October 5, 2018

Napoleon parishioners set their faith on fire, hope to spread it to others

Members of St. Maurice Parish in Napoleon participate on Sept. 22 in a candlelight procession to their faith community’s church during a celebration of a year in which parish events were tied together by the theme “Set Your Faith on Fire.” The parishioners are, front, from right, Tara Ricke, Kevin Simon, Cloey Simon, Kayla Simon, Jenny Rickey and Dottie Hellmich. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Members of St. Maurice Parish in Napoleon participate on Sept. 22 in a candlelight procession to their faith community’s church during a celebration of a year in which parish events were tied together by the theme “Set Your Faith on Fire.” The parishioners are, front, from right, Tara Ricke, Kevin Simon, Cloey Simon, Kayla Simon, Jenny Rickey and Dottie Hellmich. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

NAPOLEON—“Set your faith on fire.” That is what the members of St. Maurice Parish in Napoleon have sought to do during the past year.

That goal was a theme for the life of the Batesville Deanery faith community, shaping adult faith formation presentations, a parish mission, homilies and prayers of the faithful at Mass.

T-shirts that featured the theme were made and distributed among parishioners.

About 100 parishioners of all ages gathered at the parish on Sept. 22, the feast of St. Maurice, to celebrate the completion of the year in which the theme guided the life of the faith community.Parishioners shared a pitch-in dinner. During a sing-along, they sang several classic Gospel songs such as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

A candlelight procession to the parish’s church followed. And there a prayer service took place in which a new theme for the year to come was introduced. It is “Growing in Faith, Living in Hope, Acting in Love.”

Franciscan Sister Shirley Gerth, St. Maurice’s parish life coordinator, said the year just completed was “something that needed to be celebrated by all.”

“They take their faith seriously here,” Sister Shirley said. “[The past year] was a way to demonstrate and live out their faith. The camaraderie and unity in the parish is very important.”

She experienced that camaraderie in the way they sing out their faith, which was on display during the Sept. 22 celebration and at every Mass.

“The entire parish is the choir,” Sister Shirley said. “And it’s not just the singing. They’re participating fully in the Mass.”

St. Maurice’s faith formation committee formed both themes, helped guide the implementation of the first theme and is now considering ways to implement the current one.

St. Maurice parishioner Laurie Husted is a member of the committee. Looking back over the past year, she admired how parishioners, at the invitation of parish leaders, wrote about what their faith means to them, statements which were published in the weekly bulletin.

“Every event through the year, we tried to touch on the theme of setting your faith on fire,” Husted said. “Reading what fellow parishioners—what it is that animates their faith life—was fruitful.”

Parishioner Jack Firkenhoff, who leads the faith formation committee, offered a reflection during the prayer service. He suggested that the theme of the year just completed presents a challenge.

“Throughout the year, all of us came to recognize that the faith being on fire is not a static thing,” he said. “We must individually and as a parish continue to stoke the flames unless it diminish and go out.”

Regarding the theological virtue of hope, Firkenhoff said that it is “confidence in the promises and goodness of God.”

“Hope is confidence in the promise of eternal life,” he said. “Hope is confidence is the self-giving action of Jesus. Hope is confidence that one’s sins are forgiven. Hope is confidence in the unlimited love of God.”

Firkenhoff closed his reflection by speaking about Christian love.

“Acting in love must comprise all of God’s adopted children, loving all of our brothers and sisters,” he said. “We’re even called to love our enemies. … We are expected to treat them … as a fellow son or daughter of God.”

Before the prayer service, Husted expressed her hope that the “set your faith on fire” theme at St. Maurice in the past year will spread to people beyond the parish.

“We want to start looking out in how we can be of service to others,” Husted said. “How can we bring our faith that has been animated to others in the community?”

Sister Shirley shares with Husted this hope for the members of the parish she leads.

“I hope [the year to come] is another opportunity for them to deepen what happened this past year,” she said. “It’s exciting.” †

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