Persons, Places and things: On the journey of faith


My son Patrick asked me to go to his new church’s website to listen to the sermon that the lead pastor delivered this past Sunday. “His message really spoke to me,” said Patrick, now a member of a reformed charismatic church.

Coincidentally, the night before, I emailed Patrick a story for this week’s Catholic Messenger titled “Formation for the Next Generation.” I wanted his input on the article about a Catholic Extension Society initiative that allows six parishes in our diocese to map out their dream plan for passing on their Catholic faith to the next generation.

Patrick is one of my proofreaders, subscribes to The Catholic Messenger e-edition, and attends Mass occasionally with our family. However, he has found a home with a different faith community. A friend from college invited Patrick to the reformed charismatic church and continued to extend that invitation. Everyone at the church, from the founding and lead pastors to people in the pews, have made Patrick feel welcome. A church staffer emailed, inviting him to get involved in volunteer activities.

To say that I feel conflicted about his decision is an understatement. However, I appreciate his need for a sense of belonging that he hasn’t found yet in the Catholic Church in which my husband Steve and I nurtured him.


With that frame of mind, I listened to Pastor Josiah’s sermon. Clearly, he put much research, thought and reflection into his 35-minute message, which focused on explaining the church’s mission: “To display the Beauty of Christ through Doctrine, Relationship, and Worship.” His source material was ecumenical:  Catholic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, British writer and Anglican theologian C.S. Lewis, Baptist theologian John Piper, and American Calvinist Charismatic C. Samuel Storms. He also quoted Scripture.

“I know this is a more ‘professorly’ sermon but it’s important,” he told his congregation. He explored the meaning of beauty and the value of studying Scripture to deepen an understanding of and relationship with God. He identified some of the Scripture study tools that Catholics would be familiar with, such as biblical, systematic and historical theology and hermeneutics. “One of the main hermeneutics for us, everything points to Jesus,” he said.

He emphasized that family is at the center of the created order and cited the passage from Genesis about God creating humans as male or female. A man is meant to lead and a woman is meant to help, the pastor said. As women grow in the word of God, that message brings them joy and peace, he continued, asking the women in the audience who agreed to raise their hand.

“We want people who carry the fruit of the spirit, who are patient and kind and (show) genuine love and maturity and strength. People who are oriented toward family and want to have children. They don’t just live for their own desires.” They are generous with their time and their money, he said. Concluding his sermon, he encouraged the congregation to access the church’s Slack app (a social media platform) for resources to deepen their understanding of Scripture.

I shared my critique of the sermon with Patrick, who said the pastor’s message and call to action reaffirmed his commitment to the faith community. He offered suggestions to me, based on his review of my article on faith formation, for the next generation of Catholics:

“I believe one of the biggest issues in today’s culture is that church isn’t cool and teens are on their phones on Tiktok or Instagram and not seeing the people they follow attend church. For childcare, I know churches like The Rock and Harvest/Coram Deo offer childcare for infants, toddlers, and nursery-aged children but that comes with needing even more volunteers, which some small parishes would struggle with. For rural parishes that are less affluent, I would suggest a car pool program where parishioners would offer to drive those who can’t get to Mass. I know The Rock does stuff like that.”

My hope and prayer are that Patrick’s journey of faith takes him back to our Church, where he can help pass on the Catholic faith to the next generation.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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