PLAINFIELD — The “Learn Christ Live Christ” program, which began at St. Paul Parish last fall, continues to encourage students, teachers and parents to learn about Christ and then take Christ out into the community.
Deacon Jim Trzinski and Carla Murray, director of religious education, have worked on different projects throughout the school year to enable students to learn about Christ and put their faith into action.
Prior to Christmas, a parishioner who owns a wreath-making business, agreed to teach the students how to make swags using pine branches from a local Christmas tree farm. The students took their creations and distributed them to the homebound and residents at assisted living centers. They also sang Christmas songs.
“It was a great opportunity for the students, teachers and parents to get out into the community and visit the sick and the homebound, especially incorporating a work of mercy during the Year of Mercy,” said Deacon Trzinski, parish coordinator. “When the groups returned to the church, they were all on fire with great stories about their experiences with those they visited.”
Deacon Trzinski said students were living out the Gospel account of Jesus sending his disciples out to spread the word of God.
“I believe that we are doing what Bishop (David) Ricken has asked of us with his Disciples on the Way program and it is drawing wonderful participation by many in the parish as well,” Deacon Trzinski added.
During Lent, the parish leaders came up with another plan to connect students with the parish through prayer.
“When I reflected on the Gospel of the parable of the gardener and the fig tree (third Sunday of Lent), I felt the Holy Spirit asking us to help nurture our young people through prayer — like the gardener, who said that he would nurture the fig tree in hopes that it would bear fruit,” said Deacon Trzinski.
He and Murray developed a program where students were invited to write on cards the things in their lives that they are praying for or need assistance in. Students placed their cards on a wooden cross in the church narthex. Adults were then asked to pray for the students.
“We asked that each adult/family take a card off of the cross and assist the students in praying for their needs,” said Deacon Trzinski. “By doing this, we pray that the adults are connecting with the youth of the parish.”
Each prayer card has a student’s name on it. Adults were instructed to take a card and stay in contact with the student by bringing back some notes or letters addressed to students and placing them on the cross during Lent. Students are able to receive the cards back each week only when they come to Mass.
Adult prayer partners were also asked to give a bring a small “gift” and place it by the cross at Easter. Suggested gifts included laminated prayer cards, rosaries, holy medals, prayer books or other small religious articles.
“We have had great enthusiasm for this new ‘prayer partner’ program,” said Deacon Trzinski. He hopes the program will bring a deeper connection between the adults and youth of the parish.
“We pray that we continue to take Christ out into our community and to show more and more people about how we at St. Paul are living out our faith, spreading the Gospel and becoming Disciples on the Way,” he added.