Hear “faith journeys” at speaker series


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

After participating in the Vision 20/20 Convocation last summer, the delegates of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City gathered together to brainstorm possible initiatives going forward.

One of the ideas from the brainstorming sessions was to develop a speaker series that would allow parishioners to tell their stories and to listen to the stories of others. The subcommittee met several times to talk about logistics for this speaker series.


Dan Teets, the parish’s director of adult faith formation, said the delegates decided to try for quarterly talks and to name the series Faith Journeys. They proposed hosting talks of around 20 to 24 minutes in the church with a five to 10-minute question and answer period afterwards. Then, everyone will move into the parish hall for a meal and discussion. At the tables, participants will find a half-sheet of paper with two or three discussion starter questions based on the topic of the talk. The Fellowship Commission and members of the Vision 20/20 Subcommittee will serve the catered meal.


“Our first speaker was recruited from the Vision 20/20 Convocation delegates, but we hope to expand beyond that for future talks,” Teets said. “I had heard our first speaker, David Drake, give a talk for a small group in Iowa City. We thought that a talk with the theme of forgiveness would be a good way to prepare for the Lenten Season.”

Drake is a professor of microbiology and director of research in the Department of Endodontics in the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry. He is also a husband, father, grandfather and longtime parishioner. He will give his talk, titled “My life with my father: a tale of forgiveness,” on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. Dinner will follow at 5:30 p.m. Drake says, “Forgiveness has to come from the heart; it is not a one-time event. We forgive and we forgive, because we are called to love and be of love.” The talk and dinner are free admission. Participants do not need to RSVP.

Teets said Faith Journeys organizers hope to recruit two youths from the parish — a young man and a young woman — to tag-team for a Faith Journeys talk in late April or early May. Each speaker would have about 10 minutes to talk.

“Ultimately, we hope to have intergenerational speakers represented from different cultures and backgrounds. We want people to be able to invite a friend to the talk and meal to listen to a story and to reflect on how the talk touches on their own story,” Teets said. “We want this to be an opportunity not only for our parishioners, but for other Catholics (practicing and fallen away), non-Catholics, the unchurched and the marginalized. All are welcome!”

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