Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Georgia deacons lead inspiring mission for St. Joseph Parish, Otis Orchards

by Emanuele Portolese, for the Inland Register

(From the November 21, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

A few members of St. Joseph Parish, Otis Orchards, and their guests for the recent parish mission: from left are Emanuele Portolese, Father Mike Kwiatkowski (pastor), Teresa McCann (Religious Education Director); Mary Pat Lawler (in the back); Carolyn Holley, Deacon Eddie Ensley, Suzie Frei (also in the back), Deacon Robert Hermann, and Steve Lawler. Portolese, Holley, Frei, and the lawlers are members of the parish’s Stewardship Committee. (IR photo courtesy of Emanuele Portolese)

Last spring, Father Mike Kwiatkowski, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Otis Orchards, asked his long-time parishioners when the parish had held its last mission: None could remember ever having had one. He then asked the chairperson of the parish Stewardship Committee, Carolyn Holley, if the committee would take on the responsibility of hosting a parish mission. The committee accepted and immediately went to work.

Father Kwiatkowski suggested contacting two deacons: Eddie Ensley and Robert Hermann. The Stewardship Committee learned that Deacons Eddie and Robert were nationally known authors, pastoral counselors and retreat leaders. Both men were assigned to St. Anne Parish in Columbus, Ga., and had over 20 years of experience conducting parish missions.

Following initial contact, the deacons agreed to travel to Otis Orchards in early October. After discussing a few scheduling options, it was decided the mission would be held on Oct. 6-8. In the weeks leading up to the mission, the parish bulletin carried articles which announced the mission and introduced the speakers.

The deacons arrived a few days early and were able to speak at all Masses the weekend of Oct. 4-5. Each specific session was conducted twice a day, at 9:30 a.m. and again in the evening, at 7 p.m. That schedule provided an opportunity for all parishioners to attend, allowing for those who worked during the day and for those who did not wish to drive at night.

Immediately on the first morning the parish bonded with the two deacons who, during the three days, spoke on important topics including the joy of our Catholic heritage, the art of prayer and engaging God in authentic conversation, how to deal with the difficult issues of life, contemplative prayer, healing relationships, transforming anger and bitterness through compassion, and Mary the model of our discipleship. Each day, through stories and numerous useful and practical examples, they offered both insight and inspiration to the large number of parishioners in attendance.

Deacon Eddie described how his life was changed after his first visit to a small Catholic church and his eventual conversion to Catholicism while studying to become a Protestant minister. His strong, timbered voice, contagious humor and profound spirituality held the attention of each member present.

Deacon Robert, a gentle voice and congenial personality, offered very helpful information regarding prayer and discipleship. At the end of each session he led participants in quiet, personal contemplation while inspirational music played softly in the background.

A simple dinner of soup and bread preceded the second session and a fellowship gathering with cookies and coffee followed the final session. Everyone present agreed it was a very successful mission. While it may have been the first in memory for St. Joseph parish, participants agreed that it should not be the last.

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