We're hiring a gerontologist

Dear Parishioners,

The Lord warned us. He told us the Kingdom of God is now and it is among us, but that we’ll find it in unexpected ways. It’s the treasure chest found buried in the field while plowing it; it’s the pearl of great price nestled inside the oyster. The Kingdom is as quiet as a seed growing in the ground and yeast rising in dough. It’s a place where the least are the greatest and the last is first and grace comes in the most unusual ways. No wonder that paying attention to the Spirit of God and trying to bring this elusive Kingdom to light can be exhausting! You need a ton of patience—often years of patience—but when it happens, in those moments when it all comes together, it’s exhilarating.

We’ve waited years for the news I am delighted to announce to you this week. It’s been a perennial topic raised by three successive Pastoral Councils: we need to find someone to begin developing a ministry to the high school youth in the parish. Having eighteen years of Youth Group experience under my belt, I knew this was no small order. You want someone who is theologically grounded, but knows how to relate the Gospel to the “of the moment” issues in the world. You want a person who relates to and actually likes high school kids, but who also knows how to work with adults. You need someone who is responsible and has common sense, but can also be spontaneous and creative. We found her. And, in true Kingdom fashion, she’s been among us all the time. She’s one of our own parishioners: Beth Paris.

Beth and her husband Dmitri are longtime residents of Fairfield. Their daughter, Noël, attends Ludlowe High School. Professionally, Beth is a gerontologist with a 30-year employment experience that comes from a variety of settings including working as the Program Coordinator at the Jewish Home for the Elderly, over twenty-three years as the Director of a Social Model Adult Day Care Program in the Town of Stratford, working with Caregiver support groups and training programs, and, in her current position as the Senior Center Coordinator for the Town of Darien. With regard to Religious Education and Formation, Beth has journeyed through fifteen years of the Neocatechumenate, a post-baptismal formation process for adults (something like the RCIA) which is centered on the study of the Scripture (both Testaments) and living that Word of God in a greater faith community, built upon the prayer of liturgy. In a previous parish, Beth was a Children’s Choir Director and Youth Group Coordinator for many years. In our own parish, she has taught Religious Education, Confirmation preparation, and is a member of the Adult Choir.

After months of discussion and prayer, we have invited Beth to join our parish staff. With her background in Scripture, liturgy, and spiritual formation, I have no doubt that she will contribute a great deal to the overall vision of our parish while focusing on ways to develop a ministry that is specific to our youth. I know she already has a notebook full of ideas and a heart full of enthusiasm. In the coming months, Beth will be collaborating with adults in the parish to talk about some of the ideas in her notebook. This ministry, as all ministries, will require many hands and heads and inspiration from the Holy Spirit in order to unfold, so stay tuned.

Yes, indeed, folks, the bottom line is we’re hiring a gerontologist to develop a ministry to youth. I know, it sounds absurd……which is exactly why I think it has the Kingdom of God written all over it!

Father John