Guest Columnists

Working Together at Home and Parish

By Henry and Mary Macchiaroli

EACH OF OUR faith journeys began at baptism. It was nurtured by our parents, respectively, through Catholic education and their continued faith in loving God, family and neighbor. Next April, we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We minister in the same church where we were married – Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Ridgewood. Our faith has helped us over these years to face the challenges of illness, caring for our parents, job loss and the deaths of parents and friends.

We do things together; we communicate and plan. Without each other and our faith we would have not been as strong. We have been blessed to have a fine son who is independent and sometimes tries to take the role of our parent. God has been good to us. By becoming involved in the life of our parish we connect with the parishioners and share our thankfulness.

We hope to be able to bring other individuals to an awareness of the importance of commitment to their faith and sharing it with others. We are a husband-and-wife team extending this to other adult leaders, especially parents of the young adult leaders.

A parish is a place you can make new friends and share in each other’s joys and sorrows. We work together and plan and share goals. A parish is a place where one can grow in the knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. All of this over the years has strengthened our marriage.

God needs to be present in every marriage. We are an average couple. Humor is a very important ingredient in our involvement as a couple in many areas of parish life as well as in our personal life. It has been said: “Where Mary is, Henry is, and where Henry is, Mary is.” We work together, planning and sharing the same goals.

Four years ago, under the leadership of Father Anthony Sansone, we were permitted to establish an active Vocation and a Young Adult Leadership Committee. Father Sansone remains supportive and visible to these established ministries. Our parish has been blessed over the years to have many parishioners enter religious life: Fathers Thomas Sendlein, C.M., and Frank Mann, Bishop Ed Scharfenberger, Brother Michael Sheerin, F.M.S., and of course, Father Sean Suckiel, diocesan vocation director, to name a few. Msgr. Anthony Hernandez also lived at the parish for two years and celebrated his First Mass with us.

Vocations to the permanent diaconate have included Deacons Jerome Krebs, Michael Brainerd, Ron Ronacher and the late James Hynes.

Since Father Sansone became the pastor, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has privileged us with seminarians under the mentoring of Father Sansone. As parishioners, and as Vocation Committee members, we have been very fulfilled. We were able to be an active part of the ordinations in recent years of Fathers Mark Bristol, Marcin Chilczuk and Lukasz Lech. It has been a joy to all those in our parish to welcome, support, and yes, to love these young men as they are ordained to the priesthood, and to continue to support and pray for them.

Our Parish Vocation Committee was formed a few years ago consisting of married couples, many with young children and young adults. We reached out to individuals who are practicing Catholics and who believe in supporting vocations. We thought it was important to invite new and visible parishioners.

The committee, along with the pastor and parish associates, hosts a yearly Holy Hour, projects assisting local religious communities like the Little Sisters of the Poor, clergy recognition on Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Priesthood Sunday.

Hope For the Future

During Lent and Advent, we evangelize by inviting families and parishioners in passing an icon or statue each week after Sunday Masses with the intention to pray for vocations. Our young adult leadership program has given us hope for the future by involving students, grade seven and older from the parish academy and religious education program, in the liturgical ministries of the church and social celebrations. At a council meeting a few years ago with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, a member asked, “How do we get more parents and families involved?”

Bishop DiMarzio replied, “You are doing it now, with Family Sacrament meeting and Family Masses. If you involve the children, you will get the parents.”

What can we say as a married couple involved in our parish to others questioning their vocations?

Prayer needs to be an important part of your life. Witness to the Gospel message. Receive the Eucharist often. Be open to God’s plan. Do something that you feel is respectful, good and deserving. We thank God for our vocation and pray to “Reawaken the Call” along with our parish community.

The Macchiarolis are parishioners at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish, where Mary is the director of religious education and Henry is an active volunteer.

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