Do not work alone: A case study on the spirituality of communion
October 14, 2014
HOUSTON — St. Monica Catholic Church in the Acres Homes area of North Houston began as a mission church in the ’40s and became a parish in 1964.
Father John C. Crotty arrived at St. Monica in September of 1970 and he began the lesson about how people can work together. His motto was “I do not work alone.” This nurturing environment recently guided seven members of St. Monica’s pastoral plan team as they spent one weekend on the church’s Parish Action Plans.
Stacy Allen, pastoral plan shepherd at St. Monica, admits that incorporating spirituality of communion objectives seemed a daunting task, but in the end it was a “blessing.”
“Our priest was very supportive and I have learned that you have to have courageous leadership in order to move forward,” Allen said.
She describes St. Monica’s as a small church with a big heart.
“Be mindful that you are representing Christ. Everyone is a member of the body of Christ and we need their talents and their participation,” Allen said on spirituality of communion. “If they understand their faith, they own it and there is a genuine excitement to share the Catholic faith in all facets of your life.”
Adult faith formation was one area the team developed after a survey revealed parishioners felt a lapse in their spiritual education.
“Adults are the first teachers of faith to children,” Allen said. “We knew if adults lacked an excitement about Catholicism, it would be unlikely they could or would teach their children how to live and love our faith.”
The team developed a Bible study using Matthew Kelly’s book “Rediscover Catholicism.”
“The bible study is thriving,” Allen said. She further explained that parishioners feel more connected and informed about their faith and that translates into a more loving and welcoming environment for church visitors.
Another objective was to respond to the Archdiocese’s intercultural reality. In the early 1980s, St. Monica’s opened its hearts and doors to the Vietnamese community. Today, they are embracing a growing Latino community.
“We approach the diversity of our parish by striving to make every aspect of Mass serve the community,” Allen said. “Three years ago we began offering a Spanish Mass. We knew we would stumble along the way but that didn’t prevent us from helping our parishioners to fully participate and fully engage in Mass in their language.” Today, St. Monica’s offers a Spanish CCE program for youth faith formation and endeavors to fully integrate the Hispanic community into all of its ministries.
St. Monica Feast Day, celebrated at the end of August each year, has turned into a multi-cultural tribute to the church’s patron saint. It personifies Spirituality of Communion with one Mass, celebrated in English, French, African dialects, Filipino and Spanish and includes a smorgasbord of cultural food and entertainment.
Allen said, “The core of it is love. Out of love, we have a community that is responsive to the parish needs. Every parishioner is critical and important and we thrive better when all are engaged in faith.”
Father Crotty’s motto to “never work alone” appears to live on at St. Monica’s.