Monday, February 22, 2010

Jessica Cillian, Youth ministry

St. Raphael High School Youth Group at camp. Jessica Cillian is the one on the right not covered in mud. Click photo to enlarge.

I have always felt called to serve the youth at some capacity. At the time this ministry opportunity came up, I was teaching Kindergarten at St. Raphael School.

 My father, who was very active in the youth ministry and parish, had just passed away from a battle with cancer. I felt really called by God, my mother's promptings, and the encouragement of my dad from above, to give my time and talent to this specific ministry. I really felt like it was Heaven-sent and that it’s what my heavenly and earthly Father would want.

The purpose of this ministry is to call the youth of this parish on to their fullest potential in Christ. We are all called to be saints and Christ has commissioned the youth to be leaders and examples in calling the rest of the community to this higher standard in faith.

God has a message to send to the youth and his church. He calls everyone to proclaim it but not everyone proclaims it in the same way, through the same ministry, or at the same time.

I felt really called at this time in my life to appeal to the youth and bring His message of love and hope. I am hoping that the example of myself and the core team as well as our sincere love for each one of them will help them to see the value that they hold in God's eyes.

Every opportunity I get to spend with the youth brings me closer to God in some way. They are constantly teaching me about God's power and awesomeness.

The times that have brought me the closest to God have been when we are on trips and there is Eucharistic Adoration. I look out and see our youth raising their hands to the Lord and singing as loud as they can. I’m taken back every time I see it. It’s amazing.

I have been in this ministry for three amazing years. On my first day, I came into the office and decided I would start calling teens and introducing myself.

The first phone call I made I was really nervous. The phone rang and a man picked up and said, “This is the Randy and Dave Morning Show.”

I thought they were kidding and asked for the teen. They were not kidding. I ended up having the funniest conversation with them about it being my first day as a youth minister and how I messed up my first call.

Later that day I had the radio on and they played my conversation. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Anyone considering this ministry should know it is a very rewarding but difficult ministry. Like Shrek says in the movie, “It's like an onion, it has many layers.”

As you peel the layers back you find God working through every possible aspect. It takes each individual to truly commit to God, the team, and the youth.

You will be challenged and stretched physically, mentally, and spiritually. And you will most certainly have no doubt that God is working miracles every day, in the way these teens show Christ to you. 

Each ministry needs a variety of people from young to old, female and male, parents, married couples, youth, young adults, lawyers, teachers, religious, etc. This ministry does not discriminate.

All are needed to spread the message. Everyone can help in some capacity.

And you'd better like dodge ball. Lots and lots of dodge ball. 

If you're interested:
Want to volunteer to work with the Youth ministry? Call Jessica at (727) 821-0155 ext. 2120 or send her an e-mail at You can learn more about the Youth ministry here

Middle photo: St. Raphael Middle School Youth Group at camp. Click to enlarge.

Bottom photo: St. Raphael High School Youth Group at camp. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bernadette Bailey, Bereavement ministry

Ours is a "Prayer and Presence" Ministry, small in number – four core volunteers, and several who because of age, infirmity or employment are not active participants, but pray at home for those who have died and those who mourn them.

When a loved one dies we call the family to offer condolences, attend the visitation service, assist the family in choosing Mass readings, offer to read at the funeral if family or friends will not be doing this, and, if requested, assist in serving lunch.

Many families cannot cope with all the funeral details and our primary goal is to give them comfort and consolation in their time of numbing grief. Throughout the first year especially, we keep in touch by phone and visits, send Care Notes, and assist at the annual Mass of Remembrance each November.

This is a holy and spiritually-fulfilling ministry. To those who might consider joining us, I would say, "Come and see." We will never know how many hearts and lives we touch; perhaps lukewarm Christians or lapsed Catholics may be led to return home because of the beautiful and comforting Catholic funeral liturgy, a reassuring homily, and the compassionate kindness of our clergy and members.

Before moving here in 1995, I was a member of the Hope and Remembrance Committee at St. Leo the Great parish in Fairfax, Virginia. Monsignor Caverly gave his approval to re-establish a Bereavement ministry here in 1996. Working in this ministry puts me in touch with my own mortality and made easier my own transition from wife to widow.

If you're interested: Want to participate? Call 727-821-7989 or visit the parish office.

Photo by Jane Winstead

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don Mattick, Cursillo ministry

The purpose of Cursillo (kur-SEE-yo) is to evangelize the world – one person at a time.

I was introduced to the Cursillo community through fellow parishioners. They invited me to go to a gathering of others from all over the Diocese. They encouraged me to make the three-day weekend. The experience was awe inspiring.

After making the weekend I was privileged to work the following weekend. This was the reason to decide to make this my main ministry. To witness the changes that the candidates go through made me realize how powerful the Cursillo Movement can be in changing the world around us.

I made my weekend in July 1988. Since then I have served on 11 teams for Cursillo; every one of them has been a wonderful experience and a help in my journey to Christ.

I’m always reminded of our main objective in Cursillo: “Make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.”

During the weekend, after some of the presentations, posters and sharing continue, open discussions ensue and many humorous ideas come out.

Like many other people, I was reluctant to discuss my religion with others. You know: don’t discuss religion or politics. Now, through the experience of Cursillo, I will discuss and defend my Catholic beliefs with anyone, any time. The biggest change was in me. I found that Christ was indeed in my life and that I could turn to him with any need or problem I may have.

If you're interested: If you'd like to make a Cursillo Weekend, the only requirements are that you are a practicing Catholic and are able to receive the sacraments. Call Donald Mattick (727) 526-1258 or e-mail him at Cursillo fliers are available in the narthex.

Photo by Jane Winstead

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Louise Barrett, Hospitality ministry

Photo by Jane Winstead
Greeters Ursula Abner and Robin Ahlquist (and daughter Raquel) welcome parishioners to Palm Sunday 2009.

I love our Church. It’s not just the beautiful worship space and the waterfront grounds. God’s Church is visible at St Raphael’s.

I love being nourished by the Sacraments that connect us directly with God, our traditions that make every day richer, and the body of Christ who are you, my brothers and sisters.

I am involved in many ministries because St Raphael’s is truly a second home for me and my husband, Allen. Just like at our own home, where we raised four active, wonderful kids, I try to do whatever may be needed when I walk onto Church grounds. (No job is too small, though some are very big.)

I will share with you the joys of being in the Ministry of Hospitality, being a Greeter.

The purpose of a greeter is to welcome all to our Parish, especially the visitors and new parishioners.

“Welcome the stranger” is a key Christian activity, and through us, God wants all new people to feel welcome when they arrive at St. Raphael’s.

One Sunday, I was really pressed for time and didn’t arrive early at my greeting post.

On the way into Mass, I told God how sorry I was that I wouldn’t be doing much to help him at St Raphael’s as a greeter that day. Never fear, God will use our services in HIS way.

Walking in, I met new people who had recently lost a loved one, and were there for a Mass being offered for that person. Welcome!

I “randomly” sat near someone at Mass who needed extra prayers. Welcome!

On the way out, I met a man taking Holy Communion to his sick wife and we shared God’s grace. Welcome!

Being a greeter is easy, fun, and very important.

Our ministry needs many more volunteers helping God “Welcome the stranger” to our parish. Please consider letting God put you to work.

If you're interested: Please e-mail Louise Barrett at or stop by the church office if you would like to join the Hospitality ministry.