Mobile Food Pantry typically occurs once a month and volunteers gather to distribute food to over 100 families who need it. In the height of COVID-19, James helped coordinate efforts to have the Mobile Food Pantry once a week as families faced insecurity, lay-offs, and economic insecurity as a result of the pandemic.
Without James, the Mobile Food Pantry at St. Francis would not happen. He continually seeks to serve others, following Jesus’ call to feed the hungry and visit the imprisoned.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:35-36)
Wherever you find James ministering, you will find Megan. She is always at her husband’s side. Her incredible willingness to serve is truly evident as she answers the call Jesus has placed on her family.
“We just can’t say no,” Megan explained her family’s call to serve. “It keeps us active and allows us to help others.”
James is also a lector, a Eucharistic minister, and an usher at St. Francis. Megan is the head of the Donut Sunday ministry and is also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary. She has been involved with the Fall Festival for the past two years and hopes to resume her role working with the food next year. She is also an usher and is involved with the ACTS retreats.
Both James and Megan believe that it is their role as laypeople to support the church through service.
“The priests and clergy can’t do everything. They need us, the laypeople, to support them,” James said.
Through performing incredible works of mercy through their service, the Baileys illustrate the miracles which occur when we answer God’s call.
Megan and James explained that there are no words for the gratitude they have for St. Francis of Assisi. God called them here to our parish. God spoke to them here. This church is where God chose to speak to them, and it is where they are called to serve.
The Bailey family answered this call with all their hearts. They truly give their hearts and souls through their ministries. 1 Peter 4:10 says, As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. James and Megan truly personify this verse as they give back to St. Francis and serve the Church with all their hearts.
We are so thankful they are part of our Francis Family!
How long have you been a parishioner? My family and I have been parishioners since the early 2000s. Back when we celebrated Mass at Curtsinger Elementary School. (ugh, so old).
(Photo credit to our parishioner Joe Muniz)
This past weekend the Catholic Charities Mobile Food Pantry in the St. Francis of Assisi parking lot was able to provide meals to 214 families. The food was provided by Catholic Charities Dallas and the North Texas Food Bank.
There were 12 volunteers that were handing out food to the countless cars that arrived on Saturday. Father Rudy and Deacon Alex were also on-site supporting the mission. The volunteers bagged and boxed 3,500 pounds of food, which included food items such as apples, potatoes, grains, juice, and chicken.
When parishioner, Mark Morrow attended Confession two weeks ago he told St. Francis staff he wanted to help and that's exactly what he did. Owner of his own Catering company, My House Catering, and Event Planning, Morrow was able to team up with SVdP and our Food Pantry Volunteers and provide 80 prepared meals to those who showed up to Saturday's Mobile Food Pantry. Morrow is planning to provide 200 - 300 prepared meals for the next mobile food pantry event.