Our family had been worshiping at an Episcopal parish on the South Side. We were becoming frustrated with the politics that entered worship almost every Sunday, and distracted us from the central message of the love of Jesus Christ. We longed to hear the gospel of love and forgiveness, and to find a church where our faith could be nurtured and where we could contribute and live out our spiritual life. We had committed to the process of finding a new church, and since we were moving to the North Side anyway, it seemed like a good time to make a transition.
That Easter Sunday, we opened up the Chicago Tribune and read a beautiful article about a priest who had walked the Camino. The article spoke of his faith and his commitment. It also spoke of the commitment and life of the parish of St. Teresa of Avila, which carried on in faithful action in his absence. We thought we should visit.
The next Sunday we did visit, and we fell in love, and felt that it was the right place for us. We were moved by the children, by the lively music, and most of all, by the homily of Father Frank, which reminded us of the embracing love of God, and the forgiveness and life we have through Jesus Christ. God had opened a door.
But it was not an easy transition. We met with Father Frank. Although I had been a Roman Catholic growing up, I had become a Lutheran pastor, and had worshiped in Protestant churches my whole adult life. Ben grew up a Christian Scientist, and had never been a Roman Catholic. He would have to go through RCIA. Our children were all baptized, so they were received.
A year and a half later, at the Easter Vigil, Ben made his confirmation, and I was his sponsor. St. Teresa of Avila has been a gift for our family. It is a place where we experience spiritual consolation, assurance and love. We are very grateful for Father Frank and his homilies each week. We have been inspired to give and to serve. We look forward to coming each Sunday to worship, to hear the word of God, and to be fed at the table of the Eucharist.
This November, I will walk a small part of the Camino, as I join the group of others from St. Teresa who are walking in solidarity with Father Frank. As I walk, I will reflect on my journey thus far, express gratitude for the way that God has led us to this point in our lives, and seek God’s will for the rest of the way. This parish is part of that journey, and will be an important part of it going forward—each step of the way.