Nurture it and watch it grow

July 12-July 18, 200
VOL 124 NO. 26
Nurture it and watch it grow
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Spirituality can be described as enhancing one’s relationship with God through prayer and worship with the belief that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire one to become more holy.

Through service to others, by studying Scripture and by attending Mass, Catholics across the diocese are living witnesses to the hope of Catholic Christianity.

Father Joseph Zareski, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in New Hartford, defined spirituality as being in a relationship with the Lord and then living out what the Lord wants one to do. “That’s what it’s all about,” said Father Zareski.

He stressed the importance of focusing on the Lord in an attempt to grow in spirituality. “What I say and do is focused on the Lord,” he explained. Father Zareski also emphasized the importance of prayer as a means to developing a stronger spirituality.

Father Zareski said he practices his spiritual life by living the Gospels. “As part of my prayer life, I do spiritual reading, listening to what the Lord is telling me,” he said.

He believes people should follow the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “Jesus said we should serve, help and love one another,” said Father Zareski. “One of my roles as a priest is to help, but I’m not limited to the people I meet as a priest. I try to be available to the people who need me.”

Father John Rose, pastor of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Utica, said that spirituality helps strengthen one’s relationship with God.

He recommended using prayer as a means to develop spirituality. “When we pray, we are nurtured by God’s word,” said Father Rose. “He challenges us and makes us uncomfortable. God invites us to stand out and recognize what He wants us to be.”

Father Rose has encouraged parishioners to answer the call to help out in social ministry through the JustFaith program. JustFaith is an intense formation program designed to deepen understanding and commitment to social action and social justice.

Parishioner Nick Kurpita has answered the call for help through his participation in the Migrant Ministry program at St. Augustine’s Church in Baldwinsville. It all started when Father Rose asked him to join the Formation For Ministry program. He was commissioned last September. “I chose parish outreach for my ministry,” said Kurpita. “I work behind the scenes in the Migrant Ministry program.” He works on the food and clothing drives to benefit migrant workers on three farms in Baldwinsville.

Kurpita is also involved with the refugee committee at St. Augustine’s. The parish has sponsored a family from Afghanistan for the past two years. Kurpita helped the family cover their windows in plastic in preparation for the winter months. As a part-time advisor of St. Augustine’s CYO, he was also able to include a youngster from the refugee family on a skiing trip.

Kurpita credits his father for setting an example of helping others in need. Sister Patricia Geary, CSJ, who was involved with St. Augustine’s Parish before she passed away, also influenced Kurpita. “If I see someone in need, I try to help them,” said Kurpita. “I share my spirituality with others and I pray a lot.”

Steve Dickhout, treasurer of Unity Acres in Orwell, is an invaluable asset to that organization. Unity Acres provides a permanent home for homeless men.

“I try to get away from administrative work to get involved in the hands-on labor of maintaining Unity Acres,” explained Dickhout. He has baled hay, cared for a herd of beef cattle and replaced a roof on a building at Unity Acres. “I’ve been working towards a goal. It’s wonderful to do things outside, reflecting on creation.”

Dickhout began his journey toward serving at Unity Acres in 1988 when he read the books The Loaves and Fishes and The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day. The books deal with the Catholic Worker movement. Dorothy Day was very compassionate toward migrant workers and the poor.

After reading the books, Dickhout decided to visit Unity Acres. In 1995, he decided to attempt living there for six months to a year. He noticed the things that needed to be done at Unity Acres, and at that point, he felt the desire to step in and offer his help. He stayed on and continues to offer his help at Unity Acres.

Dickhout’s spiritual life has developed through his upbringing, which emphasized attending Mass every Sunday and attending religious education classes. “Taking on the discipline of going to Mass, you end up learning a lot,” remarked Dickhout. “As you grow older, your values become shaped by your experiences and by the things you heard and absorbed.”

Dickhout continues to attend Mass regularly in the chapel at Unity Acres. Father Robert Jones from St. Michael’s Church travels from Central Square three times a week to celebrate Mass.

Prayer and Scripture reading are also important components of Dickhout’s spiritual life. “It’s been part of our routine here for the last two months,” explained Dickhout. “We start each day with someone leading the prayer, and then another person will read from the Scriptures.”

Another way in which he practices his spirituality is by writing an article several times a year for the “Word of the Lord” column in The Catholic SUN newspaper. “When I prepare the column, I meditate about the reading of the Scriptures,” Dickhout said. “I also refer to The Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Dickhout also attends Mass at St. Lucy’s Church in Syracuse. He’s been attending since 1991. “It helps when I feel run down spiritually,” said Dickhout. “I get fired up when I go there — it’s a very Spirit-filled congregation. The people there are very welcoming. It cannot be praised too highly.”

Brother Jim Moore, OFM Conv., director of the FrancisCorps Volunteers, practices his spirituality daily when he prays with his brothers. “To develop my spirituality, I depend on retreat and personal and community prayer time,” said Brother Jim.

The FrancisCorps is a year-long faith-based volunteer program for recent college graduates. It began in Syracuse seven years ago as a project of Syracuse’s Franciscans in Collaborative Ministry. The program draws on the Franciscan ideals of living and working with the poor to find spiritual fulfillment. Its mission is to meet the needs of the poor through the Gospel.

The seven current FrancisCorps volunteers in Syracuse work at Vincent House, L’Arche, Dorothy Day House, Northside CYO, the Asian Apostolate, Salina Civic Center and Franciscan Northside Ministries.

Moore said that helping others is part of his vocation. “My main ministry is the FrancisCorps,” he remarked. “One of my goals is to infuse into these young people the Franciscan spirituality so that we can support them as adult lay Catholic Christians. Our church is strengthened by their spirituality. This is a model of our church — of laymen and women working collaboratively with religious brothers, sisters and priests to build the church.”

Theresa Clark gives witness to her spirituality by the way she lives her life. She and her husband and four children (all under five years old) attend Mass at 6:30 a.m. almost daily at St. John the Evangelist Church in Binghamton. “The graces that I receive from the Blessed Sacrament help me to make it through the day,” said Clark. I have observed joy on the parishioners’ faces as they witnessed the joy of my children when I bring them to church.”

Martin Manning practices spirituality by the way he lives his life. He believes in God and he attends church regularly. “I never expect to see a burning bush, but when I see sunsets or hear the crunch of snow under my feet or see a million stars in the sky, it strikes me that there has to be a God somewhere,” said Manning. “When I try to help others, it helps me develop my spiritual life.”

Manning serves on the board of trustees and is a member of the speaker’s bureau for the Alzheimer Association of CNY. He has also worked as a caregiver at St. Francis Adult Day Service. Additionally, he taught a “Religion in the World” (a history of the major religions) course at Henninger Faith Center. “I liked it very much,” remarked Manning. He said that developing his spiritual life is a work in progress. “I know all the things I should be doing,” explained Manning. “I’m working at it.”

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