From Father's Desk

By John Klarmann

I was driving up to college with my parents when they told me about the Newman Center (Catholic center) on campus. They were overjoyed and told me how great of a time I would have there. I promptly told them “I am never going there”. I was raised Catholic and went to Mass every Sunday and went through 9 years of “CCD” (Now we call it P.R.E.P.) When I got to college, I wanted nothing to do with my faith. I had plenty of disagreements with what the Church believes and I wanted to live my life the way I wanted to.

So, I avoided the Catholic center and anything to do with it as much as possible, but it came time for Sunday Mass, and I knew my mom was going to ask me if I went. So, I figured I had three options: 1) Don’t go and lie to her when she asks, 2) Don’t go and tell her the truth, 3) Go and tell her the truth. It didn’t take long till I found my answer. I didn’t want to lie, and I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I went to Mass. When I arrived, I experienced a great welcoming environment and people my age who chose to go to Mass. I was blown away by both. That wasn’t what changed me though. The other 167 hours of the week were still spent with no attention to God.

About a month later one of the guys who welcomed me at that first Mass invited me to join a small group. I didn’t want to go. I only said yes because I felt bad for the guy. I didn’t think anyone else would show up for him. Well, I was right. That first night it was  just  me  and  Mark.  As  the  weeks went on and more guys showed up and I developed friendships that would fuel the fire to start wrestling with my faith. In the group I was able to ask questions and try to understand the faith I was so quick to dismiss.

Later that freshman year I was invited to go to a Catholic conference for college students in Baltimore. I said “YES!” immediately because of the friendships I made in that group. In that conference I encountered Christ in a radical way, and it changed my life forever (I’d be happy to share that story with you if you ask). That moment was possible because of the group I had been a part of. Over the previous three months in our small group, I was reading the Bible, praying and talking with friends, and engaging in my faith in ways I had never done before.

That mountain top experience was great, but it didn’t take long before life started fighting back. That is when I got to see my small group step up for me. They were there to encourage me and support me in the journey when things got hard. Over the last 10 years I have been a part of many different small groups both as a participant and a host.

In each group I have grown my intimacy with the LORD, built authentic friendships, and engaged in “Building up the Body of Christ''.

Even if it is just for Lent, join a small group. I promise you you’ll thank yourself later. Our whole parish will thank you later because this is how we as a parish will see our mission (“Building up the Body of Christ”) come to fruition. If you aren’t convinced by me (or even Fr. Joel) just pray about it. Take 5 minutes and seriously ask God if He wants you to join one of our groups for Lent (it’s only once a week for 7 weeks). If you haven’t signed up yet go ahead and pray right now. If He says “No” then I understand, but  if  He  says  “Yes”  be brave and answer His Call! We hope you’ll be a part of “Seriously, God?” this Lent!