Sister Cheryl Demmer shares a typical week in her role as director of faith formation for the Muscatine and Wilton parishes in Iowa.
The 2017-2018 faith formation year is well underway! How many times we have heard it said, “I can’t believe that it is … already. Where does the time go?” I wonder where the past 18+ years have gone.
In the Scriptures we read: “Let the Lord show us what we should do …” (Psalm 139). Then again from Prophet Isaiah we read: “The Lord, your God will grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13) One morning as I was sitting with these words, I prayed, “O God, where are you? Why don’t you send help?” “I did. I sent you,” came the response. “And as long as it takes, I will be with you.” It was with that spirit of trusting in God’s presence that minutes, hours and days are weaved from Sunday to Sunday.
Sunday mornings at Saints Mary and Mathias can be three pronged. Many times, I circle the community as a homebound minister bringing Holy Communion to those who are not able to come to Mass. We have about 60 homebound parishioners (not counting those who are in our nursing homes or assisted living). Two years ago, I started our Ministers of Mercy program. Presently we have about 18 Ministers of Mercy who continually connect with our homebound parishioners.
Sunday mornings may find me at St. Mary’s in Wilton as I am the director of religious education for that parish. Probably in 2019, St. Mary’s will be clustered with Saints Mary and Mathias parish. Sunday mornings CAN BE a wonderful quiet day to the beginning of a new week.
Tuesday begins with our All School Liturgy which I am helping the students and teachers of our Catholic school with liturgy preparations. Tuesday is our RCIA night. Presently, we have 24 people in RCIA wanting full membership into our Catholic Church. I have a great team of eight who faithfully walk with our RCIA catechumens and candidates.
Wednesday is a sacred day for my ministry. Much of this day is making sure that our religious education program is ready for our early bird classes (4-5:15 p.m.) and our evening classes (6:30-7:50 p.m.). We have 427 children/youth in our religious education program. I have weekly lesson plans prepared for our 35 catechists. In addition to our catechists, we have eight adults who are support staff. I am blessed to have seven adults assist me with our confirmation classes. I am the lead teacher for our 10th grade students as they prepare for their confirmation. Wednesday is one amazing night!
Throughout the day on Thursday, I meet with four members of our RCIA participants who are unable to attend the parish RCIA class because of their work schedules. Thursday is the day that I make sure our Children’s Liturgy of the Word is ready for the weekend Masses. God bless our 11 catechists. Another amazing group!!
Thursday evenings is our “Surviving Divorce” class. This is a new ministry for our parish. Presently, I facilitate this divorce group. Again, I have a team of four adults working with me.
Weaved in and through the days of the week: baptism classes, sometimes I am needed to play for a funeral or for a rosary at the funeral home, sometimes there is a quick visit to our hospital. The in between times are used for our sacramental preparation classes for first reconciliation and first Eucharist. Nearly 40% of those involved in our RE classes and in our sacramental preparation classes are from our Hispanic community. I have learned how to send letters home to our parents in both Spanish and English. Also, these classes are available in Spanish.
For the past 14 years, I have been the safe environment coordinator for our parish staff, parish school, and parish religious education program and for St. Mary’s in Wilton. Our Safe Environment Program includes making sure that all employees and volunteers who are a part of our parishes are trained in Protecting God’s Children. This number is about 150 people.
I currently serve on our permanent deaconate scrutiny team for the Diocese of Davenport. What a gift it is to watch these men, young and a little older, be formed into men of service.
As a Presentation Sister I recognize and call forth the gifts of many people to ensure that the light of Nano’s hospitality, compassion and hope continues to shine among all. Nano’s legacy invites me to take the lantern, tend its light, pass it on and transform Muscatine, Iowa, in the process.