In early January, I received an email from the Director of Development for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He was inviting diocesan development and stewardship directors from across the country to come to his archdiocese and talk about the challenges facing us in our ministry.
OKC in February is not a tourist destination. The weather there was not much different than it was in Evansville at the time – cold, rain and dreary. But the light was shining bright for this trip and this meeting.
I arrived at Will Rogers World Airport at midnight, departing the plane to catch an Uber ride to the Catholic Pastoral Center. Joshua was my driver, and the experience I had with him for the next 25 minutes was, well, to call it special would be a serious understatement. I will write about him in the near future.
We came together for Mass at 11:30 a.m. on a Monday, which is a proper way to start a meeting. At the Consecration, when the priest was elevating the Body of Jesus, it was like a beam of love and light emanating from the Lord entered my heart. I felt a physical push against my chest, as though someone was putting his hand on me. That singular moment of incredible grace set the stage for the next 24 hours.
During that time we pretty much cloistered ourselves in a meeting room on the lower level of the Catholic Pastoral Center. Our discussions focused on how we could best serve the Lord in our common ministry.
This is a group of 17 professionals who are dynamic, incredibly bright, fearless people. Every one of them is completely committed to serving the Lord through our bishops as the successors to the Apostles. The energy in the meeting room was positive, honest and intense.
We all got along famously and shared our knowledge with each other. There were men and women of different ages, experience levels, geographic regions and ethnicities. But, echoing the words of St. Paul, we were one body made up of many parts.
The second morning saw no let-up in either energy or enthusiasm. In fact, both seemed to increase. At one point, it seemed as though everyone was talking at the same time, with great conviction, creating a cacophony of unintelligible noise. That was when Deacon Pierce Murphy of the Archdiocese of Seattle raised his hand and said, “Let’s take a minute to pray. First, let’s be quiet for a moment. Then we will ask our Mother to pray for us as we offer Her a ‘Hail Mary.’”
There was an immediate silence, and the intensity left the space.
Back on the same track after praying, we finished up our work, came to agreement on our matters and headed off to Mass again, which is the proper way to end a meeting.
In fewer than 36 hours, I experienced – directly, overtly and physically – the presence of the Lord in my time in Oklahoma City: My Uber trip with Joshua; the elevated body of Jesus coming into my heart; and the calming prayer to reduce our energy and help us focus, again, on our mission.
I am grateful, humbled and honored to be a part of this group. We can overcome many of the challenges our Church faces as we act in concert, always looking to serve the Lord.
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