The Jackson Family: Answering God s Call to Service

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1 Saint Mark NEWSLETTER JULY/AUGUST 2013 MONTHLY NEWSLETTER Liturgy Schedule Saturday Vigil: 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. (Spanish) Sunday: 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m. (LifeTeen) Daily Mass: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, 7:30 a.m.; Wed, 12:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. Adoration: Tue, 8:00 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wed, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Fri, 8:00-11:30 a.m. Every Third Saturday 6:00-7:00 a.m. Confessions: Wed, 7:30-8:30 p.m.; Sat, 8:00-9:00 a.m., 3:00-4:00 p.m. Rosary: Mon, 7:00-8:00 p.m. The Jackson Family: Answering God s Call to Service Ever since they began participating in parish life here at St. Mark, Brittany and Kurtis Jackson have had the opportunity to serve their fellow parishioners, serve God, and strengthen their faith. Brittany and Kurtis have also been able to Brittany and Kurtis Jackson pass this spirit of service along to their children 12-yearold Rachel, 9-year-old Avery, and 5-year-old Clara while growing in their relationship with one another. Kurtis grew up in Scotland, Texas as one of six siblings in a German-Catholic farming family. Brittany is originally from Arkansas, but moved to DeSoto, Texas when she was 10 years old. She later moved to Denton for college, and it was at this time that she met Kurtis. While they were dating, both started attending Mass at St. Mark. We started coming to St. Mark before I was Catholic, Brittany says. We have always felt comfortable here because it is a small church and we have made many friends here over the years. We were married at St. Mark on May 23, The year after we married, I attended RCIA under Fr. Gene Sweeney and became Catholic at Easter Mass in Indeed, Kurtis and Brittany have been involved in numerous ministries. However, their participation and service on the ACTS continued on back cover

2 A Life of Stewardship Msgr. Thomas McGread This spring, we said goodbye to perhaps the most influential advocate for stewardship as a way of life. On Monday, April 1, 2013, Msgr. Thomas McGread died at the age of 84. Msgr. McGread has been called the Father of Stewardship, and that title carries more than a little merit. Most of the efforts and developments in stewardship as a way of life throughout the country can be traced directly back to Msgr. McGread and the work he started at his parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas, in the 1960s. Msgr. McGread was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland on Dec. 5, 1928, and he was ordained a priest at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland on June 21, Later that year, he was assigned the position of associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, Kansas. Over the next few years, he served as associate pastor for two other parishes, and as pastor of two more in the Diocese of Wichita before being named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in He continued to serve as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi until retiring in It was at this parish that Msgr. McGread s vision of stewardship as a way of life began to thrive from there, it spread through Catholic parishes and communities all over the country and throughout the world, as it continues to do today. This vision views stewardship as a spiritual, biblically based principle that begins with conversion of heart and translates into a lifestyle of service. Msgr. McGread broke stewardship down into three equally important components time, talent and treasure. Monsignor taught his parishioners the importance of using our personal gifts in each of these areas, as well as the importance of giving these gifts back to God. St. Francis of Assisi became one of the most dynamic and vibrant parishes in the country, and Catholic parishes all over the U.S. have followed the example of Msgr. McGread and the parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi. Msgr. McGread was also involved in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop s pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple s Response, in He spoke about his message of stewardship at parishes and dioceses around the country. Msgr. McGread s concepts and teachings serve as the model for our stewardship efforts here at St. Mark, and it is the same model that is successfully followed by Catholic parishes across the country and the world. Though we will truly miss this great visionary, Monsignor s influence and legacy will live on as we continue to live the stewardship way of life. Most of the efforts and developments in stewardship as a way of life throughout the country can be traced directly back to Msgr. McGread and the work he started at his parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas, in the 1960s. 2

3 A Letter From Our Pastor Ordinary Time is Never Ordinary Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Glancing at the liturgical calendar for July, I was surprised to see that each Sunday in July is a Sunday in Ordinary Time. Are you aware that the last time we had a month when all of the Sundays were in Ordinary Time was October 2012? First of all, let me make it clear that there is nothing Ordinary about Ordinary Time. If you are old enough, you may recall the term Ordinary Time did not exist until after Vatican II (actually in 1969). Prior to that, the Church called Sundays the 1 st or 2 nd or so on Sunday after Epiphany or after Pentecost. Thus, the seasons of the Church year were Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and then Advent again. What difference does it all make? First of all, we need to understand that Ordinary Time does not mean or imply that this time in the Church calendar is commonplace. You may have heard the expression that every Sunday is Little Easter, and that is absolutely true, even during so-called Ordinary Time. In our mathematics lessons in school, we learned (at least some of us did) that there were cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. That sounds almost Catholic. Cardinal numbers were one, two, three, while ordinal numbers were first, second, third. Our Catholic term Ordinary Time actually came from the Latin, tempus per annum ( time through the year ). What is important to us as Catholics, though, is that we need to understand that our sense of stewardship and our sense of discipleship do not lessen because we call this time of year ordinary. Sometimes, our faith becomes too cerebral, too much of an intellectual pursuit. Surely you have heard the term faith in action. That is what stewardship really is; how we live out our faith by doing things. Reading Scripture, praying, Bible study, and trying to study our faith from a deeper perspective are very important. However, it is equally important that we do something specific to show that our perception of stewardship is alive and active. We are not necessarily talking about preaching on street corners or praying in public places. It may be something as simple as looking in our closets and identifying things we no longer need nor use. Give them away. Ordinary Time should be an incentive for us to do extraordinary things. It is worth noting that the color of liturgical garments (what we priests wear at Mass) during Ordinary Time is green. Green is the color of life. Green is the color of hope. Green is the color most of us associate with positives, with planting and nurturing and with the rhythms of life. It is with a smile that I note that my message for Ordinary Time is not too different from my message for Advent or Christmas or Lent or Easter. As Catholics, and as good stewards, every day is a challenge to live out our lives as disciples of Christ. Every day is a challenge to truly be a good steward. There are peaks and valleys and meadows and pastures. Perhaps this (Ordinary Time) is not a mountaintop (Christmas and Easter), but it is certainly a verdant field, and we are called to plant, nurture, and harvest now as much as any time. May God bless you in your stewardship journeys. In Christ, Fr. George Pastor 3

4 A Look Back at Vacati Vacation Bible School was held June 10 through 14 at St. Mark, where around 180 children, ranging from preschool through fifth grade, came together to have fun while learning all about our faith. The theme for this year s Vacation Bible School program was Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God. Each day of VBS, the kids met in the morning for sing and play. They would start with a prayer and then learn a song, after which they rotated through various stations of games, snacks, arts and crafts, and Chadder where they watched videos that would help them relate to the Bible story of the day. It was fabulous, says Sandy Beffa, one of three volunteer coordinators for VBS. The kids had a really good time. Vacation Bible School isn t only for the children. Of course, there were many adult and teen volunteers who 4

5 on Bible School 2013 gave their time and talent to share in the children s formation, and to help guide the youth of our parish. The week was able to happen because of the people that volunteer their time to make sure the program is successful, Sandy says. And there s no way we could do it without their help. Indeed, all of the hard work and time that the volunteers and coordinators put into this year s Vacation Bible School program had a great impact on the kids and everyone who was involved. It s important because the kids get to come together and learn information from the Bible stories and they re learning about the saints, Sandy says. And there is also a social aspect. They get to know people at the parish. So it s really good for the kids and their socialization that they can meet other kids in the parish and get to know them a little better. 5

6 Fall Religious Education Programs The following programs will be offered this fall. Wednesday classes will begin on Sept. 4, Sunday classes will begin on Sept. 8, and the Monday evening Level 1 RCIA(C) classes will begin on Sept. 9 Classes meet weekly, except for holidays. Classes will end in April. Elementary R.E. PreK through fifth grade Sundays 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Wednesdays 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Middle School R.E. Sixth through eighth grades Sundays 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Middle School Family Program Sixth through eighth grades Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. LifeTeen Ninth through Twelfth grades Sundays 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. BOB & WOW Ninth through Twelfth grades Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. RCIA(C) Level 1 (all grade levels) Mondays at 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Level 2 (grades 2-5) Mondays at 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Level 2 (grades 6-12) Mondays at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (meal included) Registration is $40 per family for parishioners and $95 per child for non-parishioners. For more information, please call the parish office at Holy Day Schedule for the Feast of the Assumption Masses Wednesday, Aug. 14 Vigil at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 7:30 a.m., noon, 5 p.m., 7 p.m. 6

7 Promoting Success in Education: The Apple Tree Project As summer comes to a close and the children of Denton return to school, you can almost smell the freshly sharpened pencils as the excitement builds for a new school year, a new teacher, and a new classroom. For some students in our school district, backpacks and school supplies are not a necessity, but a luxury that many cannot afford. In order to address this need, a beautiful local ministry has grown The Apple Tree Project. The Apple Tree Project was started by Interfaith Ministries, which joins religious organizations and churches to help children going back to school, says Mia Price, a Denton Independent School District board member and St. Mark s coordinator of The Apple Project. A tree is put up at church, and each apple represents a child and has their name and clothing size. St. Mark s parishioners provide two sets of new clothes for each child. These donations are combined with those from other churches, of all denominations. The project provides each child with clothing, a backpack, supplies and a new pair of shoes. St. Mark s Apple Tree will contain 75 apples 50 of these will list names and clothing sizes, while the remaining 25 will consist of gift cards. The gift cards are typically used to provide clothing for homeless children who enter the school district and register for school at the last minute. As a longtime school board member and a mother of four adult children, the Apple Tree Project is a very special ministry for Mia. Mia Price with the St. Mark s Apple Tree. I ve been hosting the Apple Tree for three years this will be the fourth year and we ve helped over 225 children, Mia says. Forty-one percent of students in the school district are living in low socioeconomic homes that equates to more then 10,000 kids. We saw the need four years ago and I was so proud of St. Mark that we offered this to our parishioners and jumped on board. St. Mark s Apple Tree was placed in the church foyer at the end of June and donations will be returned mid-july. Donations will be collected and brought to Interfaith Ministry for their Health and Safety Fair, taking place prior to the start of the school year. At this fair, students in need are not only able to pick up their clothing and supplies, but are also provided with immunizations, health checks and more. I am just really proud of our church, they are so giving and so gracious, says Mia. The first year, I put out 50 apples and we ran out after the second Mass. People who I ask to volunteer are giving and enthusiastic. Our parish just has a beautiful spirit of giving. For more information, please contact Mia Price at or refer to the parish bulletin. If all apples have been taken from the tree and you would still like to help, monetary donations can be made via the box in the foyer. Checks should be written to Interfaith Ministries. Thank you to all the parishioners who give to our community year after year through the Apple Tree Project. Hundreds of children, right here in our Denton community, have been blessed by your generosity! Forty-one percent of students in the school district are living in low socioeconomic homes that equates to more then 10,000 kids. We saw the need four years ago and I was so proud of St. Mark that we offered this to our parishioners and jumped on board. Mia Price 7

8 Saint Mark 2800 Pennsylvania Drive Denton, TX (940) Non-Profit US Postage PAID Denton, Texas Permit No. 930 The Jackson Family continued from front cover retreat played a particularly important role in both of their faith lives. Kurtis attended ACTS first and really encouraged me to go, but it took me a while to agree, says Brittany. He wanted our family to work together giving back to our parish, and we started small once we started meeting people, our service to St. Mark really grew. Attending the ACTS retreat and then serving on a Team has helped us meet a lot of amazing people. We have a dear group of friends that we meet monthly with for a marriage faith-sharing group, and we have all become very close. Our kids have become friends as well, and this has become a real blessing to us. The couple s involvement with ACTS inspired them to help out with the parish s Vacation Bible School Brittany helps to coordinate, and Kurtis builds the set each year. In addition, Kurtis is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has taught Religious Education classes, while Brittany just directed the spring Women s Retreat this past May. They both also serve as Eucharistic Ministers. Getting involved in parish life has helped the Jacksons to be fully receptive to God s call in their lives. The more we give back and the more involved we are in our parish, the closer we naturally become to doing what God calls us to do, says Brittany. That does not mean it comes frustration or stress-free at times, but we are serving a good much greater than ourselves and the joint focus on God makes it 100 percent worthwhile. We have not served in a physical or financial capacity that we have at any time regretted. Doing what God calls us to, gives us peace and we see the fruits of this emerging in our children, who are also beginning to serve. The couple encourages others to serve in whatever capacity they are able. I think we didn t serve at first because we didn t think we had time, and maybe we were a little fearful because we didn t know anyone, Brittany reflects. The great thing about serving is you can do as little or as much as you are able to do, and fortunately perfection is not required! We fall short every day, but we keep moving forward and the Catholic Church gives us the steps and strategies to come back home when we stray. Service to our church has become a very fulfilling way of life for our family, and it makes me proud to see my children growing up with the desire to give back.

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