Both of our paths to Epiphany parish began in very loving, very devout, and very Protestant homes. Amanda was Assemblies of God, and Matt, non-denominational evangelical. Both of us grew up with Sunday morning service, Sunday evening worship and prayer, and Wednesday night youth group. We sang many of the same hymns (though Amanda in a more upbeat tempo...) We memorized hundreds of Scripture verses and could rattle off (in order) every book of the (reformed) Bible.
We each came to the Catholic Church at different times and for different reasons. For Matt, it began with theological issues and the study of Scripture. Amanda was initially attracted to the beauty of the faith- its art, history, and the witness of the saints. Regardless of the original spark, each of us has- in fits and starts with lots of crooked paths- grown in our love for the faith, and our journey together.
About 12 years ago, we started to “parish shop.” At the time, Epiphany was (easily) the least aesthetically appealing parish in town. But what the building lacked in architectural ambience, it more than made up for in the vibrancy and earnestness of its members. Through our involvement in the school especially, we are blessed to know so many warm and generous people. Not perfect people. But folks who, like us, strive to love God and their neighbors better. These relationships may have begun at a parish retreat, or the Carnival, or coffee and donuts after mass, or a volleyball game, or the school auction, or trivia night, or dutifully performing our “service hours.” Regardless of how they began, we have grown in our faith and as a family through the myriad relationships we have built, with folks of many different talents, backgrounds, and struggles.
With the parish renovation several years ago, the aesthetics of the parish began to more accurately reflect the beauty of the members. One thing we have always appreciated here is a commitment from leadership- cleric and lay- to excellence and reverence in administering the sacraments. The beauty of the liturgy directs us to that incomprehensible beauty of heaven.
The best advice we can give folks- whether you are new to the area, or grew up here, and regardless of your current level of knowledge or commitment to the faith- get involved! Get involved in the lives of the people around you. There are many opportunities to grow in knowledge, or to serve, or deepen your devotion. The quality of our lives is essentially the quality of our relationships, with God and our neighbors. This is an imperfect parish full of imperfect people (so you don’t have to worry about ruining it). But it is a parish full of families who understand that we all serve a higher purpose beyond ourselves, with the hope that our journey- regardless of where it began- leads to the life God has always meant for us.