Call—and Response

Given March 11, 2015

I spent two days in St. Paul last week, training to become a VIRTUS facilitator. VIRTUS is the archdiocese-approved program for helping church employees and volunteers keep our children and youth safe from abuse. A number of the presenters spoke of feeling calledto protect kids—and I immediately felt out of place, not because I don’t want to keep kids safe, but because by primary motivation for signing up to become a facilitator was, “Somebody’s gotta do it.”

But over the course of the training the leaders encouraged us to think more deeply about our motives, and I learned something about myself. I told the gentleman next to me, “Our church is like a second home to me and my family—we’re there all the time!—and if there’s anything I can do to make it safer, so that my family and other families can feel at home there, I want to do it.”

Maybe there was a deeper call there after all. 

Two weeks ago I announced that we were putting together a new team of people to help shape our faith formation programs going forward. So far, Kathy and I have received 20 responses about joining the LIFT Crew—15 yes and 5 maybe—from current and past teachers, FFAC members, small-group facilitators, and more. Only one person I’ve spoken to has said no, and even she shared an hour’s worth of great ideas from more than a decade of teaching kids in our parish.

Think about that for a moment: We have people in this community who have been sharing their faith with children for ten, twenty, even thirty years! We have a committee of dedicated parishioners who work behind the scenes to create, promote, and improve LIFT with little public recognition of their time, effort, and results. We have people who are committed to praying specifically for the success of our programs and the conversion of souls. We have teens who, without knowing or asking what it might entail, have said, “Mr. Thorp, I saw that you are looking for people to help with LIFT—sign me up!”

We are surrounded by people who love the Lord and want to live out His call to make disciples. That’s a beautiful thing.

And it works: these people are setting a high bar that others respond to with more prayer, more service, more love. Last Wednesday I went to the archdiocese for training, then hustled back to St. Michael to prepare for LIFT and Confirmation classes. Kathy and both priests were gone, two Confirmation teachers were out, and another was running late. Two out of three videos were malfunctioning, and the mic in the gathering space wouldn’t plug in. I joked that my goal for the evening was to survive.

At the end of the night, one of our catechists handed me a picture. It was a pencil drawing of a “spiritual bouquet” from her Confirmation class, with each flower labeled with an act of sacrifice and love her teens had pledged to perform for me and my family in the coming weeks. Prayers, chaplets, and rosaries. Holy Hours in the Adoration chapel. Pain and suffering. Offered up for my family and for me. What else can I do but reciprocate?

Christ calls us to love, and we respond. Love begets love begets love. It’s a beautiful thing.

Blogger’s Note: This article appears in the Sunday, March 22, church bulletin .

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