Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)
Every parish mission has the same goal: to live out the missionary mandate of Christ in the Gospels, working for conversions and for a renewal of the faith.
In Santa Clara, California Our Lady of Peace Parish and Shrine held its first parish mission this summer beginning on Corpus Christi Sunday (June 7). Fr. Brian Dinkel, IVE was the preacher of the mission joined by a large team of our Religious Family including three deacons, three professed sisters, fourteen novices, nine postulants and fifteen seminarians along with countless lay volunteers.
Modeled on the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10, the parish mission calls for the faithful to use creativity and perseverance to reach souls. The theme chosen for the mission sums up the spirit at OLOP, a message which resounds throughout the Bay Area: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Each day began by drawing near to God through His Blessed Mother, recalling that every grace comes through her intercession. At 6:45 a.m., the missionaries and volunteers gathered at the shrine’s 32-foot statue of Our Lady to pray the “Rosary of the Dawn,” a popular-mission tradition.
Followed by Morning Prayer, Eucharistic Holy Hour, and Holy Mass, this prayer provided the strength for the mission: drawing near to God to bring souls to Him.
Next we began with the house visits and trips to the nursing homes: to seek out the lost sheep and nourish the flock. In a place of material wealth, the spiritual poverty can be much stronger; the soil must be creatively tilled and watered. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).
How did the faithful Catholics help the mission? Along with cooking, cleaning and driving, volunteers helped by generously distributing 5,000 packets, which were left at each of the homes in the area, serving with the religious sisters and brothers to run the daily kids mission, attending nightly liturgy formation workshops, and, most importantly, praying for the parish.
In addition to visiting the homes, businesses, and nursing home in the parish boundary, the religious sisters and seminarians along with the help of the staff of OLOP innovatively sowed the seeds of faith by visiting high-traffic areas: the New Evangelization!
Various local malls allowed mission informational tables, where thousands of rosaries were distributed next to a display of the beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Another group headed each day to run a table at the baggage claim in the San Jose airport. The religious sisters and seminarians also provided a vibrant Catholic presence in the business world when they were hosted by Catholics who worked at the Yahoo and Google headquarters.
Drawing near to God, the missionaries saw how God drew near to these souls. During this special time of grace, there was a noticeable increase in frequenting the sacraments and attendance of the missionary talk during the evening daily Mass, and many families enjoyed the activities on the shrine lawn on Father’s Day and Family Day.
Finally, on Sunday June 21st, following the parish mission tradition, the mission concluded with the blessing of the Mission Cross.
The cross, symbol of our salvation and sign of hope, reminds all who visit the shrine of the special time of grace.
We give thanks to God for the Our Lady of Peace community and all those who helped with the mission. As we draw near to God, we place the souls who were touched by the mission in the Immaculate Heart of Mary and we continue to pray for the fruits of this first parish mission. May it be the first of many fruitful missions.
Mother Maria Aeiparthenos Berry, SSVM
Mistress of Novices, Novitiate St. Kateri Tekakwitha