COTM (Catholics On the Move) was inspired by a vision that began with Letty Valentin, our Pastoral Associate/Liturgy and Adult Faith Formation Director, while she attended the annual Summer Scripture Seminar at St. Mary of the Lakes University in Mundelein, ILL.
I have been attending the Scripture Seminar for the last 10 years and each time I have returned inspired and energized by the knowledge and challenges the scripture scholars present to the participants. The year of 2015 was no different, except that the Holy Spirit inspired and guided me into a new vision. The topic for the 2015 Seminar was “Parables”. Although I still cannot figure out how the Parables led me to COTM, I was consumed by the fire of the Lord’s message to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel.
I suppose that part of it was that every speaker began and ended their presentation expressing a profound concern for what they described as a prevalent lack of understanding and adequate knowledge of the faith in Catholic communities. The ignorance or misunderstanding of our faith can make a Catholic vulnerable and susceptible to all kinds of misrepresentations that easily become a threat to our faith by misguiding us towards spiritually dangerous paths. This can lead to confusion, spiritual apathy or indifference, even for the most faithful and devoted Catholics.
This concern expressed by some of the finest Scripture Scholars in the country, echoed what has been shared by many of our parishioners at Holy Faith: “We want to learn more and grow more in our faith”. This need has been discussed and explored for many years at our parish in different forums and ways. Many needs and concerns have been expressed, including concerns for the future of our Catholic faith, the disconnection of our Millennial young adults, the challenges to our traditional Catholic values, and the confusion that comes from all forms of media propaganda, all claiming to represent the Catholic faith. What has been consistent in every situation is a profound hunger for understanding our faith and for opportunities to grow and encounter the Lord. Every time we talk, at every meeting, at Mass, at every gathering, there is a deep hunger and longing for understanding our faith and our Church. No doubt in my mind, the Holy Spirit has been moving among us awakening our hearts for a pretty long time!
COTM began embracing the principle that our adult Catholic faith can only be properly shaped and grow when we hold tight to our roots and our foundation: JESUS, in whom we move, and live, and have our being. Jesus formed us as a body, His Body, he sustains us as His Body, and he sends us in mission as His Body. Forming our faith has more to do with believing in Jesus and accepting the consequences of living in love! Our Adult Faith Formation journey is based on recognizing this Jesus every time he comes across and reveals himself to us: when praying, when listening, when learning, when serving, when loving, when hurting and when rejoicing. In each of these revelations Jesus is our first teacher and our guide. He sets the agenda and gives us the mission. Jesus gives us the curriculum, and everything we learn has to be put to the test against our apostolic mission to spread the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.
With our new building, beautiful and very impressive, the Lord has given us another opportunity to have a proper place to get trained for our mission, to be formed, to learn, and to gather. However, our first and most important lesson, our first encounter is always at the Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of all our activity. It is at the Liturgy, in the liturgical action of the Eucharist, where our lives are interpreted, our whole being is transformed, and we are sent out to do the work of the Lord.
COTM is not envisioned as a “program”. It is not a group you belong to or participate in. COTM is like a “the Catholic condition”. If you have been baptized, you are a Catholic On The Move. You may need to figure out how you are moving and where you are going, but you are on the move! The first thing to do is to recognize that Jesus is already present within each one of us, in our families, in our parish community, and in our Church. We don’t have to “make him present”. No matter how “ignorant” we feel, how sinful, how confused we are, Jesus is with and among us, all the time, every day, every minute of our existence. We don’t have to create a special “program” or an event, or a strategy to find him or learn from him. All we have to do is to recognize him at every moment and allow him to be our teacher, our guide, and our inspiration. We don’t have the luxury of growing stale or falling asleep! As Catholics, we must keep on moving, but moving in the right direction.
We publish a weekly Catholics on the Move flyer with updates to all events, gatherings and other opportunities, to help everyone get ‘on the move…’. Make sure to pick up the information flyer at the doors of the church, in the office or in the Parish Life Center. You will learn more about COTM and you will see the list of some of the opportunities to encounter the Lord through prayer, learning, and coming together. These opportunities reflect not only new initiatives but also highlights the opportunities that already exist in our parish. If you are homebound or if you know of anyone who is, they also are part of COTM. They will also have the opportunity to pray and support specific brothers and sisters who are in need, especially in need of mercy and compassion. In doing so, they too will be witnesses of the Lord and will be on the move…
This initiative has been a year in the making with the help and support of our Adult Faith Formation Committee, our Parish Staff, and each person who responded to the survey in January 2016. What you see is the result of prayer, enthusiasm, and a great conviction that the Spirit is moving in Holy Faith Parish, strong, vibrant, and joyful!’
“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagle’s wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Let’s move and keep on moving!
Letty Valentin, Pastoral Associate / Liturgy & Adult Faith Formation Director